Monday, March 14, 2005

A Settlement for Kosovo - Wesley Clark

To the Editor of the New York Times

"Still Troubled After All These Years" (editorial, March 3) says that "work should begin immediately on a settlement" for Kosovo, but it does not say what that settlement would look like in international law. The truth is, the world has been avoiding this thorny problem for six years.

You say the solution should "include a semiautonomous zone for the Serbs," but do not define what that zone would be semiautonomous from. You also reject independence for the province. Does this mean that the Kosovo Albanians would just live in the international limbo of United Nations administration indefinitely - with no access to foreign lending and investment, and thus very high unemployment?

The riots last year against Serbs and other minority groups were indefensible. But recognizing that social unrest has underlying causes and charting a path to a settlement to begin dealing with those causes does not "reward bad faith." Independence may well be the best way to get a functioning state that produces real benefits for people, including Kosovo's Serbs. When people have responsibility, they tend to behave more responsibly.

Let's hope that the calm response to date of the Kosovo Albanians to Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj's indictment and resignation ("Kosovo's New Chance," editorial, March 9), together with his own dignified exit, may mark precisely that society's turning point toward responsibility.

Wesley Clark
Little Rock, Ark., March 10, 2005

The writer was NATO's supreme allied commander during the 1999 Kosovo campaign.

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