NEWS

No perfect solutions in Balkans

Recent events in Kosovo have been a reminder that there is unfinished business. What are the next steps the international community should take? I think the immediate next steps are to try to get things back to a more normal state and get security restored, and I think they are moving in that direction. The longer-term steps are difficult, the questions of status. The EU and US, NATO and the UN are quite cognizant of the implications of these questions, and that is why they are going step by step. I served in Bosnia for two years and the lesson I learned is that there are no perfect solutions. They don’t coincide with the geographic area called the Balkans. I think the idea of going step by step and talking about standards that have to be met is the proper way to go. Has the international community perhaps ignored the issue? I think the international community has made an effort to keep an eye on the ball, but with so many balls in the air over the last couple of years it is sometimes hard. The question of Olympic security has put Greece in the limelight. What effects could the Middle East situation have on us here? Well, I mean its one of many situations that could possibly impact on here, but it’s not preordained that it will. Has the US not lost some credibility in the way it handled the war, saying it was going to find weapons of mass destruction and crush terrorism, but hasn’t done so? If you look at public opinion polls, we’ve definitely had some problems recently. However, I don’t think there is anyone who disputes the world is a much better place with Saddam Hussein gone, all you have to do is look at the mass graves… Did it come out perfect? No. I think all countries, including mine, have decided that it is better to turn the page on Iraq and look to the future. I think what you are seeing now (between the US and other countries) is that the divide is increasingly evaporating because we all have a common purpose of trying to make Iraq work. It doesn’t matter at this point what happened in the UN in February of 2003. Do you think we won’t have a repeat of the situation we had in the runup to the war? Do you think both sides have learned from this? I think there is much more common ground now than there was a year ago, in terms of looking at the future and trying to meet the needs of the future. We all see the UN playing a robust role and we all want to see the Iraqis regain control of their country as soon as possible. Do you think this is happening? I know Ambassador Bremer is working this problem 24 hours a day. I have confidence that through his efforts and of many others, they will come up with something.