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Letter: Fiddling while Kosovo burns

RUPERT CORNWELL asks whether the Rambouillet conference on Kosovo will witness Europe getting its military and diplomatic act together ("Make or break for Pax Europa", 7 February). But what if the diplomacy is flawed?

Take the first intervention in the unfolding Yugoslav tragedy. Europe decreed the demise of Yugoslavia and the abrogation of its federal constitution, contravening the Helsinki Accords and international law. The manner of the country's break-up was also decreed: it was to be all give by the Serbs and all take by the others. The irony is that Germany played the leading role in formulating the diktat and yet its constitution forbade foreign military involvement. Either the French and British military enforced the diktat, in which case they would have acted as mercenaries of German foreign policy or, as it turned out, there was no enforcement which had the effect of further fuelling ethnic flames.

Europe's subsequent "premature" recognition of Croatia not only prompted an ill-fated recognition of a non-existent Bosnian state but also did away with any diplomatic leverage over Franjo Tudjman with regard to safeguards for the Krajina Serbs. Europe went on to turn a blind eye to the murderous clearance of the

Krajina Serb nation from its "UN

protected" ancestral lands.

Even Kosovo has been bungled. Common sense and international law dictated that Albania's lawless border with Kosovo be sealed. Instead, Europe and America's "bomb

the Serbs" reflex cry emboldened

the KLA who proceeded to control a large swathe of Kosovo. Washington quaked at the prospect of negotiating with insurrectionists who were gunning for an all-out solution. The nod was given to Belgrade, and Nato's threats magically subsided for the time being. The KLA was pushed back, with the rural population suffering. Then Nato amassed an air armada to threaten Belgrade. Yes, there was a need to avert a humanitarian disaster but that was, in large part, a problem of Nato's making. The only consolation for European diplomacy is that America's actions have also been flawed.


Twickenham, Middlesex