The Serbian journalist Dejan Anastasijevic, who documented his country’s descent into revanchist nationalism under strongman Slobodan Milosevic, died Wednesday in Belgrade after a long illness. A friend, colleague and intellectual guide for a generation of journalists covering the violent conflicts in the Balkans after the end of the Cold War, Anastasijevic was 57.
Anastasijevic documented Milosevic’s land grabs in Croatia and Bosnia in the early 1990s, reporting on Serb militia members’ war crimes against Muslim and Croat civilians for the Serbian news outlets Vreme, Tanjug and B92. Anastasijevic became TIME Magazine’s Belgrade-based correspondent in 1996. As an ethnic Albanian separatist movement rose in the Serbian province of Kosovo in the late 1990s, and Serbian forces cracked down on insurgents and civilians alike, he became a key voice in the international coverage of that crisis.
Respected for the objectivity of his reporting, the clarity of his analysis and the power of his writing, Anastasijevic developed and maintained sources on all sides of the multi-party fighting over the years, from officers deep inside the Serbian security apparatus to members of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army.
He was also targeted for his reporting. During the U.S.-led bombing of Belgrade during the war in Kosovo, threats from Serbian security forces drove Anastasijevic and his family from Serbia to seek temporary safety in Vienna, Austria. He returned after the war to his apartment in downtown Belgrade. Later, his home was attacked with a hand grenade.
When Milosevic was put on trial for war crimes and genocide in The Hague in the early 2000s, Anastasijevic testified against him.
“The consequences of his policies,” Anastasijevic wrote soon afterwards for TIME, “were all too visible, in Sarajevo, in Srebrenica and in Vukovar. Almost 11 years ago, I walked the town’s muddy streets, stepping over corpses, as Serb militia members led away helpless civilians to what would be their mass grave. A year later, as part of a similar land grab in eastern Bosnia, the same men were happily torching Muslim homes and murdering their owners. The fighters were drunk with bloodlust and slivovitz, but they were also led by the invisible hand of Milosevic’s secret police, who organized, armed and supplied them. It was the link between Milosevic and these crimes that my testimony was intended to help prove.”
Compassionate with the victims of oppression and generous with novice and veteran colleagues alike, Anastasijevic was calm in the face of extraordinary danger, resolute in pursuit of the facts, and convivial after deadline.
Read Anastasijevic’s 2006 essay on Slobodan Milosevic’s passing here
World – TIME
(TOKYO) — The ambiance was friendly. Nice, comfy seats. An exchange of polite welcomes.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even managed to match Russian President Vladimir Putin’s manspreading — the two sat with knees spread wide apart as they chatted before the start of their first summit, which began Thursday in the Far East port city of Vladivostok.
With so little else to go on, it’s a common practice for North Korea watchers to pay extremely close attention to Kim’s every word and gesture when he makes public appearances. Summits are no exception, and there’s always lots of analytical commentary, insightful and silly.
What caught the attention of many outside observers Thursday wasn’t the scene, but the sound — of Kim’s loud breathing.
Clips of the introductory encounter were quickly tweeted around the world, many with comments about the leader’s audible breathlessness. South Korea’s media, meanwhile, speculated that it could be a sign of Kim’s poor health. He is, after all, overweight and a notoriously heavy smoker.
But when the two delivered their opening comments to start the actual talks, Kim seemed to have gotten over whatever the problem was.
Experts have noted that when Kim met President Donald Trump for the first time, they nearly lunged at each other with hands outstretched for a handshake. They vied several times to lead the other with an alpha male hand on the back. Gazes were carefully not averted, lest that appear to suggest submission.
The impression from their second encounter, in Hanoi two months ago, was more measured. The two tended to mirror each other more closely, which is a sign of respect and cooperation rather than aggression.
Kim’s first greeting with Putin was more like his performance in Hanoi, though a bit stiffer. It was in some ways similar to an old style Soviet meeting, with a bit of a formal chill to it.
He and Putin approached each other with fixed smiles and held an extended handshake for the cameras. It’s often an awkward moment, even for the most experienced politicians. But they appeared relaxed — or perhaps just well-poised — as they also did during the initial part of the talks, which were broadcast live.
Unlike the much taller Trump, Putin is roughly the same height as Kim, which probably helped.
The health of the North Korean leader has been the topic of speculation before.
During his first summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, last April, he appeared to be out of breath as he signed a guestbook after a short walk. He was also shown on TV red-faced at a banquet, likely from the ample beverages available.
But Kim has managed to make it through nearly a dozen summits now. His meetings with Moon, in particular, were well received in the South and seen to reveal a genuine warmth and desire for better relations.
It remains to be seen how effective he will be in getting out from under the sanctions that have been imposed on his country for its nuclear weapons programs. But if nothing else, he has demonstrated a surprising air of confidence alongside some of the biggest players on the world stage.
World – TIME
(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to clean up his signature Belt and Road infrastructure program amid criticism the policy is indebting poorer nations and making them dependent on Beijing.“We need to maintain that all cooperation is conducted under the sun and work together to combat corruption with zero tolerance,” Xi said in an address to the annual Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Friday.
He vowed that China will negotiate and sign high-standard free trade agreements with more countries, strengthen cooperation in customs, taxation, auditing and supervision, and establish a cooperation mechanism for jointly building the Belt and Road tax collection and management system.
“We need to pursue high-standard cooperation,” he said. “We will adopt widely-accepted rules and standards, and encourage participating companies to follow general international rules and standards in product development, operations procurement, tendering and bidding.”
Some 5,000 attendees from across the globe were in the audience for Xi’s address. Chinese officials have already pledged this week to improve funding arrangements for projects along the Belt and Road network, in response to increasing wariness that the initiative saddles developing countries with loans they can’t repay.
Xi unveiled the plan to rebuild ancient trading routes across Eurasia in 2013, calling it the “project of the century.” China’s government has since poured billions into investments from Africa to the South Pacific. The president champions it as a means to spur development, goodwill and economic integration.
At least seven countries that have agreed to Belt and Road projects have suspended, scaled back or terminated them, or experienced backlash for their involvement in the program. Earlier this month, China struck a deal with Malaysia to resume the East Coast Rail Link project for 44 billion ringgit ($10.7 billion) — down from 65.5 billion ringgit — after deciding to terminate it in January as the Southeast Asian country struggles to narrow its budget deficit.
To address some of the concerns, Beijing is taking a range of steps to exert more control over the program, officials and participants said. They include a more muted publicity drive, clearer rules for state-owned enterprises, restricted use of the Belt and Road brand, and building overseas auditing and anti-corruption mechanisms, according to officials and participants who have spoken to Bloomberg.
The People’s Bank of China will “build an open, market-oriented financing and investment system,” Governor Yi Gang said in brief remarks on Thursday. The government also released its analysis framework for debt sustainability.
Even before the forum officially kicked off, Xi pledged new development with the Philippines in a Thursday meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, including China’s commitment to build an industrial park north of Manila and provide resources for Duterte’s initiatives to spread wealth to his country’s far-flung regions, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
In March, a senior official from China’s top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, said China wants to combine its manufacturing and construction know-how with the advanced technology of Western firms on the global trade-and-infrastructure program, pledging greater cooperation with American and European companies on Belt and Road ventures.
World – TIME