Medical Aid for Kosovo
2 CLOCK TOWER PLACE #510
MAYNARD, MA 01754
Don't Delay In Macedonia,
by Wesley K. Clark
Washington Post, 3/20/2001
Two years ago today, talks to prevent a
war in Kosovo collapsed. The government of Slobodan Milosevic then
used massed troops to begin a rampage of ethnic cleansing and murder.
NATO initiated its bombing campaign on the principle that security
in Europe rests on peace and the rule of law across the Balkans.
But on this anniversary, we are seeing ominous signs of a new wave
of Balkan conflict. The rapid escalation of fighting in northern Macedonia
in recent days demands a prompt Western response in order to maintain
the integrity of a multi-ethnic Macedonia. Hesitation or delay in
the face of Macedonia's mounting problems will only make matters worse;
in the near term, NATO is the only institution that can act effectively
to move the situation from confrontation to dialogue. KFOR and NATO
elements inside Macedonia must work closely with the Macedonia government
to interdict the flow of arms and fighters across the border. We must
make clear to the government of Macedonia that it too is under close
scrutiny. The use of force alone will only worsen the underlying problem,
not resolve it.
The longer-term solution rests on Macedonian commitment not just to
say the right things about the Albanian minority but to follow through
with actions. Discussion of the constitutional status of Macedonian
Albanians and other minorities should begin without delay in Macedonia's
parliament. Greater attention to underlying problems -- education,
health, housing and economic opportunity -- among Macedonian Albanians
is urgently required. The international community can and should help
make this happen. Later this year, Macedonia will conduct a new and
hotly debated census. The international community should monitor this
census to make sure that it is seen to be fair and includes all who
see Macedonia as their home.
The causes of Albanian discontent in Macedonia are real. But they
are inflamed by a broader problem, whose effects are also destabilizing
southern Serbia and Kosovo itself, and that is the crippling slowness
of progress toward real self-government for the people of Kosovo.
The apparent slowness of progress has helped give birth to a new generation
of Albanian extremists, from bombings in Kosovo to shootouts in southern
Serbia to fighting in Macedonia. They are armed, organized and too
eager to fight -- for they see nothing to gain from patience and peace.
As Kosovo's friend, I want to say clearly that the actions of the
radicals -- and the Albanian diaspora that supports them -- are only
undermining Kosovo's chance at a freer and more peaceful future.
We and our NATO allies must help Kosovo's leaders show that moderation,
not extremism, is the key to progress. Kosovo's new leaders, and its
people, must know that NATO will not step in again to protect them,
this time from the consequences of their own extremist actions. There
is a great danger that radicalized Albanians will now do what Milosevic
no longer can't do, destabilize Macedonia and push ahead with the
ethnic cleansing of parts of Kosovo. And the people of Kosovo should
have no illusions: Renewed conflict will postpone, not hasten, the
day when they can take full charge of their own affairs.
Instead of speeding Kosovo's self-government, violence adds to the
impression that Kosovo is ungovernable.
Instead of reinforcing the need for NATO's presence, the streams of
fighters out of Kosovo hearten those who say Kosovo does not deserve
NATO and especially U.S. protection.
And instead of making Kosovo central to the plan for long-term peace
in the Balkans, the current insurgencies suggest that strengthening
Kosovo's autonomy will lead to war in Macedonia and constant struggle
with Serbia. That is the wrong message.
But blaming the Kosovars is not a policy; others, including the United
States and our NATO allies, have responsibilities which we must meet.
In Kosovo and along the border with Serbia, KFOR must prevent provocations
and provide support for European Union monitors on the ground. International
negotiators must insist that local Albanians have a place at the negotiating
table with KFOR and Belgrade, and work toward a shared solution that
ends fighting in the area. Failure to respond authoritatively only
encourages the extremists -- and increases the danger to our troops.
Ultimately, the international community must recognize that the nub
of the problem is the continuing delay in moving the province toward
democratic self-rule and the resolution of its final status. Troubles
across the region are unlikely to ebb until Kosovars are fully engaged
in building up their own institutions. Stabilizing Kosovo means following
through on our promises and holding elections for a legislative body
with real powers; moving forward on the transition to self-government;
and committing to a clear timetable for final status negotiations.
Kosovo's people deserve self-rule. Albanians elsewhere -- Macedonia,
southern Serbia -- deserve fair and lawful treatment. It is in the
profound interest of the United States and our allies to see that
they get it quickly. But Kosovo's leaders and its people must show
understanding that Albanians have nothing to gain -- and everything
to lose -- by exporting or inflaming conflict in the Balkans.
Retired Gen. Clark, a board member of the International Crisis Group,
was supreme allied commander in Europe.