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RUSSIA:  YELTSIN RETURNS; MOSCOW WOOS CHINA AND IRAN





(Foreign Media Reaction Daily Digest)



President Yeltsin's return to office Dec. 23 following

heart surgery and Russia's push to forge new links with

China and Iran in the past few weeks captured the interest

of analysts around the globe.  They saw in these

developments an attempt by Moscow, Beijing and Tehran to

create a "club of nations" to counterbalance U.S.

"hegemony" and, for Mr. Yeltsin himself, a new opportunity

to build "a real democracy and a liberal market economy" in

Russia.  Journalists divided, though, on whether Mr.

Yeltsin would succeed in these tasks and in curbing the

excesses of "the new, profit-oriented elite."



The media in Russia, China and Iran made no secret of their

countries' eagerness to band together to restore a

"multipolar" world and avert what Moscow's centrist, army

Krasnaya Zvezda dubbed "the danger of universal

subservience to a global monarch's will."  Several Moscow

publications and their counterparts in other countries

judged that Chinese Premier Li Peng's visit to Moscow Dec.

26-28 and Russian Foreign Minister Primakov's sortie to

Tehran a few days earlier were warnings to the West and

NATO.  Reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti noted, "As for

Moscow starting to woo Tehran and Beijing, this depends on

the West: Such contacts will become possible, if NATO goes

ahead with its expansion plans."  Not all Russian analysts,

however, were satisfied with the Kremlin's strategy: 

Reformist Segodnya deplored the "reflex anti-Americanism,

which...has become a distinctive feature of (Russia's) new

policy."  Reformist Izvestia poked fun at the muddled

signals sent by Defense Minister Rodionov's mention of

Iran, China, the U.S. and NATO as "potential external

threats" while President Yeltsin was meeting with the

Chinese premier: "Isn't that too many enemies for a country

in crisis, whose army's sorry plight is the talk of the

world?" Beijing's official Xinhua news agency emphasized

that "the development of a strategic partnership with

Russia is...a long-term policy of China," but carefully

insisted that this alliance "is not directed against any

other parties."  Tehran's government controlled press,

however, was not at all reluctant to name the target of all

these diplomatic doings.  Tehran radio asserted that the

Russia-China accord constituted "an alliance against the

united Western front" and radical Salam said improved links

with Moscow "could help Iran increase its capacity to

maneuver against the U.S."  



Just as in Russia, pundits in other countries disagreed as

to the importance and strength of these newly formed ties. 

Karachi's independent Dawn found the Sino-Russian

reconciliation "of particular significance," particularly

for Asia, while centrist Beeld of Johannesburg declared it

had "the potential to become the most important

international power shift of 1996."  In Bangkok, the

independent Nation hoped that a Beijing-Moscow axis would

give ASEAN "more leverage" in its relations with

Washington.  Editorialists in Germany, Italy, Belgium,

Spain and India were not as impressed by the potential, in

the words of right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin, of "the

Euro-Asian elephants' wedding to give NATO and the USA a

big fright."  Right-of-center Newstime from Hyderabad

concluded, "If nothing else, both China and Russia need the

U.S. far more in economic terms than they need each other."

This survey is based on 65 reports from 18 countries, Dec.

11-Jan. 7

EDITOR:  Mildred Sola Neely



                                 EUROPE

                                    

RUSSIA:   "Global Solidarity Needed To Avert Subservience

To U.S." 



Vadim Markushin held in centrist, army Krasnaya Zvezda

(1/6): "As things go, the world's political evolution may

follow the worst of scenarios, with U.S. policy

transforming into a diktat....  The new U.S.

administration, as its priorities show, is determined to

adjust and improve its leverage to secure its interests in

every strategic region.  What can the rest of the world do

to meet that challenge?  Some kind of global solidarity is

apparently needed to avert the danger of universal

subservience to a global monarch's will.  Compared to any

alliances, pacts and memorandums, solidarity probably

suggests a bit more sensitivity and an appropriate reaction

to Washington's crude pressure." 



"U.S. Out To Gain World Hegemony" 



Centrist, army Krasnaya Zvezda (1/6) ran this comment by

Gennady Obolensky: "The United States, no longer regarding

Russia as a partner, is out to gain world hegemony, global

strategic stability not among its top priorities any more. 

Proof of that is the Pentagon's plans, which are at

variance with the ABM treaty, as well as its earlier

intentions regarding non-strategic ABM defenses....  Those

plans cannot but worry the world public, as they pose a

threat to global stability."



"Russia Must Promote Ties With Neighbors In East, South" 



Nationalist, opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (12/31) said in

this comment by Vasily Safronchuk: "The most effective way

to counter NATO's aggressive plans would be for Russia to

develop ties with neighbors in the East and the South and

restore her influence in the Persian Gulf and the Middle

East....  Time will show if the current regime has enough

resolve to resist Washington unceremoniously meddling in

Russia's relations with her neighbors." 



"Our Reply To Solana" 



Under this headline, reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti

(# 1, 12/31, 1997) published a comment by Denis Baranets:

"The growing number of agreements among Russia, China and

Iran on conventional arms and nuclear technologies creates

a sort of club of nations capable of altering the alignment

of forces in regional conflicts.  That causes doubts about

the West having preponderance in arms....  As for Moscow

starting to woo Tehran and Beijing, this depends on the

West: Such contacts will become possible, if NATO goes

ahead with its expansion plans." 



"Anti-Americanism:  Feature Of Russian Policy" 



Vladimir Abarinov and Leonid Velekhov, giving an overview

of Russian foreign policy in 1996, asserted in reformist

Segodnya (12/31): "Reflex anti-Americanism, which shows

invariably--no matter how insignificant the cause--has

become a distinctive feature of (Russia's) new policy.... 

Of this year's most memorable events in Russo-American

relations, endless spy scandals stand out the most.... 

Madeleine Albright, with her remarkable political

temperament and conviction in the U.S.'s right to global

leadership, will be a lot harder to deal with than the

cautious, conflict-fearing Christopher.  Considering her

unpopularity in the Arab world and Primakov's special

relations with local leaders, the Middle East may become an

arena of an intensive Russo-American rivalry.  Russia's

relations with NATO is a classic case of deja vu.  Every

time NATO officials appear in public after meeting with

Primakov they look inspired--Chamberlain-style, their

radiant faces suggesting that Moscow all but agrees to the

expansion plans, but each time the Russian Foreign Ministry

restores the situation to a standstill." 







"NATO Stimulates Russo-Chinese Rapprochement" 



Dmitry Gornostayev held on page one of centrist

Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/29), "Obviously, Moscow has set its

heart on strategic partnership with Beijing....  NATO

expansion will most definitely prompt Russia to seek closer

ties with China." 



"Alliance Impossible Soon" 



Dmitry Chernogorsky opined in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta

(12/27): "Growing cooperation between Russia and China

might be seen by the West as a reaction to NATO expansion

and hence affect the global situation.  So, there's

practically no chance of a political alliance between

Moscow and Beijing, not yet.  But steadfastly working on

the idea of a strategic partnership is sure to bring Moscow

political and economic dividends in the long term." 



"Rodionov Lists Russia's Internal, External Threats" 



Yury Golotyuk wrote in reformist Segodnya (12/26):

"Addressing a conference in Moscow, Russian Defense

Minister Igor Rodionov urged a CIS military bloc and

explained that it was necessary to avoid internal strife

and repel external challenges....  Referring to potential

external threats, Rodionov mentioned Turkey, Iran,

Pakistan, Japan and China.  But the chief threat, he

pointed out, came from the U.S.' attempting to enhance its

global leadership via NATO expansion eastward." 



"Russia Can't Do Without Enemies" 



Konstantin Eggert said in reformist Izvestia (12/27): "A

great power must have enemies. Otherwise, the world might

question its status....  The United States, NATO, Turkey,

Iran, Pakistan, Japan, China....  Isn't that too many

enemies for a country in a crisis, whose army's sorry

plight is the talk of the world?  Who does the minister

suggest should finance confrontation with so many well-

trained adversaries?...  This is more evidence that the

Russian army command is living in a world of its own,

detached from reality."



"Guess Who Hates Rapprochement With China?"



Commenting on the Rodionov remarks, Sergei Nikolayev

remarked in reformist Izvestia (12/29), "There is one

question...Rodionov evidently did not ask himself--who can

benefit by provoking complications and suspicions in

relations between (Russia and China)?  It is they who hate

to see our rapprochement with China.  Guess who?"

 

"Primakov Against Foreign Presence In Persian Gulf"  



Under this headline, Vladimir Abarinov commented in

reformist Segodnya (12/24) on Russian Foreign Minister

Yevgeny Primakov's visit to Iran: "Primakov said that

Russian-Iranian relations were on the upgrade.  He did not

hide that there was a lot of confidence between Moscow and

Tehran, stressing that Russian-Iranian relations were not

directed against the United States.  His counterpart,

referring to Iran's position, stated that security in the

Persian Gulf was a job to be done by the countries of that

region.  Both, obviously, implied U.S. military presence in

the Gulf area.  As a matter of fact, countries in the

Persian Gulf believe the chief source of danger was Iran,

not the U.S. Navy, which is working day and night to ensure

the security of that region vital to the world's

economy....  Meanwhile, Russia is out for more arms

contracts with Iran.  Its intentions, being at variance

with Russian-American top-level accords, are likely to dent

its prestige among countries in the Persian Gulf and bring

about more complications in Russian-American relations." 







"Yeltsin Back At Work" 



Tatyana Malkina said on page one of reformist Segodnya

(12/24): "The president's long absence from work may soon

be compensated for by a series of steps that will give

Russians, especially some of them, a lot to think about.... 

The social aspect of Russian reforms, evidently, will

become the linchpin of the Kremlin's policy for the next

couple of years." 



"Wages, Pensions Come First" 



Reformist Rossiyskiye Vesti (12/24) pointed out in a

comment by Pavel Anokhin and Lev Chernenko: "However

important international questions,  the problems the

president is going to address first are of an immediate,

vital interest to people--wages and pensions." 



"No Change" 



Alexander Budberg lamented on page one of reformist, youth

Moskovskiy Komsomolets (12/24): "What is happening in the

Kremlin and the government shows that the president is not

going to give up the old methods, looking for checks and

balances among members of his palace guard.  The 'divide

and rule' policy has always been favorite, be it in ancient

Rome or Communist Russia.  It also helped Yeltsin retain

power before the election.  After the election, it seemed

that the president, now backed by the majority of voters,

would risk replacing the many teams with one and forge

ahead with reform.  It turns out, however, that he wanted a

strong and loyal team only for the duration of his illness. 

Too bad."



"CIA Agents Less Active In Russia" 



Igor Korotchenko, reporting on a press conference of the

chief of Russia's federal security service (FSB), Nikolai

Kovalyov, remarked in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/18):

"Curiously, General Kovalyov has contributed substantially

to the FSB's accomplishments this year.  For instance,

there has been a sharp reduction in the activities of CIA

agents with diplomatic passports in Russia following his

personal meetings with the U.S. ambassador to Moscow." 



"Civilian Attire For Minister: There's More To It Than

Meets The Eye" 



Yury Golotyuk held in reformist Segodnya (12/17): "An end

to Defense Minister Igor Rodionov's military career has

more to it than just a formal ritual involving a change of

clothes.  Changes in the chain of command of Russia's

strategic nuclear forces are going to be a whole lot more

serious....  That a civilian defense minister may have to

give up his 'nuclear briefcase' may become a basic change

in the customarily three-element conference communication

system." 



"Russia May Have To Build Up Nuclear Forces" 



Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/17) cited the commander of

Russia's strategic missile forces, General Igor Sergeyev,

as saying in an interview with Igor Korotchenko: "Depending

on the military and political situation in the world and

the condition of Russia's economy, the development of our

strategic missile forces, in the short term, can proceed

within the limits set by START I and START II, if ratified

by Russia, or under new START agreements.  We also have to

consider the possibility of a global contingency.  Russia

may have to build up its strategic forces on the basis of

the existing infrastructure, should the START and ABM

treaties be broken off and Russia's vital interests

threatened." 



"Pseudo-Civilian Defense Minister" 



Under this headline, reformist Segodnya (12/15) ran a

comment by Pavel Felgenhauer: "By 





discharging Defense Minister Igor Rodionov from the

military service (and keeping him in office), Boris Yeltsin

finally redeemed his promise to give Russia a civilian

defense minister....  As he became a civilian person last

Wednesday, Rodionov joked, 'I have changed clothes, but am

none the better for this.'  He is right, of course.  He is

no economist and will hardly feel more comfortable with the

army's economic problems as a civilian.  Retired, he has,

in effect, lost part of his authority in the army, without

having acquired any new qualities.  Many army generals,

though, see a real need for a civilian defense minister who

will take care of the army's financial problems, while

leaving the military its due, combat training and troop

control.  Having a civilian defense ministry and an army

general staff separated is becoming reality in Russia, as

in the West." 



"Military Ready To Accept Civilian Control" 



Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/15) front-paged this

comment by Vadim Solovyov: "Over the four years of its

existence, the Russian army has found that it can function

just as well under civilian control....  What matters,

however, is not who, a military or civilian person, will

head the defense ministry, but what functions this ministry

and its head are supposed to perform and in whose

interests, those of civilian society or the military.... 

In Russia's case, a transfer of a military defense minister

to civilian status will not solve the problem of a civilian

defense ministry, as such.  We need a new legislative

concept of the civilian (political) responsibilities of a

defense ministry....  Formally, Rodionov's civilian status

has changed nothing.  But the fact that the president has

decided to keep him around shows that he trusts him.  It

attests also to Rodionov's enhanced position in the upper

echelons of power."



"There Was No Other Way To End War In Chechnya" 



Ilya Maxakov stated on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya

Gazeta (12/11): "The actions of Chechen leaders working for

independence look logical and consistent, contrasting with

the ill-conceived policy of the Russian leadership, which

continues making conflicting moves and statements....  The

voices of the advocates of the Kremlin's latest decisions

on the Chechen settlement are clearly drowned out in the

chorus of critics of accords with Grozny.  Mortifying as

seeing Russia fall apart may appear, one must admit that,

under the circumstances, there was no other way for Moscow

to end that war." 



GERMANY:  "The Dragon And The Bear Embrace" 



Jens Hartmann commented under the headline above for page

one of right-of-center Die Welt (12/30) of Berlin, "After

months of maneuvering, it seems that Russia has finally

found an answer to NATO's decision to expand to the

East....  Russia will seek a strong ally to the East in

China.  Moscow and Beijing want the Euro-Asian elephants'

wedding to give NATO and the USA a big fright....  The

rapprochement of the dragon and the bear is unusual,

following three decades of frozen relations and will

probably pose a difficult challenge for NATO

strategists....  Amid all the euphoria in Moscow over the

coup by Boris Yeltsin, who wants to create a new world

order in April in summit talks in Moscow with the Chinese

state and party leader, Jiang Zemin, nevertheless there are

still major question marks hanging over the project for the

next century.  The fact that Russia is traditionally more

orientated towards the West and that Moscow and Beijing

represent totally different geopolitical interests is an

argument against the partnership being a success.  Whether

the lowest common denominator of facing up to the United

States will be sufficient as the basis for a strategic

partnership is being viewed skeptically in Moscow too."



"An Alliance Spurred By Western Arrogance" 



In an editorial, left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau

commented (12/30), "The visit of Chinese 





Premier Li Peng to Moscow has symbolic value.  Li is the

first visitor from abroad to see President Yeltsin after

his heart operation.  This kind of visit is not left to

chance--neither by Russia nor by China....  The event shows

the high importance attached to the Sino-Russian

relationship by both capitals.  The leaders of both states

consider themselves to be victims of the 'new world order'

which was proclaimed by President Bush, and on which the

Clinton administration is working on with other means and

which is characterized by the U.S.' worldwide

leadership....  The idea of a strategic

partnership...against the Western globalists is likely.... 

This alliance was not just formed out of need; rather, it

is also a consequence of Western arrogance." 



"Doubtful Yeltsin Will Concentrate On Needed Reforms"



Centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich's Moscow

correspondent Miriam Neubert filed (12/24),  "Russia has

wasted the last two-and-a-half years with elections and 

with a sick president.  Now there is a chance to

concentrate on the  needed reforms.  However, it is

doubtful whether the government will be  able to exploit

the opportunity.  For the one problem that overshadows all

the others, is the state itself, which has developed into

an  all-stifling bureaucratic apparatus....  In 1991,

Yeltsin was elected  by the people because they thought he

would fight against the nomenclature and its privileges. 

But the new, profit-oriented elite has  long since learned

how it can use the president for its own ends.  The  more

the reforms falter, the greater will be the trend towards

more  government--a development that pleases the Communist

opposition....  It  would be tantamount to a revolution if

Yeltsin succeeded in turning the  tables on the apparatus. 

But Yeltsin has never been that kind of  revolutionary,

even as a healthy, younger man in his political prime four

years ago." 



"Yeltsin's Last Chance"



Centrist Cologne/Bonn Express (12/24) declared:  "Boris

Yeltsin is back again, promising better times for Russia.  

Nicely said, but the Russians cannot buy anything with

words....  They  want to see deeds....  If Yeltsin does not

succeed in quickly dismantling  the political mafia and

strengthening the reformers, his days in the  Kremlin will

be numbered.  He won't get another chance." 



BRITAIN:  "Yeltsin's Job:  To Create Real Democracy, Market

Economy" 



An editorial in the independent Financial Times remarked

(12/24): "Mr. Yeltsin's first term record is impressive

enough.  Five years after he defied a hardline coup from

astride a tank in front of the White House, he has

systematically dismantled Communism....  There are no more

villains threatening to pull the country into dictatorship

or war, for Mr. Yeltsin to conquer.  His job, as he begins

his second term in earnest, is no longer to destroy but to

build; not to vanquish enemies but to tame his friends.  To

create a real democracy and a liberal market economy in

place of communism, Mr. Yeltsin must today restrict the

powers and wealth of the new elite he himself has brought

to power. 



"To make a mark with his second term, he will have to

confront the subtler and more ambiguous challenge of

limiting the powers of his closest allies.  This is a job

only Mr. Yeltsin, the patriarch of the current regime, can

accomplish and it could be the hardest of his career.  The

winter holidays, traditionally a season for rebirth and

reconciliation, are a good time to begin." 



FRANCE:  "How Is The Tsar?" 



Michel Schifres asked in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/24):

"Can one be at the  head of a superpower while

convalescing?...  We would so much like to see  Russia able

to function and 





govern itself even if its leader is ill. But  if we listen

to the fears expressed by some and the hopes of others, we 

must conclude that in that country the same question comes

back across  the centuries: 'How is the Tsar?'" 



"How Can You Negotiate With The Outside When Things Inside

Are Crumbling?"



Jean-Francois Begele noted in regional Sud-Ouest (12/24):

"The last card the tired master of the Kremlin holds is the

international recognition he  still enjoys. He is the one

on whom Western leaders are counting to reach  a compromise

on NATO's enlargement to the East. The question is, how can 

one negotiate with the outside world when things are

crumbling inside?" 



"Yeltsin Under Close Surveillance"



Readers of right-of-center Les Echos saw this editorial

(12/24): "Yeltsin...certainly will not be granted a second

grace period. He is now under  close surveillance, medical

as well as political." 



ITALY:   "Russia And China:  Common Interests" 



The signing in Moscow of an economic-military deal between

China and Russia sparked this editorial in leading

financial Il Sole-24 Ore (12/28), "Amid drunkenness and

heart attacks, Yeltsin has achieved two strategically

important foreign policy results:  He has obtained the

almost unconditional support of the United States and has

taken relations with China to an unprecedented level of

confidence....  The basic coherence of the Russian

president is not matched by Chinese policy....  Chinese

leaders are still largely dependent on military leaders, on

the bureaucratic leaderhip of the party and on a state

industrial complex which continues to destroy weath.... 

The interest in a Russia-China partnership is born from a

comon need:  territorial and political stability in

Asia.....  However, common interests end there.  Russia

enjoys bipolarism with the United States and does not

intend to jeopardize it....  Beijng is instead periodically

troubled by the memory of past humiliations and by the fear

that the United States, along with other nations, may want

to prevent its economic growth and its success on the

international level." 



BELGIUM:  "Dialogue With China Not As Easy As It Seems"



On the occasion of Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng's visit

to Moscow, Michel Rosten judged in conservative Catholic La

Libre Belgique (12/27):  "Yeltsin will probably seize this

opportunity to take the situation back into his own hands

and assert himself again on the Russian political scene.... 

The dialogue with Li Peng does not promise to be as easy as

it seems.  One must consider the fact that Defense Minister

Rodionov has taken the liberty of a rather surprising

remark, by saying on the eve of the Chinese premier's

arrival that the country's security can only be threatened

by Iran or by...China.  It is true that those two countries

are arming themselves with a force that commands attention;

but they do so to a large extent thanks to Russia, which

sells them weapons on a regular basis!"



CANADA:  "U.S. Has To Recognize That Lebed Will Replace

Yeltsin"



According to foreign correspondent John Bierman in the

business-oriented Financial Post (1/3), "The West, and the

United States in particular, will have to recognize the

possibility that Yeltsin might not stay the course and that

Lebed will take his place.  Should that occur, Lebed will

undoubtedly prove to be a difficult customer to deal with,

for his outlook tends toward the primitive.  Still, he has

proved to be a quick learner....  A President Lebed might

wish for a reassertion of Russian military muscle on the

world scene, but given the present pitiable state of the

armed forces and the pressing nature of domestic problems,

that should not cause any 



major loss of sleep to the industrial democracies.  And the

prospect of Lebed in the Kremlin would certainly be

preferable to that of the unreconstructed Communist,

Zyuganov."

  

SPAIN:  "A Partnership Directed Against U.S."



An editorial in liberal El Pais (12/31) maintained, "The

'strategic partnership' jointly announced by China and

Russia is directed against Washington, but the differences

in motives of the two powers makes one  doubt the

proclaimed new friendship between these neighboring

countries:  Russia wants to avoid  NATO expansion while

Beijing seeks to increase its weight in Asia and thus

improve its  negotiating power with the United States. 

China is also seeking to normalize its relationship with 

Russia...but also with the United States...and so Beijing's

current criticism of Washington appears to be  rhetoric. 

China knows that the United States continues to be a key

actor in the region although its role is different from the

one it plays in Europe because there isn't a  NATO

structure in Asia."



                         EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC 

                                    

CHINA:  "Brief Visit, Great Success" 



Beijing's official news agency, Xinhua, featured this

commentary under the headline above (12/28), "The (Li Peng)

visit, whose agenda was packed virtually for one working

day, was brief indeed.  However, it scored fruitful

achievements and had a great significance....  Li was the

first visiting foreign leader that President Yeltsin has

met after his recovery from heart surgery....  Li pointed

out that Jiang's visit to Russia next spring will be of

great importance to the further development of the

bilateral relations, and his visit was a preparation for

President Jiang's state visit.    He reaffirmed that the

development of a strategic partnership with Russia is by no

means an expedient, but a long-term policy of China.  



"The two leaders have not only reached a strategic

consensus on bilateral relations, but also conducted in-

depth discussions over important international issues, such

as the formation of a multipolar world....  The world is

moving towards multi-polarization.  Both Russia and China

are important countries with great influence in the

world...(and) well deserve to be two important and

independent poles in the multipolar world....  Leaders of

both countries made it clear that they do not favor a world

dominated by one power....    The strategic partnership

between China and Russia is not directed against any other

parties. It is not only in the basic interests of the two

peoples, but also conducive to global peace and

development."



JAPAN:   "Restarting Yeltsin's Diplomacy" 



Liberal Asahi's editorial said (12/28), "Russian Foreign

Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who is shifting to

omnidirectional diplomacy from a lean-toward-one-side

policy toward the West, recently visited Iran.  The foreign

minister criticized the U.S. policy of isolating Iran,

saying (Russia) opposes a foreign military build-up in the

Persian Gulf.  Such Russian independent diplomacy with

China, India and Iran can be regarded as reinforcement

measures for its weak diplomacy in negotiating with the

West....  It seems there are growing signs of a (worldwide)

trend toward trying to build a realistic order in each

region in the post-Cold War world.  Japan should pay

attention to countries that feel a sense of alienation from

the U.S.-Japan security declaration, as well as the

expansion (to Eastern (sic) Europe) of NATO."  



INDONESIA:  "Russia:  Democratic Experiment"



In the editorial view of leading, independent Kompas (1/2),

"Advancing democratic practices to reflect a civil society

is not a one- or two-day exercise but an ongoing process

that requires strength and  tenacity.  What Russia has

achieved since it made such an effort five years ago may be

minor progress.  But, hopefully, the Russian experience 

will inspire other nations which 



may still be doubtful about empowering  their societies

with civil rights, even though such rights are already

stipulated in their constitutions." 



PHILIPPINES:   "Yeltsin's Tough Task"



Editorial consultant Amando Doronila of the independent and

second largest circulation Philippine Daily Inquirer (1/3)

compared Philippine conditions with those of Russia:

"Unlike President Ramos, Yeltsin faces a tougher task in

regaining political control and curbing the powers of his

caretaker deputies. The Russian economy is in disarray. 

Russian democracy is undergoing a turbulent consolidation

that has been disrupted by Yeltsin's incapacity.  Russia is

a country that is hard to govern, and the unruly behavior

of the Russians has been magnified by their transition to

democracy and to the market economy.  Yeltsin's prolonged

illness did not lead to a takeover by the prime minister,

and the fact that a coup did not take place despite the

discontent arising from delayed salaries of soldiers and

miserable conditions of the army is a remarkable feat.... 

While both presidents are feisty, Yeltsin is not yet out of

the woods.  Not only does he need to reassert his power but

also he has to pick up reforms that have lost momentum

during his absence." 



THAILAND:  "Better China-Russia Ties Is Boon For ASEAN"



Kawi Chongkitthawon wrote for the independent, English-

language Nation (12/30), "Closer China-Russia relations

will have far-reaching implications on the region, which to

date has largely depended on the good will of the United

States for its security.    Against this background, ASEAN

will also enjoy more leverage in its relations with all

major powers in both global and regional contexts.... 

Together as new dialogue partners, China and Russia have

direct access to the hearts and minds of ASEAN's leaders.   

They can also shape the agenda of ASEAN discussions with

the Western dialogue partners....    And after all, ASEAN

needs a credible counterbalancing force vis-a-vis the

United States.... With common positions on non-security

issues such as international economic, social and cultural

areas, ASEAN can work with China and Russia on such

sensitive topics as human rights and democracy....  Judging

from the ASEAN leaders' united stand on Burma, and

Singapore's reaction to the U.S. State Department's comment

on its elections, this diversionary debate on Asian values

versus Western values will not go away."



"Yeltsin Achievements Unlikely" 



The mass-circulation Daily News's Lens Zoom commented

(1/1), "Despite his recovery from the (physical) overhaul,

few believe that President Boris Yeltsin will be able to

successfully tackle Russia's various outstanding ills.  The

Russian economy is believed to remain reeling, as his

effort at market reform has hurt the vast majority of

Russians so used to depending on state subsidies and 

unable to adjust....  Infighting and political struggling

among Yeltsin's close associates will also work to

undermine his leadership and prevent any possible

achievements." 



                               SOUTH ASIA 

                                    

IRAN:  "A Strategic Alliance Threat To West, Particularly

America"



Tehran's Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran network

declared (12/29), "China and Russia signed an agreement

yesterday and thus demonstrated their will to set aside the

rest of their past rivalries and to form an alliance

against the united Western front....  The Russian press

explicitly reflected this message yesterday and praised the

determination of China and Russia to confront the advance

of NATO toward Eastern Europe and to put a security stop to

America in Asia.  Many political experts believe that the

quiet transformation, which began in the relations between

Moscow and Beijing since Yeltsin's visit to China last

year, has been given a 





new impetus by this agreement.... The use of the word

'strategic' to describe the agreement signed yesterday in

Moscow has deep meaning for Beijing and Moscow which the

West, in particular America, has to consider as the start

of a threat which will end with acceptance of rights and an

equal position for China and Russia next to the united

Western front and its military organ, NATO."



"Moscow, Tehran Trying To Prevent Illegitimate U.S.

Influence"



Radical, Persian-language Salam, which reflects the views

of the regime's hardliners, ran this commentary (12/22) in

anticipation of Russian Foreign Minister Primakov's visit

to Tehran December 22:  "Now the policy known as the 'view

to the East' gives top priority in Russian foreign policy

to the promotion of relations with countries such as Iran

with a number of objectives:  1.  To revive Russia's

political and economic influence in areas in which the

former Soviet Union enjoyed influence; and to exploit the

consequent results.  2.  To safeguard Russia's security as

well as its political and economic interests in its border

regions to the East and the South.  3.  To promote

relations with Asian countries and enhance Russian

influence in this part of the world as a lever for

exercising influence over the Western world, particularly

the United States, and to score over (Western countries) in

regions such as Eastern Europe.    As one of Russia's

important neighbors, Iran has relatively similar interests

and objectives at the regional and international levels. 

On the one hand, Tehran is trying to prevent the

illegitimate influence of the United States in the Persian

Gulf, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caspian Sea

region, and the Caucasus, and is unwilling, like Russia, to

accept the expansionism of the United States and some of

its allies in these regions.  On the other hand, Tehran

welcomes the promotion of relations between countries such

as China and Russia, in order to fight against Washington's

hegemony in regional and international calculations....



"The progress in these relations (Russia-Iran) is cautious

and gradual, but should the two sides use the existing

potential and climate properly, such relations could

increase Russia's capacity to gain its historic position

against the West and could help Iran increase its capacity

to maneuver against the United States and to prepare a

balanced relationship with other Western countries."



INDIA:   "China:  Dominant Partner?"  



An analysis in the centrist Pioneer by foreign editor V.

Sudarshan stressed (1/7), "Both China and Russia  have

announced that it will be an equal partnership....  In this

specific context, China would automatically look like the

dominant partner, even if it is not officially

acknowledged....  Just as there is bound to be a fallout in

the Far East, there is likely to be some reaction in the

Commonwealth of Independent States as well....  The

temptation is to conclude that there is more political fog

than any inherent clarity of purpose in the grand alliance

that aspires to Siamese-twins superpower status. 

Theoretically, multipolarity is certainly better than

unipolarity....  As is obvious at this moment, this alleged

strategic partnership raises more questions than it

answers." 



"Protecting Themselves From Long American Reach"



An editorial (1/3) in the right-of-center Newstime from

Hyderabad: "There is little chance that Washington will be

quaking in fear over the development.  If nothing else,

both China and Russia need the United States far more in

economic terms than they need each other....  Rather it

suggests two countries, unsure of their resources and

strengths, desperately turning to each other to protect

themselves from the long American reach in every sphere. 

But both will be wary of getting together in the one sphere

which will really get America worried: nuclear weaponry." 







"Slapping Backs, But Nothing To Lose Sleep Over" 



An editorial in the centrist Telegraph from Calcutta (1/1)

remarked: "It would be nice to think Russia and China are

reliving the spirit of the '50s.  But despite talk of a

'strategic partnership' in the communique issued after the

recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Peng to Moscow, no one

in the West will lose any sleep.  Li's visit and the summit

scheduled in April...for Messrs. Jiang Zemin and Boris

Yeltsin will not define a new dimension to Sino-Russian

relations....  The bilateral pickings so far have been

pretty meager....  Talk of a partnership is all very well

but there is nothing tangible among all the rhetoric: No

military coordination, no joint policy plans, no real trade

negotiations, not even any condemnation of the West on

specific issues.  This is the stuff of posture, not

politics.....

  

"Beijing and Moscow would both like a multipolar world. 

They both get bullied and pushed around by the United

States on a regular basis....  But an effective counter to

the West will not be accomplished through speeches....  But

it is good that Russia and China are slapping backs.  When

they are not, the world has real reason to lose sleep."



"Yeltsin Is Back And Ready For Battle"



In the editorial opinion of the right-of-center Newstime

from Hyderabad (12/28):  "President Boris Yeltsin is back

in the Kremlin and 'ready for battle.'... 

Characteristically, Yeltsin's first priority appeared to be

not any of Russia's multiple problems but the hostage

crisis in faraway Peru....  Yeltsin offered to send anti-

terrorist forces to Lima to help resolve the impasse,

something which even American President Bill Clinton has

not done so far....  But Yeltsin has always been a

resilient figure, and by his foreign policy statements...he

has given notice that he intends to [insist on] Russia

still being a superpower despite the breakup of Soviet

Union.  That should be good news for Third World countries

who are tired of the Clinton administration's bullying

tactics on issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to

intellectual property rights.  Even in a unipolar world, a

balancing factor is essential."



"Partnership Of Paranoia: Can China And Russia Wish Away

Washington?"



Under the headline above, the right-of-center Indian

Express (12/31) pointed out: "The post-Cold War world is

invariably decried in a familiar cliche: a world under the

sway of a singular superpower.  Though anti-imperialism has

long ago ceased to be a decisive motif...shopworn fears

about pax Americana continue to be paraded in certain

capitals of the so-called Third World.  It is less a

reality than a habit....   Hence the trend...contain the

U.S. tide by seeking new alliances.  No surprise then

[that] the consolidation of China-Russia friendship, marked

by Li Peng's three-day visit to Moscow, is widely seen as a

defensive response to an 'insensitive' Washington....  But

this partnership...is not all that inspiring.  First, China

and Russia can no longer afford to be equal partners.  One

is a booming market with extraterritorial

untrustworthiness.  The other, sick and chaotic, is in the

first stage of civil society.  And both have to face in the

near future the trauma of succession....  The currently

deionized Washington may still be there--not necessarily as

a nuisance, but as a partner worthy of doing business

with." 



PAKISTAN:  "Primakov's Iran Visit" 



Under the headline above, an editorial in the radical, pro-

Iran Muslim (12/30) stressed:  "The timing of the

(Primakov) visit (to Iran) is significant.  It has come at

a time when Washington and its allies in the Persian Gulf

and the Middle East seem to be preparing grounds for yet

another military operation to knock out oil installations

in Iran....  



"Through Primakov's visit, a message has been conveyed to

the United States that Moscow is 



not impressed by the U.S. policy towards Iran and it is

about time the United states gave up its policy of muscle

flexing, military escalation and confrontation in

conducting its foreign policy....  It was against this

backdrop that made Primakov proclaim from Tehran that he

expected a 10-fold increase in the two-way trade between

Russia and Iran by the turn of the century.  Wisdom demands

that the Americans give up the primitive policy of

confrontation with Iran and follow the Russian example." 



"Sino-Russian Entente" 



An editorial in Karachi's independent, national Dawn said

(12/30), "Russia and China, who until about six years ago

stood on the opposite sides of a deep ideological divide,

now appear poised for a strong strategic partnership.... 

Although it is still too early to expect a return to

anything comparable to a bipolar balance of power, Moscow

and Beijing should find themselves less and less under

pressure from Washington on issues such as nuclear

cooperation--which is how it has been in the absence of any

credible counterweight to American power in world

affairs....  



"The coming together of China and Russia should be of

particular significance in the Central Asian context, too. 

The inclusion of the representatives of three Central Asian

states in the Sino-Russian talks in Moscow and in last

April's summit in Beijing clearly suggests that Russia no

longer regards the Central Asian states as its

protectorates.  It is even seen as the first step towards a

new Asian security system, with a strong underpinning of

economic rather than military cooperation."  



                                 AFRICA 

                                    

SOUTH AFRICA:  "Significance Of Sino-Russian

Reconciliation"



Leopold Scholtz, senior political editor for Afrikaans-

language, centrist Beeld and Die Burger, commented (1/3):

"It might be too early to run with it, but a broad

development which has the potential to become the most

important international power shift of 1996, is the

reconciliation between Russia and China.  If it grows roots

it can change significantly the political constellation.... 

Indeed...if China does not disintegrate and if Russia could

only partially recover, it could become a serious threat

for Western Europe. 



"In the smoke-filled rooms of Washington, Brussels, Paris

and Bonn, where politics is formulated, policy strategists

should be uneasy about this development.  It is aimed

against them and consequently it is in their interest not

to drive Moscow any further in the arms of Beijing.  This

should become a high priority."   



                       LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN

                                    

PANAMA:  "Yeltsin, Building A Bipolar World"  



Conservative El Panama America, in an editorial, held

(1/7):  "Hardly recovered from his complicated heart

surgery...Yeltsin is working at breaking the strategic

circle around his country created by the NATO Alliance. 

Many of the former Soviet countries have requested

admission into NATO....  Yeltsin is moving at full speed. 

He  recently met with Chinese President Li Peng...and

issued a combined Chinese-Russian announcement on the

establishment of a strategic alliance... to create a

bipolar world to counterbalance the United States.... 

China is rapidly becoming Asia's first commercial power and

very soon (will be) the second or third in the world.... 

Meanwhile, Russia still maintains most of the technology

that its weakened economy is unable to keep up to date.... 

Yeltsin (also) met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl...and

is promoting contacts with India and Japan." 

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                                 1/7/97

         



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