International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 30, 2004

March 30, 2004





**  Kosovo papers blame economic despair, UNMIK "failure" for outbreak of violence.

**  Serbian commentators say Kosovar extremists seek "an ethnically clean Kosovo."

**  The problems will remain "as long as the status of Kosovo is not defined." 




Kosovars 'hostage to arrogance of UNMIK'--  Dailies in Kosovo attributed the roots of recent violence there to Kosovo's "catastrophic economic situation" and its masses of "unsatisfied, unemployed and marginalized" residents, including "a whole army" of young people.  Papers blamed "extremist elements" for the outbreak of "arson and persecution" but also upbraided "the silence" of the political and intellectual elite which "failed to condemn and distance themselves" from those seeking to "to expel Serbs" and "accelerate the departure of" the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.  Many agreed with independent Kosova Sot that UNMIK policies were to blame for Kosovo's "hard social situation" and "one-sided justice."  Serbian writers condemned the "new toll of madness," labeling it "Kosovo's 'Kristalnacht'" and chastising the "Kosovo Albanian ruling elite" for failing to "marginalize extremists."   


Europe must 'act swiftly'--  Editorialists elsewhere warned that rekindled ethnic clashes risked "losing everything" that had been achieved in the past decade.  Critics judged the West had been "dragging out" a settlement on the final status on Kosovo, encouraging "Milosevician Serbs" and nourishing radicalism.  "The strategy of postponing talks about the status of Kosovo has not prevented violence, but has increased uncertainty," said Croatia's government-owned Slobodna Dalmacij.  The international community should press for talks with "no 'forbidden themes'."  Other observers opined that it was "high time" for the West to "wake up to the realities of Kosovo" and "complete the job" in the former Yugoslavia, "even if that means questioning the Dayton accords and the precarious results of the war in Kosovo."  A reformist Russian paper concluded that violence had "exploded" the "two myths" that different ethnic groups could live "side by side harmoniously" in Kosovo and that "Albanian moderates...will not pursue nationalistic goals or try to push the remaining Serbs out."


'There are no good solutions'--  Future arrangements for Kosovo remained a matter of dispute.  Declaring that the "Albanians lost a moral right to request independence because of the repression against the Serbian minority," the independent Serbian weekly Nin contended that "Serbs in Kosovo are a little closer to cantonization."  Kosovo papers retorted that cantonization "is not the solution" and that "at no price should" Kosovars agree to it.  "Autonomous Serb enclaves in Kosovo would be bombs that Belgrade could activate whenever it wanted,” proclaimed the pro-PDK daily Epoka e Re.  A British weekly, arguing for an "improved version" of the status quo, maintained that either independence or cantonization would result in ethnic cleansing and have "worrisome implications for Macedonia."  Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau stated that to "establish Kosovo as a strong and autonomous region in a Serbian-Montenegrin state would be the best solution."


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 57 reports from 19 countries and territories March 19-28, 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




KOSOVO:  "What Now?"


The leading independent, top-circulation daily Koha Ditore commented (3/28):  “Kosovo has a problem.  And that problem is called the past of the KLA and its former fighters....  It is not enough that the government of Kosovo has allocated money for the rebuilding of the churches and houses of the persecuted ones.  It is also not sufficient the readiness of the Kosovar political leaders for addressing (in cooperation with UNMIK and Brussels) firmly the problem of the protection for minorities, especially for the Kosovar Serbs.  As a consequence, it is logical to say that these former fighters could not and cannot be the only ones who set the houses on fire.  There are also masses of the unsatisfied, unemployed, marginalized ones who face the catastrophic economic situation in Kosovo--they are those who expressed this dissatisfaction by thinking that Kosovo Serbs are to blame for every failure of UNMIK so far, or the failures of the fragile Kosovo institutions.  But if there were no organizers, they would certainly express their dissatisfaction in a different manner."


"Serbia Again Commits A Serious Crime Against Humanity"


Pro-LDK, mass-circulation daily Bota Sot editorialized (3/28):  “With its Friday’s resolution-- which in fact is a declaration of war on Kosovo--Serbia has once again committed a serious crime against mankind from its positions of the barbarian,  Greater Serbian revanchism.  In its declaration of war Serbia again announces its objective to reoccupy Kosovo, an objective that is very tragic for the region and continent.  This reconfirms the serious crimes that Serbia and the Serbian revanchism have continuously committed against humanity, which culminated again in the events of March 17, 18....  The silence of the international community in front of the new resolution of Belgrade is similar to the silence...of the international community towards Serbia in the case of the notorious preamble of the Serbia-Montenegro constitution....  The consequences of this approach were seen in the increasingly miserable status quo that was imposed on Kosovo, in the increasing aggressiveness of Serbia towards Kosovo, with increasing intervention of Serbia in Kosovo’s affairs; all these have and will always produce bitter results.  In an attempt to remove the blame from itself for all these things that have happened and are happening, the international community will do nothing but create a boomerang effect, while the consequences will be suffered by Kosovo and the Illyrian Peninsula.”


"Against The Kosovo Authorities That Is For All Kosovars"


Publisher Blerim Shala wrote in independent daily Zeri (3/27):  “Based on the resolution approved on Friday by the Serbian Assembly and on the speech delivered by the Serbian PM Kostunica, it seems that...they don’t intend to respect much the reality of Kosovo.  With poetry and mythology, old proposals and new packaging, Belgrade is trying to benefit from the disturbances of March 17, 18....  With or without this year’s March 17, 18, with or without March 24, 1999 [start of NATO campaign], there was never shown readiness to recognize the validity of Kosovar authorities over the whole territory and for all citizens of Kosovo.  Nevertheless, our officials should deal with the fate of all Kosovars.  In that context, they should regard the lessons of this year’s upheaval in their entirety.  If they do that sincerely, the Kosovar society will recover in the coming months. ”


"Destabilizing Resolution"


Independent daily Kosova Sot had the following editorial (3/27):  “The approval of the [Serbian] resolution--that affirms a futile attempt (as usual) for keeping Kosovo under its control--is...without a doubt...another Serbian provocation for Kosovo, the latter just calmed after the protests that degenerated in a violence of big consequences.  Stressing that Kosovo remained part of the Serbian state, Belgrade aims to provoke those Albanians who are unsatisfied with the long delay in resolving the status of the country.  The destructive objective of this resolution is very clear but it is surprising how the high officials of the European Union made no response to this very dangerous policy.  Javier Solana (who is angry at some extremist elements that are linked to some unnamed parties) should also put his focus to the Serbian territory, where the projects to destabilize Kosovo....  Apart from some weak reactions, the international community has never taken seriously the negative influence of Serbia on Kosovo.”


"How About A Resignation, Gentlemen?"


Editor of the leading independent, top circulation daily Koha Ditore, Avni Zogiani suggested (3/25):  “After every escalation of the situation, people, especially those who lead an entity, stop and reflect.  They reflect on what has happened, reflect on their responsibility and who’s to blame for what has happened....  But what happened in Kosovo?  If one excludes the effort of Prime Minister Rexhepi for taking the responsibility, there was no other sign that the leaders of the institutions have reflected at all.  Only a few days after the calming of the situation, they have returned to what has been their main activity for two years now:  posing and giving statements on camera.  In fact, in the events like the ones of the last week there are two kinds of responsibility:  official and criminal.  If they feel patriotic, those who have criminal responsibility for the violence of March 17, 18 should surrender to KFOR and the police....  The indifference of the Kosovar and international institutions for some social parameters and the continuous distancing of the leaders from the problems of the people (especially in the past year), has made such an eruption (of violence) inevitable.  Kosovar leaders have chosen the easiest way to lead the country, i.e., they escaped from facing the things that happen in real life.  On the other side, they have continuously neglected the lethal power of the armed extremist structures.”




Publisher Migjen Kelmendi commented in independent weekly magazine Java (3/25):  “Worse than the arson and the persecution of the innocent people was the silence of the political class, the silence of the intellectuals and cultural milieu, for they failed to condemn and distance themselves from the crimes committed by the Kosovar extremist elements.  The issue is whether Kosovar society agrees or disagrees with the crime.  The Kosovar political class, intellectuals, and the cultural milieu did not raise their voices--strongly and clearly--to condemn the crimes committed against the Serb people and culture.  No one but the prime minister took the courage to visit Serb and Roma villages and the burned houses and churches.  As if they were and are not citizens of Kosovo.  If the Serbs are citizens of Kosovo then the president, the president of the Assembly and the prime minister should have gone to visit and help these innocent people, rather then using these moments to refine their empty rhetoric about independence.”


"The Threat Of Anarchy"


Independent daily Kosova Sot took this view (3/25):  “By not dealing with the real causes of the eruption of violence, the officials of UNMIK are trying to escape responsibility in order to justify themselves before their boss Koffi Annan....  Now everybody knows that privatization has been blocked due to UNMIK policy, that powers were not transferred because of that policy, that the hard social situation is a consequence of this governing concept, that one-sided justice is a direct consequence of the UNMIK system.  For all these, one cannot blame the Kosovars but they have certainly made a big mistake by expressing their anger through violence.  For all that has happened, UNMIK is an accomplice of those who revolted.”


"A Mirror For All Kosovo"


The economic editor of the leading independent, mass-circulation daily Koha Ditore, Ibrahim Rexhepi wrote (3/24):  “The revolt of last week culminated after the tragic event in Cabra and the Serb blockade of the main commuting arteries.  However, the speed of the protest organization, its massiveness and aggressiveness say a lot.  In fact, there was a very fertile ground for such a rebellion.  The common name for all these developments is:  disappointment, the lost perspective and the failure to keep the promises given by locals and internationals.  The disappointment comes from the fact that even in 2004 we have to endure the slogan ‘Kosovo has just come out of war,’ whereas the war ended in June 1999 and things have moved ahead very little.  Unemployment is the highest in Europe and without any hope that it would be beaten soon; investments in the public sector have failed totally, electricity and water supply are irregular; roads are catastrophic compared to all our neighbors (not to speak about other European countries); the railway does not function at all; the airport operates only in a sunny weather; telephone services are not high quality and are too expensive....  This problem is likely to grow even more because there is a whole army of an incoming youth that does not see any prospective in the current circumstances.  There will always be a potential for rebellion....  The vast majority of protesters were youngsters who are about to start life.  But one should not forget one fact:  last week they expressed revolt against the acts of Serbs and Serbia but also against the acts of UNMIK, and if nothing moves in the future, they will engage the local institutions in the same manner.  Therefore the locals need a mirror to see themselves and their work.  Addressing the blame to UNMIK and Serbia only is nothing more than their tendency to escape from the responsibility.”


"About Statements And Problems"


The independent, mass circulation daily Zeri observed (3/24):  “We don’t believe that there is a single politician, either UNMIK’s or a local one, who knows what will happen next, how Kosovar society is going to proceed, how it is going to prepare for the final status.  The tendency to stabilize the factual situation in Kosovo is not followed by a stability of views and statements expressed by Kosovo authorities.  Chief administrator Holkeri leads here; his appearances do not have the firmness and continuity they should.  On the other side, local politicians, except few, have a big emptiness in the words they say.  Of course, partition should not be considered at all, as they say, but in order to eliminate this solution (that is dangerous not only for Kosovo but for the whole region as well) our officials and politicians should change a lot in their work and approach....  As for the cantonization, let us use diplomatic language:  it is not the source of the solution to Kosovo problems.  On the contrary, it is the source of the problems in Kosovo.”


"Last Alarm For Kosovo"


The deputy editor in chief of the leading independent, mass circulation Koha Ditore, Agron Bajrami wrote (3/23):  “Certainly there is a cocktail of reasons that brought Kosovo to this point and certainly one should not seek the answer only in Ibar river that flows by the village of Cabra.  The terrible distance of leaders from the people and its problems, mistakes of UNMIK and local authorities' governance, Serb political provocations in form of parallelisms and enclaves, the mutual animosity between the leaders of Kosovar politics, clandestine activities of the Serbian and other secret services, the catastrophic economic situation, unemployment, anger over the lack of the economic and social progress, impunity for economic and ordinary crimes.  All these, separately or altogether, do not justify violence and the damage that it inflicted to people, property and heritage....  Our part of the job to at least partially improve the situation...will be to deal with our own failures, not the failures of the others, the failures that left Kosovo ashamed....  Because, if we don't take today the responsibility that belongs to us, tomorrow it will be too late....  A week full of despair is behind us.  Ahead is the week that marks the fifth anniversary of the air attacks that brought Kosovo salvation....  Somewhere between the last week and those weeks of five years ago, we have lost our way.  And the recent violence seems to me rather as an alarm for Kosovo to urgently find its lost way, before we lose reason and hope as well."


"The Protest Of Despair"


Prominent Kosovo intellectual and academic Rexhep Qosja opined in his regular column to the pro-PDK daily Epoka e Re (3/23):  “This was the first powerful protest after the war that instantly spread across Kosovo and clearly articulated political demands.  In fact, it was a protest of the despair and revolt (about many things and many people) that was covered by political demands.  It was a big protest, a comprehensible one, but it ended with incomprehensible and unacceptable acts [such as] the violent behavior against KFOR and UNMIK members, the burning of the churches and houses of the Serbs, as well as the burning of Roma houses in Vucitrn....  We should not forget at any moment that our policy, our humanism, our culture, and finally, our demands for independence, are all judged through our position on ethnic minorities....  Every Albanian in Kosovo should know that there is no American and European politician and statesman that would agree to the creation of a state that would not show the necessary tolerance towards the members of other ethnicities....  No matter how unacceptable it is still for the international factor, we should not discard as unacceptable the idea of changing the border between Kosovo and Serbia.  At no price should we agree to the cantonization of Kosovo for it makes Kosovo dysfunctional in the political and administrative sense, and it makes Kosovo unsafe from the aspect of the freedom of movement. Autonomous Serb enclaves in Kosovo would be bombs that Belgrade could activate whenever it wanted.”


"Two Interpretations Of The Violent Protests"


Independent daily Kosova Sot had the following editorial (3/20):  “Officials are afraid of the division of Kosovo’s territory in a time when no one speaks about an even greater violence that that option (division) could spark....   The biggest damage is the interpretation of the violence as an ethnic cleansing.  Five years after the war that aimed to stop an ethnic cleansing, this could be the worst news for Kosovo.  It is understandable that the violence did not erupt with that intention in mind, it rather seemed to have been spontaneous....  If these protests were premeditated, the violence would have taken other dimensions....  Of course, the violence with tragic consequences has had very negative effect and should be condemned by all, citizens should be more restrained, not to fall victims of the criminality that showed its face these days.  But no one can deny the fact that these days have created a new thinking about Kosovo and about the death of the policy that was pursued so far.”


"Now All Of Kosovo Is A Hostage"


The leading independent, mass circulation Koha Ditore had a column by its publisher Veton Surroi stating (3/19):  “After five years as of this morning, we are hostages of the violence that misused Mitrovica and that brought out its brutal concept: violence to expel Serbs and violence to accelerate the departure of UNMIK.  After five years, we have come to a situation to be treated as hostages of those who thought in 1999 that using the confusion of war troops, under the pretext of revenge, they would carry out ethnic cleansing, and as a result we got the problem of Mitrovica, enclaves and parallel structures.  Now we are hostage of their eventual results:  direct violence against Serbs in Çagllavica, Obilic, Lipjan, or elsewhere with burning houses and the chasing of Serbs will be used as a direct argument that the only form of a solution to the final status of Kosovo is its territorial division on an ethnic basis.  Violence against UNMK and KFOR will turn us into confronting sides and not partners.  As such, we will not be in a position to successfully complete the joint project of statehood together....  We are hostage to the distance and arrogance of UNMIK....  The three past UNMIK administrations, along with the present one, have done little to fulfill their mission....  And we are hostages of Belgrade that is playing with this situation: if UNMIK and the Kosovars are not able to keep the situation under control, then that situation should be the final testimony before the Security Council that Belgrade should take the sovereignty over Kosovo, although this is the most unstable country in the region.”


SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO:  "The Fight For Cantonization"


Independent weekly Nin commentator Ljiljana Smajlovic wrote (3/26):  "Serbs in Kosovo are a little closer to cantonization than they were before March 17.  But is it worth the price they paid?...  Serbs paid a horrible price and Serbia improved its position in negotiations just a little bit....  The meaning of PM Kostunica's proposal on cantonization is to provide territorial autonomy to Serbs in Kosovo, who live in constant fear for their lives and without basic freedom of movement...  If the Serbs lost a moral right to govern over Albanians, then Albanians lost a moral right to request independence because of the repression against the Serbian minority....  The real question in Kosovo is:  why do Albanians in Serbia have guaranteed rights, personal and collective security while Serbs in Kosovo are deprived from such rights?  They do not have basic security rights although Kosovo is under international governance and under the protection of 20,000 NATO soldiers."


"Solana's Anger"


Independent daily Danas commented (3/26):  "Javier Solana's anger towards the Kosovo Parliament's Deputies who tried to fabricate facts on the  current situation, although Brussels' delegation saw the ugly reality, is not just a result of the Kosovo establishment's undiplomatic behavior.  It is more than that.  It is an indication that an ideal picture of 'Kosovo's progress' is destroyed mainly because it existed only in bureaucratic reports and not in the field....  It is clear that political members of the Kosovo Albanians failed to condemn ethnic violence or they expressed mild and late reactions.  It is an approving silence that has a big significance....  Solana's anger because of false and fabricated reports is a message to Kosovo Albanians to fight their own extremists....  It seems that the honeymoon is over."


"The Crime Scene"


Influential Belgrade daily Politika  commented (3/26):  "Serbia was bombed because of Kosovo....  As NATO's spokesperson said, this happened for  two reasons:  to defend Albanians from Serbian terror, and to force Milosevic to step down.  That was a big crime over Serbia.  However, all that power didn't help.  Kosovo today is a bigger problem than it ever was.  Milosevic is gone, but not because of NATO's  bombs....  Serbia was an experimental field, a military test range for NATO's survival....  Five years later Serbia is not present in Kosovo.  The Albanians are becoming nervous and are expressing their nervousness with violence.  Serbia hasn't been able to stop Albanian extremism for years.  However, the world too hasn't been able to achieve a multi-ethnic paradise.  Such a garden cannot exist in the middle of such huge hatred.  And after all that, the world will not give up its idea.  Kosovo has long ago been projected as an 'entity.'  Serbia is not even mentioned."


"Tough Awakening"


Political weekly Vreme published a commentary on the Kosovo violence by journalist Dejan Anastasijevic (3/25): "On March 17, several days before the 5th anniversary of NATO airs strikes against Yugoslavia because of Kosovo, the international administration and KFOR were rudely awakened after a several-years long nap.  Small but well-organized groups of extremists, discreetly supported by the  leading Kosovo Albanians' political parties, tried to achieve an ethnically clean and independent Kosovo through quick and surprising action....  A plan on resolving Kosovo's final status in the next two years was burned in the same fire that destroyed Serbian churches and villages in the province....  Albanian politicians lost the  international community's trust but we should not deceive ourselves:  Belgrade's politicians have to do much more to gain that trust."


"High Price For Cheap Advice"


Independent daily Danas wrote (3/25):  "Kosovo was an internal [Serbian] problem until five years ago.  It is a pity that there wasn't some willingness then to find a solution....  The Albanians convinced the international community that they are the victims, and they had been awarded:  they were allowed to expel the Serbs....  Milosevic ridiculed his supporters, his opponents, the international community and couldn't care less for Kosovo.  Serbia will have to pay much more until it pays off his debts.  Unfortunately, the present government doesn't have as much time as Milosevic had.  Kosovo Serbs have been sacrificed.  Europe is generously offering them standards that will not be implemented soon.  Russians are generously sending tents and beds for those expelled.  Kosovo's PM is promising reconstruction of destroyed objects and the patriots are advising them not to leave Kosovo....  All of them are hypocrites, even when their intentions are good.  Kosovo today is the black hole of Europe.  Five years ago, Kosovo Albanian leaders persuaded the public that they are the victims.  Last week the Serbian leaders did not manage to do the same."


"The Main Priority Of Authorities"


Independent daily Blic News commented on recent violence in Kosovo (3/24):  "It is clear now that attacks on Serbs in Kosovo can disturb Serbia more than any other event.  Therefore, a solution to the Kosovo problem has to be priority number one for any authorities in Serbia."


"On The Wrong Feet"


Independent political weekly Reporter wrote (3/23):  “Among the illusions which set the rhythm and intensity of hatred and crime in Kosovo, the key illusion is that of the possibility of establishing a democratic and multiethnic Kosovo.  Following all the failure to act by Milosevic’s repressive state, after the hypocrisy of NATO’s humanitarian intervention which moved the right to ethnic terror from the Serb ethnic minority to the Albanian majority and legalized it, it really takes an irresponsible naiveté or ruthless lack of interest to claim that a multiethnic Kosovo under the terror of the Albanian majority is a possible and achievable project....  There are just two possible ways out now:  the first is an immediate abandoning of the project of a multi-ethnic Kosovo which, after everything the Serbs and Albanians have experienced during their life together over almost a century, is advocated by the Serbian government.  The second counts on the ethnic majority in Kosovo to abandon terror as a means of getting an admission of the standards having been achieved and the conditions having been created for an independent Kosovo....  When we take a step forward in exposing the political construction named after the formula 'standards before status' we notice that the terror of the ethnic Albanian majority is based on the belief that the status of an independent Albanian state in Kosovo is something that inherently belongs to the ethnic majority....  From the Serb point of view, there is the question of who--and on the basis of which arguments--supports the Albanians in Kosovo in their conviction that Kosovo belongs only to them, even though the Serb presence in the province was documented long ago, among other things with monuments of material culture several centuries old which the Albanian majority, despite its territorial and statehood aspirations, does not have.  How much that fact hurts the Albanian side is evident in the fact that monuments of Serbian culture are constantly targeted by the Albanian independence initiative.”


"On the Wrong Side"


Belgrade weekly Reporter noted (3/23):  "Kosovo formally belongs to Serbia, practically it is run by the UN and protected by NATO.  Kosovo is a...failure torn between many illusions.  One of the illusions is the story of establishing a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo.  After Milosevic's repressive actions [in Kosovo], after the hypocritical humanitarian NATO intervention...only naive people could claim that a multi-ethnic Kosovo is a possible goal.  There are only two possibilities now--to urgently give up the concept of a multi-ethnic Kosovo, or that the ethnic majority in Kosovo stops exercising terror.  Both possibilities are excuses for the international community, the latter however is more favorable for them.  The Albanian terror moved Serbia to look for help....  However, Serbia is doing it wrongly.  It better should sit down and hear what the world is expecting it to do, and what kind of support it can expect."


"Coordinated And Planned Violence"


Influential, traditional Belgrade-daily Politika, highlighted (3/19):  “This latest wave of violence in Kosovo has escalated thanks to expertly planted disinformation....  Like in a vicious circle, violence causes violence, and the events in the course of the past several days have dispersed all illusions regarding possible coexistence in some future multiethnic and democratic Kosovo.  For this reason, it is perhaps the last moment for the international factors, which have taken the role of the guarantor of peace in Kosovo, to realistically review the situation and adapt their declarations and practical policies accordingly.”


"Painful Crossroads"


Independent daily Danas commented (3/19):  "Dozens of killed, several hundred wounded, many Orthodox churches, hospitals, schools, houses destroyed.  This is the new toll of madness, hatred, the international community's misunderstanding of the real dimensions of the Balkans problem, and above all, the inability of the Kosovo Albanian ruling elite to marginalize extremists in its nation.  There are no good solutions for Kosovo in the near future, but only more or less bad.  Because all of that energy should be used to find the right solution, the one that will be equally painful to all, a solution that will take a little from every side, and also offer something in return.  If extremism and intolerance take over the public scene--then farewell to Kosovo and Serbia, farewell to civilization and the future.“


"Kosovo's  Kristalnacht--The Spring of Serbian Despair"


Influential Belgrade daily Politika wrote (3/19):  "Kosovo went through organized ethnic catastrophe/cleansing.  It was a 'Kristalnacht.'  Anything that reminded of Serbian presence was torched and ended in flames.  The new fascism in the middle of the Balkans is attempting to erase people and memories.  Serbs can not defend themselves.  Today they are the victims of myths, deceptions, defeats and stupidity.  For Albanians, politics is the same as violence, because...every Albanian violence so far has  paid well.  In 1999 the international community attacked Serbia and pushed it out of Kosovo.  Only a few Serbs struggling with many problems remained.  The Serbian state is in great pains and today it can only beg and preach....  The international community will not admit that it made a mistake and will not accept ideas on dividing Kosovo.  The parents will not give up on their baby.  Albanians may do what they please.  However, this time they attacked the international community who is an ally.  Will that fact change something for the better for the Serbs?  Tactically maybe, strategically definitely not.  The perpetrators and victims will all be equalized by an official statement....  An ethnically clean Kosovo is a reality....  Serbia must make a strong impression that it is a state with goals.  It must change its impotent foreign policy and work much harder."


ALBANIA:   "Now All Kosovo Is A Hostage"


Widely circulated center-left Korrieri commented (3/19):  "We are hostage to...the direct violence against the Serbs in Cagllavica, Kastriot, Lipjan and elsewhere, by burning down houses and forcing out [the Serb] population, which will be immediately used as an argument that he only possible solution of the permanent status of Kosovo is its territorial and ethnic partition.  The violence against UNMIK and KFOR will make us confronters and not partners....  If the situation is dictated by figures who are almost anonymous in our institutional life, then we should not even talk about any institutional life....  The last three UNMIK administrations, the current one included, have done little to fulfill their mission, have isolated themselves, and once in a while have lifted an accusing finger to us:  'You should not forget that we liberated you.'...  We are hostages of the Kosovar incompetence that makes UNMIK arrogant...and we are hostages of Belgrade that takes advantage of this situation....  We are hostages of yesterday."




Ferdinand Brahimi noted in right of center, mildly sensational Ballkan (3/19):  "Rekindling of interethnic clashes, accompanied by human losses does not represent sporadic violence, but a new, urgent warning....  If Kosovo still is an international priority, diplomacy should refrain from rhetoric, and grant Kosovo independence as its final status."


"Kosovar Peace That Scares Chauvinists"


Rightist, sensationalist 55 carried an op-ed by Mexhit Prençi stating (3/19):  "The Unites States, United Nations and European Union bear the primary responsibility for dragging out the status of Independent Kosovo, in a time when any delay complicates things, encourages Milosevician Serbs to sparkle new conflicts, to create new hot spots to destabilize Kosovo and the whole region....  The current events...are alarm bells warning that only the status of Kosovo's independence brings peace, order and stability."


BULGARIA:  "Europe And The Virus of Hatred"


Krasimir Uzinov commented in top-circulation, moderate Trud (3/22):  "The aim of the military and the police missions in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Macedonia was to guarantee peace and a consistent transition toward a reasonable, civil government.  It is in this very part that the missions are currently failing to glean success....  The current Kosovo crisis was unquestionably provoked....  The responsibility of the Albanian political leaders in Kosovo for the situation is undeniable.  Yet one could hardly accept that they would go about declaring independence by setting churches and monasteries on fire and chasing off what few Serbs remain there.  Slowly and unwaveringly, Kosovo is heading toward independence, and the state leadership in Pristina that is already in place has no advantage from spoiling its relations with the international community....  Belgrade will obviously try and extract as high a benefit as possible from the situation, in order to avert attention from its own policy and delay declaring independence, with our without the secession of Mitrovica....  It is highly likely that the responsibility for the events will be transferred completely to the Kosovo Albanian leaders, and that the international equations for peace in crisis regions will be put to new tests.  However, without such working equations, it would be unthinkable to achieve a secure, unified Europe."


"White House Should Talk Sense Into Proteges in Kosovo"


The leftist Monitor opined (3/22):  "People in Belgrade think that the outbreak of violence in Kosovo is an attempt by the Albanian radicals to drive the Serbs out of there completely and to spread the conflict to other regions in Serbia inhabited by compact masses of Albanians.  This is why, at a large rally yesterday, the Serbs raised the following slogan:  'Europe, wake up, this is happening at your door.'  It seems that Europe is about to wake up and has already sent several hundred of additional troops under the NATO emblem to the unruly region.  Let us hope that this move is not shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted....  Given the increased activity of Islamic terrorists in Europe, it is unlikely that the situation in Kosovo has deteriorated by accident....  The situation in the Balkans is becoming rather tense.  It is well known that Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and other countries might also catch fire after Kosovo.  We have already watched this movie.  It was the U.S. brothers that imposed the current order in Kosovo, even though they did that under the United Nations' aegis.  Is it not time for them to make a more serious commitment and to rein in their proteges?  Perhaps the White House wants Europe to see what the fire is like on which it is being cooked in Iraq.  Let us hope that this is not the case."


CROATIA:  "History Repeated"


Marko Barirsic held in Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik (3/22):  “Krga and Radovic (Serbian Orthodox Church metropolitan bishop) should leave Croatia alone, and not burden the domestic public with their losers’ frustrations, because the only thing which can come out of the outdated JNA model based just on production of new enemies is a new Serb defeat in Kosovo.  Krga and Radovic obviously haven’t learned anything from their own and Serbian history, and it is not surprising that, as the saying goes, they are condemned to repeating it.”


 "Kosovo Volcano Has Activated Itself"


Dejan Jovic judged in split-based government-owned Slobodna Dalmacij (3/20):  “The strategy of postponing talks about the status of Kosovo has not prevented violence, but has increased uncertainty--both in Kosovo and in Serbia.  The uncertainty is the main source of radicalism, and sometimes violence.  Instead of postponing talks about the status of Kosovo, the international representatives should encourage them.  There should be no ‘forbidden themes’ in these talks.  The sides should also be able to present all ideas, including those which international representatives do not want to hear--such as complete separation of Kosovo from Serbia, division of the province between Serbs and Albanians, and/or peaceful reintegration into Serbia.  Until the moment international representatives accept giving legitimacy to the even most radical ideas, they will find a non-political (violent) path in imposing themselves.”


GREECE:  "The Homelands and the Hatred"


Rikhardhos Someritis wrote in small-circulation, influential To Vima (3/23):  "One must always call a spade a spade:  the recent tragic events in Kosovo constitute ethnic cleansing.  At the limited, local level, of course, but this does not change the nature of what happened and our obligation to unreservedly condemn it.  Nor does it dispel the suspicion that we are not dealing with an accidental outburst, but an organized campaign....  UN resolutions call for autonomy for Kosovo, but not independence from Serbia.   Albanian-speaking Kosovars--and not just the UCK--want independence....  The Serb plan was to make Kosovo exclusively Serbian.  Now extremist Kosovars plan to make Kosovo exclusively Albanian-speaking....   Can Albanian-speaking Kosovars and Serb Kosovars coexist in a semi-independent or independent Kosovo?  This is what the international community has tried to do militarily...and politically, by building or rebuilding local administrative hierarchies.  The results are not negligible.  If nothing else, free elections took place, and were not dominated by the extremists.  The international community, however, did not achieve everything it should have.   The political and financial mafia still has control over many things.  Hatred against the few Serbs who have not left remains strong, and stands in the way of a normal communal life.  Especially when the Serbian side systematically and persistently maintains the nationalist historical myth that describes Kosovo as 'the cradle of the Serbian homeland.'...  It is certain that all those who sparked the events of the past days must be severely penalized.  It is, however, equally certain that all of must avoid any actions that would make a political solution even more difficult....  The government...must resist advice to distance itself from European efforts in the Balkans and from the policies of those who want every attempt at peaceful coexistence between various ethnic groups to fail.  Among other things, also because some would want the same for Cyprus."




Agim Mehmeti commented in privately owned Albanian-language Fakti (3.26):  "The recent turmoil that enveloped Kosovo once again showed the painful servility and incompetence of Albanian politicians....  No one asked them anything, and no one heard what the rock-hurling Albanians that were being treated as sitting ducks by the Serbian and French KFOR snipers had to say.  The Albanians were clearly saying that they are tired of the discrimination and the injustice suffered from the confused UNMIK administration and from the lies and the false promises of the local fossilized politicians....  Shame on them for not having the guts to go public and preventing the children from going towards their death; and shame on them because the warmongering Serb machinery that is always ready began to put events--even before blood was spilled--to their advantage....  You either have or do not have national, cultural, and political identity.  It is a futile to attempt to create an identity by trying to give ideal answers to the foreigners while they seek concrete, objective, and real answers.  The Albanian people in Kosovo and Macedonia seek the same thing too.  I don't doubt that many in the Albanian political elite in Macedonia are hurt by the possibility that the way the Kosovo issue is solved reflects and impacts Macedonia, and that the present Albanians will try to get the same status that the Serbs will gain in  Kosovo.  These reflections are unavoidable, just as unavoidable as the people seeking new elections if the Ohrid Agreement is not fully and urgently implemented.  This is the pulse of the people."


"Kosovo, Second Time"


Dragica Hristova commented in independent Makedonija Denes (3/19):  "The drowning of the children is an insurmountable loss primarily for their parents, regardless of whether they are Albanians or Serbs.  What is worrying is the fact that all the citizens in the province appear to have been looking forward to a motive to take things into their own hands, believing an incomplete and uncertain media report.  Kosovo citizens and the people who protested these developments in several towns in Serbia and Montenegro only make things harder by seeking revenge for something that has obviously not been investigated.  However, the fact that violence began as a coordinated action, that is, in several places and at the same time, indicates that this had been planned in advance, bearing in mind that it has nothing to do with the alleged cause.  It has become apparent that UNMIK and KFOR have failed to establish order in Kosovo over the past four years.  The multiethnic concept, which was sustained in an artificial way over the last four or five years, has simply gone up in smoke....  In any event, Kosovo's independence will most likely be attained much sooner than expected, because someone obviously is impatient.  On the other hand, it has been proved that Kosovo's unresolved status is only a smoldering volcano that has recently been activated once again to the detriment of the entire region.   he current developments in the province, in which many people have lost their lives and many have been injured, can cause larger explosions not only in the province, but also in the region.   Macedonia will certainly be included in this, so it must not be caught unprepared, as was the case in 2001.  Therefore, we must not fool ourselves that Kosovo's fate has nothing to do with us and that it has no influence on Macedonia.  On the contrary, it has been indicated so far that the situation in Kosovo has always affected Macedonia.  This is why the last thing we need at such dramatic times for the entire region is to turn a blind eye to this fact."


ROMANIA:  "Kosovo, Or The Tragedy Of Small Countries"


Miruna Munteanu contended in independent, centrist Ziua (Internet version, 3/22):  "The destiny of small countries is much too often at the mercy of the big countries.  A typical example in this sense is the recent history of the province of Kosovo.  Five years ago, NATO's bombardment devastated the Serb Republic to persuade the Belgrade authorities to withdraw their troops from the separatist province and practically accept losing a national territory that is loaded with symbols, but also with resources.  The justification for the attack against Serbia, a sovereign and independent state entitled to defend its sovereignty, was the 'humanitarian' nature of the operation....  The Serbs were the executioners, while the Albanians were the innocent victims.  We all remember what happened next.  Kosovo is still the same keg of gunpowder today, but the world has changed fundamentally....  Islamic terrorism became the main threat to the civilized world.  The Kosovo problem is seen in a totally different light in the new international context....  The international community seems to have suddenly remembered that al-Qaida once acted on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, on the Muslims' side....  It is bad luck for the Kosovo Albanians that the perception of Washington has radically changed in the meantime and to their disadvantage.  The creation of a large Muslim enclave in the center of Christian Europe no longer seems to be such a good idea....  Strategies can change at lightning speed in the offices of the leaders of the big countries of the world, behind closed padded doors, in keeping with the interests of the moment. Yesterday's ally can become the enemy of tomorrow, and the other way around.  But hatred has a terrible inertia, and the vicious circle of violence continues to affect the population in the conflict zones."


"Kosovo Is Same Barrel Of Gunpowder"


In the independent daily Ziua, foreign policy analyst Miruna Munteanu commented (3/22):  “The destiny of small countries is, too often, in the hands of the great powers.  One significant example in this regard is the recent history of Kosovo.  Five years ago, NATO bombing was devastating Serbia, to force the Belgrade authorities to withdraw their troops from the separatist province....  Today, Kosovo is the same barrel of gunpowder, but the world has fundamentally changed.  In the White House, Bill Clinton was replaced by George W. Bush. 'The butcher in Baghdad' (President G.W. Bush) has replaced  'The butcher in the Balkans' (former President Clinton).  The same rhetoric, different objectives.  The United States has identified other enemies and has fought other wars.  Islamic terrorism has become the main threat against the civilized world.  In the great chancelleries of the world, behind doors, strategies can change in the blink of an eye, depending on the interests at the moment.  Yesterday’s ally can be tomorrow’s enemy and the other way round.  Hatred, though, has a huge inertia.  For the populations in the conflict areas, the violence may continue forever.”


"Military Force Can Solve Very Little"


In the English language daily Nine O’Clock, analyst Victor Lupu opined (3/22):  “The Balkans have always been known as the ‘hottest’ part of Europe.  After Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo is yet another example where ethnic issues and religion have taken the lead in human expression.…  Recent history proved that the use of military force in such regions of the world can solve nothing, or very little.  Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo are best examples of this.  Under military enforcement, discontent grows, giving birth to instability, ethnic clashes or bursts of terrorism, no matter the period of so-called peace imposed by military forces.”




BELGIUM:  "Urgent Choices Need To Be Made"


Special correspondent Francois-Xavier Delisse wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (3/25):  "The UN and NATO have managed to thwart ethnic cleansing attempts by Albanian extremists.  But the situation remains explosive, and some choices must urgently be made....  Albanians have always said that the arrival of one single Serb soldier in the province would be considered a war declaration.  Europeans are facing urgent choices.  Kosovo must remain multiethnic, in order not to depart from Europe's basic principles, and its independence should be postponed as long as possible in order to avoid a domino effect in the Balkans.  Indeed, Bosnia and Macedonia would run the risk of imploding in case of a unilateral Albanian secession in Kosovo.  Having believed that the Kosovo problem was solved was a mistake.  And playing for time only would have incalculable consequences throughout the region."


BRITAIN:  "Kosovo Must Not Submit To Violence"


A commentary in the independent Financial Times (3/22):  "Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt says we must contemplate a tougher approach to some fundamental issues in Kosovo or risk setting up a state destined for failure....  In many respects, Kosovo looks like a Palestine in Europe.  More than 70 per cent of the population is below the age of 30, unemployment is above 50 per cent, the economy is moribund, even emigration has become more difficult.  If these issues are not addressed properly, we risk setting up a state destined for failure.  It is high time we wake up to the realities of Kosovo--not in order to accept betrayal of our principles, but in order to assert them."


"Prisoners Of Liberation"


Andrew Gilligan commented in the right-of-center weekly Spectator (Internet version, 3/27):  "Straight after [the 1999 NATO intervention], the Albanians became the oppressors, and 200,000 Serbs, the vast majority, were expelled from Kosovo.  Many have seen last week's violence, described by the NATO commander Admiral Gregory Johnson as 'orchestrated', as the beginning of the final act, an anniversary attempt to remove the last 40,000 Serbs from their remaining Babim Most-style pockets in the Albanian south of Kosovo.  At least in part, it probably was.  But there was another dimension to it.  In some ways, the Kosovar Albanians, too, are trapped in a kind of pocket....  Many Albanians feel imprisoned in a place which is politically and economically stagnant....  The surprise and dismay of the 'internationals' who rule Kosovo as their compounds came under attack...was poignant.  Until last week, they thought they were doing all right....  What both the Serbs and Albanians want so impatiently is some kind of resolution of Kosovo's 'final status'.  But there is simply no palatable option.  Full independence within Kosovo's existing borders, the Albanian demand, would never be acceptable to the northern slice of Kosovo where Serbs are a majority, and would probably lead to the ethnic cleansing of the Serb pockets further south.  It also has worrying implications for the stability of Macedonia... and indeed for other borders throughout the Balkans.  Belgrade's tacit position (dressed up as 'decentralization' or 'cantonization') edges towards partition, with the north going effectively to Serbia and the south effectively becoming independent.  But that would cause essentially the same problems with ethnic cleansing and Macedonia.  Partitionists have been growing in number since last week....  The wish for clean, neat solutions is a bit of a Balkan curse, especially when they turn out less clean and neat than anticipated.  The best approach in Kosovo might also be the weediest and most boring:  to muddle along with an improved version of the mixture as before.  Keep up the increase in troop numbers even after the newspapers have lost interest, work harder at stopping anti-Serb discrimination, pay more attention to detail and, frankly, cross our fingers and hope for the best.  Not a great outlook for the villagers of Babim Most; but maybe better than the alternatives."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Kosovian Dejá Vu"


Pavel Masa pointed out in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny (3/19):  "It is clear who should take the main responsibility [in Kosovo].  Neither the UN, nor NATO soldiers, but the European Union.  Brussels and individual member states must not allow people to be killed in the 'backyard of civilized Europe' in violence dating back not five years but centuries.  If the EU does not act soon, it clearly can put its concept of joint security and foreign policy into cold storage.  It would be astonishing if the Americans would pull the EU's chestnuts out of the fire."


DENMARK:  "Half-Hearted Military Intervention Cannot Create Democracy"


Centrist Kristeligt Dagblad commented (3/22):  “Military intervention in this kind of region that is only followed up by half-hearted reconstruction efforts, will not create democracy, progress or conciliation.”




Former Defense Minister Hans Hækkerup commented in center-right Jyllands Posten (3/22):  "The political process between the Serbs and Kosovo-Albanians must be continued until they are sufficiently close to one another to establish a lasting peace.  We’re still a long way from that but we must stay focused on the goal."


GERMANY:  "Robber's Den"


Ulrich Clauss commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/25):  "Despite the deep rifts between the ethnic communities on the Balkans, people there have something in common:  they are deeply involved in organized crime.  The undefined status of Kosovo has attacked bandits and gamblers of any kind....  The problems will remain as long as the status of Kosovo is not defined, because the question of authority is only resolved temporarily and no long-term security structures come into being.  If Europe doesn’t act swiftly, not only ethnic conflicts will become more severe, but Kosovo and its surrounding regions will finally turn into the robber's den of southeast Europe."


"Courage To Resolve Kosovo Conflict"


Martin Winter editorialized in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (3/24):  "Of course, one cannot conciliate ethnic and historical enmity that was built up over centuries, but one can create a firm context that forces everybody involved to recognize realities.  To establish Kosovo as a strong and autonomous region in a Serbian-Montenegrin state would be the best solution.  Then the Balkans can finally dedicate themselves to the European course, which means that borders become less important in an ever more integrated EU."




Martin Winter commented in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (3/23):  "The Balkans are calling again.  Shocked by the violence in Kosovo and the Serbian reactions, the EU must admit that it diverted its focus too easily to other crisis regions in the world.  Certainly,  Afghanistan, Iraq and the fight against terrorism are taking up a lot of energy, but it is in the Balkans where Europeans have to prove themselves."


"Taboo And Alibi"


Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine opined (3/22):  "Kosovo has again reached the stage where it was taken into the international community's care in 1999.  The only factor that creates order is NATO and the only future-oriented perspective is its unlimited presence.  The great taboo of the protectorate-- standards before status'--has not resulted in disciplining the Serbian and Albanian claims nor has it been able to obscure the fact that the 'protective powers'--the Americans for the Albanians, the Russians for the Serbs--have been working for a long time to maintain the current status.  The EU wanted to avoid new turmoil not only in Kosovo but the whole region by dodging a decision between independence and status quo.  But this will now happen anyway.  And every eruption of violence that is not really spontaneous creates facts not in the sense of the standards of a civil order, but in the sense of Albanian independence plans.  If NATO, EU, and the UN want to avoid accusations from President Putin that the standards only served as an alibi, they can't help but accept the status quo."


"Balkans...Much More Unstable Than Many Want To Accept"


Center-right General-Anzeiger of Bonn editorialized (3/20):  "Kosovo is burning again, and NATO reacted immediately.  Several nations, including Germany, have sent additional soldiers who are supposed to support KFOPR in its efforts to protect Serbs and Kosovo Albanians from each other....  This is not a nice, but necessary mission.  The Alliance is well advised to stop the new wave of violence as quickly as possible.  If there is one region in Europe which presents a large amount of bloody evidence on how quickly violence can develop to organized genocide, this is the Balkans, the most recent clashes in Kosovo are also evidence that the region is still much more unstable than many want to accept."


"West Must Fill Political Vacuum Again"


Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung had this to say (3/20):  "If the West abandons the region, a vast greenhouse for fanaticism, and organized crime will develop along the European fringes.  Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, and Montenegro could become part of it.  The currently largest NATO mission--17,000 soldiers are in Kosovo--will not be able to resolve the problem.  The West must fill the political vacuum again.  It should start talks on the status of the province as soon as possible."


"Problems Not Yet Resolved"


Center-right Frankfurter Neue Presse said (3/20):  "In the end, the debate over international law in Kosovo--like in Iraq--was only a discussion that was supposed to distract attention from the real problem.  The political assessment was decisive.  In 1999, NATO did not want any political unrest in Kosovo, in the EU's front yard.  And last year, the United States wanted a new order in the Middle East with its operation in Iraq.  Old Europe did not support this mission, because it had a more skeptical view of the situation.  The governments in Berlin and Paris thought that the negative circumstances of this war could outdo the positive effects of Saddam's ouster.  The revival of terror in Iraq and in Europe seems to prove them right.  But in the Balkans the problems have not yet been resolved.  The most recent fight in Kosovo and the newly rekindled nationalism in Serbia demonstrate that the export of democracy can succeed only if the addressees are willing to accept this expensive good."


HUNGARY:  "Old Tune Is Playing Again in Kosovo"


Laszlo Gabor Zord remarked in right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet (3/19):  "It will be five years next week that the then still more united NATO, we could say the West, suppressed Balkan violence with violence....  It is a great pity that creating and maintaining peace after the military campaign known as the Kosovo war did not prove to be more than the separation of the opposing sides.  The events of recent days show that neither the physical nor the spiritual injuries have been healed and people who lost their property have not been able to recover from the tragedy....  Whichever way we look at it, hatred and desperation have remained in the people, which made it certain that everything would continue where it left off in 1999, if the outside forces left.  However, is it the point that the irreconcilable and centuries-old opposition of coexisting cultures, ethnic groups, and religions has been renewed, or that those who took on the task of creating order have not done their job properly?  The answer is extremely difficult....  Although Kosovo is now in the center of attention, one must not forget that, as a problem, the Balkans is a single unit, mainly because of the former Yugoslavia....  After the end of the bombing, the West had a good chance to initiate real changes in the region.  It has noticeably failed to do this and the moment suitable for action is gone.  It is easier to get people who are tired from the war to build peace than those who, after five years in their houses ruined by bombing and in a destitute state because of unemployment, are still pondering about how to take revenge on their former neighbor from another nation."


ITALY:  "Two Strategies Inside The Vacuum"


Sergio Romano opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (3/20):  “In Bosnia and Kosovo we’ve created two soft protectorates that are incapable of preventing rivalries between factions, of capturing fugitives, of convincing exiles to return, of eliminating organized crime.  Instead of restoring dignity and prosperity to Serbia, we’ve humiliated it.  America agreed to provide aid in return for the handover of Serbian leaders to The Hague:  the effect of this policy was the death of a prime minister (Zoran Djindjic), the rise of the nationalist party and the success of Milosevic’s socialists in the last elections.  The only person we allowed to follow a plan in the former Yugoslavia was a Swiss prosecutor, meaning an official with no political powers who was dominated by a thirst for justice....  Is it so surprising that the Albanians and Serbs, in the midst of this vacuum, have the desire to finish what we left half done?  And is it purely coincidental that this crisis has broken out just as Europe and the U.S. are dealing with the Islamic issue in Madrid, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine and in Chechnya?  Therefore, it will not suffice to re-establish order in Mitrovica and Pristina.  We must complete the job and we must put forth a new map for the former Yugoslavia, even if that means questioning the Dayton accords and the precarious results of the war in Kosovo.”


RUSSIA:  "Ethnic Cleansing"


Maksim Yusin stated on the front page of reformist Izvestiya (3/22):  "The latest events in Kosovo have exploded two myths:  one, Kosovo may become multiethnic, with Albanians and non-Albanians living side by side harmoniously; and, two, Albanian moderates in the local administration are civilized people and will not pursue nationalistic goals or try to push the remaining Serbs out....  The bottom line is that the Kosovo headache is  there to stay.  It will be awhile before Western governments recall their peacekeepers.  NATO's presence is the only way to keep the 'Greater Albania militants' in check and keep them from launching new 'liberation wars' in neighboring republics that have Albanian communities."


"NATO Awakened"


Katerina Labetskaya said on page one of reformist Vremya Novostey (3/22):  "It has happened.  The world has seen for itself that the Kosovars, with Western connivance, have turned the historical Serbian homeland into a purgatory to cleanse away ethnic minorities, primarily the Serbs....  NATO has changed its mind and will not pull out in 2006....  It is less than five years since NATO, Washington and the EU spoke triumphantly of an idyll in Kosovo following the 1999 bombings in Yugoslavia.  At that time the West brushed aside all reports about the violation of the basic rights of ethnic minorities in Kosovo and warnings, including by Moscow, on the admissibility of a deviation from the UN Security Council's Resolution 1244 regarding the sovereign rights of Serbia and human rights in that land."


"Russia Again Claims A Role In Kosovo"


Yulia Petrovskaya wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (3/22):  "With the Balkans in a new crisis, Moscow, unexpectedly, is claiming a special role.  President Putin's call for a tough reaction to defend the Serbs in Kosovo sounded sensational to many....  Russia's Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu has been entrusted with a task to beat a new trail to the explosive area....  In the meantime, Moscow has said nothing of coordination with the UN mission, the KFOR command or NATO, which are playing a key role in the Balkans.  Nor do those structures know anything about Russia's new plans.  A lack of coordination may seriously hamper the Shoigu mission.  Moreover, Moscow may again be accused of a one-sided, pro-Serbian approach and have to go by the board."




JAPAN:  "Bloody Conflict In Kosovo"


The liberal Asahi editorialized (3/22):  "Keep a close eye on the 'powder keg of Europe.'  Bloody conflict reminiscent of the Yugoslavian meltdown that shook the world for 10 years in the 1990s is spreading again in the autonomous province of Kosovo in the dual republic of Serbia and Montenegro....  Almost five years have passed since the Kosovo conflict was ended by airstrikes by NATO forces battling what they called 'crimes against humanity.'...  The recent violence is the worst since the conflict ended, and it is obvious that ethnic hatreds have not disappeared.  The latest clashes could easily lead to a resurgence of conflict, and international society must intensify its involvement to settle the situation....  Several big issues need to be tackled to achieve genuine peace.  Ethnic Albanians, who account for more than 90 percent of the Kosovo population, are dissatisfied because they do not see a chance of independence from Serbia.  Serb President Vojislav Kostunica stirred opposition when he took office at the start of March, saying that he will not grant independence to Kosovo.  For ethnic Serbs, the situation is also far from acceptable.  There are said to be 200,000 Serb refugees who escaped war-torn Kosovo, and many have not returned home.  Even people who managed to return are now isolated among ethnic Albanians and are forced to live under the protection of the international force.  The United Nations plans to begin talks to determine Kosovo's future when various issues such as reconciliation among ethnic groups, democratization and the refugees' return have been resolved. Before that can happen, thousands of weapons in the region must be collected, policing must be strengthened and the economic situation must be improved from the current unemployment rate of 60 percent....  The Balkans are far from Japan. However, helping to build peace there will diversify this country's contributions to the world and enhance its reputation.  Japan should help establish democracy and a legal system, and send Japanese police officers to train much-needed police in Kosovo."




CANADA:  "Cleansing Serbs, Courtesy Of NATO"


George Jonas took this view in the conservative National Post (Internet version, 3/22):  "The Western powers that went into Kosovo to prevent ethnic cleansing have ended up presiding over it.  Last week, nearly 1,000 Serbs fled their homes after Albanian Muslims attacked Serb Christians in their churches and villages.  They were the latest of about 200,000 Serbs driven from the province since NATO bombed Serbia into submission in 1999....  To stop the expulsion of Kosovar Albanians by Serbs, NATO engaged in a war that ended up facilitating the expulsion of Serbs by Albanians.  Had this been an unforeseeable result, it might be excused-- ut it was entirely predictable.  Had it been the West's aim to wrest Kosovo from Serbia, NATO's entry into the conflict on the side of ethnic Albanians would have made sense--but the West had no such aim.  In terms of our own policies and interests, including humanitarian considerations, NATO action in Kosovo can only be described as a mystery.  Why did the West go to war in Kosovo?  Probably for three reasons.  One, to make the world safe for multiculturalism; two, to appease the Muslim world; and three, to avert another humanitarian tragedy in Europe.  Though hardly evil motives, in the circumstances all three amounted to a profound misreading of the time and place to which they were being applied....  NATO's war in Kosovo didn't stop ethnic cleansing; it only elevated it from Mr. Milosevic's project to a project sponsored by the West."


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