Friday, March 19, 2004

Conflagration in Kosovo

Today's Washington Post editorializes the renewed violence and feared ethnic cleansing between Serbs and Albanians.
Once again violence is making policy in the Balkans. This week's ethnic fighting in Kosovo is the worst since the 1999 war there, and makes it more likely that Kosovo will ultimately be partitioned between Serbs and Albanians.

The United States and its European allies apparently never take wake-up calls in the Balkans but end up responding only to violence. They put pillows over their ears and declare that everything is going well in that part of the world. In fact, things have not been going well for years. Sustainable peace and progress in the region are impossible until the Kosovo issue, however difficult, is resolved.

The failure to establish Kosovo statehood creates massive uncertainty in the Balkans, exacerbates tensions between Albanians and Serbs, delays investment and growth, and keeps Serbia focused on the past. The main effort of the European Union in recent years has helped keep the past alive by insisting that Montenegro remain joined to Serbia and by holding out to Belgrade the prospect of a connection to Kosovo. In both the Clinton and Bush administrations the United States has followed this EU line.
NATO forces scrambled to stop the violence as mobs burned Serbian churches to the ground. Serbs have fled their homes and gunfire has erupted throughout several villages. 31 people have been killed so far.