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Western Press Review: Kosovo And Other Topics

  • Anthony Georgieff
  • Don Hill



Prague, 10 Jun 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Developments tumbled over and under each other so late yesterday that insufficient time remained for some -- but not all -- Western commentators to address the apparently developing peace in Kosovo. Others consider European Parliament elections.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: KOSOVO AGREEMENT MEETS NATOS GOALS

The New York Times says in an editorial that yesterday's Kosovo agreement appears to meet NATO's core goals. The newspaper says: "Though Kosovo has been devastated by the brutal Serbian assault, the peace plan effectively strips administration of the province from Slobodan Milosevic and opens the way for the safe resettlement of the ethnic Albanian refugees."

"Some pieces of this complex diplomatic and military puzzle are imperfect," the editorial asserts, and goes on, "But none of these potential problems should disable the restoration of peace."

The U.S. newspaper peers ahead and perceives a long, narrow, difficult trail: "After a decade of Serbian repression and months of ethnic cleansing, Kosovo is gravely wounded. It will take months, if not years, to rebuild and repopulate the province and restore some sense of harmony between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. The high level of autonomy Kosovo will enjoy while temporarily under U.N. administration will need to be preserved after the international presence fades. With the war ending, that difficult work now can begin. "

DIE WELT: SERBIAN ORTHODOX CLERGY SHOW SIGNS OF NEW IDEOLOGY

Gernot Facius comments in the German newspaper Die Welt that -- even before an end to open battle over Kosovo seemed imminent -- Serbian Orthodox clergy were developing an ideological divergence between nationalists and what Facius calls "enlightened members" of the .clergy. He writes that "the (Orthodox) Church still prides itself on its reputation as the church that defends 'Serbia's hallowed ground.' " This, Facius says, is "in the tradition of the widely revered Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, who died in 1956." Still, the writer says, "signs of new theological thinking have begun to emerge, a thinking that more clearly stresses the universal Biblical precepts while still allowing for maintaining national solidarity."

Facius writes: "The aging Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle has appealed to his faithful several times to think not only of their own 'suffering nation' but also of the other peoples 'who live among us.' The 85-year-old prelate has never rejected the idea of a multi-ethnic society. His condemnation of the NATO air raids has always been coupled with appeals to the Yugoslavian military and civilian authorities to take all the steps they could to make peace possible."

The writer says that even Russian Patriarch Alexy II, on a visit to Belgrade, presented a broader than totally one-sided view. The West failed to notice this, he says. Facius recalls: "Alexy warned against continuing to 'defile the Kosovo of old, the historic holy ground of the Serbian people, by fratricide.' "

THE WASHINGTON POST: YELTSIN TRADING KOSOVO INTERVENTION FOR U.S. SUPPORT OF HIS REGIME

In The Washington Post, columnist Jim Hoagland offers a foretaste of what he calls, "Yeltsin's bill." Hoagland's calculation is that Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave U.S. President Bill Clinton a leg up on Kosovo and now expects a quid pro quo. Hoagland writes: "Russia's political future is in play as the Kosovo settlement takes final shape. The signals from Moscow are unambiguous: The severely ailing Yeltsin is trading unpopular intervention on Kosovo to maintain U.S. support for his embattled regime now and in the future for the successor Yeltsin has finally selected: Sergei V. Stepashin."

Says Hoagland: "Russia's fate is at stake in the internal drama leading toward presidential elections next year. Getting too deeply and visibly involved in Russian domestic politics in return for gains in Kosovo now could be a bad bargain with the future. Wariness, about Russian intentions on Kosovo and about Russian politics is the wise attitude right now."

FINANCIAL TIMES: MILOSEVIC PRESENTING TROOP WITHDRAWAL AS DEAL WITH U.N. NOT NATO



Two warning voices emerge in news analyses in Britain's Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune, published in Paris by U.S. interests. Guy Dinmore writes in The Financial Times: "Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav president, was yesterday moving to shore up his power at home, having effectively accepted defeat in Kosovo. Mr. Milosevic, with his control of state media, is presenting to Serbs his acceptance of a troop withdrawal as a deal with the United Nations, not with NATO."

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: KOSOVO AGREEMENT AMBIGUOUS

The International Herald TribuneUs John Vanocur writes: "In the Balkans world of willful imprecision, the arrangement that is supposed to install peace in Kosovo is remarkable for now in the depth of its ambiguities and the limited sense of finality that it imposes on the war."

LONDON INDEPENDENT: PARTITION OF KOSOVO INEVITABLE

Writing in the Independent , London, Rupert Cornwell blurts out the name of one such imprecision, what Cornwell calls the "P" word -- partition. He writes: "For the allies, the concept remains taboo (that is forbidden, virtually unmentionable). In practice, however, it may prove the outcome, especially when Russia's force arrives, almost certainly to be stationed in Serb areas. Last night's military agreement means a hard part is over. The hardest part, however, lies ahead."

A number of commentators in Western Europe turn briefly from the conflict over Kosovo to assess elections under way for the European Parliament. So far, several lament, the interest the press takes has not extended itself to the populace nor its voters -- for reasons that are evident.

DENMARK INFORMATION: EU AT A CROSSROADS, NEED VISION

Denmark's Information editorializes: "The first issue (in today's European Parliament elections) is vision. The EU is at a crossroads, termed by some a system crisis and by others just new challenges. The point is that the EU has assumed the key role in international development where the forces of the day pull towards ever more free competition and economic growth, at the expense of weakening social structures, isolation of the disadvantaged (members of society), undermining of the welfare state and the deterioration of (the quality of) democracy." It says: "The second issue in the polls is competence and diligence."

FINANCIAL TIMES: PARLIAMENT MUST PROVIDE DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OVER BRUSSELS BUREAUCRACY

The Financial Times says in an editorial that the essential job of Parliaments delegates is to "provide democratic control over the Brussel's U bureaucracy." The newspaper says: "For that job, outstanding individuals often are more effective that amorphous party groups. But the election system does not allow voters to choose (in that fashion). If they could, the turnout might well be more enthusiastic."

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CANDIDATES

In the Wall Street Journal Europe, economist and former British government economic advisor Warwick Lightfoot examines the self-introductions that many European Parliament candidates offer -- such as lists of hobbies like cricket, birdwatching and flower arranging. He comments: "While it is possible to excuse individual candidates from serious debate, a tougher and less charitable test should be applied to the manifestoes of the parties themselves. Names, to what extent do they measure up to the political challenge that faces Europe today? What is their vision and where is the beef?"

Lightfoot concludes: "None of the main European political parties has a manifesto that tackles the economic challenges that confront Europe. There is little in the way of analysis or specific commitment to structural reform and certainly nothing that would deserve to be described as visionary. No one would accuse Europe's politicians of mounting a cruse in the election campaign. At best their messages are anodyne (that is, artificially soothing), when not confusing. As you sow, so you shall reap. If Europe's voters choose not to vote, its politicians will be reaping the poor harvest of the seed they have sown."

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