Balkans: April 9, 2004


Last months riots and murders in Kosovo continue to have political and military impact throughout Europe. On April 5 Germany issued a statement that it would keep its troop contingent (4,000 troops) in Kosovo until the security problem is solved. France made basically the same statement. The 3,500 French troops in KFOR will remain (and there is a possibility of further reinforcements). On April 6 Russia stepped in and said that it favors a plan being developed to enforce law and order. Russia, regarded by pan-Slavists as the traditional protector of South Slavs (including Serbs), said the international military contingent (in Kosovo) may require restructuring. The Russian statement advocated the banning of ethnic Albanian radical organizations (but did not name any organizations specifically). The European statements recognize a need to stand firm in Kosovo there will be no European bailout from Kosovo. The statements follow an April 4 interview with Kosovar President Ibrahim Rugova where he said he wanted a sustained NATO security commitment in Kosovo. He told a British paper that the presence of UK forces was a big plus and British troops were well-respected in Kosovo. The UKs KFOR contingent was withdrawn in 2003, but 1,000 troops were sent to Kosovo in March, following the riots. Rugova added that there need to be a crack down (his term) on ethnic Albanian extremists and he hoped the British forces would remain in Kosovo to help with that operation. Rugova mentioned the Albanian National Army (ANA, or AKSH) as a major threat to Kosovos stability. Rugova is obviously asking NATO for help in fighting a Kosovar Albanian civil war. Rugova and other Kosovar moderates who have long favored negotiations over violent conflict, have been bullied by radical Albanian gunmen (many, we suspect, tied to Albanian criminal gangs), has decided its time to clean out the thugs. He doesnt have the troops, but NATO does. If this sounds a little bit like Iraq, and the CPAs decision to get rid of al-Sadrs Mahdi militia, well, there are similarities. Albania and Macedonia will have to cooperate with any extended NATO operation, and deny the ANA sanctuaries in those countries. 




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close