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Hold Kosovo to Standards

Friday, April 29, 2005

It is surprising to hear that for Richard Holbrooke, a former diplomat, "the standards before status" policy in Kosovo amounts to a disguise for "bureaucratic inaction inside diplomatic mumbo-jumbo" ["New Course for Kosovo," op-ed, April 20]. Devised by the U.N. Security Council and fully supported by the United States, this policy was aimed at ensuring the basic standards of democratic governance, including the return of refugees and safety and freedom of movement, before any decision was made on the future status of the U.N.-administered province of Serbia. As such it represents the only hope for a peaceful and multiethnic Kosovo. Yet, in his scorn for the policy or the reality in Kosovo, Mr. Holbrooke suggests that this summer the special U.N. representative should simply determine that the standards have been met and move on.

Unfortunately the standards are far from being met. Less than 1 percent of the 230,000 Serbs expelled from their homes by the majority Albanians have returned, not one of the 130 Christian churches that were destroyed has been rebuilt and the remaining Serbs still live in guarded enclaves.

In his scorn for the "sluggish" European Union, Mr. Holbrooke also proposes a new E.U. accession policy: "The European Union . . . must make a real deal on Kosovo an integral part of the membership process for Serbia." In other words, the aspirant members of the European Union need not strive to fulfill the requirements stemming from European values. Instead, they can simply trade in a part of their territory.

This is poor advice. The evaluation of standards in Kosovo should be based on facts, not political wishful thinking, let alone blackmail.

IVAN VUJACIC

Ambassador

Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro

Washington

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