Prague, 16 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Press commentary today looks critically at preparations for elections in Bosnia despite continuing violations of the Dayton accords. Commentators also examine Turkey's changing political face and resulting tension.
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Election officials should take a stand against a rushed election
David L. Bosco directs the American Refugee Committee's Sarajevo office. He comments in todays edition: "The foreign officials in charge of the Bosnian elections no doubt have laudable intentions. . . . But the sad truth is that (they) are doing little of any value, and much that is harmful. For the good of Bosnia and for the credibility of the international election effort, it is time that these officials took a stand against the rushed and misguided election effort here. . . . (Some) would argue that an international organization can never rebel against its masters, (but) someone must stand up for free elections in Bosnia. If it is not the officials who have devoted themselves to organizing the elections, who will it be?"
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Minimal prerequisites have not been met for elections in Bosnia
Anna Husarska is an analyst for the International Crisis Group, which is monitoring implementation of the Dayton agreement. In a commentary the paper, she quotes Flavio Cotti, chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as saying last June that minimal prerequisites had not been met for elections in Bosnia. Husarska writes: "Since then conditions have worsened. . . . Those opposed to any delay of elections in Bosnia say of course -- if not now, then when? The answer is simple. The entire electoral timetable can be scrapped and a military-like countdown introduced starting from the day when most indicted war criminals are awaiting trial in The Hague."
NEW YORK TIMES: Dayton is a success only if elections are conducted fairly
The paper takes a more cheerful view in an editorial today: "In his trip to Geneva and Sarajevo this week, Secretary of State Warren Christopher displayed the kind of firm diplomacy that will be needed as Bosnia moves toward critical elections. (He) extracted fresh commitments from Presidents Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Franjo Tudjman of Croatia, and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia to live up to the electoral provisions of the Dayton peace agreement. . . . The Dayton agreement promised Bosnia a year's international presence to secure a respite from the fighting and give its people a chance to begin rebuilding a civil society and political institutions. The respite has been largely achieved. But Dayton can be deemed a success only if the elections are conducted fairly and the new national institutions begin to function."
SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: The warring parties are getting away with sabotage attempts and provocations
An editorial signed by Bernd Kueppers takes a less sanguine tone: "Christopher linked his trip to Bosnia with symbolism -- the re-opening of Sarajevo airport to civil air traffic. This is reminiscent of French President Francois Mitterrand's landing at the airport of the occupied city in 1992. At the time the besieged inhabitants rejoiced, but later they cursed. For instead of heralding Western intervention against the Serb campaign of expulsions, the gesture merely sanctioned mediation and humanitarian crisis management. Having negotiated the Dayton peace accords, the U.S. government is now in danger of gambling them away by only seeming to implement them. Even more than in Dayton, the warring parties and partners in peace are being allowed to get away with sabotage attempts and provocations."
FINANCIAL TIMES: IFOR has acted as an agent of partition, not of reintegration
An editorial in today's edition of the British newspaper says: "The United States, after years of scathing criticism of the previous U.N. force for its neutrality, now has imposed a similar neutrality on the much larger and more heavily armed Implementation Force (IFOR). As a result, IFOR has acted as an agent of partition, not of reintegration. . . . The International Crisis Group. . . therefore was right yesterday to call for the elections to be postponed, and to propose a new, phased electoral schedule."
DIE WELT: How to avoid accidental meetings with war criminals
The paper carries a satirical editorial signed by Boris Kalnoky. The German newspaper says: "It is said that the IFOR troops in Bosnia shouldn't track down directly accused war criminals, like the Serbian general staff chief Ratko Mladic, but they certainly should arrest them if they meet them accidentally. This guideline creates one of the more difficult tasks of the IFOR soldiers -- how at all costs to avoid accidental meetings. Recently, NATO (insisted strongly on inspecting) a Serbian arms depot. . . . The Serbs gave in. This shows how strongly NATO can put its foot down. But -- pity! -- a ridiculous happening followed the sublime stand. A force of six IFOR soldiers showed up to make the inspection. They were welcomed warmly. They learned that Mr. Mladic personally would accompany them. . . . Oh, my god! What should they do now? . . .The solution? . . .They left, of course."
WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE: Turkey's moves have not provoked great concern among Europeans
On the topic of Turkey's changing foreign policy, James M. Dorsey writes today in a news analysis: "Feeding on growing anti-Western sentiment at home, Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbaken is balancing a tightrope as he shifts his country's focus eastward without surrendering its long-standing Western ties. . . . While Mr. Erbakan's moves appear so far to have put a dent in U.S. efforts to isolate Iran, they have done little to provoke great concern among Europeans already up in arms about U.S. efforts to restrict their trade not only with Iran, but also with Libya. . . . In fact, some European diplomats. . . argue that enhanced relations with Iran, Iraq and Syria serve both the economic and the security interests of Turkey."
DIE WELT: U.S. policy toward Iran has no future as a guideline for Western policy in the Orient
The paper says today in an editorial signed by Lothar Ruehl: "The concerns voiced in Brussels by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana over Turkey's gas deal with Iran may be fully justified from the American point of view, but from a Turkish or even a European perspective they appear rather divorced from reality and dogmatic. Still more important is the fact that this is the third time since the Iranian Revolution in 1978 that the United States has tried to force its allies to take a confrontational stance against Iran. This policy does not find any support in the Middle East and thus has no future as a guideline for Western policy in the Orient."