Bracing Kosovo

Published on August 9, 2007, The Washington Times

Category: News from the American Council for Kosovo

By JAMES GEORGE JATRAS

Janusz Bugajski's fuzzy characterizations of Russia's position on Kosovo "the Kremlin can claim," "Russia is posing," "Moscow is posturing" mask the fact that, on this issue, the Russians hold the high ground in defense of the accepted principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity ("Kosovo as part of Russia's design," Commentary, Friday).

Nothing in the rules of the international system to which all member states have committed themselves under the United Nations Charter allows the ripping away of any country's territory without its consent.

As someone with a long history of anti-Communist activism and service in both the executive and legislative branches, I think it's a sad day when an accusing finger accurately can be pointed at the United States for trying to violate one of the most fundamental obligations of a responsible national government.

Rather than speculate about how Russia might view its policy on Kosovo as an occasion to flex its muscles, Mr. Bugajski might better ask why America should force a confrontation with Moscow and throw our European allies into an impossible quandary to achieve an objective that is not in the interest of the United States in the first place.

An independent Kosovo hardly would be a positive model for Muslims in the former Soviet Union, as Mr. Bugajski suggests. It would be a disaster for human rights and religious freedom. Two-thirds of the Serbian Christians already have been terrorized from the province, and the rest are in peril. There is a nonviable economy whose only functional sectors are international largesse and organized crime (drugs, slaves, weapons); and independence would be a stimulus for renewed irredentist violence in nearby areas.

Perhaps worst of all, imposed excision of Kosovo from Serbia would show every separatist minority in the world that it only needs to be sufficiently violent, intolerant and intransigent, and it, too, can get its own state. If only the Russians are concerned about this kind of "model," we're in bigger trouble than I thought.

Rather than seeing Moscow's objections to the forced and illegal partition of Serbia as an obstacle to be overcome by resorting to an end-run of the UN Security Council, as Mr. Bugajski advises, Washington should welcome the current impasse as an occasion to re-examine the faulty assumptions that have brought us to this point. A just and sustainable Kosovo solution should be based on respect for legal norms and compromise between the parties.

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS
Director, American Council for Kosovo, Washington


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