Staff-prepared summary of the East European Studies discussion with Peter H. Liotta, Jerome E. Levy Professor of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College, RI.
Professor Liotta gave a fascinating and wide-ranging analysis of the post-conflict dynamics in Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia and presented some conclusions and insights on what the future may bring in this volatile area.
He emphasized that NATO's intervention in Kosovo, while the first sustained use of force by NATO in its history, did not establish a precedent of intervention for humanitarian purposes as some have claimed and hoped. In fact, the Kosovo crisis and its aftermath, together with the experience of the international peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and Macedonia, have established growing differences in approach to peacekeeping and nation building between the United States and Europe. The basic question involved with the Kosovo intervention (just exactly what constitutes the right of external intervention) still has not been definitively answered.
Professor Liotta asserted that the international peacekeeping efforts throughout the former Yugoslavia are long-term and will require decades more involvement on the ground before they can be closed down. Both Bosnia and Kosovo remain inherently unstable and could not exist without the international community's continued presence. Speaking in more detail on Kosovo, Professor Liotta emphasized that Kosovo cannot live as a separate entity in isolation, especially economically. While making no judgment on the rights of Albanians to live in a common state, he stressed that a movement for a greater Albania would amount to the "ultimate spillover" and that it would directly affect not just Serbia but neighboring Macedonia and even Bosnia. In his view, the peacekeeping effort in Kosovo may have to be of such long duration and difficulty that it may eventually come to be known as the "Vietnam of peacekeeping" in the sense of time, sacrifice, costs, responsibility and possible failure.
On Macedonia, Professor Liotta expressed cautious optimism for long-term resolution of internal ethnic divisions between Slav Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. However, he noted that in Macedonia corruption is so pervasive that it actually perversely supports the stability of the government. In fact, 70%-90% of the heroin available in Western Europe today has been transferred either through Kosovo or Macedonia. Referring to the armed insurrection in 2001, resolved by the Ohrid peace treaty, Liotta noted that it was as much a fight about civil society as it was an intra-ethnic Albanian division and rivalry within the country. In concluding, despite these continuing ethnic and economic difficulties, Liotta recognized Macedonia as the last best hope for the region.