From the Archive: A leading article on Western policy on Kosovo
15 March 1999
Saturday 23 February 2008
Rather than cry over spilt blood in the Balkans, the urgent imperative is to learn the lessons of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo to avoid the next horrendous failure of Western policy. The Kosovo talks resume today against the grim backdrop of bombs tearing apart women and children in the tiny Serbian province which is nine-tenths ethnic Albanian. But this could have been predicted, and indeed was predicted, seven years ago.
In 1992, Lord Carrington, who preceded Lord Owen as the European Community's mediator in the disintegrating Yugoslavia, dismissed the pleas of the moderate Albanian Kosovar leader, Ibrahim Rugova.
Since then, the initiative on the Kosovar side has passed to the most extreme and least tolerant group, the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA seemed intransigent at Rambouillet, although soon afterwards its do-or-die leader was overthrown and his young successors appeared more willing to compromise.
It took the West three years to work out that mere threats would not work against the Serbs in Bosnia. Yet, a year ago, Tony Blair agreed in the House of Commons that "the international community has learnt the lesson of appeasement in Bosnia and that we will not stand idly by while he (Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic) ignites another ethnic war in Europe". At some point, the threats will have to end and the action begin.
But more people will be killed in Kosovo, before the situation reaches some form of resolution. Meanwhile, Nato troops may well have to be deployed to try to keep the peace on the ground and eventually Kosovo may become, in effect, an independent state.
The West has tried to avoid that outcome because it will have the effect of moving the Balkan tragedy on to the next act, entitled "Macedonia"". Kosovo's neighbouring statelet – once also part of Yugoslavia – contains a large ethnic Albanian minority and it is claimed by Greece.
- 1 Kermit the Frog has a new girlfriend named Denise
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
£10400 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...
£22000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role is a mixture of office...
£17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...
£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...