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IA-Forum Interview: Ambassador Thomas Melady
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International Affairs Forum: What were your impressions of Kosovo the last time you visited? Ambassador Thomas Patrick Melady: I visited two years ago. This was two years after the March 17 riots in which a number of Serb Orthodox monasteries were burned down. Kosovo was trying to make a recovery from the war. The difficulties of the Serb and Albanian relationship coupled with the European and U.S. military presence was prevalent. I thought at that time, that it was premature to talk about independence. A lot more had to be done in terms of economic development. There was about fifty percent unemployment and the military still had to provide protection for the minorities – the Serbs and Roma. Since then, the subject of independence seems to be rapidly closing toward resolution. The major powers have been unable to agree on the issue – with the Russians on one side and American and the Western nations on the other. But it appears that there will be a unilateral declaration of independence by the majority Albanian Kosovars. IA-Forum: Do you still think they’re not ready? Ambassador Melady: I think by any book of criteria, it’d be better if they waited. They need economic development and to reduce the animosity between the Albanians and the ethnic minorities. If the unilateral vote for independence occurs, there’s the important question of what needs to be done to ensure there won’t be violence. IA-Forum: Do you think NATO is well equipped to do that? Ambassador Melady: Not presently. Even with the military presence there, they were unable to stop the violence in March 2004. So you need a stronger military presence there with clear instructions what to do. IA-Forum: What was the condition of the infrastructure when you visited? Awful. When there’s fifty to sixty percent unemployment – even higher among young people - and with no real industry, it’s difficult to develop a good infrastructure. IA-Forum: The recent UN Security Council stalemate prompted Serbian Radical Party leader Tomas Nicholic to say Serbia needs Russian military bases established inside its borders to counter the U.S. "threat" over Kosovo. And if Kosovo declares independence, he added, Serbia should use force to protect non-Albanians there if NATO does not. Ambassador Melady: That’s a flamboyant statement. Clearly, Russia believes the recommendation of the contact group is not acceptable and that the area should remain a part of Serbia with some qualifications. But there’s no reason to blow this up to create another Cold War between the Russians and Americans. While Russia has a point of view that conflicts with ours, I don’t see a deliberate attempt by them to reignite the Cold War over Kosovo. IA-Forum: In retrospect, what could have been done better in Kosovo to have perhaps avoided the current situation there? Ambassador Melady: Certainly a lot could have been done in the development area. There are a lot of teenage and post-teenage population that are unemployed. If they’re not going to school or not working, for the 15-22 age range, that’s not good. The statistics may not be totally accurate but there are strong criminal and drug problems there as well. All this rests against the background of deep alienation. I’m sure the Albanians and Serbs will not claim responsibility for it but it does exist. A clear policy for economic development and setting up job opportunities would have gone a long way toward reducing tensions. We certainly have a lot of experience in the development area and reducing tensions around the world using well-known techniques. That could have been done and we can still do more in these areas before an independent state is created. IA-Forum: What are your thoughts on the proposed compromise over Kosovo that includes a fast track to Serbian EU accession? Ambassador Melady: The leadership in Belgrade, like the leadership in the other Balkan states, wants membership in the European Union. But what are they willing to do to compensate for losing Kosovo which is fifteen percent of their territory and disregard their history in the region? I’m not sure whether the Serbian people are prepared to give up their presence in Kosovo for a promise to speed up accession into the European Union. Ambassador Thomas Melady is Senior Diplomat in Residence at the Institute of World Politics. He is former Ambassador to Burundi (1969-1972), Uganda (1972-1974), and the Vatican (1989-1993). He has also served as President, Sacred Heart University; Chairman, Department of African and Asian Affairs, Seton Hall University; and Assistant Secretary for Post-Secondary Education.

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Thu, August 31, 2017 04:36 PM (about 57014 hours ago)
By dealing together, you both can address problems of self-esteem and mutual trust. However, it is important to get the doctor's opinion first befor
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