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Western Press Review: Kosova Sheds Blood, Tears

  • Don Hill



Prague, 8 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- As in the early days of the Bosnian war, Western press commentators ring more boldly and decisively about intervening in the bloodshed in Kosova than do Western governments.

FINANCIAL TIMES: Economic sanctions combined with intensive air strikes should be threatened now

The Financial Times, London, calls in an editorial today for "full-scale economic sanctions" and "intensive air strikes" to deter Serbia. The newspaper says: "During the Bosnian war, the UK and France argued that their troops in the country, and the United Nations arms embargo, were preventing the conflict from spreading to the southern Balkans where it could do even more damage: if Kosova were to ignite, Macedonia would soon disintegrate. War might then engulf the whole region, bringing in not only Albania but possibly Greece and Turkey, on opposite sides. Now, nearly three years after the war in Bosnia ended, the war in Kosova has begun. Regrettably, the great powers are confronting it with much the same fatal indecision that they showed for so long in Bosnia, and before that in Croatia. The villain is still Slobodan Milosevic, now president of the rump federal Yugoslavia."

The editorial says: "Exploiting Serb fears in Kosova was what brought him to power in the first place. Now he is doing it again, with an all-out offensive that is driving thousands of ethnic Albanians across the border. And once again he has wrong-footed his foreign critics, striking just when, by agreeing to talks with moderate Albanian leaders, he had persuaded the international Contact Group to lift an investment ban."

The Financial Times says: "What eventually worked in Bosnia was full-scale economic sanctions combined with intensive air strikes against Serb weapons dumps and supply lines. Similar measures should be threatened now."

NEW YORK TIMES: President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia is incorrigible

The New York Times agreed in an editorial Saturday that Milosevic is both root and branch of the problem. It said: "President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia is incorrigible. Forced to accept peace in Bosnia, he is now uprooting thousands of ethnic Albanians from the Serbian province of Kosova. His military campaign, the largest since the end of the Bosnian war, threatens to ignite a wider conflict in the Balkans. America and its European allies urgently need to increase the pressure on Milosevic to desist."

The editorial concluded: "Milosevic's habit is to maul his opponents as long as the rest of the world lets him. When the pain of economic sanctions becomes severe and the threat of force is real, he thinks about retreat. He should know from the NATO bombing campaign that forced him to the peace table in Bosnia that Washington's patience is not infinite."

GUARDIAN: Signs of developing resistance can be seen

Correspondent Jonathan Steele of The Guardian, London, penetrated deep into western Kosova and reports today in an analysis that what he observed amounts to serial murder. Steele says the Kosova Albanians are preparing to fight back. He writes: "While the Serbian aim is ethnic cleansing provoked by wanton murder, it is not succeeding fully, at least not yet." He says: "Signs of developing resistance can be seen everywhere. Groups of farmers are digging trenches and primitive underground bunkers at crossroads. Machine guns are being erected behind piles of stones. Openings for marksmen are being made in concrete walls."

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Milosevic has brought his people nothing but disaster

The International Herald Tribune quotes commentator Warren Zimmerman as saying in The National Interest, Washington: "More and more Serbs are beginning to understand that (Milosevic) has brought his people nothing but disaster. He has decimated the Serbian population of Croatia, humiliated and impoverished the Serbs in Bosnia, provoked the inexorable exodus of Serbs from Kosova, and wrecked the economy of Serbia itself."

TIMES: The European Union would not allow ethnic cleansing

A number of Western newspapers discuss political resistance slowly developing. The Times, London, carries a news analysis today by diplomatic editor Michael Binton and New York correspondent James Bone. The writers say: "Britain yesterday warned President Milosevic of Yugoslavia that the European Union would not allow ethnic cleansing in Kosova that created a new apartheid state in Europe."

They say: "Mr Cook was speaking as Britain was drafting a United Nations resolution to permit possible NATO airstrikes or the creation of a no-fly zone to deter ethnic cleansing by Serb forces." They write: "The British initiative in New York is intended to lay the legal groundwork for possible military intervention being prepared by NATO planners."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Britain has stepped into the breach

The Chicago Tribune's David S. Cloud writes today in a news analysis that the U.S. government is being pressed for greater boldness. Cloud writes: "Pressure from Britain and other allies is forcing a reluctant Clinton administration to consider threatening NATO military intervention to end violence against ethnic Albanians in the Balkan province of Kosova.

"Hoping that a show of international resolve will curtail the Serb crackdown on Kosovar Albanians, Britain is circulating a draft United Nations resolution that would authorize the Security Council to take "all necessary measures" to halt the violence that has sparked an exodus of refugees into neighboring Albania and fears of a new Balkan war. The language is similar to that approved before NATO intervened in Bosnia in 1996, diplomats said.

"Britain has stepped into the breach because the Clinton administration has refused to be explicit about threatening military intervention by NATO to halt the attacks in Kosova. As the situation in Kosova has deteriorated, British officials apparently felt they needed to force action from the U.S., as well force a debate on military intervention among NATO allies with a series of top level meetings on Kosova scheduled for this week."

DAILY TELEGRAPH: The lesson of Bosnia is that air strikes can be highly effective

And in an editorial today, The Daily Telegraph, London, says: "If the prime minister is serious about sending forces into action against the Serbs in Kosova, Britain could soon be at war with a sovereign state for the first time since the Gulf War seven years ago." The newspaper says: "The lesson of Bosnia is that air strikes can be highly effective against Serbian storage depots, communications facilities, supply routes, and even against concentrations of artillery."

It concludes: "NATO should draw up similar plans for the use of air power. If Slobodan Milosevic still refuses to cede meaningful autonomy to Kosova, that power should be used to inflict heavy destruction in the Serb military machine."

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