The “Great Ideas” of others

by Richard Someritis

(“Vima”, March 18, 2001)

The game currently being played in the Balkans is a particularly interesting one. The “international community” decided—to universal approval—that peace requires a showdown with the Albanian extremists in South Serbia and FYROM. The “international community” is right. If nothing is done about the Albanian extremists in these two areas, and (an older problem) if the Kosovars are not brought to reason, then we’re in for a bad time. Which we don’t want. The same thing happened with expansionist nationalism of the Serbs, but that was considered just by the “anti-imperialists” even when it was busy massacring people.

Is there another viewpoint? Internationally, no. With two exceptions: those same Albanian extremists, and the “anti-imperialists” who keep on saying “NATO go home” and “let the people solve their own problems”. That is, keep on massacring each other until some one comes out on top. This is what the “anti-imperialists” call a “struggle for peace and national freedom against the New Order” […].

But let’s get back to the Albanians. The West saved the Kosovars from ethnic cleansing, and that was a Good Thing. It failed, however, to trace a clear policy for an internationally accepted future for them and for the Kosovar Serbs.

Officially the plan is for a “multicultural” autonomy with no border changes. But what is to happen to the regions of South Serbia where the Albanian minority constitutes a local majority? No one paid any attention to them. Or to the Albanian-speaking areas of FYROM. The groundswell of nationalism that rose up in neighbouring Kosovo in response to the ethnic cleansing of Milosevic, the lack of investment, the large scale unemployment, the sense in local populations that “the others” are trampling their rights, are enough to explain the extremists and the mafias.

Purely military solutions do not lead to real peace. Serbia (which has probably understood this) and FYROM have to establish different relations with their non-Slav citizens. Serbia has to recognise once and for all the full autonomy of Kosovo and the right of the Albanian minority in the South to self-determination. And FYROM has to understand that its Albanians are a community and not a minority. A truce has no point if it does not lead to political dialogue.

Only bold solutions can save the Balkans. Nationalism leads to new catastrophes. Our politicians have to stress this. And they must not forget that their problems are ours as well.


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