Accessibility links

Balkan Report: April 27, 1999


27 April 1999, Volume 3, Number 16

After the Bombing Stops. Even as NATO continues its air strikes against Yugoslavia, ever more Western leaders are beginning to focus on what the Western alliance should do in the Balkans after the bombing has stopped.

Such discussions are likely to intensify now that the alliance has issued a communique that suggests its member states are at least as interested in a diplomatic resolution of the conflict as in continuing to use military power to achieve its original aims.

So far, most of these discussions have revolved around some kind of "Marshall Plan" for the Balkans. Such a program, named for and modeled on American assistance to Western Europe after World War II, would apparently involve massive but multilateral aid from NATO countries to the war-ravaged states of the former Yugoslavia and their neighbors.

By invoking the name of the largest and most successful foreign assistance program in history, officials in NATO countries clearly hope not only to put additional pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to settle but also to redirect the efforts of the Western alliance into a non-military direction.

But there are at least three reasons why a new "Marshall Plan for the Balkans" would have to be very different than its model if it were to help bring peace and stability to that turbulent region.

First, the original Marshall Plan was funded and directed by one country, the United States. A new one for the Balkans would be funded and directed by a group of states and thus subject to the kinds of decisions by committee that appear to govern much of NATO's activities.

That would almost certainly guarantee that any program announced would suffer from inevitable differences of opinion within the alliance, differences that might make it impossible for any program announced ever to be realized.

Second, the original Marshall Plan took shape to counter a single, overriding threat to Western Europe. While the U.S. had hoped to extend assistance to all of Europe, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's veto of that probably had the unintended consequence of making the Marshall Plan more successful than it would otherwise have been.

On the one hand, it meant that American assistance was focused on a smaller number of countries and thus had a bigger impact than would have been the case if it had been spread more widely. And on the other, Soviet opposition had the effect of generating more domestic American support for it because Washington was able to point to the way in which the Marshall Plan was contributing to American security interests in Europe.

Any aid package to the Balkans will not have that external disciplining factor. Not only will that mean that the domestic constituencies in many countries will be reluctant to fund a new plan at the levels that would be needed, but that lack of an external threat will almost certainly guarantee that the members of the alliance will stay less united on this issue just as they are on so many others.

And third, the original Marshall Plan was intended to restore the economies of the countries of Western Europe, not to create something fundamentally new. Any aid package to the Balkans would have to address the far larger and more complicated issues of nation building and economy creation, issues that few foreign aid programs have been successful at resolving.

In many ways, these discussions about a new Marshall Plan for the Balkans reflect the difficulties of finding a solution to the conflicts in that region. Obviously, the people there will need massive amounts of aid to overcome the tragedies visited upon them by Milosevic and his supporters.

But before the West can design an aid package that will help them, these conflicts will have to be addressed and some resolution found. Once that occurs, a genuine assistance program can be developed to meet the specific needs of the people and political structures that will then be in place.

And in thinking about the future, those proposing a new Marshall Plan for that region should remember that the original Marshall Plan was not proposed until more than two years after the bombs had stopped falling. (Paul Goble)

Reports on 'Systematic Abuse' of Kosovars. A NATO spokesman said in Brussels on April 20 that Serbian forces are conducting a "safari operation" in Kosova to expel virtually the entire ethnic Albanian population. In Skopje, members of the OSCE's monitoring mission in Kosova issued a report based on interviews with 250 refugees. The monitors concluded that "total lawlessness" reigns in the province. Uniform accounts by refugees indicated that "large groups" of Yugoslav soldiers, paramilitary police, and irregulars carry out "a pattern of intimidation and harassment, combined with assaults, pillage, shelling, killings...and executions...after which people flee or are simply told to leave." The study noted that "the number of reports on sexual assaults -- including rape of groups of women -- is increasing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1999). Other reports include torture, ill-treatment, harassment, intimidation and use of groups of people as human shields," the monitors' statement continued. The monitors also noted that some "interviewees were able to give precise descriptions of the uniforms and insignia worn by [Serbian forces]. A substantial number of perpetrators could be identified."

A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Blace, Macedonia, on April 25 that Serbian paramilitaries killed and mutilated some 56 Kosovars north of Ferizaj in mid-April. He added that persistent but unconfirmed reports by refugees indicate that the Serbian forces regularly engage in rape and robbery as part of their policy of ethnic cleansing, as they did in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A prosecutor for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal told AP in Brazda that Serbian forces have set up rape camps at Gjakova, Peja, and an unspecified arms factory. She stressed that Serbian forces use systematic rape to accelerate the process of ethnic cleansing. A refugee woman added that the Serbs use rape in order to destroy the foundations of ethnic Albanian society, which, like Bosnian Muslim society, is very conservative. On April 24, the BBC reported that Serbian forces used Yugoslav army trucks to remove televisions and stereos from abandoned homes in southern Kosova. (Patrick Moore)

Schroeder: The Weak Have a Strong Ally. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told Parliament on April 22 that "NATO was forced to take action over the mass expulsion and mass murder" in Kosova. He added that the alliance sent "the criminal leadership in Belgrade" the message that the weak in Europe have a powerful ally. "The dictator Milosevic must be shown that those who are weaker have a strong ally in NATO," Schroeder said in a speech to mark the alliance's anniversary. "Given our past, we Germans have an obligation... to take a stand against oppression, expulsion and the use of violence." (Patrick Moore)

Kucan: Milosevic Wants to Disrupt NATO. Slovenian President Milan Kucan told Reuters on April 21 that "Milosevic is a skillful politician. He is relying on an increase in public initiatives in alliance member countries which are not agreed...and offer opportunities for disunity. He is like water that spreads everywhere, into every crevice, until it meets a wall." The veteran leader argued that "Milosevic is buying time and will be prepared to negotiate only when he has achieved an ethnically-cleansed Kosova. The question is whether the international community will negotiate according to his dictates or whether it will be powerful enough to negotiate on the basis of the principles of Rambouillet." Kucan warned that "NATO has to be careful to prevent Milosevic's attempt to export the war to neighboring countries, which would destabilize the Balkans, destabilize Europe, and increase the possibility of disunity in NATO, which is his goal." The Slovenian president stressed that NATO must win this conflict or face myriad consequences around the world. A NATO defeat "would be a sign that dictators can enforce their will and would throw into question all efforts to establish a global system of security," he concluded.

At the Washington summit, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek argued that Milosevic "miscalculated badly" by not accepting the Rambouillet plan in March. The Slovenian government head added that Milosevic probably assumed that NATO countries would not be able to maintain a united front against him for very long.

Foreign Minister Boris Frlec told AP in Piran on April 20 that Slovenes "are fully aware we can't survive alone, or defend ourselves alone. We are continuing our endeavors to convince NATO we are reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and capable allies." General Alojz Jehart, who is deputy chief of the General Staff, added: "We are a buffer zone between stable Europe and unstable Europe. So we want to be inside the stable European organizations."

Drnovsek added in Washington that he is confident that his country will be the "first candidate" for NATO membership when the alliance decides to admit the next group of applicants. He argued that his country has "behaved more like a NATO ally" than as merely a member of the Partnership for Peace program throughout the current crisis. Drnovsek added that Slovenia will support any NATO oil embargo against Belgrade. He called for sending a UN force "to stabilize the region" but did not elaborate. (Patrick Moore)

Kosovar Daily Resumes Publication. "Koha Ditore," which is one of Prishtina's major banned dailies, resumed publication in cramped quarters in the Macedonian city of Tetovo on April 23. The French government supplied $100,000 to finance the project. Editor Baton Haxhiu said that the paper seeks to "restore dignity and hope" to the refugees, who will receive free copies for one week. He added that "Koha Ditore" can help defuse ethnic tensions in Macedonia. Staff include at least two reporters still in Kosova, who communicate with Tetovo by mobile telephone. Haxhiu added that publisher Veton Surroi is also "safe" inside Kosova. "Koha Ditore's" network of foreign correspondents is still in place at their respective bureaus. (Patrick Moore)

Quotations of the Week. "The Serbs have been using [their armor] to great effect on women and children in Kosova. The tide is about to turn." -- Apache helicopter pilot Captain Mark Arden on April 21.

"I myself think that maybe a ground force should be placed as a buffer between Albanians and Serbs. But as a defensive force, not offensive. How else do you think you are able to stop what is happening with the Serbs?" -- South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on April 21.

"I am going because I am anti-American. That says it all. Where haven't they gone and killed? Who brought the junta? The Americans. And still we have them on our heads." -- Konstantinos Dritsas, retired Greek military officer, as to why he joined a group of 160 Greeks en route to Serbia to serve as human shields around bridges and hospitals, on April 22.

"Today if it is the Serbs, tomorrow it will be our turn. The new order of things does not leave anyone out." -- another Greek from the same group, quoted by AP.

"NATO committed a criminal act without precedence -- an assassination attempt against the president of a sovereign state." - Goran Matic, government minister without portfolio, following the NATO attack on Milosevic's Dedinje home on April 22.

"Such criminals as [U.S. President Bill] Clinton and [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair could not have been born by any mother. Just punishment will reach them. They are the biggest criminals and beasts. By comparison, even [German dictator Adolf] Hitler was but a little child." -- Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic, after the attack on RTS on April 23. He is one of the key figures behind the restrictive 1998 media law.

"The world knows who has turned Kosovo into the killing fields and the world knows under whose authority women have been systematically raped, men butchered, and children orphaned... [Milosevic stands] at the head of the Serb lie machine." -- Unnamed spokesman for Blair, commenting on Milosevic's interview with a Texas television station on April 22.

"This is a just war� based on good, decent values" and directed at stopping ethnic cleansing. -- Blair in Washington the following day.

"Some day the Serbian people will have a place in Europe, but right now they have developed a mood of paranoia. It existed before the air strikes but has worsened." French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, in the "International Herald Tribune," April 20.

"Kosovo's Albanians have no right to self-determination, because territorial integrity is paramount." - Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, meeting with Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin in Baku on April 20.

"The dramatic developments in Yugoslavia with the military intervention of NATO have underlined...that the EU must develop a policy for the stabilization of the region." -- Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, on April 21. He also noted that "in Greece communication has been cut off on our northern border with Yugoslavia and central Europe."

"We need something substantial to make sure we never get into this mess again." -- Unnamed European diplomat on the need for a comprehensive program for the reconstruction of the Balkans, in the "International Herald Tribune" of April 22. (Patrick Moore)

XS
SM
MD
LG