The price of the impasse

by Yiannis Kartalis

(“To Vima”, August 26, 2001)

Both Athens, and NATO itself, look without illusions on the anticipated result of the operation Essential Harvest shortly to begin in the FYROM. An operation which, finally, reflects the massive impasse into which the Alliance has been led by its own mistakes, by its reckless military operations against Yugoslavia and the encouragement it has given to the Albanian nationalists.

Even the most sober of western journalists now accept that the civil war in the FYROM is the direct result of Albanian expansionism, directed from NATO-administered Kosovo. In 1988 the British and US secret services covertly armed, financed and supported the Kosovo Liberation Army, the notorious UCK, which is now in turn financing and supporting its comrades in the FYROM, all in the cause of a greater Albania.

In other words, NATO is now called upon to disarm the very troops it formerly provided with arms. The whole story could be described as farcical, were it not such an enormous tragedy for a country which is now threatened with dismemberment by a civil war brought about, in essence, by the western powers. And it is these same powers which are now seeking desperately to bring an end to this civil conflict, while confessing that they are far from optimistic of success.

None of this would have come about if the NATO intervention in Kosovo had imposed a regime of equality between Albanians and Serbs, and had not encouraged the Albanians in their stubborn inflexibility, causing one ethnic cleansing to succeed the other and the whole sorry mess to be imported over the border into the FYROM. In its anxiety to destroy Milosevic NATO supported and strengthened the Albanian nationalists, who, having secured this support, became quite uncontrollable in their attempts to realize their expansionist designs.

Today NATO is called on to pay the price for the mistaken policy it initiated with its military operations in the Balkans – a policy which led to the present impasse and must now be paid for in the form of further operations which not even NATO itself can view with any confidence of success. For who can really believe that the Albanian extremists will surrender (under no compulsion) their whole arsenal? The Albanians are nobody’s fools, and from the moment that there is no effective mechanism for establishing the exact number of arms and compelling them to hand over the total number, they will cache their heavy weaponry and hand over only their unimportant light arms.

Thus the crisis will smoulder indefinitely, ready to erupt again at any moment, and the threat of the country’s dismemberment will then be even greater, since the last efforts of the West to avert a civil bloodbath will demonstrably have failed. Unless there is a happy ending to the sanguine scenario painted in this latest agreement between the Albanians and the Macedonian Slavs. Essentially the agreement is a compromise in which the Albanians, in exchange for the surrender of their weapons and a halt to their aggression, are granted almost equal status with the Makedonian Slavs.

Given this explosive state of affairs it is only natural that any attempt by the Greek side to reach a compromise solution on the issue of the name should be shelved indefinitely. An outcome which reflects great credit on all those ardent patriots who refused to countenance any compromise when the circumstances were so much more favorable! The whole world – with the exception of Greece – now refers to our neighbor as Macedonia, and there is little reason to hope that this is likely to change.


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