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Transition Nations Press Review: The Eastern View Of Kosovo

  • Lawrence Holland

Prague, 29 April 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The crisis in Kosovo continues to inspire comment on the pages of newspapers in the transition nations.

RUSSIA IZVESTIA: Some concessions must be made to Russia

Writing this week in Russia's "Izvestia," Maxim Yusin argues that "the threat of a clash between Russia and Western countries has never been so real as it is now," since NATO has expressed an intent to block oil shipments to Yugoslavia.

Yusin says the decision "can only be interpreted as a challenge to the Kremlin, since it is not a secret that Moscow is the main deliverer of [oil] to Yugoslavia. Thus, the item concerning the compulsory examination of all tankers bound for the ports of Yugoslavia concerns Russia first of all."

Yusin says the move will make it "much more difficult for President [Boris] Yeltsin and Premier [Yevgeny] Primakov to resist the pressure of nationalists in the Duma and the General Headquarters. Russia is headed for a global confrontation with the West, a new Cold War. However," Yusin notes, "there is only one step from a cold war to a hot one."

Yusin argues that for Moscow, "giving up selling oil to Yugoslavia would imply unconditional capitulation, both in Russia and abroad. And the Kremlin cannot afford such a humiliation in its current economic situation." Yusin continues: "Everything depends on NATO now. The only possibility to avoid confrontation is to make some concessions to Russia, not humiliate it in public, and not force it into reckless deeds."

BULGARIA: TRUD: Only a minority espouse a pro-NATO sentiment

Bulgaria's daily Trud ran a recent commentary arguing that "it took only a few weeks for the predominantly pro-NATO sentiment in Bulgaria to be reduced to an opinion of the minority. At the same time, the policy of neutrality, which until recently was regarded as an abstract and fruitless position, appears to be the new choice of the public majority." The paper writes that the country's "history has taught the lesson that even the best war is worse than the worst peace."

The paper says that a majority of Bulgarians believe that the "approval of NATO's request for unlimited access to Bulgaria's airspace for strikes against Yugoslavia will drag Bulgaria directly into the war." The paper asserts that "Bulgarians don't want to pay this price even in exchange for possible political and economic benefits in connection with European integration."

TWENTY FOUR HOURS: Bulgarians are not aware of the real problems

But Mira Yanova, in a recent editorial in Bulgaria's "Twenty Four Hours," wrote that opposition to the NATO air strikes is caused mainly by the fact that "Bulgarians are not aware of the real problems in Kosovo and nobody is bothering to inform them about the other ethnic problems in the Balkans."

Yanova asserts that "this is why Bulgaria's government, for the first time since it took office two years ago, is facing the challenge of making an unpopular decision -- to let NATO use Bulgaria's airspace for bombing of Yugoslavia."

But Yanova says that while recent polls show that only some 28 percent of respondents support NATO air strikes, that is higher than it was in earlier polls.

POLAND ZYCIE: NATO is forcing the United Nations to undergo transformations

The Polish daily "Zycie" commented editorially this week that NATO's actions in Kosovo are mapping out a new road for the development of international relations in the future.

The paper says NATO is "forcing the United Nations, the operation of which was filled with Cold War tendencies, to undergo transformations."

RZECZPOSPOLITA: Poland did not get the NATO help now promised to aspiring countries

The Polish daily "Rzeczpospolita" writes that at the recent NATO summit in Washington "the 19 NATO leaders not only took a decision on keeping the door open for new members, but they also promised concrete help to the aspiring countries, help which is more than Poland got when it was on its way to NATO."

LATVIA NEATKARIGA: Latvians should not believe NATO

Latvia's "Neatkariga" published a recent commentary arguing that the "opinion of some Latvian politicians, that we can count on NATO in case of crises, is alarming." The paper says that in the Kosovo crisis, NATO decided to participate in the conflict only when ethnic Albanians had already started military resistance. The paper says that Latvians should not believe that NATO would have gotten involved if Kosovo had already "been trampled under Serbia's boot."

KYRGYZSTAN ASABA: Prime ministers are appointed not to evade questions

In Kyrgyzstan, columnist Bermet Bukasheva -- writing in the independent weekly Asaba -- criticized an appearance by Amangeldi MuarAliyev before parliament before the body voted to back MuarAliyev for the post of prime minister.

Bukasheva wrote that "Amangeldi Muraliev, answering questions by the members of parliament, joked a lot and tried to avoid direct answers to complicated questions. But prime ministers are appointed not to evade questions but to provide solutions to problems."

The writer wonders that since MurAliyev tried to silence the questions of some deputies even before he was approved in the post, how will he behave now that he is prime minister?