Letter: Serbia's lost war

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Dr Michael Pravica, in his justification for repression in Kosovo (letter, 29 December), fails to recognise that this is a situation brought about by Serb nationalism.

It would have been possible to retain the autonomy allowed by Tito and to respect Albanian culture and language and to treat Kosovan Albanians as equal citizens in Yugoslavia. Then the present situation might not have arisen.

However, we are where we are. Serbia may be able to maintain, for a time and at great cost, control in the urban areas and the main roads. But I doubt if there is any going back. Kosovo is effectively lost to Serbia - which has never had more than a tenuous grip on much of the countryside.

Dr Pravica's solution is for the West to step back and allow Serbia to "combat Albanian terrorism" and at the same time to relax sanctions in the hope that the "irresponsible leaders who destroyed Yugoslavia" may be replaced. I do not see how handing Milosevic a free hand will weaken his regime.

Internal opposition to the present Serbian regime is growing. There is reaction to the clampdowns in the media and in higher education. Vojvodina, which, like Kosovo, had autonomy withdrawn, is restive and has large Croat and Hungarian minorities. Montenegro is taking an independent line. Neighbouring successor states such as Croatia and Macedonia are seen to be, by comparison, increasingly prosperous and open societies.

Western governments have a variety of options, but these should not include allowing Serbia to use the methods seen at Vukovar and Srebrenica to suppress a legitimate desire for self-determination on the part of the Albanian majority.

GRAHAM PERKINS

Bromyard, Herefordshire

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