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World - Europe

Serbian aggression is a familiar story

Serb crack down
Serbian forces crack down on ethnic Albanian protesters in Kosovo  

'Ethnic cleansing as a policy tool'

In this story:

June 11, 1998
Web posted at: 10:22 p.m. EDT (0222 GMT)

From Correspondent Andrea Koppel

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Almost 10 years after Serbian police and soldiers began a cold-blooded campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, it's happening again. Only this time it's happening in Kosovo.

"What we are seeing now, for me, is very similar to what I saw in the early days of the fighting in Croatia and Bosnia - - ethnic cleansing by Mr. Milosovic as a policy tool," says James Hooper of The Balkan Institute.

But unlike Bosnia and Croatia -- a conflict that led Yugolav President Slobodan Milosevic to finally agree to negotiate and sign the Dayton peace accords -- experts say Kosovo is a more complex problem.


Ninety percent of Kosovo's 2 million citizens are ethnic Albanians who want their autonomy or independence from Serbia. And yet for Serbs, Kosovo is the rough equivalent of Jerusalem -- a holy and historic place.

Experts fear that if Milosovic doesn't order an end to the killing in Kosovo, neighboring countries with ethnic Albanian citizens could be drawn into a wider Balkan war.

"All of this is going to undermine the credibility of NATO, and it's going to undermine the Dayton peace agreement," Hooper says. "And I think these are serious and vital interests for the United States to uphold. The only thing that is going to stop Mr. Milosovic now is a credible threat of force by the United States."

'Sanctions won't stop him'

But as seen earlier this week, the only threat the United States and much of Europe is willing to make is an economic one.


"Well," says Warren Zimmermann, America's last ambassador to Yugoslavia, "I can tell you what won't stop him: Sanctions won't stop him."

Nevertheless, Zimmermann says he sympathizes with the dilemma facing the administration of U.S. President Clinton.

"I don't think Kosovo is as clear an issue as Bosnia was," Zimmerman says. "With Bosnia, I believe at any point during the war, NATO air strikes would have stopped the war and brought a negotiated agreement."

The same cannot be said for Kosovo.

The dilemma, experts say, is that without the threat of military force, Milosovic will not stop ethnic cleansing. But they also admit that committing U.S. and/or NATO troops is no guarantee that there will be a negotiated end to the strife in Kosovo.

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