November 17, 1999
RUSSIA'S WAR IN CHECHNYA LIKELY TO DOMINATE OSCE SUMMIT IN ISTANBUL
On the eve of the OSCE summit in Istanbul, European editorial writers judged that Russia's war in Chechnya "is destined to dominate the agenda," and the meeting's outcome, according to some, would be of "extreme importance" in setting the tone for future relations between Russia and the West. Many agreed with a London daily's observation that "the stage has been set for a clash between Russia and the West over Chechnya." While a few suggested that, in the words of a Paris writer, Istanbul "could be the perfect place to set up a global security agreement on the Caucasus," including "a plan to resolve the Chechen crisis," most were less hopeful. A Budapest paper, for example, held that a "war of nerves is already raging" between Russia and other OSCE states over whether Moscow can be made to realize that "it can't do whatever it wants in the new world." German and Italian papers, however, contended that both Europe and the U.S. appear intent on "avoiding an open clash with Yeltsin." "The U.S. president," claimed a leading Italian paper, "does not seem willing to risk a break with Yeltsin over the problem he cares most about: control of nuclear weapons." Russian papers also stressed that the meeting "is a make-or-break point" in terms of Moscow's relations with the West. Reformist Izvestiya held that "it will probably end as a stalemate, with both sides sticking to their guns," adding that "flogging Russia in public will hardly have any serious political effect" since it wouldn't force Russia to "give up its stand on Chechnya." And indeed, Russia's print media, with few exceptions, continued the drumbeat of support for their goverment's military campaign. The focus of commentary from other regions was also on the Chechen war, with writers from the Muslim world voicing their "regret" at "Western indifference" and "Islamic apathy" in the face of the "slaughter of Chechen Muslim civilians." Highlights follow:
WHAT TO EXPECT IN ISTANBUL: Uppermost in the minds of opinionmakers was the anticipated "confrontation" between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin over Chechnya, with the vast majority viewing the summit as an opportunity for the West "to express its outrage" and "persuade Russia that a peaceful settlement is in its own interests." Some urged that "the West's half-hearted protests must be followed up by more definite opposition to Russia's actions." A handful of observers argued that Russia's Chechen offensive has already made a "mockery" of the "long-awaited Charter on European Security" and a "new CFE Treaty," both of which are to be finalized in Istanbul. A few Central Asian papers made passing reference to other summit topics, including the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline deal and talks on Nagorno-Karabakh.
VIEWS FROM RUSSIA: Russian media by-and-large struck a defiant tone, defending their government's offensive and dismissing the anticipated "lecture" from other OSCE states as an unwarranted effort to "limit Russia's sovereignty." Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta, for example, warned that "the U.S. is attempting to use the OSCE as an instrument" to exert pressure on Moscow, and "legitimize its concept of a new world order" that sanctions outside "interference in a country's internal affairs." Several papers judged that Russia must be ready to defend its policy on Chechnya--even if it means "using its shoe in the way Khrushchev once did" if "faced with an ultimatum." Reformist Izvestiya concluded that Istanbul is "a turning point for Russia's relations with the outside world. Either Yeltsin will persuade the West that Chechnya is Russia's internal affair...or...Russia will face international isolation."
EDITOR: Katherine L. Starr
This survey is based on 77 reports from 40 countries, November 7-17. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
TURKEY: "Why Is Clinton So Friendly?"
Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (11/16): "The reasons for President Clinton's praise and friendly approach to Turkey can be listed under three categories.... The United States believes that Turkey's geostrategic importance is increasing, and America's political and economic interests coincide with the need for a strategic partnership with Turkey.... Clinton...wants Turkey to do what needs to be done in order to become a model country as democratic, secular nation with a free market economy in the Islamic world.... Turkey's economic potential also creates an opportunity for the United States that Turkey will become its partner to work together from the Balkans to Central Asia."
Ilhan Selcuk argued in intellectual/opinion maker Cumhuriyet (11/16): "The facts which underlay the Clinton visit are based on Turkey's location. Although Turkey seems to be situated on Europe's southeast border, it is right at the center of Eurasia. The superpower wants to control all of the energy sources.and [it] understands the importance of Anatolia from the perspective of the Caspian geography. Turkey has become invaluable within the concept of today's strategic geography."
"Looking Ahead Toward The OSCE Summit"
Semih Idiz wrote in the tabloid Star (11/8): "The upcoming OSCE summit will create a platform for dealing with international issues, the majority of which are...Turkey's concern.... The Baku-Ceyhan project is expected to be concluded and signed during the summit. However, due to Russia's objections, Istanbul will be the scene of heavy diplomacy for and against the Baku-Ceyhan project.... The Chechnya issue--including the Azeri-Armenia conflict--will be among the highly important topics. Although the summit may not be the venue where the Azeri and Armenian presidents will sign a peace agreement, it does not mean that the United States will give up its pressures for it."
RUSSIA: "OSCE's Future On The Line"
Reformist, business-oriented Kommersant Daily (11/17) front-paged this piece by Yelena Tregubova in Istanbul: "The West is not against fighting terrorists. But it wants Russia to carry out its Chechen campaign in a civilized manner. How strong the confrontation between Russia and the West is going to be depends on the way Yeltsin acts in Istanbul. The future of the OSCE as an institution hangs on it. All these years post-Soviet diplomacy has used the OSCE as a counterweight to NATO. Moscow nurtured the idea of a separate charter on European security. Now the Russian foreign minister, writing in the Financial Times, tries virtually to blackmail the West, making it clear that, should Russia come under strong pressure at the summit over Chechnya, it will refuse to sign the charter."
"A Stalemate Is A Likely Outcome"
Andrei Kolesnikov predicted on page one of reformist Izvestiya (11/17): "The Russians have prepared too well to expect outright diplomatic or political setbacks at the summit. It will probably end in a stalemate, with both sides sticking to their guns. It is practically impossible to imagine a situation in which Russia would give up its stand on Chechnya. So flogging Russia in public will hardly have any serious political effect."
"Make Or Break Point"
Aleksandr Chudodeyev said on page one of reformist Segodnya (11/17): "It is a make-or-break point--the summit may enhance confidence or get Europe back to the times of the Cold War."
"U.S. Wants War To Continue"
Andrei Kabannikov in Washington filed for reformist, youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (11/17): "As it slams Moscow over Chechnya, Washington will be tempered in threatening sanctions.... For all its rhetoric, the White House wants the war in Chechnya to continue, seeing it as the best argument in favor of an agreement on an oil pipeline from Baku to Turkey--as an alternative to a Russian pipeline."
"West Has No Right To Interfere"
The director of the United States and Canada Institute, Sergei Rogov, charged on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/17): "The West has no legal or moral right to use the issue of Chechnya to interfere in Russia's internal affairs. Obviously, the problem, basically, cannot be solved without political negotiations. But what has the OSCE got to do with this? Does it have a right to decide who will take part in the talks? Of course, an approach like that limits Russia's sovereignty."
"Russia's Political Class Inhumane"
Vadim Belotserkovsky stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/17): "Granting Chechnya independence would be a radical--and the only effective--solution to the problem.... The new war and the mean and mendacious propaganda campaign behind it show the inhumane nature and medieval morality of Russia's political class.... Only recently, Russia...backed the cannibalistic Milosevic regime. Now it is waging a cannibalistic war of its own."
"Cold War Instincts Must Be Kept in Check"
Vladimir Mikheyev pointed out on page one of reformist Izvestiya (11/17): "Clearly, both sides will present their arguments. The altercation is going to be polite but tough. It is essential that the latent Cold War instincts not prevail and the summit not be overloaded with negative rhetoric."
"Russia Can Use Any Means to Defend Its Sovereignty"
Neo-communist Slovo (11/17) opined on page one: "Russia is out to put its own house in order, dealing with a strictly internal matter. So it can use any means to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially because it confronts a major center of international terrorism. As for the Western creditors, Russia is not for sale."
Valery Volkov stressed in reformist Izvestiya (11/16): "Istanbul may become a turning point in Russia's relations with the outside world. Either Yeltsin will persuade the West that Chechnya is Russia's internal affair and Putin is Russia's hope, or he will suffer a defeat and Russia will face international isolation."
"We Can Do Without Being Lectured To"
Reformist Noviye Izvestiya (11/16) front-paged a piece by Otto Latsis: "Russia is in for flogging in Istanbul....
"No doubt, Russia's historical guilt is great. But what's done is done. The way things are being done today is not perfect, either. Even so, the current Chechen campaign differs substantially from the one in 1994-1996. The peaceful surrender of...Gudermes, symbolizes a new federal policy. Our job in Chechnya is hard and loathsome. Nobody likes it. But do we have a choice? The idea of an independent Chechnya is just unfeasible.... Of course, Russia should explain its stand to the international community. But it should also be alert, since the West can make an equal dialogue impossible. Faced with an ultimatum, Russia should be ready to use its shoe in the fashion Khrushchev once used his.... The Russian president can well do without being lectured to by others, especially by those who aren't known for godly behavior either."
"Fighting Over Russia's Future"
Viktor Sokolov and Nikolai Ulyanov said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/16): "The OSCE summit, whether Putin attends or not, promises an intense fight over Russia's future. Can Russia uphold its interests, including outside its territory, and act in keeping with how it sees them? If yes, Putin will win the presidency and Russia will regain its might and independence. If Russia stays in 'the family of civilized nations,' as America sees it, nothing good will come of this."
"We Need This Victory"
Vladislav Shurygin wrote in reformist youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (11/16): "The Russian army can win and it wants to win. Our soldiers and generals in the Caucasus are fighting for Russia's future.... Victory...will make Russia united and strong."
"A Chechen Torture For Yeltsin"
Aleksandr Koretsky said on page one of reformist Segodnya (11/15): "Istanbul will be a Chechen torture for Yeltsin, if he goes there. Russia does not seem ready to defend its policy on Chechnya internationally, which poses a grave danger to its campaign in the North Caucasus. It may lose it. It may be forced to lose it.... Russia has enough resources--military, financial and moral--to carry the ball. The question is who is going to defend its foreign policy position in Istanbul and how. Unfortunately, Putin stands no chance. The presidents will look down at him not only as a junior partner, but as the architect of the Chechen genocide. In other words, with him going to Turkey for Yeltsin, the summit will look like whipping Russia. With Yeltsin there, it will look like [it is] whipping Yeltsin."
"Getting Farther Away From A Solution"
Former presidential aide Emil Pain mused in reformist Vremya-MN (11/15): "As its army gets deeper inside Chechnya, Russia gets farther away from a solution to the problem. This is no way to 'restore the constitutional order' or 'eliminate terrorism.' The political strategy behind the second Chechen war is worse than that behind the first one. An inherent flaw of the current military plan is that it is one-sided, drawn up by the 'power ministries' alone. This plan looks well-conceived and successful in one respect, though--it can boost Putin's popularity rating as Yeltsin's heir-apparent and win him the presidential race."
"Whence Threat To Russia's Security"
Vladimir Yermolin held in reformist Izvestiya (11/13): "The Russian military has discovered a threat to Russia's security. It is the United States and NATO. To believe [Defense Minister] Igor Sergeyev, the United States is back to its 'Afghanistan game,' this time in Chechnya. That statement is more than just an attempt to beat an extra billion rubles out of the government for defense. It is part of the new national security concept, as well as of the new defense thinking. It is also a clear sign of the military seeking for itself a new role in Russian politics."
"It's Vital That We Finish This Job"
General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov demanded on page one of centrist, army Krasnaya Zvezda (11/13): "It is vital that Russia successfully complete the military operation in the Caucasus. Otherwise, Russians will lose confidence in their army's might and in their government's ability to solve conflicts and uphold this country's interests. Russia's disintegration, slow until now, would become rapid and irreversible. We have a chance now to prove that we can remain a great Eurasian power and make our people more confident in Russia's historic mission as a guarantor of stability on this continent."
"An Instrument Of U.S. Pressure"
Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/13) front-paged an article by Dmitry Gornostayev: "While it sees NATO as the center of a future security system in Europe, the United States is attempting to use the OSCE as an instrument to bring pressure to bear on what used to be Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. More recently, it has been using it against Russia. At the summit in Istanbul, the Americans will work to legitimize their new concept of a new world order, whereby they can interfere in the internal affairs of other countries as necessary."
"The OSCE Says There Is A Humanitarian Catastrophe"
Pyotr Shumeiko observed in reformist Vremya-MN (11/12): "The OSCE summit in Istanbul next week promises to become a severe trial for Russia. Although Russian representatives keep expressing hope in unison that the summit will not turn into a discussion of Chechnya alone, this can be hardly avoided. Norway, the current chair of the OSCE, will submit in Turkey a report on the humanitarian situation...and this report promises to be unfavorable for Moscow."
"Clinton Stands His Ground"
Vladimir Mikheyev commented in reformist Izvestiya (11/10): "As the Western media, working in concert, blacken Russia--which reminds one of Reagan's 'evil empire' cliche--a statement from Clinton that aiding Russian reform is his primary goal sounds like a rebuke to his critics. He remains committed to his policy to build partner-like relations with a stable and democratic Russia. Moscow must appreciate that the U.S. president stands his ground, no matter what.... The timing is important, too--the EU is threatening to expel Russia and the OSCE is preparing to rake it over the coals at the summit in Istanbul."
Dmitry Gornostayev remarked in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/10): "The United States has decided to make it plain to Russia that the time has come to interfere in its internal affairs. Incidentally, this is how it was in Kosovo, with the West's intervention ending up in NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia."
"Truce Spells Defeat"
Vadim Solovyov argued in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/10): "A truce for Chechen militants would be a moral victory over the feds and a chance to regroup and replenish their war supplies.... Suspending the action would be tantamount to a defeat for the federal forces. It would be a blow to the armed forces. They would never trust the political leadership again."
"We Have To Finish This Job"
Yuliya Kalinina said in reformist, youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (11/10): "To know why we have fought for so many years...we have to finish this job and end our doubts."
"The West Wants Russia To Be Weak"
Viktor Smelov asserted on page one of neo-communist Slovo (11/10-11): "The West is using the refugee issue to have its revenge for Kosovo. Even worse, it is preparing the ground in the Caucasus for direct intervention, for something that became a bloody epilogue to hysterics over the Kosovo Albanians. In any event, Western capitals realize that Russia, with a festering wound in its Chechen underbelly, is weaker than without it."
BRITAIN: "Istanbul Stage Set For Clash Between Russia And West"
The independent Financial Times noted (11/17): "The stage has been set for a clash between Russia and the West over Chechnya at tomorrow's OSCE summit in Istanbul. But there is some expectation that President Yeltsin's decision to attend the summit instead of Vladimir Putin, his prime minister and chief proponent of the Chechen war, might cool the temperature and avoid collateral damage to wider security issues to be discussed at the summit."
"Clinton To Confront Yeltsin Over Chechnya At Summit"
The centrist Independent observed (11/15): "President Clinton arrived in Turkey last night to meet President Yeltsin as tension deepened with Russia over the war in Chechnya.... Questions are being asked about why the harsh American response to Serbia's treatment of Kosovo has not been replicated over Chechnya, which is in a similar constitutional position, an acknowledged part of the much bigger country that had written guarantees of autonomy."
"Russia's Brutal Folly"
The independent weekly Economist maintained (11/12): "What can outsiders do to help avert a full-blown humanitarian and political catastrophe? Plainly, the West should try to persuade Russia that a peaceful settlement is in its own interest. A new opportunity to do this presents itself...at the...OSCE [summit]. There, every Western big wig from Bill Clinton down should be impressing upon Russia that it stands only to gain if it now declares a cease-fire and opens talks with Aslan Maskhadov.... No one wants to risk a war with a nuclear power.... That does not mean, however, that the West is powerless. It should make it clear that it will suspend most of its cooperation with Russia until it declares a cease-fire in Chechnya, allows international aid agencies full access, and opens a political dialogue with the republic's leadership. Until these conditions are met, the West should not consider offering any further cash loans or food aid.... And the Council of Europe...should suspend Russia's membership. Meantime, the West could be doing much more to strengthen the independence of the countries that sit nervously close to Russia's trembling rim.... The Western armory is limited, but the stakes are high: They include not just the suffering of the Chechens but the stability of the Caucasus and...of Russia itself."
"Who's In The Driver's Seat?"
The liberal Guardian commented (11/10): "Are Russia's politicians losing control of Russia's military?... In Putin the military has a willing stooge.... Mr. Yeltsin's reported decision to join the OSCE summit meeting in Istanbul next week offers a ray of hope. Bill Clinton and other Western leaders will be there.... If he does show up in Istanbul, and if he does finally take personal charge of this crisis, Mr. Yeltsin may, with Western incentives, be persuaded to sideline Putin, order a cease-fire and begin peace negotiations. If the generals let him, that is."
FRANCE: "Chechnya: A Challenge For The OSCE"
Jean-Paul Pierot commented in Communist L'Humanite (11/17): "President Chirac said that Russia's errors in Chechnya carried unacceptable consequences.... One would like to believe that such words will be followed by a real effort in favor of peace....
"Istanbul is the perfect place to work out a plan to resolve the crisis...even if Yeltsin has refused the international community's mediation.... Moscow's methods cannot be tolerated."
"Yeltsin's Public Appearance"
Emmanuel Faux told listeners on privately-run Europe One radio (11/16): "Yeltsin's arrival in Istanbul is being watched closely.... It is a golden opportunity for European leaders to say to him how little they think of his second war against Chechnya. France has promised to put pressure on Moscow, while the OSCE could ask Yeltsin to commit to a calendar for withdrawing from Chechnya. But everyone knows Yeltsin's answers about fighting terrorism."
"Being Firm With Moscow"
Gilles Delafon judged in right-of-center Le Journal du Dimanche (11/14): "It is certainly not a question of the West going to war against Moscow.... But the OSCE must show greater determination and some imagination, and thus prove that is not an empty shell. [Istanbul] could be the perfect place to set up a global security agreement for the Caucasus.... The point is to convince the Kremlin that to pursue its war in Chechnya in order to win the December legislative elections is total madness. If needed, a threat must be made in case a ceasefire is not reached, such as the freeze on further IMF loans."
"The Chechen Danger"
Pierre Rousselin observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/10): "Times have changed since the first war in Chechnya. Four years ago, Bill Clinton could still claim it was a civil war, thus justifying Yeltsin's actions.... Today, after the interventions in Kosovo and East Timor for humanitarian reasons, it is difficult to sit and watch without saying anything.... High officials cannot question the territorial integrity of the world's second nuclear power.... [But] during the OSCE summit next week, the subject may have to be broached."
GERMANY: "Less Support"
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin carried this editorial (11/17): "Criticize but do not embarrass Russia, this is the policy which the West will pursue at the OSCE summit. But will it be appropriate? The heads of state...are expected in Istanbul to do what the OSCE asks them to do: promote 'security and cooperation in Europe.' But with the exception of one issue, Cyprus, everything is linked to Moscow, [including] the Chechen conflict and amendments to the CFE Treaty.... The Russians already have 60 percent more weapons than they are allowed to keep. And how many more weapons will be allowed until the democratic 'community of nations that shares the same values' show Russia its limits?... A few words of criticism will not be enough. Russia wants to be recognized as partner, as friend, and it expects political and financial backing. But if this is the case, Russia should not be allowed to cause new tensions. It it continues with its policy this support must be reduced, for example, by cutting financial aid."
"Decisive Days On The Bosphorus"
Hildegard Stausberg argued in Berlin's right-of-center Die Welt (11/17): "It may sound trivial, but it is still right to say that the summit in Istanbul will have the significance of a fateful meeting.... The preparations for the summit...show with brutal clarity how strongly the European security structure is linked with Russia. Whether we like it our not, nothing works without Russia."
"Summit Of Punishment"
Christoph von Marschall commented in right-of-center Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/12): "If a pretext was necessary to bring about the collapse of the OSCE summit in Istanbul because of the war in Chechnya, then Russia has now provided it.... Should the participants talks about a peace order which looks like mockery in view of the situation in the Caucasus? Should a new [CFE] treaty...be signed, which Moscow is violating at the moment that it is signed?"
"OSCE Overshadowed By Chechnya"
Karin Kneisel opined in Berlin's right-of-center Die Welt (11/8): "Almost six months [after the Kosovo war], the Russian campaign in the Caucasus is overshadowing the OSCE summit in Istanbul.... The basic view of OSCE diplomats is that the events in Chechnya are horrible, but disarmament is a long-term project--even though Russia is mocking the OSCE rules with its war in Chechnya. In the Caucasus, Russia is contravening the security charter that is likely to be adopted in Istanbul.... It seems that the cynicism of....'realpolitik' is spreading again."
ITALY: "Clinton Could Be Decisive Element"
Ennio Caretto argued in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/17): Clinton could be the decisive element in the Chechnya crisis. But the U.S. president...does not seem willing to risk a break with Yeltsin over the problem he cares most about: control of nuclear weapons."
"Chechen Puzzle For Clinton"
Andrea di Robilant filed from Ankara for centrist, influential La Stampa (11/17): "A major showdown on Chechnya is destined to dominate the OSCE summit in Istanbul.... The Europeans do not seem willing to go beyond verbal protests with Moscow. And the Americans increasingly give the impression that they want to avoid an open clash with Yeltsin, also due to the lack of an alternative strategy. Since Clinton arrived in Turkey, he has limited himself to saying that the bombings in Chechnya are 'an obstacle' to Russia's integration with Europe.'"
"Chechen Dossier Casts Big Shadow On Summit"
Rossella Ripert wrote in pro-DS (leading government party) L'Unita (11/16): "The Chechen dossier risks casting a big shadow over the OSCE summit in Instanbul, and sinking the signing of the new treaty for the control of conventional armaments."
"The Dirty 'O.K.' To The Russians In Chechnya"
Cesare De Carlo filed from Washington in La Nazione/Il Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno conservative syndicate (11/6): "Far from protesting the daily massacres in Chechnya, the United States and the EU guarantee the continuation of loans, without which the shaky Russian military machine would not be able to perform.... Clinton in Oslo did not tell Putin 'enough with the massacres.' He simply told him 'please do it quickly.' From a Caucasus in flames re-emerges the immutable logic of relations based on strength."
ARMENIA: "A Summit Confirming U.S.' Predominance"
Commenting on a possible Clinton-Kocharian-Aliyev meeting, scheduled within the framework of the forthcoming OSCE summit, liberal democratic Azg observed (11/16): "The negotiations between the three presidents...will primarily be on the Karabakh peace process. According to U.S. analysts, the tripartite meeting is aimed at reiterating Washington's support for the independence and self-governance of Armenia and Azerbaijan.... According to Western observers, the meeting may stir Moscow's jealousy.
"It is obvious, that the summit is not going to be a pleasant event in Russian history. It will be openly stated that Washington is trying to use the OSCE as a tool to put pressure on Russia. Also Americans are trying to turn the meeting of 54 country heads to a summit where the U.S.' world predominance will be confirmed."
AZERBAIJAN: "A Fight With Russia Is Expected In Istanbul"
Opposition Yeni Musavat opined (11/16): "Russia is not going to make any compromises over Chechnya and it looks very unlikely that any decision on Chechnya will be made at the summit. We should approach the Karabakh issue in this context. Russia takes an initiative and dictates the situation. This allows us to talk about the fiasco of U.S. policy with regard to Karabakh. Up until the last few days, the president, who had been prepared to sign a defeatest Karabakh peace accord, had remained silent. But during a meeting with Azerbaijani intellectuals, he seems to have done an 'about face' as evidenced by his comments during that meeting."
BELGIUM: "Russia's Delicate Position"
Pierre Lefevre noted in independent Le Soir (11/15): "Because of the conflict in Chechnya, there will be several reasons for Russia to be in a delicate position vis-a-vis the OSCE. First, it is likely to find itself isolated within an organization which it sees as an alternative to NATO.... Secondly, the Istanbul summit will probably confirm a new version of the [CFE Treaty]. The objective is to lower even further the authorized level of heavy weaponry. Yet, Moscow is already infringing the current treaty with the number of weapons it is concentrating in the Caucasus. The West is turning a blind eye, but what will the Russian signature be worth on a document which it is intentionally flouting? Lastly, the summit will be an opportunity for Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan to formally conclude an agreement on the building of a pipeline which will bring the Caspian Sea's oil to the Mediterranean without crossing Russia and Iran. This relatively expensive project, which the United States and Turkey encouraged, was fiercely opposed by Russia which is likely to lose a lot of money there. According to many, this rivalry over Caspian oil would not be unrelated to the current trouble in the Caucasus."
BULGARIA: "Political Symbolism In Istanbul's Ruins"
Financial Pari commented (11/15): "For Turkey, the OSCE summit is a chance to show that the country is an equal partner in all European affairs despite the serious criticism often directed at it. At the same time, Europe is at a crossroads as well, as it insists more and more on equality in its relationship with America.... For Turkey, Bill Clinton's official visit is a chance to demonstrate the fact that the Turkish foreign policy puts the United States and Europe on equal footing. The United States will show that it counts on Turkey not only as a partner in bilateral relations, but also as a regional superpower, which has the means and the influence to serve as a buffer zone between modern Europe and the burgeoning Middle East and Caucasian Islamic fundamentalism."
CROATIA: "For Russia, It's 'Now Or Never' In Chechnya"
Fran Visnar commented in government-controlled Vjesnik (11/8): "Russian generals do not want to hear anything about a temporary cessation of their offensive to start negotiations with...Maskhadov. Although some voices from the Kremlin say that a total war would probably lead to serious differences with the West, Russia's army leaders figure that it's 'now or never' for them in Chechnya."
DENMARK: "West Must Increase Pressure"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende's foreign editor opined (11/14): "The West must increase pressure on Russia.
"It is unacceptable that the entire Chechen population is being held hostage... because the West is frightened of making a mistake regarding [relations with] the Kremlin.... The Kremlin is exploiting the West's reluctance to confront Russia.... The West's half-hearted protests must be followed up by more definite opposition to Russia's actions. Russian crimes cannot be reconciled with the European Council's work to promote democracy and human rights. Russian membership ought to be temporarily withdrawn until it shows willingness to negotiate. The CFE Agreement, due to be signed at the OSCE meeting...ought to be postponed."
FINLAND: "Armed Forces Get Mixed Up In Russian Politics"
Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat had this editorial (11/15): "It would be exaggerated, or premature at least, to say that the military commanders of Russia had started to dictate to the Kremlin.... There is something new in the picture, however. The generals have made it clear that they want a complete victory over the Chechens.... Whatever the outcome of the war, it will take Russian politics in an unfortunate direction. Ultranationalism will become stronger.... If a victory does not come, a threatening power policy crisis will be created in Moscow. If a victory is achieved, the violent measures and political influence of the army will appear more acceptable. It is hard to find reasons for optimism."
GEORGIA: "Georgia Is About To Enter The European Security Architecture"
In the independent 7 Days (11/15), Zurab Gogoberidze underlined the importance of the summit and especially emphasized the significance of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project for Georgia, arguing that the a deal on the project "has more of a political importance than economic."
GREECE: "The Costs Of Postponement"
Pro-New Democracy Party Eleftheros Typos (11/12) labeled the postponement of President Clinton's visit to Greece a "double defeat [politically and diplomatically] for the government.... The postponement...has a tremendous political and national cost. It has become obvious that this visit was going to be an add-on to Clinton's visit to Istanbul. The United States is using the OSCE summit to upgrade Turkey's role. Following the postponement of the visit, the Greek side will not have the opportunity to influence the planet ruler."
HUNGARY: "War Of Nerves"
Foreign editor Csaba Szerdahelyi offered this view in center-left Magyar Hirlap (11/17) about the upcoming OSCE summit: "Almost nobody cares about Chechnya...but, using the conflict as a pretext, the greater part of Europe, with U.S. backing, is preparing to teach a lesson to Russia. Although we can't say yet that it is about a new Cold War, the war of nerves is already raging, Soviet-era type statements are being 'shot out' from the Russian capital into the direction of Washington and Brussels.... Should the Russian assumption be taken seriously, according to which the United States benefits from Chechnya because it wants to bring the Caucasus under its influence?... It will be decided in Istanbul whether the United States and Europe dare to...make Moscow realize that it can't do whatever it wants in the new world."
IRELAND: "War In Chechnya"
The moderately conservative Irish Times held (11/15): "On the one hand Mr. Putin claims that the conflict is purely an internal matter; on the other he is asking for millions of dollars from the IMF to boost Russia's economy.... If he insists that the second Chechen war is no business of other countries or organizations then it is entirely logical that no money should be paid to Russia by the West until this 'internal matter' is settled. The IMF, and Western taxpayers who fund it, have the right to ensure that their money is used for peaceful purposes."
KAZAKHSTAN: "Western Style Democracy: Is The Strongest Always Right?"
Pro-government Express K complained (11/12): "The OSCE and the U.S. State Department have begun expressing their 'concern' about situation in Chechnya. They announce 'human rights violations,' though...Americans never stand on ceremony with any conventions such as national borders or human rights when the talk is about protection of their [own] national interests. They...can bomb cities, not thinking that peaceful citizens die there at that time.... Later they can justify themselves saying that they had been looking for terrorist Bin Laden or it happened because of old maps. What a cynical lie! You can only imagine what will happen if...in the center of Washington or New York, terrorists would blow up a house.... Americans will bomb many more 'terrorists' all over the world than the Russian military men in Chechnya."
KYRGYZSTAN: "Central Asia Should Be Inalienable Part Of OSCE"
Independent Vecherny Bishkek noted (11/11): "One of the main topics world leaoers will discuss at the Istanbul summit is regional conflict and post-conflict situations. From the point of view of stability, Central Asia should be not just a partner, but an inalienable part of the OSCE. If the draft of the charter on European security is signed, all signatories will have a code of conduct for the 21st century."
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA: "Plowing Chechnya"
Independent, liberal Makedonija Denes (11/15) had this analysis by Atanas Kirovski: "It is obvious that the Russian offensive is brutal and fierce and]...that there are thousands of refugees. However, Moscow did not have other option but to strike on the Islamic radicals with all means possible. It is not only the security of Russian citizens that is involved. Great strategic issues and big money also play in this game. Russia can not afford to lose control over the oil fields and pipelines, the very things that turned the Caucasus into the most neuralgic region in the world. Russia will leave Chechnya in ruins; she has no other option."
NORWAY: "Russia's 'Nyet'!"
Conservative Aftenposten (11/13) commented: "The work for even a modest international observation of the Chechen war, has suffered a serious setback after the OSCE delegation...was held far away from the Chechen border.... It is understandable that the Russians want to fight what they understand is terrorism.... But the expedients must be in accordance with the goals and that is not the case with an intense and extensive campaign against the people in this regional state."
POLAND: "The Limits Of Pressure"
Krzysztof Darewicz wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/17): "Putin says that it is the duty of every country to protect its citizens from terrorism...[and] it is easy to guess that Clinton will hear similar arguments in Istanbul. And he may not have many arguments to start a fierce dispute with the Russian leaders, restricting himself to appeals that Moscow stop its offensive in Chechnya.... The United States...is now forced to remain passive for two crucial reasons at least. First is Kosovo, because of which the West lost moral credibility in the eyes of Russians, who at any mention of Chechnya are ready to accuse the West of hypocrisy and two-faced policy. Second, Washington is aware that Russia's public this time expects that the Chechen issue be resolved for good, and that the present intervention enjoys the support of practically all political forces in Moscow. In this situation, the Chechen militants are not likely to hear good news from the U.S. president [at the OSCE summit] in Istanbul."
"The Summit Of The Unknowns"
Krystyna Szelestowska wrote in leftist Trybuna (11/17): "It is evident that the summit will be accompanied by a political earthquake caused first of all--but not only--by...Chechnya, increasing destabilization in the Caucasus, and the situation in Kosovo.... In this situation it will be extremely difficult to forge the long-awaited European Security Charter, the so-called OSCE constitution, a document which would be satisfying to all."
SLOVENIA: "Summit Facing Dangerous Trap"
Left-of-center Delo (11/17) opined in a front page editorial: "The summit is facing a dangerous trap set by the Russian diplomacy. Russia's opinion was not asked when NATO expanded and when the Americans bombed Iraq and Yugoslavia.... Now, the Kremlin is striking back... Yeltsin will not...pound the podium with his shoe. Nevertheless, his warning will most probably be clear enough: without Russia...there can be no security architecture in Europe.... Hence, Istanbul '99 will be of extreme importance for future relations between Russia and the West. If they are strained, the world will find itself in a Cold War embrace again.... If relations improve, Russia--because of this diplomatic victory--will have a free hand in settling the Chechen and other Caucasus problems."
SPAIN: "Russia Wins, Europe Loses"
Independent El Mundo opined (11/13): "Spurred by victories, the Russian army is toughening its actions in Chechnya and, what is more dangerous, it is becoming a catalyst for the revival of Russian nationalist sentiment injured by the secessions of the former Soviet republics. The OSCE summit...could be the key if European leaders take advantage of the occasion of meeting with Putin to put maximum pressure on him. This would save the lives of many Chechens and would save the West the shame of having forgotten its noble role as the universal protector of human rights that was assumed in Kosovo."
SWEDEN: "OSCE Best On The Ground"
Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter (11/17): "The OSCE's future role might be in practical peace work.... Its emphasis on civilian security and preventive diplomacy can play an important part in the building of European security.... The dominant conflict today is over Chechnya. It has been said that the OSCE has a unique opportunity to bring about a peaceful solution there. Russia is one of the foremost advocates of the OSCE, not least because Moscow wants a counterbalance to NATO. But there is much rumbling before the OSCE summit. Yeltsin is of the opinion that the West has no right to criticize Russia...and, considering what role the OSCE may have in the future, it would be ironic if developments on the ground in one of the member states were to prevent a success in the negotiations in Istanbul."
EGYPT: "What A Shame"
Kamal Abdel Raouf aired this view in pro-government weekly Akhbar Al Yom (11/13): "Are those Russian generals...killing Chechen civilians like animals? Do they believe it when they say they are fighting Muslim terrorists, while they are fighting women and children?... Obviously, the drunkard Russian president has found a way to regain a part of his prestige and to divert people's attention from the scandals of the Russian mafia.... Where is the Islamic world, which is standing as spectators to the slaughter of Chechen Muslim civilians? Not a strong word of protest against these massacres.... What a shame."
Independent Al-Watan published this view by Jamal al-Kindari (11/13): "There seems to be no hope of international intervention to deter Russia from the barbaric war it is waging against Muslim and civilian Chechens.... It is regrettable that here in Kuwait and the region no one has taken an official position against Russian actions."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Brutality"
The English-language Riyadh Daily charged (11/15): "The Russian aim seems to be to totally isolate the Chechens from the outside world.... But what is the international community doing about it? The Americans have expressed strong disapproval. French President Chirac has called it a 'terrible mistake.' Mere condemnation or empathetic words are just not enough.... It's high time the international community solaced the suffering Chechens."
CHINA: "U.S. Makes Indiscreet Criticism Of Russia"
Chi Qenjie said in official Central Legal and Political Commission Legal Daily (Fazhi Ribao, 11/11): "Analysts say the motives behind the U.S.' criticizing Russia and its attempt to interfere in the Chechnya issue are as follows: First, by imposing pressure upon Russia, the United States is preparing for its future interference in the Chechnya issue.... Secondly, the United States is unwilling to see a peaceful Russia, and is trying to dilute Russia's international influence through the Chechnya issue.... Thirdly, indiscreetly commenting on the issue under the pretext of safeguarding human rights, the United States is simply trying to boost its image of 'guardian of human rights' and 'international policeman'."
JAPAN: "Tragedy in Chechnya Must be Stopped"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai maintained (11/10): "Russia must suspend its military operation and seek an early solution to the Chechen conflict. It is difficult to refute Russia's contention that it started the military operation to sweep Chechnya clean of armed Islamic groups.... The problem is that the Russian military operation is chaotic and has claimed the lives of many Chechen civilians..... Russia must deal with Chechen refugees...in a more responsible manner.... Russia should listen to voices of concern at the OSCE summit.""
SOUTH KOREA: "Anti-American Russian Hawks On The Rise In Russia"
Moscow correspondent Kim Suk-hwan wrote in business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo (11/15): "The feeling that Russians should no longer remain onlookers to America's increasing arrogance and willfulness is now widely and quickly spreading among Russians.... The rise of this kind of nationalism is taking U.S.-Russia relations to their lowest level since the USSR's collapse."
VIETNAM: "Will Putin Succeed In Persuading OSCE States?"
Truong Son commented in Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon-the mouthpiece of Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Party, 11/16): "The pressure from the West on the Kremlin is increasing.... There will be efforts to internationalize the Chechnya issue at the OSCE summit, turning the issue away from eliminating terrorism and to issues of humanitarianism and human rights. The [Western] script which has been well applied in Kosovo is now being adjusted to fit the situation in Chechnya, yet the target of internationalizing the issue remains unchanged. Will Mr. Putin succeed in persuading the members of the OSCE to accept that the Chechnya issue is Russia's internal affair?"
BANGLADESH: "Russia's Decimation Of Chechens"
The independent Observer held (11/8): "Observers want to know if NATO's role in Kosovo...is going to be the last engagement before America's pull-out from Europe.... In this event, the slaughter in Chechnya is getting worse and may end up afflicting pretty well the whole Caucasian south, which is, by the way, the Muslim part of it.... Some observers think that might not be the most unlikely cause for such carnage and the absence of outrage across the West. A very glum message sent by the Chechnya horror is that Europe remains as ill-placed as ever, not only for its own security; and that America...as a superpower, cannot retreat into its shell."
PAKISTAN: "Western Indifference; Islamic Apathy"
An op-ed column by Rahimullah Yusufzai in the centrist national News held (11/12): "The Western countries' indifference to the plight of the Muslims of Chechnya is understandable, but the apathy of the rulers and peoples of the Islamic states is not only painful but also unforgivable."
SRI LANKA: "Russia's Aim"
Vernon L.B. Mendis wrote in the government-owned and controlled Sunday Observer (11/7): "Maskhadov has offered to hold talks...with Russia.... Putin has replied that he is ready for talks when Chechens hand over their terrorists.... The conclusion seems to be that the Russian aim is to oust the present leadership and consider a fresh political set-up in Chechnya."
KENYA: "Western Doublespeak Over War In Chechnya"
The government party-owned Kenya Times claimed (11/17): "The United States and her European allies are guilty of doublespeak in regard to Russia's military offensive in...Chechnya. These powers claim to be 'alarmed' at the suffering of Chechen civilians...and are now advancing the same 'moralistic' reasons they rejected when NATO was bombing Serbia.... Whether the Russian campaign is right or not is neither here nor there, but that war is in their interest and seem set to be concluded whatever the cost. That is the cryptic logic and the West should now come to terms with it."
ARGENTINA: "Chechnya Under Russian Fire"
An editorial in leading Clarin read (11/8): "Russia's military offensive in Chechnya poses a serious problem for which...the great superpowers have not found satisfactory answers.... Let us remember that the key justification for international intervention [in Kosovo] was the protection of the rights of the Albanian minority.... Kosovo posed an unheard of precedent...which legitimized the superpowers' military intervention for humanitarian reasons. This principle, nevertheless, has not been applied to the crisis in Chechnya."
CANADA: "Istanbul And Chechnya"
Frederic Wagniere opined in centrist La Presse (11/15): "It should be possible to find the outline of a solution to the war in Chechnya during the Istanbul summit because the OSCE is an international forum where Russians feel comfortable....
"The OSCE's objective is obviously to suppress the irredentism that could create numerous little wars, from Estonia to Thrace, and from Transylvania to Tatarstan.... The role of Western leaders in Istanbul will be to make Putin understand that it is fine to want to save Chechnya from terrorism but the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater. The war has already cost Russia its hope of obtaining the passageway on its territory of the [Caspian oil] pipeline.... The cost could continue to climb if Moscow does not show a willingness to find a peaceful solution to a problem that weighs on the whole region."
MEXICO: "21st Century, National Sovereignty Versus Life?"
Nationalist, independent El Universal (11/13) carried a column by Alberto Cravioto: "In the case of Russia and Chechnya, Yeltsin and Putin try to disguise their genocidal policies stating that they are fighting Islamic terrorists, thus the conflict is a 'domestic affair.'... What is at stake...in the case of Chechnya...is to determine if 'national sovereignty' gives a government the right to carry out massacres against its own citizens under the excuse of defending the nation's interests."
PERU: "Chechnya: The Only Way Out"
Straight-forward, respected El Comercio argued (11/13): "The critical situation in Chechnya shows how difficult it might be for some Russian republics to achieve independence.... What is the solution for Chechnya? Can dialogue bring the Russian government and the rebels to the negotiations table?... The current situation confirms that a political solution is the only way out of this conflict."
For more information, please contact:
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