The NATO war against Yugoslavia ceased to lead the front pages of many European newspapers for the first time Monday. The British tabloids were more interested in a mysterious bomb–definitely not Irish, said the police hastily–that injured dozens of shoppers in Brixton, South London, Saturday. The Italian press was more interested in the political machinations that led to the cancellation of a planned referendum on electoral reform. The French press was more interested in a crisis within an alliance of French opposition parties, and the Spanish press with Spain’s own internal politics.
Only the British and German broadsheets stuck loyally with the nightmare in the Balkans, but the angles were all different. The Guardian of London, apparently taking its cue from the New York Times, led Monday with a claim that President Clinton had been misled by intelligence reports that President Milosevic “would buckle at the first show of high-tech military might.” The paper said that “leaked documents” included a CIA assessment from January claiming that Milosevic has no stomach for a war he could not win. “After enough of a defense to sustain his honor and assuage his backers, he will quickly sue for peace,” the CIA report was quoted as saying.
The Daily Telegraph led with a startling eight-column headline “Milosevic must go, says Blair.” The removal of Milosevic has not so far been an official NATO war aim, but the paper claimed that the British prime minister and Clinton have “changed tack.” The basis for this assertion appeared a little weak. It was that Blair, speaking Sunday on American TV, said Milosevic was “a significant problem” and that it is “extremely difficult to contemplate” Kosovar Albanians living in future under his rule. The Times of London led, rather surprisingly, with the ecological fallout from NATO’s bombing of a Serbian oil refinery. “Poison cloud engulfs Belgrade,” said the paper’s main front-page headline over a warning of “an ecological disaster.” The Daily Telegraph ran the same story on an inside page, saying that Strauss’ “Beautiful Blue Danube” has gone black.
Germany’s Die Welt led Monday with a prediction of a new wave of Serb brutality against Albanian Kosovars. Under this was a photograph of Berlin’s historic parliament building, the Reichstag, which reopened Monday 66 years after the notorious fire that tightened Hitler’s grip on power. But the joyous reopening was marred by an acrimonious row over its redesign by the British architect Norman Foster. Stern magazine complained that “Foster’s airport aesthetic with neon lights and metallic gray” dominates the building’s new interior, while Die Welt Sunday attacked its “banality” and its “chilly, almost antiseptic” atmosphere.
The Financial Times of London said Monday that Albania was trying to get diplomatic advantage from its acceptance of more than 320,000 Kosovar refugees by demanding quick entry into the European Union, overriding the usual criteria for membership. The Daily Telegraph dwelt on the Pentagon’s anger with NATO headquarters in Brussels for providing false evidence to the world’s media on the bombing of the refugee convoy in Kosovo. In Monday’s National Post of Canada, historian Michael Bliss of the University of Toronto wrote a searing condemnation of the Kosovo war, predicting among other things that the Americans would never again agree to lead future wars by committee. “The country that does most of the fighting and pays most of the bills will from now on call the tune, looking to its own interests,” he said. “Whether the United States will have a taste for the long haul in the Balkans, or will withdraw from Europe to protect its clearer national interests, hangs in the balance.”
A Londoner named Slobodan Milosevic has protested to the British Press Complaints Commission about media persecution, according to the Daily Telegraph Saturday. In a formal complaint to the newspaper industry’s self-regulatory body, Milosevic (who has lived in Britain for 19 years and calls himself Dan) listed at least a dozen news organizations that have been camping on his doorstep or otherwise pestering him, his family, and his east London neighbors since the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began. He told the PCC that he wishes to “state categorically” that he is not related to the president of Yugoslavia, has no links with any of the former Yugoslav republics, and does not want to discuss his views on the Balkans with anyone. The PCC said it would investigate.
The Times of London announced on its front page Saturday that Monica Lewinsky is planning to move to Britain. Quoting “her friend and confidant” Sir Ian McKellen, the Oscar-nominated actor, the paper said she was going to live there because the press and public are more sympathetic toward her in Britain. “She has complained about constant harassment from the American press which characterises her as an overweight sex-crazed seductress,” the Times explained.