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<nettime> (fwd) Kosovo editorials from the neo-East

Updated Thu., Apr. 15, 1999 at: NY 5:06 a.m. Lon 10:06
a.m. Pra 11:06 a.m. Mos 1:06 p.m.

Editor's Pick: An Eastern View Of Kosovo - A look at
some of the media commentary on the Balkan crisis from
Russia, Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

An Eastern View Of Kosovo - A look at some of the media
commentary on the Balkan crisis from Russia, Central
and Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

The conflict in Kosovo continues to dominate selected
recent commentary from the press of nations in
transition from communism:


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kosovo could become the Cuban
missile crisis of the Balkans

Writing in Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Dmitry
Gornostayev warns that Kosovo could become the "Cuban
missile crisis of the Balkans." Gornostayev says that
an announcement by President Boris Yeltsin last week
that he favored Yugoslavia's bid to join the union of
Russia and Belarus constituted a "sharp change" in
Russian policy. Gornostayev says Yeltsin's comment was
greeted as "sensational news."

The Yeltsin announcement along with press reports that
Russia was considering re-targeting its nuclear
missiles, Gornostayev writes, "very much resembles the
Cuban missile crisis of 1962." The writer adds: "So far
we cannot say whether the acting leaders will have
enough common sense to avoid the catastrophe into which
the U.S. administration is drawing the international

Izvestiya: As usual, Yeltsin has played his game

In Izvestiya, writers Svetlana Babaeva and Alexander
Sadchikov note that the retargeting and Yugoslav union
pronouncements came as the Duma was preparing to debate
four impeachment counts against Yeltsin. They write:
"Yeltsin has mixed up all the current issues of the
Russian political establishment."

Izvestiya's commentary says: "Yeltsin's statements were
followed first by cautious disclaimers" from sources
who declined to be identified, then by responses from
the Russian Missile Forces "which neither confirmed nor
denied" the retargeting reports. The writers say: "As
usual, the president has played his game. What exactly
this game is we cannot yet say, but it is clear that
the political situation in Russia, complicated as it
is, is still mixed and uncertain."

Babaeva and Sadchikov write: "Embassies of foreign
countries in Moscow are starting to show interest in
both the new would-be union of three states and the
retargeting of Russian missiles. Now they will have to
be told what exactly it was that Yeltsin and (Duma
Speaker Gennady) Seleznyov wanted to say in reality."

Izvestiya: U.S. prefers Moscow's mediation

Another Izvestiya writer, Melor Sturua, reported on
April 9 what Sturua claims were "previously unknown
details of a telephone call between (Russian Prime
Minister Yevgeny) Primakov and (U.S. Vice President Al)
Gore." He said Gore asked Russia to mediate in new
attempts to find a diplomatic solution in Kosovo.

The writer said: "The U.S. administration has no desire
whatsoever to negotiate with Milosevic eye to eye. We
should emphasize that the Yugoslavian president
likewise is not ecstatic about the idea of direct
negotiations with Clinton, the American Hitler, and
also prefers Moscow's mediation."

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Events point to imminent ground

Also from Russia, two writers in Nezavisimaya Gazeta
predict the imminent invasion of Yugoslavia by NATO
ground troops. One, Dmitri Gornostayev (quoted earlier)
even predicts the date. His prediction, he says, is
based on "certain political and military indications."
The writer cites a number of events, and adds: "All of
these events form a logical chain based on which one
can conclude that a planned political and military
campaign is being waged to prepare the public for the
idea of a possible ground operation against
Yugoslavia." He says: "Against this background, rumors
have been circulating in certain NATO member states
that the NATO summit in Washington may be rescheduled
for a later date. It is likely (therefore that NATO)
plans to launch an offensive before April 23-24 (when)
the summit was supposed to be held."


Kazanskoye Vremya: Islamic theologians of Russia
support Kosovar Albanian Muslims

In the Russian republic of Tatarstan, Kazanskoye Vremya
describes the difficulties of Muslim religious leaders
in Russia, Moscow and Kazan in formulating views on
Yugoslavia. The newspaper says that Russian chief mufti
Talgat Tajutdin and Moscow mufti Ravil Gaynutdin
support the positions of Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov concerning
Serbia and Kosovo. The newspaper says that Tatarstan's
mufti Gosman Khazrat also expressed his solidarity with
these statements.

The newspaper continues; "Meanwhile, many of the
influential mullas and Islamic theologians of Russia
directly speak for supporting Kosovar Albanian Muslims.
Turkey participates in the air strikes against Serbia.
Arab countries positively assert the position of NATO,
and, reportedly, Arab Islamic circles criticized the
statements of the mufti in Russia."


Pari: Refugees are not the only ones who suffer in this

The Bulgarian press reflects official and public
ambivalence. In Bulgaria's Pari daily, historian Andrej
Pantev says he finds the charges of ethnic cleansing in
Kosovo "awkward." He writes: "Recently one ethnic
Albanian from Kosovo said in a TV interview that he had
left a house worth ($300,000) in Kosovo. If you keep in
mind that it was not a house in Manhattan but a country
villa, you have to admit the Albanians did have a kind
of autonomy, which other ethnic groups, also in Europe,
still don't have. The Kosovo crisis already affects
Bulgaria, and we have to ask ourselves, could this
crisis repeat itself in those parts of our country
where Bulgarians are the minority?"

Pantev writes: "I prefer the Kosovo refugees to be
transported to other countries abroad rather than be
left near our borders. We do really feel compassion
with the Kosovo refugees but they are not the only ones
who suffer in this situation."

Capital Weekly: This war is quite real for us

The Capital Weekly says in an editorial: "Unlike the
war in the Gulf, the war in Kosovo is real as far as
Bulgarians are concerned. Because we see this war not
only on CNN. This war takes place only a few kilometers
from our borders. When the Danube bridges near Novy Sad
get destroyed, they close not only the Serbian road to
Europe but also the Bulgarian road. Unlike the fires in
Kuwait, the fires in Belgrade produce fears almost
everywhere in Europe."

The editorial says: "This war is quite real for us
(also) because of the thousands of Kosovo refugees. ...
The messages of our politicians were mixed. First they
showed understanding toward the fate of the displaced
people, but when it came down to accepting them in our
country, politicians changed their minds and began to
explain that this move could lead to an explosion."


Zemedelske Noviny: A strong position is still enjoyed
by left-wing dinosaurs

In the Czech press, the crisis in the Balkans becomes a
domestic political problem. Zemedelske noviny,
commenting on the 29th Party Congress of the ruling
Social Democrats (CSSD), says the delegates "betrayed
their own government" when half of them signed a letter
to the Yugoslav ambassador condemning what the letter
called "NATO's aggression." Zemedelske noviny reports
that Socialist International Secretary General Luis
Ayala called on "Social Democrats everywhere" to give
"unequivocal support to the victims of Kosovo and
everyone else whose human rights are being violated in
the Yugoslav province." The newspaper said that the two
positions "showed the continuing differences between
Western Europe and the Czech Republic." It added: "This
illustrates the strong position still enjoyed by
left-wing dinosaurs in the CSSD, and the huge gulf
between them and their colleagues in Germany and


Postimees: We have a chance and a duty to act as

Estonia's Postimees urges Estonians to assume the
burden of some number of the Kosovo refugees. The
newspaper says: "The moment has come for Estonia when
we have a chance and a duty to act as Europeans. If
human reasons aren't enough, this (European attitude)
is reason to give shelter."

Postimees said, in a separate commentary, that Estonian
and Estonian Russian-speakers perceive Kosovo
differently, with Estonians mostly supporting NATO and
the Kosovar Albanians and the Russian-speakers
supporting Serbia. The newspaper says: "One of the main
reasons for this is the fact that Estonian
Russian-speakers get their information mainly from the
Russian media."


Diena: It is impossible to stay neutral

Diena in Latvia says in a commentary that "NATO must
not lose in this military combat with the last
dictatorship in Europe." The commentary says:
"Therefore, it is impossible to stay neutral in this
military conflict, and pretending that it does not
really affect Latvia is dangerous." Diena says:
"Russia's position in this conflict has been clearly
stated. Therefore, the Latvian government will have to
analyze and restate its (declared) foreign policy
priorities" and place good relations with Russia at the
appropriate level.

Neatrkariga: Relations between Latvia and Russia
unlikely to improve

Latvia's Neatkariga says in an analysis: "When this war
is over (regardless of whether or not Russia gets
involved), the Kremlin will spare no energy opposing
any attempts to allow any of the Baltic states to join
NATO. The support that the Baltic states have expressed
to the NATO military actions has damaged any chances
that relations between Latvia and Russia might be

(The Transition Nations Press Review is compiled from
contributions by RFE/RL's Broadcast Services.)

 1999 European Internet Network Inc. All rights

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