Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kosovo Conundrum

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kosovo Conundrum

Article excerpt

Threatened NATO airstrikes have apparently made Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic back down on Kosovo.

On the other hand, he could again weasel himself more time to maneuver. Western countries have offered him an interim agreement that would leave Serbia effectively in possession of Kosovo, albeit not fully enough for him.

In either case, bombs or some deal, the core of the conflict remains untouched. Bombing would be justifiable only if it served a serious political purpose. Only a profound change in Kosovo's status holds a chance of restoring peace and protecting the large ethnic Albanian majority from further brutalization. The immediate necessity is to stop the killing once and for all and to avert a humanitarian catastrophe for more than 250,000 refugees this winter. The chief obstacle to a solution is the principle of sovereignty governing international relations. It forbids intervention in the domestic affairs of any state. That applies even to Iraq, subjected to harsh sanctions after launching and losing an aggressive war. As for Milosevic, having begun the Yugoslav war with its blind destruction and murderous ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia, mitigation may lie in his having played a key role in the Dayton peace accord. Reaffirming Serbia's sovereign rule over Kosovo would make a mockery of all the Atlantic community and the United Nations have done to succor the Kosovo Albanians. Their future must be taken out of Milosevic's hands. So outrageous a violation of human rights is no longer a domestic matter. It's an international emergency. Those who seek a legal precedent for decisive action will find it in the prohibited zone declared in northern Iraq to protect the Kurdish population from Iraqi forces. A world now rethinking such economic axioms as the virtue of free markets can take a new look at political sovereignty. Once Milosevic has been made to remove his military and security enforcers, Kosovo can be treated as the fully autonomous province of Serbia it was before he started his chauvinistic rampage in 1989. Better, it could become a self-governing republic in the Yugoslav Federation. …

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