The lethal engine of ethnic cleansing – The Guardian, 3 February 1999

The lethal engine of ethnic cleansing

As western governments press for a compromise in Kosovo, Jonathan Steele examines the complex history of the area and argues that multi-ethnic states are still attainable


They are looking for a compromise which will give the Albanians of Kosovo substantial autonomy while preserving enough links with Belgrade to satisfy the Serbs. Behind it lies the notion that anything more radical, particularly the secession of Kosovo from Serbia, would lead to wider instability in the southern Balkans as well as the expulsion of the 200,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo. The fate of Kosovo would, it is argued, affect neighbouring Macedonia, where Albanians form around a third of the population. It might prompt the Bosnian Serbs in their rump entity called Republika Srpska to demand integration with Serbia, which could in turn lead to the collapse of the fragile Bosnian state.