Variable Eternal Truths about Serbs and Germans

Serbs Good, Germans Bad.  Serbs Bad, Germans Good

by Gwydion M. Williams

“The Berlin Congress in 1878, committed an incalculable blunder, by ’empowering the thief to guard the bank’. It allowed Serbia to massacre Albanians and destroy their land. As if the Balkan wars were not sufficient, the Serbs started the First World War; the Second World War was the child of the First War. After the abominable savagery in Bosnia, the Serbs are slaughtering the Albanians in Kosova again. The permanent peace in Balkans can be secured only, if the Berlin’s blunder is reversed: Serbia must be returned to its pre-Berlin Congress borders, i.e., into its real historical and national Serbia of Belgrade Pashalic”.

This is the view of some Albanians, which I found on their own Kosovo web site. Milosevic looks back to mediaeval battles against the Turks. Albanians claim descent from the Illyrians who were in the same region in Roman times.

Kosovo is going to end up as either Serb or Albanian, there is no middle ground, except perhaps partition. The small possibility of coexistence and compromise ended when Nato decided that the Serbs were being evil in not trusting the ethnic Albanians to run Kosovo as a part of Serbia. And in not trusting Nato to abuse military control if it were handed to them.

Kosovo has been a battleground between Serb and Albanian and between Orthodox Christian and Muslim for centuries. Serbs arrived in the Balkans between the 4th and 8th centuries – much the same period that the English settled in Britain. And both the Romanised Celts and the Romanised Illyrians were either killed, driven out or absorbed.

In Britain, the Romano-Britains were absorbed into England in Cornwall and in Cumberland (which was also partly taken by the Gaelic Celts of Scotland). Likewise the modern Albanians are thought to be descended from that portion of the original Illyrians who were not absorbed or driven out.

In the Balkans, unlike Britain, there was the added complication of conquest by the Turks, a very different culture and militants for Islam, enemies for centuries of the Orthodox Christians. A minority of Slavs converted, mainly in Bosnia, which was traditionally Serbian territory. A majority of Albanians also converted to Islam, and were fierce warriors in the Turkish cause.

It is arguable that Albanians were treated badly when Turkey decayed and when its Christian subject re-emerged as new nations. It is a complex issue, with overlapping populations and with rural people who were not quite sure if they were Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians or something unique.

Kosovo has long been viewed as part of Greater Albanian by the Albanians – who have equally good claims to territories that are now within Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. But Kosovo has also been long regarded as Serbian territory, and has been legally Serbian territory since 1913.

Each side seems to have mistreated the other when it was in power. The most recent period of Albanian advantage was during the fascist occupation of Yugoslavia, when Mussolini’s Italy was already ruling Albania and was awarded Kosovo. Serbs driven out of Kosovo during this fascist occupation were not allowed to return under Tito, who tried to dampen down the conflict between nationalities and create a common Yugoslav identity.

Four peoples in Eastern Europe were especially targeted by Hitler and his allies: Jews, Gypsies, Poles and Serbs. They have received very different degrees of attention – Gypsies because they had few articulate English-speaking spokespeople, and Serbs because it got in the way of building a new Communist Yugoslavia.

Given such a past, it is understandable that the Serbs are not keen to give up Kosovo, which is also widely regarded as the core of Serbian identity. Even if the international community had decided that they were wrong, it should have understood that Serbs would genuinely see themselves as the injured party and a demand for an Albanianised Kosovo as an historic defeat and betrayal.

No such understanding has been found from Nato powers. I’ve not even heard it from many of those who oppose the war.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has declared that the current campaign:

“is a battle between good and evil. It is a battle against those who routinely deal in terror, mass executions, rape, looting, and the destruction of whole communities to achieve their goals”.

But all sides have done this. Nor is the same line taken against Turks suppressing Kurds, or Indonesians suppressing various minorities, including East Timor which is legally an independent country. Nor the numerous and little-reported suppressions of Latin American guerrillas by US-supported regimes.

[Later on in 1999, the West did presurise Indonesia into giving up East Timor, which was an embarrasment since it had briefly been a UN member and widely recognised before the invasion.  Kurds have done well out of Western-generated chaos in Iraq and Syria, but remained suppressed in Turkey.  Latin America has won a lot more freedom from the US by electing various left-wing governments.]

The language of morality is pressed into the service of sheer expediency. It is convenient for Britain and America to let Germany complete its traditional pro-Croat and anti-Serb policy in the Balkans, at least for as long as Germany goes along with Globalisation and the subordination of everyone to the world market.

In Serbia, indeed, the two aims go together. If the bombing was intended as a humanitarian measure to help the Albanians of Kosovo, then it was damn stupid. Also incomprehensible, since lots of people warned that the Serbs were not going to give up easily and that most Serbs regarded Kosovo as theirs.

If behind-the-scenes planners did not give a damn about Kosovan Albanians and if the main aim was always to damage Serbia enough to make it compliant, then the policy actually pursued was not moral and stupid, but moderately cunning and very very immoral.

Consider the following:

“Balkan nations could join EU. The future: Ambitious plan aims to use postwar settlement to bring region into West’s orbit, reports Martin Walker.

“Europe and the United States are considering offering Yugoslavia and all other Balkan countries membership of Nato and the European Union as the incentives of a post-war stability pact for the region which seeks `to anchor them firmly in the Euro-Atlantic structures’.

“The highly ambitious plan for using the Kosovo war as an opportunity for the long-term stabilisation of the Balkan countries, which would include debt relief, was presented yesterday by the German presidency of the EU.

“‘The prospect of EU membership is a key incentive to reform,’ the stability pact plan says in a copy obtained by The Guardian.

“‘Alongside accession to the EU, the prospect of Nato membership is one of the most important incentives for reform for the countries of south-eastern Europe. Therefore, it is particularly important that Nato continues its course and keeps the door open to new members in the long term.’…

“Council officials noted that this `learns one key lesson’ from the failure of Western aid in Russia, insisting on a fixed system of rewards and punishments for Balkan countries which accept or refuse the EU and Nato-imposed rules. The plan demands `clear signals: participation paves the way into the Euro-atlantic structures, non-participation blocks it off’….

“‘If foreign, security and development policy are to amount to anything more than one crisis management cycle after another, we need to adopt a broad approach of preventing conflict in the region,’ the stability pact plan says. `A negotiated solution for Kosovo, and its implementation, present both an opportunity and a prerequisite’.

“There are two overwhelming difficulties in the plan, whose decades-long vision of a Europeanised Balkans contrasts with the realities of air strikes and devastation in former Yugoslavia.

“The first is that the Kosovo Liberation Army is told that an independent Kosovo is ruled out: the principle of the inviolability of borders is to be upheld.

“The second hurdle is that Yugoslavia itself has to co-operate. The plan says: `It will not be possible to bring lasting peace and stability to south-eastern Europe if Yugoslavia persists in its role as an outsider and cannot be accepted as a negotiating partner by its neighbours or the international community’.

“The plan also seeks to shift the Balkans towards a European social-capitalist model, and calls specifically for widespread privatisation and strengthening competitive and internationally integrated private sectors in the region.”  (The Guardian, Friday April 9, 1999)

Voice of Russian, on the Internet, sees it as follows:

“Kosovo was annexed to Serbia after the Balkan war of 1912-1913 when the number of Serbs and Albanians was nearly equal. Albanians began to arrive in Kosovo in great numbers during the Second World War after the province was occupied by the Nazis. Thousands of Serbs and Montenegrins were forced to leave Kosovo while Albanians came to settle there from Albania.

“According to Serbia’s Constitution which came into force on September 28th, 1990, Kosovo’s rights were curtailed considerably and legislative and executive bodies abolished to leave territorial and cultural autonomy alone. The province was then named Kosovo and Metohija, a word of Greek origin, “metoh” meaning “suburb”, “country property” which should remind the Albanians that this was a Serb territory where the first Serb state had originated.

“That was followed by Kosovo Albanians declaring their own “Republic of Kosovo”. They formed a parliament and a government which is in emigration in Switzerland. In May 1992 Ibrahim Rugova was elected first President of the Republic of Kosovo.

“1996 saw the creation of a terrorist organization to be known as the Kosovo Liberation Army to fight for independence.

“March 1998 saw the beginning of a bloodshed in Kosovo between Kosovo Albanians demanding independence and Serb policemen.

“Since March 1998 Kosovo Albanian representatives and Yugoslav officials have been holding negotiations to resolve the conflict.

“The year 1998 witnessed the creation of the Contact Group which held regular meetings to discuss a settlement.

“On June 15th, 1998 NATO countries start exercises near Yugoslavia’s borders. According to the American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, their purpose is to warn President Miloshevic about the need to stop military operations in Kosovo.

“Russia has from the very beginning called for a negotiated settlement supporting the Contact Group’s proposal to impose an embargo on weapons supplies to Yugoslavia.”

The Albanian take a very different view, and are not surprised to find Russian against them.

“Russia’s role in the formation of the Balkan states is paramount. It has been rightly remarked that without Russia’s aid none of the Balkan nations would have probably achieved independence. Albania is the only nation to have stood desperately alone in her struggle for freedom….

“The Albanians became alarmed when the preliminary Peace Treaty of San Stefano had created a huge Bulgaria, which was to include territory nominally under Turkish rule, but inhabited by Albanians. Since 1330, when the Bulgarians lost their independence, there had been no noticeable uprising in the Balkan nation. In all probability, Bulgaria’s independence would not have come about without Russia’s assistance….

“Albania was at that time a domain of the Turkish Empire comprising four vilayets or provinces: Shkodra – which included the Dukagjini Plateau (Metohija), Monastir (presently Bitolja), Janina, and Shkup (Skopje), presently in Macedonia. This latter province was more readily called Kosova by the Turks in memory of the victory of a battle on the Plain of Kossovo, the “Campo dei Merli” of old Venetian maps. The capital of this province had at times been Pristina…

“Below are excerpts of a long memorandum; they convey some of the feelings experienced by the Albanians:

“…To annex to Montenegro or to any other Slav state, countries inhabited ab antiquo by Albanians who differ essentially in their language, in their origin, in their customs, in their traditions, and in their religion, would be not only a crying injustice, but further an impolitic act, which cannot fail to cause complaints, discontent and sanguinary conflicts…

“notwithstanding their longing to escape the misfortunes which Turkish rule has inflicted on them for five centuries, the Albanians will never submit themselves to any Slav State which Russia may attempt to put forward; race, language, customs (…) national pride, everything, in a word, is opposed to such a state of things; and it is neither just nor prudent to free them from a yoke only to place them under another, which would in no way ameliorate their social position…

“To be sure, there were, among foreigners, individuals who considered the plight of the Albanians in an objective way and who tried to assist them. Thus Lord Goschen, British Ambassador to Constantinople, wrote to Earl Granville, Secretary of the Foreign Office of Great Britain, on July 26, 1880…

“Meanwhile, they see that they themselves do not receive similar treatment. Their nationality is ignored, and territory inhabited by Albanians is handed over in the north to the Montenegrins, to satisfy Montenegro, the protege of Russia, and in the south to Greece, the protege of England and France. Exchanges of territory are proposed, other difficulties arise, but it is still at the expense of the Albanians, and the Albanians are handed over to Slavs and Greeks without reference to the principle of nationality….

“But, at the Congress of Berlin it was decided -as already pointed out – that territories indisputably Albanian be handed over to Montenegro and to Serbia. Places connected with Albanian history and national pride, like Janina, Arta, Preveza, were allotted to the Greeks, who within a relatively short period of time were to exterminate the overwhelming Albanian population inhabiting them. No system of guarantees was applied. Albanians, numbering hundreds of thousands were to be forcibly sent to Turkey….

“Relating to Kosova, history – that very factor which in regard to the Dalmatian Coast was not to be considered weighty – eventually acquired such decisive import as to make it seemingly compelling for the Great Powers to disregard completely the principles of ethnicity and self-determination.

“With respect to the principle of history, the term Stara Srbija (Old Serbia), employed by the Slavs to designate “Kossovo”, proved very effective….

“That the Albanians have been living in the coastal areas since ancient times is evidenced by the fact that the Albanian language is greatly influenced by Latin; not merely Balkan Latin, but also Latin in its archaic form, missing not only in Rumanian, but sometimes even in other Romance languages. Latin also affects the vocabulary dealing with the intellectual and spiritual domain. Scholars have explained this influence through long-lasting relations between the Romans and the ancestors of the Albanians. Had the latter not been living since ancient times on the Adriatic coast, these relations would not have been possible….

“As reported by Constantine Porphyrogenitus (Emp. from 913-919), the Slavs Started to come to the Balkans from the Ural and the Caspian Sea during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610-641). They were often led by nomadic Turks. The region, called at that time Illyria, was inhabited by the aborigine population, the Illyrians, the ancestors of the Albanians…

“When Stefan Dusan was killed in 1355, the Serbian Empire included not merely Kosova; it encompassed practically all of present Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, and part of Hungary. Yet the Empire had no fixity and lasted merely nine years. It had been built up with the help of mercenaries and it disintegrated immediately after Dusan’s death because of the heterogeneous elements of which it was composed: Vlachs, Greeks, Albanians, etc….

“True, for instance, the Battle of Kosova, so greatly exalted by the Serbo-Montenegrins since Karadzic’s time, was an important and sad event for the Slavs. However, when viewed objectively, one must concede that this battle, as specialist have not failed to remark – was not fought by the Serbs alone, but by a coalition of Balkan nations: Bulgarians, Greeks, Vlachs, and Albanians (including 10 000 Croats). As a consequence, these nations should be imparted the merit due to them. Various sources suggest that the most numerous troops were the Albanian and that they were placed in the front rows. Besides, the victory of the Turks in that battle is said to have been occasioned by the treason of Lazar Brankovic, Knez Lazar’s son-in-law, who deserted to the Turks at the critical point of the battle with a large number of Serbs….

“The question of religion is, indeed, closely related to that dealing with national identity.

“Being evangelized by Roman missionaries, the Albanians did not have a national church of their own similar to that of the Slavs. Pressed by the Greeks in the south and by the Slavs elsewhere their conversion to Islam seems to have been a means to preserve their national identity.

“The conversions have been detrimental to the Albanians in more than one way: during Ottoman rule, they had to serve as mercenaries in the Turkish army. Sent to far away countries, they were decimated in wars or succumbed to climates to which they were not used while the other nations of the Balkans cultivated their land and grew in population.

“In the 19th century, their desperate efforts to shake off Ottoman rule were ignored by the West and whereas the other Balkan nations were not merely allowed but also aided to constitute themselves as states, the Albanians, the oldest nation in the Balkans, were denied the right to do so.

“It is because of their conversions that they lost the greatest part of their territories to neighbouring states for Gladstone favoured the Christians whom he considered as the allies of the Western Powers whilst he regarded Moslems as inferior; civilization being – according to him – equated with Christianity….

“Giving further consideration to the Turkish registers pertaining to Kosova – which to this date may be regarded as the most reliable source of information relating to religion and ethnicity – the Albanian scholars have pointed out that in the light of the various data contained in these registers, the conclusion must be drawn that many Albanians had become Orthodox and were in the process of being Slavized. One may notice, for example, that many of them had added Slavic suffixes to their Albanian names….

“The Yugoslav scholars did not observe the same guideline….. he listed as “Slavs” all those who had Slavic names regardless of other data. Therefore the conclusion he reached was that in the 15th century, the Albanians, although present everywhere in Kosova, did not constitute the majority of the population. Conversely, the Albanian scholars maintain that the population was overwhelmingly Albanian, because of the fact that Slavic names – given the political situation – may not be considered as a criterion of ethnicity without taking into account other data….

“As for the Albanians who remained under Slav rule, the period that began in 1913 and ended in 1941 was one of regression and mourning. Progress was completely denied to them. The few Albanian schools that had finally been permitted by Turkey shortly before the outbreak of the Balkan Wars, were closed by the Yugoslav Government. No education in the Albanian language was tolerated. Unprecedented pressures of all kinds were wielded on the impoverished population. New settlers – non-Albanians – were established in the region. Under a so-called Agrarian Reform, the Albanians were deprived of their land and compelled to cede it to the Serbo-Mongtenegrins, who little by little set out to colonize the whole area. The man responsible for this colonization, which was not performed in a very humane manner, was Djordje Kristic, the head of the agrarian commission that had its headquarters in Shkup (Skopje). In his book The Colonization of South Serbia, published in Sarajevo in 1928, he tells how rapidly the ethnic composition was changing in a region which before 1913 “did not have a single Serbian inhabitant

“As a result of Yugoslavia’ capitulation in 1941, Kosova – except for some districts ceded to Bulgaria – was annexed to Albania. It was a great relief for the Kosovars to be able to breathe freely after so many years of humiliation, and unspeakable misery. Albanian schools were founded everywhere, books and newspapers started being published and an Albanian radio station was established.

“The joy was, however, short-lived, for Albania was at that time engaged in anti-fascist guerrilla war and the inhabitants of Kosova joined them in their struggle for freedom. There were several political parties in Albania during the war. As time went on, however, the non-communist parties received less and less support from the West; as a result, the Communist Party eventually grew stronger owing to the ties existing between the communists in Albania, Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria…

“This trait of their personality is reflected in their attitude toward the Yugoslavs during the war years. The communist Albanians were convinced that the spirit of the Yugoslav communists was totally opposed to that of the former Royal Government of Yugoslavia. They saw in Communism true brotherhood among men and sincerely believed that the miseries of the Kosovars were a thing of the past since they were due solely to the greed of a selfish bourgeois society. Thus, the Communist Albanians helped the Yugoslavs in a selfless manner. The Kosovars, erasing from their minds the atrocious memories of their great sufferings, formed various guerrilla bands and fought side by side with the people of the nation which had been toward them most cruel and unjust. Here is what [the late Communist leader of Albania] E. Hoxha said with respect to Kosova.

“Our aim is to continue the joint struggle (i.e., the resistance movements in Albania, Yugoslavia and Greece) and to forget the past, because we are fighting our common enemy; at the conclusion of the struggle we who have fought shoulder to shoulder with the greatest understanding will settle any misunderstandings. The national liberation movement has the task of making the Kosova people conscious of their aspirations… We must see that the people of Kosova decide for themselves which side to join, Albania or Yugoslavia, and to oppose the Yugoslav regime which would attempt to oppress them….

“In 1945, when the province of Kosova was officially restored to Yugoslavia by the force of arms, the principle of self-determination was not applied. Kosova was not even annexed with the status of a republic; it was attached to Serbia, first as a “Region” and then as an “Autonomous Province”. Yet the question for the Yugoslavs was again how to deal with the Kosovars, since it was no longer possible to do away with them. In order to destroy any hopes that the Kosovars might have to join the rest of their countrymen, Serbia’s ambition had always been the partition of Albania between Yugoslavia and Greece….

“Communist Yugoslavia thought of doing better: she strived to annex the whole of Albania. Her efforts were thwarted.

“As for the Kosovars, they found themselves in a very difficult plight because of the partition of the territory inhabited by them into three republics: Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Thus, for example, Shkup (Skopje = Uskup), once the capital of the Vilayet of Kosova, was ceded to the Republic of Macedonia. The splitting was done in an arbitrary way, most detrimental to the interests of the Albanian population, for if the Albanians were granted some rights in the recently created Autonomous Province of Kosova, these rights were denied to the other Albanians inhabiting the Republics of Macedonia and Montenegro…

“In 1966, the Yugoslav Communist Party was shaken by disturbing events that took place within the party. As a result, Tito suddenly realized that the rights and the interests of the Kosovars had been neglected and that there had been arbitrary and impermissible actions taken against them. Although the whole truth was not disclosed, the plight of the Kosovars was – albeit partially – openly admitted. Responsible for the crimes, Tito argued, were Rankovic and his agents.

“As a result of several uprisings in Kosova, the Yugoslav constitution was revised and in 1969, the Kosovars, notwithstanding the fact that they were not allowed to form their own republic, were allegedly granted full equality with the other ethnic groups….”

The document quoted comes from a web site run by Kosovan Albanians,

The Serbian case is very different.   That it is mostly ethnic-Albanian is accepted, though numbers are disputed. Thus:

“According to the census from 1991, Kosovo and Metohija have 1,956,196 inhabitants which is slightly less than 20% of the total population of Serbia. There are many nationalities with pronounced domination of Albanians – 1,596,072 or 82.2% of the population of the province, or 17% of the total population of Serbia. Then come the Serbs – 194,190, Muslims – 66,189, Romanies – 45,745, Montenegrins – 20,356, Turks – 10,446, Croats – 8,062 and other smaller national and ethnic groups, 24 in all.

“The Statute of Kosovo and Metohija which is the basic legal act of the province, permits, besides the Serbian language, the official use of the Albanian language. Except for the language, the population differs in religion so that Serbs and Montenegrins are Orthodox, Croats Catholics, while Albanians are mostly Muslims as are the Turks and most of Romanies.”

But Serbs also consider that it was a majority-Serb area when they acquired it in 1913, and had been such for about as long as there have been Anglo-Saxons in Britain. Thus:

“The Serbs have been living in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija since the 6th century. That territory is of exceptional importance for the Serbian history and for the cultural-civilizational identity of Serbia – it was the centre of the Serbian statehood and it is important for the Serbs just as the Wailing Wall is important for the Jews. Many Serbian cultural monuments are situated in Kosovo and Metohija (200 medieval churches). There are no historical data saying that the Albanians populated that territory in the Medieval Ages. The Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija are mainly of Islamic religion, with a small number of Roman Catholics. The question of Kosovo is not only a question of territory or of the number of Serbian or Albanian population: it is an inalienable national treasury, indispensable for the identity of the Serbian people.

“Kosovo and Metohija was the least developed region until the Second World War. Thanks to enormous investments of Serbia and Yugoslavia after the Second World War, an important prosperity was achieved in industry, agriculture and in social activities.

“The political and terrorist’s activities of the present separatists, members of the Albanian national minority in Kosovo and Metohija, follows consistently the project of the Prizren Ligue from 1878, which envisaged the unification of all, Albanians (from Albania, Greece, Macedonia and FRY) and the creation of Great Albania. This programme of unification is still a generally accepted national ideal and political objective of the Albanian extremists.

“Over past several decades, the Albanians from Yugoslavia, Greece, and, recently, from Macedonia, present themselves to the world as the “part of the nation in jeopardy” and try to prove the “injustice” for, according to the Albanian interpretation, “one half of the Albanian ethnic territories” was left outside the borders of Albania.”

A document called TRUTH ABOUT KOSOVO AND METOHIJA, from the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgrade, October 1995 says:

“The name of Kosovo and Metohija appeared for the first time in the XII century as a region settled by Serbs. The Serbs had come to the Balkans at the end of the VI and the beginning of the VII centuries, while Byzantine historians recorded their presence as an organized people in the area as early as the IX century.

“The name of Kosovo is derived from the Serbian name for blackbird (“the land of blackbirds”), while the name of Metohija is of Greek origin and denotes a monastery estate (the region in which the Serbian Patriarchate and old monasteries are located many of which are under UNESCO protection).

“The historical, geographical, cultural, spiritual, topomastic and other facts provide ample evidence that the area of Kosovo and Metohija has been the cradle of the culture and State of the Serbian people even since the Slavs came to the Balkans.

“The demographic picture of Kosmet changed several times in this century under the influence of deep socio-economic changes, political upheavals and disturbances as a result of the liberation struggle of the Serbian and Montenegrin peoples against the Ottoman Empire and the Axis powers. During the five centuries of the Ottoman occupation, through the policy of pressure, Turkey influenced the exodus of the Orthodox Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosmet and the settlement of Muslim Albanians from the mountainous regions of Albania. In this way, the ratio between the Serbian and Montenegrin and Albanian populations was disturbed. In 1929, the population ratio in Kosovo and Metohija was 61 per cent Serbs and Montenegrins and 39 per cent others. After the defeat of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, Serbs were forced to leave Kosovo under the pressure of Albanian chauvinists and the occupation authorities. Alongside, the expulsion of the Serbian and Montenegrin population, Kosmet was being settled by the Albanians from Albania and Turkey, as well as from other European countries (Italy, Switzerland, Austria) in which Albanian political emigres had lived. The agrarian reform from the time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was annulled by the order of the administrative authorities and the occupation regime in Kosovo and Metohija and the land was distributed exclusively to Albanians, many of whom were the settlers from Albania.

“Only during World War Two, about 100 000 Serbs and Montenegrins were deported from Kosovo and Metohija and about the same number of Albanians from Albania was settled on their estates. After World War Two, the then Yugoslav regime banned 1 683 Serbian families who wanted to return to their ancestral homes to do so, while 220 000 Serbs and Montenegrins were expelled in the period between 1968 and 1988. Over 700 settlements became ethnically pure in this period.

“The upward trend of the Albanian population was maintained until 1961 when the census recorded 646 605 Albanians or 67.1 per cent of the overall population of Kosovo and Metohija. After 1961, the then balance in the demographic growth changed dramatically. 916 168 Albanians were registered at the 1971 census accounting, already at that time, for 73.7 per cent of the Kosmet population. The number even increased at the 1981 census when the number of Albanians grew to 1 226 736 or 77.48 per cent of the overall population. The data for 1991, derived on the basis of the estimates of the Centre for Demographic Research, since the Albanian community boycotted the census, testified to the continued great increase of the Albanians which reached the figure of 1 607 690 or 82.2 per cent of the overall population of Kosovo and Metohija, i.e. about 16.5 per cent of the population of the Republic of Serbia.

“It is obvious that there was a progressive growth of the Albanian population in the 1961-1991 period. The Serbs and Montenegrins experienced a reverse process, so that their number decreased not only in relative but also in absolute terms. There were 264 604 or 27.40 per cent of Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo and Metohija in 1961, while in 1991 their number fell to 214 555, i.e. to 11 per cent of the overall population of Kosovo and Metohija. Throughout the last 50 years, the Albanian separatists put pressure on the Serbian and Montenegrin population to leave Kosmet using various forcible methods. After World War Two, the authorities of new socialist Yugoslavia adopted the Law banning return to the Serbs and Montenegrins who left Kosovo in order to strengthen confidence of the Albanian national minority in the new regime. Albanian separatists compelled the Serbian and Montenegrin owners of land, houses and other property to leave Kosmet by threats, blackmail, arson, physical harassment, destruction of Serbian graveyards and cultural monuments, killings and rapes, as well as by other criminal acts. The Albanian separatists were the first to resort to the policy of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia in order to create an ethnically pure area for the creation of the illegal “Republic of Kosovo”. According to the available data, about 400 000 Serbs and Montenegrins left Kosovo and Metohija in this way in the last 40 years.”.

This Serbian view is to be found at

Serbs also quote the favourable opinion of some outsiders. For instance


“By Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd.), United Services Institution of India, New Delhi, April 6, 1999

“(First Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia 03 Mar 92 to 02 Mar 93. Former Deputy Chief of Staff, Indian Army. Currently, Director of the United Services Institution of India.)

“My year long experience as the Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia has given me an understanding of the fatal flaws of US/NATO policies in the troubled region. It was obvious to most people following events in the Balkans since the beginning of the decade, and particularly after the fighting that resulted in the emergence of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia- Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, that Kosovo was a ‘powder keg’ waiting to explode. The West appears to have learnt all the wrong lessons from the previous wars and applied it to Kosovo.

“(1) Portraying the Serbs as evil and everybody else as good was not only counterproductive but also dishonest. According to my experience all sides were guilty but only the Serbs would admit that they were no angels while the others would insist that they were. With 28, 000 forces under me and with constant contacts with UNHCR and the International Red Cross officials, we did not witness any genocide beyond killings and massacres on all sides that are typical of such conflict conditions. I believe none of my successors and their forces saw anything on the scale claimed by the media.

“(2) It was obvious to me that if Slovenians, Croatians and Bosniaks had the right to secede from Yugoslavia, then the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia had an equal right to secede. The experience of partitions in Ireland and India has not been pleasant but in the Yugoslavia case, the state had already been taken apart anyway. It made little sense to me that if multiethnic Yugoslavia was not tenable that multiethnic Bosnia could be made tenable. The former internal boundaries of Yugoslavia which had no validity under international law should have been redrawn when it was taken apart by the West, just as it was in the case of Ireland in 1921 and Punjab and Bengal in India in 1947. Failure to acknowledge this has led to the problem of Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia.

“(3) It is ironic that the Dayton Agreement on Bosnia was not fundamentally different from the Lisbon Plan drawn up by Portuguese Foreign Minister Cutilheiro and British representative Lord Carrington to which all three sides had agreed before any killings had taken place, or even the Vance-Owen Plan which Karadzic was willing to sign. One of the main problems was that there was an unwillingness on the part of the American administration to concede that Serbs had legitimate grievances and rights. I recall State Department official George Kenny turning up like all other American officials, spewing condemnations of the Serbs for aggression and genocide. I offered to give him an escort and to go see for himself that none of what he proclaimed was true. He accepted my offer and thereafter he made a radical turnaround.. Other Americans continued to see and hear what they wanted to see and hear from one side, while ignoring the other side. Such behaviour does not produce peace but more conflict.

“(4) I felt that Yugoslavia was a media-generated tragedy. The Western media sees international crises in black and white, sensationalizing incidents for public consumption. From what I can see now, all Serbs have been driven out of Croatia and the Muslim-Croat Federation, I believe almost 850,000 of them. And yet the focus is on 500,000 Albanians (at last count) who have been driven out of Kosovo. Western policies have led to an ethnically pure Greater Croatia, and an ethnically pure Muslim statelet in Bosnia. Therefore, why not an ethnically pure Serbia? Failure to address these double standards has led to the current one.

“As I watched the ugly tragedy unfold in the case of Kosovo while visiting the US in early to mid March 1999, I could see the same pattern emerging. In my experience with similar situations in India in such places as Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Nagaland, and elsewhere, it is the essential strategy of those ethnic groups who wish to secede to provoke the state authorities. Killings of policemen is usually a standard operating procedure by terrorists since that usually invites overwhelming state retaliation, just as I am sure it does in the United States. I do not believe the Belgrade government had prior intention of driving out all Albanians from Kosovo. It may have decided to implement Washington’s own “Krajina Plan” only if NATO bombed, or these expulsions could be spontaneous acts of revenge and retaliation by Serb forces in the field because of the bombing. The OSCE Monitors were not doing too badly, and the Yugoslav Government had, after all, indicated its willingness to abide by nearly all the provisions of the Rambouillet “Agreement” on aspects like cease-fire, greater autonomy to the Albanians, and so on. But they insisted that the status of Kosovo as part of Serbia was not negotiable, and they would not agree to stationing NATO forces on the soil of Yugoslavia. This is precisely what India would have done under the same circumstances.”  (Views of the Kosovan Serbs can be found at, and the Serbian Unity Congress at

How things will develop is anyone’s guess. Both Serbs and Albanians see themselves as victims of history, and have utterly incompatible notions as to what a ‘reasonable settlement’ would be.

A Nato invasion might settle it, but faces geographical problems. Assembling a large force in Albania would be difficult. And pushing directly into Kososo means going through mountains against a Serb army long trained in such fighting. Coming from either Bosnia or Montenegro is little easier, and also involves political difficulties.

A possible alternative is an invasion via Hungary, newly admitted to Nato, and historically the ally of the Austro-Germans in ruling the rest of Eastern Europe. Such a route would mean going across most of Serbia to get to Kosovo, but I have long suspected that it is the subjection of Serbia that matters and that Nato planners do not care at all about ethnic Albanians. An invasion from Hungary is geographically much easier, the land is much flatter and more open. And cutting the bridges on the Danube, a constant Nato aim, serves to detach the province of Vojvodina from Serbia proper. Even an extra annexation, though the population balance seems to be against such an option.

“According to the last census from 1991, Vojvodina has 2,013,889 inhabitants, which is slightly more than 20% of the total population of Serbia. With a population of 1,143,723, the Serbs make the absolute majority in the province. Then come the Hungarians – 339,491, Croats – 74,808, Slovaks – 63,545, Montenegrins – 44,838, Rumanians – 38,809, Romanies – 24,366, Ruthenians – 17,652, Macedonians – 17,472 and other smaller ethnic groups like the Ukrainians, Albanians, Slovenians and others (a total of 26 nations and national and ethnic groups) while 174,225 inhabitants declare themselves as Yugoslavs.” (Yugoslav official information.). But in war, almost anything is possible.”

Something I wrote back in April 1999

[One matter I overlooked was that Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points include a guarantee that ‘Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea’ (point 11), which could not have been done without taking land that did not have an ethnic-Serb majority.  As it hapened, the creation of Yugoslavia resulved the matter for a few years. 

[A similar promise was made to Poland, point 13. It was implemented as the Polish Corridor.  Hitler was actually willing to conceed this, so long as he got back the neglected and ethnic-German city of Danzig.  This was the issue on which Britain and France went to war, having previously conceeded Hitler’s utterly unreasonable demands on Czechoslovakia.]

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