only constant in American and NATO policy in the Balkans has been the breakup of
a socialist, multi-ethnic state into a series of small, capitalist-oriented
states based on narrowly defined religious/ethnic identity. Given that pattern,
it is not surprising that the mini-states are usually ruled by extremely
nationalist parties and that the dissolved Yugoslavia has become a de facto
Serbia ruled by its own tyrant. Great power denials to the contrary, the next
stage in the Balkan scenario appears to be the creation of a second Albanian
state in what is now Kosovo.
usual scenario for the establishment of such states is to create conditions
“on the ground” that “practical” people ultimately legitimate through
international bodies. What this means in Kosovo is a constant demonization of
the Serbs (who most certainly are not without guilt) so that a multi-ethnic
Kosovo becomes unimaginable. Not widely covered in the American press is that
the old Kosovo Liberation Army which was to disarm has reconstituted itself as
the Kosovo Protection Corps and the Democratic Party of Kosovo. These groups not
only seek to drive out all Serbs from Albanian zones, they appear to have been
striking out against other Albanian political forces.
May, Adan Zerka, a prominent member of the Democratic Reform Party was murdered
by coordinated gunfire at his home. In his comments after the murder, party
leader Soko Cusa reiterated that his party remains an advocate of a
“multi-ethnic Kosovo with equality for all.” In July there was an armed
attack on Ramush Haradinaj, a former KLA leader who is now leader of The
Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, a rival of the Democratic Reform Group..
Haradinaj had to be flown to Germany for treatment. Under constant
pressure are followers of Ibrahim Rugova, long-time advocate of ethnic
reconciliation. What is critical in these three cases and others is that NATO
forces are either unwilling or unable to offer protection. Arms continue to pass
into Kosovo through the Albanian regions of the Former Yugoslavian Republic of
Macedonia, and Kosovo increasingly is divided along ethnic lines. If the current
dynamic continues, the former KLA will purge the political stage of all
opponents and be in a position to declare an independent state.
so much of what happens in the Balkans, such an entity is likely to far worsen
rather than help to solve problems in the region. At least 30% of the population
of neighboring Macedonia is Albanian. This minority is mainly located on the
border with Kosovo but extends to the capital Skopjec. Albanians in Macedonia
have raised the same issues once raised in Kosovo. Although the central
government of Macedonia appears to be making a good faith attempt to function as
a multi-ethnic entity, an Albanian Kosovo would certainly feed secession
sentiment and bring the viability of Macedonia into question. Should Macedonia
crumble, the negative scenarios are too numerous to detail but would involve the
possible redrawing of several national borders and the chaos that always
long-stated claim of the group now leading the Albanian community in Kosovo has
been that Kosovo is the true Albanian homeland to which Albanian proper should
be attached. Attempts to realize those claims would be certain to rouse the
entire region and intensify the already enormous refugee problems in Italy,
Greece, Montenegro, and elsewhere. To be sure, all right-wing ethnic movements
in the Balkans have maps based on the time their ethnic group was at its maximum
power. Unlike most of these groups, however, there appears to be significant
momentum to push the Albanian nationalist envelope as fast as possible with
either an unwary or compliant NATO taking no actions.
case scenarios, of course, need not emerge. What is so distressing about the
Balkans is that the United States appears to recognize only the divisive
traditions of the region which are consequently depicted as endemic and
intractable. Feeling no solutions are possible, there is no diplomatic will to
resist the militarists. But the region has alternative traditions of a
cooperative and multi-national nature. Even at the present time, some of the
Balkan states have overcome traditional enmities to a remarkable extent.
than nurturing these positive traditions or at least curtailing the most rabid
nationalists elements, the United States has repeatedly opted for client
right-wing regimes in the same way it opted for the right-wing Latin American
dictators throughout the cold war. Motivated by the desire to minimize
Russian influence in the area and to secure desired oil pipeline routes, the US
demonizes one group of chauvinists while lauding others as freedom fighters.
This policy, similar to that followed in Afghanistan not so long ago, has fueled
and perhaps ignited volatile Balkan feuds. The present momentum of events in
Kosovo strongly suggests there will be a new round of murderous ethnic conflict,
challenged borders, and hapless refugees.
Georgakas teaches international relations courses at New York University.