Two Sides Have Tangled in Kosovo

Regarding the article "Making Milosevic Back Off: Will Sanctions Be Enough?" (March 10): Though unecessary violence (whether by Yugoslav police or by Albanian terrorists/separatists) must always be condemned and be a cause for concern, blaming only Slobodan Milosevic for the recent wave of violence in Kosovo will not allow for resolution of this long-standing conflict.

Since the early 1980s, the Kosovo Albanian leadership has been inciting its people to commit acts of violence and civil disobedience against Yugoslavia with the aim of seceding and creating a "Greater Albania." In 1988, I witnessed firsthand the state of terror inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Serbs who endured murder, rape, poisoning of their water, sabotage of their factories, and desecration of their cultural monuments at the hands of Albanian extremists.

Leaders of the Kosovo Serbs have sought dialogue with Kosovo's Albanian leaders but to date have been rebuffed. The Kosovo Albanian leadership states that it will only negotiate with the international community and Yugoslavia. If there is no interest in dialogue with one's neighbors, then the attitude of the Kosovo Albanian leadership must be that the Kosovo Serbs simply don't exist - a dangerous harbinger of their future intentions.

In trying to understand the problems in Kosovo, we must also take into account the civil war that engulfed Albania itself over one year ago, as well as the under-reported violence in Macedonia as catalyzing and inciting factors that are beyond Milosevic's control.

Serbs and Albanians have lived with one another in good times and bad for centuries. Finding a solution for peaceful coexistence is possible only if leaders of both groups are willing to compromise their goals to include the right of each ethnic group to exist without the fear of persecution on lands that both groups have inhabited for centuries.

Michael Pravica

Cambridge, Mass.

Vice President, The Serbian-American

Alliance of New England (SANE), Inc.

Cheap gas at clean air's expense

While cheap gasoline prices ("Living in an Era of Low Gasoline Prices," March 12) might be good for the US economy, they are a disaster for the environment. As our country attempts to halt global climate change, it is more important than ever to recognize the connection between how we drive and increased pollution.

And it is the giant sport utility vehicles (SUVs) mentioned in the article that are causing the most harm. An average automobile emits 50 tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime; an average SUV uses far more gasoline and emits 70 tons. Several models of SUVs get less than 15 miles to the gallon, compared with new car standards of 27.5 miles to the gallon. CO2 emissions account for more than half of the greenhouse effect.

Until we acknowledge that the choice we make in vehicles makes a difference to our environment, we will not be able to effectively combat global climate change.

David Hirsch


Transportation Policy Coordinator,

Friends of the Earth

Progress of Cuba under Castro

It is sickening and discouraging to read your columnist's recommendations for change in Cuba ("Four Steps US Can Take to Help Cubans Move to New Era," Opinion page, Feb. 26). As usual they are aimed at changing life back to the days of drinking, gambling, and profiteering under former dictator Batista. Sugar and tobacco land owners then enjoyed the services of Cuba's children as prostitutes; under Fidel Castro's rule, now the children are students in schools.

I cannot express my disgust and despair about US policy in Cuba and its downgrading of a man who has given his time on earth to trying to save the Cuban people from degradation.

Mildred H. Reynolds

Hampton, Va.

Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed to oped@csps.com

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