|A DIFFICULT PEACE|
August 27, 1999
KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo report that ethnic Albanians are waging acts of revenge against Serbs. After a background report by International Television News, three experts discuss the situation.
SMITH: It's been a little more than two months since the fighting ended
in Kosovo. To analyze the current situation there and the prospects
for the future we turn to Jonathan Landay, correspondent for the Christian
Science Monitor, he reported from Kosovo and Albania this summer;
and to Ivo Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, he
was director of European Affairs on President Clinton's National Security
Council from 1995 to 1996; and to Jeffrey Gedmin, a scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute, and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative,
a nonprofit organization to promote democracy. Welcome to all three
|Taking back from the Serbs|
JONATHAN LANDAY, Christian Science Monitor: My overall impression was that most ethnic Albanians are interested in rebuilding the country, and I was very surprised that within days of returning refugees were starting to look at how they're going to rebuild their homes. Even sort of the provisional governments in some of the towns I visited were looking at how to do things like get industries back in order, get lights working again, telephones, and even, you know, dairy, street sweeping, that kind of thing. However, there are elements definitely that are intent on reeking revenge against the Serbs, and I think also a lot of ordinary people have been doing it in a less violent way. They've been going into abandoned Serbian homes and taking furniture, which they claim is theirs. But certainly there are violent elements among the ethnic Albanians who are intent on revenge.
TERENCE SMITH: Jeffrey Gedmin, is there any great surprise in that?
JEFFREY GEDMIN, American Enterprise Institute: Terence, I don't think so. We know that we had a messy war; it shouldn't be a surprise to us that we have a messy peace. It's a fact that any fact of violence, including those committed right now by Albanians, is appalling, and it's intolerable, but at the same time in context these people were subjected to months of murder, torture, rape, being expelled from their homes. Is it a shock? No, I don't think it's a shock.
TERENCE SMITH: Ivo Daalder, is it either realistic or even desirable to have a multiethnic Kosovo?
IVO DAALDER, Brookings Institution: Sure, in theory, it's desirable to have all people who are different to live together in peace and harmony.
TERENCE SMITH: And in practicality?
IVO DAALDER: But in practicality this is a place where at least for the foreseeable future that isn't likely to happen. This is a place that is even different from Bosnia, which went through a horrible war. But before the war in Bosnia, there was a lot of intermarriage among Serbs and Muslims and Croats. Here, the Albanians and Serbs have really never trusted each other. It has been so long that these people have been separated in educational systems and in other systems the last 10 years that parallel states emerged from which the Albanians live separate from the oppressive Serb state and after what happened in the last three months, as Jeff said, to think that the Albanians are now ready to live in peace with the Serbs, or, for that matter, the Serbs to live in peace with the Albanians, who, of course, rightly, I think, fear retribution and revenge, is just too much. And I think we ought to be -- we ought to be saddened that this is the case, but, on the other hand, we ought to be realistic that a mono-ethnic state -- or a mono-ethnic community is emerging here, and in the end it's a lot easier to deal with people who are all the same and who don't hate each other when you're trying to rebuild a society like this.
|An ethnic Albanian Kosovo?|
TERENCE SMITH: Jonathan, is that essentially what we're getting to here, an ethnic Albanian Kosovo?
JONATHAN LANDAY: Absolutely. There's no doubt about it. One has to remember that although there is revenge going on, although there is pressure from the ethnic Albanians on the Serbs to leave, the fact is that an estimated fifty to eighty thousand Serbs were already gone from Kosovo when -- before the bulk of the Kosovar Albanian refugees had returned from Macedonia and Albania, the reason being, quite obviously, that they were implicated in the terrible atrocities that went on, the murder, the rape, the burning, the pillaging of Albanian property. And, quite frankly, it's really hard to get a sense of how intense this campaign against them was unless you get on the ground. And my first two days on the ground there, I came across at least 10 mass graves, at least 13 bodies, mostly of elderly people shot in their beds in homes. The burning and the looting went on to the extent that even houses in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of rural areas, had been burned and looted and destroyed. And so the fact is that this is an area where it has a culture of revenge; it's a tradition among both ethnic groups, and it's unrealistic to imagine that this was not going to happen once the ethnic Albanians got back into Kosovo.
TERENCE SMITH: Jeff Gedmin, go ahead.
JEFFREY GEDMIN: I agree with what Jonathan and Ivo have said in principle. At the same time, I think it's premature to give up on the idea of a multiethnic Kosovo. I think that Ivo is right. We have a theory that is colliding inconveniently with reality, but I think we have other theories too that it's premature to give up on. We want this area to create, or we want in this area to create multiethnic systems that are also liberal and democratic, and we are years away from that. So what I would like us to do is to have a twofold approach: one, pursue the objective that is stated, a multiethnic Kosovo; two, to acknowledge what Jonathan and Ivo have said, there is a reality, and down the road we may, indeed, have to see a system of enclaves or cantons. I don't know. And at the immediate present it's a placing action, right? At the immediate present it's keeping people from killing each other and burning their homes.
TERENCE SMITH: Does that sound like a plausible and reasonable strategy to you?
IVO DAALDER: Sure. And I think the focus ought to be on building institutions within which it is possible for Serbs to reintegrate into what is, by now and will for sometime be an Albanian society. And the hope is that in fact will happen. And we should do nothing to encourage further separation. We should not build ghettos of Serbs and separation of that kind. We should do nothing to encourage Serbs to leave, other than for security reasons, perhaps. At the same time, we must be realistic. We're not going to see a multiethnic nirvana in Kosovo in the next two or three years. But what we can do -- and I think Jeff is absolutely right -- is build the institutions and build the kind of processes and encourage the kind of dialogue that is necessary for when the point comes that when the Serbs would like to come back when there is a different regime in Serbia, when there is a different climate in the entire region, for the integration to take place.
JONATHAN LANDAY: Good ideas. But one of the things I was struck by when I was there was the fact that overwhelming majority of Kosovar Albanians, be they extremists or be they liberals who are educated and have... and support the creation of a democratic society, they want the Serbs gone, too. And this... they see this as the historic opportunity to do that.
TERENCE SMITH: We saw a piece of tape earlier, Jonathan, of that standoff between Russian troops and ethnic Albanians. Tell us what's going on there and how serious it is.
|KFOR in the equation|
JONATHAN LANDAY: This is in a town called Orahavac; it's in the western part of Kosovo. In fact I spent some time there. There were, when I was there, about 3,000 Serbs living in essentially an enclave that they created on top of a hill in the center of the town guarded by Dutch and German troops. The United States and the Russians had agreed that this would be the location of a deployment of Russian troops. The Albanians who are living below the hill in most of Orahavac are saying no way, we are not letting the Russians in. They are claiming, and there is a good deal of evidence to sustain what they are saying, that there were Russian mercenaries involved in Serbian paramilitaries who are operating in that area and were involved in atrocities. Beyond that, they simply, when I was there, a lot of the Albanians were saying if the Russians come back here, there are going to be Serb military who are going to come back in Russian uniforms. The Russians will allow the Serbs to infiltrate their way back into this area and we don't want them here.
TERENCE SMITH: You know, Jeffrey, again, it looks like there's a fundamental conflict between the stated policy and goal, which is to of course to embrace the Russians into this solution, into KFOR, and the realities on the ground and the wishes of the residents.
JEFFREY GEDMIN: Terence, that's absolutely right. And of course our stated goals, I believe, are for good reasons. We have an integrationist approach toward Russia. We have larger strategic reasons why we want Russia in the boat so to speak involved.
TERENCE SMITH: But it's not selling on the ground then.
JEFFREY GEDMIN: At the same time, of course, ethnic Albanians have every reason to be suspicious that the Russians who are never sympathetic to their plight in the first place are not sympathetic today. I think, Terence, it means that we're in a tough spot and we've got to do a lot of leaning. We've got to do a lot of leaning on the Russians to make sure they cooperate and are evenhanded and we have to do a lot of leaning on the Albanians to let them know that the Russians are in the game and too late to kick them out.
TERENCE SMITH: Is this getting, this subject this issue, getting the attention in your impression, at the highest levels of this government, that it obviously needs it? It looks as though we need some fine tuning here.
IVO DAALDER: Absolutely. And I think there is an acute awareness throughout this whole crisis that we in fact have two conflicting policies here -- on the one hand doing what we need to do in order to protect the ethnic Albanians and now to create security in Kosovo, and on the other hand making sure that while doing that, one doesn't lose the Russians in the process, that the Russians continue to be part and parcel of our policy of integrating them into the rest of Europe. But we can fine tune this one. There is no reason to believe that the only place the Russians can be is in this very area which happens to be very sensitive. The Russians are deployed in other areas throughout Kosovo right now, over 3500 Russian soldiers in total already in country, and it ought to be possible to have a phone call between Washington and Moscow to make sure that these soldiers are deployed in another place in which they will be welcomed or at least not welcomed, won't be scared away by a mile-long -- people sitting there on the streets and preventing them from coming in. So I think this can be worked out in due course and as time goes by it will be.
|Opinions of Milosevic|
TERENCE SMITH: Jonathan, the Serbs that you encounter in Kosovo, what is their attitude towards Milosevic?
JONATHAN LANDAY: They felt betrayed for a long time. And they have good reason. There is a historical record here. Mr. Milosevic instigated Serbian uprisings in Croatia and then in Bosnia, and in both cases when it suited his necessity and his needs, his political needs, he abandoned them. Well, these people were under no illusion that they've been abandoned also. When I was there, in fact, a year and a half ago, when the Kosovo Liberation Army was already starting to take on the Serbian military police, there was already a sense from Serbs who have left their homes that they were being abandoned certainly, and, in fact, you know, there are thousands, tens of thousands of Serb refugees now living in southern Serbia, and Mr. Milosevic has not been down there to see them. Similarly he never visited Croatian - Serb refugees from Croatia and Serb refugees from Bosnia, either. And the fact is that he is still however, going to use them politically because he has his own political problems at home. It suits him to kind of still portray himself as being the protector of the Serbs in Kosovo. And he will continue to use them in a propagandistic way. But certainly I don't see him doing anything to try and get these people back to their homes.
TERENCE SMITH: A final thought quickly if we can. The US policy of withholding aid to rebuild Serbia until Milosevic is gone -- does it make sense to you?
JEFFREY GEDMIN: Terence, it does. It's the least we can do because he remains the central source of the problem. Until he goes and democracy comes, we're blocked on 100 different levels.
TERENCE SMITH: Okay. We're out of time. Thanks very much all three of you.