How politicians, the media, and scholars lied about Milosevic’s 1989 Kosovo speech



Milosevic on NATO

A couple of months ago I chanced upon the Emperor’s Clothes Website.

I noticed their startling claim that we have been systematically lied to about Yugoslavia, including Slobodan Milosevic. As they told it, he was not guilty of racist incitement and genocide; rather he advocated multiethnic peace. Since their views sharply contradicted my own, I started systematically checking their references by obtaining the relevant original documents. I have yet to find a single claim in error.

This was particularly surprising regarding the famous speech that Slobodan Milosevic delivered at Kosovo Field in 1989 at the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. According to what I had read, this was an ultranationalist diatribe in which Milosevic manipulated memories of a famous defeat to stir mob hatred of Muslims, especially Albanians.

Emperor’s Clothes posted what they claimed was the official U.S. government translation of that speech, which they attributed to the National Technical Information Service, a dependency of the Commerce Department.

The posted speech was certainly not hateful.

But was this the real speech? The text contradicted everything I had been led to expect from Slobodan Milosevic and everything I had read about this speech.

Through my university library, I obtained a copy of the microfilm of the BBC’s translation (which is a translation of the live relay of the speech). I compared this text to the one posted at Emperor’s Clothes.

Except for a few words that the BBC translator was not able to hear, they match almost exactly.

The speech is not devoid of a certain poetry and, given what I had been led to believe about Milosevic, I was amazed to find that it was explicitly tolerant. In other words, the entire point, structure, message, and moral of the speech — in all its details — was to promote understanding and tolerance between peoples, and to affirm the unity of all those who live in Serbia, regardless of their national origin or religious affiliation.

But if a speech such as this had been falsely reported as a viciously hateful speech, then what about the rest of my information about Yugoslavia? After all, it came from the same sources which had misrepresented this speech…

I began to read voraciously, to see how academics, politicians and the media had reported what happened in Yugoslavia. I have found an enormous amount of misinformation, and it is hard to dispel the impression that much of this is deliberate. This is quite important for my field because students of ethnic conflict, like myself, need to know what it is that we are supposed to explain. Our case data often comes from historians and journalists who describe ethnic conflicts for us. Until recently, I was assuming that those who wrote about Yugoslavia could at least be trusted to try to report things accurately.

I have changed my mind. What I now know suggests that the problem is not merely that reporters and academics are misinformed. I have observed that a source may report the facts accurately and then, in another place, usually later, the same source will report them completely inaccurately. How can one explain this as a result of ignorance? It suggests a conscious effort to misinform.

That obviously raises the question: why?

Battle of Kosovo, by Adam Stefanović (1870)

Many articles on Historical and Investigative Research explore that question. Here I am primarily concerned with showing that Slobodan Milosevic was, in fact, systematically and willfully misrepresented. As an example of what has been done, I have assembled excerpts from various sources regarding Milosevic’s famous 1989 speech at Gazimestan (the location is often referred to as Kosovo Polje or Kosovo Field). I compare these excerpts to Milosevic’s words so that you can see what was done.

I have scanned the microfilm of the BBC translation so my readers can compare the US government and the BBC versions for themselves. To see the pdfs of the BBC microfilm visit these pages.

An easy-to-read text version of the BBC translation.

Compare this to the US government translation.

Finally, you may look at further instructions I provide in the footnote for those who may wish to track down this text on their own.[1]

As you read the compilation (certainly not complete) of misquotations, misrepresentations, misattributions, and mischaracterizations of Milosevic’s speech in the media and by academics, it is important to keep something in mind.

If Milosevic really was a hate-monger, the evidence would not be hard to find. As Jared Israel wrote in his introduction to the speech:

“It is impossible for a society to engage in genocide unless the population is won to hate the target group. This has to be done in a systematic way. That is, political leaders must support hate in deeds but also in words.”

Incitement to hatred, after all, is a public behavior. One cannot become an ultra-nationalist populist politician without making ultra-nationalist speeches — the masses cannot be incited in secret. Thus, if Milosevic really was the man portrayed in the media, nobody would have to slander an explicitly tolerant speech in order to make the case. They could just use a genuinely hateful public statement, written document, radio interview, letter — anything. It would make zero sense for the media to fabricate all sorts of things about a tolerant speech if anything hateful by Milosevic really existed.

In the first part of my analysis below I report the misrepresentations of the speech. Following that, I quote reports in the media made on or immediately after June 28, 1989, the day Milosevic spoke. These accounts, published immediately after his speech, were accurate, and this demonstrates that the truth was easily available if someone had wanted to report it later on. Not only that, I go further to demonstrate that the same media services which reported the speech accurately in 1989, then went on to lie about the speech eight years later, when NATO needed to demonize Slobodan Milosevic, in preparation for the bombing of Yugoslavia and takeover of Kosovo.

Most of my examples deal with media coverage of the Milosevic speech but government officials are also on record lying about it. For example, on June 28, 1999, Robin Cook, then the Foreign Minister of the UK, said the following about the speech:

Milosevic used this important anniversary not to give a message of hope and reform. Instead, he threatened force to deal with Yugoslavia’s internal political difficulties. Doing so thereby launched his personal agenda of power and ethnic hatred under the cloak of nationalism. All the peoples of the region have suffered grievously ever since.” [1b]

As the excerpts from Milosevic’s speech which I have quoted below demonstrate, Robin Cook was lying. This powerfully suggests that the Western media and the highest officials worked together in a campaign to sell the public a falsified version of this speech, in order to justify war.

The evidence

1. The Independent

An important British newspaper, The Independent, included this in what it presented as a chronology of events:

“June 1989, on the stump at Kosovo Polje

Serbia’s leader sets out his agenda at a rally of more than a million Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo 600th anniversary celebrations, as he openly threatens force to hold the six-republic federation together.”[4]

But no such threat appears in the text of the speech. This allusion to an “open threat” sounds like the Independent is using Dr. Vladimir Zerjavic as source. They don’t sound like they could have seen the text of the speech.

2. The Irish Times

Consider this by The Irish Times:

“It was at Kosovo Polje in 1389 that Serbs fought their most historic battle, losing to a Turkish army and later enduring 500 years of Ottoman rule. From here they fled again nearly three centuries later, led by their Orthodox patriarch, after a failed rebellion. And here, 10 years ago this month, the Yugoslav President, Mr Slobodan Milosevic, made his name telling a crowd of 500,000 Serbs, ‘Serbia will never abandon Kosovo.'”[5]

The Irish Times does not borrow the quote from Dr. Vladimir Zerjavic, but they do borrow the boldness. They have put quotation marks around a phrase that appears nowhere in the text.

3. The heavyweights: the Economist, TIME, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and National Public Radio

Let us now look at what the biggest media heavyweights said. We shall begin with The Economist, perhaps the most prestigious and influential news magazine in the world:

“But it is primitive nationalism, egged on by the self-deluding myth of Serbs as perennial victims, that has become both Mr Milosevic’s rescuer (when communism collapsed with the Soviet Union) and his nemesis. It was a stirringly virulent nationalist speech he made in Kosovo, in 1989, harking back to the Serb Prince Lazar’s suicidally brave battle against the Turks a mere six centuries ago, that saved his leadership when the Serbian old guard looked in danger of ejection. Now he may have become a victim of his own propaganda.”[9]

The passages from Milosevic’s speech quoted above already make it clear that this was not a “stirringly virulent nationalist speech.” The Economist would have you believe that Milosevic was literally foaming at the mouth, and wanted to use the memories of Prince Lazar and the defeat at Kosovo Polje as a catalyst for arousing ultra-nationalistic feelings. This is how Milosevic actually introduced his remarks about that historical event:

Today, it is difficult to say what is the historical truth about the Battle of Kosovo and what is legend. Today this is no longer important. Oppressed by pain and filled with hope, the people used to remember and to forget, as, after all, all people in the world do, and it was ashamed of treachery and glorified heroism. Therefore it is difficult to say today whether the Battle of Kosovo was a defeat or a victory for the Serbian people, whether thanks to it we fell into slavery or we survived in this slavery. The answers to those questions will be constantly sought by science and the people. What has been certain through all the centuries until our time today is that disharmony struck Kosovo 600 years ago. If we lost the battle, then this was not only the result of social superiority and the armed advantage of the Ottoman Empire but also of the tragic disunity in the leadership of the Serbian state at that time. In that distant 1389, the Ottoman Empire was not only stronger than that of the Serbs but it was also more fortunate than the Serbian kingdom.

Is this a virulent nationalist speaking? Milosevic sounds positively professorial. He sounds like an academic, showing a grandfatherly understanding for the human frailties that lead people to conveniently forget things in order to make legends out of history in a romantic and nationalistic manner.

And he is talking about the famous battle at Kosovo Polje, in the very place where that battle was fought!

The truth of what happened, he says, is for scientists to establish. Is this a nationalist using a myth of the people to rouse their passions? Does he sound ‘injured’ and ‘insecure’?

TIME Magazine, perhaps the most widely-read news magazine in the world, had a similar slant:

“It was St. Vitus’ Day, a date steeped in Serbian history, myth and eerie coincidence: on June 28, 1389, Ottoman invaders defeated the Serbs at the battle of Kosovo; 525 years later, a young Serbian nationalist assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, lighting the fuse for World War I. And it was on St. Vitus’ Day, 1989, that Milosevic whipped a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy in the speech that capped his ascent to power.”[10]

And the same goes for The New York Times:

“In 1989 the Serbian strongman, Slobodan Milosevic, swooped down in a helicopter onto the field where 600 years earlier the Turks had defeated the Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo. In a fervent speech before a million Serbs, he galvanized the nationalist passions that two years later fueled the Balkan conflict.”[11]

And the Washington Post:

A military band and a dozen chanting monks from the Serbian Orthodox Church struggled unsuccessfully this morning to lift the dour mood hanging over a small crowd of Serbs marking the 609th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo here at the most revered site in Serbia’s nationalist mythology. […]

Nine years ago today, Milosevic’s fiery speech here to a million angry Serbs was a rallying cry for nationalism and boosted his popularity enough to make him the country’s uncontested leader.[12]

And here is what National Public Radio (NPR) said about this speech, through the lips of Chuck Sudetic:

Mr. SUDETIC: . . .the people were whipped up into a kind of hysteria. You have to understand that the Serbs in Kosovo suffered a kind of repression, a mild kind of repression, but repression nonetheless – from 1974 until the mid to late 1980s at the hands of Albanian mafia – an Albanian Communist mafia that was in control of Kosovo. They saw their friends and neighbors depart to find better lives in Belgrade. And the people who were left behind felt themselves to be endangered by Albanians. Milosevic comes along, whips it up into a hysteria of fear. . .He made his speech at the Kosovo battlefield, the site of the famous battle from 1389 in 1989, on June 28th.[12a]

First of all, I apologize to loyal fans of NPR if this shatters their illusions about a favorite institution, but the above is no aberration for NPR. In fact, NPR’s president is a CIA man.[12b]

Beyond this, there is the larger question of this piece: does Milosevic sound like his purpose is “whipping a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy” with his remembrance of the events of 1389? Is this a “fervent speech” meant to “galvanize the nationalist passions“? Is it a “rallying cry for nationalism“? Could “people [be] whipped up into a kind of hysteria” with Milosevic’s words?

I can’t see how.

4. T.W. Carr

The following excerpt is from T.W. Carr, who used to be Assistant Publisher for Defense & Foreign Affairs Publications, London. It is relatively long but worth reading because of the juxtaposition of Slobodan Milosevic (the Serbian leader) with Franjo Tudjman (the Croatian leader) and Alija Izetbegovic (leader of one of the Bosnian Muslim factions).

Three leaders emerged within the collapsing Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. Each used the emotive appeal of patriotism (nationalism), history and religious heritage in their bid for political control of one of the three nation “nation states”, Orthodox Christian Serbia, Roman Catholic Christian Croatia and Islamic Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Slobodan Milosevic

On June 28, 1989, Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic marked the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo against the “Ottoman Islamist Empire” at Gazimestan by addressing more than one million Serbs, recounting the heroism of the Serbian nation and their Christian Orthodox faith in resisting the spread of Islam into Europe. He reassured his audience, that the Autonomous Province of Kosovo would remain an integral part of Serbia and Yugoslavia, despite the then current and often violent, problems of separatism demanded by the Muslim Albanian majority living in Kosovo.

In the Serbian presidential election of November 12, 1989, Mr. Milosevic won 65.3 percent of the vote, his nearest rival, Mr. Vuk Draskovic, polled only 16.4 of the votes cast.

Alija Izetbegovic[13a]

At the same time, Alija Izetbegovic, who had been released early from jail in 1988 (serving only six years of a 14 year sentence for pro-Islamic anti-state activities), visited Islamic fundamentalist states in the Middle East, returning to Bosnia-Herzegovina to found the SDA (Muslim Party of Democratic Action). His 1970 manifesto, “Islamic Declaration”, advocating the spread of radical pan-Islamism-politicised Islam-throughout the world, by force if necessary, was reissued in Sarajevo at this time. His Islamic Declaration is imbued with intolerance towards Western religion, culture and economic systems. This is also the theme projected in his book, Islam between East and West, first published in the US in 1984, and in Serbo-Croat in 1988, shortly after he was released from prison in the former Yugoslavia. In his writings he states that Islam cannot co-exist with other religions in the same nation other than a short-term expediency measure. In the longer term, as and when Muslims become strong enough in any country, then they must seize power and form a truly Islamic state.

In the multi-party elections held in Bosnia-Herzegovina on November 18, 1990, the population voted almost exclusively along communal lines. The Muslim Democratic Action Party secured 86 seats, the Serbian Democratic Party 72, and the Croatian Democratic Union (ie: union with Croatia) Party 44 seats. As the leader of the largest political party, Mr. Izetbegovic, became the first President of Bosnia- Herzegovina, albeit for just one year, for under the new constitution of B-H, the presidency was to revolve each year between the three parties, each of which represented one ethnic community.

Under constitutional law, in January 1992, Mr. Izetbegovic should have handed over the Presidency to Mr. Radovan Karadzic, the Serbian Democratic leader. He failed to honor the constitution and being true to his writings, he seized power, acting undemocratically and illegally. Therefore, at no time since January 1992 should Mr. Izetbegovic have been acknowledged by the international community as the legal President of B-H.

Franjo Tudjman

Towards the end of World War II, while still a young man, Franjo Tudjman took the pragmatic option and joined the communist Partisans. He had probably realized that Germany could not win the war and that Tito and his Partisans would gain control of Yugoslavia, with the full support of both Soviets and the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Some time after the end of World War II, Tudjman joined the communist Yugoslav Army as a regular officer and rose to the rank of Major-General during the early part of President Tito´s period in office.

During the late 1960´s and in 1979, ultra right fascism began to re-surface in Croatia, showing the same World War II fascist face of nationalism and the requirement that a nation state must be racially pure. This was the first attempt anywhere in Europe to resurrect German National Socialism following the fall of the Third Reich in 1944. Hitler created Croatia when his forces over-ran Yugoslavia in 1941, installing as Fuher, Ante Pavelic, leader of the fascist Croatian Ustashi movement. Pavelic had spent the previous 10 years in exile in Italy as head of a Croatian terrorist group, shielded by the Vatican and the Italian Fascist party.

Mr. Tudjman was deeply involved in the attempted revival of fascism, allowing his national socialism ethos to come to the fore with the publication of his treatise, The Wastelands. In it he attempted to re-write major sections of the history of World War II, downplaying the Holocaust, and with it the more than one million Jews, Serbs and Gypsies murdered by the Croatian ultra-nationalist Ustashi, which included priests of the Holy Roman Church, at the Croatian Ustashi concentration camp of Jasenovac and other locations within Yugoslavia.

For his nationalistic, anti-state activities at this time, Mr. Tudjman went to jail for three years. After being released from jail, Mr. Tudjman went politically low-key for a few years, but re-emerged on the scene when President Tito died in 1980, gradually building a power-base among the Croatian right wing and creating the HDZ Party.

In the multy-party elections held in Croatia in May 1990, Mr. Tudjman´s HDZ Party won control of the Sabor (Croatian Parliament) and Mr. Tudjman became President of Croatia when it was still part of the Yugoslav Federation.[13]

Contrary to Carr’s claim, Milosevic did not speak about the status of Kosovo in the 1989 speech.

It is known from other sources, of course, that he certainly did not want Kosovo to be split from Yugoslavia, for good reasons having to do with the security of Serbs, Roma, Slavic Muslims, Jews, Albanians and everyone else in Kosovo, and his conviction that Kosovo was legitimately part of the country he was after all helping lead. How many leaders want their countries broken up? But that does not mean that in his 1989 speech he said, “that the Autonomous Province of Kosovo would remain an integral part of Serbia and Yugoslavia, despite the then current and often violent, problems of separatism demanded by the Muslim Albanian majority living in Kosovo.” So this is false.

Moreover, Milosevic never referred to the Ottoman Empire as “Islamist.” On the contrary, Milosevic’s remarks in his speech concerning the Ottoman Empire showed no real animosity. He even acknowledged certain strengths: “In that distant 1389, the Ottoman Empire was not only stronger than that of the Serbs but it was also more fortunate than the Serbian kingdom.” (Milosevic’s 1989 Speech at Kosovo Field)

More importantly, however, notice that Carr pairs the three leaders, Milosevic, Izetbegovic, and Tudjman, and prefaces his remarks by saying all three rose to prominence by manipulating nationalism. But does Milosevic belong in this company? Whereas a good and effortless case can be made for Izetbegovic and Tudjman being ultra-nationalists (see above), all we get as evidence for Milosevic’s “ultra-nationalism” is a false allusion to a declaration he never made in the Kosovo Polje speech about the fact that he did not want Serbia to be partitioned, which in itself would not even be evidence of intolerant ultra-nationalism anyway. Moreover, the speech Carr refers us to is the antithesis of an ultra-nationalistic speech.

Milosevic at his alleged worst, then, sounds not unlike Ghandi or Martin Luther King.

Finally, I must observe that Carr is arguing that the US and Germany are carving zones of interest in Europe and that this is the central reason for the troubles in Yugoslavia. In other words, he is not sympathetic to the official propaganda about the causes of the wars in Yugoslavia. Yet even he seems blithely to assume that Milosevic is a virulent nationalist, though he provides no evidence. On the other hand, Izetbegovic and Tudjman, both US allies, certainly do sound like bad guys.

The propaganda against Milosevic has been so successful that even a critic like Carr believes it, though he can only give us one short paragraph to support his belief, and that paragraph refers to a consummately tolerant speech.

Is this the worst one can say about Milosevic?

5. International Crisis Group

Here is what the International Crisis Group said about Milosevic’s Speech:

“On this date in 1948, Tito’s Yugoslavia was expelled at Stalin’s behest from the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform). It was also on this day in 1989 that Slobodan Milosevic addressed up to one million Serbs at Gazimestan in Kosovo to commemorate the sixhundredth anniversary of the Kosovo Battle. That speech contained the first open threat of violent conflict by a Socialist Yugoslav leader: ‘Six centuries later, again, we are in battles and quarrels. They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded.'”[14]

This quotation does appear in the speech.

Any observer of Yugoslavia at this time knew that it was possible that armed battles could break out. Why should the observation of such an obvious fact be interpreted as a threat?

One could just as well interpret it as a worry.

Any state trying to contain irredentist terrorists may find itself in the position of having to deploy its army to protect its citizens — Milosevic was just stating the obvious. It is really necessary to omit reference to any other part of the speech, and to ignore the facts of Yugoslavia at this time, for the quote — completely out of context — to appear as a threat. Even then it does not look very threatening (you have to be told that it is supposedly a threat, for otherwise how could you reliably infer it?).

But it pays to see this quote in its minimal context: the paragraph in which it appears:

Six centuries later, now, we are being again engaged in battles and are facing battles. They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded yet. However, regardless of what kind of battles they are, they cannot be won without resolve, bravery, and sacrifice, without the noble qualities that were present here in the field of Kosovo in the days past. Our chief battle now concerns implementing the economic, political, cultural, and general social prosperity, finding a quicker and more successful approach to a civilization in which people will live in the 21st century. For this battle, we certainly need heroism, of course of a somewhat different kind, but that courage without which nothing serious and great can be achieved remains unchanged and remains urgently necessary.

This minimal context is already quite informative. The “chief battle” has nothing to do with armed conflict. And it requires “heroism, of course of a somewhat different kind.” If one further puts this paragraph into the larger context of the speech it is obvious that Milosevic is hardly making threats. For example, elsewhere in the speech Milosevic says:

For as long as multinational communities have existed, their weak point has always been the relations between different nations. The threat is that the question of one nation being endangered by the others can be posed one day — and this can then start a wave of suspicions, accusations, and intolerance, a wave that invariably grows and is difficult to stop. This threat has been hanging like a sword over our heads all the time. Internal and external enemies of multi-national communities are aware of this and therefore they organize their activity against multinational societies mostly by fomenting national conflicts. At this moment, we in Yugoslavia are behaving as if we have never had such an experience and as if in our recent and distant past we have never experienced the worst tragedy of national conflicts that a society can experience and still survive.

Milosevic was warning that nationalism was being used by “internal and external enemies of multi-national communities” to destroy Yugoslavia. He was worrying out loud that people would listen to fear-mongers and that waves of suspicion between national communities would get started and then become “difficult to stop.” He was chiding his fellow Yugoslavs for failing to remember World War II and other catastrophes during which the Balkans “experienced the worst tragedy of national conflicts that a society can experience and still survive.” Does this sound like a man whipping up the population to go to war against other ethnic groups?

6. The Times

Here is what the London Times had to say:

“Vidovdan, the feast of St Vitus, is one of the most sacred in the Orthodox church, but it is also the day on which Mr Milosevic began his political career. Twelve years before, in a dusty and sweltering field at Kosovo Polje, he had whipped up Serb nationalism among a ferocious and frustrated crowd. “No one will ever beat you!” he had shouted, commemorating the defeat of the Serbs by the Turks at Kosovo Polje in 1389. Yesterday Mr Milosevic was a beaten man on suicide watch in Scheveningen prison in The Netherlands. Prison officials, who will interview the former Yugoslav President to check that he is not worried about being threatened by other inmates, are also believed to be paying particular attention to the threat he made earlier this year, to shoot himself rather than submit to international justice.”[15]

This one comically gets it wrong. Milosevic probably never said, “No one will ever beat you!” He more likely said something like “No one will be allowed to beat you like that!” In any event, he did not say it at the commemoration of the battle at Kosovo Polje (the speech we have been discussing here). Those words were uttered at Kosovo Polje, but two years earlier, in 1987. At that time, Milosevic met with Serbs and Montenegrins, mostly peasants, who had serious grievances: they said they were being mistreated by prejudiced Albanian authorities in Kosovo and violently harassed by radical Albanian terrorists. They wanted to speak directly with Milosevic but he was only meeting with a relatively small group in the hall.

Here is an account of this:

“When members of the throng outside the hall again tried to break through police lines and into the building, they were brutally clubbed and beaten back by the police (composed mainly of Albanian officers, but including some Serbs). Informed of what was taking place outside, Milosevic exited the building and approached the still highly volatile crowd. According to eyewitness reports at the time, the Serbian leader was visibly upset, physically shaken, and trembling. When a dialogue ensued between the demonstrators and Milosevic, they implored him to protect them from the police violence. Acting on a journalist’s suggestion, Milosevic re-entered the hall, and proceeded to a second floor window. From that vantage point he nervously addressed the frenzied demonstrators, and uttered his soon-to-be legendary remarks: “No one will be allowed to beat you! No one will be allowed to beat you!” Milosevic also invited the demonstrators to send a delegation into the hall to discuss their grievances.”[16]

Milosevic said, “No one will be allowed to beat you!”

Is this nationalistic incitement?

Or is he reassuring a nervous crowd that their civil rights will be respected? After all, he is an official with responsibilities to citizens who were being beaten by police before his very eyes.

But in the London Times article the context of the peasant Serbs getting beaten is no longer evident. The utterance has been transformed into, “No one will ever beat you” which has an eternal, mythical overtone, and which therefore fits well with the new and excellent location that the Times has found for this utterance: the speech to commemorate the battle of Kosovo Polje.

Two different events have been fused into one, and Serbian mythology has been joined to an injured cry, providing a total impression of a syndrome of victimization that lashes out as a reborn and vicious nationalism. “No one will be allowed to beat you” is supposed to mean, “We will beat them.”

I want to emphasize that Cohen’s book “Serpent in the bosom,” which I quoted above, is an attack on Milosevic. If Cohen’s description has a bias it is to suggest that Milosevic is a virulent nationalist. For example, although Cohen has Albanian policemen beating peasant Serbs brutally, this is not described as ethnic animosity (the remark that some of these policemen are Serbs seems to have been inserted in order to dispel any such impression). But Milosevic’s attempt to reassure a crowd whose basic human rights are being trampled right in front of his eyes that is nationalism, as Cohen goes on to explain in what remains of the chapter.

Everybody else has done the same. The 1987 events are supposed to mark a turning point on Milosevic’s road to becoming a supposed virulent nationalist (Cohen calls it “the epiphanal moment”).

However, notice that despite these attempts, it is difficult not to see Milosevic’s behavior as perfectly natural, indeed laudable. Why not reassure a crowd of your constituents, who are being bludgeoned by policemen, that this will not be allowed to happen? What else should he have morally done? By what stretch of the imagination is this utterance transformed into a nationalistic call to arms? Well, it helps to omit the context in which the utterance was made, and it also helps to insert it into a speech commemorating the defeat of the Serbs at Kosovo Polje, as the Times has done.

7. Newsday

And here is what Newsday said:

Picture this: Milosevic (pronounced mee-LOH-sheh-vitch) was sent to Kosovo Polje, the small village near the sacred site of the Serbs defeat by the Turks in 1389. His orders were to speak to disgruntled Serbian and Montenegrin activists who claimed they were being badly mistreated by the majority ethnic Albanians who lived there.

Serbs: A Frightened Minority

While Milosevic was speaking in the town’s cultural center, a huge crowd of angry Serbs gathered outside the building, chanting in support of the party activists inside. They were attacked by local police, most of them Albanians, who began beating the Serbs with their clubs.

Breaking off his meeting, Milosevic hurried out onto a balcony. With national television cameras recording everything, he invoked the memory of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo at the nearby Field of Blackbirds.

“No one should dare to beat you!” Milosevic shouted, and the crowd went into a frenzy, beginning to chant, “Slo-bo! Slo-bo! Slo-bo!” The Serbian masses had found a hero, and Milosevic had found a nickname.

“With a skill which he had never displayed before, Milosevic made an eloquent extempore speech in defense of the sacred rights of the Serbs,” wrote Noel Malcolm in his recent book, “Kosovo: A Short History.” “From that day, his nature as a politician changed; it was as if a powerful new drug had entered his veins.”[16a]

Notice what has happened here. First, for Newsday, apparently, it is enough that Noel Malcolm said something. The same can probably also be said for The Times of London, which paper, as we saw above, parroted a similar line to the one we see here: utterances to the effect that “nobody will beat you” are supposed to allude to the defeat of the Serbs at Kosovo Polje in 1389.

This is a fusion of the events of 1987 and 1989 and, since this connection does not seem to appear prior to 1999 (which is the year Noel Malcolm’s book appeared), it is at least a reasonable guess that:

a) Malcolm is the originator of this confusion and

b) ever since, newspapers like The Times of London and Newsday have been fusing remarks that Milosevic made in two different years and in two very different contexts (neither of them even remotely damning).

This is worth a pause and a reflection.

Academics typically get their facts about what happened in a particular time and place from journalists. But here we have newspapers getting their facts from an academic. It would be fine for the newspaper to report the interpretation or theory of an academic, but isn’t the world turned upside down when a newspaper gets the basic facts of what happened from some bookish professor who wasn’t there?

The second observation is that what Milosevic actually said, “no one will be allowed to beat you!” has been changed to “no one should dare to beat you!” With this change the utterance dovetails nicely with Malcolm’s reference to Milosevic’s supposed lyricism concerning the “sacred rights of the Serbs.” So not only is this fusing of the events of 1987 and 1989 apparently an innovation of Malcolm’s, it is one he seems to work hard at, modifying other facts as well, to give the fusion plausibility.

In any case, it should be obvious that it is quite a stretch of interpretation to say that one is invoking a moment in history by making assurances to peasant Serbs that no one should beat them, when those peasant Serbs are at that very moment being “attacked by local police, most of them Albanians.” How about the hypothesis that rather than making “an eloquent extempore speech in defense of the sacred rights of the Serbs,” Milosevic was saying that the Albanian policemen right below him should not be beating the peasant Serbs?

8. Norman Cigar

Here is what another ‘academic’ said:

“. . .in an emotionally charged speech at Gazimestan on June 28, 1989, on the sixth hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, Milosevic had signaled his government’s intention to extend the nationalist agenda beyond Serbia’s borders. When coupled with active measures being undertaken in neighboring republics, his emphasis that the “Serbs have always liberated themselves and, when they had a chance, also helped others to liberate themselves” seemed to commit Serbia to a forcible redrawing of Yugoslavia’s long-established internal borders in pursuit of “liberating” the Serbs outside of Serbia. . .”[17]

The quote from Milosevic’s speech is accurate, but it is difficult to do justice to the distortions in this paragraph with the appropriate superlatives. Cigar is, in second-order Orwellian fashion, claiming that Milosevic’s speech is Orwellian. When Milosevic contrasts Serbs to “others,” this means (according to Cigar) other Serbs! That is a very interesting code. And when Milosevic talks about liberation, he really means that Serbs should oppress non-Serbs!

But just a tiny little bit of history suggests a different hypothesis.

In World War I, the Serbs were the only Balkan people to side with the allies. This means they simultaneously fought for their independence against two empires (Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian), while the Croats, Muslims, Albanians, etc. fought on the side of the empires. The Serbs won, but instead of creating a ‘Greater Serbia’, as many a victor might have, they spearheaded the creation of a joint kingdom, and they even shared the name (the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, which later got an even more inclusive name when it was renamed Yugoslavia — land of the Southern Slavs).

Thus, they had liberated these other peoples from the clutches of the empires, and did not create an empire themselves.

Contrast this with the treatment that Germany got from the victorious allies.

Then, in World War II, the Croats, Slovenes, Yugoslav Muslims, and the Albanians, for the most part betrayed Yugoslavia and allied themselves with the invading Nazis. The Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Romanians also either allied themselves outright or reached an understanding with the Nazis. The Serbs were surrounded but fought the invaders anyway, even though they were practically alone. Tito’s Partisans, who had dogmatic ideology of ethnic tolerance, and who won the war in Yugoslavia, were mostly Serbs. Once again, the result was not a ‘Greater Serbia,’ but a magnanimous recreation of Yugoslavia (and this, despite the fact that Serbs had suffered a Holocaust during the war very much like that of the Jews).

Could it be that when Milosevic said the Serbs had always fought for their liberation, and that of others when possible, he was merely saying what he meant?

9. The BBC

The examples of how this speech has been maligned could be multiplied. But we gain a valuable perspective by taking a look at how the speech was reported the very moment it happened:

“The events in Kosovo to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the battle on 28th June were relayed live by Belgrade radio. At the Gracanica monastery over 100,000 people attended a liturgical service conducted by Patriarch German, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and at Gazimestan around 1,500,000 people gathered at a central ceremony in the presence of SFRY President Janez Drnovsek and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. The radio noted that more people were expected to arrive at Gazimestan. Addressing the crowd, Milosevic said that whenever they were able to the Serbs had helped others to liberate themselves, and they had never used the advantage of their being a large nation against others or for themselves, Tanjug reported. He added that Yugoslavia was a multi-national community which could survive providing there was full equality for all the nations living in it.”[18]

It does not appear that the BBC reporter had the impression Milosevic’s speech produced a nationalist incitement. On the contrary, the reporter has explicitly highlighted the tolerance of the speech.

The British newspaper The Independent, which had reporters covering the speech, had a similar impression:

“On the poppy-flecked Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds, looking out over a sea of a million people, Slobodan Milosevic yesterday assumed the mantle of a statesman and Yugoslavia’s natural leader.

The climax of the two years of Serbian national awakening he has led – the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje – brought an unexpectedly conciliatory [Milosevic]. [T]he Serbian President made not one aggressive reference to ‘Albanian counter-revolutionaries’ in Kosovo province. Instead, he talked of mutual tolerance, ‘building a rich and democratic society’ and ending the discord which had, he said, led to Serbia’s defeat here by the Turks six centuries ago.

‘There is no more appropriate place than this field of Kosovo to say that accord and harmony in Serbia are vital to the prosperity of the Serbs and of all other citizens living in Serbia, regardless of their nationality or religion,’ he said. Mutual tolerance and co- operation were also sine qua non for Yugoslavia: ‘Harmony and relations on the basis of equality among Yugoslavia’s people are a precondition for its existence, for overcoming the crisis.’ The cries of ‘Slobo, Slobo’ which greeted his arrival on the vast monument to the heroes of 1389 soon gave way to a numb silence. ‘I think people were a little disappointed, it became very quiet after the beginning,’ an educated-looking woman from Belgrade said. But most others, in a straw poll, insisted the occasion did not merit the raucous chanting characteristic of the heady protest rallies of last year. ‘People were satisfied, after all it wasn’t a protest rally,’ said another pilgrim. Everyone seemed a little stunned.”[19]

The quotes from Milosevic are accurate.

This account, a day after the event, suggests that the speech was not “emotionally charged,” as Cigar claims, and neither was it a speech designed to whip up “a million Serbs into a nationalist frenzy” — as Time Magazine untruthfully alleges.

It is clear that there was no “ferocious and frustrated crowd,” as the Times of London would have it. It was not a “fervent speech …[that]… galvanized the nationalist passions” as The New York Times states, and neither was it a “stirringly virulent nationalist speech,” as The Economist claims.

Finally, for good measure, it was not a “fiery speech… to a million angry Serbs [and] a rallying cry for nationalism,” as the Washington Post reported.

From the story above we even learn that one observer thought people had been disappointed, although this impression is belied by the opinion of the locals who said this was not a protest rally.

Indeed, it didn’t sound like one, if one reads the speech. The framing of the events is that Milosevic was conciliatory.

How should we describe the fact that The Independent, which paper had reporters on the ground, and which had accurately reported this speech when it was given, later said that this was Milosevic setting his agenda “as he openly threatens force to hold the six-republic federation together” (see above)?

Scandalous?

Or perhaps we should show sympathy for the harried journalists at The Independent, who apparently cannot find the time to read their own paper!

And what about the other, 1987, speech? This is how it was reported by the New York Times, immediately after it happened:

The police clashed briefly today with a crowd of about 10,000 in the ethnically tense province of Kosovo, Yugoslav news organizations said.

The incident occurred when thousands gathered outside the Hall of Culture in the city of Kosovo Polje.

The Communist Party chief of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was on hand to listen to complaints that minorities had been harassed by the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo, the Yugoslav television reported. Witnesses said about 300 delegates from the crowd of Serbs and Montenegrins were admitted to the hall to talk to Mr. Milosevic, but 10,000 to 15,000 people waiting outside also wanted to be at the talks.

Police Used Truncheons

The clash started at about 6:30 P.M., half an hour after Mr. Milosevic began to listen to the complaints, when police officers trying to control the crowd pushed people away from the entrance and across the street, witnesses said.

The national press agency, Tanyug, said ”a number of citizens threw stones at police.” Witnesses said policemen used truncheons during the clash, which lasted about 10 minutes. [According to Reuters, Tanyug reported that several people were lightly injured.] Tanyug said Mr. Milosevic emerged at 7 P.M. and ”was greeted with applause, shouts and chanting.” Witnesses quoted him as telling the crowd that the police had no right to use truncheons so indiscriminately.[20]

It is clear from how that speech was reported at the time that Milosevic had simply meant to reassure the assembled Serb peasants that the police certainly did not have the right to beat them like that. It was not a nationalistic call to arms nor was it supposed to have overtones to the battle of Kosovo Polje. Why should it? What was happening in front of his eyes was not metaphorical. Policemen were beating peasants.

10. Final Remarks

This is how a myth is constructed: we hear the same story everywhere. The repetition of the story convinces us that the story has been confirmed. But, of course, repetition is hardly confirmation. If it were, every urban legend would be true.

It is important to pause and reflect on what this means. If the media can lie so blatantly about what Milosevic said in 1989, and if they do it consistently and across the board, something is wrong.

The question is: how wrong?

The US government obviously has an interest in demonizing the people it bombed. Although its own translation of the speech is a rebuke to how the speech has been portrayed, we should not expect the US government to criticize the misinformation. This is unjustifiable, and corrupt, but not unexpected.

Explaining the behavior of the BBC, on the other hand, is not so easy. The BBC is not the US government. Its role is supposedly to give us the truth, as best it can. Moreover, the BBC is supposed to be in competition with other media outlets. Since the BBC translated the speech, they were in a position to lay bare that what was being written about the speech was misinformation. They have not done it, and this is a very serious sin of journalistic omission.

If only this was their biggest sin!

On April 1, 2001, the BBC wrote the following:

In 1989, on the 600-year anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje, he [Milosevic] gathered a million Serbs at the site of the battle to tell them to prepare for a new struggle.

He then began to arm and support Serb separatists in Croatia and Bosnia. Other nationalists were coming to power throughout the republics of the old federation.

Yugoslavia’s long nightmare of civil war was beginning.[21]

The BBC here makes it seem as though Milosevic was indeed talking about preparing the Serbs for aggression against other people.

But the BBC translated the live relay of the speech!

They know Milosevic did no such thing in 1989 at Kosovo Polje. The BBC piece continues:

Darker motives

Mr Milosevic was never really a nationalist, never a true believer. He skillfully exploited the myth of Kosovo Polje – where the Serbs refused to surrender even though that brought defeat and subjugation — but he was always a pragmatist.

Again: the BBC translated the speech! They know that he spoke in skeptical and professorial tones about the famous battle at Kosovo Polje, rather than manipulating it for ultra-nationalist ends.

This is not an isolated instance. Here is the BBC again, in a different piece:

Serbs to remember historic battle

Religious ceremonies are being held today in Kosovo to commemorate the anniversary of a fourteenth century battle in which the Ottoman Turks crushed the Serbian army.

A BBC correspondent in Kosovo says most Serbs will mark the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje hesitantly, if at all.

He says some believe the security situation is still too fragile for any large gathering; others feel too threatened to risk travelling on the roads.

Ten years ago, more than one-million Serbs turned out to celebrate the battle’s six-hundreth anniversary, when President Slobodan Milosevic vowed Serbia would never again lose control of Kosovo.[22]

But… but… the BBC knows that what it is reporting here is not true. They translated the speech! Milosevic did not vow any such thing in 1989 at the Kosovo Polje commemoration. He may have vowed it elsewhere (and the vow in and of itself is perfectly consistent with his desire to keep Yugoslavia whole, and does not indict him of anything). But he certainly made no such vow in the 1989 speech.

Why is the BBC reporting things that it knows are false?

Since this level of dishonesty is possible, I am forced to wonder what else is possible. What can we believe about what has been written about Milosevic in particular, and Yugoslavia more generally? After all, the demonization of Milosevic, and the Serbs more generally, perfectly fits with the propaganda aims of the NATO powers that went to war against Yugoslavia, including the US and Britain. Here we have seen that the media establishment in these two countries has produced stories about Milosevic’s speech that are consistent with such a deliberate propaganda campaign.

Notes

[1] The BBC microfilm can be obtained from some university libraries. If you are an academic, you can get it at your library or through an inter-library loan, in the same way that I did. If in doubt, ask the people at the reference desk, for this is not the easiest item to find.

It is, however, much easier to find the BBC translation on Lexis-Nexis. Restrict your search to 1989 and do a “full text” search for “milosevic and speech and gazimestan” (do not include the quotation marks). If you have a version of Lexis that forces you to search by category, then select “World News” and also “European News Sources.” This will bring up the BBC translation, which has the following reference:

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, June 30, 1989, Friday, Part 2 Eastern Europe; B. INTERNAL AFFAIRS; YUGOSLAVIA; EE/0496/B/ 1;, 2224 words, SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC ADDRESSES RALLY AT GAZIMESTAN, Belgrade home service 1109 gmt 28 Jun 89Text of live relay of speech delivered at 28th June rally celebrating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje (EE/0495 i)

Finally, it is possible that your library has this volume, which contains an English translation of the speech: Krieger, Heike, ed. 2001. The Kosovo conflict and international law: An analytical documentation 1974-1999, Cambridge International Documents Series, Volume II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.(p.10)

[1a] rferl.org

[1b] Robin Cook’s speech can be read in full at the Website of the Foreign Ministry of the UK. An anonymous Foreign Ministry propagandist has added an introductory note to guarantee that readers approach Cook’s speech in a proper frame of mind, i.e., that they view the Serbian people as culturally disposed to war:

“The summer solstice on 28 June is celebrated in Serbia as Vid’s day. Vid is a pre-Christian Slavic sun and war god. He grew to prominence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and has since acquired the status of patron of the nation. The date has considerable resonance in the Serb calendar. It was the date of Serbia’s defeat by the Turks at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. In his speech at Kosovo Polje in 1989 Slobodan Milosevic marked the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo by threatening for the first time the use of military force to reshape Yugoslavia.”

Notice the progression of the argument: 1) Vid is the Slavic god of war; 2) Serbs worship him on the day the Battle of Kosovo was fought; and 3) as a leader in the Serbian tradition, Milosevic’s chose that day to launch his campaign of war.

Anyone reading Milosevic’s speech can see that the claim that he was “threatening… military force to reshape Yugoslavia” is a lie. The Foreign Ministry introduction and Robin Cook’s speech do not prove Milosevic and the Serbs are war mongers; rather, they prove Robin Cook and the Ministry are shameless liars.

I asked Petar Makara, a well-read Serbian-American who grew up in Serbia, if Serbian children are brought up to worship Slavic gods of war. He said:

“Nobody in Serbia celebrates this day because of Vid, that is, St. Vitus, and I doubt that one in a thousand know whether Vid was a Slavic god of war; I certainly don’t. Rather, June 28th is celebrated in memory of the battle of 1389, in which the entire Serbian nobility and whoever else could fight came to stand up to invaders who tried to impose their views and way of life on Serbian people; it is celebrated as a heroic defense of the basic principle of the right to exist on one’s own. It is true that the Ottoman Turks did impose their Islamic empire but because Serbian people resisted we won a moral victory, and therefore we were never destroyed as a people. It took 500 years, but we regained our freedom. And *that* is what Serbian parents teach their children.”

Here is the link to the full text of Robin Cook’s shamefully dishonest speech.

[2] Reprinted from Balkan Report, “Three Thoughts on Democracy in Serbia,” 2 July 1999, Volume 3, Number 26 (Translated by Fabian Schmidt, notes by Patrick Moore)

[4] “Milosevic on Trial: Fall of a Pariah”; Newspaper Publishing PLC, Independent on Sunday (London); July 1, 2001, Sunday, SECTION: FOREIGN NEWS; Pg. 21

[5] “Serbs make ragged retreat from their historic cradle”; The Irish Times; June 16, 1999, CITY EDITION; SECTION: WORLD NEWS; CRISIS IN THE BALKANS; Pg. 13

[9] The Economist, June 05, 1999, U.S. Edition, 1041 words, ‘What next for Slobodan Milosevic?’

[10] Time International, July 9, 2001 v158 i1 p18+

[11] The New York Times, July 28, 1996, Sunday, Late Edition – Final, Section 1; Page 10; Column 1; Foreign Desk, 1384 words, ‘Serbs in Pragmatic Pullout from Albanian Region’, By JANE PERLEZ, PRISTINA, Serbia, July 22

[12] The Washington Post, June 29, 1998, Monday, Final Edition, A SECTION; Pg. A10, 354 words, ‘Bitter Serbs Blame Leader for Risking Beloved Kosovo’, R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post Foreign Service, KOSOVO POLJE, Yugoslavia, June 28

[12a] National Public Radio (NPR), ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (9:00 PM ET) , March 31, 1999, Wednesday, 1304 words, CHUCK SUDETIC, AUTHOR AND FORMER NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER, TALKS ABOUT THE YUGOSLAV WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INDICTMENT OF SERB PARAMILITARY LEADER ZELJKO RAZNATOVIC, ALSO KNOWN AS ARKAN, LINDA WERTHEIMER; NOAH ADAMS

[12b] “One of the matters the NPR Board discussed before hiring [current NPR President Kevin] Klose: how NPR’s news staff would react to a boss who had worked in government radio and for the Radios, which were CIA-financed until the early 1970s. ‘There was a question as to how the NPR newsroom would receive Kevin Klose,’ says board member Chase Untermeyer, who headed Voice of America [also a CIA operation – FGW] during the Bush years. But those questions were ‘put aside’ because of Klose’s leadership abilities and other assets, he said. Untermeyer argues that operations like the Radios are congressionally mandated to be even-handed and so operate ‘under far more desirable standards of journalism’ than privately owned news outlets.”

SOURCE: “Kevin Klose: journalist, fan, NPR president”. Originally published in Current, Nov. 23, 1998, by Jacqueline Conciatore.

MY COMMENT: It is certainly charming that a CIA man, the one who headed Voice of America (Untermeyer), would vouch for the even-handedness of Klose, another CIA man. And notice that Untermeyer was already on the NPR board and had a hand in hiring Klose: the CIA hiring the CIA. The transformation of NPR hardly began with Klose.

[13] From “A Careful Coincidence Of National Policies?” by T.W. Carr (Ass. Publisher, Defense & Foreign Affairs Publications. London)

[13a] “What really happened in Bosnia?“; Investigative and Historical Research; rev. 19 August 2005; by Francisco Gil-White

[14] BALKANS Briefing, Belgrade/Brussels, 6 July 2001; International Crisis Group

[15] From “Milosevic on suicide watch in Dutch prison”; Times Newspapers Limited; The Times (London); June 30, 2001, Saturday

[16] Cohen, L. J. 2001. Serpent in the bosom: The rise and fall of Slobodan Milosevic. Boulder, Colorado: Westview.

[16a] from “Student Briefing Page On The News”; Newsday, Inc.; Newsday (New York, NY); April 16, 1999, Friday, ALL EDITIONS; SECTION: NEWS; Page A48

[17] Cigar, Norman 1995. Genocide in Bosnia. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. (p.34)

[18] Copyright 1989 The British Broadcasting Corporation; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts; June 29, 1989, Thursday; SECTION: Part 2 Eastern Europe; 2. EASTERN EUROPE; EE/0495/ i; LENGTH: 249 words;

HEADLINE: ‘The anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje’

[19] The Independent, June 29 1989, Thursday, Foreign News ; Pg. 10, 654 words, Milosevic carries off the battle honours, From EDWARD STEEN and MARCUS TANNER in Kosovo Polje

[20] The New York Times, April 25, 1987, Saturday, Late City Final Edition, Section 1; Page 5, Column 1; Foreign Desk, 356 words, ‘YUGOSLAVIA POLICE AND 10,000 CLASH DURING A PROTEST OVER ETHNIC BIAS’, AP, BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, April 24

[21] “The downfall of Milosevic “, Sunday, 1 April, 2001, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK;

[22] From the newsroom of the BBC World Service * Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK * World: Europe


Francisco Gil-White
Source: Historical and Investigative Research
Thu, 08 Sep 2005 15:04 UTC

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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:
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The UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo



geto

June 10 is a sad date in the history of the UN, the institution originally meant to play the key role in ensuring peace, security, and the primacy of law in the world. The decade since the passing of the June 10, 1999 UN Security Council Resolution 1244 addressing the Kosovo problem – the document totally ignored throughout the period – has shown that the UN is no longer playing the role prescribed to it by the post-World War II system of the international law. The Resolution the tenth anniversary of which nobody seems willing to celebrate in the UN headquarters, Belgrade, or Pristina is usually attributed to an intricate compromise. Ten years ago the Russian leadership managed to incorporate into it several fundamental principles concerning the Kosovo settlement. Most importantly, it was stressed in the document’s preamble that the Kosovo problem had to be solved on the basis “of the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region”. Correspondingly, the Resolution called for “substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo”. Besides, the UN Security Council reached consensus that international discussions of specific parameters of Kosovo’s future status would begin only after the implementation in the province of the democratic standards guaranteeing the political, economic, cultural, and national rights of the province’s non-Albanian population.

Nothing of the above materialized. From the outset, the West pushed for Kosovo independence, and only the requirements of Resolution 1244 which could be interpreted so as to broaden the rights and authority of Albanian separatists were actually met. As for Russia, its only accomplishments throughout the period since the passing of the resolution till the opening of the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina on the status of Kosovo in February, 2006 were the snap offensive which led to the seizure of the Slatina airport by Russian peacekeepers and their quiet withdrawal in 2003 under the pretext that “it was impossible to change anything”.

The subsequent talks under the auspices of the UN in which Russia took a somewhat bigger role ended with a predictable failure which made it possible for the Albanian separatists to declare the independence of Kosovo unilaterally in February, 2008. The independence was momentarily recognized by the Albanians’ Western donors and ideological patrons.

10 I morto i Serbi

The available information makes it possible to claim that both the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the diplomatic maneuvers around Kosovo that ensued – those in which the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries took part in particular – were nothing but a show originally planned by the West. In the process Moscow’s role to which the Russian leadership somehow agreed was that of a “good policeman”.

Obviously, Resolution 1244 was stillborn. The key problems were not the poor compliance with its requirements and Russia’s inability to make its partners view the UN document with proper respect but the fact that the West had made all the decisions on the status of Kosovo already in the late 1998. The subsequent negotiation between Serbs and Albanians in Rambouillet, NATO airstrikes, discussions in the UN Security Council, and the deployment of the UN mission and NATO peacekeepers in the province were just steps in the realization of the already existing plan.

The build-up of the NATO presence in Kosovo also commenced in the late 1998. In the US the point of no return was reached when Michael Polt who coordinated the military policy in the Clinton Administration and later became the US Ambassador to Serbia convinced Secretary of State C. Powell to consent to the intervention in the region. Polt argued that by intervening in Kosovo NATO would send a clear message to all Eurasian countries, of course including Russia.

Yugoslavian Vice President Momir Bulatovic said: “It already became clear in October, 1998 that the decision on our future had been made. They started talking about the “humanitarian disaster” in Kosovo and the so-called NATO credibility. The latter meant that if NATO was unable to put an end to the “humanitarian disaster”, then it simply had no right to exist. To avoid a military strike we were ready to make concessions to the extent of retaining only the minimal amount of state dignity and territorial integrity. They were interested in Kosovo’s natural resources – we offered US and British companies to develop them at the token price of $1. They responded that the offer was attractive but unacceptable. Then NATO wanted a base in Kosovo. We offered them to have it for the same $1 token price. They were surprised but turned down the offer nevertheless. Trying to avoid conflict we eventually suggested that Yugoslavia should join NATO and thus automatically generate a solution to the Kosovo problem. Again the answer was No. Admitting us to NATO could resolve the dispute over Kosovo but could not solve any of the problems due to which NATO decided to attack our small country. NATO decided to move into Kosovo by forceavoiding any cooperation with us. The point is that if NATO does not reckon with us it would also be free of any obligations to other countries. They branded this the New World Order”.

The US still had to secure Europe’s consent to launching the offensive. Washington proposed “to give Serbs another chance” and to hold an international conference on Kosovo in Rambouillet in February, 1999. Belgrade faced totally unprecedented requirements deliberately formulated to make the aggression against Yugoslavia inevitable. Momir Bulatovic recalled: “In Rambouillet we were asked to agree to the deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo and to allow them access to all of the Yugoslavian territory. According to a document which looked like an ultimatum, all our expressways, railroads, air space, and installations were to be used by NATO free of charge and without any limitations. All NATO servicemen were to be exempt from our laws and or any criminal responsibilities. All the decision-making was to be left to the commander of the NATO contingent. The document was formulated so that no sane individual could ever sign it”. As expected, Yugoslavia’ representatives did not agree to the de facto occupation of their country.

Russia actively took part in the Rambouillet “negotiations” though the Russian leadership had to be aware that the West had already laid the finishing touches on the scenario for Kosovo. Russia’s involvement only helped to make the enforced separation of Kosovo – the cradle of the Serbian national statehood – from Serbia appear more peaceful and take somewhat longer to complete…

Viewing the situation now in 2009 one can only hope that Russia has learned the lessons. Russian diplomats admit in private conversations that Moscow should start cooperating more actively with the Balkan political forces which can be regarded as its potential allies in future conflicts over Eurasian political arrangements and energy security. Kosovo has been torn out of Serbia – this is the gross reality, not a passage from some UN papers. Bringing it back would take something other than voting in the UN Security Council, an institution which has become nothing else than a decoration used by the global forces acting behind the curtain.


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The CIA and Greater Albania: The origins of the US role in the Balkans



Kosovar Albanian Nazis with a swastika flag in Pec, 1944

What are the origins of the US role in the Balkans? Why was Albania of strategic importance for NATO? Why did US policy support Albania and Albanian separatists in the former Yugoslavia? Why did the US support Greater Albania in Kosovo and Western Macedonia?

The CIA and Greater Albania: The Origins of the US Role in the Balkans

By Carl K. Savich

Introduction: The Missing Link

Why did the US support the separatist and terrorist so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or UCK in Shqip), which sought to create an ethnically pure Albanian Kosovo based on ethnicity? Why did the US sponsor a criminal and illegal separatist movement that sought to ethnically cleanse non-Albanians and create an independent state of Kosova? Why was the US supporting and sponsoring the re-establishment of a fascist-Nazi Greater Albania that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini had initially created?

When did the US begin to play a role in Kosovo? Did the US role in Kosovo begin with the arming and training of the KLA terrorist group which began a separatist war for the creation of a Greater Albania in 1998? Did the US role in Kosovo begin in 1989 when the Yugoslavian government curtailed Albanian control and domination of the province because Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanians were being murdered and driven out of the province? Did US involvement in Kosovo begin with the death of Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980? Did it begin in 1981 following Albanian riots in Kosovo that sought to create an ethnically pure Albanian Kosova “Republic”?

Did US support for the terrorist KLA emerge sui generis in 1998 as a response to the alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against Albanians by the Slobodan Milosevic regime? What is the missing link or connection between the Greater Albania created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and US support for the KLA/UCK?

The recruitment of the former Nazi-fascist members of the Balli Kombetar by the CIA and MI6 in 1948 in order to engineer a regime change in Albania provides the origins and roots for US involvement in Kosovo and the creation of a Greater Albania or Ethnic Albania. The Balli Kombetar had been an ultra-nationalist, right-wing Greater Albania movement that had been created specifically to retain Kosovo as part of a Greater Albania. The issue of Kosovo and a Greater Albania was central to the Balli Kombetar movement. Operation Valuable/Fiend established the US government and CIA connections to the former Nazi/fascist leaders of Greater Albania, the Balli Kombetar, who are the forebears and precursors of the KLA Movement. Operation Valuable/Fiend by the CIA and MI6 provides the missing link between the Greater Albania of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and the Greater Albania created by the US, NATO and EU in the 1990s.

Regime Change in Albania

The first major paramilitary operation by the CIA in the Cold War took place in Albania. The secret CIA operation was conducted in conjunction with British MI6 and was known by the codename Operation Valuable, or as BG/FIEND by the CIA. The operation was conceived by British intelligence to depose the Communist regime of Enver Hoxha. It was one of the first attempts at “regime change” during the Cold War in the “denied areas” or “captive nations”.

There were several reasons why the UK sought to achieve a regime change in Tirana. It was meant as a “rollback” action, to deprive the Soviet Union of a client state. Strategically, Britain sought to deny the USSR naval bases on the Adriatic coast, which threatened British and US control of the Mediterranean. Britain was a naval power and securing sea lanes was of paramount concern. The operation was to consist of inserting UK and US trained commandos into Albania to organize guerrilla groups who would mount a coup that would overthrow Enver Hoxha. For the CIA, it would be “a clinical experiment to see whether large roll-back operations would be feasible elsewhere.”

Direct British and American involvement in Albania and the Balkans began with their support of anti-German and anti-Italian resistance and guerrilla groups during World War II. The goal was to undermine the German and Italian occupations. This necessitated supporting Communist resistance groups. In Albania, the US and UK supported the Communist movement headed by Enver Hoxha. Why did the US and UK support Communist groups which were determined to set-up Communist regimes? The policy was: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Winston Churchill stated that the only criteria of support was whether the guerrillas were killing German soldiers.

During the war, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) had armed and advised Enver Hoxha and his guerrilla forces. Now they were determined to overthrow the very regime they had put into power. The first British SOE liaison officers sent into Albania were Lt. Col. David Smiley and Neil “Billy” McLean. Along with Julian Amery, Alan Hare, Peter Kemp, John Hibberdine, and Tony Neel, they were known as “the musketeers”, who backed the Balli Kombetar. They all were right-wing, upper echelon apparatchiks of the British Empire who disdained any progressive or democratic movement. In their own words, they detested anyone or anything that smacked of “progressive ideas.” It was natural that they were the principal backers of the ultra-nationalist, right-wing Balli Kombetar movement.

Ironically and quixotically, they were forced to arm and support the Communist LNC Movement and Enver Hoxha. This was an absurd result. But the game was all about power. British and American intelligence operations in the Balkans make sense on the rationale that they were based on realpolitik, or power politics. The US and UK objective was to obtain pliant puppets and satellites and stooges in the Balkans. During the war, it was only the Communist forces that were perceived as fighting the German and Italian occupation forces. Part of this misperception was due to Communist sympathizers and double-agents such as H.A.R. “Kim” Philby who consciously and purposefully sought to create this image of the Communist resistance as the only genuine resistance against the Germans. So absurdly the US and UK were forced to support the very Communists that they later would attempt to overthrow through regime change. It was a short-term marriage of convenience necessitated by the fact that the major enemy that the US and UK faced at the time was Germany. It was a matter of priority.

The US even sent aid and weapons to a Communist country. Following the 1948 split between Joseph Stalin and Josip Broz Tito, the Yugoslav government requested through CIA channels that the US provide arms to Yugoslavia, fearing an invasion by the USSR. Frank Lindsay, the Office of Policy Co-ordination (OPC) deputy to Frank Wisner, recalled: “Tito was the man for the West to back… We sent him five shiploads of weapons.”
The US and UK were also determined to keep the Communist guerrillas in Greece from taking power. Operation Valuable/Fiend was also a diversionary operation meant to deny bases for Greek Communist insurgents and to divert Soviet or Communist resources away from Greece.

In Italy, the first successful CIA operation was to sabotage the national elections in 1948 where the Communists were favored to win. The US and UK supported “democracy’ only when it meant that anti- or non-Communists would win.

A primary concern for both the British and US governments was the presence of Soviet advisers and potential Soviet naval and submarine bases on the Albanian coast. For Britain, always a colonial and imperialist sea power, securing sea lanes to British colonies, such as India, was paramount. Soviet submarines and destroyers in the Albanian port of Valona threatened British control of the Mediterranean, an important sea route to India, the largest British colony, and to the Suez Canal and the oil of the Middle East. Albania under Hoxha established close ties with the Soviet Union and neighboring Yugoslavia following the war. There were even plans to form a Balkan federation which would have included Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria. Soviet advisers were reported to have arrived in Albania at this time.

Outright military clashes between Albanian and British forces began on October 22, 1946 when two British navy destroyers, Saumarez and Volafge, were damaged by mines in the three-mile-wide Corfu channel. The British destroyers sustained heavy damage while 43 men on board the vessels were killed. Britain retaliated by retaining ten million pounds of gold which the Albanian government had deposited in the Bank of England during the war. In April, 1946, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled against Albania, but the Albanian government refused to accept the judgment. There was unrelenting hostility between Albania and the UK that preceded the launch of Operation Valuable.

Operation Valuable/Fiend

British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin approved the MI6 operation to overthrow the Hoxha regime in February, 1949. The chief of MI6, Stewart Menzies, was not enthusiastic about the paramilitary operation but saw it as a way to appease the former SOE “stinks and bangs people.” The Albanian regime change was a rollback operation meant to “detach” Albania, a “captive nation”, from the Soviet bloc. Strategically, the UK and US objective was to establish a strategic presence on the Balkan peninsula. The British wanted the US to finance the operation and to provide bases. Senior British intelligence officer William Hayter, who chaired the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), came to Washington in March with a group of Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) members and Foreign Office staff that included Gladwyn Jebb, Earl Jellicoe, and Peter Dwyer of MI6 and a Balkans specialist. They met with Robert Joyce of the US State Department’s Policy and Planning Staff (PPS) and Frank Wisner, who was the head of the Office of Policy Co-ordination (OPC), which was administered by the CIA. Wisner had been an attorney who had represented the financial interests of wealthy Albanian refugees who had been members of the Nazi-fascist collaborative group, the Balli Kombetar. So there had also been a monetary connection between US intelligence and the former Nazi/fascist Albanian Balli Kombetar members.

The strategic goal was to establish a foothold on the Balkan peninsula. Before this could occur, the Soviet-backed Hoxha regime had to be overthrown. According to Wisner, the Albanian operation was to be “a clinical experiment to see whether larger rollback operations would be feasible elsewhere.” Amery revealed that the British planned to recruit Balli Kombetar insurgents in the regime change against the Hoxha government. He outlined his plans for the proposed operation to the military commander of the Balli Kombetar, Abas Ermenji.

On May 20, 1949, Harold Perkins, the director of the Special Operations Branch, Neil McLean and Ermenji flew to Rome to meet with Midhat Frasheri, the wartime leader and founder of the Nazi/fascist Balli Kombetar, to discuss the operation. Frasheri was supportive of the operation. Amery believed that “clandestine operations directed at Hoxha would lead to a major uprising” the success of which would “depend on the million odd Albanians living in the Yugoslav Kosovo region.” So Kosovo was always crucial to the planners and organizers of Operation Valuable/Fiend.

Recruiting Albanian Nazis and Fascists

The recruitment for Operation Valuable/Fiend consisted of 40 per cent from the Balli Kombetar, 40 percent from the monarchist Legalite or Legaliteti, and the rest from other Albanian factions. Midhat Frasheri (1880-1949) was a founder and leader of the Balli Kombetar (National Front). He was a known Nazi and fascist collaborator committed to creating a Greater Albania that would include Kosovo-Metohija. He initially fled to Turkey after the war to escape war crimes charges and prosecution as a Nazi-fascist collaborator, then moved to Italy. He later settled as a refugee in London. He was brought to New York City by the US to lead the émigré Albanians. He died suddenly, however, on October 3, 1949 of a heart attack at the Lexington Hotel in New York.

Frasheri had initially approached the US Ambassador in Rome in 1947 proposing to bring 50 Albanian former pro-Nazi, pro-fascist refugee leaders to the US to allegedly combat Albanian Communist infiltrators in the United States. That same year, the Hoxha regime had made a request to the Italian government that Albanian collaborators and war criminals be extradited to Albania. Many of the Albanian BK leaders were interned in Italian camps at the time. Fearing extradition, Frasheri sought US help.

The plan was initially rejected by the US State Department because many on Frasheri’s list of 50 were on a 1948 publication by the Albanian government which identified them as major Nazi-fascist collaborators and war criminals. The State Department held that it did “not believe it would be appropriate” to allow the BK entry into the US because it would “sooner or later occasion embarrassment to this Government.” These BK members “had collaborated with the Germans and Italians in the war.”

The way the US government got around these restrictions was by creating “private organizations” and “fronts” which would provide “plausible deniability” because official sanction and connections could be concealed. The privatization ploy was effective in organizing former Nazi and fascist war criminals by the US and UK governments during the Cold War. It was part of a larger US government scheme known as Bloodstone which recruited “collaborators” and “war criminals” for covert operations, “émigré liberation projects”. Carmel Offie was one of the major organizers. Hasan Dosti was brought to the US in April, 1949, although he lacked a passport. Dosti was to set up an Albanian National Committee in Exile. On May 12, Robert Joyce obtained a passport for Midhat Frasheri to enter the US based on the rationale that it was in the “national interest”. So Frasheri was granted a US visa, due to the efforts of Robert Joyce, the US State Department liaison with the CIA.

Frasheri brought with him Mustafa Merlika-Kruja, the former fascist premier of Greater Albania from 1941 to 1943 who advocated the genocide of the Kosovo Serbs, Hasan Dosti, a Justice Minister in the fascist regime, and Kosovar Muslim Xhafer Deva, who had been instrumental in the creation of the Nazi Skanderbeg SS Division that systematically murdered Kosovo Serbs and which had rounded up Kosovo Jews who were subsequently murdered in the gas ovens at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Kosovar Deva was directly responsible for the deportation of the Jews and their subsequent deaths. These former Albanian Nazis and fascists established the CIA-financed National Committee for a Free Albania. Among other things, this group recruited Albanian refugees who were sent on failed infiltration missions in Albania. The British double agent Kim Philby oversaw Operation Valuable/Fiend and kept the Soviets and the Hoxha regime apprised of the clandestine operations. Many of these Albanian recruits were captured and tried as spies and imprisoned or executed by the Communist Enver Hoxha regime.

One person’s war criminal is another person’s freedom fighter. This is clearly exemplified by the US and UK position on alleged Albanian war criminals and collaborators such as those of the Balli Kombetar. Enver Hoxha recalled making official requests that Albanian war criminals and collaborators be turned over for trial, but the US and UK refused his requests:

We made official requests to the British and American governments for the extradition of war criminals, not only Albanians, but also Italians and Germans, who had stained their hands with blood in Albania and were now under their jurisdiction. Contrary to the declarations and the joint commitments of the allies during the war and the decisions which were taken later on this question, they turned a deaf ear and did not hand them over to us. On the contrary, they kept the chiefs in luxury hotels, while they trained their ‘fighting men’ in Rome, Munich, London, Athens and elsewhere.

Xhafer Deva, who was from Kosovo, had been the Kosovar Albanian Muslim Minister of the Interior under the Italian fascist-sponsored Greater Albania. Deva lived in the United States after the war. He died in 1978 in Palo Alto, California. Hasan Dosti had been the Minister of Justice in the Italian-sponsored Greater Albania regime. He lived in Los Angeles, California in 1988. Mustafa Merlika-Kruja had been the Albanian premier of Greater Albania from 1941 to 1943. He died in 1958 in New York. Rexhep Mitrovica was an Albanian official in the Nazi German-sponsored Greater Albanian government in July 10, 1944, when Germany had re-occupied Kosovo and Albania..

The number of Jews killed in Greater Albania during the Holocaust is estimated at 591. Albanians played a major role in the Holocaust. Many of the leaders the CIA and MI6 recruited for Operation Valuable/Fiend were directly involved in the murder of the Jews of Greater Albania.

5 velika albanija diaspora

The Balli Kombetar (BK) or National Front was founded and led by the former Albanian diplomat Midhat Frasheri and Abas Ermneji. The BK was set up essentially to retain Kosovo as part of Albania after the war. This was the defining platform of the BK Movement, the annexation of Kosovo. The BK was a right-wing, ultra-nationalist Greater Albania movement, which was anti-monarchist and thus regarded as “republican”. This became a propaganda selling point for the former BK members after the war by their American and British spook handlers/minders. The BK was made up primarily of Tosks with their main area of support in the Valona region of southern Albania. Unlike the Communist National Liberation Movement headed by Enver Hoxha and the Zogist monarchist Legalite Movement headed by Abas Kupi established in November, 1943, the Balli Kombetar was unique in that its platform consisted of retaining Kosovo as part of the Axis-created Greater Albania.

The war-time collaboration of the Balli Kombetar with the German and Italian forces was well-documented. In a December 17, 1943 SOE report, Brig. E.M. “Trotsky” Davies acknowledged that the Balli Kombetar and the Zogist groups “are co-operating with Germans, who are exploiting them with arms in large quantities, setting them to guard main roads, police towns, and lead patrols thus freeing the German troops.” He further noted that the Balli Kombetar had consistently refused to fight the German occupation forces: “I consider the Allies’ attitude should be made public forthwith, showing quislings, traitors and non-resisters to Germans will receive appropriate punitive treatment from the Allies in due course.” The musketeers themselves conceded that the BK nationalist “collaborate with the Germans.” Three weeks after making his report, Davies was ambushed by a pro-Nazi BK group in Albania. Moreover, the German emissary in Tirana had acknowledged that there had been “direct collaboration with the BK.”

In the July 1944 R and A report L38836 by the OSS on Albania entitled “Political and Internal Conditions”, it was stated that “Xhafer Deva, Rexhep Mitrovic and Midhat Frasheri are with the Germans….Anti-semitic measures are being adopted now. A captured SS document “revealed that Deva had been responsible for the deportation of ‘Jews, Communists and partisans’ to extermination camps as well as for punitive raids by the SS Skanderbeg Division. The small mountain territory had few Jews, so relatively few were captured and killed.” Christopher Simpson, in Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War, noted that relatively few Jews were captured and killed but “not for lack of trying by the Balli Kombetar organization and the Albanian SS” which had orchestrated “a series of anti-semitic purges that rounded up about 800 people, the majority of whom were deported and murdered.” At the Wannsee Conference, the Germans listed only 200 Jews in Albania. Moreover, the Italian occupation was chiefly responsible for the so-called rescue of Albanian Jews by their intervention. Deva was also accused of responsibility for “the Tirana massacre” which occurred on February 4, 1944, carried out by the German Gestapo “in collaboration with the Albanian gendarmerie.” By the summer of 1944, units of the Balli Kombetar were “integrated into the German command.”

When the Germans occupied Kosovo and Albania following the Italian surrender in 1943, they lacked the manpower to control Greater Albania. What the Germans relied on was “political conciliation,” that is, gaining Albanian support for the German occupation by promising them fulfillment of their Greater Albania illusions by ensuring them that Kosovo would be part of a Greater Albania. The Germans appealed “to the type of Albanian nationalist and republican represented in the Balli Kombetar.” The German forces created a Regency Council to govern Greater Albania, which consisted of Lef Nosi, Anton Harapi, and the pre-war Prime Minister Mehdi Frasheri, the brother of Midhat Frasheri, the leader of the BK. The German occupation forces also created an Albanian army which was under the leadership of General Prenk Previsi and a gendarmerie under Xhafer Deva, the Minister of the Interior from Kosovo. The German occupation authorities also sponsored the creation of the Second League of Prizren and put Deva in charge of it as the president. The Germans expanded the Kosovo Albanian four armed battalions in the SS Division Skanderbeg in 1944, which fought against the Communist LNC, the Yugoslav partisans, and systematically murdered Kosovo Serbs and which rounded up Kosovo Jews who were subsequently murdered.

Pixie insertions

Midhat Frasheri was “the lynchpin” of the plan to send commandos into Albania. The Committee for Free Albania included several collaborators, and alleged war criminals. James McCarger, the first US commander of Operation Fiend, was dissatisfied that Hasan Dosti was part of this group. Dosti had been the Justice Minister of the fascist Italian-sponsored Greater Albania. McCarger stated: “I and several others screamed bloody murder on this. I said, you can’t use somebody with that background, it’s a blot on everybody’s escutcheon.” Dosti was accompanied by “a bevy of Hitler-era stooges” which included the Kosovar Muslim Xhafer Deva “who used the SS Skanderbeg Division in a massacre of Albanian partisans” and to round up Kosovo Jews who were murdered in the concentration camps. There were “voluminous files” in the possession of the US government that documented Deva’s Nazi past. Nevertheless, these objections were dismissed by the US and these former Nazi-fascist Albanian leaders would play a major role in Cold War operations by the CIA. A US intelligence official maintained that Deva was a “pure patriot” and a “person of uncompromising personal honor.” It was held that hiring and training such Nazi collaborators was in the US national interest. There were thus Nazis and there were Nazis. Some former Nazis were of much greater service to the US in the Cold War so their Nazi past was spin doctored away as if by magic.

The National Security Act of July 27, 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The President Harry Truman Administration created the Central Intelligence Organization (CIA) as the successor to the war-time Office of Special Operations (OSS), which Truman had disbanded in 1945. The CIA was known as the Central Intelligence Group initially when it was headed first by Rear Admiral Sidney Souers and then by Hoyt Vandenberg. Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter headed the CIA from 1947 to 1950, he was the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). The CIA was set up specifically as a tool in the Cold War, an independent agency that reported to the President and was overseen by Congressional panels.

In September, 1949, British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin came to Washington to discuss Operation Valuable/Fiend with US government officials. The CIA released a report that concluded that “a purely internal Albanian uprising at this time is not indicated, and, if undertaken, would have little chance of success.” The CIA asserted that the Hoxha regime had a 65,000 man regular army and a security force of 15,000. There were intelligence reports that there were 1,500 Soviet “advisers” and 4,000 “technicians” in Albania helping to train the Albanian army. NATO was concerned that the USSR was building a submarine base at Valona. On September 6, 1949, when NATO met for the first time in Washington, Bevin proposed that “a counter-revolution” be launched in Albania. US Secretary of State Dean Acheson was in agreement. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to use Valona as a potential forward naval base for NATO to establish US control of the Mediterranean. NATO, established as a defensive military alliance of the North Atlantic region, was now committed to launching offensive covert operations against a sovereign nation in the Balkans. NATO member countries agreed to support the overthrow of the Hoxha regime in Albania and to eliminate Soviet influence in the Mediterranean region. Bevin wanted to place King Zog on the throne as the leader of Albania once Hoxha was overthrown.

On October 3, 1949, the first group of 20 Albanian commandos, known as the “pixies’ by SIS, were landed on the Albanian coastline south of Valona, which was the former territory of the Balli Kombetar. This was the start of Operation Valuable/Fiend. The pixies had been brought across the Corfu channel on a British vessel, Stormie Seas. British intelligence officials had trained the Albanians since July on Malta. Albanian government security forces interdicted the commandos, killing four and forcing the others to flee south to Greece.

The US became directly involved in the pixie insertions in 1950. The US recruitment of the OPC commandos was disguised by creating “labor battalions” under US Army command in Germany. Carmel Offie set up Company 400 with the help of Lawrence de Neufville, a CIA “special adviser”. The Albanian recruits were assembled in July, 1950 by Major Caush Ali Bashom, a member of the Balli Kombetar. A Radio Free Albania was set up as well to broadcast CIA propaganda into Albania. In August, 1950, the US air dropped propaganda leaflets over Korca. On November 19, the US airdropped 9 Albanian commandos by parachute drops into Albania. They were either captured or escaped into Yugoslavia. The Sigurimi, the Soviet-trained Albanian secret police, was able to anticipate the landings and to interdict the commandos.

By 1952, the CIA had taken over all the intelligence operations of the British in the Balkans. On July 23, 1951, the US air dropped 12 commandos in Albania. Six were killed immediately, four were surrounded and burned to death in a house, and two were captured. The operation was a complete disaster. Abas Ermenji did not want to witness any more of his Balli Kombetar followers to take “another tumble through the meat grinder” and so discouraged any more missions. Wisner, nevertheless, sought to continue the pixie incursions, having the support of CIA Deputy Director Allen Dulles. The CIA airdropped Hamit Matjani, the Tiger, in 1952, who was killed during this operation, his 16th mission. Dulles stated: “At least we’re getting the experience we need for the next war.”

Up to 200 agents would be killed during the operation with an estimated additional several thousand Albanian civilians killed in reprisal. Abas Ermenji stated: “Our ‘allies’ wanted to make use of Albania as a guinea-pig, without caring about the human losses, for an absurd enterprise that was condemned to failure.” Halil Nerguti stated: “We were used as an experiment. We were a small part of a big game, pawns that could be sacrificed.” There is no question that the CIA and MI6 used the operation as a small-scale exercise in regime change. The stakes were small. Failure would not be noticed. John H. Richardson, the CIA Director of the South-East Division, terminated Operation Fiend and by 1954 the Company 400 was disbanded and the training facilities in Heidelberg, Germany shut down, as well as the CIA base on the Greek island. The remaining Albanians were resettled in the US, UK, and the Commonwealth countries.

The CIA financed a new Albanian Committee of the Assembly of Captive European Nations (ACEN) which was controlled by the Political Committee, made up of former members of the Balli Kombetar, who dominated this organization for much of the 1950s.The ACEN was headed by Nuci Kota, Zog’s military commander, who had lead the Free Albania Committee and had founded the Albanian National Committee. The former Nazi-fascist wartime collaborator Hasan Dosti was a key figure in ACEN. Gratian Yatsevich, the new commander of Operation Fiend, inserted Albanian members of the Catholic Independenza group, many of whom had collaborated with the fascist Italian regime, into the Free Albania Committee.

During Operation Valuable/Fiend, the US and UK disregarded Albanian’s sovereignty, engaged in subversion, subterfuge, interference in the affairs of an independent nation, and sought to implement a regime change, which was an act of war and aggression. And this was what CIA propaganda said was “the free world”.

Conclusion: Balli Kombetar and KLA

Operation Valuable/Fiend and the recruitment of former Albanian Nazis and fascists from Albania proper and Kosovo provides the missing link between the Greater Albania created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and the Balli Kombetar and the KLA/UCK Movement supported by Joseph DioGuardi, Thomas Lantos, Robert Dole, Joseph Biden, Richard Holbrooke, and Madeleine Albright. The recruitment of the Nazi-fascist Greater Albania Balli Kombetar by the CIA and MI6 and Operation Valuable/Fiend are the origins and the roots of US involvement in Albania/Kosovo. It was inevitable that US foreign policy would focus on Kosovo. The fascist foreign minister of Italy Count Galeazzano Ciano, who was the architect of the fascist greater Albania from 1939-1943, saw Kosovo as a knife aimed at the back of Yugoslavia. When Germany occupied Kosovo and Albania, their occupation policy focused on the creation of a Greater Albania with their support of the Second League of Prizren and their sanction of the genocide of Kosovo Serbs and Jews. Similarly, US foreign policy during the Cold War focused on using Kosovo as a knife to extort, blackmail, and pressure Yugoslavia, or as a way to destroy the Communist Yugoslavia. Like Nazi Germany, the US and the NATO countries used Kosovo as a way to destroy Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was the only obstacle to the NATO takeover of eastern Europe. Kosovo provided the means by which to establish NATO control and occupation of Europe. The KLA/UCK terrorist/separatist group provided the vehicle by which to achieve NATO control. The KLA was the successor to the Balli Kombetar. Operation Valuable/Fiend thus is the missing link between the fascist Greater Albania created in World War II and the US support of Greater Albania during and after the Cold War. Operation Valuable/Fiend provided the modus operandi or MO. This was how the US allowed the former Croatian Ustasha/Roman Catholic alleged war criminals to escape through Italy and the Vatican, through the “ratlines” established by Croatian Roman Catholic priest Father Krunoslav Draganovic. This was how the powerful ultra-nationalist and neo-Ustasha separatist lobby was created in the US with the backing of US Roman Catholic groups. The objective was always the same. The US and Britain sought to control the Balkans and eastern Europe through NATO. The game was always about power. Human rights, humanitarianism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing had nothing to do with it.

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Bibliography

Dorril, Stephen. MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service. NY: The Free Press, 2000.

Kane, Steve. “The 21st SS Mountain Division.” Siegrunen: The Waffen-SS in Historical Perspective. October-December 1984. Volume 6 Number 6, pp.22-30.

Prados, John. Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II through Iranscam. NY: Quill, 1986.

Simpson, Christopher. Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War. NY: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988.


Original source of the article: http://www.pogledi.rs/en/the-cia-and-greater-albania/

Illustrated by Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

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