International Papers

Qaddafi’s Peace Initiative

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Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s elder brother Borislav, Yugoslavia’s ambassador to Russia, told La Stampa of Turin Friday that his country has no plans for acts of terrorism in NATO countries but that “if the war gets worse, I don’t know what will happen.” In the interview, he cited the example of Israel as a country that has struck outside its borders when attacked. Borislav Milosevic said his brother will never surrender and that NATO might well give in first. “We can count not only on our forces and our friends but also, in the long term, on Western public opinion,” he said. The Italian papers, like the German ones, put the main emphasis Friday on peace initiatives, with Corriere della Sera of Milan reporting “a notable rapprochement” between the positions of Italy and Russia. The paper also said that former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, now president-designate of the European Union, was called by Muammar Qaddafi of Libya with peace proposals which Prodi urged him to pursue.

Opinion polls published Friday in the British press showed public support rising for NATO attacks on Yugoslavia, despite civilian casualties. A Gallup Poll conducted for the Daily Telegraph showed 72 percent in favor of the war, compared with 58 percent a month ago. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of Germany led on a NATO bomb hitting the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. On this theme, the Times of London published a cartoon showing NATO supreme commander Gen. Wesley Clark asking a smart bomb, “What’s the capital of Yugoslavia?” and the bomb replying, “Sofia.” The Guardian led on intensified security at the BBC after death threats against senior executives and broadcasters by telephone callers claiming to be Serbs responsible for the murder earlier this week of Jill Dando, the country’s most popular TV presenter.

In an interview with Le Monde of Paris Friday, Foreign Minister George Papandreou of Greece, where 97 percent of the public opposes the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, said that sending in ground troops before a peace agreement would have terrible consequences for the coexistence of the peoples of the region. He also criticized proposals to strengthen the economic embargo on Yugoslavia. “That could have been a good idea at the beginning, but today it’s more a historical than a practical question. Now, we have to look for a solution,” he said. Papandreou expressed mild optimism about the Russian peace initiatives. “The Serbs are now saying yes to an implementation force–not armed, certainly–but the Russians think there are various possibilities,” he said. “On the NATO side, two points are important: first, the inviolability of frontiers has been forcibly reaffirmed–in other words, there won’t be a partition of Kosovo; and second, after having talked of a force ‘under NATO command,’ they are now talking about a force directed by the United Nations ‘with a NATO kernel.’ This new flexibility doesn’t mean there will be a solution tomorrow, but perhaps soon.”

In Hong Kong, the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review reported Thursday that the chief executioner of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge has become a born-again Christian and is willing to face an international tribunal. Kang Kek Ieu has admitted to being “Duch,” the director of the Tuol Sleng detention center in Phnom Penh, where at least 16,000 people were executed during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 “killing fields” reign of terror, the magazine said. Duch, who disappeared into the jungle after Vietnamese troops captured Phnom Penh in 1979 and has long been presumed dead, was found living in the western part of Cambodia by a Review reporter.

Opinion polls in Friday’s Israeli papers showed that Labor Party leader Ehud Barak would defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by around 8 percent in the second round of next month’s general election. A Gallup Poll, for Maariv, gave Barak 48 percent against 40 percent for Netanyahu. The Dahaf Institute’s poll, for Yediot Aharanot, put Barak at 50 percent against Netanyahu’s 42 percent. In both polls, Center Party candidate Yitzhak Mordechai is slipping: He gets 8 percent from Gallup and 10 percent from Dahaf although–paradoxically and theoretically–he would still beat Netanyahu in the second round.

The current clamor in the West for Yugoslav war criminals to be put on trial for crimes against humanity should be used to demand the prosecution of Israelis for atrocities and massacres committed against Palestinians during and since the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, according to Palestinian writer Mohammad al-Az’ar in Thursday’s Pan-Arab al-Hayat. In Egypt, the semi-official daily Al-Ahram published an article Thursday by commentator Salaheddin Hafez warning that what NATO is doing in Yugoslavia could be replicated against one or more Arab countries. The Arab world has good cause to be deeply apprehensive about the way NATO has taken to posing as the world’s policeman and projecting its power beyond its borders in a nondefensive role, he wrote. “Even the world’s sole superpower, with its unique responsibilities, is increasingly seeing violence and the use of overwhelming force as an easy option for achieving its ends as the most violent century in human history draws to a close.”

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported Friday that the House of Lords split over a point of grammar in a bill to abolish its hereditary members. The issue is whether to say “a hereditary peer” or “an hereditary peer.” The first version appears in the bill but was disputed in a debate by Conservative hereditary peer Earl Ferrers, who moved an amendment to change “a” to “an.” He pointed out that Fowler’s Modern English Usage cites “an hereditary title” as a correct example. But a government spokesman responded with a quotation from a second edition of the same reference book: ” ‘An’ was formerly usual before an unaccented syllable beginning with ‘h’ and is still often seen and heard (an historian, an hereditary title). But now that the ‘h’ in such words is pronounced, the distinction has become anomalous and will no doubt disappear in time.” Their lordships voted 63-31 against Earl Ferrers’ amendment.

British papers reported Thursday that Derek Laud, a London venture capitalist, has been made England’s first black master of foxhounds. He told the Times that his appointment as joint master of the 210-year-old New Forest Foxhounds has nothing to do with the color of his skin. “We don’t want to put distance between us and anyone that wants to participate in this sport. It doesn’t matter if they are a woman or a man, gay or straight.” The chairman of the hunt club said Laud was chosen because “he’s just a bloody nice bloke.”