Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Europe is united, at last

From the Urals to the Atlantic, Europe is united for the first time in history. Let us savour this moment. “Lay down your arms immediately and come back home in peace!” was the message directed to the UCK, the Albanian extremist faction in northern Macedonia. This message did not come from the Russian Foreign Ministry, nor from Serbia, nor even from NATO. It came from the Albanian political leaders in Kosovo. The Albanian extremists in Macedonia have managed one triumph, and a very important one at that. Maybe for the first time in history, the continent of Europe is united from the Urals to the Atlantic, from the Arctic Circle to the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. For once, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Protestants, Jews and Moslems speak out in one voice. For once, petty notions of east and west are forgotten and for once, rich and poor countries stand together in a common stance against gratuitous violence. The three main Kosovar Albanian leaders, Ibrahim Rugova, Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj signed the declaration condemning the violence in northern Macedonia and called for an immediate ceasefire. This declaration comes after all European countries, without exception, took a firm, common stand against the UCK in Macedonia. Russia has been more energetic than any other country in her insistence to use force if necessary to contain this evil before it spreads too far and the turning point seems to have been the visit of Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, to Skopje this week. He called for the UNO to “make the illegal UCK armed groups disarm and to guarantee the integrity of the frontiers and the participation of Belgrade in the negotiations to solve the question of Kosovo”. As Russia reaffirms its historic position as defender of the peace in the Balkans, the British EU Commissioner for External relations, Chris Patten, threatened to cut off financial aid to Kosovo if supplies continued to reach the rebels. He said: “How can I justify to the taxpayers, the Members of the European Parliament and the European media, that we should invest vast sums in Kosovo when the political leaders do not take a firm position?” Curiously, it takes a small group of armed bandits to unite a continent, but let us not forget this moment, let us enjoy it, hoping it is the first of many more to come. For once, Europe is united from east to west and speaks out with a common voice of outrage against the Albanian extremists in northern Kosovo and southern Serbia, who are even marginalized by their own former protectors, fellow Albanians in Kosovo. However short this moment may prove to be, we can all rejoice in the fact that history has been made this week. Europe, for the first time in history, speaks with one voice. To the Albanian extremists, we say one word : “Falemnderit!” (Thank you)

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON