by G. Sekeris
(Nea, February 07, 2001)
As might have been expected, the international protectorate in Kosovo has run into increasing reaction on the part of the Albanian irredentists, for whom the western peacemakers are no longer allies against the Serbs but have become an occupying force and an obstacle to their separatist designs. And therefore, in order to prevent the whole region from going up in flames—an outcome that even the recently super-optimistic are now beginning to fear—NATO and the EU must not simply keep repeating the familiar refrain about no border changes but also convince everyone that they will use all available means to implement it. For even if in the end some territorial reshuffling proves unavoidable, and unfortunately last years attack on Yugoslavia pushed things in this direction, it needs to be delayed until the regions expected accession to the stable zone of Euro-Atlantic integration has facilitated the absorption of geopolitical vibrations.
Fortunately, the first signals from the new American administration are encouraging. General Powell refused to meet the President of Montenegro, a "pal" of his predecessor Madeline Albright and a politician well known for his destabilising ambitions; he rejected Mr Rogovas demand for independence for Kosovo, and he dispelled European fears of a hasty withdrawal of American forces from the region. On the other hand, however, the public pronouncements of NATO General Secretary—and 1999 hawk—Lord Robertson on dealing with Albanian terrorism in Serbia itself have been characteristically ambiguous. In the current state of affairs a resolute interventionism, not only on the part of the Europeans but also—and even more importantly—on the part of the Americans, seems uncertain. Todays Washington is disinclined for military involvement in Balkan conflicts which in its opinion are of limited importance to American interests, especially in view of the—from its point of view critical—complications in the Middle East.
Mr G. Sekeris is a former Greek ambassador.