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Press Review: G-7 Summits; A World View

  • Joe Schneider



Prague, June 28 (RFE/RL) -- The Group of Seven Industrialized Nations (G-7) are meeting in Lyon, France, for the annual summit. This year's event has been overshadowed by the bombing of a U.S. facility in Saudi Arabia, which claimed 19 lives. But western editorials say the leaders of the seven wealthiest nations should also concentrate on other issues during their meeting.

In its editorial today The New York Times says French President, "Jacques Chirac is rightly insisting that the summit meeting also grapple with the troubling problem of Third World debt. As many as 20 countries have reached debt levels so high that they are shut out of international capital markets and cannot climb out from under repayment burdens...The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have proposed a plan, backed by the United States, that would knock down the debt burdens of the poorest countries to sustainable levels...The IMF would sell a small portion of its gold stock, invest the proceeds, and use the income from the investments to reduce the debt payments of some Third World borrowers...The emergency is here. There is no better use for the gold stocks held by the IMF. Debt relief tied to stringent economic reform is an idea the industrialized powers should enthusiastically embrace before they depart Lyon."

The Canadian newspaper, the Toronto Star, criticizes the G7 in its editorial for failing to seriously address unemployment and the protection of social programs. It says: "the G-7 nations have yet to get beyond pious rhetoric on globalization and the disruption it causes, and have never managed to co-ordinate their policies to promote the growth on which jobs and social programs depend...If they do want to make a difference, the G-7 leaders must put more emphasis on growth, and less on inflation, which is low....the world has seen too many uneventful G-7 summits to have very high hopes at a time when the G-7 doesn't have the economic clout it once did. Still, politically it remains the club that matters. And the world craves leadership and a sense of direction. The summit leaders should use what leverage they do have to bring a bit of order to a disordered world.

The London Times examines the history of the G-7 summits and the prospects for the future in its editorial. The Times notes that "when President (Boris) Yeltsin cancelled, he exposed how much these summits now revolve around Russia: Seven-minus-the-eighth barely makes even a quorum now. That is not unhealthy...The West cannot ensure the success of Russia's anxious transformation; but it can help at the margin. That strategically vital objective has not only dominated these summits ince 1991; it suffices to justify their continued existence.

The Financial Times also notes that while the G-7 leaders were united in their condemnation of terrorism, issuing a statement on the opening day of the summit, the unity is not expected to last much longer. In an article written by Robert Peston, Guy de Jonquileres and David Buchon, the authors note "European leaders indicated they would rebuff any US attempts to...push for extra-territorial trade and investment sanctions against 'rogue' regimes in Cuba and the Middle East...A British official said Mr. John Major, the UK Prime Minister, had made clear to Mr. Clinton yesterday that he was 'concerned about the practical implications' of Helms-Burton (a U.S. bill which penalizes foreign companies for trading with Cuba). French officials said French President Mr. Jacques Chirac took the same view."

Indicted war criminals, Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, also dominate the headlines of the western press today, especially since Karadzic sent a legal representative to the court, which some in the press saw as an implicit recognition of the authority of the court.

Robert Fox in the London Daily Telegraph writes that "prospects for the detention of the Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic took a further knock yesterday when the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague backed away from issuing warrants for their arrests....Court sources had suggested earlier this month that yesterday's hearing would lead to the issuing of warrants for their arrest. But this did not happen, possibly because none of the international authorities operating in Bosnia would execute such a warrant. 'I fear this is a confession of the court's impotence and incompetence,' said one analyst."

But the Los Angeles Times saw the issue differently in an article written by Mary Wiliams Walsh and Dean E. Murphy. The authors wrote: "In a sudden, but fleeting reversal of his long-standing refusal to recognize the U.N.'s Balkan War Crimes Tribunal, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic sent a lawyer to The Hague to represent him in hearings that opened Thursday...Karadzic's strategy sppeared to backfire when the tribunal used the unexpected presence of the lawyer, Igor Pantelic of Belgrade, as an opportunity to read the two existing indictements against Karadzic aloud in open court... 'Karadzic is going to be sorry he sent Pantelic,' said Richard Dicker, associate counsel for New York-based Human Rights Watch, who is sitting in at The Hague this week as an observer. 'Karadzic can't say anymore...that he had not received proper notification of the indictment. The appearance of his lawyer today acknowledges the legitimacy of this tribunal."

In a commentary for the Wall Street Journal - Europe, headlined "No More Excuses, Arrest Karadzic and Mladic," James Gow; a lecturer in war studies at King's College in London writes: "U.S. President Bill Clinton stated when the Dayton agreements were concluded that 'there must be peace for justice to prevail, but there must be justice when peace prevails.' Those seem like empty words now, as the war crimes tribunal works to achieve a sense of justice with so little help from the forces Mr. Clinton dispatched to implement the Dayton agreements. To remedy this situation, the IPTF (Internatioal Police Task Force) must be brought to full strength and the governments of the international community must support its efforts. The confirmation of international arrest warrants for Mssrs. Karadzic and Mladic, after the war crimes hearing ends next Thursday would offer precisely the occasiuon for showing the West's commitment to peace with justice in Bosnia."

Jonathan C. Randal of the Washington Post concentrates on the importance of the week-long hearings that began yesterday in his account from The Hague. Randal writes: "Court officials said privately that the timing of the hearing reflected fears that unless the panel moved now, the NATO force would not remove Karadzic from power, and Bosnia's legislative elections, scheduled for Sept. 14, would be compromised."
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