TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP
TITLE=U-N PEACEKEEPERS ON EAST TIMOR
INTRO: The arrival of United Nations peacekeepers on
the troubled island territory of East Timor is a major
focus of foreign newspaper editorials this week.
We get a sampling now from _____________ who joins us
at the V-O-A microphone with this week's World Opinion
TEXT: There is a good deal of reaction to the
situation in general, and in particular, to the
killing in East Timor of Sander Thoenes [pron: Toons],
a Dutch citizen who was the Jakarta correspondent for
London's Financial Times (and a regular contributor to
The Christian Science Monitor). Mr. Thoenes was shot
to death Tuesday, by men wearing military uniforms, on
the outskirts of East Timor's capital, Dili. Because
of his death and other violent incidents, several
newspapers are stressing how dangerous East Timor
still is, despite the arrival of U-N troops.
There also is a decided shift in some commentaries,
including those in the Indonesian press, away from a
confrontational tone, to one that is slightly more
hopeful. The Indonesian papers suggest that the
wishes of the East Timorese for independence must be
honored if Indonesia's relations with the world are to
We begin in Jakarta, where Tempo, an independent
newsweekly, says in part:
VOICE: Indonesia's image has plummeted to the
point that agreeing to accept U-N multinational
forces in East Timor will do nothing at all to
improve it. The image is so tainted that the
foreign media equates Indonesia with Serbia, and
[media outlets] have suggested half jokingly
that perhaps the United States should launch
missiles in this direction. ...
TEXT: There is still a definite anti-Australian
flavor to this comment in Suara Karya, the ruling
political party's daily.
VOICE: What is clear is that after 72 hours,
the multinational forces -- most of which are
Australian -- have yet to successfully secure
Dili and have instead created more tension.
TEXT: Finally from Jakarta, the Indonesian Observer
VOICE: We must learn to be objective, and not
always act as if the whole world is conspiring
against us. According to the conspiracy
theories doing the rounds, Australia is the
country that has been masterminding the present
U-N operation against Indonesia. This is simply
not - true.
TEXT: Turning next to Australia, in the capital, The
Canberra Times argues (in Thursday's [9/23] editions):
VOICE: As well as reassessing the priority of
Indonesia in our foreign policy, we need to do
the same for our relationship with the United
States. In the case of the United States, we
made similar mistakes to those we made with
Indonesia. On the one hand, we expected too
much of the United States and, on the other, we
expected too little of ourselves. Fortunately
for us, our mistakes with the United States have
not turned into the disaster they have with
TEXT: The Sydney Morning Herald runs this commentary
by one of its former Washington correspondent:
VOICE: Now that the international force is
doing its job in East Timor -- backed by limited
but useful U-S logistical support on
communication and supplies -- the shrill
Australian complaints about America's lack of
"boots on the ground" will fade ... Canberra
clearly needs to figure out a more sophisticated
version of American reality. It's not the
United States or the alliance that has changed -
- just Australia's understanding of it.
TEXT: In the national daily, The Australian, there
was this frank editorial (earlier in the week):
VOICE: In the space of a few weeks, Australia's
role and responsibilities in the region have
been transformed. We have taken on the role of
regional policeman and peacemaker. It is clear
that the United States expects that we, not
they, will fulfill the lead role in our part of
the world. Rightly, we have embraced our
responsibilities but we must be in no doubt
that our commitment is for as long as it takes.
... We are in East Timor for the long haul.
TEXT: In nearby Thailand, Bangkok's English-language
daily, The Nation, declared:
VOICE: The East Timor crisis has helped to
highlight the importance and necessity of global
engagement with regional intervention. ... It
has also boosted the image of the centrality of
the U-N and its ability to mobilize troops.
TEXT: For European reaction, first to Lisbon, because
Portugal was the centurys-long colonizer of East
Timor, before giving the island up a quarter-century
ago. The daily Diario de Noticias had this editorial:
VOICE: It was [President Bill Clinton] who ...
raised his voice in favor of the Timorese and
gave a decisive push to the process which
permitted the entry of a multinational force
into Timor. Let there be no illusions:
without the words of the "father of the world"
... the Indonesians would still, even today, be
carrying out their massacre of the martyred
Timorese people. ... Let us remain, at least
this once, with the sweet conviction that there
are men who are genuinely concerned with the
fate of other men, women and children, and who
did what they could -- which is a lot -- to end
the killing in Timor.
TEXT: Some thoughts from the big Lisbon daily Diario
As we mentioned earlier, London's Financial Times is
both angry and saddened at the death of its East Timor
correspondent. The newspaper led its editorial column
with this tribute:
VOICE: The violent death of a correspondent is
the worst thing that can happen in the life of a
newspaper. ... Such a tragedy represents a very
personal loss for everyone ... in the
organization. ... We thought the undoubted risks
of covering this story were justified by the
importance to the region of what is happening in
East Timor. ... [However,] East Timor has yet to
be freed from the terror of the pro-Indonesian
militias. As a result we have lost a colleague
of great flair and initiative, a clever and
entertaining man with a future of real
potential, and someone who had been providing
outstanding coverage of the current crisis.
TEXT: Elsewhere in London, Britain's Daily Telegraph
VOICE: The main burden of pacifying East Timor
falls on Australia ... Australia's commitment to
the future of East Timor is surely right ...
And, who knows, the loss of half an island
illegally annexed in 1976 may play a determining
role in the direction which Indonesia takes. ...
The world's fourth most populous country hangs
shakily between the old, military-dominated
Suharto dictatorship and democracy.
TEXT: In Germany, Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung was
surprised by one aspect of the U-N arrival.
VOICE: The relaxed attitude with which
Indonesia is now reacting to the loss of East
Timor was so surprising. What the Indonesians
watched on T-V was not only a humiliating defeat
for the army, but also a blow to the face for
the political self-understanding of the country.
... The ... outrage which could have been
expected in Jakarta and in Indonesia as a whole
has failed to come.
TEXT: Turning to New Delhi, on the Indian sub-
continent, The Times of India remarked:
VOICE: New Delhi cut a sorry figure by
vacillating on participation in a U-N-sponsored
or authorized force in East Timor in the context
of a referendum there overwhelmingly favoring
independence. ... If ... India thought it was
too risky to interfere with the Indonesian
militias' "sovereign" right to attack the
Timorese, it was guilty of more than just
TEXT: Lastly, from our neighbor to the north,
Canada's French-language "La Presse" in Montreal
VOICE: One can come to the rescue of this
country that was illegitimately annexed by
Indonesia in 1975, but we must be careful not
to provoke the breakup of the [Indonesian]
archipelago with its 200-million inhabitants.
TEXT: On that note from one of the largest French
dailies in Quebec, we conclude this sampling of world
press comment on the arrival of U-N peacekeepers in
23-Sep-1999 16:47 PM EDT (23-Sep-1999 2047 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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