Self-Determination in the Balkans

The opinion-page column "Lessons From Yugoslavia's Turmoil," July 29, touches well on some points about the Yugoslav mosaic.It seems very apparent that the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918 was a tragic mistake and an injustice. Too many different nations with different tongues, religions, historical backgrounds, and cultures were unceremoniously dumped under the unworthy rule of Serbia. In 1945, Yugoslavia was rebuilt, and it became a police state for most of its component nations, especially for Albanians. Recently, human rights in Yugoslavia have been badly abused. For the Balkan nations to live in peace, they have to become truly just. According to some Western diplomats, Serbia would welcome a civil war in which it could grab territory in Croatia and Bosnia, creating a new Greater Serbia. Nationwide violence could also create an uprising by 4 million Albanians living in the province of Kosovo under repressive rule by the Serbs. The European Community has made efforts - without much success - to bring peace to Yugoslavia. But so far, only Germany and Austria have endorsed the right to self-determination for all the nations in Yugoslavia. It is high time for the West to seriously consider the desire of Slovenians, Croatians, and Albanians to break free from Belgrade and integrate into Western Europe. This desire has been articulated for years. Should the West give the nations in Yugoslavia the right to self-determination, how could it then, for example, refuse the Baltic states this right? Ylber Gashi, North Bergen, N.J.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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