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Mesic: Postponement key to solution

Kosovo is a running sore. How do you see developments there? When we talked to Milosevic, the negotiations went nowhere because he did not have stable criteria. He employed different criteria in each case to suit himself. For instance, in Kosovo the Albanians were the overwhelming majority of the population, but the Serbs held power, so, in his view, Kosovo was Serbian, [or] in Vojvodina, which historically belonged to the Croatian axis and earlier to Austria. Milosevic used different criteria. There his criterion was the majority who, after the departure of the Austrians, Germans and many Hungarians, were the Serbs. So he claimed that since the Serbs were in the majority, Vojvodina was Serbian. It was a double standard. The Albanian Kosovars had no power, no school, no language, no stature as a nation. During World War II the Italians occupied Kosovo and gave the Albanians the right to their ethnicity and language. In the beginning, the Albanians didn’t take part in the resistance that had spread throughout Yugoslavia, because they got something they hadn’t had before. Later, Tito and Hoxha reached an agreement for the Albanian Kosovars to join the resistance, and they postponed a final settlement of the status quo to a referendum after the war. But then came the clash between Tito and Stalin. Hoxha sided with Stalin and the referendum never took place. The Albanians got autonomy but Kosovo did not become a republic and was designated a province. They eventually created their own universities and an intelligentsia and a sense of nationhood. But along came Milosevic and [he] took it all away from them, dismissed them from their jobs, closed down their schools and with the war he decided to drive them out into FYROM and Albania. He believed that by destabilizing FYROM and Albania he would remain the most powerful in the region and people would ask him to stabilize it again. We know that history is written by the victors and he thought he was the victor. Delusion He needed an ethnically cleansed Kosovo where he could send the Serbs of Croatia, and in that way he would make an ethnically cleansed Greater Serbia the leading power in the region. But NATO put paid to that delusion. The Albanians returned and built a state and Belgrade was forced to negotiate. What do you think is the best solution for Kosovo – independence, as the Albanians want, or autonomy, as the Serbs do? I think it will take time to solve the problem of the regime definitively, because the Albanians want independence immediately and the Serbs don’t want to lose Kosovo. It will take time to solve the problem within the European framework. Negotiations may start but I think the solution will come through postponement. Do you think that «independence here and now» would calm the region? No, because we would have objections from the other side, the Serbs. I think a definitive solution will take time.