Flare-up in Kosovo

From the July 1998 Trumpet Print Edition

Six months of tension between ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and the Serbian majority in President Milosevic’s rump Yugoslavian state flared into full-blown conflict in June. Given that the Kosovo population is 90 percent Albanian, and surrounded as it is by a Serbian Yugoslav majority, the region was bound to boil over as nationalistic and religious roots reassert themselves to further the break-up of the Yugoslav configuration which existed prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

During the civil strife that existed in the wake of the pyramid schemes fiasco in Albania last year, multiple tons of armaments were looted by Albanian civilians from huge government caches scattered throughout the country. Concerned for their security, given Milosevic’s penchant for “ethnic cleansing,” Kosovian separatist guerrillas sought to establish a corridor to Albania to facilitate their supply of arms from the plundered government stocks in Albania. President Milosevic cracked down hard to snap off this arms trail and quickly bring retribution on the offending Albanians. Mountain villages were torched and hundreds of civilians killed in the aftermath.

As we go to press, the number of Kosovian refugees fleeing to Albania grows towards 70,000. Serb security forces step up their clamp down on the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army. Unlike the Bosnian situation, which involved conflict between separate nations, the Kosovo situation involves ethnic differences within a single nation-state. Russia decries the use of outside interference in what is technically a Yugoslav civil problem. NATO, on the other hand, has demonstrated a show of force. Recent history has showed that Milosevic will not react to just a show of strength. The actual use and application of aggressive military strength alone will gain his respect and submission to international demands for a peaceful resolution to this crisis.

In the meantime, President Kohl of Germany has offered to mediate. The Germans have strong historical ties with the Albanians. They also own Albania’s largest industry, their chromite mines, owned by the giant Preussag corporation.

Watch for German initiatives to take advantage of this situation to further her continual, careful extension of eastward hegemony in the Balkans.