‘Volatile Balkans’ not that volatile

I was outraged by the superficiality of the «Volatile Balkans» (March 13, 2003) editorial and its sweeping generalizations based on questionable assertions. The editorial opens with the assertion that all ex-Yugoslav republics are volatile, ergo the Balkans are volatile. «Despite the apparent calm, none of the essential problems have been resolved in any of the former Yugoslav republics.» Conveniently, Croatia and Slovenia are omitted from your discussion. Is it because the current situation in these former Yugoslav republics does not fit in your «volatile Balkans» perspective? Slovenia is about to be admitted into the EU and Croatia has come a long way since its Tudjman days to hand in its application for EU membership. Furthermore, you state that the «entire area is dotted with hot spots and the threat of renewed conflict remains, as demonstrated by the sporadic murders of civilians,» implying that the «Balkans». ..are in a constant state of conflict. «Sporadic murders of civilians» happen every day around the globe, in and out of areas of tensions or conflicts. So by this logic, any place where a person is murdered is a «hot spot,» which includes all the cities in the world. There are only two «hot spots» in the region: southern Serbia and the Kosovo-Macedonia border. In the end, the only factual information in your editorial is that the state of Serbia and Montenegro is in political crisis. Opinions are not absolved from being based on fact, especially when they are printed as the editorial of a reputable newspaper. Does political instability make Serbia and Montenegro a volatile state? Hypothetically, yes, but in reality not a single commentator has expressed that view; rather the derailment of democratic reforms is feared or their delay. (…) The chain reaction of political instability in Serbia, leading to the radicalization of parties in Kosovo, thus escalating tensions in Macedonia to such an extent that «any serious crisis would most likely trigger Bulgarian and Albanian intervention,» implied in the editorial does not accurately reflect the current situation in the region but… echoes early 1990s fears exploited in Greek war propaganda. SOPHIA ALEXANDER, Croatia.