WMU News

Kosovo's future in limbo following Yugoslav elections

Nov. 1, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- The recent ousting of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic opens the door to improved relations with Western Europe and the United States. Though much of the Western world is celebrating the election of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, the future of Kosovo still remains somewhat in doubt, says Dr. James M. Butterfield, a WMU professor of political science.

"Kostunica is also, interestingly enough, a Serbian nationalist, although he is not of the radical wing of Milosevic and some of the even more radical people who were in the Serbian-Yugoslav government," Butterfield says. "And that's, of course, got the Kosovars considerably worried about the future of their province."

Butterfield says Yugoslavia will need a large infusion of money from the West to rebuild its infrastructure and economy and that the United State should work with European nations to end economic sanctions and enter into discussions on Kosovo. He says Kostunica faces a delicate balancing act and will be pressured both to turn Milosevic in to stand trial for war crimes and to protect Milosevic from prosecution.

"The Serbian nationalist sentiment that allowed someone like Milosevic to come to power is not dead," Butterfield says. "So it's going to be a very interesting test case for Kostunica. He's going to come under some pressure to turn over all the Serbian war criminals, at least those that have been indicted, including Milosevic, and yet in doing so may undermine some of his own domestic support from people who were willing to vote for him and support him, but who would consider turning over Milosevic to nonetheless be a traitorous activity."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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