GENEVA ACCORD ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA: "FIRST STEP TOWARD PEACE"
Most opinionmakers overseas cautiously welcomed Friday's U.S.-sponsored Geneva agreement as the "first step" toward a negotiated peace settlement in the former Yugoslavia and as evidence of Washington's continued capacity to solve international crises once it exercises vigorous leadership. Their call for the West to maintain diplomatic and military pressure on the warring parties, however, was accompanied by expressions of uncertainty over the Western strategy's eventual success and, for some, bitterness over the "disgraceful" peace it might usher. Pointing to the many obstacles remaining ahead, analysts singled out the challenge of partitioning Bosnia while preserving its viability as a separate state. They complained, as did the centrist News of Islamabad, that the accord is "intrinsically...unfair" to the Bosnian Muslims and that, in the words of Ljubljana's right-of-center Slovenec, "The Serbian aggressor was rewarded." Sarajevo's independent Oslobodjenje insisted that the Geneva guidelines mean that "Bosnia-Herzegovina has to choose between the worst peace and the worst war." Saudi-owned, influential Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat disagreed with these critics, saying that "the U.S. initiative is getting the backing of Islamic countries that have seen the details and that in itself should give an added feeling of security to the Bosnian people."
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: "Worst Peace Or Worst War"
Hamza Baksic opined in independent Oslobodjenje (9/11), "Bosnia-Herzegovina has to choose between the worst peace and the worst war.... Human rights are the only measure. If the present leadership, with Nikola Koljevic as their most moderate representative, stays in the Serb part along with the present orientation, then they will not respect human rights. Their present leadership and policy will lead to war again. "Both the peace solution, if that is what this is, or the possible continuation of war, will expose all the weaknesses of Bosnia. Both options contain all the mistaken estimates from 1991 to today and all the politial and human sins of our declared friends.... One actual event can be connected with Bosnia. The world recently marked 50 years since the end of the second Wold War and the Japanese capitulation. However, Japan, along with Germany, is the winner of the latest economic race in the world. On the other hand, Vietnam is seeking help from America. Thirty years of war turned the Vietnamese into people with warrior's minds. Knowing only how to fight for freedom, now that they have it, they do not know what to do with it."
"First Step Toward True Negotiations" Independent Oslobodjenje (9/8) front-paged this commentary by Vlastimir Mijovic, "It has been a long time since the victim and the executioner have met face to face.... Surely, the meeting of foreign ministers will not have spectacular results. Nevertheless, the diplomacy is warming up. The big event is the meeting itself. Each beginning starts with a first step. This is the first step toward true negotiations that should result in a peace, an agreement, a deal or a compromise....
"It is even more difficult to predict if the outcome will be just. However, if the international community persists in its military and political pressures, they will achieve peace more quickly.... If Moscow were prepared to join the international military and political efforts to exert pressure, the chances of success would be even greater."
SERBIA-MONTENEGRO: "Tomahawk Diplomacy Prevails"
Belgrade's independent, centrist Nasa Borba (9/11) published this front-page report by Washington correspondent Slobodan Pavlovic: "Last weekend, President Clinton called on the warring parties once again to demonstrate 'flexibility and statesmanship' in their further negotiations. The U.S. president will be having consultations today with his closest associates and his Balkan envoy Richard Holbrooke, about the process which did have a good start but still has to encounter many obstacles. (Regarding Holbrooke's mission), it is particularly emphasized in Washington that no agreement has been achieved with Belgrade which would lead to a lifting of sanctions.... So the conclusion is that this key question for Serbia and Montenegro will be one of the topics in the current 'tomahawk' diplomatic initiative...."
"Holbrooke's Goal" Senior foreign affairs commentator Stevan Niksic wrote in Belgrade's independent weekly NIN (9/8), "Those who know Richard Holbrooke well, claim that he is a man deprived of any sentimentality, and aimed solely at achieving his goal.... From the very beginning, Holbrooke's main object was to get the unpleasant burden of the Bosnian war off Bill Clinton's back, and to eliminate the risk of possible U.S. troops involvement in the Bosnian war, since it might cause a lot of trouble to his boss during the forthcoming presidential election campaign.... So, what he wants is to bring the war in Bosnia to an end as soon as possible with as little as possible headache for the Americans."
CROATIA: "West Confident It Can Resolve The Problem"
Zagreb's pro-government Vjesnik (9/7) remarked in an article by Paris correspondent Mirko Galic, "The messages coming from Pale--Karadzic accepts the conditions, Mladic refuses to comply--are not creating confusion; the West, obviously, is talking only to Belgrade in an attempt to resolve the Serbian problem through Milosevic. The West is confident that it can resolve the problem. Richard Holbrooke, after his last meeting with Milosevic, stated that 'there was no diplomatic breakthrough,' but the American has good reasons to continue with the talks...."
SLOVENIA: "A Step Forward Toward Peace"
Left-of-center, independent Dnevnik's Maroje Mihovilovic observed (9/11), "Although the Geneva meeting is a step forward toward peace, it does not have a decisive importance for the issue of war and peace.... The meeting has set the grounds which can not be essentially changed...unless the international community's viewpoint on the war in Bosnia is basically changed--i.e. if the West openly...decides to definitely defeat the Serbs, which is hardly likely, even unlikely."
"Serbian Aggresssor Rewarded" Marjeta Simunic wrote for right-of-center Slovenec (9/11), "After 41 months of slaughtering and persecuting of the non-Serb inhabitants...the Serbian aggressor was rewarded. This is incomprehensible for all those who are...still able to use common sense.... The vague Geneva agreement is an official confirmation of the beginning of the end for an internationally recognized state.... Time will show the actual fate of the Bosnian Muslims.... "The Bosnian tragedy and resulting recent disagreements among the most important international factions...may also indicate another division of Europe and the world.... The decisive international players...have failed in their search for a formula for East-West integration and...they cannot or do not want to offer more than a recipe for a Cold War."
BRITAIN: "NATO Launches Cruise Missiles In Anger"
All broadcast media monitored (9/11) led on the launch of cruise missiles by NATO against the Bosnian Serbs. As BBC Radio put it, for "the first time cruise missiles have been launched in anger in Europe."
"A Step Toward Peace" The conservative Daily Telegraph opined (9/9), "The agreement reached in Geneva yesterday by the warring parties in Bosnia is an important step toward a negotiated settlement.... Yesterday's agreement provides a framework for peace. Now will begin even trickier negotiations on how the territory should be divided between the federation and the republic. A key to this will be the fate of Sarajevo, the symbol of a once truly multiethnic state.... The worry remains that President Clinton, already preparing to run for re-election next year, will be tempted to appease the Serbs in order to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. The president will also have to stand up to threats from Mr. Yeltsin over NATO bombing and artillery attacks."
"Squaring The Circle In Bosnia" The liberal Guardian held (9/11), "The new Bosnian deal reached in Geneva is a long way short of a 'breakthrough'; but may just prove to be an 'opening for peace.'"
"Is Americanization Of War Bad?" The liberal Guardian commented (9/7), "The Americanization of the war is not automatically bad, nor is the switch from peacekeeping to peace enforcement. The problem lies in the details.... In the American case, it fits a modern practice, developed in Vietnam and expanded in the Gulf War, of overkill and 'under-suffer'--how to maximize destruction while keeping one's own casualties virtually to zero....
FRANCE: "America Is Back"
Bernard Guetta told his Radio France Inter audience (9/11), "For the first time since the beginning of the (Yugoslav) war, the Americans have taken world affairs into their hands. They are the ones deciding.... They are not afraid of irritating the Russians, (or) stealing their ideas and the show from the Europeans.... America is back.... Chirac's determination...accounts for the U.S. awakening.... Suddenly,the French were shaking the Americans. Competition, in politics, has its good side."
"Holbrooke's Cleverness" In the view of Baudouin Bollaert in conservative Figaro (9/9-10), "The U.S. commitment has been crucial. Holbrooke's cleverness was to put back on the table all the issues on which talks had broken down.... He hasn't won the game yet. But he is rewarded for his efforts. Europe--and Yeltsin's Russia...cannot but salute the dawning of a 'pax Americana.'"
"Most Difficult Part Remains" Influential Liberation's Veronique Soule concluded (9/9-10), "The most difficult part remains to be done. By failing to get Belgrade to recognize Croatia's territorial integrity, the U.S. negotiator failed to reach his ultimate goal, i.e. the mutal recognition of Croatia, Bosnia and (Serbia-Montenegro). Zagreb may now try to recapture eastern Slavonia militarily.... The Americans want to move fast. They will have to serve notice to all those who consider this accord a piece of paper."
GERMANY: "What Milestone?"
Klaus Natorp judged (9/11) on the front-page of right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine, "This 'declaration of principle' is first of all nothing but a piece of paper that is, in addition, full of contradictions.... How should it ever be possible to take away 20 percent of the territory the Bosnian Serbs captured?... And because they are still not willing to withdraw their heavy weapons from around Sarajevo despite NATO's bombardments, we must take their intentions seriously. Obviously, they are not yet willing to make peace.... The critical tones from Moscow are also not appropriate to consider the Geneva 'milestone' as a real milestone."
"Beware Russia" Rolf Dieter Krause said in a commentary on regional radio Westdeutscher Rundfunk of Cologne (9/7), "Without Russia and its support, there can be no peace process in the Balkans. This is why NATO cannot afford to continue its punishment mission past Moscow.... Since Yeltsin's domestic policy reputation is shaky, he could tend to overreact. If (the West) does not listen to the warnings from Moscow, the consequence could only be a toughening of fronts. In view of the existing expansion of NATO and the EU, the states of Central Europe in particular would have to foot the bill. Relations between East and West would be unstable again.... This is why a security structure for Europe must be found as well as a political solution to Bosnia, and this together with and not past the Russians."
"A 'Disgraceful' Peace?" Sabine Rosenbladt observed in centrist weekly Die Woche of Hamburg (9/7), "There are now voices in the Western press that speak of a'disgraceful peace.' But let us be honest: What is more cruel: To tell the Muslims clearly the truth that no foreign power wants to recapture their state of Bosnia-Herzegovina, or to leave them in the dark about this, thus letting them continue to suffer? This is a question of conscience. Second, if the West accepts the division into two parts, it will undoubtedly approve the policy of 'ethnic cleansing' and brute force. This is horrible, but true."
RUSSIA: "Duma: Yugoslav Drama Just Excuse To Attack Government"
Leonid Mlechin commented in reformist Izvestia (9/9), "The Russian lawmakers' interest in the war in the former Yugoslavia is proportionate to the intensity of political strife inside Russia.... It is a favorite with the opposition. While the opposition keeps changing, its love of that subject remains unchanged. It is not the situation in Tajikistan or Chechnya or the high toll of a recent mine accident, but NATO's efforts to lift the blockade on Sarajevo and spare its residents constant artillery attacks which caused the opposition to call an emergency Duma meeting. The lack of a genuine interest in what is really going on in the former Yugoslavia goes to show that many Russian politicians are indifferent to the south Slavs' tragedy and...cynically use this bloody subject as an excuse to attack the government and gain publicity.... The Duma itself cannot change foreign policy. The question is how much President Yeltsin is prepared to surrender to it.... By pointing a threatening finger at NATO, the president, it seems, did not so much follow the deputies' advice...as try to make use of public sentiment, which is still predominantly anti-Western and noted for hatred and fear of NATO."
"NATO's Aggression" Neo-Communist Pravda's Pavel Volobuyev and Lyudmila Tyagunenko wrote (9/7), "This unprovoked aggression risks escalating the war in Bosnia...into a deadly conflagration in the Balkans. Casting aside the mask of a peacemaker...NATO openly challenged...the Serbs...and became the main warring party.... The Communists, it seems, were right when they warned of NATO's aggressive nature."
ITALY: "Peace Is Not Here Yet"
A front-page commentary by Arrigo Levi in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/9) cautioned, " Peace is not here yet, and the road toward achieving it will be full of tricks.... We would lie if we said that we understood what the 'post-Yugoslavia' is going to be. But if this agreement, and the negotiating mechanism it has set in motion, end de facto the war and the massacres in the Balkans, the main result will have been achieved...."
"Yeltsin Raises His Voice" Maddalena Tulanti noted from Moscow in PDS (former Communist Party) organ L'Unita (9/8), "The Kremlin chief has let it be known to Western Allies that Russia has had enough of being ignored.... Real threats? Rhetorical threats?... Perhaps Yeltsin is raising his voice also, or mainly, for domestic reasons.... In any case, Yeltsin's statements were so loud that even Clinton felt the need to intervene in order to reassure him.... However, the person who gave most satisfaction to the humiliated and offended Russians was Italian Foreign Minister Agnelli.... (She) promised to intervene with the Western Allies to support the Russian request that Russia be part of the group of mediators, called the 'troika' by Kozyrev."
CANADA: "Breeze Of Peace Over Bosnia"
The weekend edition of French-language Le Devoir carried a front page commentary by political correspondent Jocelyn Coulon (9/9): "What happened in Geneva...is still not the agreement that would put a definitive end to the conflict in Bosnia. It is nonetheless a major diplomatic opening and it was greeted as such, calmly and with prudence.... Richard Holbooke, the master of the political game in Bosnia for the past month, did not hesitate to declare that the tragedy was not over. It is a nice breeze of peace over Bosnia, and over the rest of former Yugoslavia, but there is still much to do."
GREECE: "Boss Holbrooke"
Center-left Eleftherotypia (9/5) remarked, "Holbrooke came to Athens like a boss and demanded...the immediate solution of the Skopjen issue...as if he were an official of the federal administration ordering a disobedient governor of a state to comply with Washington decisions. In order not to leave any doubts hanging in mid-air, the announcement was made by the American charge in Athens, while the prime minister's diplomatic adviser stood next to him. This is how far our proud national foreign policy has fallen. A problem that could have been resolved when it surfaced...is now solved by the Yankees who put their mark on it. In 1974, our political leaders promised a different Greece to us. Unfortunately, after 20 years, we have stepped 40 years back."
HUNGARY: "Clinton Trying To Follow Kissinger's Example"
According to conservative Magyar Nemzet (9/6), "No one should be misled by recent NATO bombings in former Yugoslavia: The United States is ready to accept the ethnic division of Bosnia and has no intentions of changing the status quo. The only reason why NATO decided to bomb Serbian military installations is to force them to return to the negotiating table.... Peace is within easy reach in Vietnam. This is what former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said two weeks before the presidential elections in 1972; President Clinton by bombing Serbs in Bosnia is trying to follow Kissinger's successful example."
PORTUGAL: "The Geneva Equivocators"
Carlos Santos Pereira commented in leading Diario de Noticias (9/10), "The end of the resistance from the Krajina Serbs simplified the conflict at the diplomatic level, allowing the Bosnia-Herzegovina issue to become isolated; at the military level it has changed the balance of forces, pulling the military situation in Bosnia out of the impasse it had plunged into. NATO's contributions to the Croation attack on Krajina and the air raids against the Bosnian Serbs have strengthened that trend.... "Thus the difficulty of NATO's military operation against the Bosnian Serbs. The problem is how to find the exact formula to force the Serbs to bend--without taking them to the verge of a military collapse which would immediately lead to a confrontation between Croatians and Muslims."
TURKEY: "Turkey Plays A Special Role"
Mass-appeal Sabah's (9/7) columnist Gengiz Candar today wrote of his flight to Geneva with Bosnian President Izetbegovic, "This is the test prepared by Holbrooke after his meeting with the Bosnian delegation in Ankara. The same text was taken by Holbrooke to Serbian President Milosevic. They said that after each meeting Americans had written a new text and that this was the latest text. The most important dispute is over the description of the independence and sovereignty of Bosnia. Serbs want a constitutional arrangement which will let Bosnia, and later Bosnian Serbs, establish a confederation with Serbia. "Izetbegovic does not want even to discuss this.... He is particularly pleased that (Turkish leader) Demirel fully supports his 12-point peace plan and that Holbrooke mentioned that Turkey has a special place in the Bosnian issue."
EGYPT: "NATO Intervened In Response To Islamic Pressure"
Galal Dwidar, editor-in-chief of pro-government Al Akhbar, said (9/11), "NATO intervention to strike Serbian enemy bases...is a response to Islamic and Egyptian pressures.... President Mubarak stated...that a peaceful just settlement is the only solution for Bosnia.... Egypt's efforts will not stop until peace and justice are achieved for the Bosnia people."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Cautiously Optimistic"
Influential, internationally circulated Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (9/9) commented in an editorial, "One other reason to feel optimistic is that the European countries that have used the Balkans as a theater for their tug-of-war are themselves agreed on backing the U.S. initiative. Even Russia, which has expressed its anger over NATO's air strikes, is for the U.S. move. And one more reason to be optimistic is that the U.S. initiative is getting the backing of Islamic countries that have seen the details and that in itself should give an added feeling of security to the Bosnian people."
TUNISIA: "Finally Some Determination"
Faouzi Snoussi, foreign news editor for independent, French-language Le Temps (7/9), said under the headline above, "The international community welcomes the determination...to free the Bosnian capital.... "With the help of the new American partition plan, the unprecedented mobilization of forces in the Adriatic, and the NATO strikes.... (But) the changed situation in Bosnia owes no thanks to Moscow...whose policies allowed the Pale Serbs to gain an advantage."
IRAN: "Worries About U.S. Peace Plan" Tehran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), editorialized (9/10) concerning the Geneva agreement: "Observers in Iran are skeptical about this plan because of recent bitter experiences of international organizations with the Serbs who have made a habit of breaking their promises. The U.S. official, who considers the accord a milestone in the search for peace, forgets the real nature of the Serbs who were not even present at the negotiating table in Geneva."
"Time For NATO, RRF And OIC Coalition" The English-language Tehran Times opined (8/30), "The world now expects NATO and the RRF to continue their operations until the Serb threat is totally removed. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) has announced that it is ready to play its part effectively in order to help settle the crisis in the Balkans. This time the West should form a coalition with the OIC in order to deal with the Balkan crisis in a meaningful manner."
PAKISTAN: "An Unfair Resolution" An editorial in the centrist News (9/10) maintained, "The 'partition' formula which was hammered out...is extremely complex to be worked easily. It has still too many loose strings and unsettled questions that could ultimately wreck it and renew war. But regrettably, the agreement intrinsically remains an unfair resolution, denying the Bosnian Muslims the right to the whole state that had received international recognition."
"A Major Breakthrough" Under the headline above, the government-owned Pakistan Times held (9/10), "The Serbs have been forced to the negotiations table by the UN-NATO combine. This strategy should be pursued to dilute their military threat to the besieged civilians.... The dream for a greater Serbia is effectively over and it is face-saving time for the Serbs: The earlier it is done, the better.... The fact remains that it is a good beginning which should be taken to its logical conclusion."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Important Step Taken In Bosnian Peace Negotiation" Xijin and Hang Qing observed in official, Communist Party People's Daily (9/11), "The meeting of foreign ministers from the three conflicting parties produced an agreement on September 8 on the constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The agreement shows that the parties compromised on some major principles. The Bosnian peace process has taken a step forward. But many problems still remain. There are technical as well as psychological obstacles in the practical solution of issues included in the agreement. Therefore, it is still difficult to be optimistic about prospects for peace. As long as there is no agrement on ceasefire, any peace agreement cannot be said to be reliable."
INDONESIA: "Wariness" Readers of leading, independent Kompas (9/11) saw this editorial, "The tripartite talks...produced a number of commitments...which could form a milestone for peace in the Balkans. Yet we should be wary of empty promises. Both Holbrooke and EU mediator Carl Bildt reiterated that 'peace is still a long way away.'... NATO's continued attacks suggest that the Serbs remain unwilling to withdraw their artillery from Sarajevo's boundaries.... Their intent appears to be to occupy Sarajevo, oust the Bosnian government, and expel all Bosnian Muslims. Given these realities, the fragility of the Geneva accord requires a firm commitment and financial support to ensure its fruition."
COSTA RICA: "The Cannons Of Sarajevo" Commentator Jaime Daremblum remarked in leading, conservative La Nacion (9/5), "NATO's determination to intervene militarily in Bosnia had broad ethical and political justification. Ethical, because the international community could not continue tolerating the Serbs' genocide.... Finally, President Clinton had assumed his expected leadership in the strategic field, essential for world peace--different from previous instances."