TIRANA – Too often over the past decade, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations have chosen to look the other way in Albanian-populated areas of the Balkans, willfully giving free rein to corrupt political and military officials in the vain hope of gaining local support for international efforts to strengthen “regional stability.”
This “see-no-evil” policy has yielded precious little stability. And it has allowed Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia to linger on the crumbling edge of the “failed state” abyss. These countries – not to mention their Balkan neighbors, Greece included – need to be Europeanized.
They need the rule of law. They need good governance. They need transparency and accountability. They need to wean themselves from the poisonous rhetoric of ethnic nationalism substituting as patriotism. This cultural transformation will require international unity in support of robust efforts to root out the rot and stop narrow-minded local political figures from implementing policies that are dangerous both to their countries and the region.
Over the past few months, the EU’s “rule of law” mission in Kosovo, EULEX, has begun doing what the UN could have and should have done long ago: investigating top local Albanian officials and their involvement in bribery and money laundering, as well as their ties to organized crime. Many of these officials are former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a militia that led an insurrection against Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia.