Analysis: What went wrong?

By Jonathan Marcus

Friday, 4 February, 2000

Having fought a war to defend the human rights of the ethnic-Albanian majority in Kosovo, even a huge Nato military presence has been unable to secure the rights of the Serbian minority that has remained.

The simmering tensions in the divided town of Mitrovica underline the fundamental distrust of the two communities - and the potential for violence at the points where they interact.

Given the excesses of the Serbian forces in Kosovo prior to Nato's war it would be unrealistic to imagine that Serbs and Albanians would be able to live happily alongside each other.

But despite the efforts of K-For troops and the United Nations civil administration, progress towards any sort of normalisation has been slow.

Primary responsibility must lie with the two communities in Kosovo themselves. Nato and the UN cannot force people to get along.


But in some critical areas the international community has failed.

It has, for example, deployed less than 2,000 of the expected 4,800 international police to Kosovo - governments have been unwilling or unable to come up with sufficient trained personnel.

The UN administration, despite all its good intentions, is a polyglot mixture of different agencies - hardly a recipe for bureaucratic efficiency.

Most serious of all is the context in which the whole mission is operating. There seems no agreement on where Kosovo is going.

The United States tends to see some form of independence as the ultimate destination. Many of Washington's Nato partners see this as a potential disaster, but have no real alternative in mind.

And whatever uncertainty there may be about the future it is clear that on the ground it is the political re-incarnation of the ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army that is firmly in control in much of the province.