Who'll Pick Up the Tab for Kosovo?

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Who Pays?

Not surprisingly, the allies are at loggerheads over who should foot the bill. The E.U. has offered to pay 60 percent of the tab, but Washington believes their European pals can do better than that - particularly since the bulk of the air war was financed by the U.S. The Europeans counter that that while their economies aren't exactly a picture of health, Washington has the luxury of a record budget surplus. "In the end, it'll be up to Congress to determine how much the U.S. spends on reconstruction in the Balkans," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "And while Capitol Hill will almost certainly be reluctant to spend large amounts on foreign aid, some argue that this is shortsighted because the U.S. has a lot to gain in terms of influence, and even access to markets, by not simply turning this over to Europe."

Reaping the Reconstruction Dividend

To be sure, the Europeans recognize a potential economic reward for the countries who put together a sort of mini-Marshall Plan for the Balkans. "Remember, the Marshall Plan wasn't entirely altruistic," says TIME senior business writer Bernard Baumohl. "It opened up a major trading relationship for the U.S. There could even be some short-term economic rewards for Europe from investment in rebuilding Kosovo, because it will create a substantial market for European manufacturers." The scramble for potentially lucrative building contracts is already on, with the British government marshalling firms to be ready to move in at a moment's notice, while the potential payoff even has old foes in Greece and Turkey discussing the possibility of joint ventures. European officials are also suggesting that countries such as Rumania and Bulgaria be given first dibs on construction work as a means to strengthen their economies in transition away from communism.

Will Serbia Be Helped Before Milosevic Is Ousted?

The $64 billion-dollar question, though, is how much -- if any - aid will be given to Serbia. Publicly, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair are leading NATO countries in insisting that the Serbs won't get a bean until they've overthrown Milosevic. Privately, European governments indicate they'll provide humanitarian assistance to the Serbs, and there's some disquiet over tying aid to Milosevic's ouster. Finland's President Martti Ahtisaari, the incoming E.U. president who brokered the final peace deal, suggests that the international community should make aid available on condition that Serbia complies with monitored democratic changes. "The democratization process should take care of [Milosevic]," Ahtisaari is quoted as saying. "We shouldn't be shooting ourselves in the foot by making demands that don't make sense." To be sure, there's unlikely to be any stability in the region while Serbia remains shattered and isolated, and Milosevic still retains a tight grip on power. "It's obvious that in the long run Milosevic will be forced out of power, but the question is whether destroying the fabric of a society is a means of ensuring long-term stability, or whether it will simply result in his replacement by someone equally unpalatable to the West," says Dowell. "Keeping Iraq isolated hasn't yet brought down Saddam Hussein, but it may have destroyed the country's middle class and the chances of a stable and democratic government taking over from him."

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