IN OTHER WORDS
Europe still has a Balkans problem. This is the message to take away from the victory of former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci’s party in Saturday’s parliamentary elections in Kosovo — balloting that was boycotted by the 10 per cent of Kosovo’s population who are Serbs. The UN-supervised region is officially part of Serbia. But ever since NATO went to war in 1999 to force Slobodan Milosevic to end his ethnic cleansing of Albanian villages in Kosovo, the region’s Albanian majority have set their sights on separation from Serbia. Recently, US, Russian, and European mediators have been trying to craft a formula for autonomy or phased independence that would be acceptable both to Serbia and the Albanian Kosovar government.
The mediators are due to report to UN by that date, and Thaci has threatened to declare independence unilaterally if they do not recommend independence for Kosovo. But any such unilateral action could set off instability across the Balkans and beyond. The Kosovo majority’s impatience for independence is understandable, particularly since it has been subjected to a corrupt and inefficient UN tutelage. But the European, American, and Russian mediators should keep Serbia and the Kosovars at the negotiating table as long as it takes to hammer out a resolution to which both sides agree. — The Boston Globe