Right of Reply: Djordje Mijalkovic

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The Independent Culture
The Counsellor

at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia responds to Paddy Ashdown's article on the crisis in Kosovo

I SHOULD like to emphasise that common ground exists between us and Paddy Ashdown MP, when he argues that only a political solution to Kosovo and Metohija, not a military one, will work.

Yet both in his "Plan to save Kosovo" and his earlier article ("We must intervene in Kosovo now", 3 July) he demands NATO military action against an independent state defending its territorial integrity against irredentist terrorists.

Moreover, once NATO has the right to intervene to change borders or regimes, this will pave the way for a new era of international lawlessness, in which, as the Bible defines it, each man does what is right in his own eyes.

Mr. Ashdown exemplifies the double standards of many Western politicians and media. So long as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was making progress, killing policemen and soldiers, no one expressed worries, threatened sanctions against separatist terrorists or cut off financial and other support from abroad.

When the Serb government hits back in its own territory, Mr. Ashdown and others call for intervention against them under the pretext of protecting civilians.

But let me emphasise that the plight of the displaced people which Western sabre-rattlers adduce as justification for intervention, is ab initio the result of the KLA's activities. If they ceased, the refugee problem would cease with them and the way will be open for negotiations which is Belgrade's long-standing position.

The ball is now, as ever, in the ethnic-Albanian court. If the international community would lend weight to our call for negotiations instead of encouraging Balkan equivalents of the IRA and ETA by threatening air-strikes against "Belgrade", i.e., against Serbian people, much bloodshed could be averted.