Washington Post - Peace still precarious in Kosovo

Thursday, December 9, 1999

Joy is still a precious commodity in Kosovo, six months after NATO troops entered the embattled province and Yugoslavia withdrew its forces. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians driven from the province during the war have returned--many to emotional reunions with family and friends, many others to empty, burned-out homes and graves.

Serbs, who before the war lived side by side with ethnic Albanian families in an uneasy communion, are outcasts, victims of hostility and hatred. Tens of thousands of Serbs have fled Kosovo. The few who remain, many of them elderly, live in fear for their lives.

Between the two communities stand the NATO peacekeepers, more than 6,000 of them American. To the ethnic Albanians, the troops are heroes and liberators. To the Serbs, they are protectors. The troops arrived in Kosovo hoping to build a multi-ethnic, democratic society. Six months on, they use a much smaller yardstick for measuring their success: a reunion of old friends secured, a life saved, a conflict averted. Peace remains elusive, over the horizon.


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