Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kosovo, Serbia and a Prayer for Peace

One Soldier's Memories: James Blunt "No Bravery"

The end of the War in Kosovo

Everyday I read about Kosovo and Serbia. I sincerely believe the road to peace is through each side understanding one another. That requires on my part an attempt to grasp the arguments of both sides. In the process both sides feel insulted or discounted. My wonderings are only intellectual and prayerful and yet Brother Francis is right, peace-making in difficult.

I cannot believe the sense of loss Serbia must be experiencing at this time. I have traveled to all of the regions of the continental United States. I cannot imagine any of those regions no longer being a part of my country and my country has only existed a little over 230 years. While the Balkans has had many transformations over the centuries Kosovo has been considered a Holy Land and an integral part of Serbia for centuries. Kosovo is where the Serbs defeated the Ottomans, for the Serbs it is a turning point in their history and a triumph of Christianity over Islam.

I can understand all of the arguments that support Serbia. Fear of encouraging separatist movements is a real concern. Russia is not willing to give up Dagestan or Chechnya. China is not willing to give into the East Turkestan Islamic Movement or give independence to Tibet. Spain will not accept an independent Basque nation. The concerns are on all continents. Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Quebec, Muslims provinces of the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, even a Pampas independence movement in Brazil reflect why recognizing the independence of Kosovo frightens so many nations.

The other arguments, in favor of an independent Kosovo must also be recognized. Serbia has been involved in many of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. The Wars, in Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Macedonia were marked by ethnic-cleansing, atrocities and brutality. The Wars were fought both officially and unofficially. In the end the result was the dissolution of the former Yugoslav Republic. This is the background for the Serb-Kosovo conflict. Serbs would state that Kosovo is different, it was not a province of the former Yugoslavia but an integral part of Serbia.

Albanian Kosovo citizens would point out that they make up 90-95% of the population of Kosovo and experienced dislocation, massacres and repression by the Serbs. They would state that the Kosovo War was a war and not a limited conflict.

Neither side’s arguments can or should be ignored. However, the map of Europe is a map of nations that have all gone to war against their neighbors and today live in peace. Kosovo provides Europe with one more potential model of how European Muslims and Christians can co-exist together in peace as opposed to the Islamic ghettos of England and France that are thought of as ripe for the growth of Fanatical Islamic groups.

I feel sad for Serbia but they can choose to adjust to this new reality. Russia has accepted the loss of the former republics of the U.S.S.R., the sun has set on the British Empire and a new and vibrant Serbia can arise from the ashes of the post-Yugoslavia.

In the days after September 11th "The Wall of Hope" was created, it was a place for online prayers for peace. Robin Cunningham's prayer could easily be a prayer for the citizens of the Balkans:
I pray that we can find more reasons to reach for the peace we all want, than finding reasons for continuing to try to get even.
If we continue trying to right the wrongs, we will be trying to settle scores from battles that no one could possibly know the beginnings of.
The search for God and the search for peace have too often not been the same.
I pray that eventually we all come to know the truth that we are all one and there is nothing to fight for.
Fighting for peace does not bring peace. BE peace and peace will come.

~Robin Cunningham

Let us pray that our brothers and sisters in the Balkans will choose to BE peace

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

Yeah, if ever there were a place or peoples who needed a prayer or two, it would be Kosovo and Serbia.