Today's Story Line

As Europe readies a plan to rebuild the Balkans, what's missing most is a return to the inter-ethnic harmony that more or less existed in the old Yugoslavia before it broke up eight years ago. Quote of note: "There was an unimaginable richness of cultural life in Yugoslavia. I remember going to Zagreb [Croatia] in the 1970s. You would attend evenings with dancers from Macedonia, musicians from Sarajevo, intellectuals from Belgrade, and painters from Croatia. This no longer happens." - a European diplomat in Austria.

As NATO troops and war-crimes investigators move across Kosovo, they are discovering the worst ethnic assault in Europe since World War II. Mass graves of ethnic Albanians abound, making the case stronger against Yugoslav leaders.

Russia and NATO, after a tense standoff at the Kosovo airport, have cut a deal for joint peacekeeping of the province. The compromise shows they both need each other - but with NATO winning command of the operation and Western leaders withholding financial aid, Russia needs the West more.

- Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *SIFTING WAR'S ASHES: To report on the Serbian offensive in Kosovo, reporter Jonathan Landay spent almost two days in the south of the province. Jonathan says the destruction was staggering: roofs gone, windows and doors broken or missing, walls scorched. At the entrance of a village, the few residents or ethnic Albanian rebels there would offer to show where bodies lay or help locate suspected mass graves. They pointed out piles of burned documents, bullet casings, graffiti on walls - "This is Serbia" - and the locations of suspected mines. Jonathan says he'd learned much from the testimonies of ethnic Albanians, but said nothing could have prepared him for what he saw.

UPDATE ON A MONITOR STORY *LATEST WOMAN LEADER: Since our June 9 story about female heads of state, the tiny Baltic sate of Latvia has elected a woman as president. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who lived abroad for 55 years and has been a psychology professor in Canada, returned to her native country of 2.2 million people last year. One reason she was chosen last week by parliament for the largely ceremonial post: She speaks six languages. She is the first female head of state elected in an ex-Soviet republic.

Let us hear from you. Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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