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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK


World: Europe

Press review: Europe unimpressed by peace efforts

Refugees across the whole of the Independent's front page


Click here for a review of the UK press.


As Nato's air strikes against Yugoslavia enter their second week, many of Europe's papers focus on the latest diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, with general scepticism about the outcome of Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade.

"Negotiations for peace in Kosovo have failed for the umpteenth time," says La Repubblica. It quotes the Italian prime minister, Massimo D'Alema, as saying Nato's strikes will end only when Milosevic "ends the appalling violence against the civilian population of Kosovo".

The ABC newspaper in Madrid describes the outcome of the talks as"disappointing". "The fact that Primakov's negotiations didn't change much is proved by fact that a number of Nato fighter-bombers took off yet again from the Aviano airbase in northern Italy late last night", the paper says.

Liberation in Paris also describes Primakov's mission as a "failure". It carries an interview with the Nato Secretary-General, Javier Solana, who says that even though the Yugoslav people seem to have rallied behind their president, Milosevic has in fact been fatally weakened by Nato's action. "He is more and more isolated, he can no longer speak to anyone in the world, and he is more and more weak," Solana tells the paper; "He no longer counts, as you will see in three or six months' time."

But the UK Daily Telegraph warns that the aerial bombardment of Serbia is simply not working and reports that even the RAF'S former leading exponent of air power, Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason, has come close to admitting the apparant failure of the bombardment to achieve any of the campaign's aims. But The Guardian blames the slow progress on that oldest of enemies - bad weather.

The Paris-based International Herald Tribune says that events on the ground have forced Nato to reconsider its tactics, because of what it called "the surprising ferocity of the Serbian offensive". The paper believes that Nato's Supreme Commanderin Europe, General Wesley Clark, has had to "improvise major changes in the original plan for air operations, which had at first called for a slow and steady escalation of bombing raids, punctuated by pauses, in order gradually to coerce Mr. Milosevic to sign the Rambouillet peace agreement".

The UK Independent newspaper devotes its entire front page to a huge picture of two mothers with their five children huddled on a hillside, under the headline: "This is the reality of war: a quarter of a million refugees, and no hope".

The London Times says Yugoslavia is waging a genocidal war comparable to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. An editorial warns that Milosevic's offer to gradually reduce Serb forces in Kosovo and allow the refugees to come home, in return for a halt to the bombing, cannot be trusted. The paper says Nato and the Western countries should remember a decade of broken Milosevic promises, and keep their nerve.





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