Headlines in several publications around the world Friday continued to focus on Serbian President Slobodon Milosevic's capitulation on key demands to allow an end to NATO's two-and-a-half month bombing of Yugoslavia. The basic framework of the peace agreement, approved Thursday by Milosevic and the Serbian parliament, includes an immediate Serbian withdrawal from Kosova, return of the Kosovar Muslim refugees and the deployment of NATO and U.N. troops. Bombing, however, is expected to continue until the withdrawal is confirmed.
Online news publications from the major power brokers in the conflict presented differing perspectives on the peace settlement. Papers from Russia greeted the news as a victory for NATO and generally portrayed the efforts of Viktor Chernomyrdin to end the conflict as a yielding to NATO demands. The Moscow Times said that the agreement was cloaked in language to make it acceptable to Milosevic, but that in actuality it was a clear NATO win. The St. Petersberg Times and the Moscow Times ran concurrent stories detailing Chernomyrdin's impossible task of defending the settlement to opposition forces in Russia's Duma.
A headline in the St. Petersberg Times clearly echoed domestic frustration with the accord saying "Russian envoy branded 'traitor.'" Russia Today gave prominence to Yeltsin's call for an immediate end to NATO strikes. Editorials amongst these Russian publications failed to focus on the agreement, but the choice in headlines for news stories clearly demonstrated some resentment to the deal.
France's Le Monde Interactif portrayed little emotion in its headliner. Its story quoted French President Jacques Chirac as saying that the agreement represents a "real hope for peace." The publication called NATO's cautious stance "prudent" in continuing the bombing until the confirmed withdrawal of Serbian troops.
British publications such as the Electronic Telegraph and the Independent Online lauded NATO's success in forcing Milosevic to surrender. The Telegraph qualified Milosevic's acceptance by saying that bombing "could" end and went on to detail in a separate article, Milosevic's untrustworthiness and past betrayals of peace accords. The article quoted some diplomats as saying that the agreement provides significant "wriggle room" for Milosevic and that it remains to be seen whether he will follow through in the spirit of the accords. Editorials in both the Telegraph and the Independent qualified the success of NATO's bombing campaign by saying it was only the threat of a NATO ground invasion that forced Milosevic to cave.
The top story on the issue in the latimes.com joined in calling the deal a victory for NATO but in other headlines it was stressed that there is need for caution in following through on the agreement. Besides carrying U.S. President Clinton's calls for wariness, an latimes.com article said that NATO is left unprepared by the sudden peace agreement and will be hard pressed to come up with the required peace force in a week's time.
The New York Times on the Web headlined an Associated Press article that drew attention to NATO's continued bombing of Serbian targets Thursday night. A front-page analysis said that Milosevic's loss in his capitulation to NATO demands could be explained by his underestimation of NATO resolve and unity. An article found deeper in the site was less optimistic of NATO success as it covered the continued skepticism over the status of Kosovar refugees. But despite any misgivings, a Times editorial noted that if the agreement stands, "the most dangerous military conflict in Europe since the Second World War will conclude as a victory for the principles of democracy and human rights."
Zakariya Wright is a staff writer at iviews.com