Macedonian lawyers and academics offer their perspectives on the Kosovo conflict and its implications for Macedonia...
Voices from the Region: Macedonia
- [Tuesday, May 25] I have been trying to write my third report for many days. But, it appeared to be much more difficult to do than the previous two times. From one side, day by day, the news from Macedonia have been more and more worrisome. The parade of the many famous people from all over the world have become endless - starting with movie stars, to most powerful statesmen, presidents and prime ministers. It seems that the US First Lady's visit to Macedonia (i.e. refugee camps) was paid a major attention by the media. Her touching meetings and words of firm resoluteness to help the poor people (with more intensified airstrikes ordered by her husband) - did not quite suit her fancy sunny glasses. But, for truth's sake - the weather those days was very warm in Macedonia. On the other side, these suffering people do not need sunny glasses, because they cannot protect them from the various diseases they will be exposed - exactly because the hot summertime in Macedonia. Having in mind the most "optimistic" prognosis given by the NATO and UNHCR analysts, after the hot summer, they will need very warm shelters and clothes for the wintertime. Maybe, Ms. Clinton will come again with her fur coat to say how much sympathies she has for these people? Does anyone knows the average temperatures in summer and wintertime in Macedonia? The people who are the most responsible for the refugee crisis should certainly find out that very soon Eventually, we have heard speculations about Ms. Clinton, who is going to run the US Senate, and her campaign began exactly in our small country. What a honor!
There are another very important guests in Macedonia, who might have threatened Ms. Clinton's publicity. It was a "historical" visit of the UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, to the refugee camps. Does anyone still remember what did he say five months ago regarding the "surprising and unexpected" (and illegal, of course) air campaign on Iraq? Let us remind ourselves that he said that it was the saddest day in the history of the UN(?!). Suddenly, he was speechless on 24 March 1999 when another illegal air campaign began over Yugoslavia. Perhaps, he could not find appropriate words to express his sorrow and disappointment. Eventually, it took whole two months - of the most intensive usage of military force in international relations, couple of thousands innocent civilian victims and refugee exodus - before UN Secretary General decided to say something. He came to Macedonia to see with his own eyes the horror of the exodus. (By the way, why didn't he go to see the horror in Kosovo or in Belgrade too?). On the press conference held in Macedonian capital (Skopje), Mr. Annan finally figured out that the UN must be the place where the world problems concerning peace and security should be discussed and eventually, resolved. What a discovery made by the first man in the UN!
The Kosovo refugees are still coming into Macedonia and their number has increased up to 300,000 people. At the same time, "Hotel Macedonia" will have to prepare itself for a warm welcome to additional 30,000 NATO troops (which total number will be four times as higher that that of the Macedonian Army). The monthly economic damages for a small and underdeveloped countries like Macedonia might sound so insignificant for most of the people from all over the world, so I do not dare to talk about the figures. They simply cannot mean anything for people from Germany, the US, Japan, or even - Greece! But, for Macedonian citizens who are heavily affected by them - they mean a catastrophe. NATO destroyed the one and only railroad which was entrance to Europe for Macedonia's products. That railroad is in Serbia, of course, but Macedonia is cut off the rest of Europe. Isn't that a direct hit on Macedonia itself?
NATO and EU talk about the bright future and economic revival - after the war. It is astonishing how ignorant are they, or maybe think that we, the people from the Balkans, are naive and stupid ones. For almost two weeks since I wrote my latest report for JURIST, I can desperately conclude that there has been nothing changed in substantial terms. It seems that for the most powerful people in the world the TIME has no meaning, they have eternity in front of them, and I am sure that there will be place in the history of mankind for many of them. The astonishing truth is that they are not able to measure time according to the individual lifetime of many people from the Balkans - Serbs, Kosovars, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Greeks - while for all of us there, the life is becoming very short and uncertain. We do not have historical perspectives, because what we only have are our short and troublesome lives. When the numerous diplomatic envoys engaged in a very intensive diplomatic activities say that the next meeting will be held, for example, next week - do they have in mind that there will be a number of people who will not survive such a long period of time? In war, minutes decide on life and death. However, diplomats and politicians are more concerned about the political status of some regions, rather than about simple human lives. This is a really an ugly world!
Some analysts claim that all actors involved in the Kosovo crisis will learn some lessons from the catastrophe provoked by so-called "B-52 humanitarizam". The military campaign, which was, ostensibly, motivated by a wish to protect lives of Kosovo Albanians, has caused the biggest sufferings exactly for the people it was supposed to protect. However, there is also another effect. It introduced an incredible precedent related to what is called a humanitarian intervention, trying to make a difference between the civilian victims of this conflict. Consequently, we are enforced to believe that some lives are more precious than some others. It seems that it is the main point of agreement between Milosevic and the leaders of the 19 most democratic states in the world!
Advocating and defending some "human rights", NATO has de facto and de jure violated many others human rights from the so-called last generation, such as: right of peace, right of development and right of healthy living environment. These are rights that equally belong to all the Balkan peoples, including Serbs and Albanians. This is the main reason that I am not able to report from Macedonia, because it is only one small piece in this Balkan puzzle. It is useless to speak about Macedonian problems and perspectives of the Kosovo crisis, because this has already become a regional crisis. Without being involved in the war, the these countries have been driven back for decades in economic and social terms. What has been destroyed on ecological plan, cannot be repaired by no financial assistance or donations and by no new Marshall plans.
As for me as a person, it is very difficult to accept a "localistic" approach to this war, because it is politically useless and highly immoral. These days I could read many horrible stories about the civilian sufferings both from Serbian and Albanian sides, and having made a parallel between them - I was not able to find anything substantially different. If one only can for a moment ignore the fact "who is who" in this drama (avoiding judgements like who is a "bad" and who is a "good" side), it will be possible to conclude that the sufferings and pains are identical on both sides. Let's take several examples as illustration. First, NATO's latest "heroic" deed was to cut off Serbs from water supplies - and on the other hand, there are Kosovo refugees who have only 12 liters water allowance per day, in an extremely dirty and hot environment in the refugee camps. The second example is related to motherhood. There was a story of a young Kosovar who gave birth on her way to Macedonia and bravely continued walking with her boy and a new-born baby. This tragic episode was skillfully used by a Western politician, who said: "If she was able to do that, we certainly must not stop on our way toward the victory!" But, there is also another similar story about young Serbian woman, who was hurt by a NATO bomb during the delivery of her baby. Do NATO strongmen perceive "justice" in such way? Is it really pity that these powerful men have no idea about motherhood and birth delivery. As a mother, I describe it as the greatest moment in a woman's life when from the biggest pain a new life is born. And that small creature embody the sense of your own life, it is love in its essence, future for your family and for the humankind. It must be horrible experience to give birth of a child midst a war, which is denial of love, of a future and everything humane.
I can explain you a lot of obscure and terrifying things happening in my country. For example, there is something really odd with the additional 30,000 NATO troops, which are about to be send in Macedonia. These already deployed 16,000 troops have no clearly defined mission. It is a lie that there is something called KFOR! There is no such mission authorized by the UN Security Council! Nobody from NATO even ask Macedonian authorities about this plan. The Macedonian Parliament is likely to avoid debate on this issue. The term "peace mission" is so vague, that has lost its original meaning, especially when someone like Robin Cook is trying to define it.
The biggest crime in the history of the 20th century is going on before our eyes, and we are so helpless, that the only thing we can do - is to witness and to record it in reports like this one. But, I have a deep feeling that this is not enough. Joining the other "Voices from the region", I would like to invite more colleagues in this debate, not only because we all have something to add to the discussion, but rather - to unite our voices against this madness. I will never accept as a reasonable and responsible politician someone like Milosevic, but it does not give any political, military or moral right to the leaders of the "most democratic" countries in the world to commit crimes over innocent citizens. If it IS democracy, I will rather say - NO THANK YOU!
Prof. dr. Biljana Vankovska-Cvetkovska
Faculty of Philosophy (military law, peace studies)
University of Skopje, Macedonia
[currently at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, Denmark]
- [Wednesday, May 12] In my previous message I did not emphasise enough the major problem in Macedonia - the refugee crisis. I did that intentionally, because I wanted to place my country in a wider regional (and European) context. My intention was to present a global view on the consequences of this senseless war. However, being a correspondent for JURIST I cannot neglect this issue any more. Furthermore, alarming news is coming from Macedonia - on a mass unrest in a refugee camp near the capital, Skopje.
However, first I would like to point out something else. Until recently, Macedonia has been known (or we believed that it was known) as an "oasis of peace" or a "miracle in the Balkans". It was the only republic from former Yugoslavia that gained state independence in a peaceful manner and did not suffer armed conflict. Since it was the peaceful actor in the midst of a belligerent region, it was not paid enough attention in the international public. The reason for this is a tragic truth that this world is still founded on violence, still does not know how to nurture peace, but rather go to war because of "humanitarian" reasons. It is true that in Macedonia there were deployed UN troops in a very unique mission of preventive deployment. It was a small, but significant mission both for Macedonia and for the international community. For Macedonia, which was a struggle for survival and a way to gain international recognition. It was a proof that the UN considered it as an independent and sovereign state, despite the bizarre name it was given - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia! It was de facto international recognition in a very critical moment of state-building process in this country. The international community had, at least, one single success in conflict prevention.
Yes, we must not forget that Macedonia's case of preventive diplomacy gave an excellent empirical basis for creating many academic careers in the world. There are many people who studies this case and wrote a lot of books, Ph.D. thesis, etc. UNPREDEP mission was terminated just before NATO intervention, because of many visible and invisible reasons. It seemed that nobody really cared, because NATO as the new "peacekeeper" was sent to Macedonia. It was not matter that NATO's mission was a peace operation in neighbouring Kosovo, it was not matter that there was neither peace not peace agreement to keep and to implement. It was not matter that in that very moment Macedonia was forgotten by the international community. Moreover, it was sacrificed and all accomplishments in conflict prevention vanished. Along with that the whole peace academic community kept silent! I am asking myself - where are all these distinguished scholars I have met on many international conferences? Where are they now when their voice and elaborations can affect public opinion and the politicians all over the world? Why don't they raise their voices and use their knowledge to appeal for peace? When the bombing started in Yugoslavia, I got an e-mail message from a distinguished colleague from the US. She was very worried about my safety, she felt sorry about this horrible situation, but she could not find other alternative to stop someone like Milosevic... What is most interesting, this person teaches peaceful conflict resolution in a prestigious university in the US!!! If she did not have an alternative, what could I expect from the others? And do you know what is she doing now? She is in Macedonia - collecting data on her new book, which title has to be changed in accordance to the current situation. The previous title on conflict prevention is not appropriate anymore, and the new one will be "conflict prevention in the midst of war"! Isn't it incredible how fast peace studies has promoted innovations and new theoretical concepts!? I am thrilled. No, I am desperate and very disappointed.
Let's continue with our main story. Suddenly, all the hotels, all free rooms, all the barracks and even student dormitories and hospitals in Macedonia were full of NATO troops. Let me remind you that it was BEFORE the beginning of the airstrike campaign over Yugoslavia. Day by day, and NATO troops in Macedonia have become more numerous than the Macedonian army. A music band from Macedonia composed a song: "Welcome to the Hotel Macedonia", and it is true that Macedonia has been transformed into a big hotel (it sound better than a big barrack, anyway). But, in this strange hotel the host is supposed to pay the costs of its guests. And the costs are not known yet... because the guests keep coming - and nobody knows in what mission. The government does not dare to say NO, the citizens are afraid to ask their government, because their government is afraid to ask Gen. Clark.
With the first waves of enormous number of Kosovo refugees, Macedonia has become very famous place in the world. Almost as famous as Kosovo itself. There is no single TV news without referring to some places with strange Slavic names, very difficult for the foreign journalists to pronounce, such as Blace, Stenkovec, Chegrane, Radusha, etc. Even for me as a Macedonian many of these places and villages were not very familiar before the refugee influx. Now Macedonia is not an oasis, but rather an island of lost souls, an island of horrors and poverty. The price for the fame has become extremely high.
While the unimaginable number of refugees was crossing the border, the Macedonian government, which had been in office for only several months - lost its nerves, the UNCHR did not have tenets and supplies, and the international community and NATO - were SURPRISED with the exodus. How can one be astonished with a non-adequate response by a government of a poor and underdeveloped country, when the NATO Headquarter was surprised with the effects of its own military action over Yugoslavia? NATO spokesmen in Macedonia showed great cynicism by saying a simple truth "NATO is not a humanitarian organisation". It believed that it was able to wage a war because of humanitarian reasons, but it seems that it overestimated its own capabilities even in the military field. However, it would not be fair and not to say that NATO cookers showed their skills in preparing young chickens for the refugees - in a TV news. But, it was the time when there were much less refugees than today, so the optimism of the poor refugees who have to wait for hours to get their meal - has faded away.
The Macedonian Government and the President of the Republic have never been so busy. Every day there are so many important statesmen visiting our country. Those politicians who despised our small and insignificant country, suddenly - are all there, very concerned about the refugees and the deteriorating situation in the country. It was very touching to see Mr. Blair in the middle of the hell, in a refugee camp - giving (moral) support to the poor people and to the Macedonian government. However, he could not say how many refugees was his country ready to host.
It is incredible that despite everything, NATO soldiers are still coming in Macedonia from south, while the refugees are coming from the north. The Macedonian citizens are in a sandwich, pushed from two sides. No, more precisely from many sides. Any good-will analyst can see that Macedonia is facing three options - economic, social and ecological collapse (isn't that a humanitarian catastrophe of all Macedonian citizens and Albanian refugees?), involvement into someone's else war or involvement in its own (civil) war.
The tensions are getting bigger, and there is not much time left before another conflict in Macedonia occur. Then, many of my colleagues will have to change the titles of their books once again...
Prof. dr. Biljana Vankovska-Cvetkovska
Faculty of Philosophy (military law, peace studies)
University of Skopje, Macedonia
[currently at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, Denmark]
- [Sunday, May 9] First, I am not a Yugoslav, but Macedonian, so I am not in a position to offer you an inner view from Yugoslavia. On the other hand, at the moment I am not even in Macedonia, but in a Scandinavian country. However, I think that there are several important things I can say on THE situation, because this Balkan story has more than one chapter. The so-called international community has never succeeded to understand that there have been many actors in the Yugoslav drama, and there have been more then two parties in each of the conflicts that followed Yugoslavia's dissolution. Finally, I believe that they are not even able to understand how profound is the impact of this was on the other "neutral" Balkan countries. Understandably, at the moment Yugoslavia (Kosovo) is in the focus, but very soon the focus might be re-directed toward Macedonia or some other parts of the Balkans. Therefore, I find it necessary to stress some important facts from Macedonia's viewpoint. However, I do not want to be misunderstand or considered as a selfish person, because undoubtedly the most affected people in this war are Serbs and Albanians. However, their sufferings are not the only reason why NATO intervention must cease immediately. Not only the future of the entire Balkans is in stake, but maybe the future of the mankind. I am talking about the Newest World (Dis)order that is emerging on the horizon.
I came in this beautiful city, where the most wonderful fairytales were written, two weeks ago in a six-week study visit at a peace research institute. Since my three children and my husband are in Macedonia, it is needless to say how upset I feel now. Having found myself in a "fairyland", inconceivable contrast strikes me - from one side, this mild and peaceful environment, and on the other hand - the horror and fear inside me. Perhaps, at the moment I am in a position to emphasize some issues which can be noticed only from this very complex perspective of mine. It is, at the same time, a perspective of a Macedonian citizen temporarily in a NATO-member state and a scholar from a conflict region in an international research institution. However, this city is the place where many of my illusions and deep beliefs are destroyed. As a person with legal education I used to believe that the international community was based on the rule of (international) law. Moreover, I used to believe that there is something like law on war and humanitarian law. As a peace researcher I used to believe that democracies never go to war. All these postulates have been ruined with the first bomb dropped on 24 March 1999.
First of all, there is no such thing as an international community, but rather a "big boy's club", which does not respect the legal norms it created to restrain itself. NATO has adopted its famous new strategic concept, according to which it will be in a position to intervene whenever and wherever it is necessary because of "humanitarian" reasons and WITHOUT pervious permission by the UN Security Council. This "new" document tried to legalize the illegal military action in Yugoslavia post festum, which is unacceptable act in every normal legal system because it plead for retroactive effect of a statute. However, 19 most developed and most democratic countries in the world suspended the competencies of the UN. Moreover, the violation of the UN Charter should be compared with, for example, the violation of the US Constitution. What would have been the reaction of the US Supreme Court if something like that had happened? American nation has every right to be proud of its more than two hundred year old Constitution, which is the fundament of their democracy. But, how can they be so indifferent when the World's "Constitution" - the UN Charter is openly violated by their establishment? If I had been an American citizen I would have been very distraught with such a government.
As for law on war, one can say that particularly the side who legally uses force in the international relations is obliged to respect these norms. In this situation, when a military alliance uses military force in an illegal manner, it is illusory to expect that these norms will be respected. NATO uses enormous military power to "protect" less then two millions Albanians, while at the same time is creation a humanitarian catastrophe not only for the rest of 10 millions people in Yugoslavia, but for many more in the region. Even under the hypothesis that at the beginning of the operation NATO had a humanitarian justification for its illegal intervention, now it is obvious that it has had forget its previous mission. The war is following its own logic, which is miles away from its first objective. The Balkans has become a place for testing all possible newly created weapons for mass destruction and devastation, such as depleted uranium bombs, graft bombs, cassette bombs, etc. Actually, some of these weapons have been used not so long ago, but there is one most important legal issue - there is huge lacuna in international legal system, which is misused in the worst possible way by the military industries and establishments of the NATO member states. The amount of explosive used in this war has already overcome that one from Hiroshima (let us remember again - it was also done because a probe of the newly created nuclear bomb).
NATO has erased the distinction between the civilian and military targets. To make thinks even worse, this incredible right is in the hands on one man (Gen. Clark), who is to decide what is what. And one cannot be always sure what is going on, because sometimes the civilian buildings are labeled as military ones, but sometimes appears that they indeed were civilian objects, but were hit by "mistake". It is very difficult, but I will try to accept that this war is ONLY because of Milosevic. Yet, let us imagine hypothetical situation where a dictator lives in the White House and, therefore, that building is bombarded. How will Americans feel seeing the place where their political history was being created and many extraordinary American presidents used to make decisions on nation's future? The attack on Milosevic's residence is not an attack against him or his regime, it was an attack on Yugoslav people's history, even attack on the history of the former Yugoslav nations who used to live in a common state several decades. How can a reasonable person accept the attack on Serbian TV station as a justifiable "military" target? If this is a truth, the next attack might be on Macedonian TV if it started with anti-NATO propaganda. But I would say that the journalists from CNN and other wide-world famous media should think about their "independence" and "autonomy". The very moment they change their supportive attitude towards NATO intervention, they might be a military target - because this is state of war.
What to say about civilian "collateral" casualties in Yugoslavia? Sometimes I ask myself of what material is my heart made - there is still enough place for sorrow and love for so many people around me. How far and how long can it endure under such unbearable pressure? Should I cry for my three innocent children in Macedonia, should I cry for these poor children and new born babies in the refugees camps (and now even in the US, but perhaps that is the lucky child with an American passport), or should I cry for those children killed in a bomb attack in Surdulica. Believe me, when I cry my tears do not make any difference. My children are deprived from happy childhood or bright future. They watch everyday only horrors of war, they are confused, frightened and expect me to be enough brave and not to cry before them. The poor small refugees will never forget the horrors of the exodus, they already belong to the "lost generation". When I cry for them, I have in mind that their sufferings have not finished yet. They are still manipulated by many sides. Their sufferings are misused in a propaganda war both by their own people (very often parents), who teach toddlers to raise their two fingers showing V (the military/political victory), and by some international leaders and media - who tries to use their suffering in order to achieve mass support in their countries for the disastrous military campaign that is underway. However, I am wondering whether any Westerner has ever had tears for those poor 12 children killed in Surdulica (between 5 and 12 year old). I cried a lot, alone in this beautiful city, because of many reasons. For many people in the world Surdulica might be the same as a place on another planet, but for me it is a small city only 20 km. from my own home. It is a city where I have seen - not particularly beautiful, and rather poor and underdeveloped place. I cried for those unknown children as they were my one, because my youngest daughter is exactly 5, and the middle one is 12. Clinton promises a new world where ethnic and religious differences will not be cause of discrimination and conflicts among the people. He was the first one who introduced distinction in regard to victims of this bloody war! He makes us guilty if we cry for Serbian children, he even expect me as a Macedonian to be grateful for his country's political and military guarantees.
Let me tell you briefly the news from Macedonia I have heard since I came two weeks ago. Macedonia is a tiny country where in the radius of 150 km. there live 2 million inhabitants. The day I left my country there were some 120,000 refugees, and this number has been doubled in the next two weeks. At the moment, the total Macedonian population is increased for more that 13 percent. I am not very good in mathematics, but I would ask you - how big would have been these number if something like this had happened to your own countries? But, during this statistical operation, please, take into account several other facts. Macedonia was the poorest republic of former Yugoslavia. It has been in a deep economic and social crisis, especially since 1991. At the moment there are more than 300,000 unemployed, mostly young and educated, people. To this number one can easily add the estimated number of dependent family members of this category of people, and people who live on social and humanitarian aid.
The other news from Macedonia is that air radiation level has increased three times higher than a normal one, which was confirmed by the professors at the University in Skopje. Due to the intensive usage of depleted uranium weapons by NATO in Yugoslavia, the critical level are expected to be reached very soon. Needless to say that this situation is characteristic for the whole Balkan region. Research institutes, NGOs and intellectuals are warning their governments and the domestic and international public - but, there is almost no reaction.
And the third news from home came yesterday. My children and my family have to boil the water before drinking!!! This is, perhaps, the most urgent and most horrible news I have heart for several days. I am in a panic, not only because my family members are concerned, but there is something else. The capital of Macedonia, Skopje has about 800,000 citizens, which makes more than one third of the total state's population. The only natural resource of drinking water for the citizens are in a place named Rasche, which is very close to one of the biggest refugee camps in Macedonia. To make things worse, the position of Rasche is on a lower level than the refugee camp, and the terrain has a porous structure. The experts have been warning both the government officials and the international humanitarian organizations that there have been a tremendous danger of pollution this extremely important natural source, but the urgency of the situation pushed aside this warning. Now the first indications of stomach diseases, not among the refugees, but among the Skopje citizens are becoming more and more evident.
Not only Macedonia, but all the Balkan countries have been ruined without any bomb (of course, if we ignore several "mistakes", such as those in Sofia or several others in Macedonia and Albania). The whole region is turned into a desert, a black hole! The governments deeply devoted and committed to European values and NATO membership - lies their citizens and do not dare to tell them how much will cost this war in which they are only spectators. It is a high time some one to tell the truth - that in this war we are all victims of our governments and political leaders. Very often people need to be lied, because the reality and the facts have unbearable weight. Yet, there will be at least some hope if this madness stop immediately. Economic disaster, social injustice, crime, air radiation, pollution of the drinking water, devastation, diseases - all these have been let out from the Pandora's box. But let us believe that the Hope is still somewhere close, but we should seek for it.
Difficult times and historical misfortunes have been part of the life of every generation in the Balkans. The only difference among them is that some of them experienced such destiny in their young and the other in their older age. I belong to the generation which childhood and youth in former Yugoslavia were very happy periods, but unfortunately now being a parent of three children which future is not certain and bright - is a terrifying experience. However, the life in the midst of hurricane does not look so horrible for the people used to that kind of atmosphere. I am going through a real trauma now, being in the midst of civilized Europe. It is very traumatic for a person like me to see all these very "concerned" Europeans, who are ready to send all their powerful military means and even to sacrifice significant part of their incomes to "safe" us from ourselves. Of course, I do not have anything personally against all these nice and well-mannered people, but I am astonished and disappointed with their unwillingness, at least, to try to find out the truth behind the official information they are exposed to. I am not angry because they are ill-informed about the situation in the Balkans, but rather disappointed why are not they more curious. I do not expected them to have warm sympathies for the suffering people, but I would certainly wanted to see them more worried about the question how are their money being spent (wasted) in a "humanitarian" intervention. Maybe it was only my unrealistic expectations, but I really had illusions about free media and democratic and critical public opinion in the Western Europe.
And what can I see here? A classical censorship, brainwashing and support of a self-image of a righteous and good people is on place. Maybe they really believe that they DO care (only) for the "good guys" and maybe they believe that the "bad guys" DESERVE the punishment. I would like to make them see that the Balkans is not a scene from a classical American movie, they there live ORDINARY people just like themselves - with good and bad sides intermixed. The only difference is that some of the Balkan peoples are frightened and pushed to the point where they think that there is no way out. As one of the best peace researchers, Dr. Hakan Wiberg, stresses - they have (or believe that there are) only three choices left: to commit suicide, to escape or to fight.
Empathy and willingness to help people in trouble are extremely generous attitudes and deserve much appreciation in such difficult times. I can notice great compassion among the Westerners for one side of the Kosovo war, but what about the others, like Macedonians, Bulgarians, Croats, Romanians, Greeks, etc. On last night's TV news I watched a story on Scandinavian citizens who were sending food supplies and some other necessary things for the Albanian refugees in Macedonia. American media are full of touching stories about the warm welcome to several hundreds Kosovo refugees. No matter how difficult the situation is in the Balkans, the first thing that these people really and urgently need is - PEACE. At least, peace comprehended like absence of war, of bombs, of devastation Solidarity shown in this symbolic way might have some effect for the people engaged in the humanitarian actions, and I really believe that this engagement means a lot to the citizens in the Western countries, because it gives them an opportunity to calm down their bad conciseness on this unjust war. If they really want to be righteous, if they really want to be peace-loving people and to represent a democratic public - I would suggest them to make their voice against this war make heard in their own countries, in their own parliaments and governments. The refugees and all the other unhappy people in Yugoslavian and in the region will survive for some time without their packages with crackers, juices, and chocolates. More than everything, these poor people need a POLITICAL solution, even the worst one - but solution which will cease the military interventions. Undoubtedly, the way which will lead toward peace and progress will be very long and painful, the satisfactory solutions will be very difficult to achieve - but THEN the Western economic, humanitarian and other assistance will be useful and helpful. In this situation, it is senseless, it has a brand of hypocrisies and cynicism toward "uncivilized" Balkan tribes.
Prof. dr. Biljana Vankovska-Cvetkovska
Faculty of Philosophy (military law, peace studies)
University of Skopje, Macedonia
[currently at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, Denmark]
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