OPINION

Reverse process

Kosovo had been away from the international spotlight for some time, thus facilitating ethnic cleansing – this time of Kosovo Serbs. Whereas the crimes committed under ex-Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic came under the microscope five years ago, the subsequent crimes by ethnic Albanians went by largely unnoticed, confirming that big words about human rights tend to be a disguise for hypocrisy and a policy of double standards. Ethnic Albanians today do not even have Belgrade’s excuse that it was using violence to thwart the attacks of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels. Ethnic Albanians are not being attacked. In fact, they exercise control at all levels. Their aim is clear: to drive out the remaining Serbs and bring the entire province under Albanian control. The view that these are revenge killings cannot be sustained any longer, as facts prove that the attacks on Kosovo Serbs and the destruction of Christian monuments are not isolated incidents but orchestrated operations. Most importantly, violent acts are taking place under the nose of the international force, which seems unable to effectively protect the remaining Serbs. Those who chose not to abandon their homes and seek refuge in Serbia now reside in relatively more secure isolated enclaves. These enclaves have long been the target of the mutated KLA. Kosovo Albanians used NATO forces to achieve a de facto secession from Serbia and are now pressuring to have the fait accompli recognized by the international community. Washington pondered over the issue in the past, but no further step was made, for it would violate the inviolability of borders. On the other hand, the province’s days as a Western protectorate are numbered, while there seems little hope of peaceful coexistence between the two ethnic groups. The equilibrium, which has been ensured by the presence of an international force, is fragile. A small spark is enough to set the whole province on fire. Because of its geographical proximity, Greece does not have the luxury to deal with the crisis in the way other Western countries do. Albanian secessionism is not some vague international problem. It is a destabilizing factor right on the Greek border and, for that reason, the government has a vital interest in promoting stability in the broader region. Five years after NATO’s «humanitarian intervention» against the «bad-guy» Serbs, it turns out that the bombing did not solve the problem; it merely reversed the roles of victim and victimizer. We can only hope the experience gained over the years will help Washington and European governments avoid falling victim to the stereotypes they have conjured up. Once the fire has been put out, they must impose a viable and just solution – unless they want to see Kosovo fall into Albanian hands.