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Further comments on Serbia and Kosovo from the Eastern Daily Press.

Thursday, April 8, 1999:

Questions raised over link with Serb city.

Norwich should consider cutting its links with its Serbian twin city to distance itself from the brutal repression of Kosovans, the city council's leader said yesterday.
"We can't sit back and ignore what the Serbs are doing," said Barbara Simpson. "We need to look again at the twinning arrangement with Novi Sad because what is happening out there is absolutely indefensible."
Norwich Novi Sad Association (NNSA) was to discuss the issue yesterday morning but members said they did not want to be drawn into a "knee-jerk reaction" against the proposal.
But as Norwich is the only English city with a twinning link in the former Yugoslavia, severing the 35-year ties would cut off civic links between the countries.
NNSA member Diana Beckley, who has taken humanitarian aid to the North Serbia city for more than 10 years, said: "The association is not a political group and we don't want to make political statements about the situation."
Talk of ending the twinning link arises amid evidence of Serb atrocities. Mrs. Simpson said her comments were a response to dozens of city people who had raised the issue.


Following this I sent a message to the City Council (through their web-site - and apparently the PC does not keep a copy, so I do not know the EXACT words used) saying:


Friday, April 9, 1999:

This may be the end for Novi Sad 'twins'

Norwich officials were last night still considering whether to sever the city's links with Novi Sad in the light of the brutal repression of Kosovans.
An informal meeting of Norwich City Council's twinning committee with council leader Barbara Simpson took place yesterday afternoon.
Last night Mrs Simpson was due to meet council colleagues in a bid to reach a final decision of the possible split. Norwich is the only English city with a twinning link in the former Yugoslavia, and severing the 35-year-old tie would mean an end to all civic contact between the countries.
Twinning links between Norwich and Novi Sad have existed informally since 1964 and were formalised in 1987.
A City Hall spokesman said last night: "An informed discussion took place at a meeting of the city council's twinning committee. The information will now be taken forward to a meeting of councillors for further discussion."
A decision of whether the city council will sever its ties with Novi Sad is expected today


Saturday, April 10, 1999:

FULL PAGE SPREAD headed by picture from Novi Sad with the caption:

City will not pull plug on Novi Sad link

Norwich is to maintain its twinning links with Novi Sad despite Serbian atrocities in Kosovo.
The announcement came as scores of people in Novi Sad took part in an extraordinary act of defiance against Nato air strikes.
They staged a "human shield" protest on the city's remaining bridge over the river Danube.
Labour's council leader Barbara Simpson and Liberal Democrat leader Ian Couzens said in a joint statement they had been asked to consider ending the 35-year-old twin city link with Novi Sad by members of the public.
The statement continued: "We understand the anger and distress felt but we feel we should continue our links as a way of ensuring the people of Novi Sad have contact with the outside world.
"In a city that speaks six languages and is truly multi-cultural, they must feel extremely isolated in their present situation."
While condemning the "appalling treatment" of Kosovars at the hands of the Serbs, councillors felt the special relationship with the Novi Sad people should go on.
"To increase their isolation by ending the contact they get with Norwich would not help the Kosovar people, or the people of Novi Sad," the statement said.
It followed an informal meting on Thursday afternoon between city councillors and representatives of the Novi Sad Association.
Members of the association said thousands of ordinary people in the Serbian city cherished their links with Norwich and wished to maintain them.
Peter Beckley said: "We are absolutely delighted with this. It maintains not just the letter of our twinning agreement, but the spirit."
Civic ties between the cities were first suggested because they had much in common, both being regional centres at the heart of rich agricultural regions.
Since the Nato air strikes began, Novi Sad has been among the key targets because the city - Serbia's second largest - has a military barracks on its outskirts.
Two of the city's three bridges have been destroyed in the bombardment but defiant citizens took part in a flag-waving demonstration on the third on Thursday night, acting as human shields against missile strikes.
A similar demonstration was taking place in the capital, Belgrade, where about 1000 people swayed to the sound of rock music on the Brankov bridge.
The Nato policy of targeting bridges has hampered the Serb forces ability to move around the country.
But it has also disrupted river traffic on the Danube.
Debris blocks the path of vessels carrying supplies from Germany.
Dozens of ships are stuck on either side of Novi Sad, unable to get through to ports up and down river.


Monday, April 12th, 1999:

Page 2. Picture of destruction of apartment buildings in Pristina.

Page 3.

Dropping bombs on a 'beautiful country'

At least eight Harrier GR7s were launched from the Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy yesterday against army and paramilitary units accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav province.
After returning to base, two of the pilots spoke about their mission and their feelings over the Nato offensive.
"It is a beautiful country," said one. "You look down at the villages and it is breathtaking, I think it is very like Switzerland. It is quite a tragedy." All at the base felt that Nato was achieving results and the RAF was making a significant contribution, he said.


Letter: interspersed with pictures of Clinton and Blair, with the caption:

Strange distortion of CND position

Co-ordinator, Suffolk Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Chris Fisher's piece, "Strange days for old CND supporters" (EDP, April 7) was clever journalism. He described how many Socialist politicians have cleverly used the CND and then ditched it.
Chris seems not to know that CND's position has always been primarily on of principle: that to deploy weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction is immoral and against international humanitarian law. To misapply such principles, for political or journalistic reasons, is scurrilous.
Chris then trotted out the old propaganda that the atomic bombing defeated Japan in 1945. The bombing was to prevent Russia getting its fingers into the Pacific pie.
For Japan was defeated already.
In mocking CND for not having a unified answer to the Balkans problems, Chris unfairly forgot CND did not create these ghastly problems - whereas some lapsed CND members now in government, certainly did. He also forgot CND's long-held position that peace can only be honestly sought through the United nations, via an effective Security Council.
The US/UK's unholy alliance has for years emasculated the Security Council. And now Nato, cajoled by this alliance, has refined the mutilation to cause the present insoluble chaos.
CND will help look for solutions, but members are bound to have varying views on such a multifaceted mess. Two aspects will, however, help to unite them in opposing what Nato is doing.
Firstly, the Belgians have suspended all rights to public assembly around Nato headquarters in Brussels, arresting groups of more than four people for up to 12 hours.
This is a sur sign that the powers-that-be know that people know Nato has messed up.
Secondly, Nato's arrogant irresponsibility is prompting Russia to revoke its forbearing stance of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. That moves the doomsday clock substantially towards midnight.


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