EKD-Bulletin 02/2000

2 - 2000


A year after the beginning of the war in Kosovo, Praeses Kock calls for clearer objectives in Balkans policy

Giving Peace a Chance

"Taking stock a year after the beginning of the Kosovo war, one arrives at ambiguous results. The expulsion of the Kosovo Albanians has been reversed. An international peace order under the rule of law has been established and the sovereignty of national states is no longer accepted without limitation. On the other hand, mutual hatred has not ceased, and murder and carnage are still going on. The prospects for a multi-ethnic Kosovo have considerably decreased. At present nobody dares to think about what would happen in Kosovo without the KFOR [Kosovo Force]. Thanks are due to the KFOR troops and the international police force for taking high risks to contain new outbreaks of violence, which could happen any time.

The decision to use military force against Serbia was taken because the policy of negotiating had failed. Now there is the threat of another failure if peace is not established in Kosovo after the end of the war. To give peace a chance, the conditions for a serious peace policy have to be created:

A clear agreement has to be reached on the political objectives to be achieved in the Balkans. The NATO member states, let alone the parties directly involved in the conflict, have not reached any consensus on this issue. This leads to the conclusion that the NATO partners lacked sufficient agreement on the objectives of their intervention right from the beginning. In 1994 the EKD Council formulated criteria on "humanitarian interventions" in its statement "Steps towards Peace". These included:"that the policy aimed at protecting or restoring a peace order governed by the rule of law must have clearly defined objectives for intervention" and that "the prospects of success must be assessed realistically in relation to the objectives."

The NATO member states quickly allocated considerable financial means for the military intervention against Serbia. It is scandalous that funds for economic reconstruction not only of Kosovo but also of Serbia and the region as a whole have only been made available hesitantly and are nowhere near being sufficient to meet the needs.

If economic reconstruction is to be promoted in Serbia and the conditions for democratic development are to be improved by doing something about the living situation of the population, the economic embargo against Serbia must be dropped.

The efforts being made by the churches as their contribution towards peace in Kosovo concentrate on three main areas:

Bringing people together who maintain hopes for a peaceful coexistence between the various ethnic groups by engaging in concrete local projects of reconciliation in spite of the present negative development and the danger of resignation. As long as the law of vendetta governs people's actions, reconciliation remains a pipe dream. Our own history with our European neighbours shows that people cannot really live with each other or at least alongside each other without reconciliation.

Extending civilian peace services is an important means to this end. Past experience in other areas such as Bosnia points to the potential inherent in such efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation.

By no means can peace and reconciliation efforts only come from outside. This is why intensive talks with local ecumenical partners are indispensable. The churches in Germany will continue to make use of their bilateral relations and their contacts within European organisations. They will also continue to provide badly needed aid through their social services."



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