INDIA: "Hope In Bosnia"
The independent Statesman commented (9/22), "It is possible to hope that the worst is over.... The larger question of peace in the Balkans has not been solved but a genuine beginning has been made. If Bosnia is to remain one entity comprising two states, not on the most friendly terms, and which has been accepted in principle by all sides, a great deal more negotiating will be necessary.... If peace is to have a chance...Karadzic and...Mladic must give way to a less rabid leadership which will work with...Slobodan Milosevic."
TUNISIA: "Are Other Wars Of Ethnic Cleansing Needed?"
Academic and contributor Moncef Dhambri observed in official ruling party Le Renouveau (9/28), "It had appeared that U.S. diplomatic efforts in Bosnia would be rewarded, but no longer. Once again, it was all illusion.... The international community should beware of imposing a formula which does not respond to the real expectations of the parties concerned. There has been a hopeful sign this summer with the emergence of a world consensus on ethnic partition as a settlement which might bring a lasting peace in the Balkans. (But) does this mean that other wars are needed to clear up the situation on the ground? Are other 'ethnic cleansing' or slaughters needed?"
"'Firmness Pays Off'"
Sarra Rajhi commented in Le Renouveau (9/24), "The former Yugoslavia has seen it all.... After a long silence, the United States has decided to speak up. Looming presidential elections may have pushed (President Clinton) to get the United States involved. But the main thing is that the United States has quickly demonstrated its ability to the Europeans. 'Firmness pays off,' Clinton said euphorically. The lesson was learned. Peace in Bosnia can be achieved by force."
JAPAN: "Accord Not Sufficient To Guarantee Independent Bosnia"
Vienna correspondent Tamesada opined in business-oriented Nihon Keizai (9/28), "The contents of the accord...are far from sufficient to ensure the functioning of Bosnia as an independent country. In fact, the three factions surrendered to mounting political and diplomatic pressure that Bosnia-Herzegovina remain a separate, independent state. Under the present circumstances, threats of fighting in Bosnia continue unabated under a new government."
GERMANY: "Be Honest, Mr. Clinton, This Is About Elections"
Joachim Holtz commented on national ZDF TV (9/27), "Be honest, Mr. President, the New York agreement is no more than printers' ink on paper. "Tanks continue to roll, forced resettlements are secretly pushed forward by all sides involved, mass graves are discovered and hatred and the lust for revenge are even increasing. It is clear that Bill Clinton wants to use foreign policy glory for domestic policy gains: The bad topic of the war in Bosnia should not burden the U.S. (presidential) elections next year."
"Clinton, Holbrooke's Lesson In Diplomacy"
National ARD-TV broadcast this comment by Stefan Bergmann (9/27): "The U.S. president and his multi-talented Holbrooke are teaching the amazed Russians and the Europeans an exemplary lesson in peace diplomacy.... A beginning has now been made. And the United States can consider the new tones from Belgrade its greatest success so far. War-weary and sanction-weary Milosevic is tightening the reins on the Bosnian Serbs and accepts even the latest Croatian and Bosnian territorial gains in an almost relaxed manner. The dream of Greater Serbia is over anyway.... The example of the Middle East shows that perseverance and not wailing is now necessary. And in the case of Bosnia, it could come true that without the United States, nothing will work."
"This Is Not The Breakthrough"
Berlin's centrist Der Tagesspiegel noted (9/28), "The United States can be proud of the results of its brokerage efforts.... Is this the breakthrough? The answer is, unfortunately, negative, since the unresolved questions are more important than the answers which have been found so far: How can a ceasefire be brought about and a relapse into war and murder be ruled out?"
"Skepticism Remains Necessary"
Bonn's centrist General-Anzeiger held in an editorial by Thomas Wittke (9/27), "The outcome of the New York conference...can, if it is not sabotaged in the end, have considerable importance for peace in the Balkans.... The agreement...will preserve the territorial unity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It gives the region all the elements of a democratic state.... Many formulations remain vague, and this is why the agreement remains fragile.
"Nobody knows how the Bosnian Serbs...will react. Serbian but also Croatian dreams of a major power status cannot be eradicated with a joint constitution. "All of a sudden, the politicians who are responsible for the war should now exercise cooperation and agree on an internationally responsible policy--skepticism remains necessary.... We must say again and again that the final conclusion of peace must include the accusation and sentencing of the war mongers and war criminals from all sides. The lessons from the Gulf War must be heeded: Iraq would have experienced a positive political development...if Saddam Hussein had been prosecuted as war criminal."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Little Progress For Bosnia"
Centrist Lidove noviny said (9/28), "Over-optimism (regarding the New York agreement in principle on constitutional principles of Bosnia) is untimely.... After (negotiations in) New York, the concept of a future Bosnian state suggests an empty banana peel. A question emerges how a common parliament will operate in this strange dual state whose internal border settlement is out of sight. The team of American negotiators has done almost the impossible for the New York talks to take place. In the diplomatic language it means: We hardly agreed on anything, but we'll continue negotiations."
SWITZERLAND: "On Bosnia, Clinton Becomes 'Candidate Clinton'"
Paul Sigaud held in center-right Journal de Geneve (9/26), "The recent success of U.S. diplomacy in the Balkans has set Clinton on a race against the clock. He solemnly promised last year to send...soldiers to Bosnia--to maintain borders and prevent flare-ups--once a peace agreement was reached. The clock is ticking.
"If Clinton ends up sending 'the boys,' the ideal scenario would be to bring them back next summer, in order to reap the psychological benefits in time for the elections. But such repatriation depends on completion of their mission--which in turn depends on the peace accord. Gen. John Shalikashvili and Anthony Lake, national security adviser, favor a 'strong' solution: The more troops sent, the faster and better NATO can do the job. But opinions diverge within the administration itself. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Pentagon head William Perry believe that 10,000 troops would be sufficient to keep the U.S. promise. Clinton had said he would 'consult' Congress before sending troops, but Congress is sure to demand a vote. Finally, what role should Russia play in all this? "There are two advantages to Russian involvement--in the medium term, it paves the way for Russia's integration into NATO; and in the short term, the Russians could exert useful pressure on the Serbs.
"A U.S. plan seems to be in the works. Two groups of troops would be sent, one consisting of NATO soldiers only. The other would include troops from the Islamic states, Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia. A top UN official would serve as liaison."
SERBIA-MONTENEGRO: "A Clinton Success, Milosevic Equal Partner In Talks"
Independent, centrist Nasa Borba (9/28) front-paged this by Washington correspondent Slobodan Pavlovic: "Many hours of long persuasions behind closed doors have obviously brought about the desired outcome, and enabled President Clinton to inform the world about one more in a row of his great foreign policy successes.... The fact that this was the first meeting between a high official of the Clinton administration with the foreign minister representing the Belgrade regime...tells about Washington's readiness to promote the one who had so far been considered an international pariah and a potential The Hague tribunal candidate, Slobodan Milosevic, to an equal partner in the negotiations. Particularly if it serves the purpose of the final settlement of the Bosnian crisis and scores an important point for President Clinton in the forthcoming pre-elections campaign."
"What Will One Million Serb Refugees Mean To Serbia?"
NIN remarked (9/22), "As time goes by and as the end of war is coming to sight, Serbs on the other side of the Drina river are left with fewer territories. 'Republika Srpska Krajina,' as a state today, is history.... It seems as if Krajina Serbs, those from Knin above all, couldn't do anything against its mentality.... Never to give in to anyone at any cost, never to admit someone else was right.... A stubborn dead Serb is better than a live Serb who compromises....
"All the unhappy people who 'wanted war' at referendum time will move to Serbia. How? On foot, by carts. Unlike refugees from Republika Srpska Krajina, who mainly were wealthy and left by cars and tractors, the Bosnian Serbs who took refuge in Banja Luka are poor as mice.... What will one million refugees mean for Serbia itself, what will bringing of customs and mentality from the other side of the Drina River (bring) can be suspected. Harkening back to the (mutual) nation, religion, Serbian unity and brotherhood is a romantic fantasy.... If those people are to stay here as refugees, than it has to be in accordance with international law; if they think to settle here, than such a decision...has to be made through a referendum. As is well known, the Serbs from the other side of the Drina River had their referendum to unite with Serbia.... They never though of the possibility that people who live here should have a say too."
SLOVENIA: "Peace In Bosnia Is Still Far Away"
Veso Stojanov maintained in left-of-center Delo (9/28), "A mountain shook, but just a mouse was born. No progress has been made by the agreement which is to be the basis for a new constitution. The New York agreement was signed...because of the intense pressure exerted by Washington on the Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade governments.... Peace in Bosnia is still far away. Above all, no agreement has been reached in New York on the most important item: a general ceasefire."
FRANCE : "New Success For Clinton, U.S. Diplomats"
Private, influential TV TF-1 aired Washington correspondent Ulysse Gosset's remarks (9/26): "It's a new success for Clinton and for U.S. diplomats who managed to get the three warring parties to agree."
"This Can Work"
Bernard Guetta judged on France Inter Radio (9/27), "This can work. This peace...is a pause in the war, the precondition for a real peace."
"Ready To Live Together"
Europe One Radio's Washington correspondent Jean-Bernard Cadier commented (9/27), "Holbrooke will travel to Bosnia tomorrow, to work on the next step...obtain a ceasefire and an accord on the map. Compared to these two goals, yesterday's accord seems a bit flimsy. But this agreement on institutions proves that today's enemies are, in principle, ready to live together one day."
ITALY : "A Miracle"
Ennio Caretto wrote from New York in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/27), "After an exhausting night-long marathon...a miracle was finally performed yesterday at the United Nations: The constitutional and political bases were laid for the new Bosnia. The next step will be an armistice, and then there will be a territorial division, but preserving the unity of the state. President Clinton was the first to make the announcement in Washington, euphoric over the second major success of American diplomacy in three days following the Arab-Israeli agreement."
"Holbrooke: Kissinger-Like Style"
New York correspondent Arturo Zampaglione observed in left-liberal, influential La Repubblica (9/27), "With a Kissinger-like diplomatic style, aggressive and very personal, American negotiator Richard Holbrooke has forced Muslims, Serbs and Croats to reach an agreement on the 'superstructure' of the future Bosnian state."
BELGIUM : "New York Accord Establishes U.S. Supremacy"
In the opinion of Catherine Dehay in Catholic Vers l'Avenir (9/28), "The agreement snatched...in New York establishes once more the U.S. supremacy in its role of mediator not only in Bosnia, but also in the Middle East. The American [Lone Ranger] irritates and aggravates the Europeans whom Washington, though, publicly associated with its success.... The Europeans have been reduced to foil.... But one cannot regret that the United States succeeds where Europe fails. The essential [issue] is to extend the dynamic for peace.... Bosnians, Croats and Serbs finally have decided to try to live together again in a unitary Bosnia.... But the new state will also be the one of ethnic cleansing.... In private, UN officials even concede that this 'quasi cleansing' increases the chances of success for the American peace initiative."
BULGARIA: "The Bulldozer Diplomat"
Ruling Socialist Party Duma observed (9/22), "After Holbrooke took European affairs into his hands, he threw a thick shadow over his boss Christopher, whom the Washington political observers consider ready for replacement. It seems that the president has realized the need for a more powerful hand in diplomacy, for a more energetic and a more uncompromising personality, and this is the reason why he decided to choose him. On the eve of the presidential elections Clinton needs a breakthrough in the Bosnian drama and success by all means. If peace doesn't slip away this time, Clinton has to return the favor. Having Holbrooke as the head of the State Department, Clinton's foreign policy will go back to the traditional American style--more brutality and more aggressiveness, than diplomacy."
TURKEY: "There Was No Other Way For The Bosnians"
Sami Kohen wrote for mass-appeal Milliyet (9/27), "It is for certain that the plan brought to the negotiation table does not provide an ideal solution for the Bosnians. Objectively speaking, one can even say that the plan is not just.... There was no other way for the Bosnians but to make important concessions in order to pull themselves out of the disastrous situation they are in and to maintain their political existence."
Milliyet also said (9/26) regarding the Bosnia and Middle East peace overtures, "The path to peace from war has finally been cleared. Another factor that convinced the sides in both cases to make peace has been U.S. pressure. Maybe a 'Pax Americana' will be achieved, but one should admit that if Washington had not made the effort and exerted pressure, it wouldn't be possible to reach even this point.... Certainly there will be those who are not satisfied with what has been achieved.... But the important thing is that the leaders must continue to remain determined, and the agreement must provide peace and prosperity to the masses. Even though a peaceful solution can be a pill hard to swallow, its healing effect will eventually make one forget how bitter it was."
ISRAEL: "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They're Hatched"
Under the headline above, Washington correspondent Akiva Eldar commented in liberal Haaretz (9/28), "As is the case with the Middle East, White House parties are not enough to solve problems in the Balkans as well. The United States is pumping money into Gaza and the West Bank to enhance the viability of the Oslo agreement, but in Bosnia it will have to come up with more than greenbacks. There's no chance of ending the war in the former Yugoslavia without military involvement by NATO.... If Clinton is looking for a free lunch, he's not going to get it in Bosnia."
NIGERIA: "Political Stability First"
The partly government-owned Daily Times commented (9/27), "A conducive political environment is a sine qua non for freedom, democracy and prosperity.... In Bosnia where the Muslims are recapturing towns from the Serbs and are vowing not to stop till a peace treaty is signed, European companies are getting themselves ready for action in reconstructing Sarajevo and the ravaged cities of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But first, there must be a cessation of hostilities, latent or real. Who will invest in an atmosphere of violence, real or potential? Nobody. That alone illustrates the preeminence of political stability in the race for social and economic development."
THREATS OF MASSIVE CONFISCATIONS OF SERB PROPERTY IN CROATIA by Florence Hartmann
The decree on governmental protection of the property of Serbs who have left Croatia, which came into force on 5 September, was officially aimed at protecting such property against attempts at expropriation by unlawful occupation. Another official motive is to deal with an emergency situation, that of rehousing the thousands of persons who have lost everything during the war.. Thus, under Article 5 of the decree unused goods and property are being requisitioned and made available to "displaced persons and refugees, returned persons whose property has been damaged or destroyed, families of those who have fallen or disappeared in the defence of the Nation, those disabled in the war, and citizens whose activity is essential to the security, reconstruction and development of the formerly occupied regions". The provisional nature of the decree has been stressed by the Croat authorities.
But it is hard to hide the fact that the decree, "assuming provisional control and administration of certain property", is discriminatory since Article 2 shows that it relates only to Serbs: all those "who left Croatia after 17 August 1990", date of the outbreak of the armed Serb rebellion in Krajina, but also all "citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) who are "not making personal use" of their property in Croatia.
In practice the decree signed by Nikica Valentic, the Croatian Premier, takes the form of straight sequestration. The only persons who may appeal against decisions taken under the decree, i.e., the Serbs of Croatia, are required "to return to Croatia within thirty days of the decree's entry into force and submit a claim to regain possession and use" of the property. In other words, Serbs who fled the Krajina and do not wish to lose their property must return to Croatia by 5 October at the latest. No provision is made for those living in Serbia and Montenegro and possessing family properties or secondary residences in Croatia.
The decree and the danger of definitive confiscation, to pay for war reparations are denounced by human rights associations in Croatia and lawyers from Belgrade's antiwar centre, who have combined to defend the rights of victims of ethnic discrimination in the former Yugoslavia. Dragan Svilarevic of the Belgrade antiwar centre points out that Article 14, providing that " a law will subsequently regulate the ownership of property placed under administration", threatens the very principle of ownership, guaranteed by international conventions.
Lawyer Svilarevic emphasizes the difficulty for would-be returnees in getting their rights respected. Most find it impossible to return to Croatia in the time allotted under the decree. Serbs who lived in the territories of Croatia previously in the hands of the Serb separatist militias do not have Croatian identity papers in order and must get entry visas for Croatia. Moreover, several diplomatic sources have noted the obstacles erected by the Belgrade authorities who have refused to issue passports to certain Serbian refugees from the Krajina, thereby preventing them for leaving Serbia for Croatia. Finally, the Croatian Mission in Belgrade, where the candidates for a return could theoretically register their wishes not to abandon their property, has been closed for annual leave ever since the decree took effect.
Last weekend US Ambassador to Zagreb Peter Galbraith broke the silence of the international community over the Croat decree. "The Serbs who left are Croatian citizens and have the right of return. Serbian properties must be given back to their owners", he said on Sunday. And added that the United States had warned Croatia that the granting of any American aid to the post-war reconstruction of the country was linked to Zagreb's attitude towards its Serb minority.