Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Kosovo Quandary

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Kosovo Quandary

Article excerpt

Very quietly, the United States has reassured the European nations - and specifically the national and ethnic actors in the Balkan drama - that it intends to remain engaged in southeastern Europe.

That applies to Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia, but also to the construction of a wider political framework to include Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, and Romania. US troops now on the ground will stay, although some may be replaced by well-trained civilian police. And President Bush has signaled his concern by inviting President Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia to the White House in May. That is both a gesture of respect to strengthen Mr. Trajkovich's moderate policy and an expression of Washington's desire that he open more doors to Macedonia's large, restive ethnic Albanian minority.

Even with Europe's active participation in the region financially and militarily, the American presence is still required as the conclusive security assurance. Yet simply being there is not enough. The flow of events continues, and must be channeled in the right direction. That has been done so far in Kosovo with considerable success by the United Nations political administration, backed by European economic aid and in the building of democratic institutions under the shield of KFOR, NATO's Kosovo force. What has been done, though, has been labeled "provisional," "transitional," and "interim."

The West's official position, as laid down in UN Security Council Resolution 1244, is that Kosovo - which, under Slobodan Milosevic, was part of Serbia - shall have substantial self-government within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

However, Yugoslavia is little more than a figure of speech. It consists today of Serbia and Montenegro; and if Montenegro declares independence, Yugoslavia will be only Serbia. It is inconceivable, after 10 years of oppression under ex-President Milosevic, that Kosovo would agree to remain a part of Yugoslavia.

Today, with most of its Serb minority gone, Kosovo is some 90 percent Albanian. In furtherance of autonomy, it has been progressively divorcing itself from Yugoslavia. The German mark is its currency; it collects taxes and duties at its own borders. …

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