The Devil finds work

[FYROM, Albanian sepeparatists, NATO]

by Nikos Konstandaras

(“Kathimerini”, English edition, March 17-18, 2001)

John Lennon said that life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans. [...] Today, with Albanian irredentism in full swing across the Balkans, the very existence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is threatened. Greek foreign policy has always been strongly in support of the existence of such a country—even at the height of the crisis over the name, Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis immediately shot down a instigative suggestion by Slobodan Milosevic that Greece and Serbia partition the former Yugoslav republic. The Greeks have had an important point, of course, in opposing another country’s misappropriation of the name Macedonia, but strategy has been dictated by what is, in effect, a secondary issue. Now Hell is settling on our borders and we have much more serious problems to deal with. Solving the name issue would not solve FYROM’s problems, as, from now on, the country’s ethnic Albanians will dictate developments. But, if here in Athens we had spent a little more of our diplomatic efforts on positioning ourselves for today and tomorrow’s variables, perhaps we’d have been in a stronger position. The nightmare scenario of a conflagration on our borders drawing both Greece and Turkey in on opposing sides—remember Bill Clinton’s cynical statement two years ago justifying the war on Yugoslavia as being aimed, ultimately, at keeping these two NATO allies from war with each other—does not appear at all likely. What does appear likely, though, is that the international peace force, and the United States in particular, will be drawn deeper into an ever more complicated morass. The sorcerer’s apprentices who thought they could just show some force, as if it were a magic wand, and set things right in the Balkans, have now gone into retirement. They may have stopped Serb paramilitary depredations, but they have triggered the actions of ethnic Albanian separatists and, at least in Kosovo, have given them ample reason to believe that their violent acts will be tolerated. Now the international community finds itself with a well-funded, ever-growing and more determined separatist militia in the only Yugoslav republic to have seceded without violence a decade ago. What seems quite likely in the next weeks or days is that US troops engage in a serious battle with ethnic Albanians (who, after all, are fighting for a homeland of their own). Deaths on either side will lead to greater tension and even greater radicalization of the Albanians, who will feel betrayed by their former allies. And it is not hard to imagine a possible separatist splinter group accepting the ever-willing contributions of a group like Osama bin-Laden’s, known to have tried to set down roots in the Balkans. Imagine, as the late Lennon would have said. [...]


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