International Papers

The Kosovo Killing Fields

In a report picked up by Canada’s National Post to lead its front page Monday, the Observer of London said Sunday that hundreds of documents discovered after the Yugoslav retreat from Kosovo prove that the ethnic cleansing there had been “meticulously planned and ordered from Belgrade.” “The papers provide crucial evidence linking massacres that claimed an estimated 14,000 lives to Serb army generals and police commanders all the way up to President Slobodan Milosevic,” the Observer reported from Pristina. It said most of the documents are now in the hands of the intelligence service of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has claimed that “nothing happened in Kosovo without it being planned and organised in Belgrade.”

Several British papers led with pictures of the eccentric young British violinist Nigel Kennedy performing a “concert for peace” at the Sava Concert Hall in Belgrade Monday. The Guardian of London said several members of the government, including Serbian president Milan Milutinovic, attended the concert Sunday–the first in Yugoslavia by a leading Western musician since the war–but were barred from visiting the musician backstage by his staff “who wanted to avoid an embarrassing photo-opportunity.” But Kennedy told his ecstatic audience that the Serbs were “a warm, friendly people who did not deserve to be bombed.” “I came to Belgrade to see if you were all right and succeeded in staying alive,” he added.

With regard to the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir, the Times of India reported Monday from Srinagar that nearly 500 “personal bodyguards” of America’s most wanted terrorist, the Saudi billionaire Osama Bin Laden, were fighting in Kashmir on the Pakistani side. They had fled to Kashmir from Afghanistan as the United States began to close in on their boss, the paper said. The whereabouts of Bin Laden himself is not known. The Times of India said U.S. agencies believed he could be in the Kargil area of Kashmir but added there was not any concrete evidence of this.

The Hindu, another Indian daily, reported India’s concern about its future relations with China after the state-owned China Daily called Saturday for an “immediate ceasefire” in Kashmir. The Hindu said this was clearly a pro-Pakistani comment and a departure from China’s neutrality in the dispute. It suggested that Beijing might be changing its tune because of growing fears of United States’ meddling in the region. But the paper added: “If China is really worried about possible American gains from the Kargil crisis, it should hardly be advocating a ceasefire. Instead it should be demanding that Pakistan withdraw the armed aggression and remove any excuse for Western intervention.”

The crisis in Northern Ireland led the front pages Monday of several European newspapers, including Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. With British Prime Minister Tony Blair having set midnight on Wednesday, June 30, as the “absolute” deadline for agreement on implementing the Ulster peace deal, British papers were pessimistic. The problem has been a refusal by the loyalist Protestant leadership to allow the republican Catholic Sinn Fein party a role in the newly developed government of the province unless its military wing, the Irish Republican Army, starts handing in its weapons.

The conservative Daily Telegraph of London said Monday in an editorial that the decommissioning of arms has not begun because Sinn Fein “knows that its power derives from violence and the threat of violence, and so it does not want to sacrifice that power.” The paper strongly supported the loyalist refusal to share power with Sinn Fein under these circumstances. “If Sinn Fein come into the executive this week, something new in the history of our parliamentary democracy will have taken place,” the Telegraph said. “An armed group will be taking part in government. The power of a private army will, for the first time, be exercised through out institutions.” The paper reported, meanwhile, that republican and loyalist terrorist groups are both preparing for new violence.

The Times of London took the same view, saying that a power-sharing executive without an IRA commitment to disarmament “would be less a democratic political body than bureaucratic cover for a protection racket.” The Independent, however, criticized Blair for setting an unreal deadline for the peace talks. The situation was not like Yugoslavia, where a compromise between NATO and Milosevic would have been a disaster, the paper said. If the republican and loyalist leaders haven’t reached agreement by midnight Wednesday, “[t]he sky stays where it is,” the paper said. “They simply have to keep trying, and Mr. Blair will have lost an important modicum of credibility.”

In an editorial Monday, the Guardian urged Bill Clinton to stand by Hillary during a New York Senate campaign that would see “the dirty laundry of the past eight years recycled,” new tensions in the Democratic camp, and “a hot reception, no punches pulled” from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Feeling betrayed and humiliated by the Monica Lewinsky business, Hillary had considered a separation, but “in the end she stayed and supported her husband when he needed her most.” “Message to Bill: as Hillary heads for New York, it’s payback time,” concluded the Guardian.