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Western Press Review: Last Chances for Former Yugoslavia

  • Don Hill



Prague, 6 August 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. Clinton Administration's latest push to implement the Dayton peace accord by dispatching big-stick diplomat Richard Holbrooke to the former Yugoslavia refocuses the attention of Western press commentary on the Balkans.

SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: U.S. intervention is marked by an arrogance

Peter Munch comments today that the rest of the world sees more than a touch of U.S. arrogance in the implication that only Americans -- namely Holbrooke and his party -- stand a chance of winning progress. Munch writes: "He knows them all, and now they are all going to get to know him even better: Richard Holbrooke is again en route to the Balkans to push the presidents of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia toward making some progress in the bogged-down peace process."

Munch says: "In view of Holbrooke's reputation, it is little wonder that a certain attitude of 'thank goodness, the savior is here' surrounds this U.S. envoy's mission. However, in an unfortunate, discordant note, many of these same ('thank goodness') people are singing the swan song of the European high representative in Bosnia, Carlos Westendorp." The Suddeutsche Zeitung commentator writes: "Yet the Americans approved his appointment, and Westendorp has only been in place for 50 days. That is a little early for his team to be dismantled. Holbrooke must first prove that he can steer things into another direction. Remember that the influence of Karadzic -- whose supposed exit Holbrooke seemingly secured -- is still the problem."

Munch concludes: "The Americans should be careful not to make too much of a mess, lest at some point they find themselves having to sit in it."

LONDON GUARDIAN: Holbrooke meets to give the peace accord legs

In a news analysis today, Karen Coleman writes: "Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the 1995 Dayton agreement on Bosnia, is due to return to the former Yugoslavia today amid a raging row between the United States and European countries about the international community's handling of the fragile peace accord. Over the next three days Mr. Holbrooke will meet the leaders of Croatia, Bosnia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to try to sort out a mess that threatens to topple the entire peace agreement. He is seen by some as the last hope of bullying the signatories of the peace accords into keeping the agreements they made."

FINANCIAL TIMES: Holbrook meets with presidents so U.S. troops can withdraw

Today's issue of the British newspaper carries an analysis by staff writers Bruce Clark in Washington and Anatol Lieven in London saying that the Holbrooke mission arises from tension between the U.S. Congress' insistence that U.S. peacekeepers withdraw next year and European fears that fighting will flare up if they do.

The writers say: "The new U.S. push reflects growing insistence in Congress that all or most of the U.S. peacekeepers in Bosnia should be withdrawn by the agreed deadline of mid-1998. However, some Balkan specialists say there is a risk of renewed fighting in Bosnia if the terms of the Dayton settlement have not been fulfilled by the time the peacekeepers leave."

The analysis says: "The U.S. party hopes to meet the three-man Bosnian presidency in Sarajevo tomorrow -- although it is unclear whether the Serb member of the presidency, Mr. Momcilo Krajisnik, will turn up."

THE NEW YORK TIMES: U.S. reacts to worsening situation

Steven Lee Myers wrote yesterday in an analysis that the United States is reacting to a growing frustration over the continued Balkanization of the Balkans.

He wrote: "Frustrated by stalling in carrying out the Bosnian peace accords, the Clinton administration announced on Monday that it would suspend its contacts with Bosnia's ambassador to the United States, joining several European countries that have severed relations with Bosnia's diplomats."

Myers wrote: "The suspension of recognition is largely symbolic. But Bosnia's ambassador, Sven Alkalaj, a Muslim who has represented the Muslim-led government here since 1994, criticized Monday's announcement as harmful." Myers added: "The U.S. actions on Monday underscored the (Clinton) Administration's growing frustration with Bosnia's slow progress in carrying out the peace accords."

Washington Times: Milosevic is emulating former dictator

Writing from Belgrade yesterday, Philip Smucker said in a news analysis that the grand style of the Slobodan Milosevic Holbrooke meets with this week will be reminiscent of that of the late Josep Broz Tito.

Smucker wrote: "When Richard Holbrooke meets (Milosevic) this week, he will find the Yugoslav president has assumed many of the trappings of former dictator Josep Broz Tito but little of his charm." Smucker said: "The man whose appeal to Serbian nationalism sparked the three-year Bosnian war moved into a former royal residence last month and rides around the capital in a vintage Mercedes custom-built for Tito, the longtime Communist ruler who shrewdly courted Western leaders while ruling his people with an iron hand."

He wrote: "But despite (Milosevic's) new title and image, diplomats say, Mr. Holbrooke will find he is dealing with the same stubborn leader he has always known; one who likes to promise peace to the world but promote extremism and autocratic rule at home. Western diplomats are particularly concerned about Mr. Milosevic's renewed flirtation with Serbian extremists."

NATO

THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Peace movement changes stance

German author Peter Schneider wrote in a recent commentary in The New York Times that one fallout of NATO's peacekeeping efforts has been a new implicit acceptance by the German peace movement of NATO expansion. Schneider's commentary is republished today in the Tribune.

He says: "NATO is the only military alliance in the world that has bound itself to defend freedom, human rights, and democracy. Where the Warsaw Pact consistently resorted to military pressure to keep its members in check, NATO relies on a waiting list to save itself from being inundated by new volunteers."

Schneider's commentary says: "While the United Nations stood by and watched for three years as genocide was carried out in Bosnia -- a genocide ultimately stopped by the inexcusably belated intervention of NATO -- the German peace movement thought it best to devise ways to obstruct the participation of German troops."

It says: "The broad but covert acceptance (now) of NATO expansion adheres to a concept that at least in Germany is considered politically incorrect, national interest. The entrance of the East European partners offers a considerable boost to German security."
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