Prague, Feb. 9 (RFE/RL) - The delicately-blanced peace
accord in Bosnia and the smoldering conflict in Chechnya have
returned to a top spot on the agenda for Western commentators.
The Wall Street Journal Europe labeled an editorial today
"Dayton Reckoning." The Journal said: "With the arrests in Sarajevo
of two Bosnian Serbs, the executors of the Dayton accord will have to
come clean about how they plan to square the circle. The dilemma, as
much a moral one as a political one, has to do with the growing
disconnection between why we are in Bosnia and what we're doing
there.... Russia weighed in yesterday on the side of the Bosnian
Serbs, demanding the release of the two soldiers.... Bosnia's main
hope is that the West will enforce not just a separation of the
warring sides but a respect for the standards of international
law.... We don't see how you can build a lasting peace on the current
quicksand. But then, perhaps that goal was too ambitious for Dayton."
Writing from Davos, Switzerland, in the International Herald
Tribune, columnist Flora Lewis says: "The Bosnian peace is
very fragile.... While the soldiers have arrived and the shooting has
stopped, the same slow response, the same huge chasm between rhetoric
and action that characterized world reaction during four years of
wars are marking the new phase. It won't do." Lewis continues: "Money
is important. Without resources, police needed for security, housing
needed for returning refugees, jobs needed for a totally devastated
economy, won't be available and there will be no reconciliation....
But more than money is urgently required. The key to implementing the
Dayton pledge is to make Bosnia 'one country with two entities.' "
In the Dallas Morning News today, Richard Whittle writes:
"The issue of war crimes -- a danger to Bosnia's peace all along --
flared into a crisis yesterday, prompting Secretary of State Warren
Christopher to dispatch a diplomatic rescue team to the region....
Christopher.... sent Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke
to try to dissuade Bosnia's Serbs from disrupting implementation of
the peace accords.... The Dayton accords require all three sides to
cooperate with the U.N. tribunal, which has issued 52 indictments.
But the peace deal also guaranteed all sides freedom of movement
throughout Bosnia.... Christopher's action signals rising concern
within the Clinton administration about the difficulty of
implementing civilian aspects of the Dayton accords."
The London Times says in an editorial today that, "If (Mostar
and Sarajevo) become Balkan Berlins, permanently divided, all bets
are off for lasting peace in Bosnia." The Times comments: "Sarajevo's
reunification is the prime symbol and test of the readiness of
Bosnia's separate Serb and Muslim-Croat entities to coexist in a
federal Bosnian republic.... The Serbs have been looking for an
excuse to avoid handing the Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo to Bosnian
government control by March 19, as required by Dayton.... This cannot
be countenanced. But the Americans must also increase pressure on the
Bosnian government, which is in retreat from the multicultural goals
which won it so much international support."
The Los Angeles Times published this analysis today by writers Dean
E. Murphy and Tracy Wilkinson: "The Bosnian Serb military
commander angrily broke off contacts (yesterday) between his forces
and the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, the latest -- and
perhaps most serious -- threat to further implementation of the
U.S.-brokered peace accord. The move.... was denounced by NATO
officials as unjustified and counterproductive. The Bosnian Serb
commander's declaration also invited unusually stern warnings from
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that its peacekeepers... will
not stand idly by as the accord unravels on their watch.... The
recent events mean that the Bosnian Serbs have effectively isolated
themselves from the peace process at a time when consensus among the
former warring sides is crucial to keeping implementation on track."
President Borist Yeltsin's speech in Moscow yesterday acknowledging
the political cost of the conflict in Chechnya and announcing the
assignment of Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin to seek a
solution attracted press comment and analysis.
Richard Boudreaux writes today in the Los Angeles Times: "By
assigning (Chernomyrdin) to weigh the options and return to the
council with a plan, Yeltsin appeared to be turning away from more
hawkish advisers for now. It was Chernomyrdin who negotiated the
bloodless end to a hostage crisis last June that led Chechen and
Russian fighters to a summer peace accord that collapsed during the
autumn. Chernomyrdin said (yesterday) that no peace plan will work
unless the Chechen rebels agree to it -- a sign that he favors
resuming talks with delegates of Gen. Dzhokhar M. Dudayev, the ousted
Chechen president. The separatist leader is in a position to reject
any peace initiative or to engage in talks that might help Yeltsin
over a big obstacle to re-election. "
In The New York Times today, Michael Specter writes:
"Russia's war for Chechnya reached a dangerous new impasse
(yesterday).... (It) could not come at a worse moment for President
Boris Yeltsin.... As he prepares to announce next week his candidacy
for a second term, Yeltsin has clearly become tormented by the threat
the conflict poses to his presidency. ... But every day that Yeltsin's
war continues is a day in which Russian soldiers die. Each day is one
in which the country is reminded how far it has wandered from the era
when it was, indeed, a great power. And those are days which Yeltsin,
if he truly wants to retain his presidency, cannot possibly afford to
have continue much longer."
In its current issue, the British magazine, The Economist, sees
cause for cautious optimism. The Economist says: "This week, Mr.
Yeltsin seemed closer than ever to the political fix, which means
relaunching a viable Chechen government.... The Chechen war has
strained Russia's economy and its fragile democracy. It has helped
preserve some brutal and militarist imperatives from the Soviet era
that democracy might otherwise have tempered. It has divided
reasonable opinion, and fed the fires of the far right. If Mr.
Yeltsin finds a way to end it, the applause will be well deserved."