Albanian Rule in Kosovo Discriminated Against ALL non-Albanian Minorities
By: Dr. Stephen K. Stoan, Ph.D. History, Duke University,
Director of Library and Information Services, Drury College
Springfield MO 65802
Why is there a civil war in Kosovo, why did the Clinton administration get involved in it, and what has been accomplished with more than two and a half months of warfare? Let's review pertinent facts.
Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia when the area was conquered by the Turks in the fifteenth century. In Serbian history books it is often called Old Serbia. Albanians began arriving in the seventeenth century during the Turkish occupation. It has been recognized as an integral part of Serbia by the international community since 1912.
When the Axis powers invaded and dismembered Yugoslavia in 1941, they attached Kosovo and Albanian-speaking regions of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece to Albania to form a greater Albania under the rule of a fascist dictator. The Kosovo Albanians formed military units to fight for the Nazis, killed more than 10,000 Kosovo Serbs, and drove more than 100,000 out of the province into the rest of Serbia. They brought immigrants in from Albania to fortify the Albanian presence in the province.
When the Croatian Communist dictator Tito came to power in Yugoslavia in 1945, he forbade the Serbian refugees to return to their homes in Kosovo. He then signed a deal with the new Communist dictator of Albania to bring in another 100,000 Albanian settlers. The Albanian majority in Kosovo appears to date from the years around World War II.
An upsurge of Albanian Kosovo violence in 1969-1974 caused another 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins to leave Kosovo and gave Tito an excuse to separate Kosovo from Serbia. He made it an autonomous province under the total control of the now Albanian majority.
Autonomy under Kosovo Albanian control did not result in ethnic peace. Once in control of the province, the Kosovo Albanians continued harassing non-Albanians through legal and extralegal means. They required Gypsies to use Albanian first names. They enacted zoning legislation designed to break up non-Albanian residential communities. They outlawed use of the Cyrillic alphabet even among the Serbs, who had always used it. They refused to permit federal authorities to participate in census-taking, claiming they didn't know how to count Albanians.
The Kosovar Albanians required mandatory instruction in Albanian for all inhabitants of Kosovo, and they imported history and social science texts books from Albania for use in the schools. These taught Albanian nationalism rather than Yugoslav citizenship and praised the era of Turkish control over the Balkans. There were continuing incidents of violence against Serbs and frequent attacks on Orthodox churches, shrines, and monasteries. More Serbs and Montenegrins left. Ignoring Yugoslav immigration laws, the Albanian Kosovars permitted more illegal aliens to immigrate from Albania. By the early 80s, the province was three-fourths Albanian, large numbers of them born in Albania.
After Tito's death, there was another upsurge of Albanian violence beginning in 1981. Throughout the 80s, Western news media, including the New York Times, reported on the ongoing murders and rapes of Serbs and Montenegrins perpetrated by Albanians, the constant attacks on Orthodox churches and monasteries, and the inability of the local Albanian authorities ever to punish anyone.
Yugoslavia finally reversed the autonomy decision in 1989 because of obstructionist constitutional tactics by the Kosovo provincial government. This decision was not a unilateral act of Slobodan Milosevich, the newly elected president of Serbia, though he pushed for it. It was made jointly by all the republics of Yugoslavia, including Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia.
As Republican Senate aide Jim Jatras wrote: "One of the ironies of the present Kosovo crisis is that Milosevic began his rise to power in Serbia in large part because of the oppressive character of pre-1989 Albanian rule in Kosovo, symbolized by the famous 1987 rally where he promised the local Serbs: "Nobody will beat you again." In short, rather than Milosevic being the cause of the Kosovo crisis, it would be as correct to say that intolerant Albanian nationalism in Kosovo is largely the cause of Milosevic's attainment of power."
The KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) was formed shortly thereafter from a Maoist organization dedicating itself to free Kosovo. As recently as a year ago, the United States government condemned the KLA as a terrorist group, linked closely to Iran, the Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin-Laden, and the heroin traffic in Europe. Europeans have likened it to a Mafia because of its lawless involvement in organized crime, including prostitution.
The stated goal of the KLA is to create a greater Albania by attaching Yugoslav Kosovo and Albanian-speaking regions of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece to Albania. Using Albania as a base and conduit for weapons, the KLA began carrying on a terror campaign against the Yugoslav government in Kosovo, assassinating and kidnapping not only Serbs but also Albanians and other ethnic groups who opposed their desires for independence.
Kosovo continues to be home not only to Albanian-speaking Muslims, but also to nearly half a million other people. The goal of the KLA is to create an ethnically pure Kosovo by driving out or culturally assimilating the rest of the population. Their claims of 1.8 million Albanians in Kosovo are demographically impossible, even with immigration, for there were only 645,000 Albanians in the last full federal census carried out in 1961. There have also been many emigrants from Kosovo to other parts of Yugoslavia and Europe. With the collapse of the Communist regime in neighboring Albania in the 1990s and the nearly anarchic conditions in that country, more Albanians crossed the porous borders with Yugoslavia into Kosovo.
Within Kosovo, Yugoslav forces were attempting to deal militarily with KLA terrorism. Using as an excuse an alleged massacre of Albanian Kosovars at Racak by Yugoslav security forces in mid-January, 1999, Mrs. Albright and Mr. Clinton demanded to "mediate" at Rambouillet. The massacre was quickly identified as a KLA set up. This did not deter Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Albright from pursuing their designs. It is now known that Mr. Clinton had made a decision months earlier to seek to destroy Milosevich. Racak was the pretext.
The Yugoslav delegation that came to Rambouillet included Muslim Albanians, Muslim Serbs, Christian Serbs, and Turks. They were prepared to talk directly with the KLA, but Mrs. Albright never permitted this to happen. Instead, her team went back and forth between the two groups laying down terms.
The Yugoslav government accepted the basic principle that there should be autonomy in Kosovo (guaranteeing the rights of all Kosovars, not just Albanians) and consented to an international peace keeping force provided it be brought in under the auspices of the UN. Mrs. Albright insisted on bringing NATO troops in. She finally issued an ultimatum to the Yugoslav government to accept her terms or be bombed. This ultimatum is referred to as the Rambouillet Accord. The ultimatum laid down detailed guidelines on how the province was to be governed. It demanded that Kosovo have the right to override any laws or judicial decisions made by the Yugoslav government, be permitted to conduct its own foreign policy, and be organized economically along lines dictated by NATO. It said nothing about protection of the rights of the non-Albanian Kosovars. It demanded that Yugoslavia permit NATO troops to be brought into Kosovo and to have free passage anywhere else in Yugoslavia without subjection to Yugoslav laws (a venerable imperialist practice called "extraterritoriality"). NATO troops were also to have the right to commandeer media facilities as they saw fit. The NATO forces would themselves conduct a plebiscite in Kosovo in three years on the status of the province.
There was no way Yugoslavia could accept the Rambouillet "Accord" without surrendering her sovereignty, possibly losing part of her national territory, and becoming a satellite state of NATO. Both President Milosevich, as elected president sworn to defend Yugoslav sovereignty, and the Yugoslav parliament rejected the ultimatum. An ultimatum, after all, is not an act of diplomacy. It is an act of war.
Mrs. Albright's and Mr. Clinton's have manipulated the ethnic diversity issue to suit their immediate purposes. In the case of Slovenia and Croatia, they accepted and actively promoted societies whose sole reason for seeking independence from an already multiethnic Yugoslavia was ethnic exclusivism. They are now doing the same thing in Kosovo on behalf of one ethnic group the Albanians. As one Canadian journalist put it in writing of Kosovo, "to first say that countries shouldn't be organized along ethnic lines, and then demand self-government for one group within a nation on the sole basis of ethnicity, is an exercise in self-contradiction." He adds: "This is endorsing one ethnic group at the expense of another. It's saying the Albanians may use their ethnic majority in Kosovo to assert their political identity, but the Serbs in Yugoslavia may not."
Mrs. Albright's tactics at Rambouillet are considered by experts to be a violation of recognized international law. It is a basic principle of international law embodied in the Vienna Convention on Treaties adopted on May 26, 1963, which entered into force on January 27, 1980, that agreements negotiated under threat of force are null and void. Section 2, Articles 51 and 52 make clear that coercion is impermissible as a negotiating instrument.
There was no "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo before the NATO attacks, only an ongoing conflict between Yugoslav security forces and KLA separatists. In January of this year, an intelligence report from the German Foreign Office stated: "Even in Kosovo an explicit political persecution linked to Albanian ethnicity is not verifiable. The East of Kosovo is still not involved in armed conflict. Public life in cities like Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilan, etc. has, in the entire conflict period, continued on a relatively normal basis." The "actions of the security forces (were) not directed against the Kosovo-Albanians as an ethnically defined group, but against the military opponent and its actual or alleged supporters."
Once the NATO air attacks began, Yugoslavia took the essential defensive step of moving an army into Kosovo to wipe out KLA terrorist bases and secure the borders against a possible ground attack by NATO. The war between the government and the KLA along with the NATO bombing created an unstable environment in many areas that caused large numbers to flee. About 200,000 Kosovo refugees of all ethnic backgrounds have moved further into Yugoslavia, into either Montenegro or other Serbian provinces.
In some areas, Albanians saw the initiation of NATO bombing as a signal to begin killing their Serb neighbors. Yugoslav security forces and the army responded by forcing them out or incarcerating many for common crimes. In some parts of Kosovo, Serb paramilitary forces took advantage of the anarchic situation to settle old scores and intimidate Albanians into leaving.
Yugoslav troops were involved in expulsions where they perceived a security threat in the event of invasion or saw an area as heavily compromised with the KLA. The United States had similar motivation in 1941 with the internment of Japanese Americans because of our fears of invasion. It isn't nice, but it happens when war breaks out.
Yugoslav troops may also have targeted Albanians who are "illegal aliens" in the country, who may number around 300,000. These people, born in Albania with no sense of Yugoslav citizenship, have been a major contributor to dissidence in the province. Many of them fled as soon as the bombing started, deciding to return to their homes in Albania. They make up a goodly portion of the "refugees."
The KLA itself played a major role in the flow of refugees, using its armed men to force Albanian Kosovars out of the province and commandeer young men to be trained and used as soldiers. They intimidated Albanian Kosovars into not returing to Kosovo. Like the Bosnian Muslims with whom they have had close ties for years, the KLA has been getting direct assistance from Iran and other Muslim nations, some of which have sent Mujehadeen to the Balkans to fight with them against the Christians.
An estimated half million Albanians never left Kosovo. Many told Western journalists even in recent weeks that they were under no pressure to leave because the KLA has never been active in their areas.
It is worth noting that there were 100,000 Albanians living in Belgrade who were not touched. Nor has Yugoslavia made any effort to "cleanse" the country of Hungarians and many Ruthenians, Slovaks, Croats, Rumanians, Turks, Gypsies, Macedonians, or other minorities. Yugoslavia has given refuge to 15,000 Croats and Muslims who fled the fighting in Bosnia. These minorities were harmed only by the NATO attacks.
Before the NATO bombing began, Yugoslavia was only 63 percent Serb, the most ethnically diverse state in the former Yugoslavia. All major linguistic groups, including the Albanians, were and are guaranteed instruction in their own language. During World War II, when Serbia was occupied by the Germans, the Serbs refused to cooperate in killing Jews and Gypsies. Orthodox clergymen and ordinary Serb citizens risked their lives to save these people from extermination. Indeed, in the midst of the bombing of their country, many Serbs took to wearing Stars of David.
In attacking Yugoslavia, the U.S. and NATO ignored the United Nations charter and the NATO treaty itself, which justifies war only to defend a NATO member from attack. Only one NATO nation even borders Yugoslavia, the recently admitted Hungary. Since international treaties signed by the United States are considered U.S. laws under our Constitution, legal experts say that Albright and Clinton have violated the American Constitution as well.
Mr. Clinton also ignored the War Powers Act, which requires that he seek congressional authorization to continue a military conflict more than 60 days. He suggested at one point imposing a naval blockade on Yugoslavia until his own European allies pointed out to him that it is considered an act of war to detain ships of other nations on the high seas. The petty refusal by Mrs. Albright and Mr. Clinton to suspend the bombings even for the Eastern Orthodox Easter, when we have been sensitive not to bomb the Muslim Iraqis during all of Ramadan, sent a powerful message to Eastern Orthodox Christian nations that we disdain them. Public opinion polls in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Rumania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Greece show overwhelming popular opposition to the NATO attack on Yugoslavia.
The suspicion among many in the world is that Mrs. Albright's real reason for the war was to establish total U.S. hegemony over the Balkans and its land routes to the oilfields of the Middle East and Central Asia. Active Western collusion, initially led by Germany, in the breakup of Yugoslavia has converted Slovenia, Croatia, and the Muslim-Croat Confederation in Bosnia into client states of the U.S., established a NATO military presence with bases in Bosnia, enabled NATO to land troops in Macedonia, and is now enabling NATO to put troops and military bases in Albania. Only Yugoslavia stands in the way of total U.S. domination of the region, which Rambouillet would have achieved. This was part of Mr. Clinton's New World Order.
It has also been pointed out that Kosovo proper is extremely rich in minerals, has some of the largest coal reserves in Europe, and has petroleum reserves potentially as vast as those in the Caspian Sea area. Its minerals may be worth $3 trillion. These facts may explain the very explicit statements in the Rambouillet Accord that the economy of Kosovo had to be organized along economic lines dictated by the U.S., which would open the province up to American investors.
In our propaganda to get rid of Milosevich, we fail to note that he was elected President in an open election in which his own party controls only 35 percent of the seats in the Yugoslav parliament. In the last election, the U. S. preferred him because his principal opponent was considered an ultranationalist. The Yugoslav parliament itself rejected the Rambouillet Accord. The unrest in Kosovo that he has been trying to deal with has existed in various manifestations since at least the 1920s. Milosevich has attacked no neighbors nor engaged in any terrorist activities around the world. He is not manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.
The assistance that Milosevich provided the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia when Yugoslavia was breaking up must be understood in the context of what was in effect a civil war within Yugoslavia, where Serbs had justifiable reasons to fear a recrudescence of the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the 1940s by Croats and Bosnian Muslims, who massacred more than 600,000 Serbian non-combatants during World War II. Franjo Tudjman, the current president of Croatia, has resurrected the flag, other national symbols, and even the uniforms and arm bands of the Croatian fascists of World War II. He declared a few years ago that the Jewish Holocaust was a fabrication, and he destroyed all records of the notorious Croatian concentration camp at Jasenovac in Bosnia, where tens of thousand of Jews, Gypsies, and Serbs perished in the 1940s. In 1995, with the assistance of the CIA and American military advisers, he drove several hundred thousand Serbs from their ancestral homes in Croatia where they had lived since the fifteenth century. The U.S. cooperated in this act of ethnic cleansing. Alija Izetbegovich, the Muslim fundamentalist leader in Bosnia, helped organize the notorious Muslim Waffen SS "Handzar Division" during World War II. Officered by Germans, the division slaughtered thousands of Bosnian Serb civilians before going off to Russia to fight for the Nazis. When declaring Bosnia's independence from Yugoslavia, he obtained military assistance from Iran and brought in Muslim mujehadeen from the Middle East to fight on his behalf. Tudjman and Izetbegovich have been the U.S.'s friends in the Balkans.
In fact, there are currently more than 700,000 Serb refugees from Croatia and Bosnia living in what is left of Yugoslavia after being driven from homes they had lived in since the fifteenth century or earlier. No Western TV crews filmed their plight or interviewed them about the atrocities they had suffered. No international relief agencies have come to their assistance. Yugoslavia has had to absorb them while under an economic embargo since 1992.