The subject of “Great Albania” was already touched upon by PRAVDA.Ru. Now, we return to it, to the history of relations between Serb and Albanian communities in Kosovo. The idea of “Great Albania” was first formed by Albanian Prisren League in 1878, when there was no Albania as a sovereign state at all, for it was under Turkey’s power. The Prisren League itself was first created with support of the Turkish government, after a part of Turkish border territories settled by Albanians were handed over to Greece and Montenegro, by decision of the Berlin congress. Though, soon the League broke with its protectors and “ideologists” from Turkey and demanded autonomy for all lands settled by Albanians… The idea of “Great Albania” became living. (At that time, Turkish troops spent two and a half years to defeat the Prisren League’s troops). As it became clear later, the rest of very ambitious Albanian nobility had intended to build not only castles in the air, but also some concrete things (of course, not without some third forces’ assistance). Albanian state was officially based in 1913, and after being recognized, at once laid claims to Greece and Turkey… Antagonism between Serb and Albanian communities in Kosovo is not a new thing. Kosovo and Metokhia - that is Old Serbia, the land from where Serbs originate. Pech Patriarchy has for centuries been the residence of Serbian religious head, while Prisren – the capital of many Serb kings. And now, in blessed Kosovar plains, since the late 17th century, dwellers of poor mountains regions of Albania started to settle. Turks encouraged loyal to them Islamic Albanians, while they, in their turn, actively helped to osmans in stifling Serb rebellions. Migration from Albania to Kosovo never stopped. Moreover, Kosovar Albanians were rapidly “propagating and multiplying.” After WW II, Kosovo was on the first place in Europe as for natality. In the Communist Yugoslavia, the movement for Kosovo’s joining to Albania was actively backed by Albanian leadership. Belgrade did not especially hindered from Albanian “self-determination,” so the province’s autonomy continued to develop. The 1974 Constitution turned Kosovo into a practically independent subject of federation, having given equal rights to it with Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. So, when Serb parliament tried to somehow centralize the power and in 1989 introduced amendments to the Fundamental Law, Kosovar Skupschina declared creation of an “independent republic.” At the same time, a kind of Albanian Dudaev appeared – Ibragim Rugova, who became the head of the separatist movement. In the early 1998, militants of Kosovar NLA got down to business, while preparing the province for NATO contingent and burying Serbs’ last hopes. Now, in Kosovo there are about 90-100 thousand Serbs, who have literally inhuman life conditions. They compare their situation with the life of rare animals, protected in a national reserve. Kosovo is getting monoethnic… On the threshold of the 2001 November election to the first Kosovar parliament, words of Marko Jaksic, vice-president of Democratic Party of Serbia, sounded as a real warning. He called Serbs to non-participating in creation of “united Albanian monster state” in the Balkans, to have a hope at least. Skupschina will any way be pro-Albanian, though the fact of Serbs’ voting practically legalizes activities of Albanian politicians and justifies 2-year presence of the UN mission in Kosovo. As well known, at that time, Belgrade for all that took a decision not to boycott the election, so Povratak (Return) Kosovar Serbs’ coalition passed to the province’s Skupschina. Though, of course, it does not have any influence upon decisions taken by the pro-Albanian parliament. Main hopes for happy end in solving of “Kosovar question” are being pinned by Belgrade on the West’s assistance. Diplomatic circles see Yugoslavia’s escape in joining to Partnership for Peace NATO programme, which seems to be able to protect Serb population of Kosovo. Though, it should be remembered, that Belgrade fully lost control over the situation in Kosovo and Metokhia just in time, when the US and NATO made heroes of Albanian separatists, while politically supporting them and organizing training camps for NLA militants in Northern Albania. Serb political science professor, editor of information centre Komentar, Stefan Branislavlevic said to PRAVDA.Ru correspondent the fact should be taken into account that “Albanians never appear as Muslims. Islamic doctrine is based on the thesis, that “there are Muslims and non-Muslims” and that every Muslim to whatever nation he belong and whatever language he speaks is closer, than a countryman belonging to another religion. It does not relate to Albanians, because after Yugoslav troops and the police’s withdrawal, they at once started to turf out all non-Albanians, including Muslims. The conflict in Kosovo is and always has been purely national, while belief, at least as for Albanians, has only a secondary importance.” Serbs, in their turn, “will never resign themselves with Kosovo’s separation, because this territory is Serbs’ spiritual heart, - Stefan Branislavlevic notices. – For five centuries, we were trying to see and we finally managed to see Kosovo free of Turkish occupation. Today’s historical processes are much rapid, than that ones of previous times. Albanian militants could fully “albanize” Kosmet, ruin all Orthodox churches and monasteries in the province, they could annihilate all Serbs, who are still alive, and make the province ethnically cleansed, they could create a heroin republic of Kosovo, though, sooner or later, when the balance of power in the world political stage changes, and only we and they remain, at that time, there will not be any powerful NATO pact which can help them out of trouble they bring upon themselves through their megalomania…” P.S. Latest news have come from Kosovo: Povrotak Serb coalition demanded from UN mission leader to the province, Michael Steiner one more portfolio in Kosovar government. The coalition’s representative occupies already the post of Agriculture and Forestry Minister, while Serbs also demand the chair of minister for migrants and their return questions, Vremya Novostei reports. Though, UN administration refuses to satisfy this demand. “There is and there could not be” such a ministry, while these questions are prerogative of international community. According to Steiner, quoted by Vremya Novostei, Serbs should not account on more than they are guaranteed by the Constitution. While Serbs, for the time being, call in question their participation in the province’s government.
Sergei Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/21/38590.html
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated