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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-03-31

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Nato has 'torn Pristina apart'

NATO'S bombing of Yugoslavia continued to dominate the front pages. Most papers gave prominence to the diplomatic initiative undertaken by Russia.

Phileleftheros said that Nato forces had intensified their attacks on Yugoslavia, concentrating their bombardment on Pristina, "which they have literally ripped apart". These attacks, it said, were related to the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by Russia and Greece as well as by the difference within Nato.

The Americans, faced with the prospect of a return to diplomacy, "were attempting, through their merciless bombardment, to destroy everything and to cause such damage to Yugoslavia that the US would have the upper hand at the negotiating table," it said. Some 1,100 people had been killed and Kosovo looked like "scorched earth".

Most papers carried similar reports. There was, however, a divergence of views about the implications of the Nato bombing in the leader articles, all of which condemned the attacks.

Simerini warned that the worse was still to come for Greece after the calls for a more active involvement in the bombings, and the use of Greek territory by Nato troops, including those of Turkey, to launch more attacks on Yugoslavia. The next step would be for Nato to impose its peace in the Aegean and Thrace - on which Turkey had claims - which, according to observers "are targets for destabilisation".

The paper noted that if there was crisis in Thrace or the Aegean, Nato would turn its attention on Greece rather than Turkey. It concluded: "We have had a foretaste of the compliance with US diktats. Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his foreign minister have condemned the 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo - that is the crimes of the Serbs - on the demand of the US ambassador in Athens."

Alithia took a totally different line, praising the Greek government for preserving its good relations with the West. It cited Simitis' statement that diplomacy should replace war and his call for a compromise based on respect for human rights and international justice.

"This stance is consistent with Athens' position on the Cyprus problem. Through its policy on Yugoslavia, we can see the philosophy that determines its handling of the Cyprus problems." The respect Greece's foreign policy commanded in this crisis would benefit the handling of the Cyprus problem, the paper concluded.

Haravghi took a trip down memory lane as it engaged in some antiquated cold war rhetoric, slamming the "ruthless leaders of the US" for causing the bloodshed in Yugoslavia. The aim of the West was to "cut up Yugoslavia so they can establish statelets that would have the role of US protectorates in the Balkans."

It called on people to mobilise and stop this barbarism. "People have an obligation to act and underline their determination to stand up to today's barbarians and to demand peace and justice," it said.

Politis, in a column by its political commentator Andreas Hadjikyriakos, asked what was the real objective of the US in deciding to attack Yugoslavia. "I find it difficult to believe that the welfare of the ethnic Albanians is the only reason for the bombardment," he wrote.

He said that the Americans were planning to send troops into Yugoslavia, something that would also affect Greece.

Machi argues that Greek Cypriots should offer their solidarity and practical support to the "fellow-Orthodox Serbs". The people should respond to Archbishop Chrysostomos' call for cash contributions for the Serbs. In its lead story the paper claimed that there were some 800 Turkish Islamist fundamentalists in the north giving military training to the Turkish Cypriots.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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