The Weak Link

by George Kapopoulos

(“Kathmerini”, May 3, 2001)

The triumphalism by EU officials and European commentators, who rushed to underscore the European intervention in FYROM as a consolidation of the cohesion and awakening of the 15 member states, were dashed within a few weeks.

Fresh violence in FYROM erupted before the dialogue over institutional and constitutional reform - mandated by the international community - even had a chance to begin. Ethnic Albanian leaders in FYROM have sent a clear signal that the price for avoiding fresh clashes in the southern Balkans can be nothing else but the de facto or de jure recognition of equality with the Serbian element. This maximalistic strategy could be negotiable only provided that there are clear commitments over full independence of Kosovo...

FYROM offers itself for implementing this strategy of tension. Kosovo, on the other hand, because of the massive presence of NATO troops, does not offer itself for similar bidding as there is always the threat of an open conflict with the international community... Hence Albanian hardliners in Kosovo have the opportunity to offer their good service emerging as instigators of the rebellion and as guarantors of stability, all at the same time.

Hence FYROM surfaces as the weak link of the already fragile status quo in the southern Balkans, as the epicenter of a momentum which will transform the map and probably transcend the borders of former Yugoslavia.


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