US Congressman Urges West Not to Lose Focus on Kosovo

Posted October 28th, 2011 at 1:15 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. congressman has warned that unresolved tensions in the Balkans could erupt into yet another conflict with far-reaching consequences for the stability of Europe.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, in an exclusive interview with VOA's Serbian service, says it is crucial that Western leaders and policymakers work to re-establish and strengthen the region's hard-won peace, and support efforts toward finally settling the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia.

He said recent struggles between the Belgrade-backed ethnic Serbs who form the majority in northern Kosovo and the ethnic-Albanian-dominated government in Pristina are warning signs that should not be ignored. He called for a new strategy that recognizes the Kosovar Serbs' right to self-determination while respecting Kosovo's sovereignty.

Serbian leaders refuse to recognize Pristina's 2008 declaration of independence from Belgrade. Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo also refuse to do so.

The Dayton peace accords of 1995 ended a vicious inter-ethnic war in the former Yugoslavia that left 100,000 people dead and spawned the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two.

The latest tensions along the northern Kosovo border were triggered by a trade dispute that turned violent in August when Kosovo sent soldiers to the ethnic Serb-dominated north to enforce a ban on Serbian imports. The ban came after Serbia placed an embargo on goods from Kosovo.