A start to healing in Kosovo

KLA agrees: Peacekeepers rule, Serb Kosovars urged back, reconstruction planned.

June 22, 1999

THE peacekeeping operation in Kosovo began well. The agreement wrung out of the Kosovo Liberation Army removes the fear that it might turn on NATO forces. The agreement with Russia brings it on-board for a unified Kosovo where ethnic Albanians and Serbs will live in peace.

Most of the harsh criticisms of Clinton administration policy are being proven untrue within days of their utterance. Meanwhile, the atrocities committed by Serbian authorities against ethnic Albanians that are being discovered exceed the predictions and vindicate the NATO bombing that made Serbia stop.

The agreement with Russia represented deft handling by the Clinton administration of President Boris Yeltsin's dance between his Slavophile and westernizing critics. There is to be no Russian sector that might become a Serbian enclave. Russian troops in the Western sectors will symbolize protection of ethnic Serbs everywhere. Russian troops at Pristina airport show Moscow in a position of respect and trust.

NATO will give humanitarian aid to Serbia proper, but no reconstruction aid while the indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic rules. But Mr. Yeltsin obtained from the Group of Seven a broader definition of humanitarian aid, giving him something to show his constituents and clients.

The peacekeeping will not end soon. Much could still go wrong, such as the explosion near Pristina yesterday that killed two Gurkha soldiers in the British army and two civilians. Many Kosovars remain armed and distrustful.

The first priority must be the safety of all people. Second must be preservation of the evidence of crimes against humanity. In the longer term, the intent must be to bring the parts of the former Yugoslavia into modern Europe. President Clinton's visit to Slovenia, the first of the former Yugoslav republics to secede and the only one having success, rubs in to the others what they are missing.

So far, NATO's collective policies are working as intended.

Pub Date: 6/22/99

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