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Western Press Review: Commentary Across World Map

By Don Hill/Anthony Georgieff/Alexis Papasotiriou

Prague, 5 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Western commentators on international topics -- no longer transfixed by Kosovo -- turn their attention to a variety of topics across the world.

KATHIMERINI: Turkey can be tamed only within the bounds of the EU

In Greece, the hot issue appears to be Greek-Turkey-EU relations. Writing in Kathimerini Sunday, commentator Costas Iordanidis said that Greece, in its own best interests, should support Turkish entry into the EU. He wrote: "The European Union could act as a more stable and credible force for improving Greek-Turkish relations."

The writer said: "But to use the EU to improve Greek-Turkish relations, [Greek Prime Minister Costas] Simitis's government should by every means facilitate -- and not obstruct -- a speedy incorporation of Turkey into the EU. The Greek government does not seem to realize that Turkey, because of its size and political outlook, can be tamed only within the bounds of a large and powerful organization like the EU."

TO VIMA: Athens' stance could be decisive

And Alkis Kourkoulas wrote Sunday in a commentary in To Vima that Turkey needs to improve its relations with Greece and seek Greek aid in joining the EU. He wrote: "In Turkish diplomacy's struggle to keep open the prospect of Turkey's accession to Europe, Athens' stance could be decisive." He wrote: "A dialogue and good relations with Athens could help Ankara overcome the storm brewing in the Cyprus issue, as those who foresee a frontal collision with American policy on Cyprus point out."

INFORMATION: Reconstruction is the only way to diminish hatred, crisis and isolation

Two Scandinavian commentators address issues as disparate as Northern Ireland and Kosovo recovery. Denmark's Information in an editorial argues against withholding aid from the rest of Yugoslavia while granting it in Kosovo and neighboring countries. The Danish newspaper says: "There is the risk that the Serbs' hatred for the West, which 78 days of bombing have created, and that is being manipulated by their president, will harden. To exert pressure on a people is not necessarily the best way to make them like and accept the Western ideas of democracy. If this does happen, the most difficult question for the Serbs will not be how to become like the West, but why should we."

The newspaper says: "Most critics of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic say that reconstruction [of Yugoslavia] is the only way to diminish hatred, crisis and isolation." The editorial says: "The West has done enough to weaken Milosevic. The best we can do now is to just ask his opposition how we can support them. To let the Serbs themselves decide who is going to govern them would be an illustration that the West can still remember what democracy is."

AFTENPOSTEN: The fact that the IRA has agreed to decommission its arms at all is enormous progress

The Norwegian daily Aftenposten says in an editorial that in Northern Ireland, the IRA's apparent agreement to disarm -- but not just yet -- is non-the-less a major achievement. Aftenposten says: "The IRA, a terror organization responsible for many murders and bomb attacks, will lay down its arms the moment [its political wing] Sinn Fein joins the common government of Catholics and Irish Protestant Unionists." The editorial says: "Now [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair has appealed to the unionist population of Northern Ireland to wait a little more before the IRA begins disarming itself. [But] the very fact that the IRA has agreed to decommission its arms at all, and that Ireland has the chance of being united with the support of the majority of the Northern Irish people, is enormous progress towards a situation where voters will mean more than weapons."


Also on Northern Ireland, before this weekend's development, Stefan Klein wrote from London in a Sueddeutsche Zeitung commentary on Friday: "The truth is clear for all to see: Northern Ireland's politicians have been wasting an historic opportunity. For the first time, there has been an opportunity to purge the crisis-ridden province of its murderous stock of lethal weapons, and pave the way to a lasting peace."

Klein went on: "If there was an axiom in Northern Ireland politics, it was that the underground IRA, fearing it would be interpreted as capitulation, would never give up its kalashnikovs, rockets, grenades and explosives to an independent disarmament commission. The Pope converting to Islam was considered a likelier occurrence. And yet something which no-one thought possible did indeed occur this week when Sinn Fein, the IRA's political arm, broke with its own powerful tradition and offered IRA disarmament. That was brave."

TIMES: Mr. Kouchner knows how to keep attention focused on a cause

From London, The Times, in an editorial, addresses the rebuilding of Kosovo's psyche. It says: "Bernard Kouchner, the newly appointed United Nations civil administrator for Kosovo, has said that he will be impartial but not neutral in rebuilding the ruined province. It will have to be a robust impartiality. Kosovo is still aflame -- the houses of remaining Serbs torched by [ethnic] Albanians intent on revenge, and hatred still burning in the hearts of both communities. Mr. Kouchner, schooled in the gentler humanitarian tradition of the aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres that he founded, must immediately face up to the brutal realities of this blackened landscape. He must insist on extremely tough measures and stringent policing -- armed if necessary -- if Kosovo is not to fall prey to looters, arsonists and gangs with guns."

The Times says: "Already Mr. Kouchner has given notice that he will use his high-profile position to harry the outside world for support. This is one part of his job for which he is well-prepared. A charismatic publicist, he knows how to keep attention focused on a cause."

WASHINGTON POST: ASEAN may have to confront the failure of its engagement strategy in Burma

The Washington Post editorializes today that efforts to lure Burma out of its antidemocratic isolation by granting its military rulers conditional recognition have failed. The Post says: "Two years ago, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took in Burma as a member. This was a major diplomatic triumph for Burma, whose military rulers now call the country Myanmar, and helped ease the isolation it earned after it trashed an incipient democracy in 1990. ASEAN's logic was familiar: Engagement with the outside world would persuade Burma's dictators to relax their repressive rule."

The Post says: "The person most qualified to speak of the success or failure of the engagement strategy is Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the political party that swept the 1990 elections, the results of which the regime refuses to honor. She says repression of her party and arrests of its members have intensified this year. She of all people does not favor the isolation of the Burmese people, but she argues that any aid to Burma's generals only strengthens their corrupt rule to the detriment of the population. ASEAN, many of whose members are themselves struggling toward increased democracy, soon may have to confront the failure of its engagement strategy in Burma."