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Western Press Review: NATO And EU Find The Devil's In The Details

  • Don Hill



Prague, 3 December 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Commentators in German, British and U.S. newspapers are taking the tack that expanding NATO's commitment in Bosnia past the June limit of its current mandate involves questions not of whether but of how.

NEW YORK TIMES: Clinton administration is urging for an international police force

In a New York Times analysis today, correspondent Steven Lee Myers writes: "Hoping to fend off congressional opposition to a new commitment of American forces in Bosnia, the Clinton administration is urging its NATO allies to support an expanded international police force that could take over tasks now done by NATO troops."

Myers says: "So far the allies have balked, showing little enthusiasm for increasing their contributions of money and people to the unarmed U.N. police training force already operating in Bosnia. And they have opposed outright the creation of an armed police force -- an idea the United States first raised a year ago without success."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: NATO is to stay in Bosnia

Commenting today in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Peter Munch makes the point baldly. He writes: "What ought never to have been in question is now clear -- that NATO is to stay in Bosnia. Nato defense ministers, meeting in Brussels, have decided to commission detailed plans for continuing the Sfor mission beyond next summer." Munch says: "It is also clear that European members of NATO will be required to share more of the burden in comparison with the United States. But what are NATO ministers saying now that the facts are coming to light in the wake of a flood of interviews and moves by all major players? 'Nothing has been decided yet.' "

He writes: "What is needed is the courage not just to extend the peacekeepers' mandate but to widen their brief. They must be entrusted with hunting down and capturing war criminals. Their deployment must not be limited yet again to narrow deadlines."

WASHINGTON POST: The Pentagon's civilian hierarchy remain cautious about approving a further American troops commitment

The NATO military commander, U.S. General Wesley Clark, asserted in a presentation yesterday in Brussels that a large peacekeeping force in Bosnia after June will be essential. The Washington Post's William Drozdiak writes in an analysis today: "In a blunt presentation of Bosnia's security needs, (Clark) told (NATO) defense ministers that a significant follow-on force would be required to sustain the U.S.-brokered Dayton peace accords and to break down what he called 'the wall of Serb resistance' to the agreements."

Drozdiak writes: "At a time when the United States is engaged in debate over whether to keep troops in Bosnia beyond next June, Clark's security assessment was seen by many participants in the meeting as an appeal for retention of a strong U.S. military contingent in the vanguard of the peacekeeping effort." He says: "Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and other members of the Pentagon's civilian hierarchy, however, remain cautious about approving a further commitment of American troops."

The Washington Post writer says: "One option to be studied involves forming a specially trained international police force that could assume such tasks as election supervision and refugee resettlement. But European NATO members complain that they, as well as the Americans, would be hard pressed to find the kind of trained police personnel who could handle such delicate matters effectively. Moreover, such a force would still lack the kind of heavy firepower that has deterred belligerent Bosnian factions from attacking NATO-led peacekeepers."

TIMES: Britain will lift its veto over the new command structure

At the Brussels meeting, Britain's representative announced that his government is de-linking questions of NATO's command structure from its quarrel with Spain over Gibralter. In an analysis in The Times of London, Michael Evans says the concession was unexpected. He writes: "London had been refusing to approve a planned reform of NATO's command structure until Spain agreed to drop its restrictions on British military aircraft and warships using Spanish facilities when traveling to and from Gibraltar."

Evans says: "However, despite giving the impression last week that there would be no concessions, George Robertson, the defense secretary, told his NATO counterparts at a meeting yesterday that Britain would lift its veto over the new command structure and would deal with Spain as a separate issue." The writer added: "British officials said that Madrid now was expected to make concessions."

DIE WELT: European politicians face an almost impossible task in coping with the crowd of hopefuls

Press commentary also deal with a variety of details confronting the European Union, including expansion, tobacco advertising, and the euro. The EU suffers from an embarrassment of riches in numbers of applicants, commentator Andreas Middel says today in the German newspaper Die Welt. He writes: "Ten days before the crucial summit meeting on the eastward expansion of the European Union, Europe presents a picture of extreme diversity and carefully concealed disarray."

Middel says: "European politicians face an almost impossible task in coping with this crowd of hopefuls. Simultaneous admission of all the aspirants would overtax the strength of the EU - at least here there is the broadest agreement. But how can there be differentiation without discriminating against rejected candidates? Now the most varied concepts for avoiding shock rejection are in circulation. There is a group model, a starting line or regatta model, a stadium model, a sponsorship idea, and a proposal for an expansion commission. Then there is also a plan for a European conference."

WALL STREET JOURNAL: The EU meeting's outcome hinges on permission to phase out tobacco sponsorship

Staff writers Julie Wolf and Ernest Beck write in a news analysis today in The Wall Street Journal Europe that there's fire, not just smoke, in reports of a pending pan-EU ban on tobacco advertising. The writers say: "EU health ministers look increasingly likely to strike an accord at a meeting (tomorrow). The meeting's outcome hinges on whether the ministers can satisfy U.K. demands for a long period to allow the phasing out of tobacco sponsorship for Formula One car racing, perhaps over six or seven years."

FINANCIAL TIMES: The French government's campaign risks being a double-edged weapon

In today's issue of the British newspaper Financial Times, columnist Robert Graham says the French government is working overtime to educate the French about the potential benefits -- but not the risks -- of joining a common European currency, the euro. Graham comments: "Some 22 million copies of a booklet entitled 'L'euro et moi' are being distributed across France by the government to prepare people for the advent of the European single currency in January 1999."

He writes: "Yet the government's campaign risks being a double-edged weapon. Instead of reducing national skepticism about the new currency, it could expose just how poorly the problems have been debated in France and how little is known about the euro's political and economic impact."
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