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Transition Nations Press Review: Attitudes Toward NATO

  • Don Hill

Prague, 5 May 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Selected recent commentaries from the press of nations in transition from communism examine the conduct and meaning of the war over Kosovo, consider a potential union of Russia, Belarus and Yugoslavia, and discuss domestic politics.


IZVESTIA: NATO opposition binds Belarus with Russia

Writer Semen Novoprudsky says in Russia's "Izvestia" that NATO power displays provide a strong motive for unification, and that the costs should be ignored. The writer says: "The motive boils down to opposing NATO regardless of whether or not the utopian idea of Yugoslavia's membership in a Slavic union is implemented in practice or not. A union based on ideologies will play into the hands of the official Minsk, which finds itself in political isolation from the West. It is clear that if it is a military-political detonate we are talking, then economic expediency of the unification is not all that important. Meaning in turn that counting the expenses (which Russia will inevitably have to cover) is something amoral. It is friendship against NATO that makes Russian-Belarusian friendship so strong now."

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA: Democracy does not thrive under air-raids

In Russia's "Nezavisimaya Gazeta", Nadezhda Arbatova mourns what she calls NATO leaders' contempt for the rule of law. She equates them with the Kremlin bosses in the old Soviet Union. She writes: "To a person who grew up in the Soviet Union, the statements of NATO leaders and Western politicians about the Yugoslav crisis are reminiscent of the recent past. Kremlin dreamers and their Brussels successors sincerely believed that they were right, that what they thought to be a good end really justified the means, and that political expediency -- the most all-encompassing and convenient formula -- was above everything else."

She writes: "One cannot help being amazed at NATO's truly neo-Bolshevik confidence in its correctness, as if the most democratic countries in the world never had the experiences of Cyprus or Vietnam. Or as if to err were not human. Today, the leading countries of the free world are using air-raids and missile strikes to impose democracy on the survivors in Yugoslavia, but democracy does not thrive under air-raids."

Arbatova says: "Sure, NATO can triumph over Yugoslavia by assaulting it with everything it has in its arsenals and widening the margins of side-effects. If this happens, however, Europe will surely enter the next century without any respect for democratic values."


RESPUBLICA TATARSTAN: An alliance is proclaimed with countries where freedoms are openly violated

Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev is quoted in "Respublica Tatarstan" as looking askance at a potential Belarus-Russian union. Shaimiev says: "There is one point of principle in creation of an alliance with both Belarus and Yugoslavia. How difficult it was for Russia this decade to overcome all the bars of the transition period. But it steadily moves to confirm itself as a democratic state governed by law. Now, suddenly, we proclaim an alliance with countries where freedoms of individual are openly violated, where ethnic cleansings take place."


GOLOS ARMENII: Armenians one day will understand the need to fight against extortionate capitalism

Armenia's "Golos Armenii" editorializes nostalgically about May Day, which isn't an official holiday in Armenia. The newspaper says that May Day didn't originate as a holiday with "communist or even political" overtones. The editorial expresses a hope that Armenians "one day will understand the need to fight against extortionate and distorted capitalism."


PRAVO: Protecting skinheads was disgusting

In the Czech Republic, Jiri Hanak writes in "Pravo" that the police on May Day show a bias in favor of skinheads over anarchists. He writes: "While planes with Kosovo refugees are landing in Ostrava, north Moravia, hundreds of skinheads in Prague are shouting: 'Czechlands for Czechs' at a demonstration watched by police. He says: "The state police saw to it that nobody disturbed the skinheads shouting Nazi slogans, wearing fascist symbols or carrying banners with fascist symbols. The writer says: "It was disgusting. Only half a year after a skinhead stabbed a Sudani student to death, after which Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman stated he would try to ban the skinhead movement." Hanak writes: (On May Day) the skinheads were protected by police, for which actions Zeman's Interior Minister is responsible."


LIETUVOS RYTAS: A too ambitious president has been elected

Attentions of the Lithuanian press understandably is preempted by a feud between Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and President Valdas Adamkus. Says "Lietuvos Rytas" in an editorial: "The Conservatives have encountered the problem that the Lithuanian people have elected a president who is too ambitious. For several months the Prime Minister keeps on explaining that the policy of the Government is irreproachable, that no real alternative exists, but the President publicly questions its decisions. Now it is clear that the President will not let his institution become a carpet where the shoes are cleaned."


RESONANSI: There are several essential conditions for joining NATO

Georgia's "Resonansi" carries comments by Rezo Adamia, chairman of the security and defense committee of the Georgian parliament, predicting that Georgia will be a NATO member early in the 21st Century: "In the first decade of the next century, Georgia will become a full member of NATO." Adamia says that at the NATO summit in Washington, leaders prepared a plan for countries seeking NATO membership. The legislator says: "There are several essential conditions for joining NATO, among them (solving) security problems of the country and (reforming) the economic and social situation of military structures. Georgia needs several years to meet those conditions".