Montenegro, Macedonia sucked into Kosovo crisis
March 27, 1999
(CNN) -- While the Serb province of Kosovo is the current hot spot in the troubled Balkans, the entire region has been shaken by the crisis which escalated into NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia -- especially Montenegro and Macedonia.
Montenegro, which along with Serbia is one of the two republics making up Yugoslavia, does not join its sister state in opposition to the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo.
In fact, Montenegro has defied Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who severed diplomatic relations with western countries over the airstrikes, saying it will maintain ties of its own with NATO nations.
As part of its attacks on Yugoslavia, NATO has bombed sites in Montenegro, saying it regrets the necessity of targeting military sites within a friendly area.
"Clearly it would have been much better if (NATO) didn't have to bomb Montenegro because we would have made the distinction between Montenegro as the kind of power (western countries) would like to see ... and that Mr. Milosevic was really the problem," said Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institute.
But despite the bombings, Montenegro has distanced itself from Milosevic, refusing to recognize his declaration of a state of emergency in the wake of the airstrikes and urging the Yugoslav president to stop the fighting in Kosovo.
"We are not in a state of war with anybody," said Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dragisa Burzan.
Serbs protest strikes in Macedonia
Meanwhile, Macedonia has reported that thousands of refugees have poured into the country from neighboring Kosovo due to the conflict and Serbs protesting the NATO airstrikes have attacked the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Skopje.
U.S. President Bill Clinton has dispatched 100 "combat equipped" Marines to help protect the besieged embassy.
Macedonia was once one of six republics making up Yugoslavia when it stretched from Austria to Greece and took up a chunk of Adriatic coastline.
But in the midst of the upheaval that wracked the communist world in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Macedonia joined Yugoslavia's northern republics and declared itself independent.
When the dust settled Yugoslavia was separated from Greece by Macedonia.
Ethnic Macedonians make up two thirds of the country's population while nearly a quarter are ethnic Albanians. Only a tiny percentage of the population is Serbian.
"One of the remarkable things about Macedonia is that it is the only republic that has emerged out of Yugoslavia in which there is a multi-ethnic government," Daalder said.
Macedonians and ethnic Albanians work in a parliamentary coalition, but that doesn't mean there are no tensions. Ethnic Albanians have demanded and gained some acceptance of their language, which is now allowed in schools and a teaching college.
The tentative nature of Macedonian politics is watched over by an international force, invited by the Macedonian government to help maintain ethnic peace. But it is unclear how the current crisis in Kosovo will affect the prospects for lasting peace in Macedonia.
Correspondents Garrick Utley and David Ensor contributed to this report.
Blasts rip through Belgrade in third night of NATO airstrikes
Macedonian President Page
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.