The forgotten Orthodox Christians of Bosnia and Kosovo



Алија Изетбеговић 1941 и 1991

I come from a member state of the European Union which is meant to uphold the rights of all religions, political ideologies, acknowledge national and cultural rights, and is meant to spread “European brotherhood.”  However, it appears that this does not apply to the Orthodox Christians of Bosnia and Kosovo respectively because not only have they been abandoned but outside Islamic powers are stepping up their Islamization agenda in both Bosnia and Kosovo.

In Kosovo the de-Christianization of the Orthodox Christian community continues and hundreds of Orthodox Christian churches have been destroyed but little was done to protect this community.  It should be remembered that the Christian Serbs helped to preserve the shared European identity in history from the marauding Islamic Turks who enslaved countless numbers of Christians throughout the Balkans during the Ottoman Empire.

Yet in modern times it is clear that Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other non-European nations, are intent on creating an Islamized Balkans and this applies to Albania, Bosnia, the Sandzak in Serbia, northeastern Bulgaria and the Rhodope Mountains region, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. At the same time increasing Islamic immigration in Greece is creating tensions and Turkey is intent on preserving its armed forces in northern Cyprus.

The above mentioned places may sometimes have a continuous border line or they may be divided by geography and thinking because you have many branches within Islam. However, for pan-Islamists in Bosnia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and a host of other nations, it is a dream and clearly the European Union alongside America supported the “green flag of Islam” during the collapse of Yugoslavia.

In my article called Islam in Bosnia is the new stepping stone I stated that Alija Izetbegovic stated that:

“… Muslim nations will never accept anything that is explicitly against Islam, because Islam here is not merely a faith and the law, Islam has become love and compassion. He who rises against Islam will reap nothing but hate and resistance. …”

Izetbegovic was a pan-Islamist and he allowed thousands of Islamic terrorists from all over the world to join his Islamic jihadist campaign by allowing them to slaughter innocent Orthodox Christians in Bosnia. At the same time he played the “Muslim victim card” in front of the Western media.  However, Izetbegovic shared the same global jihadist ideals and pan-Islamic thought patterns because he stated:

… In one of the thesis for an Islamic order today we have stated that it is a natural function of the Islamic order to gather all Muslims and Muslim communities throughout the world into one. Under present conditions, this desire means a struggle for creating a great Islamic federation from Morocco to Indonesia, from the tropical Africa to the Central Asia. …”

Vojin Joksimovich who is the author of “The Revenge of the Prophet” highlights the international nature of Islam in Bosnia because he states that:

“The jihadists, from their bases and support facilities in Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, did not come to Bosnia only to fight against the ‘Serbian aggressor,’ but for the first European religious state at large, for the establishment of the only faith among the European Muslims.”  (Page 145)

This comment highlights the reality of Izetbegovic and the pan-Islamic card. Vojin Joksimovich continues by stating that the:

“Creation of Islamic states, so-called Jamahirya states, was the ultimate objective of all these movements.  With the Koran in their hands the jihadists did not distinguish between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, only between believers and unbelievers.”  (Page 145)

However, Islamic jihadists and pan-Islamists from Bosnia and other parts of the world had only a short period to enact their Islamic jihad via the sword and this applies to when war broke out in Bosnia and Kosovo respectively.  Yet the military battlefield and “Muslim victim card” image would lay the foundation for future political and religious ambitions in the Balkans and of course Bosnia would be the stepping stone that would help the ambitions of people like Izetbegovic.

In an article written by Bojan Pancevski in The Sunday Times newspapers which is published in the United Kingdom he comments (Saudis fund Balkan Muslims spreading hate of the west – March 28, 2010) that:

SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan”.

The article continues by stating that “According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilize the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.”

Sources also reveal that “Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that Macedonian officials are also investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.”  

The article also highlights the sinister reality of Saudi Arabia by stating that:

“Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a government source. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.”

 “The West has put considerable political and financial efforts into helping build democracy in Bosnia following its civil war in the 1990s. Saudi organizations have also asserted considerable influence, giving more than £450m to build more than 150 mosques and Islamic centres.”

Therefore, while Muslim nations and radical Islamic charities are spreading radical Islam in the Balkans you have the reality of Serbian Orthodox Christians in Kosovo being abandoned and clearly the Bosnian Serbian entity is not desired by America, the European Union or important Islamic nations.

In my article called Radical Islamic Charities and Jihad in the Balkans I highlight Vojin Joksimovich again because he states thatBosnia established a successful model for embattled countries around the world: organizing, arming, and funding mujahideen units, skimming money from humanitarian charities, linking up with crime bosses including narco-terrorists, etc.  Islamism both produces and profits from mayhem.  Albeit to a much lesser magnitude, the Bosnian model was replicated later on in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban found a route for the heroin trafficking from Afghanistan into Europe via the Balkans.”  Page 150

I also commented in the same article that:

….just like the rise of the Taliban and radical Islam in modern day southern Thailand and Pakistan, it is the role of the Islamic madrasas which must be eliminated and not merely contained. The role of Islamic charities must also be tackled because many are a gateway to spreading radical Islam and if this “gateway” is not stopped and challenged, then alongside religious Islamic educational institutions which are sponsored by Saudi nationals and others; then the spread of radical Islam will not be defeated”.

It is clear that America and the European Union desires a unified Bosnia and Islamic elites within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are hoping that the Republic Srpska will be swallowed up.

Currently you have a Christian majority within all of Bosnia but the majority is slender and given the higher Muslim birthrate and the reality of what happened to the majority Christian population of Kosovo in history then the future looks bleak. In truth, if you look at history then it is nigh impossible to find a stable Muslim democratic nation where democracy flourished and where religious minorities also grew and had full equality within the legal system.

De-Christianization in Kosovo is a modern day reality when it applies to the Serbian Orthodox Christian community and this applies to the decreasing Serbian population, destruction of Christian churches, the eradication of Serbian architecture, and constant persecution and marginalization by the majority Muslim Albanian population.

The late Patriarch Pavle who sadly passed away in November, 2009, stated (http://kosovo.net) that:

This humble publication is our cry and appeal to the Christian and civilized world. It is distressing to learn that in the year of the greatest Christian Jubilee, at the end of two millenniums of Christianity, Christian churches are still being destroyed, not in a war but in the time of peace guaranteed by the international community. We hope that these photos of the destroyed and desecrated Orthodox shrines will awaken the conscience of those who are able to stop the crimes and believe that they who already stood up against one evil will not remain just passive witnesses of another evil happening now in their presence.”

However, the same mass media which distorted the conflict is now the same mass media which is mainly silent about current events in Kosovo. Also, the Bosnian Serbian leadership in Republic Srpska is marginalized by the international community because Western nations prefer the Muslim elites in Sarajevo.

Maybe one day the Serbian Orthodox Christian community in Bosnia will face the same fate which befell their co-religionists in Kosovo.  After all, Islamic nations and organizations are funding many Islamic institutions throughout the region and added to the higher Muslim birthrate and pro-American policies towards the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo then this could become a future reality.

What is clear is that time is not on the side of the Republic Srpska because either it will join with Serbia or become an independent state whereby Serbians will be guaranteed their freedom. Or it will be swallowed up by the American backed unitary Bosnian state under the Muslim elites of Bosnia and with the full backing of many Islamic nations.

If the latter happens and with the reality of the higher Muslim birthrate then in time the Serbian population will be further marginalized. Or at worse the Bosnian Serbs will face their “Kosovo Golgotha” and given the events of past history and the ongoing reality of de-Christianization of the Serbian Orthodox Christian community in Kosovo then this scenario is a clear possibility.


 

2010-12-01

By Lee Jay Walker, The Modern Tokyo Times

Source: Islamic Terrorism and Religious Persecution

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President B. Clinton’s Kosovostan



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal speaking at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative thanks former U.S. President Bill Clinton for “delivering Bosnia-Herezegovina and Kosovo into Muslim hands and for near deliverance — within a hundred meters — of Palestine from occupation.”


2012-11-15

By Meira Svirsky

Source: Clarion Project

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Islamic fundamentalism in the Balkans



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The Jewish woman stood in the office of Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic. She was distraught. She placed a handful of broken tiles on the desk in front of her and told the president’s adviser, “It’s a crime, a crime against culture. They are destroying a holy place, a place that is of incalculable value to Sarajevo.”

“There’s nothing we can do,” the adviser replied sorrowfully. “They have the money and they are going to do what they want.”

The most interesting aspect of this incident, which took place after the end of the Bosnian war in 1995, is that the temple the Jewish woman, an art expert named Zoja Finci, was attempting to protect was neither, as one might expect, a synagogue, nor a Serbian church. Rather, it was the Begova or Governor’s mosque, the largest in the former Yugoslavia, and the main Islamic structure in Sarajevo.

Further, the presumptive vandals against whom Zoja Finci sought to protect the mosque were neither Serb extremists nor commercial developers. They were, in fact, just the sort of people one might have thought would target a synagogue or a Serb structure: Islamic officials backed by Saudi Arabia, engaged in a purported reconstruction.

The official Supreme Saudi Aid Committee occupies one of the largest governmental buildings in the Bosnian capital. The committee has paid for the rehabilitation of numerous mosques damaged during the 1992-95 war. But the aid is not always appreciated by ordinary Muslims, who, no less than art experts, have ways of expressing their resentments.

At the Alipasha mosque in Sarajevo, a lovely Ottoman structure with a slender, graceful minaret, only meters away from the committee’s headquarters, the word “Saudi” has been scratched off the commemorative plaque announcing a donation for its restoration.

The problem is that the Saudis and their local agents are Wahhabis, followers of the main fundamentalist sect in the Islamic world. Wahhabis do not approve of Ottoman mosques. Their rehabilitation of the Imperial mosque, also in Sarajevo, turned what had been a beautiful, balanced complex of buildings, which seemed to invite entry, into something not much different from a parking garage in a Western city.

In October 1999, the Bosnian weekly Dani [Days] published an extremely revealing interview with Kemal Zukić, director of the Center for Islamic Architecture in Sarajevo. The interviewer asked Zukić about the wall decorations in the Begova mosque-precisely the panels, the removal of which caused so much anguish to Zoja Finci. He answered, “There were several layers of paintings, so that in the end we were in a quandary about which layer merited preservation. . . The biggest contribution came from a Saudi donor. . . .Parts remain but most of the walls are now blank.”

kosovo-jihad-flagPressed as to whether the panels that were removed would be preserved, Zukić answered testily, “I find it really hard to get excited over decorations inside the mosque. We are not in a situation like the more fortunate European nations, such that we could preserve our cultural heritage. . . .That was only an internal decoration and it was not intended to last forever.”

Zukić is a graduate in architecture from the University of Sarajevo who has never practiced that profession, but who has produced elaborate plans for new Bosnian mosques. According to one foreign expert who requested anonymity after an interview with Zukić, “His ideas for mosque design involve knockoffs of Saudi-modern shopping mall architecture with odd touches inspired by the decor of The Love Boat, including portholes! He is the very model of the modern zealot, narrow-minded, arrogant, and so dumb he doesn’t even realize it.”

But at least the Begova mosque’s outer walls remained. Elsewhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the fundamentalists, away from urban critics, pursue a more aggressive tactic. Dani reported that Muslims in the rural town of Vrbovik were angry because they had understood funds had been donated for the reconstruction of their traditional, Ottoman mosque, which was on the front line and was destroyed in the 1992-95 war. But that money was diverted elsewhere, while two new mosques and six smaller prayer structures were erected in the Saudi style. The local Islamic cleric, Hadji Salih Avdukovic, commented angrily, “These people are hypocrites. They want to do everything from scratch.”

Dani is a sensationalist organ, but in this instance its reportage was on the mark. Thanks to the seemingly inexhaustible financial resources of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Wahhabis have appeared all over Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo since the bloodshed ended. According to a September 9, 1999 news release by the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo, out of four million Saudi riyals spent by the committee on the ground in Kosovo, nearly half was spent to sponsor 388 religious “propagators” (i.e., missionaries), with the intent of converting Kosovars to Wahhabi fundamentalism.

Another six hundred thousand riyals went for the reconstruction of thirty-seven mosques, and two hundred thousand riyals was spent on two schools. The amount of money involved was fairly modest (four million riyals is a little more than a million U.S. dollars), except when one considers that the Saudis had only been on the scene in Kosovo for a little over two months at that point. It was characteristic that a greater proportion of Saudi aid was spent on fundamentalist “propagators” and on mosque building than on broader humanitarian needs.

Mosque architecture is not the Wahhabis’ only interest. Walking the streets of Sarajevo, one might think they have gained considerable influence. Many young men wear “Islamic” beards, and numerous young women have adopted head and shoulder coverings, or hijab. The campus of the University of Sarajevo is especially notable for this habit, and a women’s store with the amusing name “Hijab Boutique” opened near the old Ottoman market.

As the defaced plaque at the Alipasha mosque demonstrates, the fundamentalists are definitely unpopular with Balkan Muslims. In Sarajevo, hijab may be more a fad than anything else-and it certainly has not caught on in Kosovo, although many women wear Balkan head scarves.

There are other things that Balkan Muslims favor, but which Wahhabis disapprove. One is veneration of the dead. In Saudi Arabia itself, fundamentalists have, over the past two hundred years, destroyed all the tombs of the companions of the prophet Mohammed. In Kosovo, the Saudis offered to rebuild several mosques in the area of Vushtrri/Vucitrn, which were destroyed during the 1998-99 fighting. They promised the new mosques would be “better and more Islamic.” But first, they said, the Albanian Muslims would have to uproot the Ottoman graveyards nearby.

Andras Riedlmayer, a Harvard University librarian and expert in this field, recalls an incident that took place in the Kosovar town of Peja/Peć. I was told about an incident in 1998, when, as the villages in the surrounding Kosovo countryside were in flames, a group of Wahhabi missionaries-both Arabs and their Kosovar acolytes came to town and tried to impose their own way of praying (the locals said it involved some “odd” body movements).

When the Wahhabis took out sledgehammers and set about smashing the 17th century gravestones in the garden of Peja’s ancient Defterdar Mosque, angry local residents beat them up and chased them out of town. I was shown the damaged gravestones, beautifully carved with floral motifs and verses from Qur’an. That was in the late summer of r998. Six months later, in the spring of I999, Serb paramilitaries came and burned down the mosque. Unlike the fundamentalist missionaries, they were not interested in the gravestones.

This sort of hard-shell outlook can scarcely appeal to the nationalistic Albanians, who, like their Serb adversaries, consider their graves to be proof of their claim on Kosovo. But fundamentalist proscriptions go on and on. They do not like music, except for the drum. They do not accept Sufism, or mysticism, as a part of Islam. Both of these strictures run counter to Balkan Muslim traditions.

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Balkan Muslims are especially devoted to a practice that drives Wahhabis to fury: mawlid, or, as it is locally called, mevlud, the commemoration of Mohammed’s birth. To the fundamentalists, celebrating the prophet’s birthday smacks of the Christian-style worship of Jesus. Abdussalam Chouia, a leading spokesman for the so-called Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a body which has spent considerable time harassing the American media over the very use of such terms as “Islamic fundamentalist,” professed not even to know what mevlud is. “It isn’t part of Islam,” he insisted.

CAIR members are, to put it delicately, masters at twisting words. The very idea of an organization concerned with “American-Islamic relations,” as if all Americans agreed on Islamic issues, as if Muslim citizens of the U.S. were not Americans, and as if the Islamic world were united in a supposed confrontation with America, is absurdly presumptuous. But CAIR has succeeded in intimidating numerous American newspaper editors into a form of political correctness that involves coddling Palestinian and other extremists under the pretext that “American bigotry” threatens Muslims.

In Bosnia-Hercegovina, many Islamic officials dislike fundamentalist activities but are reluctant to denounce them. The Bosnians are avid for the money. Only a few local Sufis have strongly criticized Wahhabi missionizing, arguing that the long presence of Sufi spiritualism in the Balkans is incompatible with fundamentalist fanaticism. In the end, Balkan Muslims are desperate to be viewed as European, and submission to the will of the Wahhabis will certainly do nothing to advance that agenda.

Kosovo Albanian Muslims have been more forthright in airing their irritabilities on this issue. After all, they do not need the money. The Kosovars have a large emigration that supports their various reconstructive activities, and, in addition, the Kosovo Albanians are far more enterprising than the Bosnians. This is also an incentive for the Kosovars to express greater independence from those in the international community who seek to use a kind of “aid blackmail” to get the Albanians to do what they want. For example, Albanians are inclined to rebuild their homes themselves, rather than, as is the Bosnian habit, wait for the UN or Europe or the U.S. to do it for them.

In one of the more surprising recent developments in Kosovo, the fundamentalists came under verbal fire from the Kosovapress news agency, universally considered to be the media arm of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Kosovapress declared:

For more than a century civilized countries have separated religion from the state. [However], we now see attempts not only in Kosovo but everywhere Albanians live to introduce religion into public schools. . . Supplemental courses for children have been set up by foreign Islamic organizations who hide behind assistance programs. Some radio stations. . .now offer nightly broadcasts in Arabic, which nobody understands and which lead many to ask, are we in an Arab country? It is time for Albanian mosques to be separated from Arab connections and for Islam to be developed on the basis of Albanian culture and customs.

Dr. Rexhep Boja, president of the mainstream Islamic Community of Kosovo, expressed himself similarly, stating boldly that Albanian Muslims had followed their faith for more than five hundred years and did not need anybody to teach them how to be Muslims or how to decorate their mosques.

KosovoIslamNevertheless, the Wahhabis are making much greater inroads in Kosovo than in Bosnia-Hercegovina-notwithstanding Albanian tetchiness and the fashion addiction of Kosovar Albanian women, which makes hijab a rare sight indeed. Here, too, it has to do with elemental requirements. The Bosnians lack financial resources but they do not want for books or trained imams. The Kosovar Albanians do not need money but they have a thirst for books and a shortage of clerics. Many of the latter now go to the Saudis for training.

But the locals are not the only people concerned about the infiltration of Wahhabis in the Balkans. In Albania, as well as Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo, anxiety over the activities of Bin Ladin supporters has led American diplomats to entrench themselves behind high, thick walls observing exceptional security measures at their embassies and other diplomatic facilities.

At the end of March, a group of Saudi “aid workers” was rousted by UN police from a building in Prishtina, accused of surveilling foreign vehicles, presumably in preparation for a terrorist attack. A representative of the Saudis, one Al Hadi, complained that the telephone in the building where they resided had been tapped.

The upshot of this situation was visible in the first week of April, when Prishtina saw a spectacle unheard of in Sarajevo. A massive fundamentalist “cultural program” was held in the local sports stadium to celebrate the beginning of the Muslim new year. Thousands of Albanian Muslims, young and old, walked away from the event happily clutching works in Albanian that professed Wahhabi fanaticism. In May, the familiar Saudi Joint Relief Committee laid the foundation of a multimillion dollar cultural, sports, and religious center in the Kosovo capital.

Is there a solution to this problem? Surely there is, but it is ignored by the foreign authorities in Kosovo. Albanians in the region include a considerable Catholic minority, with a distinguished cultural legacy, as well as thousands of followers of heterodox Islamic sects such as the Bektashis, who drink alcohol and follow a kind of Islamic Unitarianism.

In the city of Gjakova, for example, Bektashis and Catholics far outnumber Sunni Muslims. Both the former groups merit assistance in such matters as education, care of orphans, and the reconstruction of destroyed religious architecture. But the foreigners pay no attention to such details. They contemptuously dismiss the Catholics as too few, and know nothing of the Bektashis. Somewhere down the road, however, the consequences of such cultural obliviousness could be disastrous.


By Stephen Schwartz

Partisan Review [Cambridge, MA]

Summer 2000

Source: Center for Islamic Pluralism

Note and illustrations by Vladislav B. Sotirovic:

A Western article in which, nevertheless, the basic truth was unavoidable to be mentioned in the text.

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Exporting Jihad: Bosnia and Kosovo



Ridvani

Bosnia and Kosovo are two of the biggest exporters of jihadists joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) from the Balkans. As The Cipher Brief reported last month, legacies of the Communist era and the wars of the 1990s – presence of foreign fighters, economic and physical destruction, a lack of funding to rebuild, and the near eradication of moderate Islamic institutions – paved the way for Islamic extremist groups to establish a foothold in both countries. Now, ISIS recruiters are targeting Bosnia and Kosovo, and many Bosnians and Kosovars have left to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Bosnia

When war broke out in Bosnia in the early 1990s, the ultra-conservative Sunni Islam movement known as Salafism was brought to Bosnia “by Saudi-sponsored mujahedeen fighters mobilized to fight alongside the drastically under-armed and under-funded Muslim Bosniaks against both Serbs and Croats,” explains Cipher Brief expert Tanja Dramac Jiries. Some of these foreign fighters received citizenship and stayed in Bosnia after the war, says Adrian Shtuni, an expert on violent extremism in the Balkans.

Jiries notes that today, “Extremist communities [offer] an attractive refuge to young men and women deprived of any opportunity for economic prosperity.”

The number of those lacking economic wealth – and potentially turning toward extremist groups for both sociological and monetary reasons – continues to grow in Bosnia. A report released this month by Bosnia-based think tank Social Overview Service finds the Bosnian economic model unsustainable due to “budget deficits that are growing on almost all administrative levels” and a “serious liquidity crisis.” This, according to the report, is delaying salaries, pensions, and social benefits and causing deep unrest within society.

In addition, Bosnia is gearing up for local elections in October, which means polarizing pre-election campaigns have already begun. Jiries explains, “Local and general elections have become the ideal stage for nationalist leaders to not only remind citizens of the dangers that permeate their country, but also to lay out their plans for protecting their respective ethnic community – be it Croat, Serb, or Bosniak.”

Economic instability and radical rhetoric can foment extremist ideology. Indeed Balkan Investigative Reporting Network investigators recently found that since 2012, at least 200 Bosnian men are believed to have fought with jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq. Bosnia’s State Investigation and Protection Agency puts that number at 280 and reports about 120 of those are still fighting with ISIS or al-Nusra Front.

The U.S. State Department, in its recently released 2015 report on terrorism, notes the large number of Bosnians traveling to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups. But what may be even more worrying is that 50 Bosnians are believed to have returned home. And Bosnia’s complex security system of 15 different police agencies, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Court means coordination and intelligence sharing is difficult, if not non-existent.

One positive: The State Department report praises Bosnia’s 2015 Strategy for Preventing and Combating Terrorism, the first of its kind for a Balkan nation. Plus, in April this year, CIA director John Brennan stopped in Sarajevo to discuss this issue of weak intelligence sharing and the problems it poses to fighting terrorism.

Kosovostan passeport

Kosovo

Kosovo’s story of extremist Islamic infiltration is similar to Bosnia’s. During the 1998 – 1999 Kosovo war, foreign fighters flocked to the country to participate, although in lesser numbers than in Bosnia. As the conflict came to an end, a handful of Saudi-funded faith-based charities set up shop in Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim nation, says Shtuni. “Besides providing much needed humanitarian aid, building schools, hospitals, orphanages, and community centers, they also erected Wahhabi mosques,” he explains.

Besiana Xharra, a journalist based in Kosovo and a fellow at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, reports more than a hundred unlicensed mosques sprang up all over Kosovo in a matter of a decade.

Moreover, Shtuni says the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya (SJRC) – whose activities have been linked to al-Qaeda – “reportedly built ninety-eight primary and secondary schools in rural Kosovo in the first few years after the war.”

However, Cipher Brief expert Haki Abazi, program director for the Western Balkans at Rockefeller Brothers Fund, notes that institutions such as mosques or schools don’t necessarily mean followers. Saudi efforts to introduce radical Islam into Kosovo, he says, have proved largely unfruitful. “New mosques built by wealthy individuals from Saudi Arabia stand empty. Saudi Arabia’s indoctrination efforts are producing nothing but disappointment for their investors,” he told The Cipher Brief.

Still, according to Cipher Brief expert Anita Rice, the Kosovo government believes at least 300 Kosovars have fought with jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq since 2012, with around 70 still fighting there and 130 who have returned home. And Shtuni claims that among the Balkans and greater European countries, Kosovo has the highest rate of recruitment for violent jihad relative to its population size.

The country’s economic woes and weak governance do not help. Kosovo has the highest rate of unemployment in the region, and it has been “struggling to establish proper accountable democratic institutions,” says Abazi.

Kosovo’s institutions for combatting terrorism – including investigative and prosecutorial apparatuses – remain weak as well. The State Department 2015 terrorism report notes Kosovo has limited capacity, resources, and experience to handle terrorism cases effectively, although Kosovo’s efforts to track and prosecute terror suspects are a positive sign, the report states.

As Bosnia and Kosovo attempt to work through a bloody recent history, the introduction of extremist Islam (especially Saudi-backed), institutional weakness, and economic distress, ISIS and other militant groups have established recruiting efforts within both countries. But the governments and their citizens are fighting back. Abazi points out, “In the last six months, not a single case of recruitment by ISIS or other extremist groups has been recorded in Kosovo.”

That does not mean the international community should believe the issue will fade away without help. Indeed, as Albania’s Former Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu told The Cipher Brief last month, the Balkans will need greater support from the U.S. and the EU in building institutional capacity and regional cooperation.


2016-06-24

About the author:

Kaitlin Lavinder is an International Producer with The Cipher Brief.

Source: The Cipher Brief

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Kosovo under Nazi Germany: Nazi-created Albanian security forces in Kosovo during the World War II



3. regrutacija za SS Skenderbeg diviziju Kosovo april 1944

Greater Albania under Nazi Germany

During World War II, 35,000 to 40,000 Kosovo Albanians were recruited by Nazi Germany as part of the German occupation forces and security formations in Greater Albania, a state created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini that included Kosovo-Metohija, western Macedonia, and territory from Serbia and Montenegro. In Albania, there were 30,000 Albanians who were in the German occupation forces. In 1941, the German occupation forces created a Kosovo Albanian Gendarmerie with headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica. In 1944, these forces were incorporated into the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division. In 1942, Balli Kombetar organization battalions were established by the German forces, which existed until 1945. In 1943, a Kosovo Regiment was created in Kosovska Mitrovica made up of Kosovo Albanians by German forces. In 1944, these troops were also incorporated into the Skanderbeg SS Division. The German forces also established the Pec and Pristina Territorial Police Regiments from 1944 to 1945. The Albanian Macedonian Militia was created in Macedonia in 1943-1945.

Most of the Albanian Nazi collaborationist forces were made up of Albanian Muslims from Kosovo-Metohija. The Nazi-created Gendarmerie, the special police, the paramilitary formations, the militias, and the Ushtars, Albanian security forces, were mostly from Kosovo-Metohija. It was only the Albanian Army that was made up of Albanians from Albania.

After the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943, the construction of a Nazi German Greater Albania began. This effort was led by Hermann Neubacher, and Franz von Scheiger and Martin Shliep of the German Foreign Ministry in Albania. Abwehr II or German Military Intelligence agents were also sent into Albania at this time. Three German divisions in the XXI Corps under General Hubert Lanz occupied Greater Albania. The 297th Infantry Division occupied Pristina and Prizren in Kosovo. The 100th Jaeger Division occupied Elbasan and Struga in western Macedonia. The 118th Jaeger Division advanced from Niksic and occupied the Albanian coastal areas.

Kosovo Albanian Muslim hodzas or Islamic clerics pray for Nazi occupation forces with Nazi swastika flags and Nazi-fascist officers, 1942.

The German plan to secure the occupation was based on Hermann Neubacher’s initiative to achieve “national mobilization”. Neubacher, who was from Austria, acted as the envoy of the German foreign ministry and was German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop’s representative in Albania.  This Nazi plan was to be realized by creating an Albanian Army that was led and organized by German forces. The Germans also sought to create an Albanian gendarmerie corps. They planned to arm and use certain Greater Albanian ultra-nationalist groups such as the Balli Kombetar. A Nazi Waffen SS Division in Kosovo made up of “Kosovar” Muslims was also created by Nazi Germany.

Neubacher’s military adjutant attached to Abwehr II, Captain Lange, sought to create an Albanian national militia of 30,000 which would be a reserve force. The Germans were able to find collaborators with the Roman Catholic Albanians in the Mirdita region of northern Albania. They had been collaborators with the fascist Italian forces and with the Austro-Hungarian forces in World War I. They were able to open the Prizren to Shkodra road for German forces. Gjon Marka Gjoni, the leader of the Roman Catholic Albanian Ghegs in the Mirdita, stated that: “The Germans have been my friends. To betray my friends is immoral.” They remained Nazi Germany’s closest allies. The Germans provided them with weapons and paid them for this collaboration.

Armed Albanian gendarmes or police under fascist-Nazi control walk in front of Nazi swastikas on walls above the fascist “V” symbol with a mosque in the background.

Another group the Germans collaborated with were the opportunistic Greater Albania ultra-nationalist Balli Kombetar (National Front), “Balisti” or “Balists”. The BK group was founded by Midhat Frasheri with the single objective of annexing Kosovo to a Greater or Ethnic Albania. The BK was the key collaborationist group with the Nazis in Kosovo. Bernd Fischer noted that “the Germans did win the cooperation of many BK cetas”. This disproves the pro-Albanian propagandistic historiography which seeks to portray the BK as anti-Nazi and anti-fascist. The key to the German occupation was making Kosovo-Metohija a part of Greater Albania. That was the linchpin of Nazi policy. As long as Nazi Germany supported Kosovo as a part of Greater Albania, they would have Albanian support.

The head of the Gestapo in Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo was Gunther Hausding. The Germans established Kosovo Albanian Gestapo agents who were part of the fascist Albanian Committee. Perijuc Mamut, Ramiz Mulic, and Osman Ibrahimovic were Kosovo Albanian agents of the Gestapo who seized and looted Jewish property and businesses in Kosovska Mitrovica. This followed an order by Dzafer Deva, the president of the Kosovska Mitrovica district, that Jewish property be seized and that commissioners be appointed by the Albanian Committee to oversee Jewish businesses. Ibrahimovic ordered the destruction of the Jewish synagogue.

Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in Kosovo-Metohija place responsibility for the genocide against Jews in Kosovo on the fascist Kosovo Albanian Committee. The members were Rushid Mehmet, Sahsivar Alic, Husen Pristina, Tahir Kaldziu, Malus Kosova, and Sadik Galimuci. They incited the first and second waves of arrests of Jews in Kosovo-Metohija. Miljus Kosova was the president of the Albanian Kosovo Committee.  Dzemal-beg Ismail Kanli was the chief of police. Rashid Mehmed Ali was the president of the district. Rifat Sukri Ranadan, Jahnja Asan, and Mahmud Saban Pasic were also members of the Committee.

An Albanian fascist-Nazi Ushtar or gendarme escorting a group of Albanian Muslim hodzas or clerics. He is wearing the goat’s head Skanderbeg symbol on his cap, the emblem of the fascist-Nazi security forces in Greater Albania.

There were several internment or prison camps set up in the Albanian cities of Preza, Berat, Kavaja, Burrel, Lakosnik, Shijak, Elbasan, and Kruja, where Kosovo Serbs and Jews were sent. In April, 1942, 100 Jews from Pristina were transferred to the prison camp at Berat, while 79 were transferred to Preza. In July, 1942, 88 Jews were transferred from Pristina to the prison camps at Burrel, Kruja, and Kavaja in Albania. There were also prisons in Pristina and Kosovska Mitrovica. According to Fischer, of the 400 Kosovo Jews sent to Bergen-Belsen, about 100 survived.

Josip Josifovic, a Kosovo Jew, recalled the Albanian role in the Holocaust in Kosovo. He stated that “Albanians brought us more harm than the Germans did as occupiers.” He recalled that the Albanians interned the Kosovo Jews and sent them to the Berat prison in Albania in 1942. On their work documents the word “Jude” was stamped and they had to wear a yellow card.

An Albanian member of the Nazi German occupation militia forces in 1943, wearing fascist Italian uniform.

There is overwhelming evidence that proves the Balli Kombetar collaborated with the German forces. Based on NARS Microfilm T-501, Roll 258, Frame 000628, the Balli Kombetar “would be courted by the Germans and…they would throw their support on the German side.” The new Nazi-created government for Greater Albania gained the support of the BK. Steve Kane noted that “the remnants of the Balli Kombetar entered into open collaboration with the new government.”

All of the officers in the Albanian Fascist battalions were Italians while the NCOs were a mixture of Albanians and Italians. The 1st Legion was stationed in Tirana while the 2nd Legion was at Korce, the 3rd at Valona, and the 4th at Scutari. They were dissolved in 1943. They were battalion strength in size. Many of them were later incorporated in the German occupation forces. They wore Italian blouses, Italian helmets, and a collar tab described as a flame or Fiamme which showed a goat’s head. This was the goat’s head symbol of Skanderbeg. In the fascist Albanian Militia forces, members wore helmets with the goat’s head symbol over the “V” symbol, which was the emblem for fascism. Italian M33 helmets and captured French helmets were also used.

Gunther Hausding, the Gestapo chief in Kosovska Mitrovica.

The Albanian Gendarmerie and the civil administration welcomed the Nazi German occupation in 1943. Albanian Muslim hodzas or clerics were photographed in Islamic prayer services for the Nazi forces. They supported the Nazis because they would put them in control of Kosovo.

In September, 1943, the Germans sent the 100th Jaeger Division to occupy Tirana. This was the beginning of the German military occupation of Albania. The 92nd Independent Motorized Grenadier regiment was also sent. In September, 1943, the 181st Infantry Division, the 297th Infantry Division, and the 21st SS Division Skanderbeg were meant to garrison Albania.

In October, 1943, the Germans sent three Feldkommandanturen numbered 1030, 1039, and 1040. This was the beginning of the German attempt to create an Albanian Gendarmerie or police or security apparatus. These were sent to Tirana, the capital of Greater Albania, Prizren in Kosovo, and Struga in Macedonia. A German Plenipotentiary in Albania or DGA was created.  The post was given to Oberst Dr. Westphal, whose duty it was to coordinate German military moves in the country with those of the Albanian collaborationist civil and military authorities. The members of Albanian Gendarmerie were known as Ushtars and they wore collar tabs that were red while the uniform was green. The emblem on their caps was the goat’s head symbol of Skanderbeg which was worn in metallic.

General Gustav von Myrdacz, on right, the Austrian-born commander of the fascist-Nazi Albanian Army wearing a goat’s head Skanderbeg symbol on his cap walking in front of a fascist Albanian militia member. U.S. National Archives

An Albanian militia formation, wearing Italian uniforms, consisting of a battalion of 600-700 Albanian volunteers from Kosovo, was formed by Nazi Germany under Hermann Neubacher. Neubacher sought to use them to safeguard German lines of communication in Kosovo and Albania. The battalion was under the command of Albanian Lieutenant Colonel Adem Boletini. The Germans trained the battalion in Zemun, then part of the Nazi-created Ustasha NDH. Neubacher even contemplated having the battalion occupy Tirana. In September, 1943, the Germans redeployed the battalion to Tirana.

Dzafer Deva, the Kosovar Albanian Muslim Interior Minister of Greater Albania, redeployed 1,200 Albanian Gendarmes from Kosovska Mitrovica to Tirana in December, 1943. The SS Leader in Albania Josef Fitzthum was in control of the Albanian security forces, which were described as “a thoroughly undisciplined version of storm troopers.” These Nazi Kosovar storm troopers “ravaged the countryside”. It was an example of “Kosovar brutality”. The Germans provided 14,000 rifles and 425 machine guns and funds and supplies to the Kosovo Albanian security forces.

The Germans sought to create a Nazi-led Albanian gendarmerie force and an Albanian Army. General Gustav Fehn, the commander of the German XXIst Corps and SS Leader Fitzthum organized the formation of the Albanian Army. Heinrich Himmler had initially sent Fitzthum to Albania to provide expertise on security and police matters. Fitzthum had been born in Loiersdorf, Austria on September 14, 1896. He died in an auto accident on January 10, 1945 in Vienna. He had joined the SS in April, 1932. He had earlier commanded the SS Volunteer Legions “Flandern” and Niederlande”. In 1945, he was the commander of the 18th Volunteer Panzergrenadier SS Division “Horst Wessel”.

Inmates in the Preza internment camp in Albania where Kosovo Jews were interned, 1942.

Josef Fitzthum was the Higher SS and Police Leader in Albania, Hoherer SS und Polizei Fuehrer “Albanien”, with a headquarters in Tirana from August 1, 1944 to January 1, 1945. He had originally been the SS und Polizei Fuehrer “Albanien” from October, 1943 to August 1, 1944. He was also the Beauftragter des Reichsfuehrer SS fur Albanien, Heinrich Himmler’s representative in Albania, from October, 1943 to January 1, 1945.

The German plan was to create an Albanian Army consisting of 8,250 men. The Gendarmerie was to consist of 2,400 men.

Fitzthum, who had been an oberleutnant in the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I, planned to create an Albanian Waffen SS Division. This would be based on the Albanian Legion formed during World War I as part of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Himmler wanted to revive the Austro-Hungarian recruitment of Balkan Muslims from World War I. Bosnian Muslims, Albanian Muslims, and Sandzak Muslims had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I. Himmler, thus, strongly backed the creation of an Albanian SS Division. SS General Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the head of the SD, Neubacher, and the German Foreign Ministry in Albania, opposed the plan.

SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Talbot von Pistor, the supply officer of the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division.

In February, 1944, Adolf Hitler approved the formation of the Skanderbeg Division “because the Albanian government itself favored the plan” and because German occupation forces in Greater Albania needed more manpower. Bedri Pejani had even written Himmler personally to request that an Albanian Nazi SS Division be formed. According to Fischer, the “’Skanderbeg’ Division was to serve only in Kosova and was to protect ethnic Albania.” This is incorrect. The Skanderbeg Division was deployed to Kosovo, but also in Montenegro and Macedonia. The division became notorious for massacres of Kosovo Serbs. Fischer noted: “Units of the division gained an unenviable reputation, apparently preferring rape, pillage, and murder to fighting, primarily in Serbian areas.” According to Fischer, the Germans arrested Albanian officers in the SS Division at Pec and Prizren due to war crimes against Kosovo Serbs. Those arrested were sent to the Pristina prison and to incarceration in Germany. The Skanderbeg Division thus engaged in the genocide of Kosovo Serbs.

Troops in the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division.

The Final Solution in Kosovo

The Skanderbeg Division also contributed to the Final Solution, playing an important role in the genocide of Kosovo Jews. There was a Jewish presence in Kosovo. Based on 1931 population statistics for Yugoslavia, there were a total of 488 Jews in Kosovo-Metohija: 373 in Pristina, 109 in Kosovska Mitrovica, and 6 in Djakovica. In Pristina, the Beth Israel synagogue had been built in 1897. In Kosovo, the Skanderbeg Division rounded up the 281 Jews who were sent to the camp at Pristina and later to Bergen Belsen where they were killed.

The first operation of the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division was to round-up 400 Kosovo Jews in Pristina on May 14, 1944. From May to June, 1944, Skanderbeg rounded-up 519 Kosovo Serbs and Jews. Haim Solomon, a Kosovo Jew from Lipljan, described how he was apprehended by the Skanderbeg SS Division:

I was captured on May 14, 1944 by troops of the SS division “Skanderbeg” which was made up of Albanian soldiers, but whose officers were German. All of us in Lipljan were captured only after a few hours after the Jews of Pristina were rounded up. From Pristina we were transported to the prison in Kosovska Mitrovica where we stayed for three weeks.

August Schmidhuber, on left, the commander of the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division, leaving a hospital for wounded Waffen SS troops.

Solomon was sent to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. On April 23, 1945 he was freed by advancing Soviet troops when prisoners from the camp were transported by rail to Czechoslovakia.

Josip Levi, a Kosovo Jew from Pristina, recalled how he was captured by the Skanderbeg division:

They captured us on the night between May 13 and 14. The round-up of us Jews in 1944 in Pristina began in the night, exactly at midnight, and lasted until eight the next day…Our round-up was conducted by the SS division “Skanderbeg” which consisted of Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija, particularly from Drenica, but the officers were German. We were captured based on addresses which the Germans had received from the Albanian fascist civil administration. In Pristina we were put in a “G” wagon, a cattle wagon, and sent to the “Sajmisate” prison in Zemun, which was under the control of “SD” police, but where the Ustasha was in charge of the administration and security.

Levi was sent to Bergen Belsen. He survived and was able return to Pristina.

Genocide against Kosovo Serbs

The ethnic cleansing and genocide committed against the Kosovo Serbs is described by Bernd Fischer as follows:

The wholesale expulsion of Serbs by the Albanians created special problems for the occupation, however, since the Serbs had performed important functions in Kosova. The Serbs had run most of the businesses, the mills, the tanneries, and the public utilities. Once the Serbs had gone, there were no pharmacists in Kosova. Serbian peasants, somewhat more technologically progressive than their Albanian counterparts, were responsible for much of the surplus agricultural production for which Kosova was so useful.

Fascist Albanian Ushtar or gendarme wearing the goat’s heat Skanderbeg insignia of fascist-Nazi Greater Albania on cap.

Bedri Pejani, the president of the Nazi-created Second League of Prizren, a revival of the ideology of Greater Albania, wanted 150,000 weapons from the German forces to be used to kill and drive out the remaining Serbian population in Kosovo-Metohija. The expulsion of Serbs is described as follows by Fischer:

By April 1944, German documents tell us, 40,000 Serbs had been forced to leave, and Neubacher anticipated that the Germans might have to deal with as many as 150,000 Serbs leaving Kosovo.

The policy of genocide against the Kosovo Serbian population had been officially announced in June, 1942, by Albanian Muslim Mustafa Kruja, the fascist Prime Minister of Greater Albania:

The Serbian population of Kosovo should be removed as soon as possible. Serbian settlers should be killed.

Albanian Gendarmerie under Nazi Germany

In August, the DGA office and its command were integrated into the Higher SS and Police Leader “Albania” under the command of SS Gruppenfuehrer und Generalleutnant der Waffen SS Josef Fitzhum or Fitzthum. SS Oberfuehrer Karl Gstottenbauer of the German Consular Office in Tirana was also to be attached to the HSSPF command. Fitzthum reorganized the Albanian Gendarmerie and the Army. By April, 1944, the total Albanian forces raised were two Jaeger light infantry regiments and four militia battalions.

The Albanian Order of Battle was as follows:

1. Albanian Jaeger Regiment 1
2. Albanian Jaeger Regiment 4
3. Albanian Militia Battalion “Pec”
4. Albanian Militia Battalion “Pristina”
5. Albanian Militia Battalion “Prizren”
6. Albanian Militia Battalion “Tetovo”

Three of the battalions were set up in Kosovo-Metohija, while the fourth was set up in Macedonia, known as Illirida in the Greater Albania ideology. According to German military sources, these formations were under the German Order Police or Orpo and were fighting the guerrillas. These four militia battalions were made up of 2,000 men and were under the command of Hauptmann der Schutzpolizei Spruny.

The leaders of the Nazi-fascist collaborationist Balli Kombetar (BK): From left, Ekrem Peshkopi, Vasil Andoni, Midhat Frasheri, Ali Klissura, Koco Muca.

The Skanderbeg Waffen SS Division was also being formed with recruits from Kosovo and central and northern Albania. The Balli Kombetar (Shqip, National Front) also provided men for this Nazi SS Division. Between July 14 and 30, 1944, the 1st and 2nd Battalion/1st Regiment and its 1st battalion/ 2nd Regiment performed field maneuvers south of Berane in Montenegro and near Gusinje. The four militia battalions also participated in these maneuvers as did the 14th Mountain Regiment of the Prinz Eugen Division.

General Gustav von Myrdacz (1874-1945), a former Austrian officer who commanded the pre-World War II Albanian Army under Zog, was put in charge of the reorganized Albanian security police, but was captured by Communist guerrillas. Myrdacz was the liaison officer between the Albanian Army and the XXI Army Corps. He joined the Albanian Army in 1921 and became chief of staff by 1925. He had been an engineer-officer on the staff of the Austrian Army. He was a highly decorated military officer. He was awarded four Austrian orders, one Turkish war decoration, and a Grand Cordon of Skanderbeg Order from the Albanian government. During World War I, he had been the chief of staff of the XIVth division and had commanded a regiment at Tonale. He had been the chief of staff of the military commander in Sarajevo. He was involved in the engagements at Isonzo and Piave in 1917. After Myrdacz was captured, Albanian General Prenk Previsi was put in his place.

Once it became clear that Nazi Germany would lose the war, the Albanian Gendarmerie and militia battalions began deserting and switching sides.

The German occupation forces were better able to use the Albanian security and military forces than the Italians. German occupation forces were able to integrate Albanian forces into their security and military forces. Moreover, German policy was able to fully exploit the Albanian nationalist and political objective to achieve a Greater or Ethnic Albania first envisioned and enunciated by the 1878 League of Prizren. Nazi Germany revived the League of Prizren in 1943. The key to the Nazi occupation was to maintain the collaboration of the Balli Kombetar and the Albanian population by advocating a Greater Albania that would include Kosovo-Metohija. This was the crux to Nazi policy. Kosovo was the key.

An Albanian member of Nazi-fascist Albanian occupation forces armed by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Greater Albania Realized

There was widespread Albanian popular support for the Nazi occupation regime. Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler allowed Albanian nationalists to create a Greater or Ethnic Albania. This had been an unrealized goal of Albanian nationalism since the League of Prizren in 1878. Greater Albania was realized by Nazi Germany. Kosovo was thus crucial in Nazi policy. Making Kosovo a part of Greater Albania was crucial to maintain the Nazi German occupation.

The Nazi realization of Greater Albania had implications and political repercussions for the future status of Kosovo. Albanian ultra-nationalists had a precedent and a model for Greater Albania. Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler showed them how to realize a Greater Albania. The history of a Greater Albania from 1941 to 1945 under Nazi Germany is covered-up and censored in the US and the so-called West. Consequently, it is not known that Kosovo was “independent” under Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. Kosovo was annexed to a Greater Albania from 1941 to 1945.

Albanian popular support for fascism and Nazism was widespread. Nazi Germany exploited the Greater Albania nationalist ideology to gain popular support for the Nazi German occupation of Kosovo. Bernd Fischer noted that “numerous Allied sources give evidence of widespread support for the Germans and their government. In the north and northeast support was widespread.” The Nazi creation of a Greater Albania that incorporated Kosovo-Metohija would have future political repercussions and implications.

Bibliography

Fischer, Bernd Jurgen. Albania at War, 1939-1945. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1999.

Ivanov, Pavle Dzeletovic. Jevreji Kosova i Metohije. Beograd: Panpublik, 1988.

Kane, Steve. “The 21st SS Mountain Division”. Siegrunen. Volume 36. October-December 1984.

Munoz, Antonio, ed. The East Came West. NY: Axis Europa Books, 2001.

Trye, Rex. Mussolini’s Soldiers. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 1995.


By Carl Savich

Source: Serbianna

1. Siptarska regrutacija za SS Skenderbeg diviziju na Kosovu april 1944

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Noel Malcolm: “Kosovo – A Short History”, 1999. A history written with an attempt to support Albanian territorial claims in the Balkans (Second part)




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Noel Malcolm – Kosovo – A Short History

A history written with an attempt to support Albanian territorial claims in the Balkans

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Historical Institute of the Serbian Academy of
Sciences and Art
Belgrade, 2000

Response to the Book of Noel Malcolm
Kosovo – A Short History

Milorad Ekmecic, Academician
Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Belgrade

Historiography By the Garb Only

Reading, from necessity, the books by some Western, particularly American scholars, dealing with the past of the Serbs and the Balkans, I recall the impressions that are in my memory, for some reason, related to the socially committed painter Georg Grosz. Today the flashes of those recollections of my college days bring back a melancholy feeling that this is not a thing remote or unknown. One of those prints shows two horsemen armed with guns, a Nazi and a Bolshevik one, distributing from their saddlebags books to Polish peasants, I believe history books. Reading the two volumes by Noel Malcolm, one dealing with the history of Bosnia and the other with the history of Kosovo, now I feel miserable and humiliated like those Polish peasants on the eve of 1939 whose soul was catered to by their powerful armed neighbours who care about their souls and write voluminous and expensive books for that purpose. At present it is being done in Russia, too.

This is classic war propaganda literature, as it was called once. It is written to serve definite purposes of those countries and political organizations paying for it. And I am trying to recollect what has survived in my memory of my college Latin. Because the author of these two books about which I write by necessity is an intellectual mercenary, salarius, mercennarius scribae, the ancient “Epigonos, a philosopher only by his garb”, as Amian Marcelin calls him. The toga is speaking, not knowledge and conviction. To publish, one after another, within the short span of four years, two voluminous books, in order to prove, on the basis of history, that the Serbs have invaded somebody else’s territories in Bosnia and in Kosovo, that can be accomplished only by a man paid for his craft. Some people are paid for their skill in handling arms, some for their skill in writing. The first lesson learnt by historical methodology students is Droysen’s rule that scholarship is only what is written with scholarly intentions. If one in advance defines as his aim to prove the political responsibility for claiming as one’s own what belongs to someone else, then that science lacks the main ground on which it must stand. The books by Noel Malcolm are a subject more fitting for international police to investigate than for scholarly criticism, because it is the duty of that police to investigate the phenomenon of hired labour.

In my review of Malcolm’s first book, dealing with the history of Bosnia, my initial point of departure was my doubts about the scholarly credibility of the text. All the conclusions, the comments on sources as well as the bibliography in this book are characteristic of Croatian political emigrant writings, as well as of those by ideologists of the new Muslim nation in Bosnia. The latter phenomenon reached its clearest expression in the writings and authors identifying themselves, after 1990, as the followers of the “Muslim Bosniac Organization” of Adil Zulfikarpasic and Muhamed Filipovic. Zulfikarpasic became immensely rich through arms reexport and trade, but he has founded, for the sake of his homeland and people, a grand “Institute for Bosnian Studies” in Zurich. In my review of that short history of Bosnia, which a former American ambassador and the person responsible for the demolition of the state of Yugoslavia, called “a pavanne for Bosnia”, I proceeded from the assumption that there are striking coincidences between the views of the author and those of the people around Zulfikarpasic’s Institute. In the introduction to his new book, “Kosovo. A Short History” Noel Malcolm acknowledges his debt to his “generous and ever-resourceful friend” Ahmed Zilic. This lawyer from Sarajevo might have something to do with history studies, only because he was a member of the central committee of Filipovic’s and Zulfikarpasic’s “Muslim Bosniac Organization”. What kind of superior knowledge of Kosovo could this political agitator possess which could be helpful to a British researcher?

In a book which, relying on someone else’s, perhaps God’s help, he has put together in two years, Noel Malcolm has set himself the touching task to arbitrarily turn upside down an entire picture so far established by sober historical studies. The book can be understood only if, as in reading the Quran, one reads its last sentence first: “When ordinary Serbs learn to think more rationally and humanely about Kosovo, and more critically about some of their national myths, all the people of Kosovo and Serbia will benefit – not least the Serbs themselves.” Let us not invoke Droysen any longer, to spare his tortured bones from upsetting in that other, better world, on account of Serb history, of which he had known less than of any other.

While in his short history of Bosnia (1994) Malcolm borrowed its thematic matrix, argumentation, literature and thought pattern from Croatia-oriented intellectuals, in this, short history of Kosovo, he placed the entire structure of the book upon the foundations which had already been formulated by Albanian nationalist ideology even before the book was conceived. Hence his tendency to echo the naive literature which Albanizes the entire ancient period of the history of the Balkans. The general summary of the scholarly foundations of Albanian nationalist ideology formulated by Muharem Cerabregu in 1996 (Distortionism in Historiography. 19th Century Falsifications. A Contribution to the Historical Geography of Kosovo, New York, 1996) anticipated the entire structure of Noel Malcolm’s book. Cerabregu defined the framework of that structure in six points: Kosovo cannot be the historical cradle of Serbia because it used to be the ancient Roman province of Dardania where the core of the Albanian people was formed; Emperor Dusan’s was not a Serbian empire; the claim, on the basis of medieval churches as proof, that the Kosovo Battle in 1389 was fought by the Serbs, is a fake, bearing in mind that the majority of their army consisted of the Dacians, Poles and Hungarians, as well as that it was the Albanians that were defending the Christian West, whereas the Serbs were siding with the Ottoman Turks; Serb scholars have no right whatsoever to assign to the Serbs the uprising of the Albanian population of 1683-1690, after which the Serbs along with the Albanians began to migrate to Austria. Cerabregu says that the majority of ancient population of Macedonia was Albanian, that at present three out of four million of Orthodox Albanians live in Greece, that it is an established fact that the words “Apollo” and “Aristotle” are Albanian words, the latter meaning in Albanian “rocky waterflow”. “Kosovo”, according to Cerabregu, derives from the Albanian word for “high” and “wide” (“a high plateau”).

There is a clear disproportion between the scanty knowledge, miserable competence of the Albanian scholars and the grandiloquent theories that they propose. The scantier knowledge, the more grandiloquent theories. Cerabregu is of the opinion that world’s scientific circles make a serious mistake in not calling the Balkan Peninsula the Illyrian Peninsula. According to this author, the latter is a compound word made up of the concepts “Il” for “high” and “Ir” for “hilly”. The region, he claims, has been the homeland of the Albanian people since times immemorial. The Serbs are a more recent population in the region. They should not be allowed to think that Kosovo represents their historical centre, “when it is known that they have such a short history, without permanent dwelling territory? They did not have adequate time to develop their own original culture there.” They (the Serbs) have usurped their present lands from the neighbouring peoples, beginning from 1804, when they burnt Belgrade down, razing it to the ground. All the Serb churches and monasteries have been erected on the foundations of an earlier date places of worship which were not theirs. In the manner in which it is attempted to bring up the issue of who lived in Judea two thousand years ago and who has a right to it, the Albanian ideology is trying, through this mythological scietific works, to transplant this claim into Europe. “One must know”, says Cerabregu, “who is who in the Illyrian Peninsula. Who is the native, and who is alien.” Behind this philosophy of life “Either we or they”, a future is showing so horrible that it is too benign to call it mythological. That philosophy of life represents opening up the gates of ideology to the triumphal march of collective death.

Malcolm does not refer to this book by Cerabregu but he does dwell upon Cerabregu’s work dealing with Kosovo’s historical geography. He does not hesitate to build Cerabregu’s entire list summarizing the Albanian nationalist ideology into the structure of his own book. Malcolm made sure not to reiterate the original claims of Albanian nationalist ideology, which turns that entire literature into a part of modern entertainment culture, so he sought some more convincing solutions to provide him with proofs. His roots have, however, remained identical, and also the entire Albanian moralizing on Serb mythological scietific works. Cerabregu has written this book catering to the needs of Albanian politicians.

It is difficult to enter into a rational polemic with Noel Malcolm, because his initial approach is not rational at all. His handling of the history of Bosnia and the history of Kosovo, raises the essential issue of his views of the

Bosnian and Albanian people, the demonstration of their existence being his permanent concern. A people must always have the attributes of a people, its members have to share some characteristics identifying them as an entity. It need not be a state, though each and every nation has tended to establish its own independent state. Malcolm sees the Albanians, as he does the Bosnians, as a homogeneous population, as a demographic group bearing the respective name. The felicitous thing about it all is that his elementary interpretations regarding the origin of individual peoples and ethnic groups (such as the Serbs, Croats, Vlachs, Albanians and, in his interpretation, certain – mythical – Bosniacs) in the two books do not go hand in hand.

In his former book – Bosnia. A Short History, published in 1994, Malcolm claims that the Croats settled in the Balkans within north-western Croatia, which they inhabit even at present, but that they “probably settled even in a major part of Bosnia itself, except for the eastern strip of the Drina Valley”. Malcolm took over from the Bosnian historians, especially from Muhamed Filipovic, a distorted translation of the record of Constantin Porphyrogenitus describing the settling of the Serbs and the Croats, separated in Bosnia by the rivers Pliva, Imota and Cetina. Malcolm also took over, with the same, entertaining effect, the translation by Cynamos saying that Bosniacs are a people different from the Serbs. In this, his new history book, dealing with Kosovo, Malcolm flatly states that the Croats originally settled in western Bosnia. He does not mention the shame he incurred with his translations of Constantin Porphyrogenitus and Cynamos, though in the meantime he must have read the originals and he failed to disclose the truth. The Serbs settled in Rascia, the north-western areas of Kosovo, and in Montenegro. Later, the Serbs from Dalmatia Bosnia and northern parts of Serbia moved to Kosovo. In any case, Malcolm does his best to prove that Kosovo is not the historical cradle of the Serbs. Several parts of Malcolm’s two books seem to have been written by two different authors.

As for Malcolm’s first book, the one dealing with the history of Bosnia, explaining the origin and nature of the Vlachs, the author drew heavily on Dominik Mandic’s theory but he toned down the fact that the Vlachs are descendants of Roman legions in Pannonia that were interspersed with African blacks. Malcolm is now complying with the standard theory of Albanian nationalists that the Vlachs are survivors of a population living in the Roman Empire, that they spoke a Latin language and are, in origin, Albanians! The “Albanian-Vlach Symbiosis” has probably been effected to the west of Kosovo. In view of the fact that there were no Serbs there before the twelvth century, it is important because there a Proto-Albanian population emerged deriving from the Dardanians! So that stage – of the early medieval Kosovo – is relevant because it was during that period that the “survival of the Albanians” was secured. Next, according to Malcolm, Kosovo was the cradle of the Vlachs. In the end, he concludes that “this is more a speculation than a conclusion.” It is useful, because “the idea that the Illyrian Dardanians were ancestors of the Albanians may be of some sentimental interest to Kosovo Albanians today”. Malcolm does not agree with Albanian historians that the Albanians represented the majority of the population of Kosovo in the Middle Ages, but that before the coming of the Turks it couldn’t be known because by the Orthodox Church they used to be registered as Serbs. His conclusion is that the Albanian population has lived in Kosovo continuously throuth the history, but as a minority.

Malcolm does not explain in what ways the Albanians are to be legitimized as a people, and not as a demographic group which counts because in history it has existed along with others. The “Kanun of Lek Dukagjin” emerged at a time when the Albanians were, under Turkish pressure, broken into clans. The “Kanun” remained unchanged from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, then the Albanians tried to publish it. Similar to the history of Scotland, clans and zadrugas (stem families), emerging among the Albanians after the collapse of the central power, as institutions organizing the society on the basis of common law under the circumstances of survival. The idea of a homogeneous Albanian people was revived during the rebellions caused by the Berlin Congress, when the “Prizren League” was founded. The true historical root of the “League” was completely autochthonous, emerging in the early seventeenth century. The interclan councils (kuvends) played a major role in it. So the clans, emerging in the history because of the disintegration of the whole state, and later became again an instrument for the formation of the nation and once again and in the some time of the state as a whole. Malcolm uses the term “national renaissance”, but he knows about it as much as they knew about it three centuries ago. After which state did the clans emerge?

Malcolm’s book is not a history of a nation, and it is even less a study of its historical making. This is a political treatise trying to prove the presence of the Albanian population in Kosovo from its very beginnings. Though they do not have their state, or some higher form of social organization, the Albanians represent a special political factor everywhere. The Kosovo Battle was not fought by the Serbs only, Malcolm says, so he meticulously challenges that Serb myth which has become a historic symbol and trademark of the Serb nation. Though Malcolm does not accept the current theory of the Albanians that “the Albanians played a marked role” in the Battle of Kosovo, his overall endeavour is calculated to consistently demonstrate that it was a multiethnic clash with the Turks, including even the Vlachs from Wallachia.

The participation of the Hungarians in the Battle of Kosovo is very important because even some outstanding Serb knights whowere Hungarian noblemen took part in it.

Milos Obilic is most probably a Hungarian, Malcolm goes on to say, though his very family name “had a Vlach-Albanian background”. Its original form was “Kobilic”, a derivation from the Hungarian word “koborlovag” – “knight errant”. If it owes its origin to the Albanian or Vlach languages, then it is derived from the word “kopile” (a bastard), which exists in both languages but has different meanings. The existence of this word in the Serb language is ignored. The nine Jugovic brothers are, of course, of Hungarian origin, which is “evident” from the possibility that the “ugarovici” was somehow turned into “Ugovici”, which finally obtained the Serb form.

The Albanians, in the same manner, played a very important role in the Great Migration of the Serbs headed by Arsenije Carnojevic, as they did generally throughout the war. Malcolm challenges the Serb mythology related to the intended migration and the privileges promised by the Habsburg emperor to the Serbs. The Serb historians have made up a mythology of that migration following the example of Christ. They argue that the Serbs, like Christ, appeared in three stages – that they died in 1690, were buried, and were resurrected in 1912. The chapter dealing with this Austrian-Turkish war offers much evidence found by Malcolm in various archives, so that one has the impression that he might have really become a serious scholar, had he already not radically compromised himself as an intellectual mercenary and warmonger. All that snooping around archives ended up with the conclusion that the Habsburg Emperor did not recognize the Serbs as a people, that he invited them to move out and granted them privileges.

Albanians-and-Serbs-a-common-epic

He says, that the Serbs fabricated the key document (Inviatorium), because the Austrian Emperor invited them to proceed with their rebellions on the Turkish side of the border which had not yet been taken by the Turks.

Malcolm did his best to explain the concept of the “Rasciani”. He painstakingly searched for details concerning the differences between Raska (Rascia) and Serbia, between the Orthodox and Catholic Rascians and Serbs, only to end up by quoting the conciliatory definition given by Lazaro Soranzo, in 1598, that the Rascians are “a people from Serbia and Rascia who now live north of the Danube”. The finale of this entire analysis is the conclusion that the Serbs were not the key agents in the rebellions of the Christian population, but the Albanians.

Noel Malcolm frequently points out, as he does here, that the popular revolts against Turkish rule did not have a political, but exclusively a resistance to the tax policy of the Turkish state.

This is an outcome of his joining the currently flourishing historiography claiming that the Ottoman state was a just society, equally good for the Muslims, Christians and Jews.

All those conclusions were generated by the estimate of contemporary American geo-strategists – that the Western security was far better than the existence of a stable Turkish and Habsburg state, during by the sufferings of the independent nations of South-East Europe today.

To me, this strenuous attempt of Malcolm to shatter the Serb mythology surrounding some of great Serb deeds (such as the Kosovo Battle, the Great Migration, the Eastern crisis of 1875 is tantamount to saying that last week football game between the Italian “Milan” and German “Bayern” should be considered a game played by an Italian one team versus a German team because the Italian team had a British player in it.

The central issue, that of the birth of modern Albanian movement for a unified nation and an independent state should have been explained where the emergence and nature of the “1878 Prizren League” had been discussed. Though he views it as a purely Albanian political enterprize having nothing to do with the previously established Istanbul Committee controlled by the Turkish government, Malcolm, nevertheless, unconsciously describes the “Prizren League” as a purely Muslim, conservative movement for the preservation of the old order of the Ottoman state. They rejected the idea of the Latin alphabet, decreeing the reintroduction of the Muslim law (seriat) and prohibited European clothing. Malcolm over-emphasizes the responsibility of the Serbian government in Belgrade for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Serbia during the 1877-1878 war, yet he is expected to know that before the Berlin Congress in 1878 no European country except Russia pursued the policy of the protection of Muslim population. If they want to stay in a Christian state, their religion does not enjoy civil protection. As a rule, during all wars prior to the Berlin Congress in 1878, when an army of Christian states was approaching, Muslim population was not to expect anything good. The Serb historian of today has no moral right to justify the attempt of his 1878 government to displace the Muslim population, but it is his obligation to say that the international law was responsible for it, as well as that Muslim population remained only in the areas where it was not predominantly urban, the latter resorting to migration as soon as an army which was not their own was within sight. Where the Muslims were farmers, e.g. in Montenegro, Bulgaria and Bosnia, the laws and regulations made it possible for them to stay in place. The Serb historian cannot ignore the fact that all migrations have a moral and humane aspect, but it is not his duty to abuse it by turning it into political propaganda and promote the idea of the “twisted” character of his own nation.

The main weakness of Noel Malcolm’s books is their author’s strikingly arbitrary way in which he interprets the formation of a national consciousness and the processes leading to the establishment of an independent state. The entire existing scholarly literature dealing with the Albanians defines, as the crucial issue, the relationship of Islamic and secular motives in what is called a “Nation’s Building Process”. I believe that it was so far interpreted in a most satisfactory way in Stavro Skendi’s book The Albanian National Awakening 1878/1912 (1967). World historiography generally has been tormented by the question why national revivals, viewed as historical processes leading to independent national states, had a delayed emergence in all Islamic societies. For the idea of independence to be victorious, a new social structure must appear in a society because the feudal order in of a community cannot generate an independent nation.

Instead of summing up the existing historiographic works dealing with the relationship of Islam and the nation, Noel Malcolm starts by stating that the Albanians have always been a separate nation because they have had their “Kanun of Lek Dukagjin”, and have always shielded themselves from other Balkan peoples proclaiming during their great rebellions the Islamic law (seriat). I doubt that Malcolm has read the “Kanun of Lek Dukagjin”, which was recently published in our translation (1986). The others, too, who use that law as a proof, had better respect a demarcation line which is to be strictly respected by any serious scientist, namely the fact that the history of nations has known great laws and not that they have won their independent states thanks to the re-institution of those ancient laws while fighting for independence. An identical case would be had the Serbs, after the Congress of Berlin, reinstituted “Emperor Dusan’s Code”, or the “Vasojevicis Code in Twelve Points”, which correspond to the Albanian kanun. Noel Malcolm, however, explains the establishment of modern Albanian national state in precisely that way. He says that the proclamation of the seriat law and the “Kanun of Lek Dukagjin” before and following the foundation of the Prizren League (1878) represented the project that would result in the establishment of a new state independent from the Turkish Empire.

The case is just the opposite. Contemporaries of these events have always stressed that the Albanian nationalist movement was burdened with Islamic goals and that for that reason it was not recognized in time as a nationalist movement. The scholar and political emissary Baldacci Antonio wrote as early as 1899 that the Albanians were “almost incapable of the national idea but were on the other hand fanatically religious”, and so split their national movement into three wings. The conclusion to be derived is that the reinstitution of a common law code rather represented an obstacle to the winning of national independence than vice versa. The question is still unsettled of what in the “Kanun of Lek Dukagjin” is authentically from the fifteenth century, and what are later amendments and additions. The version translated into our language says that the suitors going to negotiate the purchase of a bride are obliged to bring with them coffee, sugar and edible oil. The prices for more beautiful girls were fixed in Austrian early twentieth century currency. In addition, Malcolm believes that “Kanun” proposes a philosophical definition of the nation. In the “Kanun” there are quite detailed specifications of the roads to be used by individual clans, but also of the importation roads to be used by the people as a whole. By his conclusion that this law remained unchanged from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, Malcolm has contributed an epoch-making discovery to world civilization – that coffee was not introduced into Europe by seventeenth century Turkish tradesmen, but that it was used by the Malesors two hundred years before that. Following that line of thinking, he would have to conclude that the definition of the nation within the rationalistic philosophy was contained in the code of the Albanian clans, which prescribed blood send and bese in the 15th century. Here in the Balkans there is enough local nonsense, so I don’t see any need to import it from a more civilized country such as Britain.

Modern Albanian nation emerged from the bases of that people which were a result of historical development. It is both an advantage and tragedy of the Albanian people that one or another of the great world powers has always played an important role in its striving for independence. Mr. Malcolm is expectably ignorant on the role of Austro-Hungarian administration in stirring up the initial steps in the Albanian nation-building process. In Sarajevo and Dubrovnik existed centres in which the projects of language standardisation, national alphabet and the first history handbooks were elaborated. They worked under the supervision of distinguished historian Leopold Thallocy from Vienna. He organized the design of the national insignia, such as the coat of arms and the flag. A red banner with the doubleheaded black eagle was selected. In the Sarajevo “State Archive” is preserved even the bill by which a painter in Vienna in 1897 was paid 15 florins “fur Ausfuhrung des Wappens sammst Fahne”. Contemporary Albanian historians (Luan Maltezi) are wrong in believing that the flag and coat of arms are stemming from mediaeval times. Thallocy himself wrote in German a Populare Geschichte der Albanesen. It was translated in Turkish and published “in geheim” in Alexandria (Egypt). The book had to “help awakening the national feeling and the sense of common dependence of Albanians with no difference in language and religion”. A natural nation-building process in the European type missing, people in Vienna attempted an artificial and virtual one. Only after the institution of communism, after 1945, the Albanian people, following the Russian model of rapid urbanization, tried on its own to shape its future on realistic foundations. Only then a society was created that served as a weak but anyway sufficiently firm basis for industrialization. By that time the social leadership of Muslim owners of large estates had been steering the development of Albania towards the building of an Islamic, not European nation.

Noel Malcolm tried to prove that modern Great Albania was being created according to the geographic distribution of that people from prehistory. He reduced the entire problem of the creation of the nation to the permanent ability of the Albanian people to restore that totality of theirs. He quotes the words uttered by a Skopje bishop towards the end of the eighteenth century to the effect that the Albanians are a “people increasing in number in a most rapid manner”, that they massively move to Kosovo, and that he demanded that the prayer “Ab albanesibus libera nos Domine” should be introduced into Catholic churches, because that settling “has taken over and crammed the entire Serbia”. The bishop goes on to say that this was accompanied by anarchy and Islamization of the immigrant Catholics. However, Malcolm rejects the theories that in that way, due to these processes after 1690, Kosovo lost its character of a Serb ethnic region. He is hanging on to his thesis that Kosovo is not the cradle of the Serb people, that there the Serbs were newcomers and that there the Albanian-Vlach symbiosis functioned as a solid foundation on which to develop to this very day.

If Noel Malcolm did contribute anything to the elucidation of the genesis and character of the Vlachs, it is only his absurd success in linking this issue with allegedly inferior and superior civilizations in the Balkans. The literature dealing with the issue of the Vlachs belongs to two categories. One category presents archival research and derives conclusions from the findings of that research. Serbian scholarship had a good beginning, it has attained enviable results, but its mission has not been completed the way it was began. The evident fact that the Serb people in the Balkans is not that same people that migrated from the north in the early Middle Ages has been used by some authors to fabricate it into the ideological issue about the inferiority of Byzantine civilization. This ideological alternative is legalized in current world scholarship by Noel Malcolm. He too proceeds from the assumption that the Vlachs were an ethnic group once, that in the seventeenth century there are traces of their language, and that this process continues down to modern times.

It is still questionable whether the Slav appellation “Vlah” was applied to all persons speaking Latin or a Latinate language really referred to a homogeneous ethnic group. In Slovenia and Poland even today the Italians are called Vlachs, and that name is even today applied to the citizens of the Rumanian province Wallacchia, of Valois and Wales. It is obviously not a Slav word as it is held to be. Did the entire Illyrian population during the disintegration of the Roman Empire use the same Latinized variant, and is the assertion justified that they all constituted a homogeneous ethnic group? The most absurd thing is that Malcolm does not specify the sources from which he quotes trying to explain these specific issues. He quoted the words of Lazaro Soranzo from 1598 discussing the differences between the Rascians and Serbs, but why doesn’t he also use the data by the same author pertaining to the Vlachs and geographical distribution of the Albanian population? Soranzo was a native of the province of Veneto, inhabited by the Veneti, an official in the Roman Curia, and his descriptions of the Balkans were written on the ground of possible plans to stir up the Christians to rebel and expand the union. His description is rather a testimony that the population under discussion was not a separate ethnic group but a nomadic community of cattlebreeders which in its turn was not an ethnic group, that its language was Slavicized, that its retaining of the original name was a social phenomenon. In his book of 1598 (“L’Ottomano. Dove si da pieno ragguaglio, non solamente della potenza del Signor de Turchi… ma ancora di varii popoli, siti, citta, e viaggi con altri particolari di stato, necessarii a sapersi”), Soranzo says about the Morlachi and Vlachs: “But having mentioned the Morlachi, I would not like to leave them without saying who they are. In those areas all Christian inhabitans of the mountains are called Morlachi, in particular those living in the mountain in Lika being situated between Novigrad and Senj. In principle, the Slav word ‘Morlakija’ has emerged since the Barbarians came to Italy, because when passing through Wallacchia, they gave that name even to peoples living at the Adriatic Sea, seeming to mean that they lived at the sea coast. Because by the names ‘Vulachi’, or ‘Vuloschi’ – the way the Turks use the name ‘Franks’ for the French – pass all Italians.” The opinion that there we deal with a mountain, cattle-breeding population is almost identical to that of Stojan Novakovic voiced early in this century. We could only add that there is no evidence that they were united through ties characterizing an individual ethnic group, but that to them the Serb language furnished, earlier than it is believed, that internal integration instrument. Even Noel Malcolm states that no traces of that Vlach language have survived except for personal names and toponyms, though he asserts, giving no evidence, that this language did exist in the 17th century. The language, not mixed marriages, integrates numerous clans and vernaculars.

The Albanians as a people were integrated into one whole late in history. The strengthening of the clan structure and common law after the coming of the Turks delayed that process. The name “Albanians” itself emerged late. The first great Albanian historian Wassa Effendi thought in 1879 that the word “Albania” was coined by foreign travellers as late as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; that their real name was ‘shqiptar’; that this word, on the other hand, was not in use but, for the sake of identification, always religious affiliation of the person was given. Prior to the institution of communism in 1945 a general feeling of community did not prevail, and religion always was an obstacle in its way.

The question of the historical boundary lines between the Albanian people and the Serbs is not settled yet. Soranzo says that the Rascians and the Serbs are one entity, that at the Council of Constance they “sono ditti Sirfi”. Soranzo then goes to explain that they are “the people living from the Albanian mountains all the way up to the Danube”. Of them, those living in Dardania and those living near those mountains are capable of making various stirrings (i. e. rebellions: “possono far molti moti”). Those are the Piperi, Kuci, Clementi, Bjelopavlici and others in the lands of Plave. Among them there are many Albanians living as Catholics”. As for the Albanians, or their part which he calls the “Dukagjins”, he says that they “live in the Sar mountains (Scardo) bordering with Prizren or Prizderma as it is called by the Slavs, or Perenopolis as it was called in ancient times, and it is situated in Dardania near the borders of Albania, and is inhabited by more Albanians than Serbs. From the Adriatic Sea, Albania is divided by highest mountains.” Soranzo states that the Albanians cannot be expected to take part in any rebellions, because they are all siding with the Turkish state.

The Croatian historian Milan Suflaj outlined, in 1925, the origin of the Albanian people, which was first mentioned by Byzantine authors in the eleventh century. They were descendants of the ancient Illyrians and re-established themselves “with a powerful nucleus around Kruja”. Both Byzantine and Latin sources used for this people the name Arbanasi (Arbanenses)”, and after 1271 “almost exclusively” Albanians. In the second century, Ptolemy mentions them as “Arben”, whereas Albanopolis is his name for Kruja. North of this centre, they had flexible borders, and in the south their borders were fixed. Towards the end of the twelvth century their northern boundary lines approached the road Skadar – Prizren, whereas in the fifteenth century they spread out to include Bar and reach as far as Kotor and Podgorica. In the fourteenth century they expand, encompassing “the quadrangle Bar-Avlona-Ohrid-Prizren”. In the Middle Ages, in the quadrangle from Ulcinj, Dubrovnik and Prizren, up the Drim river and as far as the Prokletije and Ljuma, a symbiosis of the Albanian-Vlach cattlebreeding population with the Slav agricultural population is accomplished. Due to Turkish raids, the next three centuries witnessed migrations by the Serbs and Croats towards the Danube and Drave, whereas Albanian migrations northwards followed in a slow succession.

Scientific circles have always paid due attention to wars and violence as factors changing the demographic structure of these regions, but the largest depopulation was brought about by the “modernization of agriculture and institution of ciftliks in the seventeenth century… Here as elsewhere, the price for progress was social oppression.” Yet, the great wave of Islamization among the Albanians was already under way between 1620 and 1650. In that period more than 300.000 Albanians adopted Islam, and as early as 1610 a papal legate emphasized the propaganda carried out by fanaticized hojas and mullahs. Waves of a massive migration took place in the following century, after the 1690 migration.

The question remains to be settled how just the estimate of Noel Malcolm in this book is that “the Albanians of Kosovo today are in many ways a politically mobilized people, but religion has played almost no role at all in that mobilization”. Religion is a political factor on the Orthodox side only. This view is not confirmed by other researchers of the role of Islamic religion in current Albanian nationalistic movement. Their general point of departure is that the Muslim factor represents the pivotal pillar of the society, whereas Islam as religion represents an instrument in the building of a national identity.

Noel Malcolm’s book has a very important function in the escalation of the Kosovo crisis. Like other books produced about the history of Bosnia, this is a text designed to justify the policy of interference and military intervention. In December 1992 the American President Bush warned Serbia’s President that the American army was going to intervene in Kosovo and in Serbia should any conflict take place in Kosovo as a consequence of Serbia’s actions. The American President Clinton repeated that warning in 1993. Prior to the stationing of 500 hundred American soldiers to Macedonia in 1998, the political literature was designed to “enlighten” that part of the public opinion in Western countries supported by their governments. Quite in accordance with this, Noel Malcolm, beginning the story of his book says that after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, “the wars themselves were launched not by ordinary civilians but by armed forces directed from above”. In the history of Bosnia and Croatia, he says, there had been no ethnic wars, except for some conflicts caused by political leaders, and the target of all of his argumentation are the Serbs and their political and cultural leadership. Like the works of Marc Wealer and Robert Donia, this book is a source of the accusation that the Serbs are responsible for the Yugoslav crisis in 1992.

Among the many meanings that future historical studies will be uncovering in the Kosovo crisis and the war started on March 24th 1999, the most significant one raises the question of what the western countries expect from it. Do they expect that, on the ruins of the order established in 1918 and then restored in 1945, they will ley the foundations for better societies and make it possible for those peoples to join more easily the community of more developed European countries? Judging by their workings so far, the western countries do not seem to have set the foundations for future democratic societies in that area. One would rather say that Malcolm’s book and similar literature are failures in that respect.

The most dependable analysis of the consequences of the destruction of the communist state in Albania was given by the Italian scholar Morozzo della Rocca (1998). A naturally vital nation, the Albanians represent the youngest population in Europe. Its 35% are aged under 15, and only 7% are older than 60. A poll conducted in East European countries in 1995 found that only 32% of the population in Hungary were convinced that capitalism was better than the crumbled communism, in Russia 35%, in Bulgaria 46%, in the Czech Republic 62%, and in Albania 81%. However, it was these most devoted believers in capitalism who possessed the economy, which an analyst likened it “to a retired person living on international aid and cheques sent by emigrants”. Among all East European countries, in Albania the transition towards capitalist economy of the free market was effected most rapidly. In the market, the only home products are onion and garlic. The new government designed plans for the reconstruction of economy based on trade. While in times of communism a university diploma was viewed as social privilege, after the collapse of communism the educational system was affected more deeply than any other domain. Shunning the school has been increasing, the number of college students has been decreasing. Worst of all, the idea that the nation and state do represent the main refuge of political security collapsed. Though they are devoted nationalists, the Albanians during the new crisis do not seek support in their own nation but in their one-time clan, to their communal family (zadruga) and to the common law (the “Kanun”). Instead of the democratic laws, which are improvised when the need arises, the individual there places his trust in the provisions of the common law buried long ago. Beyond one’s own family and clan nothing is respected. National unity is supported by the Orthodox part of the population, whereas the Muslim minority keeps resisting it. In the five years after the crumbling of communism, the population of their capital was doubled. The reasons for this are in the simple fact that in the thriving of “small scale” trade, at booths and in open market places, around a thousand dollars are annually made – seven times as much as in highland towns. The peace-loving politics of their government and their “pacifism were not a result of choice, but of necessity” because there was no longer the army. The industry, built with difficulty by the communists, has collapsed. Some textile goods and shoes are still manufactured, mainly by women. Men hawk about. In Albania there are more Mercedes-Benz cars than in Italy. The society is being feudalized. Under the circumstances of the collapse of all central state institutions, men are constantly armed. The majority of the male population plans to emigrate to Italy and western countries, but even for that bypassing the law is a must.

Bearing all this in mind, one cannot but conclude that the only historical project to lay the foundations of a European type of society came from the dethroned communism which, in spite of its overall political tyranny, was laying solid foundations for urbanization and an industrial community. At present that part is played by foreign governments, particularly by the Italian government. All their efforts end up in Tirana and Drac and the only vent affecting the society in a positive way is the readiness of the Italian government to have the Albanians as seasonal workers. Former communists of the Orthodox south have put an end to the general collapse brought about by the earlier Muslim government.

This gloomy picture of the future is not an Albanian exception. The situation in presentday Yugoslavia is similar, especially in its Montenegrin part, where feudalization has the upper hand, falling back on one’s clan and the common law, the black market thriving – the only sign that something is changing.

The messages of Noel Malcolm’s book dealing with Kosovo open the gates to historical hopelessness, not to the prosperity of emancipated nations. To me, the meaning of his books dealing with the history of Bosnia and Kosovo, including the dubious background of financial and research support making them possible, is revealed to me by the American bombers whose distant droning I can hear through my window. If something in this contribution of mine remains inappropriately said, it is accounted for by circumastances – I gathered material for it during several spells in February 1999, and I started writing it on March 24th, when the American bombers started rending the quietness of our sky. Both this book and the war for which the literature of its kind have supplied the requisite ideological foundations, throw all these nations back, at least temporarily, into the past when common law was the basis of social and state organization.

FOOTNOTES:

1. Milorad Ekmecic: Shorter History (Noel Malcolm, Bosnia. A Short History), “Dialogue”, 15, Paris 1995; “Istorijski casopis”, 1993-1994, 323. – The critical review was written for the London “Times Literary Supplement”, but it it was returned saying that they had already published a review of the book.
2. Warren Zimmermann: A Pavanne for Bosnia, in “The National Interest”, No. 37, Fall 1994, 75. “Pavanne” or “Pavana” is a court dance originally from South Europe. After 1535 it spread into Europe from Pavia, after which it was named.
3. The book “Bosnia. A Short History” 1994, is dedicated to “Ahmed and Zoran”. The identity of the two persons becomes clear only from the preface to “Kosovo. A Short History” 1998, from this reference to Ahmed Zilic. “Zoran” is Zoran Pajic”, professor at the Sarajevo Law Faculty, who at the time of the publication of the book was staying in Great Britain. He is Enver Redzic’s son-in-law. During the entire civil war in Bosnia he sided with the Muslims.
4. Noel Malcolm: Bosnia. A Short History, 8.
5. Noel Malcolm: A Short History, London, 1998, 11.
6. Ibid, p. 24. – On the settlement of the Serbs in Kosovo, p. 11.
7. Ibid, 40.
8. Ibid, 115.
9. Ibid, 221.
10. Ibid, 72, 74.
11. Ibid, 145.
12. Ibid, 225, 226.
13. Stjefan Konstantin Djacovi: Kanon Leke Dukadina, Zagreb, 1986.
14. Antonio Baldacci: L’Italia e la questione albanese, 1899, 2.
15. See the analysis in Milorad Ekmecic: Stvaranje Jugoslavije 1790-1918. II. Belgrade 1989, 118, 119.
16. Noel Malcolm: Kosovo. A Short History, 173.
17. Soranzo’s book contains a thorough list not only of the powers of the ruling Turk, of his dealings with various princes, of his actions against Christianity, of what we could have been done on our part to suppress those actions. In addition, it offers information concerning various peoples, places, towns and roads, as well as other details about the state worthy of attention. (Milano, 1598). – My quotation is from the Italian translation from Latin (Ferrara, 1607, 103).
18. Wassa Effendi: Etudes sur l’Albanie et les Albanais, Constantinople, 1879, 19, 20.
19. Lazaro Soranzo: L’Ottomano, 167. About the Council of Constance see the Introduction, LXXXVIII.
20. For the quotations from Lazar Soranzo, cf. Ibid, 174-175; Dr. Milan Sufflay: Srbi i Arbanasi. (Njihova simbioza u srednjem vijeku), Beograd, 1925, 27-28 – on the homeland of the Albanians after Ptolemy’s reference in the second century in Macedonia and around Kruja. – On the quadrangle from Dubrovnik and Ulcinj as far as Prokletije and Luma, 75; on the withdrawal of the Serbs and Croats under Turkish pressure and coming of the Albanians to their areas, 79. Sufflay quotes from Stavrou: Etudes sur l’Albanie, Paris, 1922; Thalloczy: Die albanische Diaspora. Illirisch-albanesischen Forshungen, 1; other literature. In the foreword for that book, Stanoje Stanojevic (1922) shared Sufflay’s opinion that on the Slav-Albanian borderlines “two worlds, the Eastern and the Western, have been facing each other, sometimes in a friendly, but mainly hostile way for thousands of years “, III.
21. George Joffe: Muslims in the Balkans, in the collection F. Wgarter and H. T. Norris (eds): The Changing Shape of the Balkans, UCLA Press, London, 1996, 83. Joffe quotes from F. Braudel: The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Time of the Reign of Philip II, London, 1975, 725.
22. Ataullah Bogdan Kopanski: Islamization of Albanians in the Middle Ages. The Primary Sorces and Predicament of the Modern Historiography, in Islamic Studies”, Vol. 36, No. 2/3, Islamabad 1997, 196.
23. Noel Malcolm, o. c., Introduction, XXVIII.
24. Nathalie Clayer, Mohhamad Khalid Masud: National and Religious Identity among Albanian Muslims after the Political Upheaval from 1990, “Islamic Studies”. Vol. 36, No. 2-3, 407, 411.
25. Hugh Miall: Kosovo in Crisis – Conflict Prevention and Intervention in the Southern Balkans, published by “Peace and Security, the International Institute for Peace Research Qurterly”, Vienna, Vol. XXX, June 1998, 7. The extent of the coincidence between the historical picture of Bosnia and Hercegovina arising from Noel Malcolm’s book and the political measures taken by a high-ranking international official implementing them in practice can be seen from a report of the SRNA News-Agency (by Branka Novakovic) from Amsterdam, dated November 3, 1998. The Bulletin of the paper Inter, published by non-governmental associations close to OESCD and the Office of a high-ranking international official, is quoted there. It advocates the establishment of a “civil society in Bosnia and Hercegovina, where there will be no national traits or identity, in order to create a specific Bosnian environment”. It is asserted that it is in the interest of the European Community and NATO to be stationed there until 2000: “Immediately after the establishment of mixed population municipalities in the Republic of Srpska and weakening of the national block power, the second stage of unification is to follow which should include a reform of the media and school system, i.e. the establishment of a neutral and impersonal system… We will try to exert our influence so that maximal shared elements are introduced in the educational system in both entities – says the project report aaccepted by the World Bank, which allotted 17 million DEM for its implementation, the Republic of Srpska obtaining only 5% of the sum. Additional funds will go to the Republic of Srpska if it complies with the media and school system reform, including changes in the interpretation of history, especially of the Turkish occupation period, a different treatment of Serbian epic poems, disavowal of Serbia’s school curricula and turning religious instruction into an elective course. The Latin alphabat and the jekavian dialect are particularly emphasized, because they are used in the larger part of Bosnia and Hercegovina.” It is concluded that “the Muslim party too participated, with several persons, in the composition of the educational system reform referred to.”
26. Noel Malcolm: Kosovo, XXVII, XXVIII. On page 340 he discusses the “Declaration 216” signed by Serbian intellectuals and the “Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts” of the same year. He does not quote from the official edition by the Academy but from a French translation of an earlier version, in Grmek, Didara, Simac: “Le nethoyage etnic. Documents historiques sur une ideologie serbe”, Paris 1993. In contrast to Samuel Huntington – Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York, 1996, 260-261 – that this protest was a natural reaction of Serbian national elite against the changes in the ethnic structure of Kosovo effected through demographic expansion, Noel Malcolm doggedly blames the breaking out of the civil war on the “Memorandum” of 1986. However, he toned down that conclusion a lot.
27. Roberto Morozzo della Rocca: Socio-Cultural Aspects of the Albanian Crisis”, in “The International Spectator. A Quarterly Journal” of the “Instituto per affari internationali”. Vol. XXXIII, No. 2, Roma 1998.
28. Ibid, 71.
29. Ibid, 74.
30. Similar conclusions are drawn by Giuseppe Milunco: Albania nella storia, Lecce 1997, and by Patrizia Resta: Un popolo in cammino. La migrazione albanese in Italia, Lecce 1996. A comprehensive overview of the problem is given by Maria Teresa Ianitto, in “Italia contemporanea”, 212, settembre 1998, 699. The migration of the Albanians to Italy has been going on since the 15th century. In central Italy the areas of the “Arberesh” immigrants have emerged who use their old dialect, differing from both variants of the modern Albanian language, Geg and Tosk. The clans and bajraks were crushed as late as the days of communism, which established “la famiglia nucleare”. After the fall of communism migration continued, mainly to Italy, where the migrants first concentrate around the remaining “Arbersh” communities. Maria T. Ianitto challenges the theories that the myth of ethnic unity existed throughout the past. In March of 1991 28000 fugitives from Albania migrated to Puglia. Europe first received them anti-communist heroes, but when in three days in the same year new 28000 escaped, the authorities sent them back noiselessly from the border. The emigrants do not tend to form an “ethnic or national group”: “Dal canto loro gli albanesi in terra straniera non tendono a formare un gruppo etnico o nazionale: si raccogliono in piccoli gruppi familiari di tipo prarilineare” (p. 700). This is a process similar to that characteristic of some southern Serbian areas.


Source: www.kosovo.net

Albanians

ISIS and the Kosovar Albanians



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U.S. air strikes continue against the terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State” — formerly the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or ISIS — in the borderlands of Iraqi Kurdistan. American military action has been impelled by the genocidal ISIS threat to Christians and various small Kurdish and other religious minorities, including Yazidis, whose faith is linked to Zoroastrianism, and the ancient monotheistic community of Mandaeans. Meanwhile, questions about the extremist movement and its foreign recruits have spread throughout the Muslim lands and the Muslim minority communities in the West, from Belgium to Australia.

On Monday, August 11, authorities in the Kosovo Republic — among the most pro-Western Muslim-majority states in the world — announced the detention of 40 Kosovar citizens suspected of participation in terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The arrests came after raids at 60 locations in the Balkan country, and were carried out under procedures established by the Kosovo Penal Code protecting “constitutional order and security in the Republic.”

The individuals jailed were identified only by initials and ages, and comprised eight in the Kosovo capital, Prishtina; seven in the eastern town of Gjilan, near the Serbian border; 11 from Ferizaj in the southeast; five from Prizren in the south; four from Peja in the northwest, and five from Mitrovica in the extreme north. The latter city is divided between Albanians and Serbs. Dates of birth ranged from 1962 to 1994.

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Evidence seized included explosives, weapons and ammunition. Kosovo police noted that 16 Kosovar Albanians have been reported killed in fighting in Syria.

According to the Kosovar newspaper of record, Koha Ditore (Daily Times), police said the sweep followed a two-year investigation, which is ongoing. Koha Ditore quoted Sevdije Morina, Kosovo’s acting chief special prosecutor, who declared that several local Muslim clerics are also under scrutiny. The same newspaper cited Blerim Isufaj, the prosecutor of the case, saying the majority of the suspects were affiliated with ISIS or Jabhat Al-Nusra, rival splinter groups from al Qaeda.

In Western Europe, alarm over ISIS and its appeal to the local Muslim diaspora emerged after the Brussels attack on the city’s Jewish Museum on May 24. Four people were killed in that incident, allegedly by Mehdi Nemmouche, a French Muslim who had fought in Syria. French interior minister Manuel Valls had warned in January that the return of jihadists from distant combat zones to Europe is “the greatest danger that we must face in the coming years.” Valls referred to ISIS influence in Muslim minorities as “a phenomenon of unprecedented size.”

On August 11, Australia was shocked as its media reported that Khaled Sharrouf, a convicted terror conspirator in that country, who went to Syria last year, had posted an image on his Twitter account of a child believed to be Sharrouf’s son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier.

In between, both in time and space, Albanians were repelled when, on July 31, a Kosovar in the ranks of ISIS, Lavdrim Muhaxheri, posted photographs on his Facebook page of himself decapitating a Syrian soldier.

Muhaxheri has a history in Kosovo of supporting extremists in Syria. On May 12, the Kosovo daily web-portal Express, in a reportage signed by its intrepid investigator of radical Islam, Visar Duriqi, said that Muhaxheri had worked in the official Kosovo Islamic Community apparatus in Kacanik, a city near the southern Kosovo border with Macedonia. In Facebook posts before his atrocity photo was posted, Muhaxheri claimed he controlled the appointment of the imam at the Central Mosque in Kacanik, which has become a center of conflict between Islamist radicals and local traditional Muslims.

Muhaxheri threatened to kill Kacanik clerics as well as politicians and public figures in Kosovo who denounced incitement of young Albanian Muslims to fight in Syria.

As described by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) on its portal, Balkan Insight, for July 31, Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga summoned a meeting with security officials of the Balkan republic the day Muhaxheri’s Facebook images appeared. She called for “treating this threat to the security of Kosovo as a priority.” Jahjaga said, “It is our responsibility as institutions and as a society to condemn these ugly phenomena. We must distance ourselves from these brutal acts of criminals, and we must denounce and treat them as such.”

Kosovo justice minister Bajram Rexhepi stated that an international arrest warrant had been issued for Muhaxheri.

The involvement of Albanians in ISIS has not escaped the attention of more influential global commentators. On August 7, David Gardner, a Middle East expert and reporter for the London Financial Times, pointed out that when, at the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, corresponding with the end of June, the “Islamic State” proclaimed its authority over all the Sunni Muslim believers in the world, the text was “translated into English, French, German, Turkish, Russian – and Albanian.” Gardner asked, “Why… take the trouble?”

Gardner attributed the appeal of the “Islamic State” for Albanian Muslims to penetration of the Muslim communities in the Western Balkans by Wahhabism, the fundamentalist doctrine originating in Saudi Arabia.

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Radio Free Europe reported on August 8 that Naim Maloku, a prominent veteran of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the 1998-99 war for the territory, and now a military and security expert, said that Kosovo legal institutions must prevent local citizens from fighting abroad and that the official Islamic Community must be more involved in countering jihadist propaganda. “In their preaching, [Muslim] religious leaders should be more active in their statements,” Maloku said.

During the fighting in Gaza, radical voices were heard in Kosovo demanding that Albanians support Hamas. On August 1, the “Islamic Movement to Unite,” also known as “Join!,” and by its Albanian initials as LISBA, was supported by fewer than 100 people in a pro-Gaza protest held in Prishtina.

Kosovar Albanians are sympathetic, within limits, to the Palestinians. Many Kosovars are bitter about close relations between Serbia and Palestine. Muhammad Nabhan, ambassador of the Palestinian Authority in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, since 1974, has stated repeatedly that Palestinians support Serbian claims to rule in Kosovo and has even denied that Serbia – which invaded and annexed Kosovo in 1912 — ever “occupied” Kosovo. In 1999, the Palestinian Authority invited the late Slobodan Milosevic to visit Bethlehem for Orthodox Christian Christmas in January 2000. Israel then warned that if the Serbian dictator attempted to cross its borders, he would be arrested and sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. The visit never took place.


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Prof. Dr. Petar V. Grujić: Twenty principal misconceptions about the Kosovo issue (2014)



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TWENTY PRINCIPAL MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE KOSOVO ISSUE

 1. Kosovo issue is a conflict between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs over the territory

Wrong: It is a part of the conflict between Balkan Albanians and the surrounding populations, in Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece (ex. clashes between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia from 1991 onward including and open rebellion in 2001

  1. The issue is a fight of Albanians for their political rights

Wrong: The crux of the matter lies at the biological level. The real rationale is a demographic explosion which is going on within the Albanian population for a century or so (rate of growth by Albanians four to five time faster than the average rate in other European countries) and the ensuing expansion for Lebensraum

  1. The southern Serbian province is called Kosovo

Wrong. It is Kosovo and Metohia, abbreviated KosMet. Kosovo itself is an abbreviation of Kosovo Polje, what in Serbian language means Blackbird Field (in German Amselfeld). Metohia is a corrupted Greek name for Metohi, meaning dependency to monastery, referring to the land bestowed by Serbian kings and other rulers to the monasteries and churches in KosMet like of Pecka Patrijarshija, Dechani, Grachanica etc. (the 13-14 century).

  1. Ethnic Albanians at KosMet (Shqipetars in the following, as they call themselves) constitute a majority of 90% out of total KosMet’s population

Wrong. In the last reliable census carried out at KosMet in 1961, Shqipetars constituted 67% of the overall population, with (predominantly) Serbs and others sharing the rest. As for the subsequent censuses (1971, 1981, 1991) Shqipetars refused to take part in them. All figures quoted for the period after 1961 are estimates only

  1. Shqipetars are autochthonous population at KosMet

Wrong. In the Middle Age KosMet was the central part of Serbian state, culture and civilization. Shqipetars were tiny minority (about 2%, according to the Ottoman census in 1455), nomadic herdsmen mostly. They came to KosMet from North and Central Albania mainly after the First Great Serb Migration in 1690 from KosMet to Vojvodina (then in Habsburg Empire), after an abortive uprising against the Ottoman rule in 1689. When KosMet was liberated from Ottoman rule in 1912, by Serbia, Serbs and Shqipetars shared equally the overall population there (50% versus 50%). All toponyms (place names) at Kosmet are Slavonic-Serb, except for a few of them (as opposite to the state in Albania)

  1. KosMet is an undeveloped, poor region

Wrong. It is the most fertile land in Serbia (apart from Vojvodina). The average DNP per family is the same as in the rest of Serbia. It is low only if counted per head, since the Shqipetars’ family has six times more children than Serbian family (and former Yugoslavia’s one, for that matter. We are referring to a proper family here, not to the so-called fis, extended Shqipetar family, which may comprise hundreds members). In fact, accounting for the fact that proportionally more Shqipetars are working in the Western Europe, their income are not accounted for when estimating family earnings and KosMet appears better off than the rest of Serbia. That KosMet is a prosperous region can be verified by direct inspection at the spot. KosMet is the biggest coal reservoir in Europe

7.The aim of Shqipetars is an independent Kosova

Wrong. It is a common goal of all Albanians to live in a single (united) national state of (a Greater) Albania. The political program of a Greater Albania is designed in 1878 by the Albanian First Prizren League (1878-1881). This aim has been practically already achieved. KosMet has been practically annexed by Albania as there is no border between KosMet and Albania. As for the West Macedonia, it is a matter of the near future. The next step is Cameria, as the Southern Epirus (today in Greece) is called by Albanians and the East Montenegro

  1. The expulsion of Serbs from KosMet after June 1999 is an act of retaliation

Wrong. The process of Shqipetar committed ethnic cleansing of KosMet goes on for the last century and refers to all non-Shqipetars (Roma, Turks, Croats, etc). It is a clear case of well planned ethnic cleansing, whose rationale is an extreme xenophobia. As a matter of fact, Albania appears the most pure ethnic state in Europe, 98%, with Greeks, Slavs, Jews, Roma, etc. banished in one or other way. After the NATO occupation of KosMet in 1999 the ethnic “purity” has reached the figure of 97%.

  1. Kosmet used to be economically supported by the rest of former Yugoslavia

Wrong. Since the Serbia’s contribution to the Yugoslav Federal Fund for the undeveloped regions matched exactly the amount donated by the Fund to KosMet, it was Serbia which helped KosMet to construct the infrastructure, schools, the Prishtina University, hospitals, factories, mines, etc. Further, since the Shqipetar population consists mainly of children and teenagers, who used to get children allowance, it was another source of enormous income from the rest of Serbia, which had on average less than 1.5 children per family (as compared with 8 with Shqipetars)

  1. There is no such an entity as a Greater Albania

Wrong. Although there not publicized, the maps of that projected united national state of all Albanians do appear occasionally in the Western press, either explicitly, or as the region with predominant Albanian population. The point with the latter is that these regions exceed the (semi) official maps of the future united Albanian state, and even include regions without Albanian population at all!

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  1. Albanians are autochthonous Balkan population descending from the ancient Balkan llyrian tribes

Wrong. They appear in the mid-11th century in the Balkan history and their origin appears uncertain (most probably they came to the Balkans from the Caucasus Albania via Sicily, according to the Byzantine sources, in 1043). As for the claims of Illyrian heritage (which is more a political wishful thinking than a very historical fact), distinguished English linguist Potter wrote “Some would associate it with extinct Illyrian, but with so doing they proceed from little known to the unknown”

  1. The rebellion in Southeast Serbia at Preshevo valley is due to the Belgrade repression on the Shqipetar population there

Wrong. This region was not included into the KosMet (autonomous) region after the WWII, for the simple reason that Shqipetars were a tiny minority at that time there. Now, many villages, which were purely Serb, are inhabited exclusively by Shqipetars. The influx from KosMet, plus the enormous natural birth rate, made this population to be majority in two of three rebellious counties. Due to this fast change in the ethnic structure, and due to the large percentage of young people not eligible for voting, Shqipetars’ representatives there are not proportional to the overall share of the population in the region. In fact Preshevo issue is a paradigm of the Albanian syndrome, as conspicuous at KosMet, and at Macedonia. First comes land occupation, then fight for the “political rights” and finally secession. It is the system which Henry Kissinger called “Domino Game” (referring to the Communist tactics in spreading over the borders). What Slobodan Miloshevic did at Kosmet in 1998 was much the same as J. B. Tito did in 1944-1945, after the Albanian rebellion of the Kosovo Liberation Army (the KLA) at Drenica (February 1998), when the military rule had to be imposed in the Province

  1. Shqipetars used to be friendly with their neighbors. They were protecting Orthodox monasteries there

Wrong. After the World War II more than 250.000 non-Shqipetars moved from KosMet due to the “demographic pressure”, not to mention violence. After NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in 1999 at least 200.000 (according to some claims up to 300.000) non-Shqipetars fled away from massacres (including and Muslim Turks, Muslim Gorani, Muslim Roma population, etc.). At the same time, more than 200.000 Albanians moved to KosMet after the WWII (most probably even more than 300.000), and about 300.000 after the expulsion of non-Shqipetars in 1999. As for the shrines, they are protected in the same manner as the synagogues in Germany by the NSDAP party members. Only from 1999 to 2001 about 100 monasteries and churches have been leveled to the ground at KosMet. The peak of KosMet Albanian organized ethnic cleansing and destruction of Serb Orthodox shrines came in March 2004 (the „March Pogrom“, March 17-19th, 2004)

  1. The „blood feud“ has been extinguished among Albanians

Wrong. It was much reduced during the communist regimes in the area (Albania, Montenegro, KosMet), but has been revived after the “democratic governments” have taken power in Albania. It is widely spread at KosMet, despite the opposite claims by the local politicians. In fact, the persecution and expulsion of non-Shqipetar population in 1999 was experienced by Shqipetars as a collective blood feud as it is, for instance, recognized by Shqipetar girl Rajmonda from KosMet in the British Channel 4 documentary movie „Why Rajmonda Lied“ (June 1999)

  1. The KFOR holds control at KosMet and helps the region reestablish the order and law

Wrong. It has no control whatsoever over the local population, in particular the irregulars of the KLA, turned into mock police forces. The whole region, y compris North Albania (and Montenegro for that matter) is the European center for drug traffic and smuggling of arms, tobacco etc. There are no proper juridical system, no effective police, prisons, etc. What KFOR/EUFOR can do the most is to protect itself, but it is well aware that when Shqipetars conclude the UN/EU presence is a nuisance for them, international forces will be expelled easily. A single step from “protection force” to hostages would be sufficient, and everybody at the spot is aware of that

  1. Americans are siding with Albanians in the current Balkan affairs

Wrong. They are directly involved, at all levels, from financing, organizing, training, arms supplies, diplomatic supports, etc. Training camps at the North Albania, KosMet, and Macedonia are lead by American instructors, who are engaged even at the front line, as the case with Arachinovo near Skopje illustrates, for instance

  1. The rationale for the American interference into the Albanian issue is a humanitarian concern for human rights in the area

Wrong. All events that lead to the violation of human rights and massacres were induced by Americans and (to a lesser extent) by Germans. Nothing of those would have happened had not the NATO (sic) intervened in the region. The USA is interested in the peace, not in justice. Since Albanians do not appear convenient interlocutors for political discourse, Americans insist to the rest to submit to the Albanian demands, who have made their political goals their political rights! As a “collateral gain” the USA have got an important stronghold in the region (like the  military base Bondsteel at KosMet), a secure (sic) passage for the oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea, via Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, to the Adriatic cost, etc. Another “collateral gain” is, of course, a free traffic of heroin from Afghanistan (occupied and controlled by the USA in 2001) through the area, right to the USA schools, colleges, etc (among other destinations). It is a claim that even 90% of the West European drug market is controlled by Albanian narco-dealers

  1. It was Slobodan Miloshevic who was to blame for the NATO ‘s intervention in 1999

Wrong. It was the Belgrade government responsibility to protect interest of the state of Yugoslavia, in face of a violent rebellion. The manners this state affairs have been conducted, including all eventual misdeeds committed over civilians is a matter of humanitarian concern and should be cleared up at the Hague Tribunal (or other international tribunal for the war crimes). But it does not justify bombing of Yugoslavia nor deprivation of a state to conduct its internal affairs. KosMet issue is much older than Slobodan Miloshevic and much deeper than disputes over political rights and state borders. Macedonia 2001 affairs clearly demonstrate this

  1. Former Yugoslavia disintegrated because of Slobodan Miloshevic

Wrong. His political (sic) manners only provided an excuse to Slovenia and Croatia for leaving Yugoslavia. The real rationale for this understandable decision was to leave the state that was burdened with the time bomb called KosMet, which the Federal Police hardly dismantled in 1981. And, of course, Slovenia and Croatia decided to leave Yugoslavia, a country in which they could not enjoy any more a privileged economic and political position as they used to have after the WWII. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the dispute between Montenegro and Serbia from 1999 to 2006

  1. It is the duty of the international community to help the Albanian issue settled down

Wrong. The international community does not comprehend the nature of the problem, for good reason, since it is not a political one, but a clash between a Middle Age (tribal) mentality and a (quasi) modern European standard of civilization. The only reasonable way towards a permanent and rational solution would be an a agreement between Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Albania, on mutual responsibilities and a civilized settling down of this Balkan affair, without interference from the outside, certainly not from the USA. If the USA want to compete for a role of an arbiter, they should first qualify by helping a permanent settling down of the Palestinian issue in the Middle East


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Author: Prof. Petar V. Grujic

2. Sotirovic 2013

Corrector: Assoc. Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

29-11-2014

© Petar V. Grujic & Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2014

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The killing of Serbian children in Kosovo: The story of a survivor



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At the age of 15 on a riverbank he was shot eight times just for being Serbian. He survived and a few days later during the religious holiday of Transfiguration he was out of his coma. But until now he has not received an answer to his question: who shot the children bathing in the river near the Kosovo village of Gorazdevac on August 13, 2003? In his interview to the Voice of Russia Bogdan Bukumiric tells a wonderful story of his rescue.

“It is not so scary to die as to be buried alive” – this is the inscription on the monument to the victims of Albanian terrorists and the NATO aggression in the small town of Gorazdevac, an oasis and at the same time a ghetto for the Serbian population in Metohija. There are portraits of two boys on the monument – Panto Dakic and Ivan Jovovic. They died on August 13, 2003 on the bank of the Bistrica River when unknown persons opened fire at the people resting there. Four more teenagers were wounded at that moment. Concerning one of them, Bogdan Bukumiric, 15 years of age, the doctors gave the following forecast: 96% chance of death and 4% chance of survival. He survived. He is 24 now, he lives in Belgrade, and when he read the story about the recent acts of vandalism in Kosovo (the monument in Gorazdevac was shot at) published by the Voice of Russia web site, he agreed to share with our journalists his memories of that horrible crime that nobody has been held responsible for.

Bogdan was born in Gorazdevac, where according to him after 1999 people turned immune to the sounds of shooting. After the war and the NATO aggression, which ended in the withdrawal of Serbian troops, the life there was difficult. The village had a population of 1000 and was surrounded by only Albanian settlements. The closest large city is Pec. They had to go there to buy food escorted by KFOR. There was no end to the Albanian provocations: Bogdan’s aunt, Milica Bukumiric, was killed at the doors to her house as somebody threw a grenade into her yard. The youth was isolated from the world – there was no entertainment, no chance to travel from the village; all they had left was only the community at school and around it. There was not even a swimming pool. Why “even”? Perhaps that fact played the lethal role in the whole story…

“My house was the closest to the river. On August 13 all my friends who passed by my house called upon me to go for a swim. I asked my father if I could go. My dad had something like a premonition. He said that I should not go, that the water was still cold. But then I asked again, and as a result went along with my friends. There were a lot of kids at the Bistrica River, as well as lots of youth and parents. I entered the water, it was really cold, and so I went to the fire. Less than ten minutes later I heard machine gun fire. My friends and me stood closest to the terrorists. Three bullets hit me in the left side. The guys and I knew that forest they were shooting from pretty well. I realized that if they came out of the bushes, I would see them. I sharply turned in that direction they were firing from – a few more bullets hit me in the breast and stomach. My legs gave in, I began to fall down, and at that moment a bullet hit me in the head. And the eighth bullet hit my left leg”.

Bogdan cried for help and still tried to get up. The villagers brought the boy to the hospital at the KFOR military base, but the doctor was not there. The wounded boy received the first aid at the local clinic; primarily they tried to stop the bleeding. Bogdan was conscious and kept asking the doctors to take his brother away from the room, as he did not want him to see him in such a state. The local resident demanded that the KFOR personnel take the boy to the hospital in Pec, but they found millions of excuses not to do it. As a result, Bogdan’s brother and his neighbor at their own risk drove him in a car to the completely Albanian town of Pec. “Bogdan, hold on, you are a hero, you will live”, – they kept saying. “I will not surrender”, – was Bogdan’s answer.

“Unfortunately, near the farmers’ market in Pec our car engine stopped. Our license plates were Serbian, so the Albanians attacked us. They destroyed the car, crushed the windows and wanted to drag us out of the car. They hit my neighbor who was trying to start the engine with their fists on the head; my brother was hit with a stone. There was neither mercy nor pity, although they saw a person who was hardly alive. If they dragged us out, we would have not survived. But fortunately, two KFOR patrol cars appeared and started shooting into the air. Up until that moment I was still conscious, but then I was in coma. What happened next I know from the stories of those who were with me”.

Bogdan Bukumiric was first admitted to the local hospital. Another victim of the shooting, Panto Dakic, was there as well.

“Panto was in a bed next to mine. Both the medical personnel and the patients had fun: “You wanted Kosovo, here you go!”, “Whoever did this, he is a good guy!”. Panto’s father would hold his son’s hand in one hand and mine in the other. An Albanian doctor came, but Panto’s father did not let him examine us, since he did not trust him. At that moment my friend died. The doctors believed that I died as well. However, a doctor who came from our village established that I was still alive. She insisted that they transport me by helicopter to the Northern part of Mitrovica. KFOR people said that they needed to get permission. She tried to convince them for three hours, and finally, a helicopter brought in another wounded, Marco Bogicevic to Prizren, and then they took me to the hospital of the French KFOR troops in the Southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica”.

Milenka Cvetkovic, a doctor from the Northern part of Mitrovica played the most important role in saving Bogdan’s life. When she found out about what had happened, despite the risk she went to the Southern, Albanian, part of the city where the French KFOR doctors operated on Bogdan’s spleen (the bullet passes in two millimeters from his left kidney). But when there was a delay in getting a neurosurgeon, the doctor insisted that the boy was taken to Belgrade. Naturally, a Serbian helicopter could not be allowed to land on the territory of Kosovo, but first that information was not openly stated. So in a car Bogdan was taken to central Serbia and from there – to the Military Medical Academy in the capital. Bogdan’s blood pressure went down to 40, but the doctor took all the necessary measures and it was stabilized. Due to the endless bureaucratic delays of KFOR, the entire process of transporting half-alive boy took 11 hours.

“When the doctors at the Military Medical Academy found out that in my body there was only 1.4 liters of blood instead of the normal 5-5.5 liters, they decided not to do the surgery right away. I was given a blood transfusion and the surgery was planned for the next morning. They forecast was the following: 4% chance for survival, 96% chance to die. On August 19, at Transfiguration I was out of coma. My neurosurgeon said that he did not believe that I would regain consciousness, it all depended on my organism”.

But it was only the beginning: Bogdan had a high fever and it turned out that the splinters of the bone damaged the cortex. Bogdan survived through four surgeries, had meningitis, and was motionless for four months – only the right side of his body functioned. But thanks to the exercises and of course, his perseverance he got back on his feet. Many high-ranking officials visited him at the hospital, including Harri Holkeri, who at that time was the UNMIK chief.

“He hurried to catch a plane; he asked me about my health and wished me a fast recovery and return to my home village, where everything was peaceful and under control. I asked him: Mr. Holkeri, can I ask you a question? Have you arrested the criminals? He clearly did not expect such a question from a 15-year old boy. He was at a loss and said that they were working on it, but had not collected sufficient evidence”.

For many years has Bogdan corresponded with various international organizations in Kosovo. They promised to «leave no stone unturned » in order to find the murderers: between 2003 and 2007 nothing much was done, then a new group started the investigation from scratch. They wrote to him that if new evidence came up, the investigation would be continued. But all the same, – says Bogdan, – justice will eventually take over.

“Monsters did that. To shoot at children who are having fun at the river… The youngest kids were about five years old. And it was a specifically developed plan – to scare us. They could not drive us away from the village and decided to strike at the most sensitive place for every person – the children”.

Bogdan has gone through many recovery courses, but even now he cannot fully control his left arm. Maybe in Russia there are doctors that can help me, because after all that I have gone through, I deserve to have everything right, – he says. However, the fate has another «surprise» in store for Bogdan Bukumiric. In 2003 he received an apartment in the Serbian capital as a long-term use with the right to buy it out. Then the decision was changed, and now every year he has no sign an agreement to extend the lease. Bogdan is afraid that one day they would come to remind him of such a thing as market driven terms and would tell him to move out.

“The publication “Vecernje novosti” has launched a campaign to collect funds to buy out the apartment. They estimated its value to be 59 thousand euro; I do not have that much money. Thus, I am forced to ask others for help, as it appears that the state is not interested in my problem. Right now about 6 thousand has been raised. I don’t know where to get the remaining sum. This problem needs to be resolved within a month or two”.

Bogdan lives with his brother and father. His mother died when the boy was five. He is currently not working, although he graduated from a school for electricians. He is completely dedicated to staying healthy. Bogdan Bukumiric cannot go back to Gorazdevac as he has to constantly be under the observation of the best available doctors in the capital. But the other children wounded on August 13, 2003, continue to live in the village of Gorazdevac. The families of the killed Panto and Ivan are also there.

“At the Gorazdevac cemetery there is a church that is the oldest in the Balkans. It was built without a single nail eight centuries ago. And I believe it protects my homeland. Gorazdevac was not burned down during World War I, it was not abandoned in World War II, or in the 1999 war or during all the events that followed; my village lived through all that”.

Irina Antanasijevic, the teacher of the Russian language and literature, who has lived in Kosovo for any years wrote in her memoires about the early 2000s: “The disarmament of Kosovo was the disarmament of the Serbian peasants, the shooting of who then turned into a sport of some sort. It was not even an extreme kind of sport. There was no danger. Go… shoot… leave, and then soldiers would arrive who would deal with the evacuation of the dead bodies and turning the stones…”


2013-02-13

By Timur Blokhin

Source: American Council for Kosovo

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Book: Prof. Petar V. Grujic, KOSOVO KNOT, Pittsburg, PA: Rosedog Books, 2014, pp. 450 (available on amazon.com)



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Kosovo has been a troublesome region of West Balkan for the last half millennium. The latest events, which have resulted in NATO occupation of the southern province of Serbia, marked the culmination of the violence that includes both domestic and international agencies.

p_grujicMany authors have dealt with the Kosovo affair, but none of them endeavored to present a complete picture of the case. This book attempts to provide a broad and objective analysis of the problem from the historical, anthropological, political and sociological points of view. The emphasis is on the sociological side of the conflicts.

Only by understanding the differences of the mental structures and civilizations of the populations involved can one hope to achieve a just and sustainable solution. It is shown that the Kosovo affair is a part of the perennial issue of montagnards versus plane people.

This forms the background of the conflicts West Balkan has witnessed in the last decades. The Kosovo case cannot be considered isolated from the global political situation and this book provides bold, even provocative, examinations of the principal players from outside.

It provides also a detailed account of the political situation in Serbia for the last half century, with a detailed account of the struggle to overthrow Milosevic’s regime.

From the book review

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Albanology and political claims of the Albanians



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The interest of European scholars, primarily German and Austrian, in research on Albanian ethnical origin rose gradually during the second half of the 19th century.[1] Their interest in Albanian and Balkan studies came later in comparison with the study of other ethnic groups and regions in Europe. The reason was that Euro-centrism of the late 19th century and the early 20th century defined the Balkans and its nations as the territory and peoples of obscure identity. In contrast to the  “real Europe”, the Balkans was seen as the “Orient”, not part of Europe at all, and above all it was considered as an “uncivilized” part of the world.[2]

Nonetheless, when the studies of the Albanians began the research was focused on the relationships of  the Albanian language to other European languages. However, the first hypothesis with respect to Albanian ethnic origins was quite indistinct and very soon discarded by the majority of scholars. According to a nebulous hypothesis proposed by A. Schleicher, the Albanians originated from the Pelasgians who were supposed to be the most indigenous Balkan population, settled not only on the entire territory of the Balkan Peninsula, but also inhabited a major portion of the Mediterranean basin in pre-historic times.[3] Moreover, it was erroneously believed that Indo-European languages such as Greek, Latin and “ancient” Albanian (i.e., the Illyrian language) were derived from the ancient Pelasgian language. However, some of Albanian scholars at present still believe that this hypothesis has real scientific foundations regardless of the fact that later 19th century linguists and researchers in comparative philology undermined the “Pelasgian” hypothesis and finally at the beginning of the 20th century overturned it.[4]

The German linguist Franz Bopp was first to claim (in 1854) that the Albanian language had to be considered as separate branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The scientific foundation of the hypothesis that the Albanians derive their ethnic origin from the Balkan Illyrians based on language criteria was laid out by the late 19th century Austrian philologists Gustav Meyer. He claimed that  the contemporary Albanian language was a dialect of the ancient Illyrian language. His claims initially were based on the results of the analysis of a few hundred basic Albanian words, tracable to their Indo-European origin. Later, Albanian national workers transformed Meyer’s hypothesis into the “Illyrian” theory of the Albanian ethnic background. Meyer’s hypothesis was based on the results of his linguistic investigations and comparisons of ancient Illyrian language to contemporary Albanian. Meyer argued that the modern Albanian language had to be considered as the last phase of the evolution of the old Illyrian language. Specifically, according to him, the 19th century Albanian language was a dialect of the ancient Illyrian language.[5] However, the critical problem with Mayer’s methodology was the fact that we do not have any evidence of the ancient Illyrian language as the Illyrians were illiterate. The reconstruction of this ancient language is a matter of the science of fantasy. Nevertheless, G. Meyer, a professor at Graz University from 1880 to 1896 wrote several works in which he opposed A. Schleicher’s Pelasgian theory of Albanian origin. Mayer claimed in his works (Albanesischen Studien, Albanesische Grammatik, Etymologische Wörterbuch der Albanesischen Schprache) that Albanian language was nothing more than a dialect of the ancient Illyrian language.[6]

Meyer’s hypothetical claims were taken up by a majority of Albanian authors, primarily from Italy, who made use of them for the propaganda directed to the realization of Albanian territorial claims, especially by the Albanian nationalist movement in the coming decades. The final aim of this propaganda work was to prove, using the evidence derived from scholarly research, that the Albanians were not members of ethnic Turk, Greek or South Slavic populations, but rather members of a totally different ethnic group, which had its own language. In other words, they fought for international recognition of the existence of separate Albanian nationhood which had certain national rights, including the basic right to create their own national independent (Albanian) state. Such a national state of the Albanians would embrace all Albanian populations of the Balkan Peninsula. For instance, on May 30th, 1878 the Albanian Constantinople Committee proclaimed their desire for  peaceful coexistence between the Albanians and their Slavonic and Greek neighbors, but only under the  condition that the Albanian ethnographic lands would be included into a unified Albanian national state.

The so-called Italo-Albanians, or Arbereshi, whose predecessors emigrated from Albania after the death of Scanderbeg in 1468 to the southern Italian provinces of Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, formulated this political program for the  unification of  Albanians into a united or Greater Albania. The program underlined that the achievement of national unity and the liberation of the Albanians required their territorial unification, joint economy, joint standardized language and a pervasive spirit of patriotism and mutual solidarity. The Albanian national leader from the end of the 19th century, Naïm Frashëri (1846–1900), described what it meant to be Albanian: “All of us are only single tribe, a single family; we are of one blood and one language”.[7] It is obvious that on the question of national unification at the turn of the 20th century Albanian workers would seek an Albanian ethnic and cultural identity primarily in common language since in Albanian case religion was a divisive rather than unifying factor. Additionally, and for the same purpose of national unification, they demanded that Albanian language be written in the Latin alphabet in order to distinguish themselves from the neighboring Greeks, Serbs, Montenegrins and Ottoman lords. This was totally irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of Albanians who could read neither the script.[8] However, the national unification of Albanian people on the basis of language was not completely successful, and even today it is still difficult for the Gheg Albanians to fully understand the Tosk Albanian dialect.[9]

Endnotes:

[1] The question of Albanian ethnogenesis was first examined by Johan Thunmann (1746−1778) in 1774 (Research on history of the East European peoples, Leipzig) and Johan Georg von Hahn (1811−1869) in 1854 (Albanian studies, Jena). Both were of the opinion, but not based on any source, that the Albanians lived in the territories of the ancient Illyrians and they were natives and Illyrian in essence. Hahn thought that ancient names like Dalmatia, Ulcinium, Dardania, etc. were of Illyrian-Albanian origin. This hypothesis is fully accepted by modern Albanian linguists. For example, “The name of Ragusium (present-day Dubrovnik), which in the mouth of the Albanians was Rush Rush, shows that the Adriatic coast was part of the territory inhabited by the ancestors of the Albanians beyond the present ethnic borders. The adoption of this name by the Albanians belongs to the time since 614 B.C… I conclude that there is a continuity of the Albanians in their present territories since ancient times. The old place-names in their present form indicate that this population has continuously inhabited the coasts of the Adriatic from that time until today” [Çabej E., “The problem of the autochthony of Albanians in the light of place-names”,Buletini i Universitetit Shteteror te Tiranes, № 2, 1958, pp. 54–62]. This standpoint is usually unquestionably recognized as truth by Albanian and German researchers like Peter Bartl in his book: Albanian. Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Regensburg, Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1995 [Serb language edition: Бартл П., Албанци од средњег века до данас, Београд: CLIO, 2001, p. 15]. However, the Illyrian theory of  Albanian origin (the Albanians were considered even as the oldest European people) was created by German and Austrian scholars for the very political purpose: to unite all ethnic Albanians around the central political ideology and national consciousness [Батаковић Т. Б., Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, Друго допуњено издање, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, pp. 66−67; Екмечић Е., Стварање Југославије 1790−1918, II, Београд, 1989, pp. 450−455]. At that time, like today, the ethnic Albanians were divided into three antagonistic confessions (Islam, Roman-Catholicism and Orthodoxy) and many hostile clans based on the tribal origin. In fact, the German scholars invented for the Albanians both artificial tradition and artificial “imagined community” in order to be more scientifically stronger in their territorial claims against the Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks. In this context, we cannot forget that the first Albanian state was created and supported exactly by Austria-Hungary and Germany in 1912−1913. In the other words, the Albanians have been the Balkan clients of German political expansionism in the region.   

[2] Mishkova D., “Symbolic Geographies and Visions of Identity: A Balkan Perspective”, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2008, pp. 237−256.

[3] On ancient Balkan Pelasgians as the Greek tribes, see [Zorzos G., Greek Pelasgian Tribes Textbook, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2009 (in Greek)].

[4] However, even today there are many non-Albanian scholars who believe in a theory of Albanian Balkan origin as one of the oldest European nations. See, for instance [Jacques E. E., The Albanians: An Ethnic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present, Jefferson, N. Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2009].

[5] Regarding the contemporary scientific results on this question, see [Hamp E. P., “The Position of Albanian”, Proceedings of Conference on Indo-European Linguistics, Los Angeles, 1963].

[6] Батаковић Т. Д., Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, Друго допуњено издање, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, p. 66.

[7] Gut Ch., “Groupe de Travail sur l’Europe Centrale et Orientale”, Bulletin d’Information, № 2, June 1878, Paris, p. 40.

[8] The international political aspect of the Albanian struggle for a pan-Albanian national unification into a Greater Albania is evidenced by the fact that Albanian national workers tried to obtain the support of Western Europeans by claiming that Greater Albania would be the crucial bulwark against Russian penetration to the Balkans via Russian client (Orthodox) nations and states – the Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks. For instance, Montenegro was presented by the Albanians as “the Russian outpost at the Adriatic Sea”. The Albanian Sami Frashëri published an article in Istanbul newspapers Tercüman-i şark on September 27th, 1878 in which the borders of Greater Albania were defined by the borders of four “Albanian” provinces (vilayets) of the Ottoman Empire – Scodra, Bitola, Ioanina and Kosovo. These four provinces would be united into the so-called “Albanian Vilayet” (see figure 1). The First Prizren League, as the first organized Albanian political organization, accepted this concept in autumn of 1879 as the programe of the organization [Бартл П., Албанци од средњег века до данас, Београд: CLIO, 2001, pp. 96, 100−101].

[9] Hobsbawm E. J., Nations and Nationalism since 1789. Programme, Myth, Reality, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 52, 115. About the language basis of (non)identification among the Albanians from the beginning of the 20th century see: Durham E., High Albania, London, 1909, p. 17. On Albanian modern history, see [Vickers M., The Albanians: A Modern History, London−New York: I. B. Tauris, 2006].


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Refuting a Greater Albania’s mythomania: The ancient Balkan Dardanians – The Illyro-Albanians, the Daco-Moesians or the Thracians?



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One of the claims of Albanian historiography is that the Central Balkan tribe – Dardanians, who settled in the southern portion of the territory of the Roman Province of Moesia Superior and northwestern part of the Roman Province of Macedonia, should be considered as one of the Illyrian tribes and an ancestor of the Albanians. With respect to this point, Albanian historians refer to the German linguist Norbert Jokl who wrote, according to the research of historical toponomastics, that the ancient cradle of the Albanians was Dardania, from where they moved westward to their present territories in late Roman times.[1] Consequently, the northwestern territory of the present-day Republic of Macedonia (the FYROM), Kosovo and Metohija and present-day Southern Serbia (settled by the Dardanians in Antiquity as well as the northeastern portion of the present-day Republic of Albania) are considered as Albanian historical lands and thus had to be included into a united Albanian national state in the future. For Albanian proponents of the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian symbiosis, the most valuable information and evidence that the ancient Dardanians were the Illyrians (and thus Albanian ancestors) comes from the archaeological excavations in the Kukës region in Northeastern Albania which belonged to the western portion of the Dardanian state.[2] What is of extreme importance according to them, is that the traditional Illyrian names like Andinus, Annius, Dassius, Epicadus, Genthiana, Rhedon, Surus, Tata, Tridus can be found in the inscriptions in Dardania. The Yugoslav specialist in Illyrology, Henrik Barić from Sarajevo, also championed the idea that “the Balkan homeland of the Albanian people must have been Dardania-Paeonia, provinces which, judging from the known names of persons, were the Illyrian and not Tracian in Antiquity… Therefore, it can be said that Dardania and Paeonia were the provinces in which the early Albanian-Illyrian symbiosis took place in the interior of the Balkan Peninsula”.[3] Barić, in fact, disagreed with the theory of the Romanian linguist Mateescu who, in his detailed analysis of the epigraphic material, dated the Thracian infiltration into  the province of Dardania  to the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.[4]

The Albanian exponents of the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian continuity and ethnic symbiosis repeatedly quote Arthur Evans that the same coins, pottery and other handcraft products from ancient Dyrrhachium and Apollonia (located on the Albanian littoral) are found in Kosovo and Metohija (in the regions of Peć, Đakovica and Prizren).[5] This fact is, however, only evidence of the Hellenization of the Illyrians as the coins were of the Greek origin. Greek was evidently the language of official inscriptions among the educated class of Illyrian society.[6] The Yugoslav historian Fanula Papazoglu discovered a Dacian-Moesian or Phrygian stratum in the formation of the Dardanians. For that reason, the Dardanians cannot be identified with the Illyrians and thus cannot provide support for the development of Illyrian-Albanian ethnic self-awareness.[7] Finally, modern European ethnographic and historical sciences suggest that the homeland of the Albanian nation lies in what is today Central Albania. The German Illyrologist-Albanologist, Georg Stadtmüller, stresses that the original Albanian native region includes the valley of the Shkumba river, both sides of the Mat river, Kruja, and some neighboring areas.[8]

The highlanders from Albania, however, began to migrate from their mountains in mid-14th century towards the more fertile lowlands of Thessaly, Boeotia, Attica, Euboea and Peloponnese, while from the end of the 17th century they migrated towards the north-east occupying the territories of Kosovo and Metohija (“Old Serbia” or Serbia proper) and the territories of present-day Serbia around the cities of Novi Pazar, Vranje and Niš.[9] Certainly, it was not until the 18th century that throngs of Albanian herdsmen came down from their native country’s highlands to the fertile areas of Kosovo and Metohija, which up to that time were populated almost exclusively by the Eastern Orthodox Serbs, and to the regions of today’s Western Macedonia (from Skopje to Bitola) whose population consisted of a majority of Macedonian Slavs and a minority of Serbs.[10] Practically, most of the territory of the former Roman province of Dardania mainly settled by Dardanian tribe was not affected by the Illyrian-Albanian elements before the migrations of the Albanian tribes from the highlands of Albania at the end of the 17th century.

The supporters of the theory of Illyrian-Albanian ethnic continuity and symbiosis, however, assert that at the time of the Slavic incursions into the Balkans there was no large-scale settling of the Slavs in the territory of Kosovo, Metohija and Montenegro, i.e. in the former Roman Provinces of Dardania and Praevalis. According to E. Dobruna, an Albanian archaeologist from Kosovo, who investigated ancient toponyms in this region, “we find the continuous presence of native Albanians as successors of the Illyrians in the same territory where they live today since ancient times”.[11] “From the banks of the Bojana river, as far as Ioanina, a unified and homogeneous people live. From Ioanina to Bay of Ambrazio, lies the territory denied by the Greek religious and other propaganda to the Albanians, who are predominant there – if not in number, than at least in strength and capacity to resist”.[12] Consequently, the Illyrian-Albanian historical rights to these territories are longer and stronger than Slavic-Serbian-Montenegrin-Macedonian and even Greek ones.[13]

A Question of the “Koman Culture”

The majority of Albanian archaeologists have claimed that the Koman Culture that existed in the 7th and 8th centuries, represents an historical-ethnic continuity of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis. The Koman Culture, according to them, included an extensive territory from Lake Skadar on the north to Lake Ohrid on the southeast. For them, the Illyrian-Albanian ethnic roots of the Koman Culture are more than obvious (although not scientifically proven).

The importance of this culture for the Albanian albanologists is of an extreme value as they are trying to prove that the Koman Culture is the direct continuation of the local Illyrian-Albanian culture of late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. In other words, according to them, the Koman Culture shows that at the time of Slavic migration to the Balkans the native Illyrian-Albanian territories were characterized by stability and vitality. They further claim that the material evidences of the Koman Culture, which lasted during the period of transition from the late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages, share a commonality with all Illyrian-Albanian regions including those of Kosovo and Metohija, Eastern Montenegro and Western Macedonia.

Albanian archaeologists disagree with the views of their Yugoslav colleagues on the Slavic or Roman-Byzantine character of the Koman Culture.[14] Thus, for Albanian scientists, the data archaeologists have discovered in many localities from the 7th and 8th centuries, clearly fill the gap of the Illyrian-Albanian cultural-ethnic continuity, the gap which could not be filled completely from written historical (primarily Byzantine) sources.  Thus, for the Albanian albanology, the Koman Culture is the crucial link in the chain of the unbroken Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis from the early Antique to the present. For them, it must serve as the pivotal proof of allegedly Albanian origins on the Balkan Peninsula.

However, it is  a matter of fact, that large Slavic settlements and toponyms existed in the area that came to be known as present-day Albania. After the first Albanian state was created in 1912, and especially during the rule of the Albanian communist dictator, Enver Hoxha (1945–1985), however, a great part of the non-Albanian (especially Slavic) population and toponyms were Albanized.[15] Simultaneously, “Albanian national soil” was (and continues to be) gradually cleansed of both the Slavs and the Greeks[16] and their national-cultural traces. In this respect, the province of Kosovo and Metohija experienced the most serious ethnic and cultural cleansing in the post-1945 Europe (together with the territory of former Republic of Serbian Krayina in present-day Croatia which was ethnically cleansed by the Croat military and police forces in August 1995).[17] This southern Serbia’s province, known (for the Serbs) as “Old/Ancient Serbia”, or “Serbia proper”, became almost totally ethnically and culturally cleansed by the local ethnic Albanians after the province was occupied by NATO troops in June 1999. Today, there is less than 3% non-Albanian population in the province (compared to 13% in 1998), the Slavic-Serb toponyms have been renamed to Albanian ones, the Serb cultural property, as the physical proof of Serbian national existence in the province from a historical perspective, has been largely destroyed (see figure 3) or officially called as the “Byzantine” one and the rest of the non-Albanian population (together with the local Serbs) has been expelled from the province which proclaimed its state independence in February 2008.[18]

It is in this way that Kosovo and Metohija have become an exclusively Albanian populated and culturally inherited land – a part of a united national state of ethnic Illyro-Albanians in the form of the Greater Albania. Nevertheless, from the perspective of relevant historical sources (the first Ottoman census in Kosovo and Metohija done in 1455), there was only a 2% Albanian population in the province in the mid-15th century.[19] One of the most famous South Slavic philologists in the 20th century, Pavle Ivić came to the conclusion after an in depth investigation of the case-study of Kosovo and Metohija that “the factual material clearly shows that there was no linguistic continuity between the ancient population of the present province of Kosovo’s population, and those who now inhabit the area”.[20] This is one of the most serious scientific refutations of the Albanian hypothesis of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis. In addition, even today, an overwhelming majority (if not all) of the toponyms in Kosovo and Metohija are of Slavic (Serb) origin.[21] The present-day Albanian practice of Albanizing them is quite understandable from the perspective of the political aims of the proponents of the hypothesis of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis.

Endnotes:

[1] Jokl N., Eberts Reallexicon der Vorgeschichte, I, 1924, p. 91.

[2] Anamali S., “The Illyrians and the Albanians”, Prifti K., Nasi L., Omari L., Xhufi P., Pulaha S., Pollo S., Shtylla Z. (eds.), The Truth on Kosova, Tirana, 1993, p. 7; Jubani B., “Features of Illyrian Culture in the Territory of Dardania”, Illyria, 2, 1985, pp. 211−220; Islami S., The Illyrian State – Its Place and Role in the Mediterranean World, I, Tirana, 1974, pp. 85–105.

[3] Taken from [Hymje ne historine e gjuhes shqipe, Prishtinë, 1955, pp. 49–50].

[4] Mateescu N., “Granita de apur a Tracilor”, Annuarul Institutului de Istoria nationale, III, Cluj, 1923, pp. 377–492.

[5] Evans A., “Antiquarian Researches in Illyricum”, Archeologia, XLIX, Westminster, 1883, p. 62.

[6] Papazoglu F., “Les royaumes d’Illyrie et de Dardanie, Origines et development, structures, hellenisation et romanization”, Iliri i Albanci, Beograd, 1988, p. 194; Ceka N., “Survay of the Development of Urban Life Among Southern Illyrians”, Illyria, 2, 1985, pp. 119–136. Compare with [Toçi V., “New Data About the Illyrian Onomastics in Durrhachium”, Illyria, 1, 1986, pp. 123–135].

[7] Regarding the problem of the Illyrian origin of the very important Central Balkan tribe Dardanians, see in [Garašanin M., “Considerations finales”, Iliri i Albanci, Beograd, 1988, pp. 370–372; Garašanin M., “Razmatranja o makedonskom halštatu-Materijalna kultura, hronologija, etnički problem”, Starinar, V−VI, 1954–1955, pp. 37–40; Garašanin M., “Istočna granica Ilira prema arheološkim spomenicima”, Simpozijum o teritorijalnom i hronološkom razgraničenju Ilira u praistorijsko doba, Sarajevo, 1964, pp. 138–141; Mack R., Grenzmarken und Nachbarn Makedonien in Norden und Western, Gottingen, 1951, pp. 170–173; Vulpe R., Gli Illiri dell’Italia Imperiale Romana, III, 1925, p. 163; Cerskov E., Rimljani na Kosovu i Metohiji, Beograd, 1969, p. 106; Mirdita Z., “Dardanian Studies”, Rilindja, Prishtina, 1979, p. 49; Papazoglu F., Srednjobalkanska plemena u predrimsko doba, Sarajevo, 1969, p. 402; Papazoglu F., “Dardanska onomastika”, Zbornik Filozofskog fakulteta, 8–1, Beograd, 1964; Papazoglu F., “Les royaumes d’Illyrie et de Dardanie, Origines et development, structures, hellenisation et romanization”, Iliri i Albanci, Beograd, 1988, p. 174; Jubani B., “Features of Illyrian Culture in the Territory of Dardania”, Illyria, 2, 1985, pp. 211−222; Вулић Н., “Дарданци, Илири и Далмати“, Глас Српске Академије Наука, CLV, Београд, 1933]. While the Yugoslav historian Novak claimed that the Dardanians were not of the Illyrian origin his compatriot Budimir claimed that they were one of the Illyrian tribes [Новак Г., “La nazionalità dei Dardani”, Архив за арбанашку старину, IV, Београд, pp. 72–89; Будимир М., “O etničkom odnosu Dardanaca prema Ilirima”, Jugoslovenski istorijski časopis, III, Beograd, 1937, pp. 1–29; Будимир М., Грци и Пеласти, Београд, 1950].

[8] Stadtmüller G., “Forschungen zur albanischen fruhgeschichte, zweite erweiterte auflage”, Albanische Forschungen, 2, Wiesbaden, 1966, pp. 167, 173.

[9] Оболенски Д., Византијски Комонвелт, Београд, 1996, p. 12, p. 245; Острогорски Г., Историја Византије, Београд, 1959, p. 464, p. 505; Lemerle P., “Invasions et migrations dans les Balkans depuis la fin de l’époque Romaine jusqu’au VIIIe siècle”, Revue historique, 78, 1954, p. 294; Lemerle P., Les plus anciens recueils des miracles de Saint Demétrius, II, Paris, 1981, p. 67; Јиречек К., Историја Срба. Политичка историја до 1537. gод., Књига I, Београд, 1978 (original written in German and published in Wien, 1911), pp. 85–86, 216; Јиречек К., Радонић Ј., Историја Срба. Културна историја, Књига II, Bеоград, 1978 (unfinished original by K. Jirechek in German, printed in Wien, 1911. Completed by J. Radonjić), pp. 33, 34, 101, 105, 145, 153. On the Albanian residents in South-East Serbia in the districts of Niš, Leskovac, Prokupjle and Kuršumlija in 1878, see [Protest of 6200 Albanian emigrants… (Priština, June 26, 1878), Politisches Archiv des Auswartigen Amtes, Bonn, Fund of the Acts of the Congress of Brlin, 2, 1878, doc. № 110 (telegram)].

[10] The Roman Catholic bishop in Skopje, Matija Masarek wrote in 1764 a report to Vatican in which he noted brand-new colonies of the Albanians who had just abandoned high Albania and settled themselves in the lowland of Metohija around the city of Đakovica [Radonić J., Rimska kurija i južnoslovenske zemlje od XVI do XIX veka, Beograd, 1950, p. 654]. On religious and ethnic situation in Albania, Kosovo and Metohija in the mid-17th century, see [Jačov M., Le Missioni cattoliche nel Balcani durante la guerra di Candia (1645–1669), vol. I–II, Città del Vaticana, 1992], in the mid-19th century in [Müller J., Albanien, Rumelien und die österreichisch-montenegrinische Granze, Prag, 1844], and in the years from 1804 to 1912 in [Стојанчевић В., Срби и Албанци 1804–1912, Нови Сад, 1994].  According to the Serbian historian Jevrem Damnjanović, the members of the following Albanian tribes (fisses) settled Kosovo and Metohija during the Ottoman rule: Kriezi, Tsaci, Shop, Dukadjini, Berisha, Bitiqi, Krasniqi, Gashi, Shkrele, Kastrati, Gruda, Shala, Hoti, and Kelmendi [Дамњановић Ј., “Мучеништво Косова”, Интервју, специјално издање, октобар, Београд, 1988, p. 5].

[11] Dobruna E., “On some ancient toponyms in Kosova”, Onomastika e Kosoves”, Prishtina, 1979, p. 46.

[12] Stulli B., Albansko pitanje, JAZU, Zagreb, Vol. 318, 1959, p. 325.

[13] Çabej E., “The problem of the autochthony of Albanians in the light of place-names”, Buletini i Universitetit Shteteror te Tiranes, № 2, 1958, pp. 54–62.

[14] Anamali S., “La nécropole de Kruje et la civilisation du Haut Moyen Age en Albanie du Nord”, Studia Albanica, 1, 1964, pp. 149–164; Anamali S., “The Question of the Albanian Early Mediaeval Culture in the Light of New Archaeological Discoveries”, Studime Historike, 2, 1967, pp. 22–40; Spahiu H., “The Arber graveyard at the Dalmaca Castle”, Illyria, 9–10, 1979–1980, pp. 23–45; Komata D., “The Arber grave-yard of Shurdhah”, Illyria, 9–10, 1979–1980, pp. 105–121; Prendi F., “A grave-yard of the Arber culture in Lezha”, Illyria, 9–10, 1979–1980, pp. 123–170; Doda N., “The Arber Graves of Prosek in Mirdita Region”, Illyria, 1, 1989, p. 113; Spahiu H., Komata D., “Shurdhah-Sarda, a Mediaeval Fortified Town”, Illyria, 3, 1975, p. 249; Popović V., Byzantins, Slaves et autochthones dans les provinces de Prévalitane et Nouvelle Epire, Ecole française de Rome, 1984, pp. 181−243; Popović V., “Albanija u kasnoj antici”, Ilirci i Albanci, Beograd, 1988, pp. 202–283.        

[15] Hrabak B., “Širenje arbanaških stočara po ravnicama i slovenski ratari srednjovekovne Albanije”, Stanovništvo slovenskog porijekla u Albaniji, Titograd, 1991, p. 115. Regarding the Slavic toponyms in Albania, see [Popović V., “Albanija u kasnoj Antici”, Ilirci i Albanci, Beograd, 1988; Selischev A. M., Славианское население в Албании, София, 1931]. A Serb historian Sima Ćirković claimed that the Albanian toponyms in the present-day Albania can be found only in her central regions between the Shkumba and Mat rivers while the southern regions of Albania is covered by the Slavic toponyms. About this issue see more in the works on Albanian toponyms by the Austrian Byzantologist Johannes Koder.

[16] Gersin K., Altserbien und die albanische Frage, Wien, 1912, p. 29; Vlora B. E., Lebenserinnerungen, Band I (1885 bis 1912), München, 1968, p. 275; Vlora B. E., Die Wahrheit über das Vorgehen der Jungtürken in Albanien, Wien, 1911, p. 43. According to the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, from April 1941 until August 1942, the Albanians killed around 10.000 Serbs and Montenegrins in the areas of Kosovo and Metohija which were incorporated into Italian Greater Albania [Krizman S., Maps of Yugoslavia at War. Massacre of the Innocent Serbian Population, Committed in Yugoslavia by the Axis and its Satellites from April 1941 to August 1942, Washington, 1943].

[17] Operation “Storm” (“Oluja”).

[18] March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija, March 17−19, 2004, with a survey of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia−Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004; http://crucified-kosovo.webs.com; http://www.kosovo.net; http://www.kosovo.lt

[19] Šabanović H. (ed.), Hadžibegić H., Handžić A., Kovačević E. (prepared by), Oblast Brankovića. Opširni katastarski popis iz 1455. godine (original title: Defter-I, Mufassal-I, Vilayet-I, VLK, sene 859), Monumenta Turcica. Historiam Slavorum Meridionalium Illustrantia, Tomus tertius, serija III, Defteri, knjiga 2, sv. 1, Sarajevo: Orijentalni institut u Sarajevu, 1972.

[20] Ивић П., О језику некадашњем и садашњем, Београд: БИГЗ−Јединство, 1990, p. 141.

[21] In the charter (muniment) to the monastery of SS Arhangels in Metohija by the Serbian Emperor Stefan Dushan from the mid-14th century is written that at that time the Albanians lived on the Mt. Prokletije (on the present-day Albania’s border with Montenegro and Metohija) and that Metohija itself was populated by the Serbs [Светоарханђелска повеља цара Стефана Душана, Збирка рукописа Народне библиотеке Србије: http://scc.digital.bkp.nb.rs/document/RS-759].


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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The Albanian Origin: The main challenges of research



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We must be clear on the meaning of Albanian autochthony, anthroponymy and ethnogenesis. Actually, the question is: have the Albanians lived without interruption in the  present-day “ethnic” territories of the Albanians (Albania, the Eastern Montenegro, Kosovo and Metohija, the Southern Central Serbia, the Western Macedonia and the Northern Epirus in Greece) since the ancient Greek and Roman times? In the other words, are the Albanians really the indigenous people of the Balkans as they claim or just newcomers to their present-day ethnic territories?  It is true, however, that the question of the Illyrian ethnic and cultural background of present-day Albanians (i.e., the ethnogenesis of the Albanians) has been politicized subsequent to the Second World War. The question is related both to the ancient history of the Albanians and to the pre-history of their language.

For some German and Austrian 19th century linguists and historians it was evident that the Albanians had been an autochthonous population in Albania since pre-Greco-Roman times. These scholars accepted the theory that the 19th century Albanian nation represented a direct ethnic continuity of the autochthonous Balkan people – the ancient Illyrians. For Albanian scientists it is incontestable that not only cultural, but also, ethnic continuity extends from the ancient Illyrians to present-day Albanians. Many of the 20th century scholars, especially after the Second World War, however, held an opposite opinion, i.e., that the theory of the Illyrian origin of the Albanians is not supported by any single historical source! They claimed that the Albanians are not a native Balkan population but newcomers to present-day Albania from more or less distant regions.

The main two arguments for the second “anti-Illyrian” hypothesis or theory are: 1) the Dacian-Albanian-Romanian linguistic connections (but not the Illyrian-Albanian one); and 2) the place-names in Albania, which indicate a lack of Illyrian-Albanian continuity. Nevertheless, the second approach to the question of Albanian ethnogenesis, i.e. that the Albanians are the newcomers to the Balkan Peninsula who came later compared to all Albanian neighbors, is backed by several historical sources.

The Albanians believe themselves to be the last pure and direct descendants of the ancient Illyrians, the Balkan people who lived on the peninsula in Antiquity. Many scholars consider the Albanians the offspring population of the ancient inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula, either the Pelasgians or the Illyrians, i.e. the population residing in this part of Europe before the Middle Ages. During the mid-19th century and especially after the establishment of the Albanian national-political organisation – the First League of Prizren in 1878 the romanticist understanding of nationhood based on the linguistic principle prevailed among the Albanian intellectuals, particularly among those living as the emigrants in Italy (the Arabëresh, as the Italo-Albanians called themselves).[1]

The Albanian national movement Rilindja assumed an anti-South Slavic (mostly anti-Serbian) and anti-Greek political-ideological orientation, which in any case cannot be considered as anti-Christian. The Albanian national identity is derived from confrontation with, and from, differences relative to their neighbours. The majority of Albanian political activists from the time of the Rilindja accepted the German-Romanticist principle of “linguistic” nationhood and they created the notion of the designation of the Albanians as an ethnic group as their mother tongue was the Albanian language.[2] However, referring to the linguistic evidences some scholars defend the thesis that the Albanians are descendants of the ancient Dacians who inhabited the lands south of the Danube river (the Roman provinces of Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior) and migrated south-west to the territory of present-day Albania. There are some serious indications that point to the Albanian ethnic origin in Dacian-Moesian roots. This is supported by the fact that Albanian name for themselves–Shqiptars, is a word of Dacian-Moesian origin, which means the “highlanders” in the Bulgarian language.  

However, the proponents of the Illyrian theory of Albanian ethnogenesis connected the modern international name for the Albanians with Albanoi which was the name of the Illyrian tribe living in present-day North Albania, mentioned for the first time in the works of the Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D.

The ideology and efforts of the Albanian national movement from 1878 to 1913 to unify the entire Albanian Balkan population who lived in compact masses in a single independent ethnically homogenous state of the Albanians jeopardazied the territorial integrity of Serbian, Montenegrin and Greek national states. Since the Second World War that situation has been replaced through various projects to re-create the 1941−1945 “Greater” Albania.

As would be expected, various historical developments have brought about numerous transformations of the Albanians that produced an alternation of their real (the Caucasus) ethnic entity. There are no “pure” peoples (nations) in the world and the Albanians are not “pure”, either. There is an ethnic substratum that is present in all Balkan peoples (nations). However, it is evident that the Albanians have retained some of the Illyrian elements in their ethnic make-up for this very reason: they were settled in Illyrian territory in 1043. But, on the other hand, all the peoples (nations) who today live in the Western and Central Balkans possess Illyrian  traits.[3] However, in the other regions of the Western and the Central Balkans, the Slavic element is predominant. Among the Albanians the Latinized Illyrian elements are strong, especially with respect to language. Nevertheless, this fact cannot be utilized to claim that Albanian historical and ethnic rights to certain Balkan territories are stronger and older than Slavic or Greek ones. In making this point, the Illyrian-Albanian cultural-ethnic continuation could gain a new political dimension with the inter-ethnical conflicts in the Balkans, which already exist, as a “Greater” Albania is from 1999 in the process of re-creation. The first Balkan province already de facto incorporated into the united national state of the Illyro-Albanians with the capital in Tirana is Kosovo and Metohija.  

Endnotes:

[1] On political ideas in the Romantic Age in Europe, see [Berlin I., Political Ideas in the Romantic Age, Vintage Digital, 2012].

[2] On Albanian renaissance in political thought, see [Ypi L. L., “The Albanian Renaissance in Political Thought: Between the Enlightenment and Romanticism”, East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2007, pp. 661−680].

[3] On ancient Illyrians, see [Stipcevic A., The Illyrians: History and Culture, Noyes Press, 1977; Wilkes J., The Illyrians, Oxford, England−Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1995; Evans A., Ancient Illyria: An Archaeological Exploration, London: I. B. Tauris, 2007].


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Understanding Albanian nationality and regional political-security consequences



2000px-Principality_of_Albania.svg

The Albanian nationhood as understood in the 19th century was part of a romanticist notion of nationality, i.e., the Albanians were the Balkan people whose mother tongue was Albanian regardless of any confessional division of Albanian people into three denominations (Moslem, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox). Within the north Albanian tribes, especially among the Miriditi, the Roman Catholic Church was very influential. The Roman Catholic Church became the main protector of the Albanian language and cultural heritage and the main protagonist of the national identity of the Albanians in the Northern Albania.[1] The expression of common notions of the Albanian nationhood were expressed by the Albanian political leadership in the years of the Balkan Wars 1912–1913 in slogans such as: “Neve Shqiptar nuk jemi Greke, Sllav, or Teerk, neve jemi Shqiptar” (“We Albanians are not the Greeks, Slavs, or Turks, we are the Albanians”).

The Albanian political “methodology” from the time of the First Prizren League in 1878 until the Balkan Wars was applied in preparation for unification of all “ethnically Albanian territories” in the Balkans into (a “Greater”) Albania – a single national state of all Albanians, i.e., within the ethnic borders demanded by the League in the years of its existence from 1878 to 1881. Essentially similar national-state concepts were also included in the political programs of the Albanian Peja (Pejë) League, from 1899, the Greater Albanian Kosovo Committee, from 1920, and the Second Prizren League, from 1943. This included preservation of the traditional, common law and local community[2] as the organizational basis of the national movement followed by the demand for unification of all territories populated by the Albanians became Albanian primary national interest from 1878 onward.

Clearly, the process of creation of Albanian nationality was not yet completed at the end of the 19th century. The Albanian nation was not considered a political reality in Europe by many politicians at that time. The Albanian people were among the last ones in Europe to build up their own national identity and national community.[3] When during the sessions of the Congress of Berlin in 1878 the question of Albania and the Albanians was put on the agenda, the German Chancellor (Kanzzelar) Otto von Bismarck decisively rejected discussing it with the explanation that there was no Albanian nationality.[4] For him, the Albanians were the Turks. At the same time, the Serbs (either from Serbia or from Montenegro) and the Greeks considered themselves as a nation (i.e., ethnic groups which had their own state organizations), and as such were understood by Europe, while the Albanians were understood as the Balkan ethnic group (i.e., the group of people who did not have its own state). Consequently, the ethnic group of Albanians could live only as an ethnic minority included into some of the Balkan national state(s) and could not expect more than the right to autonomy within it (them). At the turn of the 20th century many politicians in Serbia, Montenegro and Greece shared the opinion that the ethnic group of the Albanians was culturally and politically incapable of a modern national development and above all unable and  insufficiently competent to establish and rule their own national state.[5] The backwardness of the development of Albanian society at the beginning of the 20th century was evidenced by the fact that the initiation of a  process of modernization shook the Albanian tribal society, but failed to replace it with a modern industrial, parliamentary and civil society. The Albanian national movement was seen as an archaic social movement that could not reach a level of national cohesion in modern terms. This movement produced among the Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks a feeling of jeopardization of the political and territorial integrity of Serbia, Montenegro and Greece.[6] For them, the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian continuity was in essence a nationalistic ideological construction which became a driving politically-ideological force for Albanian politicians to create, from the Albanian point of view, their ethnic borders according to Albanian acquired rights.[7] Geopolitically, this project, from 1878 to the present, demands not only the territories which ethnically and historically belong to the Albanians, but goes beyond them and encompasses the entire Illyrian-Albanian ethnic population, dispersed in different areas over the neighboring Balkan regions: Kosovo and Metohija, southern parts of Central Serbia, Çameria (Greek Epirus and Greek Western Macedonia), the western portion of the Republic of Macedonia (the FYROM) and the Eastern Montenegro.[8]

Albania ISIL flag

However, contrary to the theory of the backwardness of Albanian social development, the Albanian political and intellectual leadership from the turn of the 20th century has argued that the Albanians met all conditions required by contemporary political science to be recognized as a nation: 1) they have their separate ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity; 2) the Albanian settlements in the Balkans are compact; 3) the Albanians have a very precisely defined national program; and 4) they possess the abilities to build up a community and their own independent state which would be self-governed.[9]

The Albanian political and intellectual leadership often stressed that the Albanian people with their own national idea would never be successfully integrated either into Serbian, Montenegrin or Greek societies and states. That is, in addition to numerous and diverse causes, also due to the fact that the Albanians do not belong to the Slavic or Greek linguistic and cultural groups. There is also significant divergence of national development of the Serbs, Montenegrins, Greeks, on the one hand, and the Albanians, on the other. These nations had a different kind of national movements and distinctly different political elite and national ideology. However, the Albanian national ideology of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis was created and still exists as a pure myth in the form of a quasi-scientific political propaganda for the sake of the creation of a “Greater” Albania.

Finally, the Albanians surely were among the very few Balkan peoples who managed to find an internal balance between three faiths and to build up the national identity associated with each one as Islam is followed by 70% of Albanian population (primarily from Albania proper, Kosovo and Metohija, the Western Macedonia and the Eastern Montenegro), Eastern Orthodoxy is professed by 20% of the Albanians (chiefly from the Southern Albania and the Greek Northern Epirus) and Roman Catholicism is adhered by 10% of the Albanians (mainly from the Northern Albania proper and Kosovo and Metohija).[10] In one word, the Illyrian theory of the Albanian ethnogenesis played a crucial role in forming a common Albanian identity regardless on confessional division of the Albanians.

The 19th century movement of the Albanian national awakening started half a century later in contrast to a similar process of other Balkan nations and an entire century after similar movements in Central Europe. The cause of this delay was a general national-cultural underdevelopment of the Albanian people who lived under the Ottoman Empire for centuries without cultural and ideological connections to Western Europe where the ideology and movement of nationalism emerged and spread throughout the European continent. Subsequently, the ideas of national identification, national statehood and the concept of historical-ethnic territorial boundaries was realized by Albania’s neighbors (the Greeks, Serbs and Montenegrins) well in advance of the Albanian people. When Albanian intellectuals during and after the Great Eastern Crisis 1875–1878 theoretically shaped the thought and concept of the Albanian national idea related to the question of fixing Albanian national territories and creating an Albanian national state, they faced, and had to struggle with, Serbian, Montenegrin and Greek national aspirations towards the realization of their own national statehood. This ideological, political and military fight was focused primarily on the question upon certain “national” soils on the Balkans which would be included either into a united Serbia, united Montenegro, united Greece or united Albania: Kosovo and Metohija, Northern Epirus, Western Macedonia, Skadar (Skutari) region in the Northwest Albania and the territories around the city of Ulcinj and the Bojana river in the Eastern Montenegro.

The national program of the First League of Prizren set up the following two ultimate national goals of the Albanians: 1) the national liberation of all Albanians, of whom a majority lived within the Ottoman Empire and a minority in the independent states of Serbia and Montenegro; and 2) the creation of a national state of the Albanians in which the entire Albanian historical and ethnic territories would be incorporated into Greater Albania. This second requirement led the Albanians in subsequent decades into open conflict with the neighboring Christian states: Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. The national awakening of the Albanian people in the years of 1878–1912 resulted in the establishment of an ideology of nationhood and statehood that was, to a greater or lesser extent, challenged and opposed by all  of Albania’s neighbors today – the Serbs, Greeks, Montenegrins and the Macedonian Slavs.

Endnotes:

[1] Draškić S., “Nadmetanje Austro-Ugarske i Italije koncem XIX i početkom XX veka u Albaniji”, Albansko pitanje u novoj istoriji, III, Beograd: Marksistička misao, 2-1986, pp. 129–132. See also: [Starova G., “The Religion of the Albanians in the Balkan European Context”, Balkan Forum, Skopje, vol. 1, № 4, 1993, pp. 201–204].

[2] On Albanian traditional common law, see [The Code of Lekë Dukagjini, New York: Gjonlekaj Publishing Company, 1989; Salihu V., Qerimi I., Social Organization and Self-Government of Albanians According to the Costumary Law, GRIN Verlag, 2013 (in German); Gjeçovi Sh., Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014].

[3] On this issue, see more in [Schwandner-Sievers S., Fischer J. B., Albanian Identities: Myth and History, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002].

[4] Logoreci A., The Albanians. Europe’s Forgotten Survivors, Colorado, 1977, p. 41.

[5] Such approach can be understood as an old theory, which was used during the Balkan Wars 1912–1913 to justify Serbian conquest of the Northern Albania, Greek occupation of Southern Albania and Montenegrin military taking of the city of Skadar/Scutari [Туцовић Д., Србија и Албанија, један прилог критици завојевачке политике српске буржоазије, Београд, 1913, pp. 177–118].

[6] The Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonian Slavs and Greeks accuse Albanian intellectuals and politicians of using the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnic, linguistic and cultural continuity for the sake of realizing the political concept of a “Greater Albania” in the Balkans (see figure 2). This concept cannot be realized without a radical change of the borders of the Balkan states established in 1912–1913, following two Balkan Wars. Such a change in the borders would violate the territorial integrity of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. In conclusion, the concept of a “Greater” Albania, based among other ideological constructions and on the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis, may serve as a prelude to a Third Balkan War. Regarding the concept and consequences of creation of a “Greater” Albania at the Balkans, see [Čanak J. (ed.), “Greater Albania”. Concept and possible Consequences, Belgrade: the Institute of Geopolitical Studies, Belgrade, 1998; Borozan Đ., “Greater Albania”-Origins, Ideas, Practice, Belgrade: the Institute of Military History of the Yugoslav Army, Belgrade, 1995]. It should be stressed that in addition to Orthodoxy and the so-called St. Sava’s spiritual legacy, the province of Kosovo and Metohija (i.e., Serbia proper) is the third pillar of Serbian national identity. Contrary to the Serbian case, Kosovo and Metohija are not of any significance for Albanian national identity. Regarding the (crucial) importance of Kosovo and Metohija for the Serbs from historical perspective, see: [Самарџић Р. и други, Косово и Метохија у српској историји, Београд: Српска књижевна задруга, 1989].

[7] See more in: [Илири и Албанци, Научни скупови, књ. XXXIX, Београд: САНУ, 1988].

[8] According to the map of United Albania, composed by Ali Fehmi Kosturi and distributed since 1938. Historically, there were two attempts to create a “Greater” Albania: first in 1912 supported by Austria-Hungary, and second in 1941 with the direct intervention of fascist Italy and the logistic support of the Third Reich. In both cases the concept of “Greater” Albania reasserted the demands of the 1878–1881 Albanian First League of Prizren to create an Albanian state inside alleged Illyrian-Albanian historical-ethnic borders.

[9] Similar arguments referring to Kosovo and Metohija were presented by the Albanian Kosovo intelligentsia in the 1990s during the Kosovo crisis and the war. See, for example: [Maliqi S., “Strah od novih ratnih uspeha”, Borba, Beograd, September 16th, 1993].

[10] To date, the Albanian Muslims are the main corps of the Albanian national movement and nationalism. The concept of “United”, or “Greater”, Albania, in its original form (from 1878), was under the strong influence of conservative, political Islam.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Kosovo-Metochia: What does it mean?



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Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in the Ottoman Empire: The First Phase (1557−1594)



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Article is publishes as: “The Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in the Ottoman Empire: The First Phase (1557−94)”, Serbian Studies: Journal of the North American Society for Serbian Studies, Vol. 25, 2011, № 2, ISSN 0742-3330, 2014, Slavica Publishers, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, pp. 143−167

Introduction

 The goals of this article are: 1) to investigate the role of the revived Patriarchate of Peć in Serbian and Balkan history?; and 2) to explore and present the results of investigation of the problems with respect to: a) the role of the Serbian Church during the first decades of the Ottoman occupation of Serbian lands in the process of the creation of a Serbian national identity; b) Serbian-Turkish relations in the second half of the 16th century; and c) the reasons for Serbian disloyalty towards the Ottoman government at the turn of the 17th century.

The article addresses the reasons and causes of the decline of the Ottoman Empire, which was one of the most powerful European states in the New Age of European history. Marking a period of prelude to the “Eastern Question” in the Balkans, i.e. the question of the survival of the Ottoman Empire in Europe.[1] This was one of the crucial questions in the history of Europe from the time of the Reformation to the beginning of the First World War. The methodology employed consists of analysis of available documents and comparison of different historical sources and literature on the subject.

The Patriarchate of Peć is a subject of major significance as it was the only Serbian national institution within the Ottoman Empire and whose role was of crucial in influencing the Serbian population to remain loyal to their faith rather than convert to Islam. The patriarchate was responsible as well for the fact that the Serbs preserved their own national medieval heritage and the idea of an independent national state. Under the influence of the patriarchate Orthodox Christianity became the central and crucial element of Serbian national identity that has been sustained to the present day.[2]

The Patriarchate of Peć was one of the most important institutions in the history of the Serbs, particularly with respect to their religious and cultural history. This institution was founded in 1346 during the realm of the most significant Serbian monarch: emperor Stefan Dušan the “Mighty” (1331−1355).[3] The foundation of the national Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was a consequence of a new political situation on the Balkan Peninsula, the emergence of Serbia as the most powerful country in this region positioned to replace the Byzantine Empire. In the same year as the founding of the patriarchate, Dušan the  Mighty was crowned by the Patriarch of Peć as the Emperor of Serbs and Greeks (i.e., the Byzantines). The period that followed was one of  full independence of the Serbian medieval church from the Greek one (named as an Ecumenical Church in Constantinople).

The history of Patriarchate of Peć can be divided into two periods, with a long interruption between them which lasted approximately one century: 1) from 1346 to 1459; and 2) from 1557 to 1766. In the first period the Patriarchate of Peć was the state church of the independent medieval Serbia. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Serbia in 1459 the patriarchate, as Serbian national church, was soon abolished (most probably in 1463) and it did not exist for a century, until its revival in 1557. However, the new patriarchate found itself in a new political situation in comparison to its previous position in independent Serbia. Now, from 1557 to 1766 the new Patriarchate of Peć was under total control of the authorities of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, the territory under the jurisdiction of the “second” patriarchate was greater than that of the “first” patriarchate.

The “second” Patriarchate of Peć had jurisdiction over all Serbs in the Ottoman Empire. It is important to stress that only two (Orthodox) patriarchates (the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć) were permitted to exist in the Turkish state after the Ottoman conquest of the largest part of the Balkans. After the fall of the Serbian independent medieval state, the Patriarchate of Peć was the only institution which could unite all Serbs in the Ottoman Empire. The patriarchate actually became a representative institution of the Serbs before the Ottoman government. Essentially, in the eyes of the Serbs, the “second” Patriarchate of Peć was a substitution for the lost medieval national Serbian state. 

The main roles of the “second” patriarchate during the two centuries of its existence were: 1) to prevent the Serbs from converting to the Islamic faith; 2) to serve as the political representative of the Serbs in Sublime Porta (the Ottoman government); and 3) to preserve the medieval cultural inheritance of the Serbian state and people.

This article deals with history of the new Patriarchate of Peć during the first thirty-eight years of its existence: from the revival of the patriarchate until the incineration of St. Sava’s relics on the Vračar Hill near Belgrade (1557−1594).

The main issues discussed in this article are: 1) the reasons for the revival of the patriarchate; 2) the reasons for the Serbian insurrection of 1594−1595 against Ottoman rule; 3) the reasons for the incineration of the relics of St. Sava and the consequences of this action with respect to the relationships between the Serbs and the Turks, 4) the tolerance and intolerance in the Ottoman Empire regarding the relationships between the Islamic and Christian Orthodox faiths in the areas under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Peć, and 5) consideration of whether the “second” patriarchate was a new patriarchate, only with old name, or was it a real resumption of the medieval (“first”) Serbian patriarchate?

132. srpsko carstvo 1346

Serbian Empire of Stefan Dušan in 1355

The Serbian people under Ottoman rule in the 16th century

The making the Ottoman state into a world power was the work of  the sultan Mehmed II al-Fatih, “The Conqueror” (1451−1481), whose conquest of Constantinople in 1453 removed the last major barrier to expansion into the northern Anatolia and enabled the Ottomans to dominate the Straits and the southern shore of the Black Sea.[4] After the conquest of Constantinople Mehmed II in four military campaigns succeeded in occupying Serbia and finally annexing it in 1459 after the fall of Smederevo – Serbia’s capital at the time.[5] Mehmed the Conqueror soon occupied Bosnia in 1463, Albania in 1479 and Herzegovina in 1482. He also made the preparations for the Ottoman conquest of Negro Monte or Montenegro (medieval Doclea or Zeta) in 1499. As a consequence, ultimately all of the Serbian medieval states and Serb populated territories came under the Ottoman sultan as parts of the Ottoman Empire. Actually, the Serbian people and  Serbian areas were being conquered by the Turks from 1371 (Macedonia) to 1499 (Montenegro). During the time of the Ottoman expansion in the Balkans, the smaller Ottoman provinces – sanjaks, which were located at the Turkish borders with Christian states, became the most important for the Ottoman administration primarily from a military point of view. The strong military fortresses and a special system of military stations were built on the territories of the borderland sanjaks. A typical example was the Sanjak of Smederevo (northern medieval Serbia) which existed from 1459 to 1552 (from the time of the fall of the city of Smederevo until the conquest of the province of Banat).

During the 16th and 17th centuries the Serbian people lived in five larger Ottoman provinces – pashaliks. The most important of these were the Pashalik of Rumelia with its sanjaks: Skoplje, Kjustendil, Sofia, Prizren, Vučitrn, Scodra, Kruševac, Vidin and Smederevo; and the Pashalik of Bosnia, divided into the following sanjaks: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Klis, Zvornik, Bihać and Lika. The other pashaliks in which the Serbs lived were: the Pashalik of Timişoara (in the sanjaks of Čanad and Timişoara), the Pashalik of Jeger (in the sanjaks of Seged and Srem), and the Pashalik of Kanjiža (in the sanjaks of Mohach and Požega).[6]          

The Ottoman administrative system was organized with the most important goal of securing full military success and thus primacy.[7] A fundamental principle of inter-ethnic relations within the Ottoman Empire was a legal and practical superiority of the Mohammedan creed (Islam) over all other creeds. The most remarkable features of superiority and the privileged position of the Muslims in the Ottoman society were the requirement that Christian subjects pay extra taxes in money (haraç) and taxes in blood – devşirme (in Serbo-Croat –  “danak u krvi”).[8] The last one – devşirme (collection of boys) was especially harsh for the Christians as it was the practice in which the Ottoman authorities collected by force the boys from the Christian families to be trained and later enrolled in the Ottoman Empires’ military or civil service.[9] In general, in the Ottoman Empire there was a legal declaration of religious tolerance (for instance, by the sultan’s firman in 1566) and a fairly complete political and social intolerance. The Christians were clearly second class citizens. While formally proclaimed religious tolerance in the majority of cases was not respected on the ground in the provinces by the local Ottoman governors.       

It is assumed by historians that approximately 90−95% of the Serbs in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century lived in the rural areas.[10] Theoretically, the sultan owned all Ottoman lands and he was the absolute master of all inhabitants: Muslims and non-Muslims. In this way, the Christian Serbs were the sultan’s flock or subjects (reaya) – the members of tax-paying lower class in the Ottoman society. However, in the 16th century there were Christian Serbs who were timar owners.[11] A majority of them had been small and middle level feudal lords at the time of the independent Christian states. It was very rare to have more Serb Christian than Ottoman Muslim sipahis (the Ottoman feudal lords) as in the majority of cases the Serb Christian sipahis were a minority.[12]

In the Serbian ethnolinguistic territories, the farmers, who were in the majority Serbian reaya, had subordinated small-land properties (čiftluks) and tax-paying obligations to both the sultan and the Ottoman Muslim feudal aristocracy. In addition to ordinary taxes, required of all members of the reaya social strata (whether Muslim or not), Christian Serbs, as non-Muslim members of the reaya, while having to pay to the sultan, had extra tax obligations: monetary, natural and labour ones. The most important was the haraç or džizija, which was paid by all labour-able men per capita. During the second half of the 16th century, meritorious Serbs were granted by the sultan abandoned lands as čiftluks (private possessions) along with peasants as their serfs.[13] Generally speaking, during the first hundred years of the Ottoman rule, the status of the peasants was better than it had been in the Christian medieval feudal states. This was the main reason that until the end of the 16th century among the Christian Serbs there were no rebellions against the new (Ottoman) rule. There were also some privileged territories, as for instance Montenegro, where a feudal system was abolished by the Ottomans and where all inhabitants were proclaimed as free-peasants (not feudal serfs). In  Montenegro even the Ottoman administrative system was not established on the local level (nahijas). Local administration thus was left to the domestic (Christian) aristocracy.[14]

A main part of northern portion of the territory of the formerly independent medieval Serbia was transformed into a borderland Ottoman military province which was ruled by a paşa whose administrative seat after 1521 was in Belgrade (before 1521 it was in Smederevo). The paşa determined the amount of the tribute and taxation. He was also the head of the justice system and of the Ottoman administration in his province – paşalik (pashalik, pašaluk). The Christians, in contrast to the Muslims, had no rights to complain against the paşa, but they could appeal to him for his protection against the local Ottoman feudal aristocracy – the sipahis. The Ottoman paşaliks were subdivided into several sanjaks governed by sanjak-begs. The sanjaks were subdivided into vilayets or subaşiluks administered by a subaşa and finally, the subaşiluks were composed of several nahiyes, or local districts, administered by mudirs. The administration of justice was given to the kadi, whose administrative territory was the kadiluk.[15]

Almost until end of the 17th century there were large districts in the Serbian ethno-linguistic territory administered by the local Christian Serb başi-knezes. They were persons were usually the descendants of Serbian nobles or princes who had become dependent on the Turks, but managed by their services to win the latter’s goodwill and retain their lands relatively intact. Başi-knezes were responsible only to the paşa in Belgrade as the administrator of the entire province of the Belgrade paşalik. The Ottoman Muslim kadis had no jurisdiction in the territories administered by başi-knezes and the Turks did not have the right to live in their districts. Thus, a large part of Serb populated land was not under the Ottoman administrative jurisdiction in the 15th and 16th centuries. In many cases the nahiyes were administered by local Serb Christian obor-knezes. They were elected by their compatriots, but their election was subject to the paşa’s approval. The obor-knezes were mainly responsible for order in the nahiyas. Thus, some type of local national-territorial autonomy existed among the Serbs under the Ottoman rule during the first century and a half of the Ottoman administration.

3 ottoman_empire_1481-1683

The Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1683

A revival of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1557

The (“first”) Patriarchate of Peć was established in 1346, at the time of the height of the medieval Serbian state. In the same year the greatest Serbian ruler, Stefan Dušan, was crowned as emperor by the first Serbian patriarch, on Easter Sunday (April 16th, 1346). The Patriarchate of Peć existed, at least, until the collapse of Serbian medieval state in 1459 or some years later (until 1463) .[16]

The status of the Serbian (Orthodox) church in the East-Christian world was singular. In 1352 the Serbian church was excommunicated by the Greek patriarch in Constantinople, but in 1374 the ban was removed at the request of Serbian prince Lazar (the most powerful Serbian feudal lord at the time), and the independent and autocephalous character of Serbian church was again acknowledged by the Byzantine (Ecumenical Orthodox) church authorities. However, after the fall of Constantinople (in 1453) the authority of the Greek church of the Archbishopric of Ohrid (in Macedonia) was extended over the autocephalous Serbian church (Patriarchate of Peć)[17] by permission of the Ottoman authorities.

For the Serbs, the danger of denationalisation of their national church, as it was put under the jurisdiction of the Greek church, after 1459 became much higher, especially when the Greek-Phanariot system of administration was established in the Balkans[18]. The Phanariot system of administration was a mixed framework of governance by the Ottoman Islamic and the Greek Orthodox rule, headed by the Greek patriarch of Constantinople. Although historians have not determined the exact date of the abolition of the Serbian patriarchate by the Ottoman government, it was most likely that during the next several years after the fall of the Serbian capital of Smederevo (in 1459) the Patriarchate of Peć functioned in some form under the Ottoman occupation. The Serbian patriarchate was, according to some historians, abolished in 1463 and was subject to the jurisdiction of the Greek-governed Archbishopric of Ochrid (the Archbishopric of Ohrid was established in 1018).[19] The archbishop of Ohrid was of Greek nationality but his archbishopric was independent from the Greek patriarch of Constantinople and not subject to the Greek Phanariot system. The archbishop succeeded, in the course of time, to enlarge his own area of jurisdiction, and consequently, a main part of the Serbian population in the Balkan Peninsula was put under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Ochrid. This may have been the result of: 1) a lack of Serbian loyalty to the Ottoman sultan on the eve of an extremely important battle against the Hungarians at Mohacs in 1526 and 2) the personal position of the second person in command in the Ottoman Empire, Ibrahim pasha, who was a grand vizier and a Greek by ethnic origin. The Serbian clergy, led by bishop Pavle of Smederevo, rose in 1528 against this decision by the Ottoman authorities and succeeded to, de facto, separate the Serbian church from the authority of the archbishop of Ohrid. Such limited autonomy of the Serbian church within the Ottoman Empire ended in 1541 (when the Ottoman army conquered the city of Buda) at a council of Orthodox churches which was convened by order of the sultan. It was the fist planned and executed action by the Serbs as a nation after the loss of their national state in 1459 – an event which together with other favorable developments at the time, including first of all the constructive and crucial role of Mehmed pasha Sokolović (a Serb from Eastern Bosnia who was converted to Islam)[20], paved the way for the reestablishing of the Patriarchate of Peć by the sultan’s firman issued in 1557.

During the Ottoman rule in Southeast Europe the Christians were bound solely by their own church organizations. The Catholics were in a more difficult position then the Orthodox believers because the Ottoman authorities were more suspicious of the Catholics than the Orthodox since the greatest Ottoman enemies were the Catholic states of Spain, Austria and Venice. Conversely, the Orthodox churches were not a great danger for the Ottoman government – Porta, until the emergence of a strong Orthodox Russia as a great and important European military power (from the time of Petar the Great 1689−1725). The Ottoman tolerance toward the Orthodox believers in the Balkans can be explained, additionally, and by the fact that all the centres of the national churches of the Balkan Orthodox nations were located in the Ottoman Empire and thus controlled by the Ottoman authorities. The Ottoman government was particularly tolerant toward the inhabitants living in the Ottoman borderland provinces since they wanted to prevent any political co-operation between the Christian believers from the Ottoman Empire and the hostile Christian border states − Venice and Austria. Particularly, the Orthodox believers and church institutions were protected by the Ottoman authorities and enjoyed certain privileges during the time of the Ottoman wars of conquest in the southern part of Central Europe north of the Danube and Sava Rivers (Hungary and Transylvania) from 1521 to 1541.

In the Ottoman Empire the Christians were regarded as the zimias − the peoples who had the “divine books”. For that reason, Christian believers enjoyed the rights of Ottoman citizens but not on the same level as Ottoman Muslim believers.[21] As a part of the Ottoman system of religious tolerance (millet system) there was recognition of the rights of the Christian churches and monasteries to own real estate.[22] Serbian historian Milenko Vukićević has noted that just before the revival of the Patriarchate of Peć, the Ottoman sultan Suleyman the “Magnificent” (1520−1566), issued a firman ordering the free profession of all religions in his state.[23]

Until the end of the 16th century the Serbs in the Ottoman Empire enjoyed full religious tolerance offered by the Ottoman authorities. At the same time the Serbs had a very important military role in the Ottoman army during the Ottoman wars against Catholic Hungary and Austria. There were three reasons for sultan Suleyman the “Magnificent”’s decision to re-establish the Serbian national church (the Patriarchate of Peć) in 1557: 1) as reward for Serbian loyalty to the Ottoman authorities; 2) to further encourage the Serbs to continue to actively participate in the Ottoman wars in Central Europe; and 3) to fulfill the wish of the grand vizier Mehmed Sokolović (a Muslim Serb from the eastern Bosnian village of Sokolovići)[24] who played a very influential political role at the court of the sultan and in the Ottoman government. It can be concluded that the revival of the Serbian Patriarchate was a reward for Serbian national loyalty, and above all, for the full military assistance in the sultan’s wars against the borderland Catholic Christian countries in the southern part of the Central Europe. Naturally, the sultan expected that such a reward would further encourage Serb national loyalty to the Ottoman state and further Serb participation in the forthcoming decisive wars against the Austrian Empire and its capital Vienna – the  main military target of the Ottoman foreign policy at that time. However, Serb loyalty to the sultan was sustained only until 1594 with the outbreak of the first Serbian uprising against the central authorities in Istanbul.   

There is no question that the re-establishment of the Patriarchate of Peć was in 1557 and that it was the result of the sultan’s personal decision and decree. It is also evident that the role of the second-ranked man in the Ottoman Empire (the first one after the sultan) − grand vizier Mehmed Sokolović, was of significant importance on the sultan’s decision to issue the decree (firman).[25] Additionally, Mehmed Sokolović was strongly influenced by his brother Makarije, a Serbian monk, who became the first patriarch of the restored Serbian church in 1557. However, it would be incorrect to conclude that the influence of the grand vizier on the sultan’s decision to re-establish the Patriarchate of Peć was a crucial one since the revival of the Serbian Patriarchate was the sultan’s reward to the Serbs for their contribution in the Ottoman wars against Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy. In this way, the sultan was attempting to assure future Serbian political loyalty.

The Serbian national church was restored in 1557 under its own medieval historical name. The Ottoman administration was affecting an illusion that the (“first”) medieval Patriarchate of Peć had continued its existence and function as an institution. However, in fact, in the history of the Serbian church there was an interruption of a real institutional existence for at least 30 to 50 years. It is important to note that the medieval Serbian church existed as an independent national institution from 1219 and it was an integral part of the Serbian national state. However, the revived patriarchate in 1557 was under the total control of the Ottoman administration, but with significant autonomous rights. The city of Peć (Ipek in Turkish language) in Kosovo-Metohija once again became the seat of the Serbian patriarch who was autocephalous, of Serbian nationality and who supported Serbian national interests in the Ottoman Empire.

Moreover, with the permission of the sultan, the grand vizier Mehmed paša Sokolović provided for the continuation of the Patriarchate of Peć and inheritance of the patriarchal throne by members of the Sokolović’s family. The first patriarch was the brother of grand vizier – Makarije (1557−1571). After his death, the next two heads of the Serbian church in the Ottoman Empire were Antonije (1571−1575) and Gerasim (1575−1586); both of whom were nephews of Mehmed Sokolović.[26] In reality, the influence of the Serbian patriarch on Serbian society in the Ottoman Empire was critical as he became the person with the most influence on the political behaviour of the Serbs in their relations with the Ottoman administration. In other words, the patriarchs in Peć in the new political and historical climate assumed the role previously held by the medieval Serbian monarchs as the heads of a nation – ethnarch.[27] Concurrently, they were the political representatives at the court of the sultan of all Serbs as a nation in the Ottoman Empire.

143. pecka patrijarsija 1557

Territory of the Second Patriarchate of Peć in 1557

The territory and organization of the Patriarchate of P

The sultan’s most important aim with regard to the revival of the patriarchate was to gather all of the Serbian population living in the Ottoman Empire under their own national church organization. There were two crucial political reasons for this decision by Suleyman the “Magnificent”: 1) it was a reward for the Serbian loyalty and service to Ottoman civil and military authorities; and 2) the sultan could more easily control all Serbian citizens within the Ottoman Empire because the Patriarchate of Peć was under total Ottoman administrative control and considered to be under the strong political influence of the Ottoman administration and, thus basically instrument of Ottoman policy among the Serbs.

One of the crucial points of difference between the old (“first”) and revived (“second”) Serbian patriarchate was with respect to the territory under their administrative and spiritual jurisdiction. The former medieval Serbian patriarchate controlled a significantly smaller territory under its jurisdiction in contrast to the reestablished Patriarchate of Peć.

The centre of the renewed patriarchate was the ancient Serbian medieval religious and cultural center – the city of Peć (in Turkish Ipek), located in the region of Kosovo-Metohija or Serbia proper.

The southern border of the new patriarchate included the cities of Tetovo, Skopje and Štip in Macedonia and in northern Albania the city of Scutari (Skadar).

The eastern border included in Bulgaria the city of Samokov and the Serbian city of Niš. However, Bulgaria’s city of Sofia and Serbia’s city of Pirot were left under the control of the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. The city of Severin, which is located on the left bank of the Danube River, was also not included in the Serbian patriarchate.

The north-eastern border of the patriarchate embraced the main part of the area of the Moriş River in Romania. Thus, Romania’s cities of Timişoara and Arad were located within the patriarchate’s borders.

The northern border of the patriarchate extended far from the Hungarian town of Sent Andrea which is only 25 km. north of Buda and Pest.

The north-western border passed between Balaton Lake and the Raba River in Hungary and even included Slovenia’s city of Ptuj and the Dalmatian cities of Nin and Zadar. Consequenly, Croatia’s capital Zagreb, and Croatia’s cities of Karlovac and Sisak were put under the jurisdiction of the Serbian patriarchate regardless the fact that these cities were not part of the Ottoman Empire.

The south-western border incorporated the Adriatic littoral from Nin, on the north, to the Bojana River, on the south.[28]

It is important to note one additional significant difference between the medieval and the revived Patriarchate of Peć: the central territories of the first one were located in the south-eastern parts of the Balkans, while the central territories of the renewed patriarchate were located in the northern and north-western parts of the Balkans including some territories which had never been a part of the Ottoman Empire. The reason for this difference was the fact that the borders of the new patriarchate followed the ethnographic boundaries of the Serbs at that time. However, the new ethnographic territories of the Serbs were different from those prior to the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans (more precisely, before the Battle of Maritza in 1371). In other words, during the time of the Ottoman conquest of South-Eastern Europe a great number of the Serbs migrated from the south-east towards the north-west. Undoubtedly, the migrations were the most significant consequence of the Ottoman presence in the Balkans from 1354 to 1912.[29]

The territory of the re-established (“second”) Patriarchate of Peć was divided into approximately 40 metropolitans or archbishoprics. Those located southward from the Danube River were parts of the medieval Serbian church organization. On the other hand, the archbishoprics located northward from the Danube River and the Sava River and westward from the Drina River (i.e., located in the Southern and Central Hungary, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia) were established by the authorities of the new Patriarchate of Peć after 1557.[30]

There was a new moment in the development of the Serbian church organization when after 1557 the Serbian churches in the Ottoman occupied part of Hungary were included in the administrative system of the Patriarchate of Peć. However, the Orthodox church in Transylvania – the province mainly settled by the Orthodox Romanians, was placed under the spiritual and administrative jurisdiction of the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.[31] Accordingly, the south-eastern borders of the Patriarchate of Peć shared common boundaries with the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. A southern neighbour of the Serbian Patriarchate was the Greek Archbishopric of Ohrid in Macedonia. Finally, in the north and west the administrative and spiritual territory of the Patriarchate of Peć had common borders with the Roman Catholic Church in the Habsburg Monarchy and in the Republic of Venice.

It is not possible to specify the exact date of the administrative re-organization of the Patriarchate of Peć. It most probably began within the first ten years of the revived Patriarchate of Peć.[32] Nevertheless, it is known that the entire Serbian church organization in Ottoman Hungary was restructured during the second half of the 16th century into five eparchies (dioceses): Belgrade-Srem, Bačka, Slavonia, Lipova and Vršac. However, the eparchy of Budim was not established at that time.[33] It was a fact that all of the lands of the Kingdom of Hungary (northward from the Danube River and the Sava River) settled by the Orthodox Serbs immediately after the Ottoman conquest (from 1521 to 1541) were incorporated into the administrative-spiritual territory of the Greek Archbishopric of Ohrid, but when the Patriarchate of Peć became re-established in 1557 they were included into the administrative-spiritual territory of this Serbian national church organization and institution. The residences of the metropolitan of Belgrade-Srem were in Belgrade and in the Hopovo monastery in Fruška Gora (in present day Vojvodina province in Northern Serbia).[34]

The province of Banat, at that time in the southern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, but after 1918 in present day Romania and Serbia, was already settled by the Serbs in the late Middle Ages. Banat had in the 16th century two eparchies (Lipova and Vršac) and in the next century two additional ones (Timişoara and Bečkerek). The first known metropolitan (archbishop) of Vršac was Teodor, who was one of the most important spiritual leaders of the Serbs in the uprising of 1594 against the Ottoman government.[35]

Patriarchate_of_Peć_09_2010_1

A headquarters of the Patriarchate of Peć (14th century) in Kosovo & Metochia

The inter-confessional relations, rights and privileges

One of the critical research problems in dealing with the history of the revived Patriarchate of Peć is the question of the inter-confessional relations in the southern part of the former Kingdom of Hungary, while under jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Peć. It is a question of the inter-confessional tolerance and intolerance between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic believers living within the borders of the Serbian patriarchate. The Catholic religion, which was dominant in Hungary before the Protestant reformation and the Ottoman influence in the Balkans and the southern parts of Central Europe, had simply disappeared in many regions of Southern Hungary (present day Vojvodina province in Serbia) which had become heavily populated by the Orthodox Serbs. Catholic clergy together with the Hungarian feudal aristocracy fled from many parts of Hungary and Transylvania during the Ottoman wars against the Hungarians (1521−1541).[36] Several Catholic dioceses from Hungary such as Srem, Pecs, Kalocsa and Csanad were even devoid of Catholic archbishops. Consequently, all  Catholic believers in Srem, Bacska and Banat (these three provinces constitute the region of Vojvodina in present day Serbia) were put under the jurisdiction of Serb Orthodox archbishop of Belgrade-Srem. The Orthodox archbishops (metropolitans) received permission from the Ottoman sultan to collect ordinary taxes from Catholic believers (such as dimnica and milostinja) and extraordinary taxes (such as those for weddings).

The introduction of the new Gregorian calendar in 1582 by the Roman Catholic Church caused some problems with respect to the relations between the Catholic and the Orthodox believers within the Patriarchate of Peć. According to some sources, in the province of Srem the Orthodox-Catholic relations were negatively impacted after 1582 when the Orthodox believers became aware of the intention of the Catholics to force Orthodox believers to adopt the Gregorian calendar. However, according to documentation provided by one Catholic believer, in the case of a Christian war against Muslim Turks the Catholics from the Southern Hungary would have joined the Orthodox Serbs and Romanians from Transylvania.[37]

It is important to note that the tendency of Catholics to convert to the Orthodox faith increased when the pope issued a bula “Inter Gravissimos” on February 24th, 1582. There were some areas in Southern Hungary where the Catholic and Orthodox believers celebrated holidays together according to the old Julian calendar until the expulsion of the Ottoman authorities and Muslims from Hungary during the Great Vienna War 1683−1699.[38] This fact can be explained only by the strong influence of the Orthodox Church on the Roman Catholics in Southern Hungary where the Catholics had become a minority without the protection of their own church organization.

Among other privileges, the Patriarchate of Peć was granted land properties, the right to collect one ducat (gold currency) for each priest and the right to collect the so-called bir – 12 akçes (Ottoman currency) per house. The Serbian church had the autonomy to elect its own patriarch and archbishops. However, the elected patriarch had to be recognized by the Ottoman government, the Porta. One of the most important privileges given to the patriarchate was the right to adjudicate marital disputes of its own believers.

The organization of the Serbian church consisted of not only high officers such as a patriarch, archbishops and bishops, but also lower rank servants – the priests. The rural priests lived and worked basically like peasants while the urban priests lived as did the other urban population.[39] According to Serbian philologist Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1787−1864), every priest in Serbia was beared while in Montenegro it was not the case. Montenegrin Orthodox clergy did not wear the religious caps of the clergy as it was done in Serbia. In Serbia priests served in several villages and when they were at home they worked at the typical rural jobs of the peasantry. In Montenegro priests carried arms like ordinary people, thus eliminating differences between the priests and their congregations. Furthermore, the priests in Montenegro participated in the battles against the Turks along with the rest of the population.[40]

The Serbian Church was a great landowner on the borderlands of the Patriarchate of Peć. The residences of the church were located in the monasteries and one part of their support was provided through the income generated by the real estate holdings of the monasteries. The church’s incomes were guaranteed by the sultan’s berats. In turn the patriarchate was required to pay special taxes for the election of a new patriarch, archbishops and bishops.[41] However, this regulation and practice was in many cases used by the highest church authorities to bribe the sultan and the ministers in Porta. In order to insure that a new Ottoman sultan confirmed all privileges of the patriarchate through the issuance of a new berat the church authorities were required to pay new taxes. This taxation was the miri-peşkeş. For instance, the price of a berat for the appointment of a new patriarch was 100.000 akçes in 1766.[42]

The legal relations between the authorities of the Patriarchate of Peć and the Ottoman Empire were regulated by the sultan’s firman issued in 1557. From the religious point of view the patriarchate was autonomous and self-governed. Generally, the government of the Ottoman Empire did not interfere in the internal religious life of the Christian churches. For all Ottoman Christian subjects it was very important that destroyed or damaged churches and monasteries were repaired or rebuilt. This required special permission issued by the Ottoman authorities. However, according to Ottoman law, any rebuilt Christian religious structure could not be higher than its original height prior to destruction[43] or higher than any local minaret.

The privileges and rights which the first patriarch Macarius (Макарије) received from the sultan were equivalent to the privileges given to the Greek church in Constantinople. The Serbian patriarch was recognized as a leader of all Serbs in the Ottoman Empire (ethnarch, in Turkish milet başa).[44] The Serbs saw their patriarch primarily as a secular national leader. For the Ottoman administration the Patriarchate of Peć was a legal representative institution of the Serbs in the Ottoman Empire, but for Serbian people it was both a religious and court institution.[45] A patriarch, archbishops and bishops of the Serbian church had received the right to freely profess their religion, to freely administer the church’s properties and the right to collect taxes from the people, priests and monks. The Ottoman sultan gave the Serbian patriarch the right to appoint archbishops (архиепископе, владике и митрополите) and bishops (епископе) with the sultan’s approval. The Patriarch also had the right to arrogate properties of the priests, monks, archbishops and bishops which were left without any successors (ius caducitatis) and to adjudicate marital or civil disputes. Thus, the Ottoman state did not have jurisdiction over  the Serbs. The Serbian church used the medieval Christian laws such as Dushan’s Codex from 1349/1354, the Vlastareva Sintagma (revised Byzantine Law) or the common law.[46] Taking these rights and privileges into consideration, we can conclude that the Patriarchate of Peć was in practice a Serbian state within the Ottoman Empire.

11

A White Angel from Mileševa monastery in the South-West Serbia (13th century)

The historical role of the Patriarchate of Peć in preservation of Serbian national and cultural identity

The Patriarchate of Peć was one of the most significant national institutions in Serbian history. The importance of its role in the history of the Serbs takes on even more significance if we know the fact that the “second” patriarchate (1557−1766) was the only Serbian national institution that functioned and subsequently could protect and unify all Serbs in the Ottoman Empire. The Patriarchate of Peć basically assumed the role of the Serbian state which had disappeared in the mid-15th century.

The upper structure of the patriarchate had a feudal organization,[47] but the lower structure was composed of priests who originated in the ordinary Serbian folk social strata. The patriarchate succeeded in the course of time to bring together the main groups of Serbs who were dispersed across large territories of the European parts of the Ottoman Empire into a single national organization  – that of the patriarchate – which served as the Serbian national and political representative in Istanbul. The main national task of the patriarchate was to foster the idea of Serbian ethnic unity within Orthodox Christianity and the spirit of St. Sava. Compared to the Patriarchate of Peć, all autonomous local communities of Serbs in the Ottoman Empire played a secondary role of importance in this regard.[48] A commonly held opinion of researchers of the history of the Patriarchate of Peć is that this “unique spiritual Serbian community in Turkey took the most important merits, not only for preservation of the Orthodoxy but also for forming and developing of one common and strong Serbian national conscience throughout all Serbian ethnic territories.”[49] In addition, the patriarchate had a significant influence on the Serbian population living in Hungary and under the Habsburg Monarchy.[50]

By protecting the spiritual and cultural tradition of medieval Serbia, the Serbian church sustained and continued the cultural development of the Serbs during the time of Ottoman rule. In the 16th century several new printing-houses began to operate (in the monastery of Mileševa, in Belgrade, in Rujna, in Scodra, etc.) in which the religious books written in the Old Church Slavonic language were printed and later used by the Serbian clergy not only in the Ottoman Empire but also in the Habsburg Monarchy. In Serbian monasteries some of the most significant medieval Serbian manuscripts and books were re-written. That the Serbian clergy, while under Ottoman rule continued to write in the traditional (medieval) Serbian manner is exemplified by the case of Serbian patriarch Pajsije Janjevac (1614−1648) who wrote a biography (животопис) of the Serbian medieval emperor Uroš (1355−1371) according to the style of the Middle Ages. The others collected or revised ancient annals which were written in the Serbian type of the Old Church Slavonic language (Serbian-Slavonic language).[51]

After the revival of the Patriarchate of Peć the construction of Orthodox shrines increased in Serbia, Slavonia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina. For instance, immediately after the patriarchate was re-established  in 1557 the most important church buildings in the administrative centre of the patriarchate – the city of Peć in Kosovo-Metohija were renovated. Patriarch Makarije (1557−1571), for instance, became directly involved in supervising  the construction of the narthex (припрата) in the central church in the town of Peć  and in the program of its fresco paintings. In 1560 one of the most significant Serbian medieval monasteries – Gračanica in Kosovo-Metohija near the city of Priština was restored. The process of restoration of ancient Serbian sacred buildings (monasteries and churches) especially affected the region of Kosovo-Metohija, the cultural, political and spiritual cradle of the Serbian nation.[52] According to Serbian art  historian Sreten Petković, during the first decades of the revival of the patriarchate approximately one hundred monasteries and churches were restored; twenty of them in Kosovo-Metohija.[53] However, this period of restoration and new construction lacked the support of wealthy founders of churches and monasteries, typical of Serbia in the Middle Ages. It was the main reason that the buildings and decorative art were modest in comparison to those of the independent Serbian medieval state. However, the style and execution characteristic of medieval Serbian churches and traditional iconography served as the prototypes for the creation of the new fresco paintings.[54]

From the time of the revived Patriarchate of Peć a special term emerged among the Serbs – the so-called “Serbian faith”, which, using the model of the Serbian medieval tradition, defined Orthodox Christianity as the synthesis of state and culture, infused with the “spirit of St. Sava”. The “Serbian faith” became in the 17−18th centuries a basic foundation of the Serbian national identity.[55]

One of the most important features of the restored Patriarchate of Peć was that it became more interested in domestic national questions rather than in the broader questions of Christian dogma being debated in Europe at a time of struggle and wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The reason for this fact was that the patriarchate was primarily interested in the preservation of a medieval Serbian national heritage and Serb national identity. In practice it meant that the prime task of the patriarchate was to prevent the Serbs from conversion to Islam.[56]

decani

Dečani monastery (14th century) in Kosovo & Metochia

A rebellion of the Serbs in Banat in 1594

The conflict between the Muslim Ottoman state and its own Christian subjects started in the second half of the 16th century and very soon became intensified. The Ottoman feudal system at the end of the 16th century ended the process of destruction of the Serbian feudal strata and consequently formed conditions in witch the class and religious opposition to the system were united.[57] Enlarged political and social differences between the Ottoman Muslims and Ottoman Christian citizens made a strong impact on the behaviour of the Serbian church towards the Ottoman authorities. The Serbian church experienced economic and financial pressure by the Ottoman state during the crises in the Ottoman feudal system which began with the death of the sultan Suleyman Magnificent in 1566, and even in the second half of the 16th century some old rights enjoyed by Serbian monasteries were abolished by the Ottoman government.[58] Such new Ottoman policies directed at the Serbian church aggravated the position of the monasteries. Increased taxes required of the Serbian monasteries and churches became a reality from the first years of the reign of the sultan Selim II (1566−1574). There were even examples of Ottoman feudal and military aristocracy appropriated properties of Serbian monasteries and requiring bribes in exchange for solving every disputed question.[59]

Just before the end of the 16th century the Ottoman Empire lost two great battles in their struggle against the European Christian states: a naval battle near Lepanto in 1571 (in the Ionnian Sea) and a land battle near Sisak in the Habsburg Monarchy (present day Croatia) in 1593.[60] The moral impact of these two Christian victories on the Ottoman Christians was of great importance for the subsequent Christian uprisings against the Ottoman rule in the South-East Europe. Most of the Ottoman Christians wrongly believed after 1593 that the military power of the Ottoman Empire could be easily broken and subsequently with the support of some Christian state they could be liberated from Ottoman power. Particularly, they had been considering the Habsburg emperor Rudolf II (of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire, 1576−1611)[61] as a potential liberator of all Ottoman Christians. The Austrian emperor also viewed himself as a European monarch determined to finally break Ottoman power in Europe and to become a Saviour of Europe. In order to fulfill this “holy mission” he primarily expected great support of the Transylvanian prince and the Serbs from Southern Hungary. In 1591 the Austrian imperial deputy Richard Schtreit promised the Serbs and the Bulgarians Austrian military support in the case of a Christian rebellion against the Ottoman Empire during the upcoming war (“Long War” 1593−1606) between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. Both, Serbian and Bulgarian negotiators pledged that in the event of war the Serbs and Bulgarians from the Ottoman Empire would contribute fully in order to support the Habsburg Monarchy – a country seen by many Europeans as antemurale christianitatis.

Relations between the Serbs and the Ottoman government were drastically aggravated during the last decades of the 16th century. There were several causes for this fact but the most important was that at the end of the 16th century the pressure on Serb tax-payers (and on other non-Muslims) in the Ottoman Empire increased as the government in Istanbul needed additional funds in order to continue their wars against Austria, Venice, Spain and the Vatican. Generally, the situation of the non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire worsened at the turn of the 17th century. Basically, the Ottoman feudal system was in a great crisis and the Ottoman administration was compelled to increase taxation in order to improve its finances. It was a necessary measure in order to continue Ottoman military-political expansion towards the heart of Central Europe, i.e. the city of Vienna (Wien) which was unsuccessfully besieged in 1529 by the troops of the sultan Suleyman the “Magnificent”. The Serbian church was already under economic and financial pressure by the Ottoman administration during the reign of sultan Selim II (1566−1574) when for the first time Serbian monasteries and churches were being sold. The annual taxation rate, which the Patriarchate of Peć had to pay to the sultan at the end of the 16th century was increased to 100,000 akçes.

The highest Serbian church administrators became involved in the struggle against the Turks at the end of the 16th century. Patriarch Jovan Kantul (1592−1614) was the first head of the Serbian church who began to plot against the Ottoman authorities.[62] As a national representative of all Serbs in the Ottoman Empire, the Serbian church at the end of that century tried to find a protector for the Serbs in some foreign country. The church representatives negotiated with the representatives of Austria, several Italian rulers and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.[63] Thus, hoping that the Austrian emperor would assist in Serbian liberation from the Ottoman rule at the time of the  “Long War” or the “Sisak War” (1593−1606) between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire the Serbs from the Banat region (historical southern province of the Kingdom of Hungary; today divided between Serbia and Romania), led by their own church clergy, took an active role in this war against the Ottoman Empire on the side of the Austrians. Together with the Serbs from Banat and the Serbs from Kosovo-Metohija (in the region of Peć in 1594) and from Herzegovina (in 1597) rose in arms.[64] Thus, the Serbs and their national church entered into the overt hostilities against the Ottoman government, siding with the Habsburg Monarchy for the attainment of their national liberation and in defense of Christianity.[65]

This Christian rebellion, the biggest up to this point against the Ottoman authorities broke out in Southern Transylvania and the Banat region among the Orthodox Serbs and Romanians. The Serbian intention was to involve on their side the Transylvanian prince Sigismund Batory. In order to realize this aim, a special Serbian delegation was sent to the Transylvanian city of Belgrade (Giulafehervar in Hungarian or Alba Iulia in Romanian). The delegation participated in a session of the Transylvanian feudal assembly of local magnates. This Serbian delegation was led by one of the highest administrators of the Patriarchate of Peć − the metropolitan of Vršac, Teodor Tividorović. The Serbian deputies offered the throne of the Serbian kings to Sigismund Batory in exchange for his support of the Serbian rebels. During the rebellion the Serbs were in constant contact with the prince of Transilvania, as well as the Austrian general Teifenbach. The Serbian deputy Đorđe (Georgije) Rac, helped by general Teifenbach, succeeded in meeting with the Austrian archduke Maximilian, who at that time was leading the siege of the Hungarian fortresses of Esztergom on the Danube River. Đorđe Rac’s talks with him were on the future of the war and Serbian destiny after the war.

A turning point in the Serbian rebellion occurred when the new beglerbeg (or paşa-the governor) of Timişoara (Temišvar), Sophy Sinan-paşa, organized a great military counter-offensive at the end of June 1594 against the Serbs, Romanians (Wallachians) and Austrians. Firstly, he succeeded in ending the Christian siege of Hungarian Esztergom and in the same month his troops were merged with the Ottoman army of the paşa of Budim. This united Ottoman army (c. 30,000 soldiers) of two paşas moved toward the Banatian Serbs. The Serbian army numbered only about 4,300 men. The main battle took place near Bečkerek in Western Banat where the Serbs suffered a great defeat. Sinan-paša entered the city of Bečkerek and totally plundered it. The Serbian metropolitan of Vršac was arrested and, by order of Sinan-paša, he was flayed. With the fall of Bečkerek the rebellion collapsed. In determining the main causes of the failure of the rebellion the political role of the Roman Catholic pope Clement VIII (1592−1605) must be considered. He had who sent many deputies to the Serbs to different Balkan provinces encouraging them to rise in arms, while promising significant military help from the West in their final struggle against the Muslim Ottoman Empire. However, during the time of rebellion it became clear that these were only empty verbal promises by the pope and no real military support and help for the rebels was forthcoming. The latter were left to mainly deal alone with the  much stronger and far numerous Ottoman forces.

During this Serbian rebellion of 1594 in Banat against the Ottomans there was one unusual political event with a huge symbolic character. The Ottoman authorities knew very well that this great Serbian revolt was directly inspired and encouraged by the Serbian patriarch Jovan Kantul who blessed the revolt. The rebels and their leaders had a picture of Serbian St. Sava on a flag of blue, white, and red colors (the colors of the present-day Serbian national flag and therefore, the rebellion was named “St. Sava’s Rebellion”. In order to exert revenge on the Serbs and, particularly on the Serbian church, Sinan-paşa (Kodža) ordered that on Easter day of 1594 (April 27th /May 10th) the body of St. Sava would be burned and reduced to ashes. The Turks solemnly exhumed the body from his holy grave in the 13th century-monastery of Mileševa (in Southern Serbia on the border with Montenegro), conveyed it to Belgrade and there (“near Banat”), on Vračar Hill (today the down town area of Belgrade), incinerated the body of the most significant Serbian saint in Serbian history. Some parts of the saint’s relics were saved by the people who had gathered around the bonfire and returned to the Mileševa monastery. St. Sava’s relics were again burned by the Turks in 1692, as revenge against the Serbs who had again sided with the Habsburg Monarchy in its war against the Ottoman Empire in 1683−1699. In the Banat rebellion of 1594 the rebelious Serbs were lead by Đorđe Slankamenac-Rac, Deli Marko and Sava Temišvarac. During the same „Long War“, the Herzegovinian Serbs were lead by a local metropolit Visarion, who wrote a letter to the new Roman pope Paul V (1605−1621) asking the Vatican for political and military help, and by the duke Grdan from Nikšić (today in Montenegro). After putting down the rebellion the Turks invited the Serbian patriarch to Istanbul where he was murdered in 1614.[66] The death of patriarch Jovan Kantul in Istanbul had a deep impact on the subsequent policy of the Serbian Patriarchate with respect to the Ottoman authorities. The patriarch was in fact betrayed by several western diplomatic representatives to the Ottoman Empire, but above all by the Venetian one who reported to the Ottoman authorities on the former’s secret activities and even negotiations with the western Christian states on the issue of the liberation of Christian subjects on the Balkan Peninsula from the Ottoman yoke. This western conspiracy against the Serbian patriarch, church and the nation became the central reason that many prominent Serbs and above all the Serbian church abandoned hope for the support of Serbian national liberation by western European countries. They turned, instead, towards Orthodox Russia. That was in fact the case with the first sucessor of patriarch Jovan Kantul – patriarch Pajsije (1614−1648).

Nevertheless, even the symbolic act of burning the relics of St. Sava in 1594 had failed to crush the rebellion as its success really depended only on Austrian military support.[67] The Ottoman authorities had chosen this political act because St. Sava actually was the most remarkable holyman in all of Serbian tradition and history and the most significant symbol of the Patriarchate of Peć and the Serbs as a nation. Basically, the Serbian church was identified with its own founder. Nevertheless, after the incineration of the St. Sava’s body the influence of his spirit and myth were not deminished. Rather, after 1594 the name of St. Sava passed into legend and the Serbs came to be known as the “nation of St. Sava”.

kosovo-big_16738.jpg.axd

Gračanica monastery (14th century) in Kosovo & Metochia

Conclusion

The Patriarchate of Peć was one of the most important institutions in the history of the Serbs, particularly regarding their religious and cultural history. This institution was founded in 1346 during the reign of the most significant of Serbian monarchs – Stefan Dušan the “Mighty” (1331−1355). The foundation of the national Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was the consequence of a new political situation in the Balkan Peninsula when Serbia reached ascendancy as the most powerful country in this region poised to replace the Byzantine Empire. In the same year, Dušan the “Mighty” was crowned by the patriarch of Peć as emperor of the Serbs and the Greeks (i.e., the Byzantines). Concurrently, the Serbian medieval church became independent of the Greek church of Constantinople.

The “first” Serbian patriarchate was abolished in the mid-15th century after the demise of the medieval Serbian independent state (in 1459). However, the Ottoman authorities allowed the Serbs one century later (in 1557) to restore their own national church, which took the name of the old Patriarch of Peć.

During several centuries of the Ottoman occupation, from the collapse of  the Serbian medieval state (in 1459) to the First Šumadija-Serb Uprising against the Turks (in 1804), the re-established Patriarchate of Peć was the only national institution of all Serbs under the Ottoman rule. This spiritual and national institution of the Serbs lasted for two hundred years (1557−1766) during the most difficult period of Serbian history when there was neither a national Serbian state or any Serbian national institution. However, the Patriarchate of Peć assumed the historical role of protecting Serbian national identity and national interests during the Ottoman occupation. Consequently, the patriarchate was a political representative of all Serbs in the Ottoman Empire.

Officially, according to Ottoman authorities, the Patriarchate of Peć was restored in mid-16th century as a continuation of the medieval Serbian national church. However, in reality, it seems to have been more a new church institution of the Serbs than directly connected to the former (“first”) patriarchate. Nevertheless, the new patriarchate accepted all the medieval traditions and the spiritual legacy of the former patriarchate.

The most important historical achievement of the “second” patriarchate was that it succeeded in legally protecting the majority of Serbs in the Ottoman Empire and influencing them in the preservation of their own national medieval heritage and Christian Orthodoxy as central to the national identity and character of the Serbs. Finally, the history and the role of the revived Patriarchate of Peć remained in the collective memory of all Serbs as the national  “lighthouse” during the dark years of the Ottoman occupation[68] inspiring the Serbs to persevere in their resistence to the Ottoman policy of denationalization through the acceptance of Islam.[69] The Islamisation of the Balkan Peninsula during the Ottoman reign was most successfull only in those regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and the Rhodopes region in Bulgaria where the Christianity was not rooted, as it was left without a strong church organization.[70]

ENDNOTES:

[1] For a discussion of the “Eastern Question” see: Б. Поповић, Источно питање (Београд, 1928).

[2] Today is known that almost all former Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Raška (Sandžak) who became converted to Islam are “Bosniaks”, former Orthodox Serbs converted to Roman Catholicism in Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are “Croats” and former Orthodox Serbs converted to Islam in Kosovo-Metohija became “Albanians” (Arbanasi). In Kosovo-Metohija existed Arnauts (Arnautaši) – converted former Orthodox Serbs to Islamic faith who still did not lose their ethnic identity before they finally became Albanians. It is estimated that c. 30% of present-day Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija are of Serb origin (Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија у српско-арбанашким односима (Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2006), p. 33−36).

[3] On emperor Stefan Dušan and his empire see: М. Стевановић, Душаново Царство (Београд: Књига-комерц, 2001).

[4] For information on Mehmed the “Conqueror” see: J. Hammer, Historija Turskog/Osmanskog/Carstva, I, (Zagreb: Ognjen Prica, 1979), pp. 151−252.

[5] H. Inalçik, The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300–1600 (London, 1973), p. 27.

[6] I. Božić, S. Ćirković, M. Ekmečić, V. Dedijer, Istorija Jugoslavije (Beograd: Prosveta, 1973), see the map on p. 136.

[7] H. W. V. Temperley, History of Serbia (New York, 1969), p. 106.

[8] However, the Armenians and the Jews were exempted from devşirme taxation (В. Ћоровић, Историја Срба (Београд: БИГЗ, 1993), p. 373).

[9] About devşirme see more in LookLex Encyclopaedia: http://i-cias.com/e.o/devsirme.htm.

[10] F. Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples (Cambridge, 1989), p. 38.

[11] A timar was an inheritable solders’ small land-property.

[12] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, p. 137.

[13] On the Ottoman feudal, state’s and military systems see in: Историја народа Југославије. Књига друга од почетка XVI до краја XVIII века (Београд: Просвета, 1960), pp. 9−38

[14] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, p. 143.

[15] Историја народа Југославије, p. 19−21.

[16] The creation of an independent (autocephalous) Serbian (Orthodox) medieval church in 1219 was possible due to the work of St. Sava (c. 1174−1236) (Ст. Станојевић, Историја српскога народа. Треће издање, поправљено, (Београд: Издавачка књижарница Напредак, 1926), pp. 124−125). St. Sava, however, was and one of the most important Serbian medieval profane national worker. About his profane activities see: М. Црњански, Свети Сава (Шабац: „Глас цркве“, 1988).

[17] H. W. V. Temperley, History of Serbia, p. 123.

[18] The so-called Phanariots were the Greeks who lived in the Phanar – a suburb of Constantinople. This part of the city was mainly poplulated by the Greeks. In this “Greek quarter” was located the “Ecumenical Church” (i.e. the Greek Orthodox church) which enjoyed a large scale of privilages within the Ottoman Empire till 1821.

[19] It has to be stressed that the authority of Archbishopric of Ohrid gradually was taking over the dioceses of the Serbian Patriarchate and extended its own territory of jurisdiction up to the town of Peć in Metohija and monastery of Žiča in Central Serbia.

[20] About the life of Mehmed pasha Sokolović see: Р. Самарџић, Мехмед-паша Соколовић (Београд, 1975).

[21] Ђ. Слијепчевић, Историја Српске православне цркве, т. I (Београд, 1991), pp. 303–304.

[22] On the relations between Christians and Muslims in the Balkans during the Ottoman domination see: G. Castellan, History of the Balkans. From Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin, (New York: East European Monographes, Boulder, 1992), pp. 109−116.

[23] М. М. Вукићевић, Знаменити Срби муслoмани (Београд: Српска књижевна задруга, 1906), p. 43. (reprint in 1998 by ННК, Београд)

[24] On the life of Ottoman grand vizier Mehmed paša Sokolović see in: R. Samardžić, Mehmed Sokolović (Beograd: 1971). It was this grand vizier who built the famous bridge over the Drina River in 1567.

[25] М. Јовић, К. Радић, Српске земље и владари (Крушевац: Друштво за неговање историјских и уметничких вредности, 1990), p. 127.

[26]  Ibid., p. 129.

[27] The Serbian patriarchs were signing themselves in some documents as the patriarchs of “All Illyricum”, i.e. of the main part of the Balkan Peninsula (Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Dalmatia, the Vardar Macedonia and the part of Bulgaria) according to the old tradition that the Balkan lands were called according to their antique names and that Serbia was the synonim for the Roman province of Illyricum (Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, p. 17).

[28] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, p. 146 (see the map № 23 of the borders of the Patriarchate of Peć in the mid-17 century).

[29] On these migrations see: Ј. Цвијић, Балканско полуострво и јужнословенске земље (Београд, 1922), pp. 60−139.

[30] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, p. 146 (see the map № 23 of the borders of the Patriarchate of Peć in the mid-17 century).

[31] It has to be said that in Transylvania at that time “lacking political power, the Orthodox faith, the religion of the majority of the Romanian population, was not admitted among the official religions of the country, having only a ‘tolerated’ status” (K. Treptow (ed.), A History of Romania (Iaşi: The Center for Romanian Studies and The Romanian Cultural Foundations, 1996), p. 133).

[32] Историјско друштво у Новом Саду, Војводина, т. I (Нови Сад, 1939), p. 389.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid., p. 392.

[35] Ј. Томић, Устанак Срба у Банату 1594 (Београд, 1899), p. 28.

[36] About Hungarian history from the Battle of Mohács to the fall of Buda, Hungarian relations with the Ottomans and the question of cohabitations of Protestants and Catholics in Hungary in the 16th century see: L. Kontler, Millennium in Central Europe. A History of Hungary (Budapest: Atlantisz Publishing House, 1999), pp. 139−158.

[37] Војводина, p. 407.

[38] Draganović, „Massenubertritte von Katholikenzur ‚Ortodoxie‘ im Kroatischen Sprachgebiet zur Zeit der Turken hershaft“, Orientalia Christiana Periodica, № III–IV (Roma, 1937), pp. 587–592.

[39] Историја народа Југославије, p. 464.

[40] В. С. Караџић, Етнографски списи & О Црној Гори (Београд, 1985), p. 78–80.

[41] Историја народа Југославије, p. 102–103.

[42] Ђ. Слијепчевић, p. 405–407; Р. Самарџић and others, Косово и Метохија у српској историји (Београд: Српска књижевна задруга, 1989), p. 105.

[43] Ibid., p. 401.

[44] Ibid., p. 315; Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија у српско-арбанашким односима, p. 22. The independent Serbian-milet (the Serbian religious nation) was separated from the Rum-milet with the establishment of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1557 (Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, p. 32).

[45] М. Јовић, К. Радић, Српске земље и владари, p. 128.

[46] В. Ћоровић, Историја Југославије (Београд, 1931), p. 312.

[47] Историја народа Југославије, p. 462.

[48] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, pp. 145–147. 

[49] Војводина, p. 389.

[50] Ibid.

[51] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, p. 146–147; Историја народа Југославије, p. 102–109.

[52] О. Зиројевић, Цркве и манастири на подручју Пећке патријаршије до 1683. године (Београд, 1984), pp. 31–33. About Kosovo and Metohija in Serbian history see: Р. Самарџић, Косово и Метохија у српској историји. There were c. 1300 churches, monasteries and other monuments in Kosovo-Metohija before the Ottomans. However, there were only c. 15 active Orthodox shrines in this region in the first decades of the Ottoman rule (Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија у српско-арбанашким односима, p. 22).

[53] С. Петковић, Зидно сликарство на подручју Пећке патријаршије 1557–1614 (Нови Сад, 1965), pp. 49–50.

[54] I. Božić, Istorija Jugoslavije, pp. 146–147.

[55] Ђ. Слијепчевић, Историја Српске православне цркве, т. I, p. 317; М. Павловић, “Српска вјера-српски закон”, Зборник Матице српске за друштвене науке, № 13–14 (Нови Сад, 1956), p. 285.

[56] В. Ћоровић, Историја Срба, p. 418.

[57] Историја народа Југославије, т. II, p. 462.

[58] Ibid., p. 463.

[59] Ibid.

[60] On the Battle of Sisak see: J. von Hammer, Historija Turskog/Osmanskog/Carstva, I, pp. 118−120.

[61] For information on emperor Rudolph II (1576−1611) see: J. Bérenger, A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1273−1700 (London, New York: Longman, 1994), pp. 242−260.

[62] М. Јовић, К. Радић, Српске земље, p. 129.

[63] Историја народа Југославије, т. II, p. 107, 493–494.

[64] М. Јовић, К. Радић, Српске земље, p. 129.

[65] However, the Habsburg authorities in all their wars against the Ottoman Empire never had in mind the re-establishment of any kind of Serbian independent state in the Balkans in the case of Christian victory. In addition, the Serb national-confessional identity was better protected in the Ottoman Empire than in the Catholic Habsburg Monarchy or Venetian Dalmatia. For the reason of Catholic proselityzing the Orthodox Serbs, for instance Dalmatian Serbs, were emigrating several times in the 18th century to Russia (regarding this issue see: М. Јачов, Венеција и Срби у Далмацији у XVIII веку (Београд: Просвета, издање Историјског института у Београду, 1984).

[66] М. Јовић, К. Радић, Српске земље, p. 129. According to historian Vladimir Ćorović, patriarch Jovan Kantul „died“ in Istanbul in 1614. Obviously, for Ćorović it was not clear did he was murdered or not (В. Ћоровић, Историја Срба, p. 431).

[67] H. W. V. Temperley, History of Serbia, p. 125.

[68] Р. Самарџић, Усмена народна хроника, Нови Сад, 1978.

[69] The Ottoman successful policy of peaceful conversion of the Christians to Islam is best seen in the case of the Albanians and in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Today a majority of ethnic Albanians are Muslims. After four centuries of Ottoman rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina almost half (43,7%) of its population are the Muslims (T. Judah, The Serbs. History, Myth & the Destruction of Yugoslavia (New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 317). For additional readings on the topic of this article see: Српска православна црква, издање Архијерејског синода Српске православне цркве, Београд, 1969; С. Ћирковић, Срби у средњем веку, Београд, 1995; T. Kostić, Serbia under Ottoman Rule, Vienna, 2005; Р. Самарџић, Србија у списима француских савременика XVI−XVII века, Београд, 1961. The Serbs accepted Islam for two crucial reasons: 1) the fudal aristocracy from the time before the Ottoman occupation in order to preserve their estates and benefits; and 2) the ordinary people for lucrative reasons (Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, p. 36)

[70] Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, p. 33.


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2014

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A short history of Kosovo-Metochia



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The region of Kosovo & Metohija (Metochia in English) was a political center of mediaeval Serbia and makes the very essence of Serbian spiritual and cultural identity and statehood since the Middle Ages up today. The biggest and the most important number of Serbian Orthodox mediaeval monasteries and churches (for instance, Gračanica, Pećka Patrijaršija, Bogorodica Ljeviška and Visoki Dečani) are built exactly in Kosovo & Metohija and the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church – Patriarchate established in 1346 was located (till 1766) in the city of Peć in the western portion of the region called Metohija. The capital of Serbian Empire proclaimed in 1346 was also in Metohija in the city of Prizren which is known in Serbian history as the “Imperial city” or “Serbian Constantinople”. The term Metohija means the land in possession of the Serbian Orthodox Church and according to the archival documents c. 70% of the territory of Kosovo & Metohija was in the legal possession of the Serbian Orthodox Church till 1946 when the new Serbophobic Communist authorities, lead by non-Serb party cadre, “nationalized” the land of the church under the policy of agrarian reform and delivered it to the Albanian peasants.

However, contrary to the Serbian case, for Albanians Kosovo & Metohija is not central national land: moreover it is just peripheral for the very reason they started to settle Kosovo & Metohija from the northern Albania only after the First Great Serbian Migration from Kosovo & Metohija in 1690 during the Austrian-Ottoman War (Vienna War) 1683-1699. That the Albanians, contrary to the Serbs, are not aboriginal people in Kosovo & Metohija is clearly showing the first preserved Ottoman census (“defter”) related to Kosovo & Metohija done in 1485, i.e. only 30 years after this province became occupied by the Turks and included into administrative system of the Ottoman Empire (in 1455). By analysing the personal names and place names from this document already ex-Yugoslav linguists claimed that it is obvious that only 2% of them are of Albanian origin. However, after the First (when c. 100.00 Serbs emigrated from Kosovo & Metohija to the Southern Hungary) and the Second (during the new Austrian-Ottoman War in 1737-1739) Great Serbian Migrations from Kosovo & Metohija, the ethnic composition of the region gradually was changed for the reason that the Ottoman authorities invited neighbouring loyal Muslim Albanians (in Turkish language „Arnauts“) from the Northern Albania (the speakers of the Geg dialect of the Albanian language) to settle this region. Consequently, according to the Austrian historiography and statistoics, only at the end of the 19th c. a tiny Albanian majority became reality at Kosovo & Metohija: in 1899 it was 47,9% of Albanians compared to 43,7% of the Serbs, while in 1871 Serbian majority was clear with 63,6% of the Serbs vs 32,2% of the Albanians. According to official Serbian statistics made immediately after the Balkan Wars 1912-1913 when Kosovo & Metohija became re-included into the state territory of Serbia, it was 50% of all non-Albanians and 50% Albanians living in this region.

There are three reasons for such population change:

1) Constant Albanian immigration to Kosovo & Metohija from Northern Albania after 1699
2) Permanent Albanian terror against and ethnic cleansing of the local Orthodox Serbs (for instance, 150.000 Serbs are expelled from Kosovo & Metohija in the years 1878-1912)
3) A higher Albanian natural birth-rate in comparison to the Serbian one

Differently to the Serbian case, Kosovo & Metohija (except during the WWII) was never part of Albanian state that was, by the way, established for the first time in history only in 1912. Thus, undoubtedly, Serbs have pure historical and legal rights on Kosovo & Metohija in comparison to the Albanians (like Lithuanians on Vilnius and Trakai areas in comparison to the Poles).

Mapa_srpski_manastiri_na_Kosovu

The most important Serbian Christian Orthodox shrines in Kosovo & Metochia from the Middle Ages

Kosovo and Metohija is very fertile and clement plane (differently from mountainous Albania – that was the main reason for ethnic Albanian migrations from Albania to Kosovo & Metohija) with mild climate, reach in water resources, with high mountain chains bordering with Albania. It has been God-blessed environment for a fruitful development of the highest achievements in all cultural fields in medieval Serbia. The cultural and demographic strength of the Serbs is best illustrated by the presence of c. 1.500 monuments of Serbian culture. Numerous outstanding noble Serbian families used to live in this province (known as “Old Serbia”), as families Branković, Hrebeljanović, Musić, Vojinović, some of which were the inceptors of Serbian dynasties. In addition, a great number of Serbian noble castles existed all over Kosovo with rich aristocratic life going on inside their walls. They were also meeting places of Serbian nobility and centers where important political and other decisions have been taken and places attended by foreign envoys and outstanding guests from the noble foreign ruling families. In Svrčin castle, for example, the famous Serbian Emperor Dušan (1331-1355) was firstly crowned king in 1331, and Pauni, famous for its beauty, were favoured place of Serbian king Milutin (1282-1321) – a founder of monastery of Gračanica. In Pauni in 1342 Serbian Emperor Dušan had received Jovan VI Kantakuzin, one of the pretenders to the Byzantine throne at that time. Nerodimlja, with the strong fortress over the castle, was favourite residence of Serbian king Stefan Dečanski (1321-1331) who built up the famous monastery of Visoki Dečani in Metohija – a meeting place of western (Roman Catholic) and eastern (Byzantine Orthodox) architecture styles.

However, for the mediaeval Albanian history Kosovo & Metohija is of no importance: no one Albanian feudal lord or dynasty originated in Kosovo & Metohija, no Albanian religious shrines (churches) in Kosovo & Metohija, and mostly important, no Albanian place-names in the province. Even today, 90% of place-names in Kosovo & Metohija are of Serbian-Slavic origin – even in Albanian language the name for the province („Kosova“) has Serbian-Slavic root/origin: „Kos“ (=blackbird).

Serbian elite and minor nobility has built in the Middle Ages in this region hundreds of smaller chapels and several dozens of monumental Christian monasteries and churches. Some of them have been preserved to date, such as Patriarchy of Peć (since 1346 site of the Serbian Patriarch), Dečani, Gračanica, Bogorodica Ljeviška, Banjska, Sveti Arhanđeli near Prizren and others. Serbian churches and monasteries had been for centuries owners of great complexes of fertile land. As it is said, Metohija, the name originated from the Greek word metoh, means church land (administratively, Kosovo province is divided by Serbian authorities into Kosovo covering the eastern part and Metohija covering the western part). Highly developed economic life was an integral part of a high level of civilization attained in the medieval Serbia. The city of Prizren, for example, was a famous economic and commercial center, with developed silk production, fine crafts, and numerous settlements where the merchants from Kotor (today in Montenegro) and Dubrovnik (historically independent republic) had their houses, and in the 14th c. Prizren was the site of the consul from Dubrovnik for the whole Serbian state. And many other commercial centers such as Priština, Peć, Hoča, Vučitrn, are testifying the strength of highly developed economic life in this region. The region of Kosovo & Metohija was also famous in Europe after its very rich silver-mining centers as Trepča, Novo Brdo and Janjevo, out of which in the 15th c. Novo Brdo had become one of the most important mining centers of the Balkans and Europe. Mainly silver, but in certain extent and gold, were exported to the big European centers in great quantities especially during the first half of the 15th c. However, the Ottoman authorities totally neglected mine exploitation in Kosovo & Metohija (likewise elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire) and at such a way this very rich province did not contribute to the economic prosperity of the Ottoman citizens.

Turkish-Ottoman invasion from the mid-14th c. (1354) means a fatal turning point in the Balkan and Serbian history during the second half of the 14th c. The military advance of the Turks towards the Central Europe via the Balkans was a rather slow process. Serbian ruler prince (known in Serbian epic songs as the “emperor”) Lazar Hrebeljanović (1370-1389) and Serbian nobility in the famous „Kosovo Battle“ on June 28th, 1389 did everything to stop the Turkish invasion towards the South Eastern Europe. It was not only a clash of two armies led by their rulers Serbian prince Lazar and Turkish sultan Murat I (1362-1389), who both are killed during the battle, but also a clash of two civilizations, one Christian-European and one Islamic-Asiatic. During the Ottoman yoke in Serbian national conscience the „Kosovo Battle“ has acquired a mythical dimension of a crucial historical event (even today chronology of Serbian national history is divided into two periods: before and after the „Kosovo Battle“), greatly affecting the national identity of the Serbs. The Serbian epic poetry is very rich and the cycle of poems devoted to Kosovo & Metohija are a pearl of that treasure and moral and psychological support to Serbian people during the centuries of slavery under the Turks till the 19th c. Kosovo & Metohija have been longest under the Turkish lordship in comparison to all other ethnic and historic Serbian lands as this region became finally liberated from the Turks only in 1912. On the opposite side, in Albanian national epic poetry there are no examples of devotion to the Kosovo & Metohija land and history. However, even the “father” of Albanian national pride – the feudal lord Georgie Kastriot Skanderbeg (1405-1468, ruler of Central Albania from 1443 to 1468) was in fact of Serbian origin. Contrary to Albanian case, in Serbian national poetry we find such a great number of representatives of Serbian nobility, of Serbian castles and outstanding Serbian monasteries from Kosovo & Metohija.

The Turkish-Ottoman invasion of the South Eastern Europe including and the Serbian lands, have not only brought about the fall of Christian civilization, but is also responsible for the destruction of all social structures, the elimination of the Serbian elite and the destruction of the most outstanding cultural achievements. One part of Serbian nobility was killed, one part expelled to Asia, one part took Islam (mainly voluntarily), and one part managed to emigrate north, west and to across the Adriatic Sea to Italy. Average people (the peasants) deprived from its national leaders had no option but to stick to the traditional national values. It is thanks to the Serbian Orthodox Church which managed to revive its work in 1557 (renewal of the Patriarchy of Peć by the sultan’s decree), that Serbian people kept alive the awareness of the mediaeval national state and high achievements of its civilization. Many mediaeval castles and towns were destroyed, many churches were raised to the ground, and even some of them turn into the mosques. For example, at the beginning of the 17th c., the church of the Holy Angels (Sveti Arhandjeli), where Serbian emperor Stefan Dušan was buried, that was in fact the monumental mausoleum of Emperor Dušan, was totally destroyed, and the stone of which the church was built was used for building the Sinan-paša mosque, still existing in the city of Prizren today. Bogorodica Ljeviška, the monumental church of King Milutin, in 1756 was turned into the mosque and only after the WWI it was again restored into the Christian church. Contrary, there is no one example of conversion of the Muslim mosque into the Christian church in the 20th c. when the Christians (Serbs) ruled the province.

Turkish invasion and the consequences of their conflict with Christian Europe, particularly since the siege of Vienna in 1683, had considerably changed the ethnic and demographic picture of that part of Serbia. The Orthodox Serbs were the absolute majority population until the end of the 17th c., and before the First Great Migration of the Serbs in 1690, due to the defeat of the Christian Europe (the Habsburg army) in the conflict with the Turks and the participation of the Serbs in that conflict on the side of the Christian Europe. After 1690 the Turks have been settled in Kosovo & Metohija’s towns and cities, but the turning point in history of Kosovo & Metohija was the fact that the Albanians have been coming from the mountains of Northern Albania to both (firstly) Metohija and (later) Kosovo. The colonisation of Kosovo & Metohija by Albania’s Albanians has been continued after 1941 up today. Surely, until the 18th c. there are no Albanians in Kosovo & Metohija in bigger agglomerations. In addition to the newly settled Albanians who were mostly Muslims, i.e. originally the Christians converted to Islam already in Albania or soon after settling in Kosovo & Metohija, it was also and the process of Islamization of the Serbs that brought about great changes in the cultural environment of the province. Many of Islamized Serbs (the „Arbanasi“) gradually fused with predominantly Albanian Muslims and adopted their culture and language. Thus, a great number of today Kosovo “Albanians” are in fact of Serbian ethnic origin. The process of Islamization and a change of ethnic structure of Kosovo & Metohija further continued at the beginning of the second half of the 19th c. when the Turks settled the Cherkeses in this province which at that time enjoyed a status of a separate Ottoman administrative unit („Kosovo vilayet“) but with a bigger territory in comparison to Kosovo & Metohija are today (including and Northern Macedonia and parts of present-day South West Serbia). Consequently, due to of all these artificial demographic changes, but also and due to high birth-rate of Kosovo Albanians, the Orthodox Serbs decreased for almost 50% of the total population living in Kosovo & Metohija c. 1900.

In the second half of the 19th c. and at the beginning of the 20th c. the Serbian middle class in Prizren, Peć, Priština and other cities was the main driving force of the urban and economic development of the province. The newspaper “Prizren” was published in both in Serbian and Turkish language. In 1871 the „Orthodox Theological School“ was founded in Prizren by Sima Igumanov. During the eighties and the nineties of the 19th c. a great number of new schools, cultural institutions and banks were founded and many of them have been sponsored by the independent Kingdom of Serbia whose consulate was established in Priština.

It was during the WWII, that the most drastic changes in the demographic picture of Kosovo & Metohija took place. In this region, which became part of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s protected Greater Albania from 1941 to 1944 (composed by Albania, Kosovo & Metohija, Western Macedonia and Eastern Montenegro), the Albanian nationalists got free hands to terrorize and exterminate the Serbs. Under such pressure no lesser than 100.000 Serbs left this region. In their empty houses about the same number of Albanians from Albania are settled (the „Kosovars“). Such policy definitely changed the balance in the Albanian favour. Thus, the first official census in post-WWII Yugoslavia (in 1948) showed 199,961 Serbs (including and “Montenegrins”) in Kosovo & Metohija and 498,242 Albanians. Moreover, the federal National Assembly in Belgrade issued a special law in 1946 according to which all expelled Serbs/Montenegrins from the region during the years of 1941-1944 are prohibited to return back to their homes under the official pretext that such move would provoke tensions between Serbs/Montenegrins and Albanians in Kosovo & Metohija.

After 1945, as a result of unbelievable demographic explosion (up today the biggest in Europe) Albanian population in Kosovo doubled till 1971. The official Yugoslav census for that year shows 916,168 Albanians living in Kosovo & Metohija, while Serb and Montenegrin (the “Montenegrins” as a separate nation from the Serbs are declared in 1945) population reached only to number 259,819. This demographic trend clearly demonstrates that the theory of Serb repression over Albanians after the WWII is absolutely not correct. The truth is that the Serbophobic Yugoslav Communist authorities (lead by Austro-Hungarian Croat Josip Broz Tito who was fighting in 1914 in Austro-Hungarian uniform at the territory of Serbia) gave favour to the Albanians at the expense of Serbs/Montenegrins allowing uncontrolled settlement of Albanian immigrants from North Albania and tolerating different methods of ethnic discrimination over the Serbs/Montenegrins which made more and more Serbs and Montenegrins leave the province to seek more secured life in Central Serbia or Montenegro. The new wave of Serbian and Montenegrin exodus from Kosovo & Metohija started after mass Albanian demonstrations in 1968 in the region with a requirement to transform Kosovo & Metohija into the new (7th) Yugoslav republic in order to easily secede the region from Serbia with a final aim to include it into a Greater Albania. By the 1990s more than 800 settlements in which Serbs lived with Albanians became ethnically pure Albanian villages. From 1974 (when a new Yugoslav (con)federal constitution was adopted) Kosovo & Metohija’s Albanians got extremely huge political-national autonomy only formally within Republic of Serbia. However, it became practically an independent seventh republic within Yugoslav (con)federation having its own president, government, parliament, Academy of Science, flag, police, territorial defence and school systems and even a constitution which was in many articles in direct opposition to the constitution of the Republic of Serbia.

Monah na rusevinama crkveDestroyed Serbian Christian Orthodox Church in Kosovo & Metochia by Muslim Albanians in March 2004

In an attempt to prevent the secession of Kosovo & Metohija after pro-Greater Albanian demonstrations in this province in the spring 1981 (when Albanians openly required unification with Albania), Serbian government in the 1990 abolished only Albanian political autonomy (i.e independence) at Kosovo & Metohija. When the rebels of Albanian classical terrorist „Kosovo Liberation Army“ (established in 1995 and sponsored by the USA) began attacks on both Serbian police forces and Serbian civilians in February 1998 the Serbian government brought the army and stronger police troops to put the rebellion down. In the course of the „Kosovo War“ in 1998 and 1999 which ended by the NATO intervention against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) more than 500.000 Kosovo & Metohija’s Albanians, in order to escape from the NATO bombing and to perform a political refugee show-programme for the West) fled the province to Macedonia and Albania. After the war, despite the international presence, „Kosovo Liberation Army“ organized persecutions of Serbian, Montenegrin and all other non-Albanian population with a result that more than 200.000 Serbs and Montenegrins left Kosovo and Metohija. Only 90.000 Serbs remained living in total isolation, dispersed in several KFOR protected Serb enclaves. After the self-proclamation of Kosovo state independence on February 17th 2008 Balkan ethnic Albanians are living in two national states with a great possibility to create in the recent future a united Greater Albania following the borders from 1941-1944.

By means of the United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1244 (June 1999), the mandate of the warrant for the effective protection of universal values of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family (which is foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the World) on the territory of the southern Serbia’s Autonomous Region of Kosovo & Metohija (in English known only as Kosovo) after the war against Kosovo Albanian secessionist terrorists (the so-called “Kosovo Liberation Army”, established, financed and supported by the USA administration) from February 1998 to June 1999 was given to the United Nations.

Responsibility for protection of human lives, freedom and security in Kosovo & Metohija was thus transferred to the international public authorities (in fact only to the NATO): the administration of UNMIK (United Nations’ Mission in Kosovo), and the international military forces – (KFOR, Kosovo Forces). Unfortunately, very soon this responsibility was totally challenged as more than 220.000 ethnic Serbs and members of other non-Albanian communities were expelled from the region by local ethnic Albanians. Mostly suffered the Serbs: it left today only 10% of them in Kosovo & Metohija in comparison to the pre-war situation. Only up to March 2004 c. 120 Christian religious objects and cultural monuments were devastated or destroyed.

The most terrible in the series of Kosovo Albanian eruptions of violence against the Serbs living in this region was organized and carried out between March 17th-19th, 2004, having all the features of Nazi organized Pogroms. During the tragic events of the March Pogrom, in a destructive assault of tens of thousands by Kosovo Albanians led by armed groups of redressed Kosovo Liberation Army (Kosovo Protection Corpus), a systematic ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbs was carried out, together with destruction of houses, other property, cultural monuments and Serbian Orthodox Christian religious sites. However, the international civil and military forces in the region have been only “stunned” and “surprised”.

The March Pogrom, which resulted in the loss of several dozens of lives, several hundreds of wounded (including the members of KFOR as well), more than 4.000 exiled ethnic Serbs, more than 800 Serbian houses set on fire and 35 destroyed or severely damaged Serbian Orthodox Christian churches and cultural monuments, revealed the real situation in this European region 60 years after the Holocaust during the Second World War. Unfortunately, the attempts of the Serbs to call attention to the situation proved to have been justified in the most shocking way.
It is thus necessary to reiterate that ethnic cleansing of the Serbs (and other non-Albanian population) in the region by the local Albanians after the mid-June 1999 means putting into practice the annihilation of a Serbian territory of exquisite historic, spiritual, political and cultural top-level significance in terms of the Serbian nation, state and the Church, and its every-day visible transformation into another Albanian state in the Balkans with a real wish and possibility to unify it with a neighboring motherland Albania. The main geo-political goal of the First Albanian Prizren League from June 1878 is being brought to its attainment, including its implications for the Preshevo valley in South-East Serbia, Western Macedonia up to Vardar River, Greek portion of Epirus province and Eastern Montenegro.

The Albanian national movement, established in accordance with the program of the First Prizren League in 1878, is keeping on with its terrorist activities up today. It was before after June 1999 particularly active in the period of Italian and German Greater Albania from April 1941 to May 1945, when it undertook the organization of the Albanian Quisling network of agents. During this period of time c. 100.000 Serbs from Kosovo & Metohija have been expelled from their homes to addition to extra 200.000 expelled during Croat-run Titoslavia from 1945 to 1980. The process of articulation of the Albanian secessionist movement in the geo-political sense continued throughout the post-Second World War period marked by the rule of Yugoslav-Albanian anti-Serb communist partocracy. The process became particularly intense and successful in the period between 1968 and 1989. The entrance of the NATO troops in the region in June 1999 marks the beginning of the last stage of the Albanian-planned and carried out “Final Solution” of the Serbian question on the territory of Kosovo & Metohija – a “Cradle of Serbian nation”.
In the light of the main Albanian goal – to establish ethnically pure Greater Albania – it is “understandable” why it is so important to destroy any Serbian trace in the territory defined by the aspirations. Albanian terrorism has been developing for more than two centuries. It has the profile of ethnically, i.e. Nazi-racist style motivated terrorism (like Croat one), marked by excessive animosity against the Serbs. Its principal features are the following:

1. Repressive measures directed against the Serbian population
2. Carrying practical actions to force the Serbs to leave their homes
3. Devastation of the Serbian Orthodox Christian religious objects and other cultural monuments belonging to the Serbian people and testifying to its ten centuries long presence in Kosovo & Metohija
4. Destruction of the complete infrastructure used by the members of the Serbian community
5. Destruction of Serbian cemeteries

Long standing Muslim Albanian Nazi-style terror against the Serbian community in Kosovo & Metohija is a specific phenomenon with grave consequences not only for the local Serbs. It became, however, clear that sooner or later it will bring about severe problems for the whole Europe.

The origins of the endowments of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the heritage of the Serbian state and nation in Kosovo & Metohija, as well in other Serbian ethnographic territories, can be traced in historical sources and other relevant documents since the Early Middle Ages. Unfortunately, throughout the course of their long history, Serbian religious (and at the same time national) objects have often been exposed to physical attacks of numerous foreign invaders including and Albanians who came to the Balkans from the Caucasus’ Albania via Sicily and South Italy only in the year of 1043. In the centuries of the Islamic Ottoman rule (1455−1912) over Kosovo & Metohija, both Serbian nation and its cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, suffered very much by both Turks and especially (Muslim) Albanians who came to this region from present-day Albania after the Great Vienna War that is finished in 1699. However, not those sufferings can be compared to the hardship borne by them since mid-June 1999, when the region of Kosovo & Metohija became turned into the first NATO’s established concentration camp and U.S. 19th c.-style colony in Europe run by both the local Albanians and their numerous fellows emigrated to Kosovo & Metohija from Albania.

It is in Kosovo & Metohija that the richest group of monuments of religious endowments bequeathed by the Christian East to the European Christian civilization can be found. According to the official inventory of protected cultural properties of the Republic of Serbia, as of 1986 and 1994, more than 300 cultural properties, belonging to the “1st and the 3rd categories”, have been granted protected status in Kosovo & Metohija. There is also a considerable number of properties having status of “recognized heritage”, i.e. preventively protected properties.

A considerable number of cultural properties in the highest categories – mediaeval monumental heritage in particular – distinctly shows that the Serbian mediaeval state (early 9th c.−1459), marked by the Nemanjić’s dynasty (1167−1371), which gave ten rulers in the course of two centuries, once (before the Ottoman rule) belonged to the developed countries of Europe. This is the heritage that continued the tradition of the Byzantine architecture: numerous religious objects and cities (for instance Novo Brdo/Novaberda) were built on Byzantine foundations, while in some of them elements of Western European mediaeval architectural styles – before all Romanesque – were incorporated in a unique, original manner. The fact that Serbian king Stephen (Stefan) Uroš III Dečanski (1321−1331) dedicated to Christ Pantokrator his great burial church in the monastery of Dečani (in Metohija near Peć), entrusting its construction to the Franciscan Vito, a member of the order of Friars Minor from Kotor, is an obvious and respectable example of an unbiast approach. The architecture of Kosovo & Metohija acquired some specific features owing to the fact that some other Serbian royal mausolea were built in this region – like burial churches of king Uroš III Milutin (1282−1321) in Banjska and emperor Stefan Dušan “Mighty” (1331−1355) in the monastery of Holy Archangels (in Metohija near Prizren) – and that the Patriarchate of Peć, an important religious centre, with church of Holy Apostles, was the burial place of the highest prelates of the Serbian Orthodox Church since the 13th c. (more than 200 years before Columbus discovered America).

It has to be clearly noted that there is no a single Albanian built mediaeval shrine or profane object on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija for the very historical reason – the Albanians did not live in this region before 1699. Even the term “Kosova” used in Albanian language is in fact of Slavic-Serbian original “Kosovo” what means nothing in Albanian language but it means a kind of eagle in Serbian (“Kos”).

Both Kosovo and Metohija have been the homeland of numerous Serbian aristocratic families like the Musić’s, Lazarević’s or Branković’s. Their estates are situated in this region. The greatest portions of Kosovo & Metohija’s land, rich in ores, belonged to Serbian rulers and to Serbian Orthodox Church. The rulers have been periodically granted to the monasteries vast estates, including villages and shepherds’ settlements (the so-called “katuni”), so that the major part of the present territory of Kosovo & Metohija was occupied with church estates – metochies. It was for that reason that the western part of this region got the name of Greek origin – Metohija.

In the centuries of the Ottoman lordship, Serbian people gathered around their churches and monasteries. After the sudden change of fortune in the war operations of the Habsburg general Piccolomini, whose military campaign against the Ottoman Empire (Great Vienna War, 1683−1699) was readily supported by the Serbian population of Kosovo & Metohija, c. 100.000 of local Serbs were forced to migrate to northern areas, across the rivers of Sava and Danube in the year of 1690 (The First Great Serbian Migration) in order to escape retaliation. In the opening decades of the 18th c., the great Ottoman Empire, together with a policy of mass settlement in the region of loyal Muslim ethnic Albanians from the neighboring mountainous and poor Albania, began to show clear signs of political and military weakening. After the First Serbian Uprising against the Turks (1804−1813), the Ottoman authorities were compelled to accept requests of European great powers, and Russia in particular, regarding protection of the Christian population in the Balkans. When two Serbian states, Serbia and Montenegro, finally managed to liberate Kosovo & Metohija and the whole region of Old Serbia (Kosovo, Metohija, Raška and Vardar Macedonia) in 1912/1913, not a single of the most important monuments of Islamic architecture was destroyed or desecrated – Bayraki mosque in Peć (Metohija), Sinan-pasha’s mosque in Prizren (Metohija), built in the 17th c. of stones and fragments of sculptural decoration brought from the ruins of the monastery of Holy Archangels near Prizren (an endowment of Serbian emperor Dušan), the Imperial (Fetih) mosque in Priština (Kosovo) or Hadum-mosque in Đakovica (Metohija).

2177800481_785277bdf2_b_KosovoA rapid process of Islamization of Christian Kosovo & Metochia after June 1999

However, the major part of Serbian Christian religious objects, which despite all managed to survive centuries of hardship and Muslim Albanian attacks, could not withstand the latest devastations lasting since mid-June 1999 when NATO troops occupied the region. Destruction and devastation of Serbian Christian cultural heritage in Kosovo & Metohija, which in NATO’s countries acquires special treatment, is unprecedented in the whole history of Europe.

The most genocidal action committed by local Albanians under the auspicious by the NATO’s troops in Kosovo & Metohija from the mid-June 1999 was the “March Pogrom” from March 17th to March 19th of 2004. These three days and nights of Albanian vandalism and ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians from the region, primarily the autochthonous Serbs, in the Nazi “Kristallnacht”-style resulted in devastation of 19 cultural monuments, 6 of which fall into 1st category – churches from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, and 16 religious objects without heritage value, which makes a total of 35 recorded cultural properties and churches of Serb nation.

Only during the period between 1999 and 2004 (the first 5 years of NATO’s occupation of Kosovo & Metohija), in this region 15 cultural monuments from the 1st category and 23 from the 3rd category have been destroyed, which makes a total of 38 recorded cultural properties out of much more destroyed Serbian cultural properties of minor importance. The group of cultural properties at risk , i.e. preserved monuments, includes 88 properties: 31 from the 1st and 57 from the 3rd category.

After the “March pogrom” in 2004, as the most remarkable vandalistic assault of the Muslim Kosovo Albanian terrorists, the number of devastated most important cultural properties has reached 21 for the 1st and 36 for the 3rd category, which makes a total of 47 monuments and objects (end of March 2004). If we take into account all the other destroyed cultural properties, as well as ordinary religious objects, the total surpasses 140 cultural monuments, churches and other religious objects up to mid-2004.

It is clear that Europe is facing the organized and deliberate destruction of monuments and religious objects alongside with devastation of private property of Serbian nation in the cradle of Serbian civilization and history by militant-fanatic Albanians who took example of Catholic Croat-run genocide against the Serbs committed three times in the 20th century (1914-1918; 1941-1945 and 1991-1995) in Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Srem, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim in both cases was and is to erase any trace of Serbian Orthodox civilization and the Serbian cultural heritage westward from the Drina River and in Kosovo & Metohija. The genocide is accompanied with promotion of totally false historical data, undue claims to cultural and historic heritage belonging to other people and the changing and renaming of geographical names and toponyms. We have not to forgot that many Kosovo-Metohija Albanians took participation in ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from the Krayina region (Republic of Serbian Krayina) in Titoist-Tuđman’s Greater Croatia in 1991-1995 as volunteers or mercenaries in Croatian army or ultra-right party-military detachments. Some of these Albanians even received the rank of the generals in the Croatian Army like terrorist and war-criminal Agim Cheku who later became one of the leading commanders of the Albanian “Kosovo Liberation Army” and later the chief-commander of the “Kosovo Protection Corps” (transformed KLA). The other KLA top war criminals after the mid-June 1999 took an active part in political life in the region and one of them, Ramush Haradinaj (a leader of the “Alliance for the Future of Kosovo” and deputy-chief-commander of the “Kosovo Protection Corps”), even became “Prime Minister” of “Kosova” in 2004. Unfortunately, but not and surprisingly, such a situation in Kosovo & Metohija, likewise in Croatia, met no adequate response from the international professional circles coming from the “democratic West” with the exclusion of Serbian professionals and institutions from the heritage protection system.

During the time from the mid-June 1999 up today as the major problems in the context of protection and preservation of the Serbian Christian Orthodox cultural heritage in Kosovo & Metohija are:

• Access to cultural properties and work on their protection is impossible for the exiled Serbian experts,
• For the most monuments and objects no protection has been provided,
• Recommended regimes of protection are not being improved nor implemented,
• Measures of protection are not being put into effect, or, to be more precise, they are being implemented in a discriminative manner,
• Not a single process of rehabilitation of devastated or destroyed Serbian Christian Orthodox monuments has been initiated,
• Supervision by responsible higher rank institutions of the Republic of Serbia has been precluded,
• Vandalization of cultural properties is still occurring, but the offenders have not been condemned never mind apprehended,
• Disrespect for the international legal acts, and
• Application of a policy of “double standards” by UNMIK and NATO

Historically, Serbian Christian Orthodox artistic, cultural and religious heritage of Kosovo & Metohija (both movable and immovable properties) has been exposed to the most severe damages and devastation by local Muslim Albanians during the last 250 years, but particularly after the arrival of the civic “UN Mission in Kosovo” (UNMIK) and NATO military occupation of the region under the label of the “Kosovo Protection Forces” (KFOR) in the mid-June 1999. The territory of Kosovo & Metohija is Serbian centre of cultural, religious and artistic heritage of the highest value in European context that is, first of all, a testimony of historical presence of the Serbs, Serbian culture and Serbian civilization. This heritage belongs to the mankind and is thus worth of protection in accordance with the principle of the “European common heritage”. Salvaging and preserving the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is a great challenge and duty to be undertaken by modern and democratic Europe if it is.


Source:

March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija. March 17-19, 2004 with a survay of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage (2004). Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia-Museum in Priština (displaced)

Improved and corrected by Prof. Dr.  Vladislav B. Sotirovic

Note:

The text is not approved by Noel Malcolm! We apologize for any inconvenience.

10 I morto i SerbiDestroyed Serbian Christian Orthodox Church in Kosovo & Metochia by Muslim Albanians in March 2004

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Inside Kosovo’s Islamist Cauldron



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Kacanik, KOSOVO – A plume of smoke hangs over our table in the corner of a dark, shabby café in this rugged town in southern Kosovo. The lanky 19-year-old sitting next to me is chain-smoking through half a pack of L&Ms, his hands trembling as he recalls how he joined one of the world’s most brutal militant Islamist groups.

Through his neatly trimmed beard, Adem, who asks me not to use his real name for fear of arrest, says he had never even left Kosovo. But two years ago, he found himself on the perilous and far-off Turkey-Syria border — a major entry point for foreigners seeking to join the ranks of Islamic State (IS).

He was taken by IS recruiters to a Turkish village, where he waited to be smuggled into a war zone. After a two-week training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Syrian and Iraqi territory that the group calls its “caliphate,” he would be assigned to a fighting unit.

Hours before the recruiters were to sneak him across the border, however, Adem turned back and made his way home.

“I realized that what was going on in Syria had nothing to do with Islam,” says Adem, who keeps looking over his shoulder as if he might be found out at any moment by Kosovar authorities. He looks like any other teenager, in skinny jeans and a silver chain hanging over his T-shirt.

Kacanik lies in southern Kosovo’s Sharr Mountains, a pathway between central Europe and the southern Balkans since at least the Bronze Age.

Jihadist Capital Of The Balkans

The government estimates that more than 300 Kosovars have traveled to the Middle East to wage jihad, or Islamic holy war. That makes this predominately Muslim country of under 2 million people, which unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, Europe’s biggest contributor per capita of IS foot soldiers.

Kacanik in particular has gained a reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans. In the past three years, at least 24 men from its population of 30,000 have left to fight for extremist groups like IS or Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.

Adem’s own path toward radicalization began when he received a Facebook invitation to attend a sermon hosted by an imam from a nearby town. He says he was “curious” about Islam. For the next five months, Adem attended sermons and Koran classes at a makeshift mosque where he and other young men lived.

The sermons were organized by Rinia Islame (Islamic Youth in Albanian), an Islamic charity operating in Kacanik. It is one among dozens of secretive organizations funded by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states that promote an extreme version of Islam. The groups are accused of brainwashing youth and recruiting them for extremist causes abroad.

Adem says the sermons he attended were “very strict and harsh.” “They told us not to shake hands with women and don’t go to cafes or bars,” he says.

There are indeed mounting outward signs of Islamic fundamentalism in Kacanik, where it is no longer uncommon to see women in Islamic veils or men with untrimmed beards and calf-length trousers, none of which has much real tradition in the country.

As Adem tells it, the sermons worked their way up from Koran lessons, to the meaning of jihad, to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

“My family doesn’t practice religion very much,” says Adem, who lives with his parents and two sisters in a crammed flat in Kacanik. “Only my grandfather and I.”

He says his family picked up on signs that he was becoming radicalized. “They said that if I want to practice religion, I can do it — I can pray — but not become a radical.”

The sermons attended by Adem were given by Zeqirja Qazimi, a notorious imam who was jailed for 10 years on May 20 after he and six associates were convicted for fighting for IS militants in Syria from 2012 to 2014 and for trying to gather IS recruits.

“Imam Zekerija Qazimi came from Gjilan,” says Adem, referring to a town in eastern Kosovo. “He was telling us about jihad.”

Qazimi also posted a video on YouTube in which he said that the “blood of infidels is the best drink for us.” Local media reported that Qazimi was responsible for recruiting 11 Kosovar fighters to IS; three were said to have been killed in Syria.

When I ask whether Adem has been threatened since turning his back on the extremists who radicalized him, his answer belies the bloodthirsty reputation of a group that routinely kills captives en masse and is said to ruthlessly execute suspected traitors. “I’ve never felt danger,” he says. “It was my decision.”

The Middle Eastern-funded charities have penetrated poor, rural communities like Kacanik that have been neglected by the government and where unemployment is around 40 percent, making young men easy targets for indoctrination.

The Islamic charities often run schools, dormitories, and welfare programs. But they also push a hard-line agenda that appears to have gained at least a minor foothold in Kacanik.

Fertile Ground For Extremism

Adem believes the Arab-funded charities targeted poor families, and often single mothers. He says in exchange for attending the sermons, the charity would give students accommodations, expense money, and new clothes and shoes.

“There were many people who attended the sermons,” says Adem, who had just finished high school and was jobless when he started attending the classes. “There were people in poor economic conditions.”

“These charities were not registered and they worked with certain radical individuals and they have manipulated the poor,” says Kacanik Mayor Besim Ilazi.

Ilazi, a tall, balding man, points at derelict buildings and defunct factories at the foot of the green hills around Kacanik and adds, “The economy is the main reason why some people joined.”

Locals also point to the town’s proximity to Macedonia as one of the reasons Kacanik has become such a hotbed for radicalism. Macedonia is a short 30-minute drive away, and locals say hard-line ethnic Albanian preachers often visit Kosovar communities to deliver sermons.

Radical Charities Going Underground

In late 2014, Kosovar officials closed 14 charities — including the one that provided religious classes to Adem — when they were suspected of having ties to Islamic extremist groups. Under a new law, Kosovo can jail citizens for up to 15 years if they participate in foreign wars.

Kosovo authorities say around 50 homegrown jihadists have been killed in fighting in Syria and Iraq, and around 120 have returned to Kosovo. More than 100 people in Kosovo have been arrested or are under investigation for recruiting or fighting abroad on behalf of IS.

Ilazi insists the government crackdown has largely driven Kacanik’s radical fringe out of the town. But he also acknowledges that some extremists have simply gone underground and continue to operate in “private houses.”

Locals talk of cabins in the woods where the extremists hold meetings and sermons. One local points to a rocky hill in the distance. “Over there is where they meet at night,” he says, talking on condition of anonymity. “No one can go there because they have armed guards.”

“The radicals were allowed to operate freely for too long.”

Florim Neziraj, head of the Islamic Community of Kosovo in Kacanik

Recruits ‘Never Came Back’

Adem, sipping Turkish coffee from a tiny cup, says that several months after attending religious classes some of the young men “left and never came back,” referring to locals who went to Syria to fight.

“We were in a small place and we heard everything,” says Adem. “Yes, there were people who went to Syria. I saw them leave Kacanik.”

Florim Neziraj is the head of the local branch of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the main officially sanctioned Islamic organization in the country. The young, ginger-haired imam has been leading efforts to prevent young men from joining radical Islamic groups.

“Those who have gone to Syria are often very young,” says Neziraj, who is wearing a tight navy suit and sporting a trimmed beard. “They come from the best families in Kacanik. You couldn’t say anything bad about them. We saw no signs of radicalization. They were manipulated and fell victim to certain individuals.”

Neziraj argues that blame must be apportioned to the government, which he says “neglected the problem” of radicalization. “The radicals were allowed to operate freely for too long,” he adds.

Kosovo has traditionally been a secular state with a liberal Muslim population, with bars on the same street as mosques. But less tolerant voices have flourished, including among the radical Islamic charities, which have thrived since arriving after the war ended in Kosovo in 1999.

Neziraj says many such charities came under the guise of “humanitarian organizations,” often building schools and hospitals. But he says these charities were often bent on “indoctrinating the youth.”

He fears it might be too late to tackle spreading radicalism.

IS Recruiter

One product of the radicalization in Kacanik is Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a 25-year-old IS recruiter who fights in Syria. He has been described as one of IS’s top leaders.

Last year, Muhaxheri sent shockwaves around Kosovo when he posted photos on Facebook of himself beheading a prisoner in Syria. Another post purportedly showed him executing a Syrian man with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Adem is reluctant to talk about Kacanik’s most notorious former resident, but admits he saw Muhaxheri attending the local mosque for prayers, saying he looked “normal.”

He says Muhaxheri’s path is a lesson for young men in Kacanik thinking of fighting in Syria.

“I live a normal life again, but I’m one of the lucky ones,” Adem tells me between cigarettes in the café, where he now works as a waiter. “Not everyone who takes the wrong path can find their way again.”

But for the older tombs, he said, “I think the bones should stay in their graves.”

June 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frud Bezhan is a Prague-based correspondent for RFE/RL.

Source: RFE/RL

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

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Kosovo history – Fourth part



decani

The Serbs stepped again onto the historical scene in the years of the European wars that swept the continent from the forests of Ireland to the walls of Constantinople in the late 17th century. The Turks finally withdrew from Hungary and Transylvania when their Ottoman hordes were routed outside Vienna in 1683. The disintegration of Ottoman rule in the southwest limbered up the Serbs, arousing in them hope that the moment was ripe for joint effort to break Turkish dominion in the Balkans. The neighboring Christian powers (Austria and Venice) were the only possible allies. The arrival of the Austrian army in Serbia after the fall of Belgrade in 1688 prompted the Serbs to join it. Thanks to the support of Serbian insurgents, the imperial troops penetrated deep into Serbia and in 1689 conquered Nis: a special Serbian militia was formed as a separate corps of the imperial troops.

After setting fire to Skoplje (Uskub), which was raging with plague, the commander of Austrian troops Ennea Silviae Piccolomini withdrew to Prizren where he was greeted by 20,000 Serbian insurgents, and with whom he reached an accord on fighting the Turks with joint forces. Shortly afterwards, Piccollomini died of the plague, and his successors failed to prevent their troops from marauding the surrounding regions. Disappointed by the conduct of the Christian troops from which they had expected decisive support, the Serbian insurgents abandoned the agreed alliance. Patriarch Arsenije III Crnojevic tried in vain to arrive at a new agreement with the Austrian generals. The restorer of the Ottoman Empire, Grand Vizier Mustafa-Pasha Koporilli, an Albanian by origin, took advantage of the lull in military operations, mustered Crimean Tatars and Islamized Albanians and mounted a major campaign. Despite assurances of help, Catholic Albanian tribes deserted the Austrian army on the eve of the decisive clash at Kacanik in Kosovo, on January 1690. The Serbian militia, resisting the Sultan’s superior hordes, retreated to the west and north of the country.

Turkish retaliation, in which the Serbian infidels were raided and viciously massacred lasted a three full months. The towns of Prizren, Pec, Pristina, Vucitrn and Mitrovica were hit the worst, and Serbs from Novo Brdo retreated from the Tatar saber. Fleeing from the brutal reprisal, the people of Kosovo and the neighboring areas moved northwards with Patriarch Arsenije III. The decision to end the massacre and declare an amnesty came belately as much of the population had already fled for safer areas, moving towards the Sava River and Belgrade. Other parts of Serbia were also targets of ghastly reprisals. In the Belgrade pashalik alone, the number of taxpayers dropped eightfold. Grand old monasteries were looted from Pec Patriarchate to Gracanica, and the Albanian tribe Gashi pillaged the Decani monastery, killing the prior and seizing the monastery’s best estates.

At the invitation of emperor Leopold I, Patriarch Arsenije III led part of the high clergy and a sizeable part of the refugees (tens of thousands of people) to the Habsburg Empire to the territory of southern Hungary, having received assurances that the Serbs would there be granted special political and religious status. Many Serbs from Kosovo and Metohia followed him. The new churches built along the Danube they named after those left in old homeland.

The Great 1690 Migration was a important turning point in the history of the Serbs. In Kosovo and Metohia alone, towns and some villages were abandoned to the last inhabitant. The population was also decimated by the plague, whatever remained after the Turkish troops. The physical extermination along with the mass exodus, the burning of grand monasteries and their rich treasuries and libraries, the death and murder of a large number of monks and clergy wreaked havoc in these regions. The position of the Pec Patriarchate was badly shaken; its highest clergy went with the people to Austria, and the confusion wrought by the Great Migration had a major influence on its abolition (1766).

The hardest consequence of the Great Migration was demographic upheaval it caused, because once the Serbs withdraw from Kosovo and Metohia, Islamized Albanian tribes from the northern highlands started settling the area in greater number, mostly by force, in the decade following the 1690 Great Migration of Serbs, ethnic Albanian tribes (given their incredible powers of reproduction) was posing a grave threat to the biological survival of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia. Colonies set up by the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Metohia and the neighboring areas provoked a fresh Serbian migration toward the north, encouraged the process of conversion and upset the centuries-old ethnic balance in those areas. Supported (depending on circumstances) by the Turks and the Roman Curia, ethnic Albanians, abyding by their tribal customs and hajduk insubordination to the law, in the coming centuries turned the entire region of Kosovo and Metohia into a bloody battleground, marked by tribal and feudal anarchy. The period following the Great Migration of Serbia marked the commencement of three centuries of ethnic Albanian genocide against Serbs in their native land.

The century after the Great Migration saw a fresh exodus of the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohia, and a growing influence of ethnic Albanians on political circumstances. Ethnic Albanians used the support they received from the Turkish army in fighting Serbian insurgents to seize the ravaged land and abandoned mining centers in Kosovo and Metohia and to enter in large numbers the Ottoman administration and military. More and more Catholic ethnic-Albanians converted to Islam, thereby acquiring the right to retain the estates they had seized and to apply the might-is-right principle in their dealings with the non-Muslim Serbs. The authorities encouraged and assisted the settlement of the newly Islamized ethnic-Albanian tribes from the mountains to the fertile lands devastated by war. The dissipation of the Turkish administrative system encouraged the ethnic-Albanian colonisation of Kosovo and Metohia, since with the arrival of more of their fellow tribesmen and compatriots, the local pashas and beys (most of whom were ethnic Albanian) acquired strong tribal armies which in times of trouble helped them hold on to their position and illegally pass on their power to their descendents. The missionaries of the Roman Curia did not heed to preserve the small ethnic Albanian Catholic population, but endeavoured instead to inflict as much harm as possible on the Pec Patriarchate and its dignitaries, and, with the help of bribable pashas, to undermine the cohesive power of Serbian Orthodoxy in these areas.

The next war between Austria and Turkey (1716-1718) marked the beginning of a fresh persecution in Kosovo and Metohia. Austrian troops, backed by Serbian volunteers, reached the Western Morava River where they established a new frontier. Ethnic Albanians collectively guaranteed to the Porte the safety of the regions in the immediate vicinity of Austria, and were in return exempted from the heaviest taxes. Towards the end of the war (1717), a major Serbian uprising broke out in Vucitrn and its surroundings: it was brutally crushed and the troops sent to allay the rayah and launch an investigation, perpetrated fresh atrocities. Excessive dues, robbery and the threat of extermination put before the Kosovo Serbs the choices of either converting to Islam or finding a powerful master who would protect them if they accepted the status of serfs. Many opted for a third solution: they moved to surrounding regions where life was more tolerable.

The following war between Austria and Turkey (1737-1739) ended with the routing of the imperial troops from Serbian territory. The border was reestablished at the Sava and Danube rivers, and Serbs set out on another migration. Patriarch Arsenije IV Jovanovic, along with the religious and national leaders of Pec, drew up a plan for cooperation with the Austrian forces, and contacted their commanders. A large-scale uprisings broke out again in Kosovo and Metohia, engaging some 10.000 Serbs. They were joined by Montenegrin tribes, and Austrian envoys even stirred up the Kliments, a Catholic tribe from northern Albania. A Serbian militia was formed again, but the Austrian troops and insurgenta were forced to retreat in the face of superior Turkish power: reprisals ensued, bringing death to the insurgents and their families. Serbs withdrew from the mining settlements around Janjevo, Pristina, Novo Brdo and Kopaonik. In order to keep the remaining populace on the land, the Turks declared an amnesty. After the fall of Belgrade, Arsenije IV moved to Austria. The number of refugees from Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohia, along with some Kliments has yet to be accurately determined, as people were moving on all sides and the process lasted for several months. The considerably reduced number of taxpayers in Kosovo and Metohia and in other parts of Serbia points to a strong migratory wave.

siptarska devojcica i natpis u Djakovici smrtUnrest in the Ottoman empire helped spread anarchy in Kosovo and Metohia and rest of Serbia. Raids, murder, rape against the unarmed population was largely committed by ethnic Albanian outlaws, who were now numerically superior in many regions. Outlaw bands held controll over roads during Turkey’s war with Russia (1768-1774), when lawlessness reigned throughout Serbia. Ethnic Albanian outlaws looted and fleeced other regions as well, which sent local Muslims complaining to the Porte seeking protection.

During the last Austro-Turkish war (1788-1791), a sweeping popular movement again took shape in northern Serbia. Because of the imperial forces swift retreat, the movement did not encompass the southern parts of Serbia: Kosovo, Metohia and present-day northern Macedonia. The peace treaty of Sistovo (1791) envisaged a general amnesty for the Serbs, but the ethnic Albanians, as outlaws or soldiers in the detachments of local pashas, continued unhindered to assault the unprotected Serbian population. The wave of religious intolerance towards Orthodox population, which acquired greater proportion owing to the hostilities with Russia at the end of 18th century, effected the forced conversion to Islam of a larger number of Serbian families. The abolition of the Pec Patriarchate (1766), whose see and rich estates were continually sought after by local ethnic Albanian pashas and beys, prompted the final wave of extensive Islamization in Kosovo and Metohia.

Those who suffered the most during these centuries of utter lawlessness were the Serbs, unreliable subjects who would rise every time the Turks would wage war against one of the neighboring Great Powers, and whose patriarchs led the people to enemy land. Although initially on a small scale, the Islamization of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia began before the penetration of ethnic Albanians. More widespread conversion to Islam took place in the 17th and the first half of 18th centuries, when ethnic Albanians began to wield more influence on political events in these regions. Many Serbs accepted Islamization as a necessary evil, waiting for the moment when they could revert to the faith of their ancestors, but most of them never lived to see that day. The first few generations of Islamized Serbs preserved their language and observed their old customs (especially slava – the family patron saint day, and the Easter holiday). But several generations later, owing to a strong ethnic Albanian environment, they gradually began adopting the Albanian dress to safety, and outside their narrow family circle they spoke the Albanian language. Thus came into being a special kind of social mimicry which enabled converts to survive. Albanization began only when Islamized Serbs, who were void of national feeling, married girls from ethnic Albanian tribal community. For a long time Orthodox Serbs called their Albanized compatriots Arnautasi, until the memory of their Serbian origin waned completely, though old customs and legends about their ancestors were passed on from one generation to the next.

For a long time the Arnautasi felt neither like Turks nor ethnic Albanians, because their customs and traditions set them apart, and yet they did not feel like Serbs either, who considered Orthodoxy to be their prime national trait. Many Arnautasi retained their old surnames until the turn of the last century. In Drenica the Arnautasi bore such surnames as Dokic, Velic, Marusic, Zonic, Racic, Gecic, which unquestionably indicated their Serbian origin. The situation was similar in Pec and its surroundings where many Islamized and Albanized Serbs carries typically Serbian surnames: Stepanovic, Bojkovic, Dekic, Lekic, Stojkovic, etc. The eastern parts of Kosovo and Metohia, with their compact Serbian settlements, were the last to undergo Islamization. The earliest Islamization in Upper Morava and Izmornik is pinpointed as taking place in the first decades of the 18th century, and the latest in 1870s. Toponyms in many ethnic Albanian villages in Kosovo show that Serbs had lived there the preceding centuries, and in some places Orthodox cemeteries were shielded against desecrators by ethnic Albanians themselves, because they knew that the graves of their own ancestors lay there.

In the late 18th century, all the people of Gora, the mountain region near Prizren were converted to Islam. However they succeeded in preserving their language and avoiding Albanization. There were also some cases of conversion of Serbs to Islam in the second half of 19th century, especially during the Crimean War, again to save their lives, honor and property, though far more pronounced at the time was the process of emigration, since families, sometimes even entire villages, fled to Serbia or Montenegro. Extensive anthropogeographic research indicates that about 30% of the present-day ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohia is of Serbian origin.


Source: http://nokosovounesco.com/the-age-of-migrations-serbs/

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Donald Trump: We created chaos, we should not have attacked Serbia!



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Donald Trump, influential billionaire and a candidate for the president of United States, back in the 1999, as a guest of the famous host Larry King on CNN, spoke about that time ongoing topic of the bombing of Serbia.

Asked by Larry King, what does he think and what would he do if he was in Clinton’s place, Trump criticized the decision to bomb Serbia.

“So, I would do something different and I know it will sound ghastly to everybody. But, look at the chaos which we created in Kosovo. I think, we can say that we lost only few people. Of course, we were in the airplanes 75 hundreds of meters above the ground and we were throwing bombs. But, look what we did to that country, to those people and how much death and suffering we have caused” said Trump.

“We should have gone there with the troops. There would be killings probably even then, but less. We would not have that chaos which we have now” said the influential republican.

“I am not sure if that is considered as our success, but I would not call that successful” explains Trump, condemning the bombing of Serbia.

“People are being expelled from their land, from the whole territory, everyone is running away from there, and nobody knows what is happening. There are thousands of dead” said Donald Trump.

We remind, Trump is against most of the US military actions, he criticized bombing and aggression against Serbia on many occasions.

Donald Trump wants to change the course of foreign affairs of the US and highlights that he would be a friend with president Putin, which sparkled great attention by the American public.


07-09-2015

Source: South Front

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Kosovo: An evil little war



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Six Years Later, Kosovo Still Wrong

In the early hours of March 24, 1999, NATO began the bombing of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For some reason, many in the targeted nation thought the name of the operation was “Merciful Angel.” In fact, the attack was code-named “Allied Force” – a cold, uninspired and perfectly descriptive moniker. For, however much NATO spokesmen and the cheerleading press spun, lied, and fabricated to show otherwise (unfortunately, with altogether too much success), there was nothing noble in NATO’s aims. It attacked Yugoslavia for the same reason then-Emperor Bill Clinton enjoyed a quickie in the Oval Office: because it could.

Most of the criticism of the 1999 war has focused on its conduct (targeting practices, effects, “collateral damage”) and consequences. But though the conduct of the war by NATO was atrocious and the consequences have been dire and criminal, none of that changes the fact that by its very nature and from the very beginning, NATO’s attack was a war of aggression: illegal, immoral, and unjust; not “unsuccessful” or “mishandled,” but just plain wrong.

Illegal

There is absolutely no question that the NATO attack in March 1999 was illegal. Article 2, section 4 of the UN Charter clearly says:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Some NATO members tried to offer justification. London claimed the war was “justified” as a means of preventing a “humanitarian catastrophe,” but offered no legal grounds for such a claim. Paris tried to create a tenuous link with UNSC resolutions 1199 and 1203, which Belgrade was supposedly violating. However, NATO had deliberately bypassed the UN, rendering this argument moot.

Article 53 (Chapter VIII) of the UN Charter clearly says that:

“The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council.” (emphasis added)

Furthermore, Article 103 (Chapter XVI) asserts its primacy over any other regional agreement, so NATO’s actions would have been illegal under the UN Charter even if the Alliance had an obligation to act in Kosovo. Even NATO’s own charter – the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 – was violated by the act of war in March 1999:

“Article 1

“The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. […]

“Article 7

“This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.” (emphasis added)

The attack violated other laws and treaties as well: the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 (violating the territorial integrity of a signatory state) and the 1980 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (using coercion to compel a state to sign a treaty – i.e., the Rambouillet ultimatum).

Yugoslavia had not attacked any NATO members, nor indeed threatened the security of any other country in the region; it was itself under an attack by a terrorist, irredentist organization. What NATO did on March 24, 1999 was an act of aggression, a crime against peace.

Illegitimate

Perfectly aware that the bombing was illegal, NATO leaders tried to create justifications for it after the fact. They quickly seized upon a mass exodus of Albanians from Kosovo, describing it as “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide.” But as recent testimonies of Macedonian medical workers who took care of Albanian refugees suggest, the Western press was engaging in crude deceit, staging images of suffering refugees and peddling the most outrageous tall tales as unvarnished truth.

Stories abounded of mass murder, orchestrated expulsions, mass rapes, seizure of identity papers, even crematoria and mine shafts filled with dead bodies. Little or no evidence was offered – and not surprisingly, none found afterwards. The stories were part of a Big Lie, aimed to justify the intervention, concocted by professional propagandists, and delivered by the KLA-coached refugees. The KLA ran every camp in Macedonia and Albania, and there are credible allegations they organized the exodus in many instances. Albanians who did not play along were killed.

Eventually, the “genocide” and other atrocity stories were debunked as propaganda. But they had served their purpose, conjuring a justification for the war at the time. They had allowed NATO and its apologists to claim the war – though “perhaps” illegal – was a moral and legitimate affair. But there should be no doubt, it was neither.

Unjust

Even if one can somehow gloss over the illegal, illegitimate nature of the war and the lies it was based on, would the war still not be justified, if only because it led to the return of refugees? Well, which refugees? Certainly, many Kosovo Albanians – and quite a few from Albania, it appears – came back, only to proceed to cleanse it systematically of everyone else. Jews, Serbs, Roma, Turks, Ashkali, Gorani, no community was safe from KLA terror, not even the Albanians themselves. Those suspected of “collaborating” were brutally murdered, often with entire families.

According to the Catholic doctrine of “just war,” a war of aggression cannot be just. Even if one somehow fudges the issue, “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”

The evil conjured by NATO’s and KLA’s propaganda machine was indeed grave. But it was not real. In contrast, what took place after the war – i.e., under the NATO/KLA occupation – is amply documented. At the beginning of NATO’s aggression, there were fewer dead, fewer refugees, less destruction, and more order than at any time since the beginning of the occupation. NATO has replaced a fabricated evil with a very real evil of its own.

Monument to Evil

What began six years ago may have been Albright’s War on Clinton’s watch, but both Albright and Clinton have been gone from office for what amounts to a political eternity. For four years now, the occupation of Kosovo has continued with the blessing – implicit or otherwise – of Emperor Bush II, who launched his own illegal war in Iraq. Kosovo is not a partisan, but an imperial issue; that is why there has been virtually no debate on it since the first missiles were fired.

Six years to the day since NATO aircraft began their onslaught, Kosovo is a chauvinistic, desolate hellhole. Serbian lives, property, culture, and heritage been systematically destroyed, often right before the eyes of NATO “peacekeepers.” Through it all, Imperial officials, Albanian lobbyists, and various presstitutes have been working overtime to paint a canvas that would somehow cover up the true horror of occupation.

Their “liberated” Kosovo represents everything that is wrong about the world we live in. It stands as a monument to the power of lies, the successful murder of law, and the triumph of might over justice. Such a monument must be torn down, or else the entire world may end up looking like Kosovo sometime down the line. If that’s what the people in “liberal Western democracies” are willing to see happen, then their civilization is well and truly gone.


By Nebojsa Malic

25-03-2005

Source: Antiwar.com

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Kosovo: An evil little war (almost) all US candidates liked



NATO missiles and warplanes attacked military targets across Serbia including Kosovo ©

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Kosovo history – Third part



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For the Serbs as Christians, their loss of state independence and fall to the Ottoman Empire’s kind of theocratic state, was a terrible misfortune. With the advent of the Turks and establishment of their rule, the lands of Serbs were forcibly excluded from the circle of progressive European states wherein they occupied a prominent place precisely owing to the Byzantine civilization, which was enhanced by local qualities and strong influences of the neighboring Mediterranean states. Being Christians, the Serbs became second-class citizens in Islamic state. Apart from religious discrimination, which was evident in all spheres of everyday life, this status of rayah also implied social dependence, as most of the Serbs were landless peasants who paid the prescribed feudal taxes. Of the many dues paid in money, labor and kind, the hardest for the Serbs was having their children taken as tribute under a law that had the healthy boys, taken from their parents, converted to Islam and trained to serve in the janissary corps of the Turkish army.

An analysis of the earliest Turkish censuses, defters, shows that the ethnic picture of Kosovo and Metohia did not alter much during the 14th and 15th centuries. The small-in-number Turkish population consisted largely of people from the administration and military that were essential in maintaining order, whereas Christians continued to predominate in the rural areas. Kosovo and parts of Metohia were registrated in 1455 under the name Vilayeti Vlk, after Vuk Brankovic who once ruled over them. Some 75,000 inhabitants lived in 590 registered villages. An onomastic analysis of approximately 8,500 personal names shows that Slav and Christian names were heavily predominant.

Along with the Decani Charter, the register of the Brankovic region shows a clear division between old-Serbian and old-ethnic Albanian onomastics, allowing one to say, with some certainty which registrated settlement was Serbian, and which ethnically mixed. Ethnic designations (ethnic Albanian, Bulgarian, Armenian, Greek) appeared repeatedly next to the names of settlers in the region. More thorough onomastic research has shown that from the mid-14th to the 15th centuries, individual Albanian settlements appeared on the fringes of Metohia, in-between what had until then been a density of Serbian villages. This was probably due to the devastation wrought by Turks who destroyed the old landed estates, thus allowing for the mobile among the population, including ethnic Albanian cattlemen, to settle on the abandoned land and establish their settlements, which were neither big nor heavily populated.

A summary census of the houses and religious affiliations of inhabitants in the Vucitrn district (sanjak), which encompassed the one-time Brankovic lands, was drawn in 1487, showed that the ethnic situation had not altered much. Christian households predominated (totaling 16,729, out of which 412 were in Pristina and Vucitrn): there were 117 Muslim households (94 in Pristina and 83 in rural areas). A comprehensive census of the Scutari district offers the following picture: in Pec (Ipek) there were 33 Muslim and 121 Christian households, while in Suho Grlo, also in Metohia, Christians alone lived in 131 households. The number of Christians (6,124) versus Muslim (55) homes in the rural areas shows that 1% of the entire population bowed to the faith of the conqueror. An analysis of the names shows that those of Slav origin predominated among the Christians. In Pec, 68% of the population bore Slav names, in the Suho Grlo region 52%, in Donja Klina region 50% and around monastery of Decani 64%.

Ethnic Albanian settlements where people had characteristic names did not appear until one reached areas outside the borders of what is today Metohia, i.e. west of Djakovica. According to Turkish sources, in the period from 1520 to 1535 only 700 of the total number of 19,614 households in the Vucitrn district were Muslim (about 3,5%), and 359 (2%)in Prizren district.

In regions extending beyond the geographic borders of Kosovo and Metohia, in the Scutari and Dukagjin districts, Muslims accounted for 4,6% of the population. According to an analysis of the names in the Dukagjin district’s census, ethnic Albanian settlements did not predominate until one reached regions south of Djakovica, and the ethnic picture in the 16th century in Prizren and the neighboring areas remained basically unchanged.

A look at the religious affiliation of the urban population shows a rise in the Turkish and local Islamized population. In Prizren, Kosovo’s biggest city, Muslims accounted for 56% of the households, of which the Islamized population accounted for 21%. The ratio was similar in Pristina, where out of the 54% Muslim population 16% were converts. Pec also had a Muslim majority (90%), as did Vucitrn (72%). The Christians compromised the majority of the population in the mining centers of Novo Brdo (62%), Trepca (77%), Donja Trepca and Belasica (85%). Among the Christians was a smattering of Catholics. The Christian names were largely from the calendar, and to a lesser extent Slav (Voja, Dabiziv, Cvetko, Mladen, Stojko), and there were some that were typically ethnic Albanian (Prend, Don, Din, Zoti).

After the fall of Serbia in 1459, the Pec Patriarchate soon ceased to work and the Serbian eparchies came under the jurisdiction of the Hellenic Ochrid Archbishophoric. In the first decade following Turkish conquest, many large endowments and wealthier churches were pillaged and destroyed, while some turned into mosques. The Our Lady of Ljeviska Cathedral in Prizren was probably converted into a mosque right immediately following the conquest of the town; Banjska, one of the grandest monasteries dating from the age of King Milutin, suffered the same fate. The Church of the Holy Archangels near Prizren, Stefan Dusan’s chief endowment was turned into ruins. Most of the monasteries and churches were left unrenewed after being devastated, and many village churches were abandoned. Many were not restored until after the liberation of Kosovo and Metohia in 1912. Archeological findings have shown that some 1,300 monasteries, churches and other monuments existed in the Kosovo and Metohia area. The magnitude of the havoc wrought can be seen from the earliest Turkish censuses: In the 15th and 16th centuries there were ten to fourteen active places of Christian worship. At first the great monasteries like Decani and Gracanica, were exempt from destruction, but their wealthy estates were reduced to a handfull of surrounding villages. The privileges granted the monastic brotherhoods by the sultans obliged them to perform the service of falconry as well.

sokolovici-mehmed-pasa-i-makarije-713x454Two brothers of different faith and historical roles – Patriarch Makarije Sokolovic and his relative (a brother) Mehmed Pasha Sokollu (who was taken as a little child by Turks to be a yannisar)

The restoration of the Pec Patriarchate in 1557 (thanks to Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic, a Serb by origin, at the time the third vizier at the Porte) marked a major turn and helped revive the spiritual life of the Serbs, especially in Kosovo and Metohia. Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic (Turkish: Sokollu) enthroned his relative Makarije Sokolovic on the patriarchal throne. Like the great reform movements in 16th century Europe, the restoration of the Serbian Orthodox Church meant the rediscovery of lost spiritual strongholds. Thanks to the Patriarchate, Kosovo and Metohia were for the next two centuries again the spiritual and political center of the Serbs. On an area vaster than the Nemanjic empire, high-ranking ecclesiastical dignitaries revived old and created new eparchies endeavoring to reinforce the Orthodox faith which had been undermined by influences alien (particularly by Islamic Bekteshi order of dervishes) to its authentic teachings.

Based on the tradition of the medieval Serbian state, the Pec Patriarchate revived old and established new cults of the holy rulers, archbishops, martyrs and warriors, lending life to the Nemanjic heritage. The feeling of religious and ethnic solidarity was enhanced by joint deliberation at church assemblies attended by the higher and lower clergy, village chiefs and hajduk leaders, and by stepping up a morale on the traditions of Saint Sava but suited to the new conditions and strong patriarchal customs renewed after the Turkish conquest in the village communities.

The spiritual rebirth was reflected in the restoration of deserted churches and monasteries: some twenty new churches were built in Kosovo and Metohia alone, inclusive of printing houses (the most important one was at Gracanica): many old and abandoned churches were redecorated with frescoes.6

Serbian patriarchs and bishops gradually took over the role of the one-time rulers, endeavoring with assistance from the neighboring Christian states of Habsburg Empire and the Venetian Republic, to incite the people to rebel. Plans for overthrowing the Turks and re-establishing an independent Serbian state sprang throughout the lands from the Adriatic to the Danube. The patriarchs of Pec, often learned men and able politicians, were usually the ones who initiated and coordinated efforts at launching popular uprisings when the right moment came. Patriarch Jovan failed to instigate a major rebellion against the Turks, seeking the alliance of the European Christian powers assembled around Pope Clement VII. Patriarch Jovan was assassinated in Constantinople in 1614. Patriarch Gavrilo Rajic lived the same fate in 1659 after going to Russia to seek help in instigating a revolt.

The least auspicious conditions for an uprising were actually in Kosovo and Metohia itself. In the fertile plains, the non-Muslim masses labored under the yoke of the local Turkish administrators, continually threatened by marauding tribes from the Albanian highlands. The crisis that overcome the Ottoman Empire in the late 16th century further aggrovated the position of the Serbs in Kosovo, Metohia and neighboring regions. Rebellions fomented by cattle-raising tribes in Albania and Montenegro, and the punitive expeditions sent to deal with them turned Kosovo and Metohia into a bloody terrain where Albanian tribes, kept clashing with detachments of the local authorities, plundered Christian villages along the way. Hardened by constant clashes with the Turks, Montenegro gradually picked up the torch of defending Serbian Orthodoxy; meanwhile, in northern Albania, particularly in Malesia, a reverse process was under way. Under steady pressure from the Turkish authorities, the Islamization of ethnic Albanian tribes became more widespread and the process assumed broader proportions when antagonistic strivings grew within the Ottoman Empire in the late 17th and early 18th century.

Novo_Brdo_Serbia1The ruins of the Ancient Novo Brdo Basilica – Novo Brdo was one of the major medieval cities in Kosovo. In the 14th century the population of Novo Brdo was greater than London

It is not until the end of the 17th century that the colonization of Albanian tribes in Kosovo and Metohia can be established. Reports by contemporary Catholic visitators show that the ethnic border between the Serbs and Albanians still followed the old dividing lines of the Black and White Drim rivers. All reports on Kosovo and Metohia regard them as being in Serbia: for the Catholic visitors, Prizren was still its capital city. In Albania, the first wave of Islamization swept the feudal strata and urban population. Special tax and political alleviations encouraged the rural population to convert to Islam in larger number. Instead of being part of the oppressed non-Muslim masses, the converts became a privileged class of Ottoman society, with free access to the highest positions in the state. In Kosovo and Metohia, where they moved to avoid heavy taxes, Catholic tribes of Malesia converted to Islam. Conversion to Islam in a strongly Orthodox environment rendered them the desired privileges (the property of Orthodox and of the Catholics) and saved them from melting with Serbian Orthodox population. It was only with the process of Islamization that the ethnic Albanian colonisation of lands inhabited by Serbs became expansive.

The ethnic picture of Kosovo did not radically change in the first centuries of Ottoman rule. Islamization encompassed part of a Serbian population, although the first generations at least, converted as a mere formality, to avoid heavy financial burdens and constant political pressure. Conversion constituted the basis of Ottoman policy in the Balkans but it was les successfull in Kosovo and Metohia, regions with the strongest religious traditions, than in other Christian areas. The Turks’ strong reaction to rebellions throughout the Serbian lands and to the revival of Orthodoxy, embodied in the cult of Saint Sava, the founder of the independent Serbian church, ended in setting fire to the Mileseva monastery the burial place of the first Serbian saint. The Turks burned his wonder working relics in Belgrade in 1594, during a great uprising of Serbs in southern Banat. This triggered off fresh waves of Islamization accompanied by severe reprisals and the thwarting of any sign of rebellion.

Apart from Islamization, Kosovo and Metohia became the target of proselytizing Catholic missionaries at the end of 17th century, especially after the creation of the Sacra Congregazione de Propaganda Fide (1622). The ultimate aim of the Roman Catholic propaganda was to converts the Orthodox to Graeco-Catholicism as the initial phase in completely converting them to the Catholic faith. The appeals of patriarchs of Pec to the Roman popes to help the liberatory aspirations of the Serbs were met with the condition that they renounce the Orthodox faith. In spreading the Catholicism, the missionaries of the Roman Curia had the support of local Turkish authorities; a considerable number of the missionaries were of Albanian origin. Consequently, the propagators of Catholic proselytism persisted in inciting Catholic and Muslim Albanians against the Serbs, whose loyalty to Orthodoxy and their medieval traditions was the main obstacle to the spreading of the Catholic faith in the central and southern regions of the Balkans.9

Catholic propaganda attempts at separating the high clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the people prompted the Pec Patriarchate to revive old and create a new cults with even greater vigor. In 1642 Patriarch Pajsije, who was born in Janjevo, Kosovo, wrote The Service and The Life of the last Nemanjic, the Holy Tsar Uros, imbuing old literary forms with new content reflecting the contemporary moment. By introducing popular legends (which gradually took shape),into classical hagiography Patriarch Pajsije strove to establish a new cult of saints which would have a beneficial impact on his compatriots in preserving their faith.

Parallel with the Orthodox Church national policy in traditionally patriarchal societies, popular tales gradually matured into oral epic chronicles. Nurtured through epic poetry, which was sung to the accompaniment of the gusle, epic tales glorified national heroes and ruler, cultivating the spirit of non-subjugation and cherishing the hope in liberation from the Turkish yoke. Folk poems about the battle of Kosovo and its heroes, about the tragic fate of the last Nemanjices, the heroism of Prince Lazar and his knight Milos Obilic, and, especially, about Kraljevic Marko (King Marko Mrnjavcevic) as the faultless and dauntless legendary knight who was always defeating Turks and saving Serbs, were an expression not only of the tragic sense of life in which Turkish rule was a synonymous to evil, but a particular moral code that in time crystalized into a common attitude towards life, defined in the first centuries of Ottoman rule. The Serbian nation’s Kosovo covenant is embodied in the choice which, according to legend, was made by Prince Lazar on the eve of the battle of Kosovo. The choice of freedom in the kingdom of heaven instead of humiliation in the kingdom of earth constituted the Serbian nation’s spiritual stronghold. Prince Lazar’s refusal to resign to injustice and slavery, raised to the level of biblical drama, determined his unquenchable thirst for freedom. Together with the cult of Saint Sava, which grew into a common civilisational framework in everyday life, the Kosovo idea which, in time, gained universal meaning. With its wise policy the Patriarchate of Pec carefully built epic legend into the hagiography of old and new Serbian saints, glorifying their works in frescoes and icons.


Source: No Kosovo Unesco

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Kosovo history – Second part



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Kosovo and Metohia, two central regions of perennial Serbia, are the very essence of Serbian spiritual, cultural identity and statehood since Middle Ages to date. Fertile and clement planes of Kosovo with mild climate, and reach in water resources, with high mountain chains bordering with Albania have been good-blessed environment for a fruitful development of the highest achievements in all fields in medieval Serbia. The cultural and demographic strength of the Serbs is best illustrated by the presence of 1.500 monuments of Serbian culture identified so far. Numerous outstanding noble Serbian families used to live in these regions, as families Brankovic, Hrebeljanovic, Music, Vojinovic, some of which were the inceptors of Serbian dynasties.

A great number of noble castles existed all over Kosovo with rich aristocratic life going on inside their walls. They were also meeting places of Serbian nobility and centers where important political and other decisions have been taken and places attended by foreign envoys and outstanding guests from noble foreign ruling families. Here are some of famous medieval castles: Svrcin, Pauni, Nerodimlja, Stimlje and many others. In Svrcin, for example, the famous Serbian Emperor Dusan was first crowned king in 1331, and Pauni, famous for its beauty, were favored place of king Milutin. In Pauni in 1342 Serbian Emperor Dusan had received Jovan VI Kantakuzin, one of the pretenders to the Byzantine throne at that time. Nerodimlja, with the fortress of Petric over the castle, was favorite residence of Stevan Decanski.It is in the Stimlje castle that king Uros issued his charges. In Ribnik, near Prizren, were the castles of Serbian Emperors Dusan and Uros.

The Serbian elite and minor nobility has built in these regions hundreds of smaller chapels and several dozens of monumental Christian monasteries. Some of them have been preserved to date, such as Patriarchy of Pec (since 1346 site of the Serbian Patriarch), Decani, Gracanica, Bogorodica Ljeviska, Banjska, Sveti Arhandjeli near Prizren and others. Serbian churches and monasteries had been for centuries owners of great complexes of fertile land. Metohia, the name originated from the Greek word metoh means church land. Highly developed economic life was an integral part of a high level of civilization attained in medieval Serbia. Prizren, for example, was a famous economic and commercial center, with developed silk production, fine crafts, and numerous settlements where the merchants from Kotor and Dubrovnik had their houses, and in 14 century, Prizren was the site of the consul from Dubrovnik for the whole Serbian State. And many other commercial centers such as Pristina, Pec, Hoca, Vucitrn, testify of the strength of highly developed economic life in these regions. Famous mining center were Trepca, Novo Brdo and Janjevo, out of which in the 15 century Novo Brdo had become one of the most important mining centers of the Balkans. Silver and gold were exported to the big European centers in great quantities. The Serbian society of the Middle Ages was in all respects identical to European social, economic and cultural developments of that time, much more integrated in Europe then it may seem when analyzed from the later perspective.

Turkish invasion means a fatal turning point in Serbian history in the second half of the 15 century. As known from history, the advance of the Turks towards Europe was a rather slow process. Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic and Serbian nobility in the famous battle of Kosovo in 1389 did everything humanly possible to stop the Turkish invasion toward south eastern Europe. It was not only a clash of two armies led by their rulers Serbian prince Lazar and Turkish sultan Murat (who both perished in the battle of Kosovo), but also a clash of two civilizations, one Christian and European and other Islamic and Asiatic. Later on, in Serbian national conscience the battle of Kosovo has acquired mythical dimension of a crucial historical event, greatly affecting the consequence destiny of the whole Serbian nation. The Serbian epic poetry is very rich and the cycle of poems devoted to Kosovo are a pearl of that treasure and moral and psychological support to Serbian people during the centuries of forendous slavery under the Turks till the 19 century, and speaking of Kosovo and Metohia till 1912, when they were finally liberated from the Turks. This is the reason why in Serbian national poetry we find such a great number of representatives of Serbian nobility, of Serbian castles and outstanding Serbian monasteries from Kosovo and Metohia. Prizren, from example, in our national poetry is called the “Serbian Constantinople”. All topics connected with Kosovo are symbols of a high medieval civilizational level of the Serbian society and culture, its aristocratic wealth and glamour on the one hand, and on the other the fall of that civilization due to the violent and cruel blow of the Ottoman invaders.

The Turkish invasion of south eastern Europe and the Serbian lands as its part, have not only brought about the fall of Christian civilization, but are also responsible for the destruction of all social structures, the elimination of the Serbian elite and the destruction of the most outstanding cultural achievements. One part of Serbian nobility was killed, one part expelled to Asia, one part forced to take up Islam, and one part managed to emigrate north, west and across the Adriatic to Italy. Average people deprived from its leaders had no option but to stick to the traditional national values. It is thanks to the Orthodox Church which managed to revive its work in 1557 (renewal of the Patriarchy of Pec), that Serbian people kept alive the awareness of the medieval national state and high achievements of its civilization. Many medieval castles and towns were destroyed, many churches were raised to the ground , and some of them turn into the mosques. At the beginning of the 17 century, Sveti Arhandjeli (where emperor Dusan was buried), the monumental mausoleum of Emperor Dusan was totally destroyed, and the precious polished stone out of which the church was built was used for building the Sinan-pasa mosque, sill existing in Prizren to date. Bogorodica Ljeviska, the monumental legacy of King Milutin, in 1756 was turned into the mosque and only after the First World War it was again restored into a Christian church. Turkish invasion and the consequences of their conflict with Christian Europe, particularly since the siege of Vienna in 1683, had considerably changed the ethnic and demographic picture of that part of Serbia. The orthodox Serbs were the absolute majority population until the end of the 17 century, and before the First Migration of the Serbs in 1690, due to the defeat of the Christian Europe in the conflict with the Turks and the participation of the Serbs in that conflict of the side of Christian Europe. The Turks settled in towns, and the Albanians (at that time called Sqipetars) coming from the mountains of northern Albania of today started settling in smaller groups on Serbian land in bordering regions of Metohia.

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Until the 18th century, there are no Sqipetars (now called Albanians) in Kosovo and Metohia in bigger agglomerations. Actually, they began settling in this region in greater numbers only in the 18th and 19th century from today’s northern Albania. In addition to the newly settled Sqipetars (now called Albanians) who were mostly Muslims or converted to Islam soon after settling in Kosovo, it is also the Islamization of the Serbs that brought about great changes in the cultural environment of this region. Many of Islamized Serbs gradually fused with predominantly Albanian Moslems and adopted their culture and even language. At the beginning of the second half of the 19th century, the Turks also settled Cherkeses in this region. Despite of all these artificial demographic changes, Orthodox Serbs decreased for almost 50% of the total population living in Kosovo and Metohia. In the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the Serbian middle class in Prizren, Pec, Pristina and other towns was the main driving force of the urban and economic development of the region . The news paper “Prizren” was published both in Serbian and Turkish language. In 1871 the Orthodox Theological School was founded in Prizren by Sima Igumanov. During the eighties and nineties a great number of new schools, cultural institutions and banks were founded.

It is during the Second World War, that the most drastic changes in the demographic picture of Kosovo took place. In Kosovo and Metohija the Albanian nationalists got free hand to terrorize the Serbs. Under such pressure estimated 75,000 Serbs left Kosovo. In their empty houses about the same number of Albanians from Albania settled. This definitely tipped the balance in the Albanian favour. The first official census in post-WWII Yugoslavia (in 1948) showed 199,961 Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo and 498,242.

After the Second World War, As a result of unbelievable demographic explosion Albanian population in Kosovo doubled by 1971. The official Yugoslav census for that year shows 916,168 Albanians living in Kosovo, while Serb and Montenegrin population reached only to number 259,819. This demographic trend clearly demonstrates that the theory of Serb repression over Albanians after the WWII is absolutely not correct. The truth is that the Communist authorities favorized the Albanians on the expense of Serbs allowing uncontrolled settlement of Albanian immigrants and tolerating different methods of ethnic discrimination over the Serbs which made more and more Serbs leave the province and seek better life in Central Serbia. By 1990ies more than 800 settlements in which Serbs lived with Albanians became ethnically clean Albanian villages.

In an attempt to prevent the secession of Kosovo and Metohija Serbian government in 1990 abolished Kosovo Albanian autonomy. A failure of Milosevic government to develop true democratic institutions instead and using the police methods to prevent Albanian secession even more increased ethnic Albanian wish to cut of from Serbia. When the KLA rebels began attacks on Serbs in 1998 the Government brought the army and police to put the rebellion down. In the course of the civil war – 1998-1999 which ended by the NATO intervention against Yugoslavia more than 500.000 Kosovo Albanians fled the province to Macedonia and Albania. After the war, despite the international presence, KLA organized persecutions of Serb population and more than 200.000 Serbs fled Kosovo and Metohija. Only 90.000 Serbs remained living in total isolation, dispersed in several KFOR protected Serb enclaves.


Source: No Kosovo Unesco

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Russia calls for investigation into human-organ trade ring in Kosovo



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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is calling for an “impartial investigation” into grisly reports by a European investigative commission alleging that Kosovo government officials were involved in the trade of human organs.

­In an exhaustive report released by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in December, it was alleged that Serbian detainees of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were kidnapped and murdered by Kosovo Albanians so their organs could be sold on the black market.

The report says the crimes occurred after the Kosovo War ended in 1999.

These shocking allegations came on the heels of a two-year investigation into a brutal criminal underworld that led investigators to the doorstep of Kosovo’s US-backed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), and former political head of the KLA.

Thaci has vehemently denied the charges, saying the investigation, which was headed by liberal Swiss politician Dick Marty, was “racist against Albanians.”

Moscow, meanwhile, says it wants to see an “impartial investigation” by an international committee.

“We want the report on the instances of illegal trade in human organs in Kosovo to be followed by an impartial independent investigation, and we support Serbia’s position on this issue,” Lavrov told a press conference in Belgrade following a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic.

The Russian minister said the Serbian people deserved a fair trial over the allegations since “much less significant crimes have been the subject of international investigations.”

“There should be no double standards,” Lavrov added, saying that “Russia fully understood the desire of Belgrade to achieve the triumph of justice.”

Jeremic said that “Serbia within a few days will submit proposals to the UN Security Council for what might look like an international investigation into this matter.”

The Serbian minister then said Serbia was looking to Russia for support on the international level in addressing the matter.

“Then we could begin consultations with members of the UN Security Council,” he stressed. “We count on support from Russia. It is to be hoped that our proposal will be considered in a proper manner.”

The European investigation of the KLA’s alleged trade in organs was opened after the publication of a book by Carla Del Ponte, United Nation’s War Crimes tribunal prosecutor, entitled “The Hunt: Me and War Criminals” (2008).

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Del Ponte presents exhaustive evidence in her book, much of it based on conversations she had with journalists, that the Kosovo Albanians were guilty of kidnapping Serbs and murdering them to harvest their organs.

The book provides horrifying details of the alleged organ trade ring, and how the prisoners endured what can only be described as a nightmare.

“The victims, deprived of a kidney, were then locked up again, inside the barracks, until the moment they were killed for other vital organs,” Del Ponte writes. “In this way, the other prisoners were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source, pleaded, terrified, to be killed immediately.”

Investigators say that of some 400 Serbians who went missing in the war, many of them disappeared forever into the depths of this criminal underworld.

The government of Kosovo, meanwhile, released a statement following the release of the PACE report, saying it was an attempt “to tarnish the image of the Kosovo Liberation Army.”

NATO unleashed a full-scale air attack on Yugoslavia on the grounds that Serbian forces were using excessive force against ethnic Albanians in the breakaway province of Kosovo. The aerial strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999, when Belgrade finally surrendered to the coalition forces.


20-04-2011

By Robert Bridge

Source: RT

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Western intelligence operation “Kosovo Liberation Army” harvested Serbs’ organs – EU inquiry



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An inquiry by the EU has found “compelling indications” that ten Serb captives had their body organs harvested for illegal trafficking during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. However, it wasn’t widespread and there will be no trial, the lead investigator said.

The chief prosecutor Clint Williamson, who led the investigation, said there was no evidence of widespread organ harvesting, but that the crime had occurred a number of times.

“There are compelling indications that this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs,” he told journalists. However, he added that there would not be enough evidence at the moment to prosecute the alleged crimes.

The revelation was part of a presentation on a 2 1/2 year investigation into atrocities that also largely confirmed human right reports that there was a campaign of persecution against Serb, Roma and other minorities by some people in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

The investigation was prompted by a 2011 report by Council of Europe member Dick Marty that accused senior KLA commanders of involvement in the smuggling of Serb prisoners into northern Albania and the removal of their organs for sale.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, himself a former KLA leader who was named in Marty’s report, has dismissed the accusations as an attempt to tarnish the Kosovo Albanian fight for independence.

The government of the Republic of Kosovo appreciates the completion of the ambassador Williamson’s work, which is an important step to determine potential individual responsibility and gives an end to the claims of the unfounded charges,” Thachi said.

However, Williamson bitterly complained that the investigation had been made far more difficult because of “a climate of intimidation that seeks to undermine any investigations of individuals associated with the former Kosovo Liberation Army.”

Williamson did say the Special Investigative Task Force would in future be “in a position to file an indictment against certain senior officials of the former Kosovo Liberation Army” for a series of crimes, including killings, disappearances, camp detentions and sexual violence.

Without naming any individuals, Williamson said that “there are compelling indications that this practice did occur.” He went to lengths to make clear the alleged harvesting was not a wholesale practice, rejecting claims of hundreds of victims. Some 400 people, mostly Kosovo Serbs, disappeared near the end of the war, AP reports.

Just over 2,000 Serbs are believed to have been killed during and immediately after the war.

Serbia has vowed never to recognize the independence of its former province, which many Serbians consider their nation’s heartland, after it declared independence in 2008. It is also not recognized by dozens of countries worldwide, including Russia.

In Belgrade, Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told The Associated Press that Tuesday’s announcement “crowns a big effort on our part and shows that we were right when we said that war crimes had been committed and that organ trafficking took place.”

29-07-2014
Source: RT

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Stay out of Kosovo!



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…When did Congress authorize Bill Clinton to go to war against
a Yugoslav army that has never attacked Americans?…

This week, NATO conducted air exercises over Albania as a warning to Belgrade that its crackdown in Kosovo must end now.
NATO’s demands? Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must call off his offensive by June 16, allow monitors unimpeded access to the rebellious province, let the refugees return home, and resume talks with the Kosovan resistance. If Milosevic balks, NATO is preparing attacks on his forces and, says The New York Times, “possible air strikes against strategic military targets in Serbia.”

France contends that NATO needs a new U.N. Security Council resolution before it can attack, but the United States say earlier resolutions will do.

Am I missing something? Air strikes are an act of war. When did Congress authorize Bill Clinton to go to war against a Yugoslav army that has never attacked Americans and is operating entirely within Yugoslavia’s own borders?

“We know that in a clash with NATO … we don’t stand a chance,” said Belgrade’s deputy prime minister. But the minister insists his army has a duty is “to defend the territory against anybody who tries to enter by force.” Does he not have a point?

When Biafra broke from Nigeria, the United States sided with Lagos as it crushed the rebellion at the cost of a million lives. When Chechnya tried to break from Russia, we sided with Russia. How would Abraham Lincoln have reacted if warned by Britain and France that attacks on Union ships and ports would commence, unless he got firm control of Gen. Sherman and began negotiating with Jefferson Davis?

Kosovo is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, and Milosevic’s treatment of its majority has indeed been repressive and cruel. Yet Kosovo is also the cradle of the Serb nation. Serbs are no more willing to let it go than Israelis would be willing to let Jerusalem go. Serbs who were glad to be rid of Slovenians, Croatians and Bosnian Muslims will fight to hold onto their ancestral homeland.

But where is the vital U.S. interest in this ethnic quarrel that we should send American pilots and F-16s to kill Serbian soldiers, rather than let them recapture their rebellious province?

Where is the Republican Congress? Many in that body are today whining that Clinton moved unilaterally into Bosnia and they had no choice but to back him. Well, now, they do have a choice. Congress should vote this week to instruct the president that he has no authority to wage war against Yugoslavia unless Congress votes its approval. Before the United States gets embroiled in another nasty Balkan war, every member should have to vote on it — and be held accountable.

The United States bears a measure of responsibility for this unfolding tragedy. In 1992, President Bush warned Belgrade that a crackdown in Kosovo would risk confrontation with America. Bush had no authority to threaten military action, but that warning from the leader of a nation that had just smashed Iraq gave encouragement to Kosovan rebels that, if they arose for independence, the world’s last superpower would be at their side.

Now the Kosovo Liberation Army may control a large area of the countryside, but perhaps 85,000 people are refugees from homes and villages destroyed by Yugoslavian security forces.

Before Clinton launches air strikes or Congress approves any act of war, America should think through the end game. What outcome is it that we desire to this rebellion?

The Bosnian armistice was produced not by air strikes alone but by the intervention of a Croatian army of 100,000 that had the Bosnian Serbs on the run. The peace that exists in Bosnia exists because tens of thousands of NATO troops are patrolling the ethnic frontiers of that country, which has been de facto partitioned. Are we willing to send American ground troops into Kosovo?

The United States opposes independence in Kosovo, as it would prove a lure to Albania and perhaps lead to a breakup of Macedonia with its Albanian minority. And if Macedonia comes apart, a general Balkan war could ensue, with nations scrambling to pick up the loose pieces. Even Greece might come in. Then, the balloon would really go up.

The same NATO strikes that rain death on the Yugoslav Army could also convince the Kosovo Liberation Army to go all out for independence. Why not, with U.S. air power supporting them? Would we then launch strikes on the KLA for going too far?

America should stay out. Kosovo is not our quarrel; it is not our war. The United States has no vital interest in whose flag flies over its capital, Pristina. But Serbs and Albanians do see something worth dying for. If they wish to settle it with arms, they will do so one day. We have no right to kill Serbs or Albanians to postpone that day.


By Patrick J. Buchanan – June 16, 1998

Source: http://buchanan.org/blog/pjb-stay-out-of-kosovo-314

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Southeastern European organized crime & extremism review




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Albanian-U.S. sponsored Kosovo Liberation Army in august 1998 with the heads of local Serb civilians

The following research is a review around the theme of Southeastern European organized crime, mainly in the period 1995-2007, highlighting the emergence of powerful regional “Mafias” with an actual global presence.

The main focus is the Albanian criminal syndicates centered on Kosovo. The research is composed by previous material of the writer, some of which was presented in international workshops.  Moreover the issue of radical Islam is being overviewed in a second part,for the same period, along with information regarding  the state of affairs of the Muslim communities in the region.

Narcotics and the emergence of crime syndicates in the Balkans

The main threat to the Balkans nowadays, is the existence of well organized criminal groups that to an extent are an integral part of the world wide “Crime Syndicates” that for the most part control the narcotics trade in our époque.  The infamous Balkan drugs route is the main path by which narcotics and specifically heroin; are smuggled to European countries. It is actually a network of contrabands, corrupted public officials and war lords that make sure that the heroin produced in Afghanistan is smoothly transferred to the European addicts.

According to the Council of Foreign affairs, Afghanistan has almost tripled its heroin production and in 2005 32,000 acres were reserved for poppy cultivation, out of 12,000 acres in 2004. This fact shows first of all failure by the NATO Forces in that country to create the necessary framework for the reconstruction process. As far as the ramifications for the Balkans are concerned, the increased profits by criminal gangs have boasted them with tremendous riches and political influence.

There are mainly two organized ethnic groups that deal most of the arrangements concerning the organized crime in the Balkans. The so-called Albanian mafia and the Turkish crime syndicates. The Albanian organized crime is very active since the collapse of the Communist rule in this country that opened the way for various indigenous gangs to spread their wings further  and take part in one of the most profitable commerce of all times, namely drugs.  A leading French criminologist Xavier Raufer has extensively dealt with the issue of the Albanian mafia. He considers the Albanians as the only true “Mafia” in the Balkans due to the peculiar social structure of their society in the Northern parts of the country “The land of the Genghis”.

An isolated society with very firm beliefs in issues of honor and manhood pride coupled with severe social problems and a culture of vendetta; has been transformed into a huge international crime network. Various reports indicate that roughly 70-80% of the heroin distributed in European is under Albanian control, a really impressive percentage for a nation of just 6 million people. Moreover in the Balkan route –In reality three distinct routes-, the Albanian mafia plays a vital role in safeguarding the interests of the world drugs trade by having its “Soldiers” and “Capos” along the way and protecting shipments from police and official interruption.

Furthermore Albania as a country is a major producer of Cannabis, which is mainly exported to neighboring Greece and Italy. The narcotic traded is placed along the trafficking and illegal immigrant smuggling operations that have seen the Albanians gaining the fame as the most powerful and dangerous criminal group in South Eastern Europe. In Greece alone the revenues from prostitution run at around 7.5 billion USD, a large portion of that being controlled by Albanian criminal groups. Trafficking of women from Albania is one of the main ways to establish a “War chest” for the organized crime, in order to invest its wealth in the drugs trade.

In essence the first stage for every respectable organized crime unit, is to establish a prostitution ring, make easily large amounts of cash, and then invest them for the drugs trade by constructing the expensive logistics bases, fake companies, pay corrupted officials and so on. Therefore when looking into the different aspects of organized criminal activity, one should note that all forms of that activity are interconnected and that each one leads to the other. That actually is one of the differences of organized crime from the other forms of criminality.

Back to the activities of the Albanian criminal groups, the recent history illustrates the existence of a hybrid criminal form, meaning the interconnection between criminal activities and terrorism. The Albanian groups that are mostly active in the North of the country have been associated with the preparations of the U.C.K guerilla forces in the late 90’s, as well as, with their arming and training. The troubling 90’s in South Eastern Europe saw the convergence of the drugs trade along with the formation of radical Islamic groups and the pervasion of corruption in the upper echelons on the countries involved. In the Albanian case the past decade it is assumed that the country is facing a virtual take over of its institution by the organized crime that in its turn has been linked with international terrorism, with Al Qaeda withstanding.

The main role of the Albanian Mafia in the narcotics trade is the one of wholesale distributor of Afghan heroine. Along the Balkan route and especially the one passing through Southern Bulgaria, FYROM; the Albanians import heroin and then dispense it to Italy, or Bosnia- Croatia to Austria and Central Europe. After 1999 and the consequent Albanian dominance in Kosovo, Pristina has become the unquestionable narcotics capital of Europe. A traditionally provisional city in the midst of the Balkans is nowadays the epicenter of all drugs deal of an area encompassing Central Europe, Balkans, and Middle East.

The lack of law coupled with the existence of a society reluctant to pursue organized crime, has created a “black hole” in the centre of the Balkans that primarily lives on criminal activities and the remittances of the Kosovo-Albanian Diaspora. The latter is strategically located in countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Denmark and dominates the European heroin trade. Despite the fact that Albanians are relatively newcomers to the European organized crime scene-Like the old-timers Sicilians, Corsicans – they have already taken over the entire European heroin market and make large advances in the sectors of trafficking, racketeering, arms smuggling and illegal gambling.

The infamous Albanian mafia is a formidable criminal network, but the existence of another one, influential as well, should be added in order to examine the whole spectrum of drugs trade in the Balkans. The Turkish crime syndicates are the undisputable partner of the Albanians. It would not be possible for the Albanians to become distributors in the first place if the weren’t able to acquire their goods from the East, and that is where the role of the Turks begins.

Turkey is a country strategically located between the East and the West. Apart from its importance in political and military level, it is also an integral part of the international narcotics smuggling. It would just be very hard for heroin to travel from Central Asia to Europe without being able to trespass Turkey, the only Asian country bordering with Europe. Turkey is a state traditionally producing Opium, for pharmaceutical purposes. In the early 70’s international pressure –Mostly from Nixon administration in the USA- obliged Turkey to enforce stricter rules for Opium production in 1974. Up until then heroin was produced in Turkey as an Opium derivative and quantities were sold to the West with the assistance of the Sicilian and Corsican mafias.

The heroin to be sold was transported with ships to Sicily, and then to Marseilles were the Corsicans had created labs for the fabrication of the commercial product. From then onwards it was transferred to New York and other USA ports where the American-Italian mafia would assure its allocation in the end-users, the heroin addicts. The forceful USA administration at that time declared a war against narcotics and obliged the Turks to seek other sources of the lucrative opium. Soon enough Turkish operational production bases were established in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. The war in the former during the 80’s, as well as, the resurge of the Kurdish guerilla fighting after 1984 and the Iraq-Iranian war the same period; created a convergence of political, criminal and military operations based in heroin trade.

Events such as the Iran-Contra scandal illuminate how far the heroin trade has penetrated the higher echelons of the world’s decision-making process and how it interacts with the international affairs. Moreover the effective destruction of Beirut during the 80’s collapsed the cities ubiquitous reputation as the prime port for narcotics trade and this role was overtaken by Istanbul.  The situation after the end of the Cold War in 1989, found the Turks financially strong from their trade in the previous decades and also ready enough to pursue stronger ties with the countries of Central Asia.

Furthermore the appearance of the Albanians and the civil wars in former Yugoslavia, provided ample of human resources in the Balkans, eager in getting involved in the drugs trade so as to survive financially or gain capital to achieve their political aims. Europe now already hosted considerable Turkish minorities-Especially Germany – and individuals from those Turkish communities were used to act as local retail agents for the heroin distribution in Europe.

In 1996 the Susurluk accident revealed to Turkey the extent where the Drug –Lords have penetrated the upper crust of the society and they were able to conduct their businesses untouched by the law. Even the spouse of the then Turkish Prime Minister Tancu Tsiller was  accused by the local media  for close interactions with notable underworld figures. Furthermore the accusations that the Turkish security forces were conducting drugs trade in South Eastern Turkey were in relation to the civil strife in that region because of the Kurdish fight and that presents once more that politics and criminal groups seem to go hand in hand.

The modus opperandi of the Turkish organized crime in drugs trade follows the role of the coordinator and distributor. Large amounts of heroin shipments enter Turkey each month and then delivered through the Balkan route mostly, to all over Europe. It has to be noted that the country with the largest Turkish community-Germany- is being used also as a redistribution centre. That means that when heroin reaches Germany, it is being handed out from there to the other major European markets, especially UK and Scandinavia. Moreover some of the strongest “Capo” of the Turkish syndicates resided in Germany and generally speaking this country has become the centre of gravity for the Turkish drug barons, as far as, their posture in the European narcotics scene is concerned. Further the impact of the Turkish drug lords has alarmed European security agencies due to the importance of their overall contribution in the narcotics market in the Continent. For instances since the 1970s, Turkey has accounted for between 75 and 90 per cent of all heroin in the UK. The key traffickers are Turks or criminals who operate along that route using Turkish contacts.

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Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998

The alliance of Turkish and Albanian crime groups can be explained at first glance by the cultural, religious and ethnic links –A large percentage of Turks in W. Turkey has Albanian ancestry-. Also, the tradition of the Albanians to join and serve larger ethnic groups with whom they feel to have a kind of affinity might have its explanation. The same was he case in USA and New York especially where for decades the Albanian crime syndicates tended to operate under the aegis and influence of the much stronger American-Sicilian crime corporations.

A 2006 article in Balkanalysis revealed interesting facts for the interrelation between USA domestic politics, the role of the Turkish lobby and the American foreign policy. Even though it is extremely delicate to draw conclusive explanations about the real roots of cover the organized crime activities are given; it is beyond any reasonable doubt that in the case of the Balkans the West has dramatically failed to check the narcotics flow. Despite the fact that thousands of troops, intelligence officers and police ones are based in the Balkans assigned by NATO and the EU, there has been no real confrontation with the realities of criminal syndicate pervasion in the Balkans. On the contrary in the areas where the Western presence is more powerful like in Pristina, it is exactly the stronghold areas of the mafias and their collaborators.

It is more than certain that if Western societies along with their partners in the Balkans; cannot control the narcotics trade their incompetence will certainly spill over to the overall antiterrorist security framework that they are trying to enforce. The Hybrid forms that modern crime is currently experiencing will most certainly ensure the continuous flow of capital to terrorist enterprises along with the recruitment of loyal assistants and the corruption of public officials in sensitive sectors of the public sectors. The initiatives by the heads of state of the Balkans to curb on organized crime should give the opportunity for further decisive measures. Balkans have already being developed as Europe’s soft underbelly-Not quite as Churchill imagined-  and one of the top priorities of the EU has to be the unquestionable joint effort to “close down” the Balkan route, achieving thus a real advance against terrorism in a worldwide level.

Since the end of the Communist era in the Balkans in the early 90’s, organized crime activities have soared, by expanding their activities in fields such as narcotics, trafficking, racketeering and goods smuggling. The civil wars in Yugoslavia and the continuous strife in Albania provided an excellent framework on which crime syndicates became stronger and gained political and societal clout.

The first and foremost criminal group that can be to an extent classified as a “Mafia” is the Albanian organized crime. Its geographical spread is in and between the triangle Pristina (Kosovo) – Tetovo (FYROM) and Tirana (Albania). During the 1999 and the NATO campaign against Serbia, it was a common secret amongst the members of the international community that the KLA army was financed and assisted by the organized crime that hoped to achieve a safe haven in the Kosovo area. The importance of Pristina is mainly associated with its use as a transit point in the infamous Balkan drugs route. Moreover the capital of Kosovo is a massive hideout for heads of crime syndicates across the Balkans and beyond.

Furthermore the high unemployment rate in the region along with the chronic industrial decay, have forced masses of the population to remain tolerant –at beast- in the practices of illegal activity. The capital flowing from heroin trade mostly, have helped towards the revitalization of the local economies. To that point it is interesting to note that 4/5 of the heroin flowing to Europe from Asia (Afghanistan) is being transferred by Albanians that have established bases all across Europe from Oslo to Barcelona and from Budapest to Rome. The Albanian organized crime as Xavier Raufer has pointed out operates on a dual basis. That means it has also the function of a strong societal force that virtually governs peripheral areas of Albania, mostly in the North, as well as, Kosovo currently. The Albanian crime syndicates work in close contacts with their American-Albanian counterparts that are mainly located in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Since 1991 quite a few Kosovo-Albanians have managed under not-so-legal ways, to immigrate to USA and act as liaison with the European community.

This highly sophisticated criminal network has been able to control much of the drugs trade in Europe and also the trafficking of women and children from the Balkans to Western Europe. Both of these activities are complementary to each other and frequently criminal groups switch from one activity to the other.

The ethnic conflicts in Former Yugoslavia, provided ample opportunities for weapons smuggling that reached unprecedented proportions in 1997. The same year a civil unrest in Albania, led to the overthrow of the government and the lack of the rule of law for almost 6 months. During this period 700,000 Kalashnikov and about 200,000 Albanian passports were stolen. Consequently a large portion of the above was sold to criminal groups in the Balkans and in Europe, whilst there are many allegations of terrorist connection whereby Al Qaeda members were able to obtain Albanian passports and an easier access to the European Continent.

The Kosovo experience has been up to date, a great disappointment for the international community. The UN administered territory has not been able to withstand the all-pervading influence of the organized crime. Despite numerous acts of violence and a very high homicide rate; very few convictions have been handed out to culprits, none of those was a member of the organized crime either. Nowadays the existence of regular heroin supply from Afghanistan, and the control by the “Albanian Mafia” of the Balkan route, has enabled it to obtain a large capital base that is laundered mainly though the construction centre in Albania and the use of offshore financial centers. Actually the largest enterprise in terms of sales and profits in South Eastern Europe is the Albanian organized crime.

In the case of Greece, there is not a national organized crime network that can be classified as a national mafia one, although that does not mean that crimininal network are not indeed quite influential. Nevertheless, the perils of Balkan crime have surely affected the country in numerous ways. Apart form the current crime statistics –that show a stronger pervasion of organized crime related activities- money laundering is a present and clear danger. The spread of the Greek banking system in S.E Europe will certainly address in the near future the issue of capital transfer of criminal activities through those financial institutions.

Also the interstate relations between Greece and the other Balkan states should always take into consideration the influence of organized groups that are the 21st century non state actors. For that reason it is of outermost importance to construct in the Greek territory “An observatory of organized crime” that will act as a counselor for the Greek government-Perhaps for the EU as well- and will be compromised by experienced analysts, law enforcement agents, criminologists and international relations experts. The use of this foundation or institute would be to detect, collect, analyze relevant Balkan crime information and produce consultation. In essence an intelligence unit that will be able to predict future trends in organized activities.

Islamic terrorism and the Balkans: The perfect training ground

The emergence of radical – militant Islam during the 90’s is a very complicated issue that involves worldwide actors, social dynamics and a deep knowledge of the religious realm of the Islamic world. This article aims to present and inform for the events that shaped Islamic terrorism in the Balkans. In this corner of Europe, the past 15 years, the roots of Islamic radicalism have deepened and it is of the outermost importance to comprehend this phenomenon, so as to be able to combat it.

The beginning of the Yugoslavian civil strife in 1991 presented an excellent chance for the Mujahedin to get into Europe via the ethno-cultural conflict between Christians and Muslims in Bosnia. These religious mercenaries had proved their aptitude in war from the early 80’s when they fought the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, and managed to inflict great damages to it using Western assistance.

The West at that period, along with its regional allies, promoted the creation of the so-called “Green Arch”. That meant the creation of strong Islamic pockets in areas of Soviet influence, or in border countries that deemed important for the strategy of the West against the Soviets. Thus Afghanistan, Pakistan, Caucasus, and in Turkey (through the use of the Turkish “Hezbollah”), became radicalized during the 80’s.

What the West could not comprehend and predict at that period, is the “Genie out of the bottle” effect. Once these radicals groups gained access to armaments and training, they became autonomous and sought to create their own agenda. Therefore the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the trial test of their newly founded role.

In mid-1992 some 3000 -3500 Mujahedin were already present in the ranks of the Bosnian Army as volunteer forces. They retained their operational autonomy and in essence became an army within an army. Most of their forces were under the command of General Shakib Mahmouljin and their area of operations was Zenica. Soon the Mujahedin acquired the aura of the elite force within the Bosnian Muslim Army and were accounted for many atrocities against the civilian Christian population. There were instances where the guerillas didn’t hesitate in presenting publicly beheaded corpses with the heads of the victims in baskets, a tactic often used in the Ottoman period as a part of psychological warfare against the enemy.

During the Bosnian war, the Al-Qaeda was beginning to emerge as a world wide Islamic force that intended to strike the West with all means possible. One of the key elements in its success would be to get a hold of “safe havens” in Europe. The situation in Bosnia was the opportunity wanted, and soon logistic bases were established within the Bosnian territory. Moreover a campaign of recruiting Bosnian Muslims to the Al –Qaeda cause, resulted in the creation of “Islamic pockets” in the middle of the Balkans. By the end of 1995 and the subsequent Dayton treaty that ended the war; hundreds of Mujahedin fighters were permanent residents of the established Bosnia-Herzegovina state, and acquired the citizenship of that country.

The USA security agencies have revealed that two of the hijackers in 9/11 attacks, had toured the Balkans and were trained in an Al-Qaeda camp in Bosnia. In addition the explosives used in the 7/7 attacks in London came from the Balkans, an event that portrays the tremendous lack of perspective that the West had when it tolerated the emergence of such networks.

The sensitive issue of the Kosovo status is also interlinked with the presence of terrorism –Of an Islamic nature- and its ramifications are much more extended than conventionally thought. Moreover the impact of Islamic driven terrorism in the Balkans is not only restrained in the region but has global consequences, thus it needs multiparty intelligence cooperation in order to be dealt with. Worries about Kosovo morphing into a safe haven for terrorists are not without merit. After all, radical Islamic elements aided some Kosovars–and earlier, Bosnian Muslims–in the ethno-religious warfare that destroyed Yugoslavia in the 1990s. For example, Australian al-Qaeda fighter David Hicks traveled to the Balkans to join the notorious Kosovo Liberation Army. Hicks completed military training at a KLA camp and later fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces apprehended him.

The Albanian nationalism and the Islamic terrorism

As in the case of Bosnia, the Albanian Muslims (70% of the population) proved to be a magnet for the Islamists that sought to regain a foothold in Europe. The conditions by which Albania was freed by the Communist regime in the early 90’s, revealed the existence of a backward isolated country with no interaction with the rest of the world. The transition from a central command structure to that of a free market; ensured the development of multiple societal forces within the much repressed Albanian society.

In early 1994 the infamous Osama Bin Laden, paid a visit to Tirana, presumably to oversight the networking of his activities there. He came back in 1998 to oversight Al-Qaeda training camps in the Northern part of Albania, just across the borders with Kosovo. The trainers –of Arabic origin mostly- were assigned to train the newly recruits of the Usthria Climirtare e Kosoves –U.C.K- units for the forthcoming guerilla warfare against the Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

The then Albanian Director of the Albanian secret service-SHIK-named Fatos Klosi admitted the training that took place in these camps and the existence of “Jihad warriors” from Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that were responsible for the instruction of the UCK army. To this point it is important to add to the above, the existence of the Albanian Arab Islamic Bank, that was used for the financing of terrorist activities throughout the Balkans. Various sources indicate the existence of Bin Laden’s backing in the bank’s capital, with the sum of 11 million USD.

In 1997, the financial collapse of Albania by an economic scandal that shook the country; had as a result the social unrest throughout the territory and the collapse of the rule of law. An uncounted number of armaments were stolen during the period of the riots from the Albanian’s Army caches, and the bulk of it ended in the hands of the UCK and its Islamist collaborators. Until early 1998 USA characterized UCK as a terrorist organization, due to its connection with well-known figures of the extremist elements of the Islamic world. Nevertheless, the American policy changed its direction since it deemed the existence of Milosevic more threatening at that period than the Islamic movement. During the skirmishes and fights before the NATO bombings in March 1999, the Yugoslav Army managed to inflict great damages to the Mujahedin fighters that were combating along the UCK lines. In Urocevac the bulk of them was eliminated by the Serbian Army and was obliged to retreat back in their safe havens in Northern Albania.

After the end of the 1999 war, the Mujahedin networks regrouped and started to infiltrate the Kosovo area in great numbers. That included the mushrooming of Islamic charitable funds across the region, the construction of Mosques and the radicalization of the local Albanian population and the wider Muslim populations of the ex-Yugoslavia.

It is interesting to note that the Albanian population in its majority cannot be conceived as a fundamentalist Islamic nation and the extremists are for the time being a forceful minority of that nation. The Islamic expansion in the Balkans is coupled with the existence of the criminal syndicates that are all prevalent in the Balkan Peninsula. Since the terrorist activities cannot be financed through the use of the legal free market economy, the use of narcotics and trafficking illegal trade has enabled the flourishing of the terrorist networks. The “Hybrid” organizations as the merged terrorist and criminal are named, has created the necessary framework for the Balkans to enter in one of the worst periods of their modern history. The leading criminologist Loretta Napoleoni has researched articulately the issue and offers illuminating approaches as to the extent of the infiltration of crime & terrorism in world economy.

According to her recent interview for balkanalysis.com, some 1.5 trillion USD are the revenue of the organized crime worldwide. A fair portion of that is being achieved by controlling the “Balkan drugs route” a geographical area that encompasses Kosovo, Northern Albania and Tetovo. More or less the Islamic terrorism network has located some of its bases, along the way of some of the most lucrative criminal areas of Europe. Therefore it is able to increase its revenues and finance its monstrous acts.

In spring 2001, the Mujahedin forces, once again, were brought to day-light by joining the National Liberation Army in its fight in Western FYROM. The NLA was a composition of various Albanian fractions that along with the Islamic extremists sought to prepare the basis for the disintegration of FYROM. There is a large Albanian minority in the country, which also happens to be located right in the centre of the Balkans and where the “Balkan drug route” passes by. The Mujahedin formed the majority of the 113 brigade of NLA, and were accused of many atrocities against innocent civilians of Slavic descent.

On August 2001 the Ohrid accord was signed and the conflict ceased without any real gains by the Albanian side. A month later, the attack on the twin towers revealed to the world the spread and the power the terrorist organizations have amassed, thus the “War on terror” begun and to a great extent dismantled the world wide Islamic terrorist web.

SEVEN KEY AL-QAEDA MEMBERS WHO DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TOOK PART IN 9/11 AND ARE LINKED TO BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Nawaf al Hazmi, a Saudi.  He was a September 11th hijacker.  He fought in BiH in 1995.

Khalid al-Mihdhar, from Yemen.  He also was a September 11th hijacker.  He also fought in BiH with the foreign mujahideen battalion in Bosnia in 1995

Sheikh Omar abd-al Rahman (convicted of the 1993 attack on the WTC) was connected with the so-called humanitarian organization TWRA, which was a cover for terrorists. Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic made personal guarantees for TWRA’s general director and personal friend Elfatih Hassanein, so he could open an account with Die Erste Osterreich Bank in Vienna, Austria in 1993.

Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who recruited Mohamed Atta into Al-Qaeda, had a terrorist base in Bosnia. Zammar is also responsible for recruiting two of Atta’s lieutenants, Ramzi Binalsahib and Said Bahaji.

Osama bin Laden received a Bosnian passport from the Embassy in Vienna, Austria. Many other Al-Qaeda members were issued B-H passports, which enabled them to continue their terrorist activities.

Abu al-Ma’ali (Abdelkader Mokhtari), a senior Al-Qaeda operative, was stationed in Bosnia until recently. Just a few years ago, US officials used to call him “Osama Bin Laden, Jr.”

Bensayah Belkacem was arrested in Bosnia in October 2001. Numbers saved in his cell phone connected him with at least one top-rank associate of Bin Laden

The “White Al-Qaeda” in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Information available to experts on international terrorism indicate that B-H is at this time one of the most dangerous countries in Europe, as it represents a nursery for potential Islamic terrorists – the so called “white” or “European” Al-Qaeda. Money from Islamic countries that is laundered through “humanitarian” organizations finances the religious education of at least 100,000 young Bosnian Muslims. In addition to such education, which follows the interpretations of Wahhabi Islam, there is another type of “training” in various officially registered camps throughout the B-H Federation. There, the young and carefully selected Wahhabis attend “additional courses” in marksmanship, explosives and martial arts. Organizations such as “Furqan,” the “Active Islamic Youth,” the “Muslim Youth Council” and others – differing only in name and primary donors, but otherwise interchangeable – teach young Muslims computer and Internet skills, so they could establish contacts with their coreligionists worldwide. Knowing all this, the former head of UN Mission in Bosnia Jacques Paul Klein recently said that some 200 mujahid’din in Bosnia did not represent a danger, because they can be easily controlled.Klein knew it would be a lot more difficult to stop the spread of young Bosnian Wahhabis throughout Europe, youths who consider Osama Bin Laden and the mujahid’din role models. Nowadays there is still a strong presence of a variety of extremist Islamic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the pretext of charity funds and related philanthropic establishments. Thus it is not of surprise that the U.K Foreign Office still warrants concern safety for every British national traveling there, especially in relation to potential terrorist incidents.

Foreign intelligence involvement in the Balkans

Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavor between the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia). The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money”. According to Whitley, the CIA was, subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.

The covert activities of Germany’s BND were consistent with Bonn’s intent to expand its “Lebensraum” into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favored (although not officially) the formation of a “Greater Albania” encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of FYROM. According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of “Mitteleuropa.“

An interesting twist in the sector of intelligence operations and especially the ones described as “ Covert operations”, is the abundance of  material available and the easiness by which the USA in particular have provided access to their operational tactics. Todd Stiefler has documented that “In Kosovo, the Agency was extremely eager to publicize its covert operations”. In contrast with other similar incidents in Latin America or the Middle East; the CIA was confident enough to inform the public of operations that are not to be announced and that is an intriguing and not well answered topic.

The emergence of “Balkan Jihad” and its progress in the region

After the 9/11, a worldwide “War on terror” begun in order to disband and neutralize Islamic terrorist networks across the globe. The main focus of the largest anti-terrorist campaign in history is focused in the Middle East area, as well as in Afghanistan.

The Balkan Peninsula is the European area where this campaign has also taken place, with numerous arrests and a continuous effort into riding the fundamentalist out of the area. The question arising though, is how did the extremists gain a foothold in South Eastern Europe in the first place, and what was the reaction of the international community over the previous years.

The presence of Islam in the Balkans dates back in the 13th century.

In order to create the much needed mercenary armies, against the then archenemy, the Francs, Byzantine Emperors allowed Muslim Turks into modern day Bulgaria. They were used mainly as cavalry forces due to their excellent techniques in that kind of war. Over the coming decades the antagonism between the Francs and the Vatican from one side and the Byzantium from the other, led to the final conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Gradually virtually the whole of the Balkans came under Muslim dominance and were included in the Dar al Islam territory stretching from the Hindu river and up to Gibraltar.

In Bosnia in particular the sect of Vogomils –Eastern Orthodox sect-, converted to Islam for a variety of societal and spiritual reasons. Since the Vogomils were the affluent class of the central Balkans they soon became the ruling class over millions of Christians of mostly Slavic descent.

In Albania the Islamic takeover had a dramatic effect and in a matter of 150 years 2/3rds of the population converted from the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholicism into Islam. The main reason for such a large proselytism in Albania had been the traditional adherence towards the stronger ruler that the mountainous Albanians have showed since their early history. During the Roman Empire times, the Albanians served as elite corps in the Armies of the Emperors Empires –i.e. Diocletian was of Albanian descent- and tended to absorb the cultural and religious norms of their regional superintendents. The same was the case in the more or less Greek dominated Byzantium. As soon as the “Eastern Roman Empire” waned in favor of the Western one; there was a mass conversion to Catholicism in the early 13th century.

The historical collective path of the Albanian people can be compared with that of the mountainous Swiss that have eloquently absorbed influences and norms by the much larger and influential neighbors (Germany, France, and Italy).

It is against this historical background that the Islamic fundamentalist drama in the Balkans evolved in the 1990s. Evan F. Kohlmann, author of Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network argues that “key to understanding Al Qaida’s European cells lies in the Bosnian war of the 1990s”. Using the Bosnian war as their cover, Afghan-trained Islamic militants loyal to Osama bin Laden convened in the Balkans in 1992 to establish a European domestic terrorist infrastructure in order to plot their violent strikes against the United States

So, the outbreak of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992 presented an unparalleled opportunity for the international Mujaheedin to storm Europe, establish safe havens in the area and thus initiate re-conquest of regions they previously ruled. The leader of Bosnia, Alia Izebegovic was eager to obtain as much assistance as possible and didn’t hesitate in providing the necessary framework by which the Islamic ties were forged. In the same year, a variety of Islamic mercenaries flocked into the Balkans in order to support the “Holy cause”, meaning the establishment of the first Islamic state in Europe. The end of the war in 1995 saw quite a few of those mujahedin, acquiring Bosnian citizenship and establishing the first Islamic community in the village of Bocinja Donja. During 2006 and 2007, hundreds of citizenships were revoked by Islamists residing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nevertheless the whereabouts of most of them remain unknown, raising fears for potential terrorist acts by them in the future and in an European soil. What is more, the Novi Pazar town in Sanjak area in Southern Serbia; has become a core for Islamic fundamentalism, linked with Al-Qaeda cells. Novi Pazar is the focus of the Islamist attempt to build a landbridge from Albania and Kosovo to Bosnia. Further to the East, in southern Serbia’s Raška Oblast, are three other concentrations of Muslims: Sjenica and Pester area (lightly populated but mostly Muslim), Prijepolje (some 50 percent Muslim) and — very close to the Bosnia border where Republica Srpska controls the slender Gorazde corridor — Priboj (also some 50 percent Muslim). The land between is Serbian farmland, but the Islamist goal is to link the cities as “evidence” that the entire region is, or should be, Muslim territory. The same strategy worked successfully in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Serbian farmers were driven off their lands during the civil war.

Just south of the Serbian area of Raška Oblast is the Montenegrin part of Raška region, where, for example, Bijeljo Polje is some 60 to 80 percent Muslim, and Pijevlja, close to the Bosnian border, is about 40 percent Muslim. These Montenegrin towns, like those of the Western Serbian Raška region, are the key to the illicit arms and narcotrafficking across the Gorazde Corridor to Bosnia

A new Islamist university has opened in Novi Pazar, ostensibly a normal college, but led by an Islamist mufti of little formal education. This modern institution — whose officials proclaim it a normal educational institution — reveals its character in its symbol: the Wahabbi/Salafi Dawa symbol, an open Q’uran surmounted with a rising sun. The university, in a renovated former textile factory, is a known center of radical Islamist thinking. A book fair held there in early October 2003 distributed very radical Islamist literature, specifically advocating conflict with the West.

The Dawa sign indicates that the university is predominantly Saudi-funded, although some Western funding is known to have been pumped into the institution, reportedly largely to undermine Serb interests in the region.

Western tolerance of Islamic radicals, however, was one of the gravest mistakes of modern times. In addition, a well organized criminal network has already been established in Sarajevo that in a large extent facilitates illegal immigration from Asia to Europe. That activity is coupled with the narcotics trade that is being supplemented by the infamous “Balkan Drug route”. It is illuminating to note that the areas from where this route is passing are under Muslim influence mostly.

The Albanian factor

Albania was under the Communist rule during the Cold War, the most isolated country in Europe. The break of the Soviet Empire unleashed forces that were kept dormant in the society for decades, and resulted to some very interesting developments. In 1992 Albania becomes a member of the Islamic Conference, an international Islamic organization. The same year as well the government of Sali Berisha, currently also a Prime Minister, signed a military agreement with Turkey, thus enacting a series of discussions in the neighboring states, around the possibility of an Islamic arch from Istanbul to Sarajevo.

One of the main reasons the Albanian officials were eager to form strong ties with the Muslim world was the hope that large investments from the Gulf would ensure the uplifting of the decaying Albanian economy. Therefore the religious sentiment of the majority of Albanians, mostly in the North, was overplayed in order to gain capital from the Islamic world. Unfortunately no serious investment initiatives were undertaken; instead the Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, found another state to expand their illegal activities. Many different and respectable sources have indicated two visits by Bin Laden in Tirana that aimed into creating an Islamic platform for the country and the construction of terrorist networks within the territory.

An Albanian called Naseroudin Albani played an instrumental role in spreading extremist Islamic values into the Albanian society. He was a fugitive from Albania since 1963 and resided in Amman-Jordan. Sources from Albania point out that Albani organized radical Sunni sects back in the 70’s in the Middle East that became the nucleus of the modern day Mujahedin. Another Albanian, the then head of the Albania’s Secret service, SHIK, called Bashkim Gazidente assisted into implementing radical Islamic agenda in Albanian domestic policies. During the 1997 Albanian riots Gazidente fled from Albania and he is said to be an instrumental part in global Islamic networks. He fled presumably to a Middle Eastern country and currently he resides in Rome-Italy treated in a local hospital due to chronic illness; according to reliable regional sources.

The Al Qaeda factor in Albania was consolidated by the creation of the Arabic-Albanian bank, in which Bin Laden allegedly invested the sum of 11.4 million USD. This financial institution acted as a front cover for the transfer of capital for Islamic activities within the country. Just before Berisha’s political overturn in 1997, another Islamic institution called “El Farouk”, acted as a recruitment agency for young Albanians, under the pretext of a charity. One of the most dramatic indicators of the degree of Islamic presence in Albania is the militant Islamic training camp just outside Tirana, the same camp on which Berisha relied in his unsuccessful 1998 coup of his rival Fatos Nano.  At this point it is interesting to note that it was a well known fact around the international community of the nexus between organized crime syndicates, terrorist cells and the KLA, operating under and with Albanian assistance. Actually Albania was mainly used as springboard to neighboring Kosovo. In April 1999, some 500 Arab Mujahedeen were smuggled into the capital of Tirana. Their mission was to conduct special operations against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. They entered Kosovo from Northern Albania. The whole operation was led by Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Nairobi and Tanzania bombings of 1998 shocked the US administration into taking some action, for the first time, do dismantle terrorist’s networks. Soon, the pressure fell on Albania and in the October of the same month individuals of Middle Eastern origin were rounded up and deported. The head of SHIK, Fatos Clozi, admitted for the first the existence of extremists in Albania and promised the eradication of the terrorist nucleus.

The 9/11 attacks proved to be a fatal blow for the radicals in Albania and the USA forces have more or less neutralize any remaining cells. The government of Albania, which is more than willing to become inducted in the Euro-Atlantic security framework, has ceased to seek Islamic assistance and the current Berisha’s administration has refaced its Islamic outlook into a modern European one.

Nevertheless, the Albanian-Islamic connection is now concentrated in Kosovo, the very same province NATO forces are stationed! There is an overwhelming variety of sources and reports that indicate a well established fundamentalist presence in that area. It is a common secret in the international community that the West kept a blind eye during the 1998-1999 Winter where hundreds of Mujahedin joined the UCK forces and helped it expand.  Shaul Shay describes “The [Kosovo Albanian] KLA enjoyed the support of former Albanian President Sali Berisha, who regarded the war in Kosovo as a Jihad and issued a call to all Muslims to fight for the protection of their homeland”.

At that period the means justified the end which was the disbandment of the Russian influence in the Balkans, as the Clinton administration viewed the Milosevic one. The result was a resurge of Islamic radical networks in the region, thus eliminating the beneficial results of previous actions against it. Moreover Russia managed to regroup and it is still viewed as a great player in South Eastern Europe.

The newly independent Montenegro nowadays faces a long term Islamic population bomb and it is certain that should current trends continue, in 2050 half of the population would be Muslim That is not of course a prelude of terrorism action per se, but the overall turbulent Balkan history and the existence of terror networks in nearby Kosovo do not assure a tranquil political future for the newest Balkan state.

The FYROM is also another terrain where the delicate balance between radicalism and Muslim secularism is taking place. Back in 2001, an Albanian uprising nearly resulted in the disintegration of the state although nowadays there is an uneasy stability. However any negative developments in Kosovo will affect directly the country which is also the epicenter of the Balkans by a geopolitical point of view.

Lastly the Sanjak area in Southern Serbia is a territory to watch, where the Wahhabi strain of Islam has gained tremendous influence in the local Muslim population. On March 2007 a terrorist cell was disbanded by the Serbian authorities and a terrorist plan was dwarfed at the last minute .Again Kosovo as the centre of radicalism in the Balkans could play the role of the powder keg for any developments in Sanjak, against the Serbian population in the region.

The EU strategists, whoever they may be, must become aware of the complicated Balkan reality: the region is a mostly secular one, but it has the peculiarity of hosting safe havens of terrorists and organized crime related Islamists. Most of these areas are under international protection a paradox that ridicules the entire Western anti terror campaign. Another worrying fact is the real danger of proliferation of chemical or biological weapons into the hands of terrorists, especially in the case of Albania.  Already this threat is one of the top priorities for the security services across Southeastern Europe, and Greece along with the USA, Italy, Switzerland, and the European Union; assists Albania in destroying the stockpiles of its chemical weapons. It is worthwhile to mention that the Albanian authorities had discovered 16 tons of chemicals in 2002, stored in an underground cache, but there are no verified accounts if any amount had been stolen during the 1997 riots, thus raising a question as to whether terrorist organizations already have taken hold of quantities of chemicals.

Lastly, the attack on the USA Embassy in Athens-Greece in January 2007 with an RPG weaponry, is assumed to have a Balkan-Albanian connection, meaning source it came from, the “Weapons black market” vividly active in the borderlines between Kosovo and FYROM.

Only a coordinated pan European operation would be able to eradicate this perilous condition. The bombings in Madrid and in London had a Balkan flavor in them, namely the explosives used, according to many, came from those very same Muslim pockets in the Balkans that are protected by Western armies. For the future then, Islamic radicalism in the Balkans is an X factor. What is certain though is that this factor will not be used for the benefit of the West and the only way of neutralize it is by disrupting its logistic and financial base.

The only obstacle so far for the successful inaction of a “Balkan war on terror” are the careers in various world capitals, that are related on the perception of half truths and half lies about the West’s involvement in the Yugoslav wars and the use of the Islamic X factor on them. Political ambitious, international reputations and the all pervading political correctness, hinders the right actions to be taken. Unfortunately the implications of the Western involvement have spilled-over worldwide and with dire consequences regarding the global anti-terror campaign. Shaul Shay states that “In the course of 1999-2000, several terror cells were discovered in the U.S. and Canada. Some of their members lived in Bocinja [Bosnia] or were connected to radical Islamic entities that resided there”. The West followed a contradictory stance in the Balkans where it promoted the advance of radical Islamic elements linked to terrorism, in the same period -1999- it enacted the attacks against Serbia, thus empowering the former.

A great leader once said “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. That surely sums up the mentality of the international officials around this Balkan “X factor”.

The Muslim minorities in the Balkans

In contemporary Europe there is a great debate on the role of Islam in modern societies and the path that the European-Muslim relationship will lead into the 21st century. The Balkans is a European area where considerable Muslim communities reside, some of them for over 700 hundred years and since the era of the Ottoman Empire.

The Balkan Peninsula was always an area characterized by continuous population arrivals and exodus due to the turbulent history of the region and because of its geopolitical disposition in the midst of three continents. Sine the fall of the Roman Empire immigration and conquest waves have over the centuries shaped the population composition of this European soil. The Slavs in the 6th Century AC, the Bulgarians in the 7th and the Turks in the 14th one, have all constructed more or less modern ethno-diversity in the Balkans.

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

Two Muslim Kosovo Albanians as the members of the ISIL in Syria in 2015

The former were able –after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 AC- to create the Ottoman Empire stretching from modern day Saudi Arabia and North Africa, right up to the infamous “Gates of Vienna” or more specifically in Klagenfurt and the Styria province. During much of the previous 6 centuries, there have been massive conversions to Islam that formatted the existing Islamic enclaves in the Balkans. The fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989 and the civil wars in Ex-Yugoslavia; brought the remembrance of the religion wars that were a part of the Balkan history for the better part of the last Millennium.

Nowadays, all Balkan states-Bar Rumania- have Muslim minorities that are part of the social and political life of the respective states and most importantly have been often accused as acting like a “Trojan Horse” from powers seeking to exercise influence in the area.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia was already a part of the Ottoman realm, back in 1463 and a mass conversion of the Bogomil Christian sect, endured the existence of a large and influential Islamic community in the state. This area was for centuries the epicenter of the Balkan Muslim life, since it was ideally placed in the centre of South Eastern Europe and had a viable and vibrant Muslim community. In this point it has to be noted that the Bogomils were the most affluent class of Bosnia and their adherence to Islam constituted an initiative from their part to retain their privileges and rights under the newly formed dominion.

In 1908 Bosnia-Herzegovina was annexed by the then Austria-Hungarian Empire, at the same period the idea of a united confederation of the Southern Slavs –Serbs, Croats, Slovenians- was gaining hold. The creation of Yugoslavia after WW1 didn’t resolve the wide religious and cultural gaps between Catholics, Orthodox and Sunni Muslims. The Second World War saw the alliance between the Fascist, pro-German Croatian regime of Andre Pavelic and the Muslims in Bosnia.

Actually in 1943 the latter created the 13th Mountainous SS Brigade –Waffen Gerbings Division der SS- that committed atrocities against the civilian Serbian population in a classic ethnic cleansing fashion. In 1944 a similar brigade was to be formed by the Kosovo Albanians -21st Skanderberg Brigade- that sought as well the elimination of Serbians from Kosovo-Metohija.

During the 90’s Mujahedeen from various Islamic states, fought along the Bosnian Muslims against both the Croatians and the Serbs. Numerous allegations and documents reveal a strong Jihad connection between the then Izebegovic administration and Al Qaeda operatives that sought a safe have in the centre of the Balkans and close to mainland Europe. Stephen Schwartz  notes “Muslim Bosnia and neighboring territories also face growing Islamist extremism. Wahhabi missionaries, promoting the ultraradical cult financed by Saudi Arabia, have come back to the Balkans after their expulsion from Sarajevo in the aftermath of September 11. Bosnian authorities acted then with admirable speed in cracking down on the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a center of al Qaeda activity”. Currently 40% of Bosnia’s population is Muslims, mainly populating the urban centers.

Serbia-FYROM-Montenegro

Serbia’s largest Muslim minority is to be found in Kosovo where over 90% of the population is of Albanian descent and Muslim in denomination. The situation after the 1999 NATO intervention has revealed a massive destruction of the Serbian Christian Orthodox heritage. Kosovo has been since the early Middle Ages a traditional Serbian pilgrimage and state epicenter. The negotiations in action concerning the status of the province have come to a halt and there is a great debate within the international community on which direction Kosovo should move on within the coming months.

The percentage of the Muslims in Kosovo was traditionally 50-60% from the Ottoman period and up until the 1950’s. The mass immigrations of Albanians from Northern Albania, the immigration of Serbians to Europe and the very high birth rate of the former; resulted in the creation of an almost homogenized Albanian-Muslim Kosovo in the course of the second half of the 20th century.  The importance of Kosovo to the Serbian psyche, stems amongst other by the greatness of its artistic, literature and architecture grandeur during the Middle Ages and under the Serbian Nemanjia Kingdom, most probably the most highlighted era in the history of the Serbian Kingdom.

Another Serbian province with large numbers of Muslims is Sanjak –Close to Kosovo borderline- that is also a habitation of Wahabbi strings as recent investigations point out.

FYROM is a state that can be characterized as a hub between Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. Due to its unique placement it always attracted various ethnic and religious minorities, amongst them the largest would be the Muslim one. It is mainly composed by Albanians, Turks and Roma. After the 1999 war, scores of Kosovo Albanians sought refuge in FYROM thus increasing the total percentage of Muslims in the country. The 2001 conflicts between the Slavic majority of the country and the Albanian minority revealed a cultural chasm between them, as well as, he fear of the Slavs that the high birth rates of their Muslim compatriots will lead them to majority levels in the course of the 21st century. Already, grossly 30% of the citizens claim Muslim religion.

Montenegro always had a small Islamic community that has risen up considerably due to the continuous influx of refugees because of the Yugoslavian wars in the 90’s. Roughly 20% of the population is Muslim, and their vote was crucial during the independence referendum in 2006, that broke Montenegro’s ties with Serbia.

Albania

Albania is the only Balkan country that has an absolute majority in terms of Muslim citizens. Officially 70% of the population is Sunni Muslims, even though there are considerable segments of non-practicing secular ones. The main reason for such a large Muslim impact in the state is the mass conversion during the Ottoman Empire that saw a considerable stratum of the Albanian population exchanging their Christian religion for Islam in order to gain considerable advantages in the Ottoman bureaucracy and army. Actually many Turkish historical figures were Albanians, and one of them rose to become the first Pasha of Egypt; Mehmet Ali Pasha.

Albania since 1992 is a member of the Islamic conference, an intergovernmental Muslim organization and it has often become a country focused by the international community because of links by fundamentalists and members of the state apparatus.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has a considerable Muslim minority in the southern regions bordering with Greece and Turkey. The Communist regime in Bulgaria after 1945, initiated measures that forced Muslims –Of Turkish descent mostly- to immigrate to Turkey. In the 1980’s alone 300, 000 of those were to flee Bulgaria. Nevertheless the percentage of Muslims in the country is well over 10% and they exercise significant influence in the political climate of Bulgaria. The existence of a well established Turkish-Muslim minority in Bulgaria has proved to be one of the main reasons for the Greek-Bulgaria rapprochement that enacted in the mid-70’s and continues up to date, bringing the two states with a colorful history of rivalry together; along with excellent bilateral relations.

Greece

Greece’s Muslim minority is to be found in Western Thrace, the province neighboring with Bulgaria and Turkey. The first Muslim coming from Anatolia, settled there in 1363 along with the Ottoman Turks in the first European conquest Endeavour.

In 1923 Greece and Turkey agreed to a mass exchange of populations and consequently Greeks resettled from Minor Asia to mainland Greece and vice versa. The Muslim minority in Thrace along with the Greek-Orthodox in Istanbul remained as a counterweight to its other and as a symbolic remembrance of the oldest Muslim settlement in Europe and the historical Byzantine – Christian presence in the East respectively.

The course of events though revealed a systematic extinction of the Greek-Orthodox Christians in Istanbul that number some 5,000 people down from 200,000 in the 1920’s. In Western Thrace 110,000 Muslims reside and constitute a 1% of the total population in Greece and a Quarter of the Western Thracian populous.

Future trends

In all Balkan states excluding Greece the overall Muslim population is set to increase because of very low birth rate of the Christian population –Especially in Bulgaria- and the reverse trend by the Islamic communities. Moreover an immigration movement from the Balkans towards Western Europe has actually lowered population like in Bulgaria, over the past decade or so.

The Balkans has always constituted one of the fiercest terrains of ethnic – Cultural enmity in Europe. The reasons for the above are the placement of the Peninsula close to Asia that reserved the role of the “European gatekeeper” for the whole of South Eastern Europe. One has to remember of the Kraijna border area created by the Austrians in the 17th century in order to counterweight the Ottoman forces [89. Moreover the Venetians were active in recruiting Greeks as “Stradioti” in order to combat all along the Aegean Archipelagos and the Greek coastline.

Future seems to have elements of repeating this situation due to the ongoing rivalry between West and East, a phenomenon that one can easily retrieve by reading Homer’s Iliad or by comprehending the Persians wars dated in the 5th century BC, as they were recorded by Herodotus historiography. The Balkans are the borderline area between the West and the East, where the two either meet or contest and in any case synthesize or degenerate.

In lieu of a conclusion

The overall challenges for the security and intelligence services, oriented in the Balkan region seems overwhelming, judging by the multitude of the challenges involved and the tasks needed to overcome them. The current époque has brought –Especially to Greece- the re-engineering of security policies, in order to combat non- symmetrical threats such as the ones of organized crime and terrorism. Taking into account the globalization process, the interrelation between societies and the breathtaking advancements in telecommunications and transport; it is fair to assume that certain issues should be seriously reflected upon, on a different perspective than the traditional mode.

A multiparty approach to organized crime should be form here upon the core of any intelligence activity in the Balkans. Organized crime –Along with the rest of the perils for modern societies- need measures that are up to the modern way of life and communication of ours. A parallel and well constructed method of Open Source Intelligence gathering and the operation of specialized crime intelligence units will certainly help towards the aim of curbing crime and its calamities. In addition a conclusive analysis and synthesis of the available information, without any bias; should be the core of any serious attempt into reaching viable prognosis and stall malicious situations such as terrorists incidents and further empowerment  of organized crime.

In order for the aforementioned to become a custom reality, there has to be a constructive and significant replenish of the human resources involved and an upgrade of the present era technical equipment. Therefore decisions should be taken soon enough so as to foresee any positive results, before events surpass the ability of the intelligence community to react and function properly.  The Balkan Peninsula remains more than ever “The soft underbelly of Europe”, apart from the other more conventional menaces in the wider Eastern Mediterranean area.

Bibliography:

Books & Academic literature  (For all above articles)

Alessandro Politi, “European Security: The New Transnational Risks,”Chaillot Papers, No. 29, October, 1997

Blumi Isa,”Contesting the edges of the Ottoman Empire: Rethinking ethnic and sectarian boundaries in the Malesore”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 35, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003

Central European and Eastern Adriatic Research Group, Research & Analytical Papers “Organized Crime in Southeast Europe”, Foreign and Commonwealth Office London, November 2002

Cpt. Velko Attanassoff, Bosnia and Herzegovina-Islamic Revival, International Advocacy Networks and Islamic Terrorism, Strategic Insights, Volume IV, Issue 5, May 2005

Cviic, Christopher.  Remaking the Balkans. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1991.

Evan F. Kohlmann, “Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe“,Berg Publications,  Oxford-UK, September 2004.

Galeotti, Mark. 2001. “Albanian Gangs Gain Foothold in European Crime Underworld.” Jane’s Intelligence Review 13(11, November): 25-7.

H.T. Norris “Islam in the Balkans: Religion and Society Between Europe and the Arab World”, C. Hurst & Co, London, Jan 1994

International Crisis Group, “Bin Laden and the Balkans: The Politics of Anti-Terrorism”, ICG Balkans Report No. 119, 9 November 2001

Kaplan, Robert D. “Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History”, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1993.

M. E. Mallet and J. R.Hale, “The Military organization of a Renaissance State: Venice ca. 1400 to 1617″,Cambridge University Press,London, 1984

Maltz D. Michael , “Defining Organized Crime”, in: Robert J. Kelly et al. (eds.), Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States, Westport/London, 1994

Mark Galeotti ‘Albanian Organized Crime: The Threat to Europe,’ Cross Border Control Issue 12

Raufer, Xavier avec Stéphane Quéré. “La Mafia Albanaise, une Menace pour l’Europe: Comment est née cette Superpuissance Criminelle Balkanique” Lausanne, Favre, 2000.

Schindler John R. “Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad”, Zenith Press, Osceola WI,July 2007

Shay Shaul “Islamic Terror and the Balkans”, Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, December2006

Schwartz Stephen, “The failure of Europe in Bosnia and the Continuing Infiltration of Islamic Extremists”, The Weekly Standard, 20 June 2005

Suha Taji-Farouki and Hugh Poulton “Muslim Identity and the Balkan State”, New York University Press, New York, October 1997 New York

Todd Stiefler, “CIA’s Leadership and Major Covert Operations: Rogue Elephants or Risk-Averse Bureaucrats?”, Intelligence and National Security, Volume 19, Number 4, Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group, London, December 2004.

Xenakis Sappho, “International Norm Diffusion and Organised Crime Policy: The Case of Greece”,  Global Crime, Volume 6, Issue 3 & 4 ,P:345 – 373 ,London, August 2004.

Material used from Open Sources Intelligence (Media, Reports, Presentations, Papers,  Quotes, Documentaries, Open Editions, Articles, Speeches, Reviews, Reports, Briefings, Hearings, anecdotal data, statistics)

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American Council for Kosovo Organization

Antiwar Organization

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Assyrian News Agency

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Balkanalysis News Agency

BBC News

BIA-Security Information Agency in Serbia-

Boston Globe Newspaper

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Publications

Business Week Journal

CEMES Institute

Center for Contemporary Conflict

Centre for Drugs Research-University of Amsterdam-

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CERE Research Centre

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CIAO Organization

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Columbia Encyclopedia

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Council on Foreign Affairs

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Der Spiegel Newspaper

DHKC Information Bureau

Drug Text Organization

European Commission -External Affairs Service-

European Communities Official Journal

EUROPOL Publications

Federation of American Scientists Publications

Foreign Military Studies Publications

Geopolitical Drug Watch Journal

German Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Global Policy Forum

Global Research Organization Publications

Jamestown Foundation

Journalismus – Nachrichten Von Heute

Hellenic Resources Organization

Independent Newspaper

Indian Ministry of External Affairs

International Herald Tribune

Interpol Publications

Inthe80′s.com

Irish Examiner Newspaper

ISSA -Defense & Foreign Affairs Journal-

Italian Parliament Publications

FBI Publications

Kathimerini Newspaper

Kokkalis Foundation -Kennedy School of Goverment-

Le Monde Diplomatique

Library of the USA Congress

Lobster Magazine

London School of Economics- Hellenic Observatory-

MSNBC News Service

NATO Publications

Observatoire Geopolitque des Drogues Foundation

Organization of Islamic Conference

Radio Free Europe

RAND Institute

Reuters News Agency

Rupert Schumann Foundation

National Post

New York Times Newspaper

Nexhat Ibrahimi

Novi Sad Newspaper

Partnership for Peace Consortium

Saudi Aramco Corporation Publications

Serbianna News Agaency

Sisyphe Organization

Strategic Culture Foundation

Strategic Insights Journal

Terrorism Monitor Journal

Transnational Organized Crime Journal

Truth in Media News Broadcast

Voice of America News Service

Washington Quarterly Journal

Washington Post Newspaper

West Network Organization

Wikipedia

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

University of Belgrade

University of Buffalo

United Kingdom – Foreign & Commonwealth Office-

United Nations Information Office in Vienna

United States Department of State

United States Senate – Subcommittee on European Affairs-

USA AID

USA Embassy in Rome-Italy

USA Navy – Naval Historical Centre Publications-

USA Pentagon Library

USA TODAY Newspaper


Footnotes for : “Islamic terrorism and the Balkans: The perfect training ground”

Strategic Culture Foundation Journal (03/04/2007), By Mikhail Yambaev, ” Kosovo-2007: Russia’s Moment of Truth”. Web Site: http://en.fondsk.ru/article.php?id=643

Congressional Research Service – The Library of the USA Congress- (26/07/2005), Report by Steven Woehrel, Specialist in European Affairs; Foreign Affairs, Defense & Trade Division. “Islamic Terrorism & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL33012.pdf

Strategic Insights Journal, Volume IV, Issue 5 (05/2005), By CPT Attanassoff; Bulgarian Armed Forces, “Bosnia Herzegovina: Islamic Terrorism”. Website: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2005/May/attanassoffMay05.asp

Ibid.

MSNBC News Service (16/06/2004), “9/11 Commission Staff Statement”. Website: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5224099/

The Irish Examiner Newspaper (14/07/2005), “Explosives used in London bombings originated in the Balkans”. Website: http://archives.tcm.ie/irishexaminer/2005/07/14/story664838892.asp

Assyrian International News Agency (24/05/2007), By Alan W. Dowd, “An Independent Kosovo?”. Web site: http://www.aina.org/news/20070523100735.htm

NATO Publications (06/1998), By Kosta Barjaba, ” Albania in transition”

USA TODAY Newspaper (2002), “Bin Laden linked to Albania”. Website: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/bomb162.htm

The center for Peace in the Balkans (09/2001), “Bin Laden’s Balkan connections”. Website: http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=/content/analysis/a09.incl

New York Times Newspaper (10/06/2000), “Stolen Albanian weapons”. Website: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A00E3DC1F3FF933A25755C0A9669C8B63&n=Top%2fNews%2fWorld%2fCountries%20and%20Territories%2fAlbania

USA TODAY Magazine; Society for the advancement of education (05/2002), By Ivan Eland, “Provoking terrorist groups”. Website: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1272/is_2684_130/ai_86062103/pg_1

Novi Sad weekly Newspaper “Nezavisni” (11/09/1998), By Slobodan Inic, “Defeat of KLA in Kosovo”. Website: http://mediafilter.org/Monitor/Mon.66/Mon.66.nezavisni1.html

Balkanalysis News Agency; Security & Intelligence Brief-Part 1 (26/06/2006), By Christopher Deliso, “Dragas pocket worries terrorism experts”. Website: http://www.balkanalysis.com/security-intelligence-briefs/06262006-dragas-pocket-worries-terrorism-experts/

The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor Journal, Volume 4, Issue 12 (15/06/2006), By Anes Alic. “Al Qaeda’s recruitment operations in the Balkans. Website: http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370031

The USA Embassy in Rome-Italy Publications , CRS Report (06/01/2006), By Kristin Archick (Coordinator), John Rollins, and Steven Woehrel, “ Islamic extremism in Europe”. Website: http://www.italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RS22211.pdf

RAND Institute Publications, Monograph (04/1998), Chapter 3, By Phil Williams, “Transnational Criminal Networks”. Website: www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1382/MR1382.ch3.pdf

Balkanalysis News Agency (17/04/2006), Interview of Loretta Napoleoni by Balkanalysis, “Terrorist finance & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.balkanalysis.com/?p=667

Official Journal the European Communities; Council Common Position (16/07/2001), “Concerning a visa ban against extremists in FYROM”. Web site: eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2001:194:0055:0055:EN:PDF

Axis Global Research Corporation (11/10/2005), By Can Karpat, AIA Balkan section, “Political Solution and Terrorism in F.Y.R.Macedonia”. Website: http://www.axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=430

University of Buffalo; Listserv Buffalo (04/03/2002), By MILS News, “Seven terrorist killed near Skopje”. Website: http://listserv.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0203a&L=maknws-l&T=0&P=298

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (04/2002), By Lt. Col. Harry Dinella, Policy Advisor, Western Policy Center, “Uncertainty in the Slav-Albanian Partnership”. Website: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=109941&fuseaction=topics.documents&doc_id=119929&group_id=115869

University of Belgrade; Faculty of Security Studies Publications (2002), By Prof. Drako Trifunovic, “Terrorism and Bosnia and Herzegovina – Al-Qaeda’s Global Network and its influence on Western Balkans nations” P. 9-11.

Washington Post Newspaper (01/12/2005), By Rade Maroevic and Daniel Williams, “Terrorist Cells Find Foothold in Balkans”. Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/30/AR2005113002098.html

Ibid.

The Jamestown Foundation; Terrorism Monitor Journal; Volume II; Issue 20, (21/10/2004), By Stephen Schwartz, “Wahhabism and al-Qaeda in Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

PfP Consortium; Study Group Crisis Management in South East Europe; Vienna and Sarajevo (12/2002), By Alfred C. Lugert, “Preventing and Combating Terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina”

University of Belgrade; Faculty of Security Studies Publications (2002), By Prof. Drako Trifunovic, “Terrorism and Bosnia and Herzegovina – Al-Qaeda’s Global Network and its influence on Western Balkans nations” P. 16-17.

Kokalis Foundation; Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University, Paper presentation by Teodora Popesku, “Tackling Terrorism in the Balkans. Website: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/kokkalis/GSW9/Popescu_paper.pdf

United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Current as of 13/05/2007), “Bosnia & Herzegovina travel advice”. Website: www.fco.gov.uk/…/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390590&a=KCountryAdvice&aid=1013618385675

Quoted in Truth in Media news broadcast in  Phoenix; USA( 02/04/1999)

Covert Action Journal; No. 56.  (Spring 1996), By Michel Chossudovsky, professor at the Department of Economics at University of Ottawa, “Dismantling Yugoslavia; Colonizing Bosnia”. Website:  http://www.lbbs.org/yugoslavia.htm

Association of Breton & Celtic journalists (21/09/1998), By Roger Faligot, “How Germany backed KLA”. Website: http://www.bretagnenet.com/reporter-breton/archives/germany.htm

Geopolitical Drug Watch Journal; No 32 (06/1994). P. 4

Covert Action Quarterly Journal; No. 43, (Winter 1992-93), By Sean Gervasi, “Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis”

Intelligence and National Security, Volume 19, Number 4 (12/2004), pp. 632-654(23), By Todd Stiefler, ” CIA’s Leadership and Major Covert Operations: Rogue Elephants or Risk-Averse Bureaucrats?”

Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Illinois Institute of Technology (1996), ” Nationbuilding in the Balkans-History of Albanians”. Web Site: http://pbosnia.kentlaw.edu/resources/history/albania/albhist.htm

Evan F. Kohlmann, “Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe“,Berg Publications, Preface, Oxford-UK, September 2004.

Kokalis Foundation; Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University, Presentation paper by Xavier Bougarel, “Islam & Politics in the Post-Communist Balkans. Website: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/kokkalis/GSW1/GSW1/13%20Bougarel.pdf

Foreign Military Studies Publications (02/1995), By LTC John E. Sray, U.S. Army, “Mujahedin Operations in Bosnia”. Website: http://leav-www.army.mil/fmso/documents/muja.htm

Department of the USA Navy; Naval Historical Centre Publications (26/07/2005), By Steven Woehrel, “Islamic terrorism & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/islamic_terrorism.htm

Ibid.

Reuters, Alert Net Service (11/04/2007), By Daria Sito-Sucic, “Bosnia revokes citizenship of Islamic ex-soldiers”. Web Site: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L1151505.htm

Information was provided by a variety of ISSA Reports, informal journalist sources from Serbia, Albania & FYROM. The material has been made publicly else were and has not been contended for its reliability.

For extensive and sensitive information on the subject see: ISSA Special Report (17/09/2003). Web Site: http://128.121.186.47/ISSA/reports/Balkan/Sep1703.htm#App1

Council on Foreign Relations; Open Edition (13/02/2002), By David L. Phillips, “Keeping the Balkans free of Al-Qaeda”. Website: http://www.cfr.org/publication/4344/rule_of_law.html?breadcrumb=%2Fregion%2F385%2Fbalkans

European Commission; External Affairs Service (2004), “The Contribution of the European Commission to the Implementation of the EU-Central Asia Action Plan on Drugs”. Website: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/drugs/hero.htm

Organization of Islamic Conference (2007), memberships. Website: www.oic-un.org/about/members.htm

Center for Contemporary Conflict; Strategic Insights; Volume V; Issue 4 (04/2006), Anouar Boukhars, “ The challenge of terrorism in Jordan”. Website: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2006/Apr/boukharsApr06.asp

ISSA Research & Analysis Corporation; Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis (16/01/2006), “Kosovo SHIK Directly Linked With Albanian SHIK Intelligence Organization”.

According to Stavro Markos, acclaimed Albanian journalist, correspondent for UK, French and Greek media.

Global Research Organization Publications (22/10/2003), By Michel Chossudovsky, “Regime rotation in the USA”. Website: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO310B.html

Federation of American Scientists Publications (1998), By Milan. V. Petkovic, “Albanian terrorists”. Website: http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/980000-kla-petkovic-terror.htm

Alessandro Politi, “European Security: The New Transnational Risks,”Chaillot Papers, No. 29, October, 1997. This paper discusses analytically the strong evidence around the KLA’s tendencies towards criminal actions well before the U.S. intervention in Kosovo and with the suffice knowledge by the international bodies. ALSO see an article by the Independent newspaper (25/09/2002), “Bin Laden linked to Albanian drug gangs”. Website: http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/Web%20Pages/INDEPENDENT_Bin%20Laden%20linked%20to%20Albanian%20drug%20gangs.htm

Der Spiegel, 24 September 2001, p. 15

Federation of American Scientists Publications; Patterns of global terrorism (1998), “Europe overview”. Website: http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_98/europe.htm

International Herarld Tribune (22/12/2006), “Albania seizes assets of alleged bin Laden associate”. Web Site: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/22/europe/EU_GEN_Albania_Terror_Financing.php

Voice of America News Service (08/05/2007), “Albania supports War on terror”. Website: http://www.voanews.com/english/About/2007-05-08-albania-foreign-minister.cfm

Anti War Article & Analysis Organization (19/09/2001), By Christopher Deliso, “How Islamic terrorism took root in Albania”. Website: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/deliso5.html

Shay Shaul “Islamic Terror and the Balkans”,P. 82, Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, December2006

For detailed information on terrorist sympathizers in the Sanjak area ( Names, locations), see a GIS Security Briefing: http://www.slobodan-milosevic.org/news/dfasa040307.htm (Reprint)

ISSA Research & Analysis Corporation; Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis (03/2007), By Darko Trifunovic, “Terrorism: The case of Bosnia, Sanzak & Kosovo”.

United Nations Information Service in Vienna (01/10/2004), Press Release SOC/CP/311, “UN warning on terrorism in the Balkans”. Website: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/soccp311.doc.htm

Washington Post (20/01/2005), By John Stilides, “Albania’s Dangerous Past”.

Boston Globe (o1/05/2006), By Jonathan B. Tucker and Paul F. Walker  , “A long way to go in eliminating chemical weapons”. Web Site: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/05/01/a_long_way_to_go_in_eliminating_chemical_weapons/

Kathimerini Newspaper (07/02/2007), “ Kosovo link to Embassy strike”. Web Site: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100012_07/02/2007_79818

Shay Shaul “Islamic Terror and the Balkans”,P. 70, Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, December2006

Of course there were interactions of a great scale between the Byzantines and the Arab Muslims well before the arrival of the Ottomans in the Balkans. For more see: H.T. Norris “Islam in the Balkans: Religion and Society Between Europe and the Arab World”, P. 43-50, C. Hurst & Co, London, Jan 1994

Nexhat Ibrahimi, “Islam’s first contacts with the Balkan nations”. Web site: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/6875/nexhat.html

The USA Pentagon Library; Selected bibliography on Balkan conflicts. Website: http://www.hqda.army.mil/library/balkans.htm

Wikipedia (2007), “Bogomils”. Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogomil

For an articulate description of the “ Bogomils” and their impact in the Pan-European history see: Medieval Cathares History:Short History of Bosnian Bogomils. Web Site: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/9892/bhhisto.html

Serbianna News Agency (11/04/2006), By Carl Savich, “The role of the Bosnian Muslims in WW2”. Website: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/077.shtml  & http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/006.shtml

The Counterterrorism Blog (17/08/2005), “Jihadist found a convenient base in Bosnia”. Website: http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2005/08/jihadists_find_.html

Schwartz Stephen, “The failure of Europe in Bosnia and the Continuing Infiltration of Islamic Extremists”, The Weekly Standard, 20 June 2005

CIA Publications; Factbook; Bosnia-Herzegovina (2005). Website: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bk.html

Serbianna News Agency (23/10/2006), By Russell, Gordon “Behind Kosovo’s façade”. Website: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/gordon/004.shtml

Radio Free Europe; Background Report/253 (31/10/1983), By Louis Zanga, “Albanian Population Growth”. Reprinted by the Open Society Foundation Archives. Website: http://files.osa.ceu.hu/holdings/300/8/3/text/3-13-10.shtml

Kaplan, Robert D. “Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History”,P. 95-98 St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1993. The chapter of Kaplan on Serbia, extensively and articulately grasps the importance of Kosovo-Metohija for the Serbian nation and the consequences of a potential loose of that territory.

USA AID Organization Publications (2002), “Wahhabi presence in Sanjak”. Website: www.pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADC982.pdf

Indian Ministry of External Affairs Publications (2003), “Assessment of FYROM”. Website: www.meaindia.nic.in/foreignrelation/macedonia.pdf

BBC News (32/12/2005), “Muslims in Europe: Country guide”. Web Site: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4385768.stm

Wikipedia (2007), “History of Ottoman Albania”. Website: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ottoman_Albania

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Publications (11/2003), “The human rights of Muslims in Bulgaria in law and politics since 1978”. Chapter 2, Paragraph 2. Web site: www.bghelsinki.org/special/en/2003_Muslims_fm.doc

Hellenic Resources Network Organization, “Presentation of the Lausanne Treaty”. Website: www.hri.org/docs/straits/exchange.html

London School of Economics; Hellenic Observatory Annual Symposium; Paper presentation, By Giorgios Niarchos Ph.D Candidate, “Continuity & Change in the minority policies of Greece & Turkey”. Website: www.lse.ac.uk/collections/hellenicObservatory/pdf/symposiumPapersonline/Niarchos.pdf

Ibid. AND Saudi Aramco Corporation Publications (08/1976), By Pamela Roberson, “Islam in Greece”. P. 26-32

BBC News (23/12/2005), “Muslims in Europe: Country guide”. Website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4385768.stm

Wikipedia (2007), “Kraijna”. Web Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krajina, ALSO for an in-depth analysis of the ethno-religious lines during the era of the Ottoman Empire in the Northern Balkans: Blumi Isa,”Contesting the edges of the Ottoman Empire: Rethinking ethnic and sectarian boundaries in the Malesore”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 35:P. 237-256, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003

M. E. Mallet and J. R.Hale, “The Military organization of a Renaissance State: Venice ca. 1400 to 1617″,Cambridge University Press,London, 1984


Footnotes for: “Narcotics and the emergence of crime syndicates in the Balkans”

Interpol official publication (2006), “Heroin production”, Website: http://www.interpol.int/Public/Drugs/heroin/default.asp

Council of Foreign Affairs (09/2006), by Lionel Beehner; “Afghanistan’s role in Iran’s Drug problem”. Website:  http://www.cfr.org/publication/11457/

BBC News Europe (03/08/2000), “Albanian mafia steps up people smuggling”. Website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/863620.stm

Federal Research Division, Library of Congress (12/2002), By Glenn E. Curtis & Tara Karacan. Website: http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/WestEurope_NEXUS.pdf

Website of  Xavier Raufer: http://www.xavier-raufer.com/

The Washington Quarterly Journal (09/1999), By Frank Cilluffo & George Salmoiraghi. Website: http://www.twq.com/autumn99/224Cilluffo.pdf

EUROPOL Publications (2005), “EU Report on drug production and drug traffiking 2003-2004. Web site : http://www.europol.europa.eu/publications/SeriousCrimeOverviews/2005/SC2Drugs-2005.pdf

CEMES Institute (2004), “Balkan trafficking report”.  Website: http://www.cemes.org/current/ethpub/ethnobar/wp1/wp1-d.htm

Sisyphe Organization (02/2005), By Prof. Richard Poulin, “The legalization of prostitution and its impact in trafficking of women and children”. Website: http://sisyphe.org/article.php3?id_article=1596

Maltz D. Michael , “Defining Organized Crime”, in: Robert J. Kelly et al. (eds.), Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States, Westport/London 1994, 21-37. ALSO for the particular Modus Opperandi of the Albanian criminal groups see: Raufer, Xavier avec Stéphane Quéré. “La Mafia Albanaise, une Menace pour l’Europe: Comment est née cette Superpuissance Criminelle Balkanique” P. 12-124, Lausanne, Favre, 2000.

United Nations Information Service in Vienna (09/2004), “Nexus between drugs, crime & terrorism”. Website: http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2004/uniscp500.html

Xavier Raufer (2002), “At the heart of the Balkan chaos: Albanian mafia”. Website: http://www.xavier-raufer.com/english_5.php

BIA -Security Information Agency- (09/2003), “Organized crime in Kosovo & Metohija”. Website: http://www.decani.org/albterrorism.html

National Post (04/2000), By Patrick Graham, “Drug wars: Kosovo’s new battles”. Website: http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=article&articleid=7582

Wikipedia (2007), “Albanians”. Website: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanians

Observatoire Geopolitque des Drogues Foundation; Annual Report (1996) “The World Geopolitics of Drugs”.Page 61-75.

Wikipedia (2007), “Opium”. Website: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium

FBI Publications (2002), “Report on transnational narcotics trade”. Website: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/orgcrime/lcn/ioc.htm

Drug Text organization, Reference library, By McCoy, “Marseille: America’s heroin labatory”. Website: http://www.drugtext.org/library/books/McCoy/book/11.htm

Federation of American Scientists briefing, “Kurds I Turkey”. Website: http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/turkey_background_kurds.htm

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed. (2001-2005), “Iran-Iraq war”. Website: http://www.bartleby.com/65/ir/IranIraq.html

Charles R. Grosvenor Jr. (2007), “The Iran-Contra scandal”. Website: http://www.inthe80s.com/scandal.shtml

Lobster Magazine; Issue 30 (1995), “Persian Drugs: Oliver North, the DEA and Covert Operations in the Mideast”

German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (10/2006), “Profile of Turkey”. Website: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/en/Laender/Tuerkei.html

DHKC Information Bureau (01/1997), “The Susurluk accident”. Website: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/289.html

BBC News (06/10/2005), By Sarah Rainsford, “ Turkey at the drugs crossroads”. Web site: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4305692.stm

West Network organization (1998), “Corruption in Turkey”. Website: http://users.westnet.gr/~cgian/cillermurder.htm

Le Monde Diplomatic (07/1998), By Kendal Nezan, “Turkey’s pivotal role in international drugs trade”. Website: http://mondediplo.com/1998/07/05

Centre for Drugs Research-University of Amsterdam- (1998), By Tim Boekhout Van Solinge, “Drugs use & trafficking in Europe”. Website: http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/boekhout.drug.pdf

Ibid

Journalismus Nachrichten Von Heute (11/12/2006), “The Highjacking of a Nation”, Quoting Mark Galeotti, a former UK intelligence officer and expert on the Turkish mafia. Web Site: oraclesyndicate.twoday.net/stories/3049459

Centre for European Reform (07/2006), By Hugo Brady, “Organized crime & punishment”. Web Site: http://www.cer.org.uk/articles/brady_esharp_july_aug06.html

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Publications, “Open Edition on Albanian people”. Web Site: http://www.thefellowship.info/Global%20Missions/UPG/Albanian.icm

CNN (26/10/2004), By Eric Pearce, “Albanian crime rings suspects arrested”. Website: http://www.mfa.gov.yu/FDP/CNN-261004_1.html

Balkanalysis news agency (30/11/2006), By Christopher Deliso, “The hijacking of a nation, part-2”. Website: http://www.balkanalysis.com/2006/11/30/the-hijacking-of-a-nation-part-2-the-auctioning-of-former-statesmen-dime-a-dozen-generals/

American Council for Kosovo organization (28/08/2006), “Text of report in English by Belgrade based Radio B92”. Website: http://www.savekosovo.org/default.asp?p=5&leader=0&sp=118

Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (11/05/2005), “Bucharest Declaration”. Website: http://www.mvpei.hr/seecp/docs/7_BUCHAREST_DECLARATION_11_MAY_2005.pdf

Subcommittee on European Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate (30/10/2003), Testimony by Grant D. Ashley, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division, FBI, “Eurasian, Italian, and Balkan Organized Crime”. Website: http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress03/ashley103003.htm ALSO see more on: Galeotti, Mark. 2001. “Albanian Gangs Gain Foothold in European Crime Underworld.” Jane’s Intelligence Review 13(11, November): 25-7.

CIAO organization, interview of Mark Edmond Clark in CIAO, “Terrorism and organized crime”. Website: http://www.ciaonet.org/special_section/iraq/papers/clm10/clm10.html

The Center for Peace in the Balkans (06/2003), “Humanitarian bombing vs. Iraqi freedom”. Website: http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=/content/analysis/a14.incl

Global Policy Forum (2004), “Kosovo”. Website: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security//issues///ksvindx.htm

Gus Xhudo. (1996) “Men of Purpose: The Growth of Albanian Criminal Activity.” Transnational Organized Crime. 2(1). Spring: 1-20

Website of  Xavier Raufer: http://www.xavier-raufer.com/

Wikipedia (2007), “Albanian Mafia”. Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanian_mafia

USA Department of State (2006), Trafficking in person’s reports”. Website: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/

Albanian-Canadian organization (2006), “Dateline of Albanian history”. Website: http://www.albanian.ca/datehistory.htm

Serbianna News Agency (19/04/2005), By M. Bozinovich, “Al-Qaeda in Kosovo”. Website: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/mb/035.shtml

Interpol official publication (2006), “Heroin production”, Website: http://www.interpol.int/Public/Drugs/heroin/default.asp

Italian Parliament Publications (29/03/2006), Report by Senator Alberto Maritati, “Organized crime in the Balkans with a reference to Albania”. Website:

www.cespi.it/Rotta/Ascod-criminalità/maritati.PDF

Open Democracy Foundation (16/08/2006), By Ilija Trojanow, “Bulgaria: The Mafia’s dance to Europe”. Website: http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/bulgaria_3825.jsp

Information acquired through various reliable journalistic sources in Bulgaria

Robert Schumann Foundation (17/10/2006), By Corrine Deloy, “Presidential election in Bulgaria”. Website: http://www.robert-schuman.org/anglais/oee/bulgarie/presidentielle/default2.htm

Xenakis Sappho, “International Norm Diffusion and Organised Crime Policy: The Case of Greece”,  Global Crime, Volume 6, Issue 3 & 4 August 2004 , pages 345 – 373, London.

Business Week Journal (20/06/2005), BY Alkman Granitsas, “Digging for gold in the Balkans”. Website: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_25/b3938161_mz035.htm


19-05-2013

By Ioannis Michaletos

Source: Modern Diplomacy

terorista-pripadnik-ovk-uck

A member of terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (the U.S.-sponsored) during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War

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Hearts beat in Kosovo for Islamist warriors



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

As Kosovo tries to stop its sons from going off to fight in Iraq and Syria, sympathy for their cause remains strong among some hardline Muslims.

Nektar Zogjani, Petrit Collaku and Nate Tabak
BIRN

Pristina

Facebook photo

The calls stopped coming more than three months ago.

Even while fighting in Iraq and Syria for the militants of Islamic State, Musli Musliu still checked in with his family regularly. He used to post photos on Facebook, showing a beaming young man posing with his comrades. One even shows him in a sweet shop.

It was during one of those calls, in April, that he broke the news that his brother, Valon, had been killed. The two had been fighting alongside each other in Iraq when Valon died. Musli said he had buried him there, too.

Musli has since gone silent, leaving his family to wonder he has shared the same fate as his Valon.

Their brother, Selman, speaks softly when he talks about Musli and Valon outside the family home in the village of Tushile, 50 kilometers west of Prishtina. Selman says their mother is taking it hardest. “She’s suffering a lot with the loss of Valon,” Selman said.

Both Musli and Valon had embraced a strict form of Islam. Valon had gone to a Medressa and had chosen to fight to “protect the word of God,” said another brother, Muhamet, expressing pride in his siblings.

 Facebook photo

Some 150 Kosovars have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, primarily for Islamic State, or for the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, according to the Kosovo Intelligence Agency. Around 40 have died in what has become an increasingly dangerous war, with a US-led coalition of countries now attacking both groups via air strikes.

Meanwhile, Kosovo itself is becoming more hostile to those who have fought in Syria and Iraq, or who plan to. Police have arrested dozens of people in recent weeks, including imams and others accused of helping recruit fighters.

This week, President Atifete Jahjaga appeared on Fox News Channel in the US, declaring: “We are taking this threat very seriously and our security mechanisms are working around the clock to address this challenge.”

Kosovars make up only a tiny portion of the thousands of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, far outnumbered by those coming from Western European countries, including Belgium, the UK and France. They have nevertheless become a national embarrassment for a Muslim-majority country that wants to present itself as a secular, progressive European democracy.

A particular source of embarrassment is the leader of the Albanian fighters, Lavdrim Muhaxheri, who this summer posted photographs on Facebook, appearing to show him beheading a captive, with a message encouraging others to come join the fight. It followed a video showing him delivering a firebrand speech in Arabic and tearing up his Kosovo passport.

 Facebook photo

As outrage has grown across the world at the sheer brutality of Islamic State’s campaign to establish a so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, it has only hardened the resolve of the Kosovo authorities, and of mainstream leaders in the Muslim community. “This is the right moment,” an official in the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, said, referring to the official crackdown.

Fighters coming for years

Since the civil war there erupted in 2011, it has been remarkably easy for people to travel from Kosovo to join the fight. In November 2012, Naman Demoll became the first Kosovar to die in the Syrian civil war.

The intelligence official noted that it is cheap – requiring only about 100 euros to get from Kosovo to the war zone, with a flight to Istanbul and then a bus to the Syrian border.

The same official says the practice was long largely ignored because no special law exists barring such activities. Until recently, the Turkish authorities also did little to stop would-be fighters from entering Turkey.

The official said there had been multiple cases of Turkish authorities letting Kosovars into the country after being provided with intelligence of their intention to fight in Syria or Iraq.

 Facebook photo

As for fighters who have returned to Kosovo, the official said most of them have returned to a quiet life. But a small number have come back further radicalized, complete with combat experience and a new disdain for the state.

The official said they have disrupted three terrorist plots involving former fighters already. With a series of high profile arrests in September and August, the official says the members of two terror cells are now in custody, with a third potential cell remaining in Syria or Iraq.

The same official said he believes about 30 Kosovars are still fighting for Islamic State or Al-Nursa. But, with the authorities now arresting and prosecuting fighters, the official says it is unlikely any of them will return to Kosovo. Those remaining have effectively bought themselves a “one-way ticket,” the official said.

Sympathies remain

The town of Kacanik, near the Macedonian border, is known in Kosovo’s history as a place that put up stiff resistance to the Ottoman Empire – which brought Islam to Kosovo and ruled the Balkans for nearly 500 years.

These days, however, it is known as a centre of radical Islam and as the hometown of a large number men fighting in Syria and Iraq. Among them is their purported leader, Muhaxheri.

On a recent Friday, at afternoon prayers, few were willing to discuss those fighting in Syria or Iraq. But a young man, who refused to give his name, expressed openness to fighting for Islamic State.

 Facebook photo

“I would seriously think of going there if someone invited me,” he said. The young man says he has practiced Islam strictly for the past year-and-a-half and feels an affinity for Islamic State because “my heart feels for Sharia Law… My brother, I think ISIS is Allah’s will,” he continued.

The same man also drew parallels with the 1998-99 conflict, in which the Kosovo Liberation Army took on Yugoslav and Serbian forces. He says there is a similar imperative today to go to fight in the Middle East.

Mentor, a middle-aged man in Kacanik, agreed, comparing the intervention of NATO forces in Kosovo to Kosovars fighting in Syria in Iraq.

“When foreigners came to help us in Kosovo, no one complained at that time,” he said. “Now the Kosovars are doing the same thing.  They are going to help liberate a people,” he said.

The Kosovo intelligence official agreed that the legacy of the war is one factor driving young Kosovars to fight abroad today.

“Most were very young when the Kosovo war happened. They want to try war – and feel it,” the official said, adding, however, that, based on the Intelligence Agency’s interviews, many come away disappointed.

For years, the leader of Kosovo’s Islamic Community, Naim Ternava, has drawn accusations of turning a blind eye to rise of extremism in the country’s mosques. Since the end of the war, strict forms of Islam, imported from and funded by the Middle East, have proliferated.

While the hardliners remain a minority among Kosovo’s Muslims, they have nevertheless become a visible and vocal presence. One of those arrested by police in September was Shefqet Krasniqi, the imam of the Grand Mosque, the largest in Prishtina.

In the wake of the arrests, however, Ternava has sharpened his rhetoric against the hardliners.

In a recent interview on Klan Kosova, Ternava warned of the rise of hardline Islam, brought in by people from outside Kosovo, “who have sown a sort of a seed of trouble.

“Now, that seed has somewhat grown up and is present. For instance, we have people who say the Kosovo Mufti is a nonbeliever because he does not grow beard,” he said. “This is not in line with real Islam; there are individuals who want to interpret Islam in very narrow terms, and to misinterpret Islam,” he added.

Skender Perteshi, of the Kosovar Center for Security Studies, blames a bad economy and a poor education system, as well as radicalised Islam, for creating the conditions that have sent Kosovars off to fight in Syria and Iraq.

He said recent police actions are encouraging. “It sends a message that the state is capable of coping with all the threats against the state, including terrorism,” he said.

It remains to be seen, however, if the crackdown stems the flow of fighters in the long term.

Muhamet Musliu remains proud of two of his brothers who went to fight in Iraq and Syria, even with one dead and another missing.

“They went to fight for Allah, to defend the words of Allah,” he said.  “I wish I could go there but the moment of destiny has not come yet.”


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ISIL Army

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The “Domino effect”, Kosovo, Crimea, China…



Monah na rusevinama crkve

So, how did it all begin? On 17 February 2008, the autonomous parliament of Kosovo issued a unilateral declaration of sovereignty. On 22 July 2010, the UN International Court recognized the legitimacy of the Kosovo authorities’ decision to declare independence from Serbia.

Was there really no-one around at that time who could predict, political sympathies aside, that the Kosovo precedent would lead only to regrettable results? There were in fact such people, and they warned the world. But President George W. Bush was deeply unmoved by such warnings; after all, he had followed the example of his great father in defeating Iraq, and named an aircraft carrier after him. If another member of this august family should ever come to power in the USA, then he will naturally lead another invasion of Iraq and, should the US budget allow it, will build something nice for the navy. That is the Bush family tradition – bombing Iraq and ravaging the US budget.

Only a few years ago America’s might was considered invincible, although many knew that NASA’s astronauts reached the International Space Station using Russian “Soyuz” spacecraft, and Atlas V rockets fly thanks to Russian RD-180 engines. Atlas V rockets deliver all kinds of satellites into orbit, including military ones.

Of course, it will not be a problem for America to switch to its own engines and build new manned spacecraft to replace obsolete, decommissioned shuttles. The White House is trying to impress upon people the vastness of President Obama’s power: “by sheer force of mental power, he can send an expedition to Mars, teleport billions of kiloliters of gas to Europe, and force President Putin to write a decree authorizing same-sex marriage in Russia.” Well, then, if Obama has decided to reinvigorate the US space program, one can only be glad for the country.

The problem has turned out to be that while the Obama administration was helping to establish sharia law in the countries of the Arab world, the Crimean parliament declared the republic’s independence from the Kiev junta, and the Russian bear decided to rub the Kosovo precedent in its face. It turns out that the cries of “Stop, don’t move, I’m going to use sanctions, requisitions, demonization and I can even pull the atomic trigger!” do not work on the Russian bear.

Washington has finally begun to acknowledge that what happened in Kosovo was only the first domino falling. What will happen next?

According to Gazeta.ru, the American administration has been urging Beijing officials not to adopt the Crimean situation as a model for action against their Asian neighbors. The sanctions imposed by the USA and the European Union on Russia should have a chilling effect on any fevered minds in the Chinese government who might have been thinking of using the model set forth by the Kremlin in Crimea, declared Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, in a Senate committee hearing.

All one can say is: “Wow”! So that turns out to be the pedagogic principle governing America’s sanctions against the Russian Federation. The only question is, where in China did Assistant Secretary Russel find these fevered minds? It would appear that he is projecting the clinical picture which is in fact typical of the US Senate and State Department onto the leadership of the PRC. “The net effect is to put more pressure on China to demonstrate that it remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the problems,” Russel stated.

So they were just loading up on popcorn in Beijing, preparing to watch the epic tragedy “America vs. Russia: The Sanctions,” when there came the hysterical cry from the State Department: “Don’t even think about it!” What’s with all of the shouting? Just send Samantha Power to Beijing.

Events in Crimea have generated a lot of excitement not only in Washington, but in Tokyo too. “Crimea has changed the rules of the game. It’s not a salvo on some distant shore. An attempt by a rising power to change the status quo has taken place,” said Kunihiko Miyake, former adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shindzo Abe. According to Miyake, the PRC may do the same thing. The Japanese media have been vying to outdo each other in publishing stories about Beijing potentially following Moscow’s example by occupying the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands.

Here, the following facts should be noted. The company Square Enix does not want to have its well-known Final Fantasy series of games translated into Russian. Why? Because it is Tokyo’s sanction in response to Russia’s refusal to give the Kuril Islands back to Japan: “let the Russians suffer and play World of Warcraft.” If Square Enix were to have Final Fantasy translated into Russian, Moscow would enter the same parallel reality in which Tokyo now finds itself.

What is the actual existing reality of the situation?

In the first place, the population of Senkaku consists of exactly 0 (zero) persons; it has no parliament, no separatists, no terrorists, no national minorities, no gays, no US embassies, and so on. What on earth is this conversation supposed to be about? Furthermore, does China really need these islands or does it need a pretext to show the countries of Southeast Asia that the United States are far away and the Chinese dragon’s fangs have not lost their bite? Finally, Japan holds a trump card in its hands – Washington, to which the land of the rising sun is bound by an agreement on common defense.

So why did Tokyo get so frightened and go so far as to promise to give 1.44 billion dollars to the Kievan junta?

On 5 April, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel flew to Tokyo. He calmed the overwrought ally’s nerves and declared that the US would show no hesitation and fulfill all its obligations according to the 1952 mutual security agreement between the US and Japan. Why did Tokyo demand Washington affirm its obligations to its allies, what happened?

Here is where the problem lies. The government in Tokyo is perfectly well aware that when the State Department and CIA special forces organized a Fascist putsch in Kiev, they did not hold back from giving the Maidan leadership generous pledges, promises, and guarantees. Hardly in vain did the heirs of the vestigial OUN shout “America is with us!” Suddenly Crimea separates from Ukraine and enters the structure of the Russian Federation. Obama, Merkel, and the others declare that Vladimir Putin will answer for this, will regret his actions, and the wrath of heaven will be forthcoming.

So where is this heavenly retribution?

Now in Tokyo they got to thinking. The fact is that any kind of treaty is really a gentleman’s agreement, and if one of the parties is not a gentleman, the treaty is not worth the paper it’s written on. The Japanese government understands this perfectly and, it seems, is also beginning to understand that the US is no guarantor, but merely a mass media phenomenon that dreamed up a scheme to take over the world by means of television.

And Beijing? In Beijing they have, all the same, loaded up on popcorn and are sitting back to watch the tragedy “America vs. Russia: The Sanctions” straight through to the end.


About the author:

Konstantin Penzev, writer and historian, is a staff writer for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

Source: http://journal-neo.org/2014/04/13/rus-printsip-domino-kosovo-kry-m-kitaj/

Spaljeni konaci

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“Mafia State”: Kosovo’s PM accused of running human organ, drug trafficking cartel



Bagra Kosova

In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”

The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.

According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between criminal gangs and “political circles” in Kosovo who just happen to be close regional allies of the United States.

The investigation was launched by Dick Marty, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) special rapporteur for human rights who had conducted an exhaustive 2007 probe into CIA “black fights” in Europe.

The PACE investigation gathered steam after allegations were published by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte in her 2008 memoir.

After it’s publication, Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation’s ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor’s “justice” to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.

A series of damning reports by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the BBC, confirmed Del Ponte’s allegations and spurred the Council to act.

Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war “simply vanished without a trace” into a secret prison “in the Albanian border town of Kukes.”

According to sources who feared for their lives, including former KLA guerrillas, the BBC revealed that disappeared civilians “were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.”

In an uncanny echo of Nazi practices during the period of the Third Reich, The New York Times reported that “captives” were “‘filtered’ for their suitability as donors, based on sex, age, health conditions and ethnic origin. “We heard numerous references to captives’ not merely having been handed over, but also having been ‘bought’ and ‘sold,'” the special rapporteur told the Times.

“Some of the guards told investigators,” the Times reports, “that a few captives understood what was about to happen and ‘pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being chopped into pieces’.”

Mercy was in short supply however, behind KLA lines.

The report states: “As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Once organs were removed from the victims they were auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold by a global trafficking ring still operating today.

The former prosecutor further alleged, The Guardian reported, that “she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials” who she claimed had “smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.”

In a classic case of covering-up the crimes of low-level thugs to protect more powerful criminals, Del Ponte has charged that forensic evidence gathered by ICTY investigators at one of the northern Albania death houses was destroyed at The Hague.

International Network

This brisk underground trade didn’t end in 1999 however, when the break-away Serb province was occupied by NATO troops; on the contrary, operations expanded and grew even more profitable as Kosovo devolved into a protectorate of the United States.

In fact, a trial underway in Pristina has revealed that “desperate Russians, Moldovans, Kazakhs and Turks were lured into the capital ‘with the false promise of payments’ for their kidneys,” The Guardian reported.

It was a “growth industry” that fed on human misery. According to The Guardian, recipients “paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys [and] included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel,” EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the British paper.

“Donors” however, were left holding the bag, lucky to escape with their lives.

At the center of the scandal is the Medicus clinic. Located some six miles from downtown Pristina, Medicus was allegedly founded by university hospital urologist Dr Lutfi Dervishi, and a former permanent secretary of health, prosecutors claim, provided the clinic with a false license to operate.

imagesTwo of the accused, The Guardian revealed, “are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, perhaps the world’s most renowned organ trafficker.”

Prosecutors believe that Harel and Sonmez are the brains behind Medicus and that Shaip Muja, a former KLA “medical commander” who was based in Albania, may have overseen operations at the “clinic.”

Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi’s and, in an macabre twist, he is currently “a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health,” The Guardian reports.

Investigators averred they had “uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja’s central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime.”

Besides lining the pockets of Albanian, Israeli and Turkish criminals who ran the grisly trafficking ring, whose interests might also be served in covering-up these horrific crimes?

A Gangster State, but which One?

The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as “freedom fighters,” during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

As in Albania years before NATO’s Kosovo adventure, organized criminal activities and “the trade in narcotics and weapons [were] allowed to prosper,” Michel Chossudovsky wrote, because “the West had turned a blind eye.”

These extensive deliveries of weapons were tacitly permitted by the Western powers on geopolitical grounds: both Washington and Bonn had favoured (although not officially) the idea of a ‘Greater Albania’ encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia. Not surprisingly, there was a ‘deafening silence’ on the part of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. (“The Criminalization of Albania,” in Masters of the Universe? NATO’s Balkan Crusade, ed. Tariq Ali, London: Verso, 2000, pp. 299-300)

The consequences of this “deafening silence” remain today. Both in terms of the misery and impoverishment imposed on Kosovo’s citizens by the looting of their social property, particularly the wholesale privatization of its mineral wealth which IMF economic “reforms” had spawned, and in the political cover bestowed upon Pristina’s gangster regime by the United States.

In the intervening years NATO’s “blind eye” has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.

Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE report states that “the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation.”

“The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania” during that initial inquiry investigators wrote, “have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses. No subsequent investigation has been carried out into a case nevertheless considered sufficiently serious by the former ICTY Prosecutor for her to see the need to bring it to public attention through her book.”

This is hardly surprising, considering that the ICTY was created at the insistence of the Clinton administration precisely as a retributive hammer to punish official enemies of the U.S.

Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America’s imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals–the losers in the decade-long conflagration–it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.

The report averred that human organ trafficking was only a part of a larger web of crime and corruption, and that murder, trafficking in women, control over global narcotics distribution and money laundering networks were standard operating procedure for Thaçi and other members of the “Drenica group,” the black widows at the center of the KLA spiders’ web.

For his part, Thaçi has called the PACE report “libelous” and the Kosovo government has repudiated the Council’s findings claiming that the charges “were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.”

While one can easily dismiss prevarications from Kosovo’s government, the White House role in covering-up the crimes of their client regime should have provoked a major scandal. That it didn’t only reveals the depths of Washington’s own venal self-interest in preventing this sordid affair from gaining traction.

In all likelihood fully-apprised of the Council of Europe’s investigation through any number of American-friendly moles implanted in European institutions as WikiLeaks Cablegate files have revealed, last summer Thaçi met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House.

Shamelessly, Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo,” and “reiterated the United States’ firm support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House press release.

Indeed, the vice president “welcomed the progress that Kosovo’s government has made in carrying out essential reforms, including steps to strengthen the rule of law.”

An all too predictable pattern when one considers the lawless nature of the regime in Washington.

The Heroin Trail

As I reported more than two years ago in “Welcome to Kosovo! The World’s Newest Narco State,” the KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose “15 Families” control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade.

Albanian traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Central Asia’s Golden Crescent. At one end lies America’s drug outpost in Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for processing and transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into “product” for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 1999, “Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.”

As the murdered investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov reported in 2000 for Mother Jones, as the U.S.-sponsored war in Kosovo heated up, “the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package.”

Despite billions of dollars spent on failed interdiction efforts, these patterns persist today as more than 106 metric tons of heroin flow into Europe. So alarmed has the Russian government become over the flood of heroin penetrating their borders from Central Asian and the Balkan outposts that some officials have likened it to American “narco-aggression” and a new “opium war, researcher Peter Dale Scott reported.

Scott avers: “These provinces” in Afghanistan, “support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime (headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset), including the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former CIA asset. In effect America has allied itself with one drug faction in Afghanistan against another.” Much the same can be said for CIA assets in Pristina.

As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in their 2010 World Drug Report:

Once heroin leaves Turkish territory, interception efficiency drops significantly. In the Balkans, relatively little heroin is seized, suggesting that the route is exceedingly well organized and lubricated with corruption. … Another notable feature of the Balkan route is that some important networks have clan-based and hierarchically organized structures. Albanian groups in particular have such structures, making them particularly hard to infiltrate. This partially explains their continued involvement in several European heroin markets. Albanian networks continue to be particularly visible in Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Italy is one of the most important heroin markets in Europe, and frequently identified as a base of operation for Balkan groups who exploit the local diaspora. According to WCO seizure statistics, Albanians made up the single largest group (32%) of all arrestees for heroin trafficking in Italy between 2000 and 2008. The next identified group was Turks followed by Italians and citizens of Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Kosovo/Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to some extent Greece). A number of Pakistani and Nigerian traffickers were arrested in Italy as well.

As has been documented for decades, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan campaign the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and then provide them with targets.

When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia’s heart during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved “success” without the connivance, indeed active partnership forged amongst Yugoslavia’s nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny has shown,

Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by “a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web…Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27)

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.”

Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.”

Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

As the Council of Europe and investigative journalists have documented, northern Albania was the site not only of KLA training camps but of secret detention centers where prisoners of war and civilian KLA opponents were executed and their organs surgically removed and sold on the international black market.

“The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA–prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict–took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed.”

The report avers, “It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania,” the site of secret NATO bases, “yet only in the second half of 1998,” Marty writes, “through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle.”

“What is particularly confounding” Marty writes, “is that all of the international community in Kosovo–from the Governments of the United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities–undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica Group’s crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and to hold the perpetrators to account.”

While the special rapporteur’s outrage is palpable, the ascension of a political crime family with deep roots in the international drugs trade and other rackets, including the grisly traffic in human organs, far from being an anomalous event conforms precisely to the structural pattern of capitalist rule in the contemporary period.

“What we have uncovered” Marty informs us, “is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors’ respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of ‘political expediency’. But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public?”

Marty need look no further for an answer to his question than to the “political masters” in Washington, who continue to cover-up not only their own crimes but those of the global mafias who do their bidding.

As we have seen throughout the latter half of the 20th century down to the present moment, powerful corporate and financial elites, the military and intelligence agencies and, for lack of a better term, “normal” governmental institutions are suborned by the same crooked players who profit from war and the ensuing chaos it spawns to organize crime, thereby “rationalizing” criminal structures on more favorable terms for those “in the loop.”

In this regard, the impunity enjoyed up till now by Thaçi and his minions merely reflect the far-greater impunity enjoyed by the American secret state and the powerful actors amongst U.S. elites who have profited from the dirty work allegedly performed by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and others like him, who are counted amongst the most loyal servants of imperial power.


About the author:

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

Source: http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.lt/2010/12/mafia-state-kosovos-prime-minister.html

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Europe’s “Little Guantanamo”: Why the U.S. wants Serbia to give up Kosovo



Bagra Kosova

The U.S. military base in Kosovo was constructed in 1999 without consulting with the government of Serbia and is the largest U.S. military base built outside of the U.S. since the Vietnam War. The site was apparently used for extraordinary renditions and has been referred to as a “little Guantanamo”.

This is a very little known fact as NATO, the U.S., the European Union and the West are in the process of forcing Serbia to effectively give up Kosovo, and indicates the real motive for the West’s support of the Kosovo Liberation Army which it had deemed a terrorist organization in the past.

Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of Stop NATO spoke about this and more in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with Rick Rozoff, the owner of the stop NATO website and international mailing list.

Robles: Hello Rick. How are you?

Rozoff: Very good John. Thanks for having me on.

Robles: It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you. How much importance would you give to the 200 US-NATO troops being stationed in Italy? And why US-NATO troops? These troops are being stationed for possible operations in Libya. How do you think that reflects on the operations to remove Muammar Gaddafi by the US?

Rozoff: It’s a continuation of that policy, of course. And as it is now, you know, two years ago and two months, 26 months ago that the military campaign against Libya was launched, initially, as we have to recall, by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) that began it for the first 19 days and then it was taken up by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for six months thereafter. And this was meant to signal and meant in fact to be the first activation of AFRICOM as a war-fighting force on the African continent, and also NATO’s first open military incursion into Africa and certainly not the last. This was meant to be an opening salvo and not an isolated incident.

What is significant about the impending deployment of what is minimally, and I think we should emphasize that, 200 US Marines, and some reports estimate up to 500, these are members of what the US Marine Corps refers to as the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force that only recently was moved into Spain, and then it is being transitioned from Spain into Italy for use in North Africa. So, I think we can see the push to the south and the east, to employ State Department slogan or expression of few years ago, where the US is going to deploy very shortly four guided missile cruisers to the Naval Station Rota in Spain, a Marine expeditionary strike force, really, of the sort we are talking about going to the Sigonella base in Sicily.

This is the same base that the US has another Marine Corps detachment already deployed to. And this is actually a separate one that has already been assigned to the same naval station Sigonella. We should also recall that in the beginning of this year, in January, the governor of Sicily put a stop to plans that the US had for putting a satellite surveillance facility in Sicily, on the island.

You know, big plans are afoot and the US was going to move in something called the Mobile User Objective System, global satellite facility, to Sicily. That seems to have been stopped but troops are coming in, with the avowed purpose, John, of intervening in Libya – Benghazi or elsewhere – as the U.S. sees fit.

Robles: What exactly is that system that you just mentioned?

Rozoff: The photographs I’ve seen of it suggest that it truly is mobile, I mean it is something comparable to some of the Patriot Advanced Capability missile systems that the US has put in Poland and Turkey and Israel. It is described as being a satellite communication system. I’m not sure what precisely it was meant to monitor in Sicily, but I would guess the entire Mediterranean Sea, perhaps most notably part of the eastern Mediterranean. But as to the precise range and purpose of the missile system, I’m not familiar with that.

Robles: I see. So, this is some new technology?

Rozoff: Yes. There are similar ones, that are called Mobile User Objective Systems, deployed in Australia, as well as in the US states of Hawaii and Virginia. But I’m not sure how they are integrated with other military capabilities.

Robles: What else has happened with NATO in the last month that you think our listeners should know about?

Rozoff: They’ve had a series of meetings of foreign ministers, of chiefs of defense staff and others in recent months. The focus, according to NATO of course, is wrapping up the Afghan mission which I don’t think will ever be definitively finished. But the drawing down or the eventual phased withdrawal from Afghanistan, the continuation of the operation in Kosovo, the Serbian province (the province wrenched from Serbia), and continued naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea, what is called Operation Active Endeavour, and ongoing, presumably permanent, naval operations in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, so-called Operation Ocean Shield.

So, NATO is still in ways that we have discussed on many an occasion in the past continuing permanent military operations way outside the area of the North Atlantic Ocean, ultimately globally. Nothing outstanding in any particular regard but the continuation of these policies.

Robles: How many bases was NATO going to leave in Afghanistan? And what can you tell us about Kosovo, can you give us some details on that as well?

Rozoff: The statement about the US maintaining military bases in Afghanistan after the complete withdrawal of US-NATO troops, well, we can’t say complete – I mean there are estimates that as many as 14,000 US NATO troops will stay in the country – but after the bulk, at one time 152,000 US and other NATO troops, in Afghanistan are withdrawn, according to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan the US has clearly indicated to him, I think the word “demanded” would not be too strong a word, that the US or the Pentagon wants to maintain nine military bases inside the country. And they are situated in the north, south, east and west, and that is near the borders of the former Soviet Central Asian Republics, but also Iran and Pakistan, and in some cases not terribly far from the narrow strip of land that connects Afghanistan to China.

And they include of course the major, arguably, at any point in future, strategic air bases like Bagram and Kandahar and Shindand and elsewhere in the country. As we’ve talked about on many occasions, I think any sensible person has figured out that the US and its Western allies don’t intend to vacate the South-Central Asian region in the imminent future, if at all.

Robles: You just mentioned Karzai. I was just reminded about his recent revelation that he’d been receiving garbage bags full of money from the CIA for over a decade. Can you comment on that as far as NATO goes? And regarding US-NATO troops, do you think there is any specific reason why only US-NATO troops are going to be staying in Afghanistan?

Rozoff: Let me start with the second one first because I think it is the easiest. The facts are fairly incontestable, It is not going to be only US troops. The US will maintain nine military bases evidently, that’s what it intends to do. But NATO itself is transitioning from what is currently known as the International Security Assistance Force, initially it was presented, if you can believe this, under the rubric of a peacekeeping force in the early part of this century, and it quickly devolved into a warfighting force and to a combat force. And once that mission, ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), is finished, then NATO will continue in Afghanistan training the Afghan National Army and other security personnel basically to be a Western proxy army in the South-Central Asian region. That’s the easy part.

The question about Mr. Karzai being lavished with a good deal of American largesse, that shouldn’t surprise anybody. It is to be assumed, I suppose, that the US buys off foreign leaders, certainly those it’s implanted in power, like Mr. Karzai, who is not a foreigner, is not an alien to American shores. One of his brothers for example ran, for years, a restaurant pretty much in my neighborhood here in Chicago. And the family, I’m sure, already has mansions set up in this country to flee to when they have to and to take as much of the CIA cash as they can with them back home – repatriate it if you will.

Hilari i Taci dve bagre

Robles: You mentioned Kosovo a few minutes ago. You said that NATO had met regarding Kosovo and KFOR. Anything new there?

Rozoff: The US and its Western allies, in the latter case I’m talking about people in Brussels whether they are wearing the European Union or the NATO hat, it doesn’t seem to matter much, but I’m sure they employed all their typical subversive powers of persuasion to convince the coalition government in Belgrade, in Serbia, to acknowledge the independence of Kosovo, if not formally, practically. And NATO has pretty substantially withdrawn its troops in Kosovo because they turned the province over to their proxy forces there, the former leaders of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, whose leaders are heading up the Kosovo Security Force, which is a fledgeling army being trained by NATO.

So, once the country is turned over to surrogates, the NATO troops can clear out and go on to the next war zone which is effectively what happened since 1999. At one point, in June of 1999, there were 50,000 troops in Kosovo under NATO command or under KFOR, the Kosovo Force. And that number has dwindled down to perhaps a tenth of that right now. But the US still maintains Camp Bondsteel and Camp Monteith. The first, Camp Bondsteel, is reportedly the largest overseas U.S. military base built since the war in Vietnam. And there is no indication that it intends to vacate that base. As to what it is doing with it, that’s a question worth pursuing.

Robles: Where is that base?

Rozoff: In Kosovo.

Robles: And you say that’s the largest foreign base that the U.S. has?

Rozoff: What I’ve read and, given the acreage, the size of the base, it seems to be the case. It is the largest base that the U.S. has built overseas since the war in Vietnam. Since the 1960s.

Robles: And that’s in Kosovo?

Rozoff: That’s in Kosovo. It was constructed in 1999, I think it was with Kellog, Brown & Root, that built bases almost everywhere else. It’s in Kosovo and it is a fairly mammoth complex. Camp Monteith is a sister base considerably smaller than Bondsteel. But Bondsteel, which is by the way named after a US serviceman who was killed in Vietnam, there’s been speculation that Camp Bondsteel could have been used for extraordinary renditions during the so-called global war on terrorism.

There’s also been discussion from the sources in Russia amongst other places that should the US want to deploy strategic resources in Camp Bondsteel. And by that we mean either interceptor missiles or perhaps even nuclear weapons. Who would be the wiser and who in the inner circle of Hashim Thaci in Pristina would say “no”.

Robles: When was this base built?

Rozoff: In 1999 it was constructed and it’s been operating ever since. So, you are talking about 14 years now. And there is no indication, you know, unless you accept the US and NATO line – matters have been stabilized in Kosovo and they are going to step down troops, again, which I think they have I think about 90% of the initial deployment, amount of troops rather, 50,000 troops have been withdrawn but Camp Bondsteel – is still there. It is in the eastern part of Kosovo. And in addition to being a US military base it is also NATO headquarters for what’s called Multinational Brigade East.

I am looking at the exact size of the place: it is 955 acres. That’s pretty sizeable. And it was built on Serbian land without consulting with the government of Serbia. I guess the KLA official in Pristina rubber stamped it. By August of 1999, two months after the US and other NATO troops came into Kosovo, the construction of the base was pretty much under way. Apparently 52 helipads were constructed and shortly thereafter franchise restaurants were added.

Robles: Right there at the beginning, was it like that it was already constructed as if it would be a permanent fixture?

Rozoff: By all indications exactly that. I cannot see what the motivation would be to build something that large which is still operative to this day…

Robles: You said they had “franchise restaurants” and things like that in there?

Rozoff: I’m looking at it on the computer now. You know, Burger King, Taco Bell and so forth built in there. Gymnasiums, health clubs. It is a whole city practically. And evidently, somebody with the Council of Europe, Álvaro Gil-Robles (There’s a name for you, John!), human rights envoy to the Council of Europe, referred to Camp Bondsteel in 2005, and this is a quote, as a “smaller version of Guantanamo” after visiting the facility. So, evidently the US did use it for extraordinary renditions, and so-called black operations or black sites.

Robles: So, that would give us a very, very, very clear and undisputable reason why the West is so interested in guaranteeing the independence of Kosovo.

Rozoff: Right. And that was the statement made by many of us who opposed the war against Yugoslavia in 1999. When the US constructed that base, it was almost began immediately after NATO coming into Kosovo, that it was ex post facto proof that the US had military designs in the region and that the war against Yugoslavia was simply an opportunity to expand its military into the region.

Robles: I see.

Rozoff: Which in fact is what has ensued.

You were listening to an interview in progress with Rick Rozoff the owner and manager of the stop NATO website and mailing list.

You can find part 2 on our website at english.ruvr. ru

Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/stopnato/ messages

Stop NATO website and articles:
http://rickrozoff. wordpress. com


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Depleted uranium haunts Kosovo and Iraq



30. uranium na kosovu

Iraq and Kosovo may be thousands of miles apart, but they share the dubious distinction of contamination with radioactive residue from depleted uranium (DU) bullets used in American air strikes. After several years of silence, US officials finally admitted that 340 tons of DU were fired during the Gulf war. In Kosovo, American delays in providing details of quantities and target points have frustrated international efforts to assess health risks. Despite repeated requests, NATO waited almost a full year after the start of bombing in March 1999 to say that 31,000 DU bullets–a fraction of the number fired in Iraq–were fired by A-10 “tankbuster” aircraft over Kosovo. A Belgrade report published this April estimates that about 50,000 DU bullets had been used in parts of Serbia and Montenegro as well as Kosovo. Evidence is plentiful on the ground that DU was used in heavily populated areas, and that civilians and returning refugees were never warned of the danger.

The high-density bullet is made of low-level radioactive waste left over from manufacturing nuclear fuel and bombs. DU bullets were designed in the 1970s to defeat top-line Soviet tanks. Some 20 nations now keep the world’s best armor-piercing rounds in their arsenals. First used in combat during the Gulf war, they proved to be unmatched tank slayers. (A Pentagon official points to one other benefit: the US can give away its 1.2 billion pound stockpile of radioactive waste to weapons manufacturers.) When DU smashes into a hard target, it pulverizes into breathable dust that remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years. American nuclear scientists have found that DU dust can travel at least 26 miles. Scientists of the National Institute for Health Protection in Macedonia detected eight times higher than normal levels of alpha radiation–the primary type emitted by DU–in the air during the air war. Yugoslav soldiers have found DU rounds in Bujanovic in the south, and a Swiss-led international team found “serious radioactivity” when it dug up many rounds at a radio tower near Vranje.

Despite predicting that “every future battlefield will be contaminated” with DU, the Pentagon asserts that DU risk is minimal. But training materials developed in the 1990s require full protective gear and masks in contaminated areas, in line with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rules. The US military requires an NRC license to handle the smallest amount of the restricted material. A US Army-commissioned health report issued just days before the Gulf war noted that radiation is linked with cancer and said that “no dose [of DU] is so low that the probability of effect is zero.” Still, the Pentagon argues that “residual DU from battlefields in Kosovo does not pose a significant risk to human health.”

US soldiers partly ascribe Gulf war syndrome to DU exposure. British troops deployed in Kosovo are suing their defense ministry for ailments they attribute to DU. The UN refugee agency in Kosovo now includes papers in personnel files to note work in potentially DU-contaminated areas. In Kosovo, Western de-mining groups were told by NATO to “exercise caution” and not to climb on destroyed armored vehicles. Last October Col. Eric Daxon, the US Army’s top radiological expert, said: “The best thing I can tell anybody about entering a contaminated vehicle or damaged vehicle is: ‘Don’t do it. It is a dangerous place to be.’”

But that message never got through to hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians, in whose name the Kosovo campaign was fought, and whose DU exposure could be highest. Rexh Himaj, a mechanic who lost most of his tools during the conflict, didn’t think twice about salvaging parts from destroyed Serbian vehicles. Like thousands of returning refugees, he was just glad to get back to work.

But the concrete surface of a Serbian military base on the west side of Djakovica where I found him working was pockmarked with DU hits, as was the nearby road. The ground was littered with spent aluminum shell casings that are unique to 30 mm DU bullets. A boy climbed on a burned-out armored vehicle, then jumped off and kicked at a shell casing.

“Now I know it’s dangerous, but that is a risk I’ve got to take,” said Himaj, when the telltale casings are explained. His hands were greasy-black with work. “If [the Americans] didn’t use this stuff, then we might still have Serbs here. On the other hand…I hope they clean it up.” But cleanup is virtually impossible. One US Defense Department report lists eight soil decontamination techniques, including multiple nitric acid washes, but “in no case did the achieved separation suffice to allow unrestricted disposal.”

A confidential preliminary UN report leaked in May 1999, as the bombing continued, did not mince words: “This type of ammunition is nuclear waste, and its use is very dangerous and harmful,” it said. After NATO released its figures, the UN recommended that “measures should be taken to prevent access.” For Kosovars, like Iraqis, such warnings may be too late.


About the author:

Scott Peterson covers the Middle East for the Christian Science Monitor.

For comprehensive coverage of depleted uranium, visit <http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1999/04/29/p1.htm>

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Violation of human rights of Serbs in the province of Kosovo and Metohija



Bagra Kosova

The struggle for peace and the struggle for full respect of universal human rights, as defined by UN Declaration on protection of human rights, are interdependent and non-separable. Violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, military interventions, aggressions and occupations go hand in hand with massive violations of the basic human rights.

It is clear that there are no humanitarian military interventions.

NATO military aggression against Yugoslavia ( Serbia ) which started March 24rth, 1999 was launched to allegedly protect human rights of Kosovo Albanians. It was carried out in blatant violation of the basic principals of International Law and without approval of UN Security Council. The precedent was used later in various other parts of the world whenever it suited the interests of USA and NATO: Afghanistan , Iraq , and Libya . There are threats that it may be used against other countries like Syria, Iran, North Korea or any other country.

NATO aggression against Serbia (FR ofYugoslavia) in 1999 left close to 4000 dead and more tan 10.000 wounded, two thirds of whom where civilians including close to 1 hundred children. NATO forces were using missiles with depleted uranium, causing massive cancer disease, deformation of newly-born babies unknown before. NATO polluted soil, water and food production for unbelievable period of four billion years. Direct economic damage caused by aggression was estimated to an amount of over one hundred billion dollars.

Immediately after the end of the aggression, USA constructed on Serbian soil in Kosovo and Metohija the biggest American base in the world known as Bondsteel. This was the beginning of mushrooming of USA and NATO military basis all over the Balkans and Eastern Europe .

Today there are more USA and NATO military basis in Europe than any time during the Cold War Era.

Why?

Warsaw Pact has been disbanded. There are no confronting socio-political systems; all European countries apparently enjoy free market economies and multi-party parliamentary democracy. What and who to defend and where from by so many military bases and long range ballistic rockets carrying nuclear warheads? From international terrorism? Cyber attackers? International organized crime groups? Rogue states?

The overall economic, financial, political and moral crises of the leading countries of the West will probably lead to further spreading of interventionism, militarization and total disregard of the basic principles of international relations. Cover up justifications will not be a problem. So far there has been abundance of “positive” experiences of “humanitarian interventions”, “protection of civilians” from dictatorial regimes etc. The richest and militarily the strongest are not ready to carry alone the burden of the crises that they have caused themselves. Their might is serv