Editorial

Peace in Kosov@?

On 9 June, NATO General Sir Michael Jackson and representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia signed the Military Technical Agreement that put an end to the 78-days bombing campaign of the country. The day after, Security Council Resolution 1244 gave UN backing to the agreement. Media around the world have presented these documents as cornerstones of a "peace" process. It would be more appropriate, however, to speak about the "peace illiteracy" of their signatories.

The air strikes on Yugoslavia were said to be the last resort to solve the conflict in Kosov@. It was necessary "to do something" to guarantee the human rights of Kosov@ Albanians. However, NATO governments had systematically ignored all previous opportunities to support a peaceful solution to the conflict. They remained absent, silent and passive when the Kosov@ Parliament was surrounded by Serbian tanks, in March 1989, or when thousands of Albanian workers were being fired and substituted by Serbs since 1989. Likewise when non-violent movements within the Albanian civil society, and the peaceful resistance of Ibrahim Rugovas LDK increased their power and influence (running a parallel school system with 20,000 teachers and 352,000 students). Likewise when the Serbian civil society and NGOs were at their height, and seeking peaceful solutions to the conflicts in the area (700,000 workers on strike in 1991; impressive demonstrations from November 1996 to February 1997). Finally, Kosov@ was again forgotten in 1995, at the end of the Bosnian war. Dayton Agreements had no place for a conflict that by then had lasted six years.

NATO governments scarce interest in a peaceful solution to the Kosov@ conflict was apparent even on the day before the bombing started. On March 23rd, the Serbian answer to the Rambouillet ultimatum was not a bare negative, but a resolution of the Serbian National Assembly that called on the OSCE and the UN to facilitate a peaceful diplomatic settlement in Kosov@. What the Serbian Assembly actually rejected was the demand for NATO military occupation of Serbia, as anybody could have anticipated. And NATO decided not to explore the new possibilities opened up by the Serbian Assembly, but to start the bombing of Yugoslavia, whose consequences were "entirely predictable", as Commander General Wesley Clark pointed out.

The consequences of this have been exhaustively described during the last three months. After the bombing started, the number of refugees and displaced increased from around 50,000 to 800,000; the number of dead and wounded increased from around 2,000 to an estimated 15,000. Depleted uranium bombs have been used by NATO that irradiate indiscriminately and have long-lasting effects. Kosov@ is demolished; the rest of Yugoslavia has suffered damages that have plunged the economy back by 30 to 50 years. All neighbouring countries have been seriously affected. As well as Macedonia and Albania, which are on the edge of a global crisis, other countries like Bulgaria and Rumania have been affected by the collapse of trade in the area and the destruction of Yugoslav infrastructure.

The NATO air campaign has given a free hand to extremists from all communities on the ground to commit atrocities. And NATO found justification for its own atrocities in the demonisation of the Serbs and their leader, a man that they themselves had been supporting since 1989. Western powers now turned Slobodan Milosevic into the new Hitler, and ironically have bestowed him a renewed power. It is impossible not to remember the outcome for Sadam Hussein, the former "Hitler of the day", whose reinforced power must still be suffered by the Iraqi people. While the indictment of Milosevic may or may not serve to delegitimise him, NATOs actions to date have certainly only served to legitimise his leadership and strengthen his hand.

Demonisation of the enemy is essential to carry out a war. And NATO procedures have been mirrored by the Yugoslav regime, which has spoken constant