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http://www.helsinki-hs.net/news.asp?id=20030930IE4 Ahtisaari enjoys the confidence of the USA PERSPECTIVE By Kari Huhta Many will recall the photo of the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder embracing President Martti Ahtisaari at the European Council meeting in Cologne in June 1999. It was a defining moment in what was one of Ahtisaari's greatest days as in international negotiator and mediator. The date was June 3rd, and Ahtisaari had just returned from Belgrade. There he had presented the Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic with the peace terms set by the international community for bringing an end to the war over Kosovo. Milosevic accepted the terms and the fighting came to an end. EU leaders gathered in Cologne were waiting to express their congratulations and to hear Ahtisaari's account of what had happened in Belgrade, but before he could meet them, the former President had another appointment. His motorcade stopped for the first time even before it passed out of the restricted access zone at Cologne-Bonn Airport. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott climbed into Ahtisaari's limousine, discussed matters with him for just under a quarter of an hour, and then returned to his own car. Only then did Ahtisaari go on to the cheering crowds in Cologne and his meeting with Schröder. The motorcade had to pull up because the war in Kosovo was fought primarily using American firepower and was brought to a conclusion on terms approved by the United States. Ahtisaari was a mediator in bringing the war to an end because he enjoyed the confidence of Washington. He continues to get significant international assignments, because he continues to enjoy that confidence. This does not mean that the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan or the leaders of Europe would not trust in the diplomatic skills of Martti Ahtisaari. Nevertheless, their confidence alone carries insufficient weight in disputes where U.S. interests are involved. One need look no farther than Sweden for an example of this. The former Swedish Prime Minister (1991-1994) and leader of the country's Moderate Party Carl Bildt was the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to the Balkans during the Kosovo conflict, but his role in the proceedings turned out to be marginal, and since then he has not been particularly prominent in other fields, either. The stubborn and independent Bildt crossed swords with the U.S. representatives at the time when he was the first High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU's Special Negotiator at the end of the war in Bosnia. Ahtisaari has not made a habit of publicly questioning U.S. actions beforehand and nor does he criticise them openly after the event. Ahtisaari's understanding for the grounds for the war in Iraq has raised little by way of discussion in Finland but it has had a considerable impact on the conditions for his international activities. The U.S. administration has a great deal more riding on the outcome in Iraq than it had in all the 1990s wars fought in the Balkans put together. Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 25.9.2003 __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search http://shopping.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk