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Western Press Review: Considering The Death Of A King...And Of 14 Farmers


Prague, 26 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Two kinds of death -- one by heart failure for a chronically ill king, the other by explosive violence for 14 Serbian farmers in Kosovo -- seized the attention of Western press commentators.

GUARDIAN: Men with guns don't get to sit at the negotiating table

The Guardian, London, said editorially of the Kosovo slayings that the work of pacifying Kosovo must continue. It said: "Vengeance killing and ethnic terrorism are all too predictable after a civil war. These murders are unlikely to be the last before a deterrent, non-military police force is established. Yet this massacre must not distract us from the progress that has been made in establishing civil administration."

Still, the editorial contends: "If the KLA was responsible for Friday's massacre, it has to be made clear, first, that detection and prosecution, including international human rights investigation, will be carried through, and, second, that men with guns don't get to sit at the negotiating table."

WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE: Kosovo is in the hands of vigilante justice

The Kosovars of whatever ethnic background must be given the hope that formal justice can prevail in their province, the Wall Street Journal Europe says in its editorial. The newspaper says: "As the latest massacre in a town called Gracko near Pristina, make clear, Kosovo is in the hands of vigilante justice. What that always suggests in that there is no official justice at hand."

The editorial says: "The way to break the cycle (of vengeance in Kosovo) is to give the local inhabitants a sense that they have a chance of receiving justice for the crimes committed against them."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Schroeder had a crash course in Balkan politics

Writing for publication last Friday before the news of the Kosovo bloodletting, commentator Peter Muench complained in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung of neglect of the post-bombardment Kosovo at the highest levels. Muench wrote: "On his short trip to Kosovo, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had a crash course in Balkan politics. A helicopter tour over the ruined landscape, a ride in an armored car through the streets of Pristina, meetings with all the important people and those who might soon be important -- no time for anything but fleeting impressions. But though much had to remain superficial, Schroeder deserves credit for making the effort to see for himself the extent of the need for financial and non-material aid, before next week's summit meeting in Sarajevo to thrash out a Balkans stability pact."

Muench went on: "People in Kosovo might well be asking why it took six weeks after the end of the war for the first Western head of government to put in an appearance. Or why the build-up of the KFOR peacekeeping force is proceeding at a snail's pace, or why the planned police force is still a phantom but crime an everyday reality in Kosovo."

WASHINGTON POST: Moroccos new king joins fraternity of moderate younger leaders

The death of King Hassan II of Morocco is cause both for mourning and for hope, The Washington Post says today in an editorial. Hassan contributed much to peace and stability in the Middle East, the newspaper says, but at a high price in repression of his own people. The Post: "A longtime behind-the-scenes peace broker, he facilitated Arab-Israeli contacts at a time when the role was crucial to drawing other, more powerful Arab states into the diplomatic game. Crucial and not without risk: King Hassan tempted high personal danger for conducting a peace policy. His was an important contribution to regional stability and, not least, his ticket to the favor of Europe and the United States."

The editorial concludes: "King Hassan's son, the quickly enthroned King Mohammed, 36, joins the new king of Jordan and others yet to come in the fraternity of moderate younger leaders of whom greater domestic change will now be expected. The West's gratitude for their past service as peace-seekers cannot dampen its abiding interest in their economic growth and especially in their prompt evolution into more open, humane and equitable societies."

FINANCIAL TIMES: King Mohammed faces a country seething with social problems

The British economic daily, Financial Times, seems to concur. The Financial Times says in an editorial: "In his 38-year rule, Hassan was an important Western ally who promoted and mediated in the Arab-Israel peace process and helped to build bridges between Arab and Jew."

Like The Washington Post, The Financial Times also invests hope for a new day in King Mohammed but, the newspaper adds, he will need help. The editorial says: "King Mohammed faces a country seething with social problems and the challenge of implementing an association agreement with the European Union (and) the EU must give (him) the attention he needs to help him implement the accord without fueling social tensions and de-stabilizing the country."

WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE: It will take a bold man to reconcile Morocco's extremes

Writing today in the Wall Street Journal Europe, Francis Giles, a lecturer at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, argues that hope in the new king is well placed. Giles writes: "The new monarch is 36 years old, well-educated, hard-working and shy. Fluent in Arabic, French, English and Spanish, he is no stranger to the outside world. He has spent time at the European Commission in Brussels and at the United Nations in New York."

Giles concludes: "It will take a bold man to reconcile (Morocco's) extremes of (old and new) and offer a blueprint for the future. Having given clear signs of supporting reform and promoting civil society, King Mohammed VI is off to a good start indeed. In a telling moment earlier this year, he championed the right to free speech by preventing the powerful interior minister, Driss Masri, from closing down Le Journal, the country's most savvy political and economic weekly. Founded less than two years ago, this newspaper is already a beacon to what many Moroccans hope their country soon will become -- freer and more transparent."

On other topics

LE MONDE: How is it possible that a Communist government is afraid of a guru?

The French daily Le Monde comments with Gallic wryness on communist China's hypersensitive response to the Falun-Gong movement. Le Monde: "How is it possible that a nearly 50-year-old Communist government, which has always been set on suppressing feudal superstitions [so they can be] replaced by thinking scientism, is afraid of a 48-year old guru? Afraid of a bluffing charlatan who boasts of supernatural powers that were revealed at the age of eight when he won a hide-and-seek game with his schoolmates, because he was made invisible? This unusual development at a time when the Peoples Republic of China is preparing to mark its 50th jubilee has two reasons. For one, the decisive role of secret societies in the political history of China; for another, the consciousness of the fragility of the authority finally achieved by the party which to this day is called communist, even though it has to a great extent retreated from communism."

TO VIMA: Just two radical changes could allow for some hope in the future

Some commentators continue to consider the problem of Cyprus, which last week marked its 25th year as a divided island and which continues to keep tensions high between Greece and Turkey. Richard Someritis wrote in Greece's To Vima yesterday that "Greece and Cypriot political leaders have decided to pursue the solution of a two-zone federation "on the island." This is what the United Nations' resolutions prescribe." Someritis said: "Many things have changed since 1974 on Cyprus and in the world. Just two radical changes could allow for some hope in the future. The first is the double prospect of Turkey's future accession to the process of European integration, and the coming of peace in the Middle East. The second is the prospect that, in the future, international law really will apply, and make human rights a priority in international politics."

INFORMATION: Lukashenka must admit that he is under great pressure

The Danish daily Information says in an editorial that Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's emphasis on creating a Slavic union with Russia is the wrong priority for a country that is increasingly isolated and poor. The editorial says: "Lukashenka must admit that he is under great pressure. Ever since he took power in the former Soviet republic, his country steadily has been becoming poorer and more isolated. The president has done little if anything to improve the lot of his people, and has instead chosen to create a Slavic union with Russia."

The editorial says: "Lukashenka must understand that making a union with Minsk is hardly a priority for Moscow. Therefore, his recent rhetoric has changed, and, despite his crackdown upon the opposition at home, he is trying to court the West. On one hand he is trying to put pressure on Russia to conclude the agreements with Minsk faster. But on the other he may be beginning to understand that the future lies Westward."

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