Interesting things have been happening in the last few weeks since the appearance of the Scorpion video. The year 2005 is going to be one of the most interesting yet. Also just read here that the Brits are laying up contingency plans for the fall.
By Roger Cohen
SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2005
That stomach, of course, was mine, along with those of another 280,000 people in a European city that had been living for more than three years with a dirt trench around it, subjected to regular bombardment by Serbian nationalist forces intent on denying the multiethnic character of
The people of the city had become crazed by that summer. They raised their hands to their necks in a gesture of self-strangulation, saying they could no longer breathe. They burned books to heat stoves to cook the rabbits they raised in cages in their bedrooms. Gravediggers took shelter from shelling in the graves they dug.
That was Europe in 1995: bleeding in its Balkan backyard as the
But within five months the Bosnian war was over, hustled to a conclusion by the American diplomat, Richard Holbrooke. Another
Burns this year became the under secretary of state for political affairs - and the torpid graph of American attention to the Balkans blipped upward. He visited the area in May. He pledged American involvement. And he made clear his view of the Balkans: "The status quo is neither stable nor sustainable."
What is that status quo?
The two Serbs most wanted for war crimes - Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic - are still at large. Until recently very few Serbs believed they had done anything wrong.
But the first real dent in the crippling Serbian denial of their crimes was made this month with the showing of a video of the execution of six - yes, six - of the more than 7,000 Muslims killed at Srebrenica in July, 1995.
For once the ironclad Serbian self-image of perennial victim was breached.
Burns is eager to build on this tentative Serbian opening. In a wide-ranging telephone conversation, he described his linked plans for
"In both places we have outstanding business from 10 years ago," Burns said. "The release of the videotape had a big effect on
Both President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of
"I've told them, you have to get Mladic," Burns said. "I've told them that until you do, we are your biggest problem. You're never going to get into NATO."
Referring to the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, Burns continued: "And I've made clear that they have a major anniversary coming up on July 11 and they need to atone and it would be good to get Mladic before then. I will remind them of that in the next couple of days."
Tadic has told Burns he will be at a Srebrenica ceremony, along with Svetozar Marovic, the president of the federation of
The reward for
Close American-European cooperation is also envisaged in Kosovo, where Burns is anxious to move toward final-status talks this fall.
By then, Kai Eide, the Norwegian ambassador to NATO, will have completed a review in Kosovo, looking at guarantees of the rights of the area's Serb minority and other governance issues.
Kosovo's overwhelming Albanian majority is clamoring for independence from
A leading EU politician, perhaps the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, would lead the talks, flanked by a senior American diplomat, who would probably not be Burns himself. "We might try sequestration a la Holbrooke in
Where would the process lead? A long-term outcome other than independence seems inconceivable when the overwhelming majority of Kosovars want that.
But the Kosovo Albanians would have to earn it - by decentralizing power, by providing real protection and rights to the Serb minority, and by accepting an international civil administration for a long transitional period.
Two things are clear. Only