In violent spasms through the 1990s, the country forged together as Yugoslavia broke apart, its component republics reasserting their independence following vicious ethnic conflicts. Today, another section of the Balkans, the province of Kosovo, emerges out of the chaos of the ’90s as Europe’s newest independent country.

The transition from a province under U.N. protection to independence is remarkable progress, hard won in a restive region where the long presence of ethnic conflict continues to pose enormous political challenges.

Landlocked in an area about half the size of Vermont and with a population of less than 2 million, Kosovo is engaged in the difficult and uncertain task of creating a viable, modern democracy that rises above its recent violent past and ethnic and religious divisions.

Kosovo’s survival was the result of aggressive direct intervention by the United States and NATO allies followed by years of U.N. protection and oversight. But too often there is little political will to take on the financial and personnel responsibility to intervene in civil conflicts in sovereign states — whether it is for concerted international action to stop genocide in Darfur or massacres in Libya or Syria.

— The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio, Sept. 8

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