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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 1 .

Conflict Prevention in the Balkans
Sophia Clement

(Chaillot Papers, No. 30,West European Union Institute for Security Studies, December 1997)

Sophia Clement's monograph on conflict prevention in the Balkans is an impressive contribution to understanding the forces for change that in February/ March 1998 once again boiled over the long simmering ethnonational cauldron in the Kosovo region of Serbia into yet another war of secession within what is euphemistically called former Yugoslav space. The author, a research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies of the WEU, skillfully unravels the tangled web of historical claims, competing ethnonational and state building agendas,and security concerns of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, Albanians and Slav Macedonians in the FYR Macedonia, Serbs in Serbia, Albanians in Albania,and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Her warnings of the consequences of ignoring conflict prevention opportunities in Kosovo have proved all too prophetic.

However Clement assumed a longer fuse before the frustrations of Kosovar Albanians at state repression and international inaction would explode into increasingly bold movement terrorism than was the case. It appears that Dr. Imbrahim Rugova's nonviolent road to self-determination was substantially discredited when the 1995 Dayton negotiations that reaffirmed the Croat-Muslim federation, dealt with the issue of Eastern Slavonia in Croatia, and sent NATO in to take charge of making Bosnia and Herzegovina safe for civilian reconstruction ignored his appeal that Kosovo be included in these contact group, US, and EU international efforts at conflict resolution.

In 1996 the first round of elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina came and went. Still the international players appeared oblivious to reports that Rugova's financial support from abroad had started flowing into the pockets of a shadowy Kosovo Liberation Army. There was no international conference scheduled to discuss the Albanian Question. By 1998 seven years of good behavior reached a dead end. This strengthened Kosovar Albanian militants and supporters of the KLA.

In fairness none of this was clear when Sophia Clement published her paper in December 1997. Moreover, her analysis of the need for a more balanced use of carrots and sticks in Balkan conflict prevention and her suggestion that the WEU must get its act together vis-a-vis Kosovo and FYR Macedonia or allow the United States to take priority in what is European Security space, (p.58) continue to be on target.

This monograph presents the reality of post-cold war European security within which the boundary between domestic and international boundaries has substantially eroded. Clement also shows obstacles to conflict prevention created by proliferating institutional actors as they stake out their turf within a European security architecture that has grown in response to crises with no blue print. Her study is a must for policymakers and scholars of European Security. Recommended for graduate classes in international relations, European Union and Security studies, and Post-Communist Europe. Very useful for undergraduate peace studies programs, but instructors need to supply substantial background readings as well.

Robin Remington, University of Missouri - Columbia

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