Prague, 11 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Western commentary today examines the "peace" in Bosnia and in the Mideast -- and finds it more troubled than serene.
A lonely decision by the southern German state of Bavaria to begin forcible repatriation of Bosnian refugees attracts comment from the United States' "New York Times" and Bavaria's own "Suddeutsche Zeitung."
NEW YORK TIMES: German states are pressing for the refugees' departure
In an analysis in yesterday's edition, Alan Cowell writes: "Acting alone among German authorities, the conservative southern state of Bavaria Wednesday became the first to embark on a threatened forcible expulsion of Bosnian war refugees. The choice of the first deportee -- a 29-year-old man said to have been given a suspended 18-month jail term in 1995 for sexual offenses -- seemed intended to play to a mood of widespread support for expulsions in this state.
"But thousands of law-abiding Bosnian war refugees here face a quieter, more insidious fate, caught between an inexorable state bureaucracy intent on their departure and an uncertain journey to a divided land without homes, jobs or much by way of a welcome."
Cowell writes: "Germany has provided sanctuary for some 320,000 refugees from Bosnia. Many of those are Muslims from towns and villages now under the control of Bosnian Serbs who will not accept them back. But, since December's peace agreement, German states chafing under the financial burden of supporting the outsiders have been pressing for their departure."
SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Departure requests will be sent to all refugees in Bavaria
In today's edition, Peter Munch comments: "Bavaria is the first to deport Bosnian refugees. It had to be, after all the preceding noise of the state government. With a sure nose, the Interior Ministry in (the Bavarian capital) Munich smelled out for the first case a refugee who had been convicted, among others, for sexual harassment. Probably its calculation is that one can hardly protest against this. So the leading case is an exceptional case. And in this way the beginning is made.
"(The Bavarian Interior Minister) Gunther Beckstein again and again stresses disingenuously that there won't be mass deportations. He says Bavaria counts mainly on 'voluntary willingness.' Yet voluntary willingness means in Bavaria that departure requests will be sent to all refugees, regardless of their home areas. Voluntary willingness means also that they will cease to receive social aid after the chosen deadline. People can live without means on the street just as well in Bosnia (as in Bavaria). And that's why the Bavarian state government expects them to leave voluntarily."
WASHINGTON POST: The resurrection of Karadzic as a political force would bode badly for Dayton
In an analysis of another Bosnia issue, John Pomfret writes in today's edition: "Western officials (yesterday) accused Radovan Karadzic, the indicted war criminal who ostensibly had stepped down as the Bosnian Serbs' political leader, of blocking the Serb member of Bosnia's three-man presidency from attending the presidents' inauguration on Saturday.
"The failure of Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbs' representative on the highest body in Bosnia, to participate in ceremonies at Sarajevo's national theater with Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim who chairs the presidency, and Kresimir Zubak, who represents the Bosnian Croats, has sparked a crisis in implementation of the Dayton accords. "The resurrection of Karadzic as a political force would bode badly for the implementation of the next phase of the Dayton deal."
The Middle East
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Clinton's summit bought time
Yale University foreign relations professor Gaddis Smith commented this week: "The predictable critics are condemning President Clinton for convening and presiding over last week's emergency Mideast summit meeting in Washington, necessitated by the eruption of new violence between Israelis and Palestinians. GOP candidate Bob Dole says the president was out to win votes in the approaching election. On the West Bank, crowds of Palestinians denounced the United States and burned the American flag, while some Israelis resented any suggestion from Clinton that their government must show greater commitment to the peace process.
"It is obviously too soon to know whether the Washington meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (with King Hussein of Jordan watching and worrying compassionately on the side) was a success or a failure. But as Clinton keeps the United States deeply involved and tries to maneuver both Israelis and Palestinians into a stable settlement, he takes his place in a long history of controversy over the pros and cons of direct presidential diplomacy and personal intervention in the quarrels of other countries."
Smith concluded: "Last week, Clinton acted in the tradition begun by (past U.S. President Theodore) Roosevelt and doubtless experienced some of the same frustrations in dealing with two sides who seemed blind to what was perfectly obvious. The emergency summit bought time -- how much, no one knows. Clinton accepted some risk and was undeterred by the critics. Not to have acted, however, would have been abdication of responsibility of a most grievous sort."
SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER: Israelis and Palestinians are not equal at all
A U.S. Arab activist, Akram Dudum, wrote in a commentary: "The primary reason Palestinians found hope in the Oslo peace agreement with Israel was the unwritten perception that Israel had finally decided to deal with Palestinians as equals."
Dudum contended: "The reality, however, is that the two people are not equal at all. Israelis have a functioning government, superior weapons, occupation of the disputed land and, most importantly, a relationship with the United States that is the envy of every other country. The election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been recognized by realists and pessimists as a rejection of the 'land for peace' agreement. In light of the recent violence, the one-sided commitment to the process by Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, can be interpreted only as surrender."
NEWSDAY: Netanyahu believes he got a license to stonewall
An editor of the "Jerusalem Post," Gershom Gorenberg, says in a commentary published in the U.S. newspaper: "Benjamin Netanyahu has come home from Washington feeling great. Others may regard the Washington summit as an inch from complete failure, a chat session that did nearly nothing to restore confidence in Mideast peace. Israel's prime minister sees it as a personal victory: He committed himself to absolutely nothing but talking some more. He believes he got a license to stonewall."
MIAMI HERALD: 'Palestinians can't be trusted' is a major theme of Netanyahu's book
John Donnelly wrote this week in an analysis: "Over the last several days, Israelis have snatched up copies of one book -- not some tell-all gossip tale but a dry account of Israel and the world called "A Place Among the Nations." The author is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
Donnelly said: "The question is whether Netanyahu turns more pragmatic as prime minister, or whether he sticks to his core philosophy. So far, principles are winning out. A major theme in the book, published in 1993: Palestinians can't be trusted, and Palestinian statehood is a 'Trojan horse' designed to destroy Israel."