The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military

DATE=9/23/1999 TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=U-N PEACEKEEPERS ON EAST TIMOR NUMBER=6-11485 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= 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 Roundup. 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 be healed. 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 says: 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 Indonesia. 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 de Noticias. 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 commented: 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 misjudgment... TEXT: Lastly, from our neighbor to the north, Canada's French-language "La Presse" in Montreal commented: 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 East Timor. NEB/ANG/WTW 23-Sep-1999 16:47 PM EDT (23-Sep-1999 2047 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list