Indeed, tens of thousands of Albanians fled into Serbia, their supposed oppressor.
Besides, former President Slobodan Milosevic is, first, out of power and, second, dead. Should the United States demand an immediate and unconditional breakup of Iraq, regardless of the consequences, to grant independence to Kurdish and Shi'ite areas because of the late Saddam Hussein's much greater crimes against those communities?
Mr. Hamiti says two-thirds of Kosovo's Serbs still live in Kosovo. Their pastor, Bishop Rashko-Prizrenski Artemije of the Serbian Orthodox Church, says there are just 130,000 left out of a prewar population of slightly fewer than 400,000. Even if we accept Mr. Hamiti's number, should we reward the Albanians for clearing from their homes, in supposed peacetime, "only" one-third of the Serbs, Roma, Croats, etc.?
Mr. Hamiti accuses Serbia's current Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic of trying to create a "Greater Serbia." By contrast, any Web search will turn up maps of a Greater Albania encompassing portions of Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), part of northern Greece (Cameria) and additional portions of southern Serbia. Several towns in FYROM recently announced they would secede and join Kosovo as soon as it becomes independent.
According to standard works on the Holocaust, including data available from the Yad Vashem memorial (which I recently visited) in Israel, the small Jewish community in Albania proper (200 persons) did survive World War II, as Mr. Hamiti asserts. However, though a handful of Albanian "righteous gentiles" should be lauded for their bravery in sheltering their Jewish neighbors, the main credit belongs to the Italian army, which protected Jews (and Serbs) in its occupation zones both in Albania and along the Dalmatian coast. Meanwhile, Kosovo's much larger Jewish population was decimated by the Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division, along with massacres of Serbs.
Contrary to Mr. Hamiti's claims, Mr. Burton's column is a factual and brave indictment of a misguided policy. He should be commended, not slandered.
JAMES GEORGE JATRAS
American Council for Kosovo