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[ALBSA-Info] Detroit News

Agron Alibali aalibali at
Wed Jun 20 23:22:37 EDT 2001

The Detroit News 
June 20, 2001, Wednesday 
Editorial; Pg. 14 

Avoid U.S. Entanglement in Macedonia 
President Bush is under a lot of pressure from America's NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies and Russia to participate in an exercise to disarm Albanian insurgents in Macedonia. But Mr. Bush -- to his credit -- is resisting. 

Intervening in a functioning democracy like Macedonia would bring a new level of mission creep into America's Balkans policy. 

Granted, relations between Macedonia's majority Slavic and minority Albanian population are not a model of comity. But Macedonia has handled ethnic unrest within its borders not by quashing its minorities as some other countries in the Balkans have done -- but by opening up the political process to them: Every Macedonian government since the country gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 has handed ethnic Albanians prominent cabinet positions. But Albanians want still greater governing autonomy for towns in the north where they are in the majority. 

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski is sympathetic to these demands. But his efforts to find a political resolution have been stymied by outside groups such as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA wants to sever the province of Kosovo from Yugoslavia and the Albanian-dominated north from Macedonia and unite them into a Greater Albania. To achieve this end, the KLA has assisted Albanian separatists in Macedonia to launch an armed insurgency against Mr. Trajkovski's government. 

Mr. Trajkovski has thus far refrained from responding with crushing force. But he wants NATO to assist his efforts to demilitarize the ethnic Albanian areas should the guerrillas accept his cease-fire deal and agree to lay down their arms. 

Backers of Mr. Trajkovski's plan argue that early intervention by the international community could nip another Bosnia or Kosovo-type civil war that has the potential of spilling into Greece and destabilizing Europe. 

This, however, is an argument for intervention by Europe -- not the United States. America has no vital interest at stake to justify an escalation of its counterinsurgency efforts in the region. 

Should the United States agree to intervene in this situation, it will be hard-pressed to turn down requests for assistance from other countries experiencing even worse conflicts. 

The United States cannot extricate itself from its peace-keeping commitments in the Balkans without making the situation much worse. But after many years of involvement, America should be looking for political solutions to restoring peace and withdrawing from the region -- not sinking deeper into the Balkans quagmire. 

The Issue 

Should the United States become involved in the Albanian insurgency in Macedonia? 

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