Tagesspiegel, Berlin, Sept. 17: Who would have predicted a year ago that Macedonia would go this way?
With 70 percent of voters turning out and a clear victory for the (opposition) social democrats, the little country -- which last year was on the brink of civil war -- has completed its transformation from ethnically oriented politics to democracy.
Branko Crvenkovski, the next prime minister, has a past as a communist official; Ali Ahmeti, the winner among Macedonia's ethnic Albanian population, was a rebel in the mountains just last year.
Both now swear by democracy, reconciliation between Slavs and Albanians and an end to corruption.
Macedonia's "most democratic election since the country was founded" ... is also thanks to the international community, which intervened with peacekeepers last year as unrest began to escalate. About 800 OSCE observers -- more than in any previous operation -- oversaw the election campaign and the voting.
As at first in Kosovo, Macedonia's ethnic Albanians plumped for a former rebel. But, as in Kosovo, that could still change.
Le Monde, Paris, Sept. 18: Pressure paid off. Saddam Hussein, generally a bad judge of Western intentions, finally took measure of the situation. He understood that President George W. Bush, in agreeing to go through the U.N. Security Council, had rallied a good part of the international community behind his position.
The inspectors must return to Iraq. We'll know very quickly if they can work freely there. We'll know in a few weeks whether Iraq has anything to hide. It's the very least that public opinion -- in the Arab world, Europe and the United States -- has the right to insist on before a new war is launched.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, Sept. 18: During his summit meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Pyongyang on Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il acknowledged for the first time that Japanese citizens were indeed abducted to North Korea.
His remarks are tantamount to acknowledging that Pyongyang sponsored these crimes, and prove that North Korea was indeed a terrorist state.
On the issue of his country's suspected missile development program, Kim made clear his intention of extending North Korea's missile-testing moratorium beyond 2003. If he sincerely means to do so, this is certainly a step forward.
The big question is whether North Korea will work sincerely to implement accords reached during the summit. Pyongyang has often walked out on Japanese negotiators during diplomatic normalization talks in recent past.
It is essential for the government to stick to its principles concerning its stance toward North Korea. Tokyo should not make any easy concessions to Pyongyang.
Il Sole-24 Ore, Milan, Sept. 17: It is still too early to see whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's recent overture to the United Nations has made any real impact.
The United States' intention to obtain a strong resolution from the U.N. Security Council, clarifying the conditions the Iraqi regime needs to comply with, has remained unchanged.
But Saddam's initiative has provided additional reasons to those states -- including some European countries, such as Germany -- which oppose an attack against Iraq.
Another tough issue facing President George W. Bush's administration is to define a long-term energy policy in the Persian Gulf.
Process of succession
Moderate Arab governments in Egypt and Saudia Arabia are at the eve of a difficult process of succession, whose outcome is anything but certain. The weakening of these governments could endanger U.S. policy of double containment toward Iraq and Iran, forcing Washington to intervene directly in the region.
Europeans will have to evaluate these issues very carefully, before adopting unrealistic humanitarian positions, which could give the impression of an irresponsible and hypocritical Europe.