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Western Press Review: East Timor And More

  • Jan de Weydenthal



Prague, 8 September 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Western press commentaries today deal with several separate issues, including the volatile situation in East Timor, relations between Greece and Turkey, and European Union matters. Also, a former head of the East German communist espionage network offers his view on qualifications of the current Russian prime minister.

FINANCIAL TIMES: The international community must provide security

The Financial Times says in an editorial that there is a growing need for international intervention in East Timor to stop the violence there.

The paper writes: "If Indonesia cannot or will not provide security for East Timor's transition to independence, it must let the international community to do so. A UN peacekeeping force may be too little, and it would certainly be too late for those already shot or beheaded. But there is no alternative."

LE MONDE: For those countries which have a moral obligation it is particularly urgent to stop the bloodshed

France's Le Monde agrees, comparing East Timor with Kosovo. The paper says in an editorial: "It is urgent to stop the bloodshed. It is urgent particularly for those countries which have a moral obligation with regard to Timor: Portugal, because it abandoned the territory in 1975, and Australia, because it recognized the annexation by Jakarta. There is a tendency to add also the United States, because of its past support of (former Indonesian president) Suharto and also because it considers itself a Pacific power. It is up to those countries to provide the basis for the force capable of influencing Jakarta. There is also a need immediately to announce a series of specific economic sanctions against Indonesia's leaders, both civilian and military."

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: Those who voted for independence must feel betrayed and abandoned

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asks in an editorial: "Has the United Nations miscalculated again? Should it not be accused of criminal imprudence for having asserted a referendum in such an explosive situation without taking the slightest security measures? The vast majority who voted for the independence of East Timor must feel betrayed and abandoned."

WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE: The earthquake helped make the foreign policy shift politically feasible for Athens

The Wall Street Journal-Europe focuses its attention on a possible improvement in Greek-Turkish relations stemming from the recent earthquake in Turkey.

The paper says in an editorial: "The earthquake helped make the foreign policy shift politically feasible for Athens. Greece rushed in to provide large-scale aid and rescue efforts. Sympathy in Greece was met with appreciation in Turkey. And this spelled political opportunity."

The paper continues: "Of course, a happy ending is not a foregone conclusion. So far, the rapprochement has been more rhetorical than substantive. There has been no evident progress on the Cyprus dispute... Greece still maintains the right to veto other long-term EU programs for Turkey."

And the journal concludes: "In another context, this might be called dissembling. But in the Balkans, it's big progress."

WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE: The real burden of improving relations now lies with Ankara

In a commentary in the same newspaper, Andreas Adrianopoulos, former minister in the Greek conservative government, says: "The real burden of improving Greco-Turkish relations now lies not with Greece, but with the political leadership in Ankara. The Greek government's gestures will amount to nothing if Turkey fails to respond in kind. At a minimum, the new government in Ankara will have to moderate its insular, nationalistic rhetoric. It must also demonstrate that it perceives Greece as a partner and not a foe. Cyprus, which remains divided into Turkish and Greek sectors, could be one setting for initiatives that would demonstrate good faith and mutual trust."

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Europe is becoming a two-tier structure

Moving to the European Union, former representative of the European Commission in Washington Roy Denman writes in the International Herald Tribune on EU enlargement. He says enlargement will force changes in a European Union that is increasingly developing along two tracks. Denman says: "Just as the present EU will have to decide how it will develop, the applicants will have to decide what Europe they want to join. Some of them might be willing and able to accept the full obligations of the inner core -- a common currency, a common economic, defense and foreign policy -- in short becoming part of a politically integrated Europe. Others might wish to join a second tier, at most participating in trade, agricultural and regional policies but not yet full members. What is clear is that Europe is becoming a two-tier structure."

FINANCIAL TIMES: Now the commissioners must deliver

In the meantime, the Financial Times notes that the new European Commission is taking shape. The paper says: "Romano Prodi's team of 19 commissioners looks set to be confirmed by the European parliament.... It was a promising start both for the process and the commission. Prodi's class of '99 have been forced to write their good intentions on the blackboard. Now they must deliver."

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Putin will have to be as skillful in Russian politics as in the world of espionage

On an entirely different subject, Markus Wolf, the former famed head of the East German communist espionage network, says in a New York Times commentary -- reprinted by the International Herald Tribune -- that former spies could make good leaders of government.

Wolf says: "On the whole, the spies I have known have been extremely well read, highly intelligent, politically informed people. They have often been blessed with remarkable leadership and managerial skills... And they have been intimately familiar with the tactics of deception -- a skill that can have great advantage for political maneuvering."

Commenting on the qualifications of the new Russian prime minister, former intelligence operative Vladimir Putin, Wolf says that Putin "will need to use compromise as his foremost political tool. To succeed, he will have to be as skillful in the open melee of Russian politics as in the shadowy world of espionage."



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