Is there any real hope that once-bitter enemies could, over the span of a few short years, come to live together in peace? The answer for Kosovo is, “not likely.”
The mid-March rioting and violence in Kosovo were the worst the province has seen since its bloody ethnic war five years ago. In retaliation for the drowning of two Albanian children, ethnic Albanians torched Serb homes and churches, leaving over 30 dead and around 900 injured. At least 3,500 Serbs and other non-Albanians fled their homes.
This was no spontaneous, isolated event: “[E]yewitness reports emerging from the region over the past few weeks have painted a grim picture of a campaign of systematic and ruthless anti-Serb ethnic cleansing complete with murder, mayhem, arson and wholesale looting” (Moscow News, April 7).
The violence has blown the cover off the impression that all has been quiet on the Balkan front. Five years ago, nato launched air strikes and sent 50,000 troops to keep the peace. But since that time, the stable, democratic, multi-ethnic society the West sought to establish has yet to materialize. With 50 percent unemployment in Kosovo adding to the tension, there is clearly a long way to go, with much more investment needed for rebuilding.
What does the future hold for still-war-ravished Kosovo? Perhaps the most obvious place to look for an answer is to Kosovo’s geographical neighbor, the European Union.
After visiting Kosovo in April, German Defense Minister Peter Struck urged the EU to “double its efforts to find a political solution for the UN-administered province” (Agence France Presse, April 5). With Germany being the largest contributor to the nato-led Kosovo force, Struck’s comments carry weight.
And he is not alone in his thoughts. European Voice’s Dana Spinant suggests “the best and most forward-looking message member states can give to the people in the embattled province is that Kosovo’s final status will involve it being part of the European Union” (April 5).
An ambitious goal—but far more likely to occur than a nato-imposed peace!