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Western Press Review: Kosovo Remains In The Forefront

  • Anthony Georgieff
  • Don Hill



Prague, 6 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Western press commentary looks at Kosovo and other international concerns.

AFTENPOSTEN: Not everybody shares our beliefs in democracy

In Norway's Aftenposten, Kjell Dragnes comments that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic appears not to have learned any lessons from the conflict with NATO over Kosovo. But, he says, NATO needs to learn some as well. He writes: "Nothing suggests that Slobodan Milosevic has heeded any of the lessons the West has tried to teach him. But has NATO considered the lessons it had been taught itself? One of them is purely psychological. Milosevic has proved that not everybody on this planet actually shares our beliefs in democracy. If we fail to understand this -- because of the historical, cultural and political challenges involved -- or if we just look the other way, we will be unable to give an adequate response to similar situations in the future."

Dragnes adds: "Another lesson is military. What do high-tech satellites help when the sky is cloudy, or when the enemy just removes his weapons from open sight? NATO's tactics in Yugoslavia were not exactly a success, including its kind of thinking that our planes should be flying at a considerable height in order to avoid casualties. High technology can hardly be considered the only answer to such challenges."

WASHINGTON POST: The latest dispute over the Russian peacekeepers demonstrated a new level of mistrust

The Washington Post's Sharon LaFraniere writes in a news analysis that lack of trust between NATO and Russian forces in Kosovo is substantial and growing. She says: "NATO and Russian negotiators [have] agreed on how to deploy Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo, defusing a diplomatic standoff that over the weekend prompted NATO to block the flight of Russian troops to the battered Serbian province."

She continues: "NATO considers Russian participation in the peacekeeping mission an important means of reassuring Kosovo's shrinking Serbian minority that it will be secure in the midst of hundreds of thousands of returning ethnic Albanian refugees who were driven from their homes by Serb-led Yugoslav forces during the 2 1/2-month Kosovo war. The latest dispute over the Russian peacekeepers demonstrated a new level of mistrust of Russia by NATO leaders and a determination by the alliance to nail down details of Russia's role in Kosovo before allowing it to send more troops to the Pristina airport." SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Russia was put back in its place

In the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, commentator Daniel Broessler suggests a tenuous connection between Russian impotence in Kosovo and its fierceness in Chechnya. Broessler write: "Anyone in Moscow still dreaming of days of Soviet superpower glory must be sleeping deeply -- NATO's blockade of Russian air supply corridors to its troops in Kosovo last week interrupted those dreams for most other Russians. Negotiations in Moscow reopened the corridors soon enough, but not before Russia was put back in its place in the international pecking order once again. That may be why new Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin has been [using force] in Chechnya, trying to prove he can intervene in at least some places without having to get permission from anyone at all."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Pakistan now stands as the warmonger

On the subject of the Indian-Pakistani faceoff in Kashmir, another Sueddeutsche Zeitung commentator, Andreas Baenziger, says Pakistan took foolish risks by adventuring there. Boenziger writes: "Whoever pointed Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif towards this dangerous adventure can have had only one motive: to return the Kashmir issue to the international agenda. This has been achieved, but in a thoroughly fruitless way for Pakistan."

Baenziger continues: "[Pakistan] now stands as the warmonger which irresponsibly contravened the 1972 ceasefire between India and Kashmir and without provocation aggravated an armed conflict. It could easily have triggered a third Kashmir war between the two arch-enemies, perhaps even a nuclear catastrophe."

The commentator says: "Pakistan has made no gains from this expensive adventure which cost hundreds of lives on both sides. India, on the other hand, stands vindicated as the injured party that reacted decisively and with a level head to the injustice done to it." He adds: "So now the Spirit of Lahore -- where less than six months ago India and Pakistan appeared to approach each other seriously and sincerely -- is to come to fruition once again. Yet this spirit has been seriously, perhaps even irreparably, damaged by Pakistan's Himalayan escapade."

NEW YORK TIMES: Sharif is likely to find it difficult to deliver on his pledge

In a New York Times news analysis, Celia W. Dugger says that the Pakistani prime minister's promises may have been sincere but may also be flawed. She writes: "Once he gets home from his Washington tete-a-tete with [U.S.] President [Bill] Clinton, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to find it difficult to deliver on his pledge to the Americans that he would seek to withdraw Pakistani-backed forces from the Indian side of the cease-fire line in the disputed territory of Kashmir."

Dugger writes: "Opposition political parties sharply criticized Sharif [yesterday] for apparently giving away what they believe to be hard-won military gains in Kashmir for nothing much in return." She adds: "Political experts also questioned whether Sharif, who has quickly backed away from other unpopular decisions, would have the political will to insist on a withdrawal if it cost him dearly with the powerful military establishment, Islamic fundamentalist groups and the Pakistani people, who for the most part revere the forces in Kashmir as freedom fighters battling for the rights of Kashmir's Muslim majority."

DIE WELT: The IMF loan is a purely political deal

Jens Hartmann writes from Moscow for the German newspaper Die Welt on the prospects for western financial help to Russia. He says: "The only thing Russia still needs to draw on a further $4.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund is a signature from IMF Director Michel Camdessus. Hartmann says: "Representatives of Russia and the fund say all the other details of the new IMF loan to the former superpower have already been ironed out."

He adds: "The IMF loan is a purely political deal, say many pundits. If it is, the Russians have no problems with it. [They are] getting the [pay back they] bought by compromising in the Kosovo crisis. Even so, in the last few weeks Russia's political elite has done the homework the IMF gave it, president and parliament working [closely together] to get it done."

Hartmann concludes: "But dozens of foreign companies no longer expect to see a happy end to the story in Russia. They've already packed their bags and headed for home. The ultimate test for the Kremlin is whether it can turn that situation around."

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