Prague, April 5 (RFE/RL) - The Western press in recent days has cast
a series of wary glances at the former communist nations of Eastern
and Central Europe - covering such issues as NATO expansion, new Russian
hegemony, and communist resurgence.
Adrian Bridge writes today in Britain's The Independent: "Although the
drive to restore the Soviet Union is being spearheaded by Russian communists,
the cause has been taken up in part by President Boris Yeltsin, anxious to
boost his chances in June's presidential election.... Baltic leaders stress
that after 50 years of enforced incoporation into the Soviet Union, they have no
interest in joining another Moscow-led alliance."
The Suddeutsche Zeitung said yesterday in an editorial signed by Thomas Urban:
"The task faced by Poland's Defense Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski on his visit
to Moscow was no easy one. On the one hand, he could not allow the slightest
doubt to surface about Warsaw's intent
to join NATO. On the other, he was on a shopping-trip for spare parts- for the
Soviet-made fighter airplanes Poland had to buy during the time it belonged to
the Warsaw Pact.... Even now, as it attempts to revive military cooperation with
Moscow, the Polish leadership can be sure of the West's support in seeking an
arms deal of manageable proportions which does not oblige NATO-candidate Poland
to commit itself any further neither contradicts this concept nor undermines Warsaw's
The London Times editorializes today: "(Prime Minister) John Major's soon-to-be-announced
decision to spend a day in Kyiv on his way to the Moscow nuclear summit underlines a
vital British interest. Ukraine is the pivot of the changing East European balance.
The Russian Duma vote to reconstitute the Soviet Union has alarmed all the former
Soviet republics; and Tuesday's decision by Russia and Belarus to take the first
steps towards reunification has boosted the nationalist cause in both countries
and sharply increased pressure on their southern neighbor, Ukraine."
Mathias Brueggmann wrote yesterday in the German daily Die Welt: "Both the
link-up between Russia and Belarus agreed in Moscow on Tuesday and the greater
economic integration decided at the end of last week between four CIS states - Russia,
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, who have formed the Commonwealth of Independent
States -- highlight the economic development of the successor states to the former
Soviet Union. The collapse of the USSR led to a severe crisis for the young
In The Independent, Helen Womack reports today from Moscow: "Adopting a harsh
tone reminiscent of the Cold War, the hardline leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko,
yesterday threated to expel diplomats and journalists who attended demonstrations
against his policy of tigher integration with Russia.... Mr Lukashenko was especially
angry that Russian television failed to point out that he had banned street marches
after a similiar protest of nationalists in Belarus last March.... Along with
Uzbekhistan... Belarus is among the most conservative former Soviet republics.
This is thanks to Mr Lukashenko, whose eccentric behavior prompts comparison with
Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky."