Western policy doing the bidding of Islam in Kosovo: Destroying Orthodox Christianity



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Islamic forces entered Europe from Asia and North Africa in order to enslave, convert, persecute and either completely destroy Christianity or to enforce dhimmitude. Before this process began you had the complete annihilation of Christianity in many parts of North Africa and in various parts of the Middle East it was one long sojourn into dhimmitude, pogroms and massacres.

Christianity survived in some areas, for example in Egypt, however, numbers succumbed after Arab colonial and Islamic discrimination took route. Therefore, a complete Islamic inquisition took root in Arabia (modern day Saudi Arabia) and just like the Sunni Islamic inquisition against Buddhism and Hinduism in Afghanistan, you now have complete Islamization.

Of course the complete annihilation of Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism, in both areas didn’t lead to a greater civilization.  On the contrary, it led to the dark forces of Islamic Sharia law and the Shia also suffered countless massacres and pogroms.  After all, you had a complete Sunni Islamic inquisition in Egypt against the Shia. Also, in modern day Malaysia the Shia Muslim faith is forbidden and converts face systematic persecution.

Turning back to the Balkans the Orthodox Christian Serbs survived because Serbian Orthodox Church leaders remained strong and tenacious.  Under the Ottomans each rule was different but overall it was a period of Christian Orthodox boys being taken from their parents and converted to Islam because of the hated devshirme system.

John R. Schindler stated in his book called Unholy Terror that in the Bosnia:

“The most hated aspect of Ottoman rule in Bosnia, and the one whose memory lingers most sharply even today, was the practice of devshirme, the blood tax imposed on Christians.  For three centuries beginning with the conquest of Bosnia, the Ottomans annually levied male children as tribute; every year, up to one-fifth of Christian boys in Bosnia – usually aged fourteen to twenty, but some were younger – were forcibly taken from their families in contingents of a thousand and shipped to the imperial court at Istanbul to become warrior-slaves in the janissaries, the Sultan’s elite guard. They were converted to Islam….”    Page 23 – Unholy Terror.

Of course the modern version in many universities in the West and in the mass media is to play down the slavery of Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, systematic pogroms and ignore the dark days of the Ottoman Empire – and this also applies to mass abuses of sexual slavery which was sanctioned by Islamic Sharia law.

Not surprisingly the Islamic religion grew in Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo, and other regions of the Balkans. In the modern period you have the remnants of dhimmitude, systematic pogroms, the devshirme system, and other more recent factors in the twentieth century which led to either the weakening of Orthodox Christianity or turning a once majority region into a small minority.

Therefore, the Ottoman Empire, slavery, dhimmitude, devshirme, pogroms, countless religious wars before the twentieth century and traitors who were the children of slaves all fought against the indigenous Orthodox Christian faith.  In the twentieth century Communist forces and Nazism further persecuted and altered the demographics of both Bosnia and Kosovo.

In my article called Bosnia: the myths of peaceful Islam and the hidden Islamic jihad I comment that:

“World War Two also witnessed the mutual support of the Muslim elites with Nazi Germany and Orthodox Christians faced the brutality of many forces.  This notably applies to the Croatian Catholic Ustasha regime which was genocidal towards the Serbian Orthodox Christians and it must be stated that Muslims participated fully within the military wing and police force of this brutal and barbaric regime.  At the same time Muslims served under the Nazi regime of Germany and the 13th Volunteer Mountain Division of the Waffen-SS (Handschar) was famous for killing Orthodox Christians.”

John R. Schindler states that:

“Despite strong local support, Himmler’s Bosnian division ultimately did little to help the Nazi cause or defend the Bosnian Muslims…….the 13th Division’s actual combat record was slight, while its depredations against unarmed Serbs were impressive; the Muslim troops spent more time killing and looting than actually fighting…….the 13th Division ended the war ingloriously, plagued by war crimes and desertion.”  Page 36 – Unholy Terror.

In recent times you still have no respite because Serbian Orthodox Christians still suffer systematic persecution and abuse. The simple question is do Serbian Orthodox Christians in Kosovo have the right to openly spread their faith throughout Kosovo and to build new Serbian Orthodox Churches throughout Kosovo?  The answer is no.

Next, do Serbian Orthodox Christians including small children have the freedom to travel throughout Kosovo without any hindrance and ill-will towards them?  The answer is no because in many areas they have to be protected by international forces.

The Kosovo conflict matters not a jot to this reality in modern Europe because the Serbian Orthodox Christians of Kosovo are innocent and their ancestors laid all the foundations of this land.  This applies to ancient Christian churches and monasteries.

If Kosovo Albanians claim differently, then are their Muslim places of worship much older than Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries?  Also, it was Islam which spread to Kosovo by systematic religious persecution and conquest and not the other way around.

largeEven if the international community wants to state that Serbia was the aggressor during the last Kosovo conflict this should not be an issue.  Or is the new world order based on communities having their land taken away from them because of one brief period of history?

After all, it was the Serbian Orthodox Christians for century after century which suffered massacres, systematic pogroms and the dreaded enslavement of their children under the devshirme system.  Not only this, the world also forgets about Muslim SS Units fighting loyally for Nazism in the Balkans and further changing the demographic reality of the Balkans by slaughtering Serbian Orthodox Christians.

However, in 2011 the Serbian Orthodox Christian community is still under siege in Kosovo and we all know that the Islamization of Kosovo is sanctioned by America which even supported Islamic terrorists during the wars in the Balkans.

Indeed, even the organ-tainted leadership of the Kosovo Albanians doesn’t shame the West and instead a more civilized Serbia is still trying to find a solution despite all the hatred towards the people of Serbia.

In modern Europe we are witnessing Islamization by Western powers who clearly hope that the Christian Orthodox Serbs will just leave Kosovo and then their “rubber stamp” will be complete.

Therefore, while history tells us that the Sunni Islamic inquisition eradicated Buddhism and Hinduism in Afghanistan. In our own lifetime, the de-Orthodox Christianization is being done in-front of the entire world without a murmur by churches in the West which have succumbed to liberalism, secularism and political correctness.

Western nations involved in this tragedy have certainly done a great media propaganda campaign because the organ scandal involving the Kosovo Liberation Army, destruction of Orthodox Christian churches, little Christian Orthodox children having no freedom to play openly throughout Kosovo, and so forth, appears to matter not one iota.

Of course, the same Western nations and mass media said little when two million mainly African Animists and African Christians were being slaughtered in Sudan by the Arab Islamic elites in Khartoum during the 1980s and early 1990s.

However, unlike the Serbian Orthodox Christians of Kosovo, black African nations which are mainly Christian in Uganda and Kenya, and others, didn’t stand by and allow Africans to be crushed.

The new Europe and America is tainted by the ongoing reality of Kosovo and not even a simple solution of allowing the remaining Serbs a free choice is on the table. Therefore, modern day Kosovo is about humiliating Serbia and for the remaining Serbs they either will be forced to accept Albanian Kosovo rule or they will just be marginalized to the point where economic necessity means that they will leave.

Serbian Orthodox Christianity in Kosovo is becoming a museum whereby famous monuments and monasteries are protected by Western forces; however, the faithful have no freedom to roam around Kosovo freely.

The Turkish Ottomans would be pleased with the bidding of America, the United Kingdom, and other Western nations. Not in their wildest dreams would they have envisaged a mainly Christian and non-Muslim West of offering Kosovo “on a Muslim plate” and with all aspects of Serbian Orthodox Christianity “being the final dinner.”


2011-10-13

By Lee Jay Walker

Source: Islamic Terrorism and Religious Persecution

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Export of Kosovostan jihad in the Middle East: The Christian genocide in Syria



In this photo taken on Sunday, April 20, 2014, and released on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, checks a damaged church during his visit to the Christian village of Maaloula, near Damascus, Syria. Assad visited on Sunday a historic Christian village his forces recently captured from rebels, state media said, as the country's Greek Orthodox Patriarch vowed that Christians in the war-ravaged country "will not submit and yield" to extremists. The rebels, including fighters from the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, took Maaloula several times late last year. (AP Photo/Syrian Presidency via Facebook)
In this photo taken on Sunday, April 20, 2014, and released on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, checks a damaged church during his visit to the Christian village of Maaloula, near Damascus, Syria. Assad visited on Sunday a historic Christian village his forces recently captured from rebels, state media said, as the country’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch vowed that Christians in the war-ravaged country “will not submit and yield” to extremists. The rebels, including fighters from the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, took Maaloula several times late last year. (AP Photo/Syrian Presidency via Facebook)

Many of us go through life searching for our purpose, for something that we are passionate about. After years of searching finally I stumbled upon mine a few years ago. Having the world hear Syrians telling their side of the story while living through this imposed war is what ignited that fire in me. As a Syrian American that was born in Syria and lived in both countries my entire life, I feel a strong link to my heritage, my birth country, my culture, my language, my customs, my nationality, and my history.

We have been bombarded with lies and propaganda in mainstream and social media that have fueled this 6 year war. Tomorrow marks the 6 year anniversary of this war which was planned as early as 1949 by the US.  The CIA admits orchestrating Syrian Coup of March 1949.  This was just the first attempt of many to destabilize Syria by the USA.

I want to give Syrians in Syria a voice here in the West. I am honored and delighted to have been contacted by many Syrians that want me to share their stories. I hope you will learn more about the war through their experiences and help spread the truth about what has really been going on for 6 years.

Here is an example of how so called “activists” have been reporting lies to feed this media campaign meant to demonize the Syrian government. In this video Abu Mazen (which means the father of Mazen) reports that the “regime” destroyed this church in Harasta. Another baseless claim where information has been drastically distorted to demonize the Syrian government.

In this article which is a look at the Christian Genocide currently taking place in Syria by the various armed terrorist groups we speak with Yasmine. She is one of the Syrians that are part of a series that will take us on a journey to discover the truth during the war “Syrians Speak Out”.

Yasmine is an engineer who then went on to get her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and resides in Damascus the oldest city to be continuously inhabited in the world and was established in 9000 B.C! Yasmine is Aramean Syriac Orthodox originally from Al Qamishly in the North East of Syria but grew up in Damascus. Damascus is nicknamed the City of Jasmine (Yasmin in Arabic).

Yasmine contacted me on Facebook recently after reading my articles and posts. We discussed the situation there and her frustration with the lies being reported. I asked if she would want to tell her story, she eagerly agreed. Shortly after our talk her Facebook account was blocked and she hasn’t been able to come back on Facebook since then. Also, oddly enough only my messages are visible from our conversation. A few days ago her friend reached out to me and asked for my email and she sent me “Memoir of a Syrian girl” detailing her experience living in Damascus before and during the war. I will be putting that in a separate article. I asked her as a Christian in Syria if she would be willing to answer some questions and she agreed.

The questions were created by Mark Taliano a retired teacher who contributes to publications and visited Syria last year. Mark is also passionate about spreading the truth about Syria and we have worked on previous articles for Global Research. He wrote about his experience in Voices from Syria an e-book.

Yasmine’s answers have not been modified in any way to maintain their authenticity. What a pleasure it is to hear from real people who are not paid to spread propaganda like Lina AlShamy, Bana Alabed, Kareem Abdul Kareem which I wrote about in an article which can be viewed.

Јужна Косовска Митровица 2015 новембар

Kosovostan today: Destroyed Serbian Christian church and cemetery by the Albanian Kosovostan jihad soldiers

Interview with Yasmine

When the West’s terrorist proxies slaughter and commit genocide against the indigenous Christian population, as they did, for example, in Kessab, Syria, are they attempting to “erase history”?

Answer: Erase history and Orthodox Christianity.

When Western terrorists occupy towns like Maloula, Syria, and destroy Christian religious icons is this an attempt to erase history?

Answer: In my opinion it is not a coincidence that they target historical places, because for example when I look at ISIS destroying ancient ruins using electric tools, it looks for sure as if it is a task assigned to them, not just a hateful act.

When the Western terrorists target Muslim and/or Christian communities, are they, or their Imperial masters, attempting to destroy the country by creating sectarian warfare?

Answer: If you go back to the Condaleeza Rice days, when she said this is the labour for the new ME, and she said something about the new ME, you will be sure that this is just part 2 of the plan which failed in 2003. They published the road map, where it showed the ME as small sectarian countries. A country for each religion except there was no country for Christians, and this is clear if you connect it to the fact that Sarkozy said to a Lebanese priest just send all the Christians in the ME to EU.

Are the imperialists attempting to create warring ethnic and/or religious enclaves?

Answer: the imperialists want t destroy the ME and destabilise it like they did in Afghanistan which was as modern and secular as Syria. They use religion as excuse especially the idea of Jihad. I believe they created the jihad just to use it for their will. Evidence is KSA they have no human rights, suppressed and no one says a word.

Are the Empire’s divide and conquer strategies in Syria working, or does most of the Syrian population remain unified?

Answer: Syrians who are aware of the plan are well educated and unified, but you have some who lost family member, or those sympathising with radical Muslims, those hate the regime, and hate all those who are pro Regime.

Whereas the West and its proxies support the dogma of the House Of Saud and Wahhabism, they are condemning Christians to death and genocide. If populations in Canada, for example, were aware of this, would they accept the truth? Would they act on it by contacting their churches and their political representatives?

Answer: Well from what i saw on the internet, it seems they just started getting awareness, they are sympathizing with us, but are they going to act? Are they capable of doing a thing? I cannot judge, i know they are good unlike their governments.

After six years of government change/dirty war against Syria, is ignorance of the truth still a viable excuse?

Answer: It should not be, but the problem there are people who live in Syria, and still cannot see the facts, they still accuse the regime of being cruel, so before blaming other countries for ignorance, we should first deal with our ignorant.

When the West closed embassies and blocked diplomatic channels in Syria, were they doing this with a view to hiding their crimes?

Answer: They were doing that to put more pressure on Syrians, so they in turn put pressure on Assad to leave.  They did not just close embassies, they put sanctions on us, they were escalating and threatening, we saw the game, we were watching, it is scary, how we always refused the conspiracy theory, but now all the events take you to the same direction, namely elites want to control the world, hidden resources in our areas below Assyrian ruins in Syria and Iraq, fuel and gas and the historic stories about the Jews who were treated badly by Assyrians, and Jews want their revenge till or days. There is a story about the 1967 war between Syria and Israel, where Israel managed to arrest few of the Syrian fighters. When they knew that one of them is Assyrian they put him in an individual cell, and torturing him in different ways, and kept saying to him, this one is for Sargon, and this one for Nabukhadnassar. Another thing I heard is they called the pipeline Nabucco as a small for Nabukhadnassar just to insult him, if you ask me how is that related to the topic, I will tell you Erdogan who is a brotherhood Muslim is in charge of it together with the Jews. It is something like that, all Zionists want this pipeline, and all of them have same ideology, they are all Masonic or related to them.

To what degree are the West’s lies about Syria a danger to Christians living in Syria?

Answer: Our public enemy number one are the west, you know the genocides of TURKEY against us were under direct supervision of EU coalition in the past, so they are our enemies. When mercenaries came to Syria during Turkish occupation, they pledged not to approach a single Muslim, they wanted to convert Christians from Orthodox to Catholic, in doing so they weaken our church.

If the West were to succeed in installing an al Qaeda/ISIS stooge government in Syria, would Christians be completely cleansed from Syria?

Answer: The plan will succeed and no single Christian will stay, they either die, convert to Islam or escape.

Yasmine adds:  I wanted to add something for the questions, for now we are all sure that explosions in Qamishli are done by Kurds, they want to take over the area and I think it is strange that the government didn’t consider to protect Christians.

My concluding remarks, the war in Syria needs to end before we see a complete cleansing of the indigenous people of this historically rich country. This is something that all of us should be very concerned with regardless of our religions before it is too late. This genocide needs to end now.

Yasmine is an alias we will be using for the interviewee to protect her identity.

I’m a Syrian American: MENA independent, investigative, political commentator and writer. I have contributed to Global Research, Shababeek as well as other publications and radio shows.

Monah na rusevinama crkve

Kosovostan today: Destroyed Serbian Christian church by the Albanian Kosovostan jihad soldiers


2017-03-17

By

Source: Mint Press News

Kosovostan passeport

The Albanian jihad soldiers from Kosovostan as a member of ISIS in the Middle East

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Islamic State top dog from Kosovo returns to Europe with 400 jihadis



Kosovostan passeport

What could possibly go wrong? Refugees welcome! Not to allow these enemy combatants to return would be “Islamophobic”!

“Disguised as refugees and able to cross borders without being identified: ISIS general who blew up a hostage with a rocket and decapitated another prisoner is ‘back in Europe with 400 soldiers’ after fleeing Syria,” by Julian Robinson, MailOnline, December 29, 2016:

An ISIS general once pictured decapitating a prisoner is back in Europe with up to 400 of his most trusted soldiers after fleeing the war zone in Syria, it has been claimed.

Ex-NATO soldier Lavdrim Muhaxheri and his men are among thousands who have fled after ISIS suffered devastating losses in war-torn Syria, according to sources in the Italian intelligence services.

Many of the fighters are feared to have disguised themselves as refugees in order to cross borders to get into Europe without being identified, according to information leaked from the spying agency.

Muhaxheri, also known as Abu Abdullah al Kosova, is not only a Kosovo Albanian ISIS leader but also one of the most public figures because of his foreign roots and his efforts to recruit other foreign jihadi fighters.

He left for Syria in late 2012 and has appeared in several propaganda videos, calling Albanians to join jihad, and has uploaded photographs of himself appearing to decapitate a man, as well as a video where he kills a captive with a rocket.

On September 24, 2014, the US State Department designated Muhaxheri as a global terrorist.

Italian newspaper ‘L’Espresso’, quoting the intelligence services, said that between 300 and 400 members of the Islamic ‘caliphate’ had come to Kosovo with him.

His arrival coincided with plans for an attack on Israel’s national soccer team and other targets which he is believed to have masterminded after arriving back in the country.

Prosecutors say Muhaxheri and fellow ISIS fighter Ridvan Haqifi planned attacks on international and state institutions, ultimately with the intent to establish an Islamic state.

They say he planned to attack the Israeli football team during a match in Albania and Kosovo government institutions, as well as Serbian Orthodox Church sites, were also potential targets…


2016-12-30

By Robert Spencer

Source: Jihad Watch

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From Pristina to Damascus: Understanding Kosovo’s fighters in Syria (a Western pro-Albanian propaganda article)



Kosovostan passeport

A more holistic policy that examines the stagnation of EU integration efforts and addresses Kosovar identity as it relates to empathy with Syrians is necessary to approach the issue of foreign fighters in full.

Type “Syria” and “Kosovo” into an internet search engine and the results produce a predictable medley of opinion pieces comparing Western involvement in the Kosovo conflict of the late nineties to hypothetical Western involvement in the Syrian conflict of the 2010s. These articles, the bulk of which were penned in 2013, do not surprise me.

More alarming are the other headlines, appearing with increasing frequency in recent months: headlines detailing a worrisome phenomenon of men and women traveling from Kosovo to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIL.

As of January 2015, the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS) reported more than 232 instances of fighters from Kosovo joining militant organizations in Syria and Iraq. That number places the country highest amongst other countries in the Balkans region, an area that has been referred to as ISIL’s “new recruitment hotspot” by media and intelligence sources.

The statistics are troubling: 125 foreign fighters per capita for every 1 million citizens, and reports of a growing radical Islamist trend in Kosovo, particularly among the country’s youth. Kacanik, a southern town of less than 40,000 occupants, has been branded “Kosovo’s jihadist capital” and has gained notoriety as the home of ISIL leader and recruiter Lavdrim Muhaxheri, designated by the US Department of State as a terrorist after photos of a graphic beheading surfaced on social media in 2014 [underlined in bold by Vladislav B. Sotirovic].

It is difficult to reconcile these reports with the Kosovo I know from my experience in the region. Studies paint a portrait of a country shifting rapidly towards religious conservatism; I remember passionate discussions of atheism with Muslim-identifying youth. Articles focus on instances of fanaticism and fundamentalism, on burqas and beards; I remember bustling shopping malls, lively coffee shops, and robust political dialogue.

Alongside these darkly prophetic reports are accounts of the government’s efforts to halt the flow of potential fighters to ISIL. Recently, Kosovo made news with its arrest of Arben Livoreka and Nexhat Behluli on terrorism charges. Kosovo courts have ordered jail sentences for offenders conducting propaganda for ISIL through social media. Arrests were made over an alleged ISIL plot to poison Pristina’s water supply made headlines in July 2015.

But these heavy-handed reactions may prove counterproductive in the face of religious extremism, driving those most susceptible to ISIL recruitment into a defensive, threatened mindset. Reactionary law enforcement needs to be coupled with proactive societal efforts to address the root causes of the phenomenon and to transform the energy of Kosovar citizens eager for action in Syria.

Lavdrim_muhaxheri

Anger and poverty certainly play roles in driving extremism, and both are present in Kosovo. Frustration born from economic stagnation, high unemployment rates – particularly youth unemployment rates – and weak governmental structures are certainly present in the region. The nuances of Wahhabism and its role in radicalization may also play a part, and have been examined at length.

However, additional factors specific to Kosovo may be exacerbating this phenomenon. Identity-related narratives and anger over the prospects of EU integration need to be further examined and continuously addressed in the discussion of Kosovo’s fighters in Syria.

I first visited Kosovo in 2012, more than a decade after the establishment of the UN Mission there, and memories surrounding the 1999 conflict were still integral to the identities of those around me. Stories of small-town heroism in the face of ethno-religious oppression were something to be celebrated as a community, and local fighters something to be continuously honored. Stretching back beyond the 1990s, generations of struggle in the Balkans pre-date the conflicts of WWI; residents of Pristina stress the importance of the 14th century Battle of Kosovo to their present day identity.

In the land of blood and honey, the idea of shedding blood for a noble cause remains attached to the historic identity of many citizens: particularly to their youth, who have yet to fight in such a conflict. For this reason, participation in the Syrian conflict may appeal to certain individuals as an expression of this identity. Though cases vary, for some fighters, participation in the Syrian conflict is viewed as an honorable means of defending the Syrian people. This stems from the desire to help a civilian population that many in the Balkans view as victims, reminiscent of the victimhood that they have experienced historically.

Understanding and addressing the relationship between Kosovars’ historic identities and their parallels to civilians in Syria could be an important step in exploring alternatives such as greater participation in Syrian aid programs and refugee initiatives in Kosovo.

A second factor unique to the country is frustration with the prospects of EU integration. International travel for Kosovars is difficult, and I remember the palpable sense of entrapment experienced by Kosovars eager to leave their country, whether for travel or for job opportunities abroad, yet unable. Delays in visa liberalization and setbacks within the EU integration process have left a sense of hopelessness, augmented in the wake of the “Brexit”. Radicals may play on the sentiment that the West simply does not want Kosovo, while highlighting the sense of belonging and involvement that comes from participation in ISIL. For this reason, continued efforts at integration would prove useful in thwarting the growth of radicalization and recruitment in Kosovo.

Reading articles designating Kosovo the new “hotbed” for ISIL activities deeply concerns me, but what concerns me equally is the fact that these articles sometimes paint a picture of Kosovo as a nation of angry, religiously fundamental radicals. And while arrests and jail sentences may curb the problem on a case-by-case basis, a more holistic policy that examines the stagnation of EU integration efforts and addresses Kosovar identity as it relates to empathy with Syrians is necessary to approach the issue in full.


2016-09-26

About the author:

Brenna Gautam is currently a student at the Georgetown University Law School, hoping to specialize in international law and nonproliferation.

Source: TransConflict

Note and all illustrations by Vladislav B. Sotirovic:

This is a Western pro-Albanian propaganda article for the sake to support and legitimate Albanian Kosovostan jihad terrorism in Kosovo and Syria. Nevertheless, the basic truth was unavoidable to be mentioned in the text that is underlined in bold. The rest is up to the readers to understand and interpret correctly if they want.

Ridvani

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Potential new EU member is jihad’s Trojan horse



KosovoIslam

Fourteen people were arrested last Friday in raids in the Austrian capital of Vienna and the city of Graz.

Prosecutors said the coordinated action, which involved 800 officers, was part of an ongoing investigation into suspected membership in the terrorist organization ISIS.

Police also reportedly raided unofficial mosques where supporters of ISIS, against which the Trump administration has declared war, may have been meeting.

Among those arrested, at least four were from the Balkan country of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a former federal unit of Yugoslavia. They are suspected of being part of the so-called Bosnian Network, run by a preacher who received a 20-year sentence in July 2016 for recruiting young fighters for ISIS.

Known by the name of Ebu Tejma (real name Mirsad Omerovich), he “brainwashed” dozens of people ages 14 to 30 and enlisted a number of them to fight for ISIS in Syria.

Among other things, Ebu Tejma was implicated in the recruitment of two minor-age girls to fight in Syria.

According to Bosnia-based terrorism expert Dzevad Galijasevich, the true base of Ebu Tejma’s network is in the Wahhabi community operating in the Bosnian village of Maoca.

Wahhabism, the radical strain of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia, has been identified by the European Parliament as the “main source of global terrorism.”

The problem, according to Galijasevich, is that very little is being done in Bosnia to counter Islamic radicalism, even though “practically every terrorist attack launched in Europe over the past years can be linked to Bosnia.”

Bosnia’s status as an Islamic terror sanctuary was recently confirmed by the updated U.N. Security Council sanctions list, which said the country has the offices of seven terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al-Qaida. Also, a leading commander of the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, Nusret Imamovich, hails from Bosnia.

Another Bosnian based security expert, Predrag Ceranich, underlines that the problem of terrorism has been “minimized for years in Bosnia, and there is no political will to solve it.”

He said “para-jamaats” — unregistered mosques or Muslim congregations preaching radical Islam — in Bosnia are “spreading like viruses,” even as Bosnian Muslim political leaders, such as Bosnian Presidency member Bakir Izetbegovich, claim the country is successfully integrating with the EU and the West.

And therein lies the problem, according to Galijasevich. For the past 25 years or so, Bosnia has been the darling of liberal “humanitarian interventionists” who have nurtured its image as a supposedly helpless victim of Serbian, i.e., Christian “aggression.”

That narrative has allowed an Islamist base in the Balkans, the southeastern gateway to Europe, through which almost a million mostly Muslim migrants have poured in over the past 18 months, causing social and political upheaval on the continent.

According to Galijasevich, “during the 1990s, mujahideen from the Arab world flooded Bosnia, and after the war settled there, married Bosnian women, and continued to live there. These people to this day have close ties with the centers of terrorist power that finance various extremists groups with money from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and similar countries.”

As former NSA analyst John Schindler shows in his well-documented book, “Unholy Terror: Bosnia, al-Qaida, and the Rise of Global Jihad,” in the 1990s Bosnia was the successor of Afghanistan, becoming a “training ground” for mujahideen and other holy warriors, with “substantial support” from the U.S. government. The support included illicit arms shipments, training, logistical and, perhaps most importantly, political and media support.

In the Clinton-era State Department, Bosnian Islamists, led by Alija Izetbegovich — author of the “Islamic Declaration” and founder of a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Bosnian Muslim youth organization, the so-called Young Muslims — were portrayed to the West as “democrats,” “freedom fighters” and victims of “persecution” at the hands of the Christian Serbs. The Serbs ultimately were bombed by NATO, which served to advance Izetbegovich’s vision of an Islamist Bosnia.

The 1999 U.S.-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia served to support another majority Muslim population, the Albanians of Kosovo, whose goal was to break away from Serbia – the larger of rump Yugoslavia’s remaining two republics.

Again, Islamist radical help was engaged, including that of Osama bin Laden himself, who was seen meeting at least twice with Hashim Thaçi, then leader of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and the breakaway statelet of Kosovo in late 1998.

Poverty, gangs, smuggling, radical Islam

So, what is the result of the Clinton-Bush-Obama pro-Islamicist policies in the Balkans after all these years? The region is rife with poverty, criminal gangs, human and drug smuggling and a hotbed of radical Islamic indoctrination and expansion.

Muslim Albanian-majority populated Kosovo was unilaterally recognized by the U.S. and other Western powers as an independent state in 2008, even as its structures have cleansed more than 200,000 Christian Serbs from the province, destroyed more than 150 churches, some of them several hundred-year-old cultural monuments, while keeping the remaining Christian population living in ghetto-like enclaves, with no freedom of movement, work or life. All this with the tacit, and often active approval of Western diplomats, international officials and NATO “peacekeepers.”

According to a 2011 report by the London Guardian newspaper, “NATO documents, which are marked ‘Secret,’ indicate that the U.S. and other Western powers backing Kosovo’s government have had extensive knowledge of its criminal connections for several years.”

Criminal activity included the smuggling of weapons, drugs and even human organs, with current Kosovo leader Thaçi being named as “head of (Kosovo’s) human organ and crime ring” by a Council of Europe inquiry. All this did not stop then-senator and recently departed U.S. Vice President Joe Biden from promoting “democracy” in Kosovo: “[A]droit diplomacy to secure Kosovo’s independence could yield a victory for Muslim democracy … a much-needed example of a successful U.S.-Muslim partnership.”

In Bosnia, while continuing their support for the Islamist leadership in the capital of Sarajevo, Western, and especially U.S. diplomats, have been busy pressuring and applying sanctions against Bosnian Serb leaders, including current president of the Serbian-majority entity, Republika Srpska – who are fiercely resisting Western efforts to force them to become a minority in a Muslim majority state.

As one of its last acts, Obama’s State Department first refused to issue a diplomatic visa to Milorad Dodik, president of Republika Srpska, to attend the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, and then slapped sanctions against him for supposedly violating the U.S.-brokered Dayton Peace Agreement, which has held Bosnia together since 1995.

On the other hand, the Bosnian Muslim leader, Bakir Izetbegovich, who has been photographed flashing the four-fingered sign of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that the Trump administration may soon designate as a terrorist organization – apparently can do no wrong in Western governments’ eyes.

In fact, Dodik’s main offense lies in his continued resistance against the Sarajevo Islamists in their efforts to abolish the celebration of Republika Srpska’s Day of the Republic, as part of what he sees as a larger ploy to slowly extinguish the majority Christian Serb-governed unit within Bosnia.

The Obama State Department’s last-minute sanctions imposed against Dodik were a parting demonstration of America’s continuing pro-Islamist policy in Bosnia and the Balkans as a whole. The Trump administration has the opportunity to make that policy a thing of the past.

Naturally, the first theater in the newly announced war against ISIS and its affiliates and related Islamist groups will be the Middle East, beginning with Syria and Iraq. However, if ISIS is to be thoroughly defeated, it will be necessary to eradicate its offshoots and affiliates worldwide.

One of its chief sanctuaries and seeding grounds is the Balkans, thanks to the Clinton-G.W. Bush-Obama legacy. The strategy must entail not only the elimination of illegal mosques, congregations, training camps and Shariah law-governed enclaves, and the cutting off of terrorist financing, money laundering, people and drug smuggling channels, but a change in policy toward the region’s political and state actors.  The West must move away from favoring pro-Islamist politicians and policies, as has been the case in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia over the past two and half decades, and form new alliances with majority Christian states, entities and political forces willing and eager to join the new global anti-radical Islamist coalition in the making.

Looming is whether U.S. policy still will force Bosnia’s Christians to succumb to an aggressive Islamist majority in Sarajevo, which has pretensions to taking over all of Bosnia and consolidating, through the so-called Green Transverse, a large Islamist stronghold in the Balkans.

In addition, critics say, the process of so-called state building in majority Muslim Kosovo, at the expense of majority Christian Serbia, should be halted and reversed. Its eventual unification with neighboring, crime-ridden, majority Muslim Albania, which has been tacitly encouraged by the liberal West, would make the entire region into a permanent European trouble spot and terror base.

Indeed, if one was to trace back to the roots of Russia’s post-Soviet resurgence, one would need look no further than Kosovo and the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Having accepted Western promises of cooperation and peaceful coexistence during the 1990s, Russia watched in anger as the U.S.-led Western powers effectively provided air and bomb cover for Islamist terrorists and criminals on the heels of what they had already done in Bosnia.

It was only a few months later that the docile Boris Yeltsin resigned his presidency in favor of a previously little known former intelligence officer by the name of Vladimir Putin on New Year’s Eve in 1999. Having seen how the West operates in the Balkans, the Russians weren’t going to allow a repeat under their noses, first in Chechnya, and then in Georgia and the Ukraine.

So, if trust is to be rebuilt and a true, pro-active and successful anti-Islamist terrorist coalition is to be formed around the axis of the U.S. and Russia, after the Middle East, the next best place to move is the Balkans.

And more than that – the U.S. treatment of the region’s Christians will be a litmus test of the sincerity of the Trump administration’s commitment to preserve and restore the foundations the common, Christian-rooted civilization.


2017-02-04

By Aleksandar Pavic
Source: WND

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



3. regrutacija za SS Skenderbeg diviziju Kosovo april 1944

Greater Albania under Nazi Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gunther Hausding, the Gestapo chief in Kosovska Mitrovica.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troops in the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division.

The Final Solution in Kosovo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genocide against Kosovo Serbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albanian Gendarmerie under Nazi Germany

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

The Albanian Order of Battle was as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greater Albania Realized

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

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

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

Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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


By Carl Savich

Source: Serbianna

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

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




pecka_patrijarsija

Noel Malcolm – Kosovo – A Short History

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

51Y0Hyi7Y3L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

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

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

Milorad Ekmecic, Academician
Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Belgrade

Historiography By the Garb Only

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albanians-and-Serbs-a-common-epic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOOTNOTES:

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


Source: www.kosovo.net

Albanians

ISIS and the Kosovar Albanians



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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TWENTY PRINCIPAL MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE KOSOVO ISSUE

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

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

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

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

  1. The southern Serbian province is called Kosovo

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

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

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

  1. Shqipetars are autochthonous population at KosMet

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

  1. KosMet is an undeveloped, poor region

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

7.The aim of Shqipetars is an independent Kosova

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 Samodreza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Former Yugoslavia disintegrated because of Slobodan Miloshevic

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

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

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


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Author: Prof. Petar V. Grujic

2. Sotirovic 2013

Corrector: Assoc. Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

29-11-2014

© Petar V. Grujic & Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2014

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Inside Kacanik, Kosovo’s jihadist capital



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Nestling in a wooded valley that its citizens laid their lives down to defend, the town of Kacanik in southern Kosovo is fiercely proud of its war dead.

Well-kept cemeteries include nearly 100 victims of Serb-led ethnic cleansing in 1999, while in the town centre, a statue clutching an RPG honours fallen members of Brigade 162 of the Kosovan Liberation Army.

But a decade and a half on from the war that brought about Kosovo’s independence, there is rather less pride in Kacanik’s new crop of warriors.

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Infamous son: Lavdrim Muhaxheri, from Kacanik, in Syria 

In the last three years, some 24 local menfolk have gone to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, giving the town of just 30,000 people an unwanted reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans.

To add to the sense of shame, one of them, a 25-year-old recruiter named Lavdrim Muhaxheri, has committed atrocities as gruesome as any of those carried out in Kacanik in 1999, when British troops unearthed a mass grave containing 81 bodies.

Last summer, in an act that sent shockwaves across Kosovo, Muhaxheri posted Facebook pictures of himself apparently beheading another man suspected of spying against the Islamic State. Another shows him executing a Syrian man using an RPG.

“Muhaxheri has given Kacanic a name as the most radical city in Kosovo, if not the whole Balkans,” said Musli Verbani, a local imam, who claims that hardliners forced him from Kacanik’s Islamic Association four years ago. “I warned that this kind of thing was coming, but no-one listened.”

Kosovo, of course, is not alone among European nations in acquiring its own equivalent to Britain’s Jihadi John. But for a nation of just 1.8 million people, it now punches well above its weight in terms of the number of citizens joining Isil.

The interior ministry estimates that some 300 Kosovans have followed in Muhaxheri’s’ footsteps, making Kosovo Europe’s biggest contributor per capita. Along with neighbouring Albania, which has fielded around 200, and nearby Bosnia, which around 160, it is now seen as a potential launch pad for Isil in its bid to establish a new front against Europe in the Balkans.

What also alarms Western security officials, though, is why any Kosovans would join Isil’s fanatics at all.

After all, back in 1999, it was the West that rescued Kosovo’s mainly Muslim population, with Nato bombing raids that halted the campaign of ethnic cleansing by Serb extremists.

Since then it has been staunchly pro-Western, with the capital, Pristina, boasting both a statue of Bill Clinton and a road named after George W Bush, who was president when Kosovo formally gained independence in 2008. There are even young Kosovans named “Tony” in honour of Tony Blair.

Most Kosovans also follow moderate Islam that allows bars on the same street as mosques, and which is enshrined in a new constitution promoting the diversity suppressed during Communism.

Yet those same liberal values have also allowed less tolerant voices to flourish, including hardline Islamic charities that arrived during the chaotic post-civil war years.

Such is the foothold of radicalism in towns like Kacanik that last week, its modest town hall received a personal visit from Kosovo’s interior minister, Skender Hyseni.

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Kacaniku in southern Kosovo where some residents have left to fight in Syria. To the left is the mosque where Imam Musli Verbani was forced from by extremists  Photo: Will Wintercross

“Kosovo is a multi-cultural state, not a terrorist one,” he told assembled officials, speaking at a conference table decked out with the American and Kosovan flags. “Those going overseas are joining groups that spread violence and terror.”

In its defence, the Kosovan government argues that other European nations actually have higher rates of radicalisation if it is counted per head of Muslim population.

But since Muhaxheri’s shocking Facebook post last summer, Mr Hyseni has backed words with action, arresting around 100 suspected extremists, including the grand mufti of the main central mosque in Pristina.

Prosecutions are already pending of various recruiting networks, including one that passed messages via go-betweens at a kebab shop near the Bill Clinton statue.

It is, however, already too late, according to Mr Verbani, the Kacanik imam.

A former KLA fighter, he personifies the moderate face of Kosovan Islam. He studied in Cairo and speaks fluent Arabic, yet looked just like another drinker in the cafe bar where he met The Telegraph, wearing neither a beard nor robes.

It was precisely that secular outlook that he found himself having to defend as far back as 2006, when a confrontation with a young local radical named Jeton Raka turned violent.

“At first Jeton was just another good Kacanik kid, but he became more extremist by the day,” said Mr Verbani. “He said the government of Kosovo was against faith, and that school taught children to be unbelievers. I told him he couldn’t speak like that at my mosque, and eventually he came to my house, saying ‘I will burn you and your family’, and petrol bombed my car. Even then, though, the municipality and the police didn’t help me.”

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Kacaniku in southern Kosovo where some residents have left to fight in Syria  Photo: Will Wintercross

Raka is now believed to be in Syria along with Muhaxheri, while the government crackdown has largely driven the rest of Kacanik’s radical fringe out of town. Even so, locals remain reluctant to talk about the town’s most infamous son, although in such a small community, most know someone now fighting abroad.

Among them is Sadek Dema whose nextdoor neighbour, Hetem Dema, 41, was killed in January after apparently going to fight with Isil’s rival al-Qaeda faction Jabat al-Nusra.

“He fought in the KLA and was always a good and religious man, although he never showed signs of being radical,” said Mr Dema, as Hetem’s five year-old son, Harith, cycled past on his bicycle.

“Nobody is my father now,” Harith shouted out, before Mr Dema could usher him out of earshot. “Now my uncles look after me.”

Quite why Kacanik in particular has become such a hotbed of radicalism is unclear. Some cite its closeness to the border with Macedonia, where they say hardline preachers remain unchecked. Others blame the same lack of prospects that blight everywhere in Kosovo, where the annual GDP is only £2,500 and where youth unemployment is up to 60 per cent.

That same poverty, they also point out, has made Kosovo fertile ground for Islamic charities from the likes of Saudi Arabia, which offer education and welfare programs but also peddle a hardline vision.

Arbana Xharra, a Kosovan journalist who has investigated their activities, says that anyone who speaks ill of them can find themselves denounced and threatened as “Islamophobic”.

“I’ve had to change my kids’ school after I got messages online from people saying they would cut my children’s throats – they even knew what time they went to class,” she said.

Like many moderate Kosovans, she also points the finger at Turkey, whose Islamist government has funded networks of mosques across its Ottoman-era provinces of Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania. And while the Turkish government has denied recent claims that has offered tacit support for Isil in Syria, Kosovans are not the only ones to voice concerns.

One senior diplomat from a moderate Arab regime recently told The Telegraph that radicalism would foster in the Balkans as long as Turkey’s influence remained unchecked. “The EU’s best chance s to get countries Kosovo and Albania into its club,” he warned.

That is a view echoed by Ramadan Ilazi, Kosovo’s 30-year-old deputy minister for EU integration, who says the EU is being too slow in accepting Kosovo’s membership bid. Kosovo’s constitution, he says, is everything that a liberal EU bureaucrat could want, complete with a national anthem that has only music rather than words so “as not to offend anyone”.

Yet to this day, Kosovans cannot even travel to Europe without visa, giving small town youth in places like Kacanik little chance to broaden their horizons.

“Kosovo was built as an antidote to nationalism and the causes of the war,” said Mr Ilazi, who has a picture on his office wall of him shaking President Clinton’s hand as a 14-year-old boy. “But when people don’t see tangible results of their desire to become part of Europe, that allows radicals to suggest that Europe doesn’t want us.”

Still, with Kosovo still also suffering problems with corruption and organised crime, and with Brussels suffering enlargement fatigue, most estimates are that it may be another decade before Pristina enters the Brussels club. That, gives the radicals plenty more time to urge men in towns like Kacanik to head East rather than West.


2015-08-23

By , Chief Foreign Correspondent

Source: The Telegraph

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The myth of NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Kosovo



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Some of those currently advocating bombing Syria turn for justification to their old faithful friend “humanitarian intervention”, one of the earliest examples of which was the 1999 US and NATO bombing campaign to stop ethnic cleansing and drive Serbian forces from Kosovo.

However, a collective amnesia appears to have afflicted countless intelligent, well-meaning people, who are convinced that the US/NATO bombing took place after the mass forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic forced deportations of large numbers of people from Kosovo did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a Serbian reaction to it, born of extreme anger and powerlessness.

This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, and the few days after.

Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:

… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would NOW vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation.

On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that sort.

But the propaganda version is already set in marble.


By

September 4, 2013

Original source of the article: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com

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



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

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

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

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

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

From the book review

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The “Illyrian” theory of Albanian ethnic origin as the foundation of the ideology of the Albanian ethnic racism at the Balkans



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The topic to be addressed in this article is Albanian ethnogenesis and national identity framed by the “Illyrian” theory of Albanian ethnic and cultural origin and the regional political-security consequences of the implementation of the “Illyrian” theory of Albanian ethnogenesis, which was accepted by the Rilindja, (the renaissance) – the Albanian national awakening movement in 1878–1913.

The so-called “Illyrian” theory of the ethnic origin of the Albanians (created by German and Austrian scholars) is the most popular theory of  the Albanian nation’s derivation among the majority of 19th and 20th century Albanian scholars, politicians and intellectuals.[1] The crucial and concluding point of this theory (in fact, it is actually a non-provable hypothesis) is that the Albanians are an authentic nation (ethnolinguistic group) of the Balkans, the oldest, aboriginal and autochthonous one in this part of Europe. As a result, the Albanians’ South Slavic neighbours  (the Serbs, Montenegrins,[2] and Macedonian Slavs) in contrast to the “indigenous” Albanians are just “newcomers” to the Balkans. Their ethnicity and nationality are much more recent than that of the Albanians.[3] Subsequently, “historical rights” of the Balkan autochthonous Albanian population on certain disputed Balkan territories (between the Albanians and the South Slavs) are stronger, more justifiable and historically more deeply rooted than the “historical rights” of the Serbs, Montenegrins or Macedonian Slavs.[4]

According to the theory of Illyrian-Albanian ethnolinguistic continuity, the Albanians are descendants of the ancient Balkan population – the Illyrians. The national name of the Albanians comes from the name of one Illyrian tribe – the Albanoi. Furthermore, the tribal name, Albanoi, was the designation applied to the entire number of Illyrian tribes around the Ionian Sea.[5] The proponents of the Illyrian theory of Albanian origin build their hypothesis mostly on the speculation that the modern Albanian language is directly descended from the ancient Illyrian one. Both of them belong to the same Indo-European language-group.[6] Nevertheless, this claim is disputed by contemporary linguistic science. The fact is that Albanian language as a spoken language of the inhabitants of present-day Albania was not mentioned in historical sources until 1285 in the manuscripts from Dubrovnik in which the language was referred to as lingua albanesesca. The name for the land – Albanon (the territory in which Albanian language speakers live) is derived from the name of the language. This term for Albania, according to the supporters of this theory, appears in several 13th century Latin dictionaries, as well in some of the Byzantine historical sources. The same Byzantine sources referred to the region between the Lake of Scodra and the Drim river as Arbanon (or Arber). According to the 2nd century Greek geographer Ptolemy, this territory was settled by the Albanoi tribe which was Illyrian in origin.[7]

The partisans of the Illyrian theory of the Albanian origin speak in support of the school of thought on the origin and evolution of the Illyrians, which claims that the ancient Illyrians did not migrate to the Balkans. Instead, they were an autochthonous people in this part of Europe and even one of the oldest settlers in Europe. It has been suggested that the Albanians, as the direct ethnic, political and cultural offsprings of the ancient Illyrians, are the original and indigenous inhabitants of the Balkans, even more aboriginal than the ancient Greeks since the ancient Greeks migrated to the Balkans in two great migration waves: first, around 2000 B.C., and secondly (Dorians), around 1200 B.C.[8] Clearly, Albanian “historical” rights are much stronger, justifiable and historically deeper based in comparison to Serbian, Montenegrin, Greek or Macedonian Slavs’ and Bulgarian rights with respect to several Balkan territories of doubtful authenticity. In other words, the Albanians are the “hosts” while their all neighbors are the “guests” in the Balkan Peninsula.[9] American medievalist John V. A. Fine simplified the crucial point of the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnical-cultural-political continuity, nothing that: “…if the Illyrians were the ancestors of the Albanians, then the Albanians, as original inhabitants, have some historic right to that region and possibly rights to other regions which had been settled by Illyrians. And their Illyrian ancestry has been very important in Albanian nation-building myths”.[10]

The pivotal aspect (from a historical-political point of view) of the Illyrian theory is the claim that the Illyrian-Albanian tribes withdrew from the vast areas of the Balkans settling  in Balkan coastal towns and in the mountains of present-day Albania, Epirus, Macedonia and Montenegro during the Slavic invasion and occupation of the Balkans in the 6th and 7th centuries. However, according to this theory, Kosovo and Metohija were the only fertile lowlands in the entire Balkan Peninsula, which were somehow not abandoned by Romanized Illyrians-Albanians. As a result, the Albanians of the Illyrian ethnic origin were considered as an autochthonous population of Kosovo and Metohija while the Slavonic Serbs and Montenegrins were looked upon as newcomers and occupiers in the region of Kosovo and Metohija. Shortly, the Illyrian-Albanian historical and ethnic rights to Kosovo and Metohija – the land claimed by both the Albanians and their neighbors – are 15 centuries older than the Slavonic Serbian-Montenegrin historical and ethnic claims to the same territories, according to the theory of Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis.[11]

This theory emphasizes that in present-day Northern Albania an extensive settlement of old inhabitants emerged after the occupation of the Balkans by the more powerful South Slavonic tribes.[12] There was particular emphasis on this part of the Illyrian theory during the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 as a way of refuting Serbia’s claims on the territory of North Albania. Furthermore, the Illyrian-Albanian population from the lowlands of Kosovo and Metohija began to come under Slavonic political-cultural influence, while the Illyrian-Albanian mountainous tribes from the Albanian highlands, who had less contacts with the Slavs, succeeded in maintaining their social system and cultural inheritance without alteration. The defenders of this theory claim that the Byzantine province of Theme Dyrrhachium (which was established around 809 and covered the entire Albania’s territory, part of Northern Epirus, Western Macedonia and the main part of the Montenegrin littoral with the area of the Lake of Scutari) was inhabited by Albanians who “caused the region to develop a special (Albanian) character”.[13] Charles I of Naples  (1227–1285) established his own feudal domain under the name of the Regnum Albanai, which is considered in Albanian historiography as the first Albanian national state, located on the territory of the Byzantine Theme Dyrrhachium. Its capital became the city of Dyrrhachium (Durazo/Durës/Drač).

According to the Illyrian theory, the Albanians as one of the oldest European peoples, who had lived on the same territory since the early period of Antiquity, deserved to be taken into account as one of the original inhabitants of Europe. They were descended from the Illyrians, i.e. from a special branch of Indo-European peoples, just like the Greeks or Armenians. Moreover, the Albanians have a language which reflects the quality, intensity and period of important pre-Indo-European and Mediterranean (i.e., Pelasgian) influences. Their culture is different from neighboring ones in terms of religious tolerance, a common history of permanent resistance against any foreign power and subjugation, a partial (medieval) experience in independent statehood, a culture which is an amalgamation of Illyrian-Balkan origins and East-West European elements, a very old and distinctive folk culture, and ultimately  a certain kind of “individualist toughness which, all together, singles the Albanians out of their immediate surroundings…”[14]

In accordance with this theory, since in historical and ethnic terms, the following territories in South-Eastern Europe were inhabited by the Balkan Illyro-Albanians they should be defined as the territory of a united (Greater) Albania, as the national state of all Albanians, in the future: it would extend from the area of the Lake of Scodra in Montenegro on the north, to the Bay of Ambrazio in Greece on the south, and from the Adriatic Sea on the west, to the Treska river in Macedonia and Preševo, Medveđa, Bujanovac and Lebane districts in Serbia on the east.[15] That was and is, in the eyes of supporters of the Illyrian theory of Albaian ethnogenesis, the exact territory of the Illyro-Albanians who have a 2.000 year-old history and culture.[16] The aim of the Albanian national movement Rilindja (1878–1913) was Albanian liberation from Ottoman rule and the creation of a national Albanian state whose borders would encompass all of the territories cited above. The political arm of the movement, the First League of Prizren (1878−1881),[17] established its own organizational structure in all of the territories considered to be parts of a united ethnic state of all Albanians.[18] The League launched the motto: “feja e shqyptarit asht shqyptaria” (“The Religion of the Albanians is Albanianism”) for the sake of ovecoming Albanian religious diversity and separation. This movement has been the crucial united force of the Albanians and the pivotal point for defining the national identity and development of the Albanians.

The Illyrians – autochthonous Balkan people and nothing to do with the Albanians who are originally the people from the Caucasus

It is true that every story about the Balkan Peninsula begins with the ancient Illyrians.[19] Historians believe that this Indo-European people were one of the largest European populations to inhabit the western portion of the Balkans from the coasts of the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea to the Alps about 1000 B.C. Their eastern neighbors were also Indo-European peoples – the Thracians. The demarcation line between their settlements and their cultural and political influence was the Morava river in present-day Serbia (in Latin, the Margus located in the Roman province of Moesia Superior) and the Vardar river in present-day Macedonia. On the north, on the shores of the Sava and the Danube rivers, their neighbors were the Celts, while on the south the Pindus Mountains separated the Illyrians from the ancient Macedonians and the Greeks.[20] The Illyrians lived on the eastern littoral of the Adriatic Sea around 500 B.C. according to Greek geographer Hecatei (Hecateus) from the city of Miletus in Asia Minor. According to the early Byzantine historian Pseudo-Scilac, who lived 150 years later, the Illyrian settlements in the Balkans in the south extended to the southern Albanian port of Valona (Vlorë).[21] Among the ancient and early medieval historians and geographers the most reliable information on the geographic dispersion of the Illyrians and  the demography of the Illyrian territory appears in the writings of Herodotus, Livy, Pliny, Ptolemy, Appianus, Strabo, Procopius of Caesarea, Synecdemos of Hierocles, Isidorus Hispaniensis, and Euagrius.

When the Celts came to the Balkans in the 3rd century B.C. some of the Illyrian tribes mixed with them. In the same century, the Illyrian King Agron from the Ardaei tribe organized the first Illyrian state. At the time of greatest expansion its borders extended to the Neretva river in Dalmatia, to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Vjosë river in the Southern Albania and Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. Some of the 20th century Albanian historians and national workers claimed that a proclamation of independent state of Albania on November 28th, 1912 was based on the Albanian political-state inheritance which dated back to King Agron’s Illyrian Kingdom. Nevertheless, the Romans succeeded in defeating the Illyrians and abolishing their state organization during the three Illyrian-Roman Wars between 229 and 168 B.C.

The administratively-political concept of “Illyria”, or “Illyricum”, was used in subsequent centuries by the Romans who after the new conquests in the Balkans established first the Province of Illyricum, and in the 4th century the Praefectura of Illyricum.[22] It stretched from the Istrian Peninsula in the north-west to Northern Albania on the south-east, and from the Adriatic littoral in the south to the Drava river in the north. However, the main portion of present-day Albania was not included in this “Illyrian” province and became part of the Roman Province of Macedonia. This was the result of the Roman conclusion that only the territory of Northern Albania had been settled by the Illyrian tribes, but not the Central and Southern Albania. The proponents of the Illyrian theory of the origins of the Albanians did not provide an answer to the question of why all of Albania was not absorbed into the Roman Province of Illyricum if it was entirely settled by the ancient Illyrians? The Romans finally brought under control all of the Illyrian tribes during a new war of 6−9 A.D.[23]

From that time the overwhelming and very successful process of Romanization of the whole Balkan Peninsula began.[24] Some protagonists of the Illyrian theory of Albanian origin developed the hypothesis that the Roman Emperors Aurelian, Diocletian and Probus, who were from the western part of the Balkans, which was settled by the Illyrian tribes, were the predecessors of the modern Albanian nation.[25] During the reign of Diocletian (284–305), who was of Illyrian origin, the whole Balkan Peninsula, except its eastern part, was administratively organized as the Praefectura Illyricum. Mainly due to such Roman administrative organization of the Balkans the names Illyria and the Illyrians were preserved for a very long period of time as common names for the peoples who lived in the western and central parts of the Balkans, i.e. for the South Slavs[26] and the Albanians.[27] However, according to  19th−21st century official sciences of history, ethnology and philology (but not according to many relevant sources), the Illyrians and Slavs were not synonymous as the later came to the Balkans 1.500 years after the Illyrians.[28]

Clearly, the name Illyrians disappeared in the 7th century at the time of the Slavic migrations to the Balkans. After the 6th century, however, Byzantine texts do not record any accounts of Illyrians abandoning Balkan territories from the Dalmatian Alps to the Danube. The new Illyrian political and cultural center became the region of Arbanum (in Greek, Αρβανον or Αλβανον, in Serbian, Рабан) in the Southern Albania. The name “Albani” appeared in historical sources no earlier than the 9th century. Byzantine historians employed the name “Albani” for the Slavic inhabitants living around the sea-port of Durazzo (ancient Dyrrhachium) in Northern Albania. From the 11th century the name “Albani” (in Latin, Arbanensis, or Albanenses, in Greek, Αλβανοι or Αρβανιται) was associated with all Albanian tribes.[29]

In the Middle Ages the “Albanoi” lived in the area between the cities of Skadar (Scodra), Prizren, Ohrid and Valona. According to the champions of the Illyrian theory of Albanian ethnogenesis, the Slavic raids and migrations to the Balkans in the early Middle Ages did not affect the native inhabitants of the territory of present-day Albania. They continued to live there, preserving their own culture, habits and social organization. The southern Illyrian provinces retained their earlier ethnic composition. And of course, this ethnic composition was identified, although without supporting evidence in the sources, as the Albanian regardless on historical evidences and facts that the original homeland of the present-day Balkan Albanians is the ancient Caucasian Albania.

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ENDNOTES:

[1] See, for example [Marmullaku R., Albania and Albanians, London, 1975, pp. 5–9; Miridita Z., Istorija Albanaca (“Iliri i etnogeneza Albanaca”), Beograd, 1969, pp. 6–13; Historia e popullit Shqiptar, I, Prishtinë, 1969, pp. 155–161].

[2] The “Montenegrins” should be considered from a cultural, religious and ethnolinguistic point of view as the Serbs from Montenegro [Glomazić M., Etničko i nacionalno biće Crnogoraca, Beograd: TRZ „PANPUBLIK“, 1988]. Historical, political, religious, economic and cultural relations between the Serbs from Montenegro (the Montenegrins) and the Serbs from Serbia are similar to those of the Germans from Austria (the Austrians) and the Germans from Germany. However, today 60% of the citizens of Montenegro claim that they are ethnolinguistic “Montenegrins” different from the Serbs. On this problem see more in [Lazarević D., “Inventing Balkan Identities: Finding the Founding Fathers and Myths of Origin – The Montenegrin Case”, Serbian Studies: Journal of the North American Society for Serbian Studies, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2011 (2014), pp. 171−197].

[3] However, the Albanian national identity was created by Austro-Hungarian authorities at the late 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th century. Bulgarian scholar Teodora Todorova Toleva in her book on the creation of Albanian national identity published in 2012, cites unpublished documents from the Austrian State Archives (Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv) in Vienna that demonstrate that the Austro-Hungarian authorities had a crucial influence on the creation of Albanian nationality in the years of 1896−1908 [Тодорова Толева Т., Влиянието на АвстроУнгария за създаването на албанската нация, 1896−1908, София: CIELA, 2012]. This book is based on her Ph.D. dissertation defended at Barcelona University on September 16th, 2008. See also: Schanderl D. H., Die Albanienpolitik Österreich-Ungarns und Italiens 1877−1908, Albanische Forschungen № 9, Wiesbaden: Otto Harassovitz, 1971.

[4] About the problem of relations between national identification and border identities, see [Wilson Th., Donnan H. (eds.), Border Identities. Nation and state at international frontiers, Cambridge, 1998].

[5] However, contemporary German historiography does not mention the Illyrian tribal name Albanoi. The territory of Albania in Greco-Roman times was populated only by one Illyrian tribe, the Taulantii. In addition, neighboring present-day Greek territories were settled by the Illyrian tribe Dassaretii, while in ancient Macedonia by the Paeones and Dardanes, and in Kosovo and Metohija by the Scirtones (Westermann Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte, Braunschweig, 1985, pp. 38–39).

[6] The “Illyrian” linguistic theories of Albanian and South Slavic ethnogenesis have certain similarities with the “Thracian” linguistic theory of the ethnic origin of the Lithuanian nation that was championed by the 19th century Lithuanian linguist and national worker Jonas Basanavičius. The theory was the result of Basanavičius’ linguistic research of ethnogenesis of the 19th century Lithuanian nation. In his book Lietuviškai trakiškos studijos he developed the theory that part of the ancient Tracians emigrated from their Balkan homeland and ultimately settled in the eastern littoral of the Baltic Sea. Basanavičius claimed that these Thracian migrants from the Balkans were the predecessors of the modern Litvanian nation. This theory was based on the fact that the ancient Thracian language was similar to the 19th century Lithuanian language. Both of these languages belong to the family of Indo-European languages. Basanavičius was working for years in Bulgaria and in order to prove his theory collected documents with the Thracian personal names, toponyms and names for different kinds of drinks and then compared them to those of the Lithuanians. He claimed, for example, that Lithuanian name Getas comes from the Thracian tribal name Getai [Basanavičius J., Lietuviškai trakiškos studijos, Shenandoah, PA, 1898, pp. 8–15; Seen A. E., Jonas Basanavičius: The patriarch of the Lithuanian national renaissance, Newtonville, MA, 1980]. According to Basanavičius, the name for the mediaeval Lithuanian capital Trakai was derived from the Greek name for the ancient Thracians, while some of the “Polish” names for the settlements (for instance, Kalisz in the region of Poznan) were not originally Polish: they were of Lithuanian-Thracian origin. Basanavičius concluded that the ancient Thracians were of the same ethnicity as the Lithuanians [Basanavičius J., Lietuviškai trakiškos studijos, Shenandoah, PA, 1898, pp. 21−74].

[7] Before the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans, the  population of Albania called themselves Arbërësh/Arbënesh and their country Arbën/Arbër. The South Slavonic name for the people from Albania was Arbanas. The Arnauts (Арнауташи) were Islamized and later Albanized Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija who still did not forget their original ethnicity [Цвијић Ј., Основе за географију и геологију Македоније и Старе Србије, III, Београд, 1911, pp. 1162−1166]. However, during the period of the Albanian national revival movement in the late 19th century the Albanians called themselves Shqipëtarë and the country Shqipëtaria. The name is most probably derived from the word shqipe what means “eagle” referring to the mountainous settlers of the highlands of Albania. However, this word probably comes from the ancient Dacian-Moesian language adopted by the Bulgarians who settled the Roman province of Moesia Inferior in 680/681. In the Bulgarian language “Shqiptars” means the “highlanders”. The popular nickname for the Albanians is the “Sons of the Eagle” and for Albania the “Land of the Eagle”. Two of the most important and powerful Albanian tribal units around 1900 were the Ghegs (the Roman Catholics) in Northern Albania and the Tosks in Southern Albania. The Albanian population was (and is) divided with respect to religion. They are Muslims (the majority of the Albanians), Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox (the minority of the Albanians). The last group occupies South-Eastern Albania around the cities of Korçë and Gjirokastër (Argyrus). For more details see [Hobhouse J. C. (Lord Broughton), Travels in Albania and other provinces of Turkey in 1808 and 1810, I, II, London, 1858; Skendi S., “Religion in Albania during the Ottoman rule”, Südost Forscungen, № 15, Münich, 1956; Hobsbawm E. J., Nations and Nationalism since 1789. Programme, Myth, Reality, Cambridge, 2000, p. 70].

[8] Oxford Dictionary of World History. The world’s most trusted reference books, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 253.

[9] For instance, see: Marmullaku R., Albania and Albanians, London, 1975, p. 6; Miridita Z., Istorija Albanaca (“Iliri i etnogneza Albanaca”), Beograd, 1969, p. 9.

[10] Fine J., The Early Medieval Balkans, Ann Arbor, 1994, p. 10.

[11] See, for instance [Noel M., Kosovo: A Short History, New York: New York University Press, 1999, pp. 22−40].

[12] This opinion is also shared by some Serbian scholars. For instance, Ferjančić B., Istorija Albanaca (“Albanija do XII veka”), Beograd, 1969, p. 29. The champions of the Illyrian theory frequently cited the words of Milovan Đilas, one of the leading Yugoslav communists after the Second World War (and a war criminal) from Montenegro who wrote: “The Albanians are the most ancient Balkan people – older than the Slavs, and even the ancient Greeks” (cited from: [Costa N., Albania: A European Enigma, New York, 1995, p. 1]), or French scholar Andre Malraux who wrote that “Athens was, alas no more than an Albanian village” [Malraux A., Anti-Memoirs, New York, 1968, p. 33].

[13] Marmullaku R., Albania and Albanians, London, 1975, p. 8; Ferluga J, “Sur la date de la création du thème de Dyrrhachium”, Extrait des Actes du XII Congrès International des Etudes Byzantines, vol. 2, Beograd, 1964, pp. 83−92. Regarding the borders of the Byzantine Theme Dyrrhachium see: Engel J. (ed.), Groβer Historischer Weltatlas. Mittelalter, München, 1979, p. 14.

[14] Ismajly R., “Albanians and South-Eastern Europe (Aspects of Identity)”, Conflict or Dialogue. Serbian-Albanian relations and integration of the Balkans. Studies and Essays, Subotica, 1994, p. 269.

[15] For example, Protest of the Population of Shkodra, Podgorica, Shpuza, Zhabjak, Tivar, Ulqin, Gruda, Kelmend, Hot and Kastrat addressed to the Ambassador of France in Istanbul against the annexation of Albanian lands by Montenegro (Shkodra, May 8th, 1878), Archives du Ministère des Affaires étrangères, Paris, Fund of the French Embassy at the Sublime Porte, Turkey, vol. 417, pp. 51–54, supplement to the report № 96. Original in French. English translation in Pollo S., Pulaha S. (eds.), Pages of the Albanian National Renaissance, 1878–1912, Tirana, 1978, pp. 12–13; Contents of the coded telegram sent by Dervish Pasha from Shkodra (December 27th, 1880), Basbakanllik Arsive, Istanbul, Fund of Jilldiz esas evraki, 14 88/16 88 12. Original in Turkish. See figure 2. For the Albanian scholars, of course, any project of creation of a Greater Albania is only the myth [Kola P., The Myth of Greater Albania, New York: New York University Press, 2003].

[16] However, several written historical sources from different cultural environments (Byzantine, Arab…) clearly say that the Albanians arrived in the Balkans in 1043 from the Eastern Sicily and that their  original home was in Caucasus Albania which is mentioned in several ancient sources as an independent state with its own rulers. The Caucasus Albania was neigboring the Caspian Sea, Media, Iberia, Armenia and Sarmatia Asiatica (see figure 4). The most important source which mentions that the Balkan Albanians came from Eastern Sicily in 1043 is the Byzantine historian Michael Ataliota [Ataliota M., Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantine, Bonn: Weber, 1853, p. 18]. This historical fact is recognized and by some of Albanian historians like Stefang Pollo and Arben Puto [Pollo S., Puto A., The History of Albania, London-Boston-Hebley: Routledge & Kegan, 1981, p. 37].

[17] The League (Lidhja e Prizrenit) was established in the town of Prizren in Metohija for the very political purpose: to claim that this old Serbian town is in fact an Albanian one. However, Prizren was at that time consisted of 70% Serbs and 30% Albanians. The town was a capital of Serbia in the 14th century (called by Serbs as “Imperial City”). It was the location of the royal-imperial court and the Orthodox cathedral (саборна црква) built in 1307. Today, only several Serbian houses remain in the town of Prizren. Metohija is a term of the Greek origin (μετόχι). It refers to the land owned by the Orthodox church. As the Serbian medieval rulers granted huge portions of land between the towns of Peć, Prizren, Mitrovica and Priština to the Serbian Orthodox Church the western part of Kosovo came to be called Metohija [Батаковић Т. Д., Косово и Метохија у српско-арбанашким односима. Друго допуњено издање, Београд, Чигоја штампа, 2006, p. 10]. This province is called by the Serbs, Kosovo and Metohija, while the Albanians purposely refer to it only as Kosova/Kosovë. However, the word Kosovo/Kosova/Kosovë is of Slavic origin (kos = type of eagle), but not of Albanian, what means that Albanians even do not have their own (Albanian) name for Kosovo. The Albanians, of course, do not mention Metohija at all.

[18] For example [The Activity of the Albanian League of Prizren in the vilayet of Kosova (1880), Consul-General Blunt to the Marquis of Salisbury, Public Record Office, Foreign Affairs, London, № 195/1323; The British Museum, London, Fund of Accounts and Papers (43), 1880, LXXXII, 82, 77–78]. The document is published in [Rizaj S., The Albanian League of Prizren in British Documents, 1878–1881, Prishtina, 1978, pp. 279–280].

[19] Stipčević A., Every Story About the Balkans Begins with the Illyrians, Priština, 1985; Buda A., “The Southern Illyrians as a Problem of Historiography”, Historical Writings, vol. 1, pp. 13–15. During the last decades many scholars have claimed that the Balkan Illyrians (and Thracians) were nothing else but ethnolinguistic Serbs [Бајић Ј., Блажени Јероним, Солинска црква и Србо-Далмати, Шабац, 2003; Деретић И. Ј., Антић П. Д., Јарчевић М. С., Измишљено досељавање Срба, Београд: Сардонија, 2009; Милановић М., Историјско порекло Срба, Београд: Admiral Books, 2011; Земљанички Б., Срби староседеоци Балкана и Паноније у војним и цивилним догађајима са Римљанима и Хеленима од I до X века, Београд: Стручна књига, 1999]. In other words, they claim, that the Serbs, but not the Albanians, are the only autochthonous people (nation) on the Balkan Peninsula, according to the historical sources of the time.

[20] Islami S., Anamali S., Korkuti M, Prendi F., Les Illyriens, Tirana, 1985, p. 5; Anamali S., “The Illyrians and the Albanians”, Prifti K., Nasi L., Omari L., Xhufi P., Pulaha S., Pollo S., Shtylla Z. (eds.), The Truth on Kosova, Tirana, 1993, p. 5; Cabanes P., Les Illyriens de Bardylis à Genthios, IV–II siècles avant J.C, Paris, 1988, p. 17. The borders of geographical distribution of the Illyrian population in Antique Balkans are primarily reconstructed according to the writings of the Greek historians Herodotus who lived in the 5th century B.C. and wrote Historiae and Appianus who lived in the 2nd century A.D. and wrote Illyrica.

[21] The most outstanding Illyrian tribes were: Iapudes, Dalmatae, Autariatae, Docletae and Taulantii.

[22] The Praefectura of Illyricum was subdivided into the following Provinces: Dacia Ripensis, Dacia Mediterranea, Moesia Superior Margensis, Dardania, Praevalis, Macedonia Prima, Macedonia Secunda, Epirus Nova, Epirus Vetus, Thessalia, Achaia and Creta.

[23] Ростовцев М., Историја старога света: Грчка и Рим, Нови Сад: Матица српска, 1990, pp. 383−384.

[24] Regardless of the fact that the Latin language did not replace the Illyrian one in the territory of Albania during Roman rule, Latin did not become the language of the common people. The Illyrian language was Romanized to a certain degree and the Latin alphabet was later chosen by the Albanian national leaders as the national script of the Albanians (one of the reasons for such a decision was purely political). For sure, the Roman culture and Latin language participated in the process of the ethnogenesis of the Albanians. However, the proponents of the Illyrian theory of Albanian ethnogenesis refute this opinion emphasizing that the number of Latin inscriptions found in Albania is small when compared with the number found in the other provinces of the Roman Empire. Their total number is 293. Half of these inscriptions are found in and around the Roman colony located in the ancient city of Dyrrhachium. Theodore Mommsen thought that people used exclusively the Illyrian language in the interior of Albania during the Roman occupation [Mommsen T., The Provinces of the Roman Empire, vol. 1, Chicago, MCMLXXIV, pp. 202–203]. Dardania was one of the least Romanized Balkan regions  and its native population preserved its ethnic individuality and consciousness. Subsequently, the Dardanians, who escaped Romanization and survived the South Slavic migrations to the Balkans, emerged in the Middle Ages with the name of the Albanians. Nevertheless, Latin terminology in modern Albanian and the place-names in Albania are evidence of the Illyrian-Albanian Romanization/Latinization.

[25] However, the proponents of the theory of Serbian Balkan origin claim that all Balkan-born Roman emperors (arround 20) were ethnic Serbs. Diocletian and Constantine the Great are the most important among them.

[26] Among the South Slavs, and in part among the Poles and Russians, the Illyrian theory of Slavic origin was widespread from the early 16th century to the early 19th century. According to this theory, the South Slavs were the autochthonous population in the Balkans originating from the ancient Illyrians. Furthermore, all Slavs formerly lived in the Balkans and were known by the ancient authors as the Illyrians. At the beginning of the Middle Ages they split into three groups: one group migrated to Central Europe (the Western Slavs), another group went to Eastern Europe (the Eastern Slavs) while the last group remained in the Balkans (the South Slavs). According to several medieval chronicles, the South Slavic ascendants were the ancient Illyrians, Thracians and Macedonians. Thus, Alexander the Great, Constantine the Great, Diocletian and St. Hieronymus were of South Slavic origin. In the time of Humanism, Renaissance, Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, a number of Dubrovnik (Ragusian) writers became the most prominent champions of this theory. They included Vinko Pribojević (On Origin and History of the Slavs, published in Venice in 1532), Mavro Orbini (De Regno Sclavorum, published in Pesaro in 1601) and Bartol Kašić (Institutiones Linguae Illyricae, published in 1604). Pribojević claimed that all Slavs spoke one common language, which originated in the Balkans. For him, the Russians spoke a Dalmatian dialect of the common Slavic language. This common Slavic language was named by Dubrovnik writers as “Our”, “Illyrian” or “Slavic” one. Subsequently, all Slavs who spoke “Our” language belonged to “Our” people. The influence of the Illyrian theory of (the South) Slavic origin can be seen in: 1) the work of Serbian noblemen from Transylvania, Count Đorđe Branković (1645–1711) who in 1688 wrote the first political program of the South Slavic unification into a free and independent state which he called the “Illyrian Kingdom”; in 2) the fact that Orbini’s De Regno Sclavorum was translated into Russian in 1722; and in 3) that the Croatian movement of national renewal from the time of the first half of the 19th century was officially called as the “Illyrian Movement”.

[27] Miridita Z., Istorija Albanaca (“Iliri i etnogeneza Albanaca”), Beograd, 1969, pp. 9−10; Qabej W., Hyrje në historinë e gjuhës shipe, Prishtinë, 1970, pp. 29–32; Prifti K., Nasi L., Omari L., Xhufi P., Pulaha S., Pollo S., Shtylla Z. (eds.), The Truth on Kosova, Tirana, 1993, pp. 5–73; Dobruna E., “On some ancient toponyms in Kosova”, Onomastika e Kosoves, Prishtina, 1979; Anamali S., “The problem of the formation of the Albanian people in the light of archaeological information”, The National Conference on the formation of the Albanian people, their language and culture, Tirana, 1988; Çabej E., “The problem of the autochthony of Albanians in the light of place-names”, Buletini i Universitetit Shteteror te Tiranes, № 2, 1958, pp. 54–62.  

[28] For instance, see [Ћоровић В., Историја Срба, Београд: БИГЗ, 1993, pp. 3−66; Ферјанчић Б., Византија и Јужни Словени, Београд: Завод за издавање уџбеника Социјалистичке Републике Србије, 1966, pp. 20−26; Kont F., Sloveni. Nastanak i razvoj slovenskih civilizacija u Evropi (VI−XIII vek), Beograd: Zavod za izdavačku delatnost „Filip Višnjić“, 1989, pp. 14−43; Пипер П., Увод у славистику, 1, Београд: Завод за уџбенике и наставна средства Београд, 1998, pp. 81−96].

[29] The name for the Albanians – “Арбанаси” is derived from the Latin name for the Albanians as the “Arbanenses”.


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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



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Noel Malcolm – Kosovo – A Short History

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

51Y0Hyi7Y3L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

A Short History of Kosovo by Noel Malcolm is usually considered as one of the prime historical sources on the history of the province. In fact, this book is an example of the History with a political attitude because it is not by chance that Malcolm who attacks the “myths” of Serbian history is at the same time a president of the Anglo-Albanian Association and one of the strongest supporters of independence of Kosovo. Being far from an objective scientific work Malcolm’s History of Kosovo can be better classified as a kind of historical pamphlet which will not easily outlive the present political moment for which it was written.

Similarly, like his Shorter History of Bosnia, in which he idealizes the Ottoman rule beyond any measure, the Short History of Kosovo will find eager readers only among those who seek instant, black and white histories and do not have much time and intellectual eagerness to delve more deeply into the history of the Balkans.

With a boldness of an experienced historian, although he has written very few historical books, Malcolm in his rather journalist style very subjectively draws conclusions out of his carefully filtered bibliography in which Serb sources hardly find any place at all. But, more than anything, it is very strange that Malcolm almost completely ignores Serbian Orthodox archives and libraries although more than 90% of all cultural and historical monuments in Kosovo belong to this Church. Furthermore, although Malcolm consulted 16 different archives in six countries, none of them were in Serbia. It is a puzzling gap indeed, because so many other sources have been explored. This fact, most persuasively reveals that this is in fact a book intended to falsify the history rather than to approach it in an evenhanded and scientific way.

INSTITUTE OF HISTORY
of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Collection of Works
Volume 18

Response to Noel Malcolm’s Book
KOSOVO. A SHORT HISTORY

Scientific Discussion on Noel Malcolm`s book “Kosovo. A Short History”
(Macmillan, London 1998, 492)
8th October 1999

This book contains eight historical studies with the criticism of Noel Malcolm’s book: Kosovo A Short History. The texts were read at the Discussion organized by the Historical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art in Belgrade on October 8, 1999.

“Needless to say, the motifs for this Discussion are scientific. It was not organized because the book in question is worthy of it as a scientific work, but because it deals with a phenomenon deserving to be thoroughly discussed. Noel Malcolm’s book Kosovo. A Short History is not a scientific work, yet the general public, and even some professional circles, have accepted it as an objective presentation of the past, notably the past of Kosovo. The publicity it has received in many media in the West as well as its eager inclusion in the holdings of many libraries bear witness to that”.

From the Foreword of the Editor-in-Chief
Prof. Slavenko Terzic

Foreword

About This Scientific Discussion
October 8, 1999

By Slavenko Terzic

The Discussion on Noel Malcolm’s book Kosovo. A Short History was scheduled for early April 1999, but it had to be postponed owing to the NATO aggression. We invited some thirty colleagues to take part in the Discussion, notably historians but also art historians, archaeologists, Orientalists and political scientists. As a matter of course, we also invited the author of the book Noel Malcolm. We have recently received his letter (fax) telling us that he was not able to attend the Discussion.

Our historiography does not pride itself on a very rich tradition of scientific discussions. Many books have been published here (in Pristina and other Yugoslav centres), but also abroad, calling for impartial scientific appraisal. As a rule, these books used to be passed over in silence, or even met with a kind of haughtiness, and in the course of time such unscientific attitudes became an accepted system of knowledge which it was very difficult to counteract, and today it is even more difficult to do so.

Needless to say, the motifs for this Discussion are scientific. It was not organized because the book in question is worthy of it as a scientific work, but because it deals with a phenomenon deserving to be thoroughly discussed. Noel Malcolm’s book Kosovo. A Short History is not a scientific work, yet the general public, and even some professional circles, have accepted it as an objective presentation of the past, notably the past of Kosovo. The publicity it has received in many media in the West as well as its eager inclusion in the holdings of many libraries bear witness to that.

Noel Malcolm’s book is undoubtedly a phenomenon. In other words, it demonstrates the extent of the betrayal of the historical truth and the manipulation of the past of nations, regions or states for the sake of the political ends of the day. It was a commonplace view that such books are possible only in totalitarian societies. But we can see that the appearance of such books is also possible in a milieu which, until recently at least, could not be called totalitarian, and that it is possible within a historiography excelling in great authors and trustworthy works.

The colleagues about to talk about this book will throw light on various aspects of this work ranging from its basic methodological and theoretical approach, its research conception, to its documentary reliability and interpretation characteristics.

Noel Malcolm has begun his studies of South-East Europe recently, at the time when the process of disintegration of the Yugoslav state was beginning. So he very rapidly became an expert in the history of the “regions going through a crisis” and of “unstable regions”. He has produced a short history of Bosnia, to be followed by this one of Kosovo, so that he can be expected to manufacture “a short history” of Dagestan or Chechnya tomorrow. He resembles a little, in everything, a “holy warrior” brandishing a pen in his hand. With his “history” of the regions with which he deals he caters to the demands of the political moment. In this particular case, to the demands of the Great Albanian project and NATO political plans in South-Eastern Europe.


Source: www.kosovo.net

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Albanology and political claims of the Albanians



20thCentAlbania

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

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

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

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

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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



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

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

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

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

A Question of the “Koman Culture”

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

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

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

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

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[17] Operation “Storm” (“Oluja”).

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

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

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

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


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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The Albanian Origin: The main challenges of research



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Understanding Albanian nationality and regional political-security consequences



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

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

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

Albania ISIL flag

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

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

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

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

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Guess Kosovo wasn’t that ‘unique’: Separatism in the Caucasus



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A study of differences and similarities between the break-away states of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus and Kosovo in the Balkans.

After February 2008 when Kosovo Albanian-dominated Parliament proclaimed Kosovo independence (without organizing a referenda) with obvious US diplomatic support (unilateral recognition) with explanation that the Kosovo case is unique in the World (i.e., it will be not repeated again) one can ask the question: is the problem of the southern Serbian province of Kosovo-Metochia really unique and surely unrepeatable in some other parts of the World as the US administration was trying to convince the rest of the international community?[1]

Domino effect in international relations

The consequences of recognition of Kosovo independence by bigger part of the international community are already (and going to be in the future) visible primarily in the Caucasus because there are some similarities in these two regions.[2]

At the Caucasus region (where about 50 different ethnolinguistic groups are living together)[3] a self-proclaimed state independence is already done by Abkhazia and South Ossetia[4] only several months after the self-proclaimed independence of Albanian “Republic of Kosovo”,[5] following the pattern of both the Nagorno-Karabakh (formally a province in Azerbaijan) in 1991 and Kosovo in 2008.

The experts from the German Ministry of the Foreign Affairs expressed already in 2007 their real fear that in the case of the US and EU unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence the same unilateral diplomatic act could be implied by Moscow by recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a matter of diplomatic compensation and as a result of domino effect in international relations.[6]

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It is also known and from the official OSCE sources that Russian delegates in this pan-European security organization have been constantly warning the West before 2008 that such scenario is quite possible, but with one peculiarity: from 2007 they stopped to mention possibility of the Russian recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-proclaimed independence (on September 2nd, 1991).

It is most probably for the reason that Moscow does not want (up to now) to deteriorate good relations with Azerbaijan – a country with huge reserves of natural gas and oil.

Why the South Ossetia could be different?

On the first glance it can be said that the Orthodox South Ossetians are equally separatist as the Muslim Albanians from Kosovo. However, the South Ossetians are having sympathies towards the Serbs (not for the reason that both of them are the Orthodox Christians), but not towards, as we could expect, separatist Kosovo Albanians.

The real reason of such sympathies is similar legal state rights applied by both the Serbs in Kosovo and the South Ossetians.[7]

Historically, the South Ossetia was never really integral and authentic part of sovereign Georgian state,[8] in contrast to Kosovo-Metochia which was not only integral, but culturally and politically the most important region of the medieval Serbian state (called as the Ancient Serbia or Serbia proper) till the mid-15th century when Kosovo-Metochia became occupied by the Ottomans.[9]

The territory of present-day Georgia historically was never before it became part of Russia politically firmly united around its capital Tbilisi in contrast to Serbia which before it lost independence in 1459 was having a long period of experience of the unified state territory with Kosovo-Metochia as its center.

When Serbia gained the autonomy status within the Ottoman Empire in 1830/1833 and was later recognized by the European Great Powers at the Berlin Congress in 1878 as an independent state it was known for her rulers and politicians which historical territories belonged to her: Kosovo-Metochia was on the first place.[10]

The present day territory of Georgia entered the Russian Empire in parts – segment by segment. Ossetia as united territory (i.e., not divided into the Northern and the Southern Ossetia as today situation is) became (according to the Russian historiography) voluntarily part of the Russian Empire in 1774.

In the other words, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great (1762−1796), in order to be surely convinced that the Ossetians are really independent, before incorporation of this province into the Russian Empire sent a special commission which informed St. Petersburg that “the Ossetians are free people subordinated to no one”.[11]

Georgia itself became part of the Russian Empire in 1804 (27 years later then Ossetia). This fact is the most important argument used by the South Ossetians in their dispute with the Georgian authorities.

The Southern part of Ossetia was given to be administered by Georgia only in the USSR by decision of three Georgian Communists – J. V. Stalin, Sergei Ordzonikidze and Avelj Enukindze. It has to be also stressed that the border between two parts of Ossetia (the Northern and the Southern) never existed before 1994.

What concerns the Kosovo Albanian case, it is known that the Albanians started to settle themselves in the region of Kosovo-Metochia from the present-day Northern Albania only after the First Serbian Great Migration (or Exodus) from the region in 1690. In the other words, before the Ottoman occupation of Serbia there were no Albanians in Kosovo-Metochia in any significant number (only 2% according to the Ottoman census in 1455).[12]

According to several Byzantine and Arab historical sources, the Balkan Albanians are originating from the Caucasus Albania – in the 9th century they left the Caucasus and have been settled by the Arabs in the Western Sicily (and the South Italy) which they left in 1043 and came to the Balkans.[13] The borders of the present-day territory of Kosovo-Metochia are fixed by the Yugoslav Communist authorities in 1945,[14] who in fact separated this province from the rest of Serbia together with the Province of Vojvodina.[15]

In addition, the Yugoslav Communist People’s Assembly issued the decree according to which it was forbidden for about 100.000 expelled Serbs from Kosovo-Metochia during the Second World War by the Albanian authorities to return back to the province.

This decesion was followed by migration of up to 200.000 Kosovo-Metochia Serbs during the period of the Socialist Yugoslavia from the province to the Central Serbia. In addition, during the Socialist Yugoslavia it is estimated that up to 300.000 Albanians from Albania migrated to Kosovo-Metochia.

Together with enormously high birth-rate of the Kosovo Albanian population,[16] these are the main reasons for drastically altered demographic picture of the province in Albanian favor during the time of the Socialist Yugoslavia thus making legal case for Serbs stronger to challenge Albanian thrive for Kosovo independence (and inclusion into Albania).

The people of the South Ossetia on the referendum about the future of the USSR on March 17th, 1991 voted for existence of the Soviet Union (like the Serbs upon Yugoslavia, but and Kosovo Albanians on referendum to become an independent from Serbia like the Georgians from the USSR).[17]

The referendum on March 17th, 1991 was organized two months after Georgian army started the war against the South Ossetia in which till September of the same year 86 Ossetian villages have been burned. It is calculated that more than 1.000 Ossetians lost their lives and around 12.000 Ossetians emigrated from the South to the North (Russia’s) Ossetia.

This is the point of similarity with expelled at least 200.000 Serbs from Kosovo-Metochia by the Albanian the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army[18] after the NATO peace-keeping troops entered and de facto occupied this province in June 1999.

A state’s independence of the Republic of South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia was formally proclaimed on May 29th, 1992. However, this legal act can not been understood as a “separatist” one for the reason that at that time Georgia was not recognized by no one state in the world as an independent political subject and Georgia was not a member of the United Nations.

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However, in contrast to the case of the South Ossetia, the unilateral proclamation of the state independence of Kosovo by the Albanians on February 18th, 2008 cannot be treated by the international community as a legitimate act (without permission by Belgrade) as Kosovo by the international law and agreements is an integral part of Serbia (the same legal reason was applied by the international community to the case of self-proclaimed the Republic of Serbian Krayina in 1991 from Croatia).[19]

Differently from the case of Georgia, when the South Ossetia proclaimed the state independence in May 1992, Serbia in 2008, when the Albanian dominated Parliament of Kosovo proclaimed the state independence, was an internationally recognized independent state and a member of the United Nations.

This is a common point of similarity between the Ossetians and the Serbs as the nations: both of them are fighting against separation of one part of their national body and the land from the motherland.

However, Tbilisi is doing the same like Belgrade, from this point of view, i.e. claiming that the South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) is historical and state’s part of Georgia.[20] From that point of view, there is a similarity between political claims of both states – Serbia and Georgia with one significant difference: historical rights of Serbia over Kosovo-Metochia are much more stronger in comparison with the same rights of Georgia over the South Ossetia (and Abkhazia).

In the other words, Kosovo-Metochia was all the time, from historical, cultural, state’s and identity point of views, a central/proper part of Serbia, while both the South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been just borderland provinces of Georgia.[21]

International system of governing and separation

The main argument for the western politicians upon the case of Kosovo self-proclaimed independence, as “unique case” in global perspective, is the fact that according to the “Kumanovo Agreement” between Serbia and the NATO, signed on June 10th, 1999, and the UN Resolution of 1244 (following this agreement), Kosovo-Metochia is put under the UN protectorate with imposed international system of governing and security.

However, such “argument” does not work in the case of the South Ossetia as the Ossetians are governing their land by themselves and much more successfully in comparison with the “internationally” (i.e., the NATO) protected Kosovo-Metochia.

This was quite visible in March 2004 when the international organizations and military troops could not (i.e., did not want to)[22] protect the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia from violent attacks organized by the local Albanians when during three days (March 17−19th) 4.000 Serbs were expelled, more than 800 Serbian houses were burned and 35 Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and cultural monuments were destroyed or severely damaged.

The “March Pogrom” of 2004 revealed the real situation in the region of Kosovo-Metochia. The position of the South Ossetians in independent Georgia from 1991 to August 2008 could be compared with position of the Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia after June 1999 which is under the total Albanian domination.

The fact is that the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovje[23] showed much more political-legal bases and capabilities to be recognized as an independent for the reason that they showed real ability to govern themselves by only themselves, but not by the international organizations as it is in the case of the Albanian-governed Kosovo (the “Republic of Kosovo” from February 2008) after June 1999 up today. They also proved much more democracy and respect for human and minority rights in comparison with the Albanian-ruled Kosovo.[24]

The Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo-Metochia

There are several similarities, but also and dissimilarities between conflicts in the Nagorno-Karabakh province and Kosovo-Metochia. In both cases the international community is dealing with autonomy of a compact national minority who is making a majority on the land in question and having its own national independent state out of this territory.

Both the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and the Kosovo Albanians do not want to accept any other solution except separation and internationally recognized independence (and later unification with their motherlands).[25]

Both conflicts are in fact continuations of old historic struggles between two different civilizations: the Muslim Turkish and the Christian Byzantine. In both conflicts the international organizations are included as the mediators. Some of them are the same – France, the USA and Russia as the members of both Contact Groups for ex-Yugoslavia and the Minsk Group under the OSCE umbrella for Azerbaijan.

Serbia and Azerbaijan were against that their cases (Kosovo-Metochia and the Nagorno-Karabakh) will be proclaimed as the “unique” as therefore it would be a green light to both Albanian and Armenian separatists to secede their territories from Serbia and Azerbaijan without permissions given by Belgrade and Baku (what in reality already happened).

However, there are differences between Kosovo-Metochia and the Nagorno-Karabakh cases.

Firstly, Kosovo-Metochia was internal conflict within Serbia (which is after June 1999 internationalized), but in the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh there is external military aggression (by Armenia).

Secondly, in difference to Armenia in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh, Albania formally never accepted any legal act in which Kosovo was called as integral part of a state territory of Albania (with historical exception during the Second World War when Kosovo-Metochia, the Eastern Montenegro and the Western Macedonia have been included into Mussolini’s the so-called “Greater Albania” with the capital in Tirana).

Delegation from Albania did not take any participation in the talks and negotiations upon the “final” status of Kosovo-Metochia between Prishina and Belgrade in 2007−2013, while Armenia has official status of “interested side” in the conflict in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the Armenians from the Nagorno-Karabakh such status did not obtain.

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While the Armenian army (i.e. from the Republic of Armenia) was directly involved in the military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh, officially part of an independent state of Azerbaijan,[26] in the Kosovo-Metochia conflict of 1998−1999 the official regular army of the Republic of Albania was not involved (differently from a great number of the volunteers from Albania).

As a result, Armenia occupied 1/5 of Azerbaijan territory and the victims of ethnic cleansing are mainly the Azerbaijani. A military weaker Azerbaijan side in comparison to Armenia, which was supported by Russia in arms and other war material, did not apply to the NATO for the military help, but military weaker Kosovo Albanian side in comparison to Serbia’s police and the Yugoslav army forces did it during the Kosovo conflict of 1998−1999.[27]

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the Albanian unilaterally proclaimed Kosovo independence in February 2008 is not “unique” case in the world without direct consequences to similar separatist cases following the “domino effect” (the South Ossetia, the South Sudan, the Crimean Peninsula, the Eastern Ukraine, Scotland, Catalonia, Bask region…).

That is the real reason why, for instance, the government of Cyprus is not supporting “Kosovo Albanian rights to self-determination” as the next “unique” case can be easily the northern (Turkish) part of Cyprus which is, by the way, recognized only by the Republic of Turkey and under de facto Ankara’s protection and the occupation by the regular army of the Republic of Turkey from 1974 onward.[28]

Finally, that Kosovo “domino effect” well works in the practice showed the Russian authorities in the spring 2014 when Moscow recognized separation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine based on the self-determination of the local inhabitans exactlly calling the 2008 Kosovo case of self-proclaimed independence.


[1] The region of Kosovo (under such name known in the western politics and science) is traditionally and historically called by the Serbs as Kosovo-Metochia, while by the Albanians as Kosova or Kosovë. The western portion of the region is Metochia and the eastern one is Kosovo.

[2] “Южную Оссетию смерили косовским взглядом”, Коммерсант, 15. 11. 2006: http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/721626.

[3] On history, antropology, religion and ethnography of the Caucasus, see: N. Griffin, Caucasus: A Journey To The Land Between Christianity And Islam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004); B. Grant, L. Yalcin-Heckmann (eds.), Caucasus Paradigms: Antropologies, Histories and The Making of A World Area (LIT Verlag, 2007); Ch. King, The Ghost of Freedom: A History of The Caucasus (Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Th. De Waal, The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); J. Forsyth, The Caucasus: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); A. Tsutsiev, Atlas of The Ethno-Political History of The Caucasus (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014); G. M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland & Company, 2014). On ethnopolitical conflicts in the Caucasus, see: S. E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus (London−New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2001); E. Souleimanov, Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict: Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered (New York−London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).

[4] On self-proclamation of the state’s independence by Abkhazia and South Ossetia and followed war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, see: S. E. Cornell, S. F.  Starr (eds.), The Guns of August 2008 Russia’s War in Georgia (M. E. Sharpe, 2009); R. D. Asmus, A Little War That Shook The World: Georgia, Russia, and The Future of The West (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010); D. Gierycz, The Mysteries of The Caucasus (Xlibris Corporation, 2010).

[5] Up today there are more than 100 states in the world, according to Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who recognized this territory as an independent state. Among them are and 26 EU member states. However, Kosovo is not still a member of any international political, economic or sport organization. The first two states which recognized Kosovo proclamation of independence in February 2008 were Afghanistan and the USA. The number of states who really recognized Kosovo independence is very questionable.

[6] Moscow used the domino effect principle in the case of unification of the Crimean Peninsula with Russia in the spring 2014 and can use the same principle for the unification with Russia of any other region of Ukraine or other ex-Soviet republics with significant number of the Russian-speaking population or at least to support their autonomous or separatist political movements.

[7] There is a claim that the Ossetians are only European nation in the Caucasus, but this claim is up to now not scientifically proved. The Ossetians themselves believe to originate from the Sarmatian tribe of Alans. The Ossetians speak a language that is remotely related to the Persian.

[8] See: Ph. M. Parker (ed.), Ossetia: Webster’s Timeline History 1204−2007 (ICON Group International, Inc., 2010).

[9] The Serbian Christian Orthodox cultural heritage in Kosovo-Metochia is of the crucial importance for the national identity of all Serbs (Политичка ревија, Тема броја: Косово и Метохија, питање идентитета и српског националног интереса (Београд: Институт за политичке студије, vol. 35, no. 1, 2013)).

[10] М. Екмечић, Дуго кретање између клања и орања. Историја Срба у Новом веку (1492−1992) (Београд: Евро−Ђунти, 2010), 203−94.

[11] On history of Georgia, see: R. G. Suny, The Making of The Georgian Nation (Indiana University Press, 1994); D. Rayfield, Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia (London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2012); S. F. Jones, Georgia: A Political History Since Independence (I. B. Tauris, 2014).

[12] For instance, see: H. Hadžibegić, A. Handžić, E. Kovačević (urednici), Oblast Brankovića: Opširni katastarski popis iz 1455. godine (Sarajevo: Orijentalni institut u Sarajevu, 1972).

[13] About this issue, see: Кавкаски Албанци лажни Илири, Проширени текстови реферата изложених 21. јуна 2007. године на мултидисциплинарном округлом столу у САНУ „Методолошки проблем истраживања порекла Албанаца“, Београд: Пешић и син, 2007; Ј. И. Деретић, Д. П. Антић, С. М. Јарчевић, Измишљено досељавање Срба (Београд: Сардонија, 2009).

[14] Before 1945 it was hardly known what the exact borders of this province have been as it historically depended on the power of the local feudal lords (ex. the Branković’s) or foreign power (ex. the Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire) which was administering the province.

[15] The Albanian minority in Serbia within the region of Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia enjoyed all kind of minority rights according to the international law and even above it. The region has its own president, constitution, parliament, police, academy of science, law, press, education system, etc. In the other words, Albanian-run and dominated Kosovo- Metochia was in fact an independent political subject in Yugoslavia equal with all Yugoslavia’s republics. Within such political conditions Kosovo Albanians developed a high range of the policy of the oppression and expulsion from the region of the ethnic Serbs with a strong tendency to separate the region from the rest of Serbia and include it into a Greater Albania. What S. Milošević’s government did in 1989 it was abolishment of just political independence of both autonomous regions in Serbia – Vojvodina and Kosovo-Metochia in order to protect the country from territorial destruction. However, even after 1989 Kosovo Albanians enjoyed minority rights according to the basic standards of the international law. Many minorities in Europe or elsewhere today can just dream about minority rights left to Kosovo Albanians by Serbia’s government in 1989. For the matter of comparison, for instance, the Kurds in Turkey (from 1999 a candidate country for the EU membership) enjoy no single minority right for the very reason as they are not recognized as minority group at all. From the legal point of view by the Turkish government, the Kurds do not even exist in Turkey as the ethnocultural and linguistic group. For this reason, the process of Kurdish assimilation in Turkey is on the way on. On the Kurdish question in Turkey, see: M. Heper, The State and Kurds in Turkey: The Question of Assimilation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); C. Saraçoglu, Kurds of Modern Turkey: Migration, Neoliberalism and Exclusion in Turkish Society (Tauris Academic Studies, 2010); M. M. Gunter, The Kurds: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); N. Beratsky (ed.), The Kurds (Greenhaven Press, 2013); R. Aras, The Formation of Kurdishness in Turkey: Political Violence, Fear and Pain (London-New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014). On Slobodan Milošević from the western perspective, see: L. Sell, Slobodan Milosevic and the destruction of Yugoslavia (Durham-London: Duke University Press, 2002); A. LeBor, Milosevic. A Biography (London-Berlin-New York-Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2012).

[16] The Kosovo Albanian birth-rate after the Second World War is highest in Europe and even higher than in Albania for the very political reason to claim Kosovo-Metochia to be exclusively Albanian territory – a claim to be based on the ethnic rights as the Albanians do not have any historic right on this province ((P. V. Grujić, Kosovo Knot (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: RoseDog Books, 2014)).

[17] The South Ossetian referendum is called by Georgia as illegal like Kosovo Albanian referendum is also called by Serbia’a authorities as not legally based. At the moment of the Kosovo Albanian referendum this South Serbian province did not have any political autonomy. Kosovo-Metochia enjoyed very wide political autonomy until 1989 when it was cancelled by Belgrade in order to prevent separation of the province from the rest of the country. It was left to Kosovo-Metochia after 1989 cultural and education autonomy for the local Albanians – the right which they enjoyed in Montenegro and the FYR of Macedonia. The South Ossetia was never enjoying such wide political autonomy (semi-independence) in the USSR as it was the case of Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia till 1989.

[18] On the Kosovo Liberation Army, see, for instance pro-Albanian and pro-western points of view on historical background for the Kosovo Liberation Army with described its activities up to and including the NATO intervention: H. H. Perritt Jr., Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of An Insurgency (University of Illinois, 2008); J. Pettifer, The Kosova Liberation Army: Underground War to Balkan Insurgency, 1948-2001 (London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 2012). The last book is official history of the Kosovo Liberation Army ordered and financed by the Albanian-run Kosovo government composed by the Kosovo Liberation Army veterans. The Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army is not lesser separatist and terrorist than, for instance, the Kurdish PKK. However, it is allowed for the Turkish government by the „international“ community to use all legal and other means to fight the PKK including and a clear violation of the human rights.

[19] About the case of the Republic of Serbian Krayina see: В. Ђурић, Република Српска Крајина. Десет година послије (Београд: „Добра воља“, 2005). Regarding the case of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s, see: J. Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize (1990−2000), I−II (Beograd: ИГАМ, 2003). Up today, the Republic of Kosovo is not a member of any international political, sport, cultural or economic organization.

[20] According to 1989 data, ethnic breakdown of Georgia was: the Georgians 69%, Armenians 9%, Russians 5%, Azerbaijanis 3%, Ossetians 3%. In 1993 it was 146.000 refugees in Georgia. At the same time about one million persons left Georgia, live in break-away regions or were expelled after 1989 (I. Ivekovic, Ethnic and Regional Conflicts in Yugoslavia and Transcaucasia: A Political Economy of Contemporary Ethnonational Mobilization (Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2000), 18.

[21] See: C. Francis, Conflict Resolution and Status: The Case of Georgia and Abkhazia (1989−2008) (Academic & Science Publishers, 2011); A. Saparov, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the Making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh (New York−London: Routledge, 2014).

[22] Neue Zürcher Zeitung (14. 05. 2004).

[23] An unrecognized the Republic of Pridnestrovje, the break-away region of the Republic of Moldova is very good example of transitional, or uncompleted statehood. It is de facto not under Moldovan control, possessing all formal attributes of a sovereign state, like the “Republic of Kosovo”. Pridnestrovje, or Transdniestria, forms part of the world-wide belt of “pseudo states” (V. Kolossov, “A Small State vs a Self-Proclaimed Republic: Nation-Building, Territorial Identities and Prospects of Conflict Resolution (The Case of Moldova-Transdniestria)”, S. Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization (Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2001), 87). Abkhazia, the South Ossetia and Pridnestrovje are the only “states” in the world who recognized the self-proclaimed independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991. However, it is not done up today by any of the UN member states.

[24] On the issue of violation of minority rights in Albanian-governed Kosovo-Metochia, including and the policy of ethnic cleansing, see, for instance: The March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija (March 17−19, 2004) with a survey of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage (Belgrade, 2004); H. Hofbauer,  Experiment Kosovo. Die Rückker des Kolonialismus (Wien: 2008); M. Чупић, Отета земља. Косово и Метохија (злочини, прогони, отпори) (Београд: Нолит, 2006), 387−88; V. B. Sotirović, “Kosovo & Metohija: Ten Years After The ‘March Pogrom 2004’”, Српска политичка мисао (Serbian Political Thought), vol. 43, no. 1, (Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2014), 267−83. Such policy of violation of minority rights including and ethnic cleansing, at least at such extent, is not recorded in the cases of the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovje. According to Miroljub Jevtić, both Kosovo Albanian secesionism and destruction of Serbian Christian Orthodox national and cultural heritage in this province have Islamic background (М. Јевтић, „Исламска суштина албанског сецесионизма и културно наслеђе Срба“, Национални интерес (National Interest), vol. 17,  no. 2 (Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2013), 231−52). On Islamic fundamentalism, see: L. Davidson, Islamic Fundamentalism: An Introduction (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2013).

[25] On the case of Nagorno Karabakh, see: H. Krüger, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis (Springer−Heidelberg−Dordrecht−London−New York: Springer, 2010); B. Balayev, The Right to Self-Determination in the South Caucasus: Nagorno Karabakh in Context (Lexington Books, 2013).

[26] On political history of Azerbaijan since 1991, see: Svante E. Cornell, Azerbaijan Since Independence (M. E. Sharpe, 2010).

[27] Azerbaijan did not apply fot the NATO help for at least three reasons: 1) not to spoil good relations with Russia; 2) not to provoke Iran – a country which was supporting Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia; and 3) the NATO at that time was not ready for the confrontation with Russia in the region which was de facto recognized by Brussels and Washington as the Russian zone of interest. On the Kosovo-Metochia War in 1998−1999 in the context of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia, see: C. Hadjimichalis, “Kosovo, 82 Days of an Undeclared and Unjust War: A Geopolitical Comment”, European Urban and Regional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, (2000), 175-80; T. Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge (New Haven-London: Yale University Press, 2002); A. Finlan, The Collapse of Yugoslavia 1991-1999 (Ospray Publishing, 2004). On the NATO’s air war for Kosovo-Metochia in 1999, see: T. G. Carpenter (ed.), NATO’s Empty Victory: A Postmortem on the Balkan War (Cato Institute, 2000); B. S. Lambeth, NATO’s Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2001); D. Henrikson, NATO’s Gamble: Combining Diplomacy and Airpower in the Kosovo Crisis 1998-1999 (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2007). On the NATO’s „humanitarian“ intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, see: D. N. Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009).

[28] The author of this article has strong belief that the USA and the Russian administrations simply decided in 2008 to recognize at the moment de facto situation upon the Balkans and the Caucasus affairs: Kosovo-Metochia will be recognized as the USA domain, while the South Ossetia and Abkhazia as the Russian one. By now, and of course, such a “secret diplomacy” deal cannot be proven by any document.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2015

_____________________

Original source of the article: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/10/2319

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A short history of Kosovo-Metochia



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

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

There are three reasons for such population change:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source:

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

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

Note:

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

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

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



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

Two Kosovo Albanian Muslim muhajedeens (with the passports of Republic of Kosovo) as members of ISIL in Syria in 2015 (Official ISIL’s video material)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, the outbreak of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992 presented an unparalleled opportunity for the international Mujaheedin to storm Europe, establish safe havens in the area and thus initiate re-conquest of regions they previously ruled . The leader of Bosnia, Alia Izebegovic was eager to obtain as much assistance as possible and didn’t hesitate in providing the necessary framework by which the Islamic ties were forged . In the same year, a variety of Islamic mercenaries flocked into the Balkans in order to support the “Holy cause”, meaning the establishment of the first Islamic state in Europe .

The end of the war in 1995 saw quite a few of those mujahedin, acquiring Bosnian citizenship and establishing the first Islamic community in the village of Bocinja Donja . During 2006 and 2007, hundreds of citizenships were revoked by Islamists residing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nevertheless the whereabouts of most of them remain unknown, raising fears for potential terrorist acts by them in the future and in an European soil . What is more, the Novi Pazar town in Sanjak area in Southern Serbia; has become a core for Islamic fundamentalism, linked with Al-Qaeda cells. Novi Pazar is the focus of the Islamist attempt to build a landbridge from Albania and Kosovo to Bosnia. Further to the East, in southern Serbia’s Raška Oblast, are three other concentrations of Muslims: Sjenica and Pester area (lightly populated but mostly Muslim), Prijepolje (some 50 percent Muslim) and — very close to the Bosnia border where Republica Srpska controls the slender Gorazde corridor — Priboj (also some 50 percent Muslim).

The land between is Serbian farmland, but the Islamist goal is to link the cities as “evidence” that the entire region is, or should be, Muslim territory. The same strategy worked successfully in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Serbian farmers were driven off their lands during the civil war.

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

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

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

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

Sources

Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Illinois Institute of Technology (1996), ” Nationbuilding in the Balkans-History of Albanians”. Web Site: http://pbosnia.kentlaw.edu/resources/history/albania/albhist.htm

Evan F. Kohlmann, “Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe“,Berg Publications, Preface, Oxford-UK, September 2004.

Kokalis Foundation; Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University, Presentation paper by Xavier Bougarel, “Islam & Politics in the Post-Communist Balkans. Website: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/kokkalis/GSW1/GSW1/13%20Bougarel.pdf

Foreign Military Studies Publications (02/1995), By LTC John E. Sray, U.S. Army, “Mujahedin Operations in Bosnia”. Website: http://leav-www.army.mil/fmso/documents/muja.htm

Department of the USA Navy; Naval Historical Centre Publications (26/07/2005), By Steven Woehrel, “Islamic terrorism & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/islamic_terrorism.htm

Reuters, Alert Net Service (11/04/2007), By Daria Sito-Sucic, “Bosnia revokes citizenship of Islamic ex-soldiers”. Web Site: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L1151505.htm

Information was provided by a variety of ISSA Reports, informal journalist sources from Serbia, Albania & FYROM. The material has been made publicly else were and has not been contended for its reliability.

For extensive and sensitive information on the subject see: ISSA Special Report (17/09/2003). Web Site: http://128.121.186.47/ISSA/reports/Balkan/Sep1703.htm#App1

Council on Foreign Relations; Open Edition (13/02/2002), By David L. Phillips, “Keeping the Balkans free of Al-Qaeda”. Website: http://www.cfr.org/publication/4344/rule_of_law.html?breadcrumb=%2Fregion%2F385%2Fbalkans

European Commission; External Affairs Service (2004), “The Contribution of the European Commission to the Implementation of the EU-Central Asia Action Plan on Drugs”. Website: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/drugs/hero.htm


19-05-2013

By Ioannis Michaletos

Source: Modern Diplomacy

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Destroyed 14th century Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo (Samodreza) by Kosovo ISIL

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Shaking Hands With a War Criminal



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Inside Kosovo’s Islamist Cauldron



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

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

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

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

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

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

Jihadist Capital Of The Balkans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fertile Ground For Extremism

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

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

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

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

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

Radical Charities Going Underground

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recruits ‘Never Came Back’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IS Recruiter

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Source: RFE/RL

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

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Albanian terrorists as official NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo members – photo evidence



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Remember watching ancient Orthodox Christian monasteries in flames in Kosovo dozen times.
Old, noble constructions, spiritual and historical testimonies of past times.
I also remember that majority of Orthodox Christian monasteries, churches and relics has been attacked and destroyed after NATO forces (officially: KFOR) took full control of the Serbian province.
It amazed me to see how Western soldiers, under full equipment and heavy armament, often didn’t make a single move to stop Albanian violence; over 200 000 Serbs had to flee, in order to save their bare lives, bearing whole their lives in few suitcases if they were lucky enough. 264960_193007560748613_8317034_n
Photo: NATO peacekeepers calmly observe Albanians destroying Christian heritage

It turned out that indeed, Albanian terrorists WERE  (stil are?) part of NATO, so called peacekeeping forces in the province of Kosovo and the evidences are here. There’s the Albanian nationalist guy, wrapped in Greater Albania flag, certain Lami, who is at the same time – a Swiss peacekeeper!
Incredible.
Lami Lami KLami KF Lami KFOLami Kfor
So this opens more questions: How many ISIS members have been deployed in Iraq as peacekeepers?
ISIS in morning, anti ISIS in the afternoon?
I
SIS uses the same method Albanians applied in the province of Kosovo Metohija – destroying and removing every trace of Christianity (the picture below are from Kosovo province): 

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KFOR / NATO in Kosovo observed all, allowing it to happen. When Serbs tried to complain, addressing both international community and global media, nothing ever happen.
I was told that that there were the KLA terrorist wearing KFOR uniforms, and that people often heard the ‘peacekeepers’ speaking -Albanian language.
I heard that there are plenty of KLA terrorists under the USA, Belgian, German, Danish flag operating as part of their peacekeeping forces.

LON50D:YUGOSLAVIA-NATO-DEPLOYMENT:KACANIK,YUGOSLAVIA,14JUN99 - Capt. Vicki Wentworth from Swansea, in the United Kingdom, views the site of a possible mass grave of nearly 100 ethnic Albanians in southern Kosovo June 14. If confirmed, it would be the first uncovering of such a grave since NATO forces entered the province two days ago it is reported. The site is located near the graveyard in Kacanik village some 50km (30 miles) south of Pristina. jb/Photo by Russell Boyce REUTERS

Reuters says: A young (Albanian !?) captain from the British KFOR contingent pays her respects at the site of a possible mass grave of Kosovar Albanians in the village of Kacanik, Kosovo, on 14 June 1999. 
(Reuters photo – 32Kb)

The same Reuters have never apologized since SIXTEEN years we know that there was no  Albanian mass grave in Kacanik area.
(meanwhile there are still over 3000 Serbs missing; but who is going to investigate and search for them, Albanian nationalists disguised as peacekeepers?)
Who is going to take responsibilities for all the consequences of such lies (i.e. mass grave, over hundreds of thousands dead Albanians, etc) ?
I can’t even imagine what kind of stories have been served to real and honest peacekeepers by Albanian Trojans among them.

And here we got, In August anno domini 2015 (16 – 17 years later) repetition of the same Albanian propaganda. The Telegraph, in article titled  Inside Kacanik, Kosovo’s jihadist capital  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/kosovo/11818659/Inside-Kacanik-Kosovos-jihadist-capital.html)  speaks about Kosovo Albanian terrorist groups, (what a surprise. We have been writing about the Albanian terrorism here in TMJ for years) but pushes the old proven to be false, stories.

The caption of the photo bellow says (quote):
Captain Andy Phipps from the British Army holds his head in hands as he looks over the site of a possible mass grave of nearly 100 ethnic Albanians in southern Kosovo  Photo: Reuters

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Even though Kosovo Metohija province has been under NATO and Albanian rule since 1999, and, despite all their investigations and research – no mass graves containing murdered Albanians have been discovered ( at the same time no serious search for still missing 3000 Serbs ever occurred; no officials mourns near and around Klecka, or Radonjicko lake, no Reuters to target these locations as places of mass murder of Serbs!)  – we go it in British Telegraph!
There must be a place in hell for corrupted journalists, for sure.

Whenever Serbs civilians complained about the alliance between Albanian nationals and NATO forces,  local HQ -es ignored the complains.

Meanwhile over one hundred Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries has been completely destroyed (That’s the same method ISIS implements nowadays in Syria).
Another interesting question rises, after so called Kosovo PM, Hasim Taci, attempts to list all the  Serbian Orthodox heritage, bulid and raised by medieval Serbian kings and emperors, as ‘Kosovo’ heritage; could we expect similar request from Albanian Middle eastern alter ego, ISIS. the same request concerning Malaua and Palmyra, just to mention the two?
crkve-kim-c-vDestroyed Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches by Albanians in Kosovo in March 2004

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Kosovostanization



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ISIL International



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Kosovo ISIL – A Photo Documentation



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Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy of Terror



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Kosovo is Clinton Country: a 10-foot-high statue of Bill overlooks “Bill Clinton Boulevard” in the capital city of Pristina. Hillary is also memorialized in what has become the crime capital of Europe: right off the street named for her husband is a store named “Hillary,” featuring women’s clothing modeled after the putative Democratic party nominee for President. Pantsuits figure prominently. As Vice puts it: “While former President Bill Clinton has had a boulevard named after him, it’s without a doubt that his wife’s the real star out here.” Why is that?

As Gail Sheehy pointed out in her biography of Hillary, it was Mrs. Clinton who hectored her husband into bowing to a chorus of neoconservative and liberal interventionist voices and finally giving the order to bomb the former Yugoslavia. Traveling to Kosovo when Serbs in the northern part of the country were demanding some form of local autonomy to stave off violent attacks by Kosovar ultra-nationalists, Mrs. Clinton reassured her hosts that the US would stand behind Pristina: “For me, my family and my fellow Americans this is more than a foreign policy issue, it is personal.” She then physically embraced Kosovo President and Mafia chieftain Hacim Thaci – who has since been credibly accused by the Council of Europe of stealing human organs from Serb victims and selling them on the black market.

Hillary owns Kosovo – she is not only personally responsible for its evolution from a province of the former Yugoslavia into a Mafia state, she is also the mother of the policy that made its very existence possible and which she carried into her years as Secretary of State under Barack Obama.

As the “Arab Spring” threatened to topple regimes throughout the Middle East, Mrs. Clinton decided to get on board the revolutionary choo-choo train and hitch her wagon to “moderate” Islamists who seemed like the wave of the future. She dumped Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak, whom she had previously described as a friend of the family, and supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s bid for power. In Libya, she sided with Islamist rebels out to overthrow Moammar Ghaddafi, celebrating his gruesome death by declaring “We came, we saw, he died.” And in Syria, she plotted with Gen. David Petraeus to get around President Obama’s reluctance to step into the Syrian quagmire by arming Syrian rebels allied with al-Qaeda and other terrorist gangs.

The Clintonian legacy of enabling Islamist terrorists extends to present day Kosovo, where the New York Times has revealed an extensive network of ISIS-affiliated madrassas – indoctrination centers – funded by the Saudis, the Qataris, and the Kuwaitis. The Times reports:

“Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store.”

“The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism” in the 17 years since the war ended with Kosovo’s independence, says the Times.

“Since then – much of that time under the watch of American officials – Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.”

Kosovo is jihadi heaven. The Times informs us that “Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars – including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children – who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.”

The Wahabist ideology carried by radical imams is directly financed by the Saudis, the Qataris, the Kuwaitis, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. All of these countries, by the way, are major donors to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary Clinton’s Islamist-friendly foreign policy created a terrorist base in Kosovo, and her friends the Saudis are instrumental in setting up the conditions whereby ISIS has gained a foothold in the heart of Europe. At sprawling Camp Bondesteel, where US troops have been stationed since the “liberation,” radical imams recruited three Kosovar employees, including Lavdrim Muhaxheri, who is today a commander of the Islamic State: his claim to fame is that he was videotaped executing a Syrian by blowing him to bits with a rocket-propelled grenade. (“I did not do anything less or more than what KLA soldiers did during the war,” he declared in an interview with an Albanian newspaper.)

thaciclintonAfter ignoring the problem for years, the authorities are making a show of rounding up terrorist suspects: five were recently arrested and given long sentences, but there are hundreds more where that came from.

Kosovo today is a fulcrum of terrorism, violence, crime, and virulent nationalism. The Parliament is in chaos as Albanian ultra-nationalists demanding union with Albania shut down sessions with smoke bombs and mob action. This is the legacy of the Clintons in the Balkans: a terrorist state run by Mafia chieftains that has become the epicenter of radical Islamism in the midst of Europe.

This is “blowback” with a vengeance, and Hillary Clinton and husband Bill have their fingerprints all over this outrage: but of course the “mainstream” media isn’t holding them to account. The Times story on the rise of ISIS in Kosovo never mentions the dubious duo, and is vague when it reports on the three employees of Camp Bondesteel who wound up in Syria’s terrorist camps. Who are the other two besides Muhaxheri? Did  they receive any military training? This Reuters report confirms that NATO brought Muhaxheri to Iraq, where he worked for two years at a military base.

And there’s more where he came from. As Reuters informs us:

“Thousands of Kosovars have moved on from Bondsteel to work with U.S. contractors on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, earning the kind of money they can only dream of in Kosovo.”

The terrorist pipeline runs from Kosovo, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and then on to Syria – where they fill the ranks of ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Could there be a more perfect illustration of how the principle of “blowback” works, and how we’re creating an army of Frankenstein monsters?

All this brings back memories  of Antiwar.com’s first days: this site was born as a protest against US intervention in the former Yugoslavia. Back then we warned again and again (and again!) about the specter of Islamist extremism as the energizing ideology of the Albanian separatists, both in Kosovo and Bosnia.

We were right on target.

That’s the great advantage of being a regular reader of Antiwar.com – we bring you the news before it happens. That’s years before it happens.

But we can’t continue to do it without your support – your financial assistance is critical to our continued existence.

Unlike the War Party, we here at Antiwar.com don’t get seven-figure donations from big foundations, foreign countries, or anybody else for that matter. We depend on you – our readers and supporters – for the funds we need to do our work.

And we need your help today. Our fundraising campaign has entered a crucial phase: a group of generous donors has contributed $29,000 – but we can’t get those funds until and unless we match that money in smaller donations.

That’s where you come in.

We’ve been holding down the fort for over 20 years – yes, that’s right. It seems like only yesterday when we first burst on the scene, but in reality a lot of time has passed – enough to demonstrate that we’ve been right so many times that we might as well be officially designated an authentic oracle.

It takes a lot of effort – and, yes, some money – to keep this site going. We’ve done our part, day in and day  out, for two decades – and now it’s time for you to do your part. We aren’t asking for a lot: what we spend annually is a drop in the bucket compared to what the War Party spends. And yet it’s enough to get by – and that’s all we ask.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.


25-05-2016

By Justin Raimondo

Author bio:

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].

Source: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2016/05/24/kosovo-hillary-clintons-legacy-terror/

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How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS



Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Every Friday, just yards from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store.

The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi government money and blamed for spreading Wahhabism — the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia — in the 17 years since an American-led intervention wrested tiny Kosovo from Serbian oppression.

Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.

Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars — including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children — who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.

They were radicalized and recruited, Kosovo investigators say, by a corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.

“They promoted political Islam,” said Fatos Makolli, the director of Kosovo’s counterterrorism police. “They spent a lot of money to promote it through different programs mainly with young, vulnerable people, and they brought in a lot of Wahhabi and Salafi literature. They brought these people closer to radical political Islam, which resulted in their radicalization.”

After two years of investigations, the police have charged 67 people, arrested 14 imams and shut down 19 Muslim organizations for acting against the Constitution, inciting hatred and recruiting for terrorism. The most recent sentences, which included a 10-year prison term, were handed down on Friday.

It is a stunning turnabout for a land of 1.8 million people that not long ago was among the most pro-American Muslim societies in the world. Americans were welcomed as liberators after leading months of NATO bombing in 1999 that spawned an independent Kosovo.

 American bombing of Serbian positions in Kosovo in 1999 during the air campaign by NATO. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press

After the war, United Nations officials administered the territory and American forces helped keep the peace. The Saudis arrived, too, bringing millions of euros in aid to a poor and war-ravaged land.

But where the Americans saw a chance to create a new democracy, the Saudis saw a new land to spread Wahhabism.

“There is no evidence that any organization gave money directly to people to go to Syria,” Mr. Makolli said. “The issue is they supported thinkers who promote violence and jihad in the name of protecting Islam.”

 A portrait of Bill Clinton on a back street in Pristina near Bill Clinton Boulevard. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Kosovo now has over 800 mosques, 240 of them built since the war and blamed for helping indoctrinate a new generation in Wahhabism. They are part of what moderate imams and officials here describe as a deliberate, long-term strategy by Saudi Arabia to reshape Islam in its image, not only in Kosovo but around the world.

Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2015 reveal a system of funding for mosques, Islamic centers and Saudi-trained clerics that spans Asia, Africa and Europe. In New Delhi alone, 140 Muslim preachers are listed as on the Saudi Consulate’s payroll.

All around Kosovo, families are grappling with the aftermath of years of proselytizing by Saudi-trained preachers. Some daughters refuse to shake hands with or talk to male relatives. Some sons have gone off to jihad. Religious vigilantes have threatened — or committed — violence against academics, journalists and politicians.

The Balkans, Europe’s historical fault line, have yet to heal from the ethnic wars of the 1990s. But they are now infected with a new intolerance, moderate imams and officials in the region warn.

How Kosovo and the very nature of its society was fundamentally recast is a story of a decades-long global ambition by Saudi Arabia to spread its hard-line version of Islam — heavily funded and systematically applied, including with threats and intimidation by followers.

 Idriz Bilalli, an imam in Podujevo, has sought to curb extremists and has received death threats. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The Missionaries Arrive

After the war ended in 1999, Idriz Bilalli, the imam of the central mosque in Podujevo, welcomed any help he could get.

Podujevo, home to about 90,000 people in northeast Kosovo, was a reasonably prosperous town with high schools and small businesses in an area hugged by farmland and forests. It was known for its strong Muslim tradition even in a land where people long wore their religion lightly.

After decades of Communist rule when Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia, men and women mingle freely, schools are coeducational, and girls rarely wear the veil. Still, Serbian paramilitary forces burned down 218 mosques as part of their war against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, who are 95 percent Muslim. Mr. Bilalli needed help to rebuild.

When two imams in their 30s, Fadil Musliu and Fadil Sogojeva, who were studying for master’s degrees in Saudi Arabia, showed up after the war with money to organize summer religion courses, Mr. Bilalli agreed to help.

The imams were just two of some 200 Kosovars who took advantage of scholarships after the war to study Islam in Saudi Arabia. Many, like them, returned with missionary zeal.

Soon, under Mr. Musliu’s tutelage, pupils started adopting a rigid manner of prayer, foreign to the moderate Islamic traditions of this part of Europe. Mr. Bilalli recognized the influence, and he grew concerned.

“This is Wahhabism coming into our society,” Mr. Bilalli, 52, said in a recent interview.

Mr. Bilalli trained at the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s, and as a student he had been warned by a Kosovar professor to guard against the cultural differences of Wahhabism. He understood there was a campaign of proselytizing, pushed by the Saudis.

“The first thing the Wahhabis do is to take members of our congregation, who understand Islam in the traditional Kosovo way that we had for generations, and try to draw them away from this understanding,” he said. “Once they get them away from the traditional congregation, then they start bombarding them with radical thoughts and ideas.”

“The main goal of their activity is to create conflict between people,” he said. “This first creates division, and then hatred, and then it can come to what happened in Arab countries, where war starts because of these conflicting ideas.”

From the outset, the newly arriving clerics sought to overtake the Islamic Community of Kosovo, an organization that for generations has been the custodian of the tolerant form of Islam that was practiced in the region, townspeople and officials say.

Muslims in Kosovo, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, follow the Hanafi school of Islam, traditionally a liberal version that is accepting of other religions.

But all around the country, a new breed of radical preachers was setting up in neighborhood mosques, often newly built with Saudi money.

In some cases, centuries-old buildings were bulldozed, including a historic library in Gjakova and several 400-year-old mosques, as well as shrines, graveyards and Dervish monasteries, all considered idolatrous in Wahhabi teaching.

From their bases, the Saudi-trained imams propagated Wahhabism’s tenets: the supremacy of Sharia law as well as ideas of violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam.

The Saudi-sponsored charities often paid salaries and overhead costs, and financed courses in religion, as well as English and computer classes, moderate imams and investigators explained.

But the charitable assistance often had conditions attached. Families were given monthly stipends on the condition that they attended sermons in the mosque and that women and girls wore the veil, human rights activists said.

“People were so needy, there was no one who did not join,” recalled Ajnishahe Halimi, a politician who campaigned to have a radical Albanian imam expelled after families complained of abuse.

Gjilan, a town of about 90,000 where a moderate imam was kidnapped and beaten by extremists. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Threats Intensify

Within a few years of the war’s end, the older generation of traditional clerics began to encounter aggression from young Wahhabis.

Paradoxically, some of the most serious tensions built in Gjilan, an eastern Kosovo town of about 90,000, where up to 7,000 American troops were stationed as part of Kosovo’s United Nations-run peacekeeping force at Camp Bondsteel.

“They came in the name of aid,” one moderate imam in Gjilan, Enver Rexhepi, said of the Arab charities. “But they came with a background of different intentions, and that’s where the Islamic religion started splitting here.”

One day in 2004, he recalled, he was threatened by one of the most aggressive young Wahhabis, Zekirja Qazimi, a former madrasa student then in his early 20s.

Inside his mosque, Mr. Rexhepi had long displayed an Albanian flag. Emblazoned with a double-headed eagle, it was a popular symbol of Kosovo’s liberation struggle.

But strict Muslim fundamentalists consider the depiction of any living being as idolatrous. Mr. Qazimi tore the flag down. Mr. Rexhepi put it back.

“It will not go long like this,” Mr. Qazimi told him angrily, Mr. Rexhepi recounted.

Within days, Mr. Rexhepi was abducted and savagely beaten by masked men in woods above Gjilan. He later accused Mr. Qazimi of having been behind the attack, but police investigations went nowhere.

Ten years later, in 2014, after two young Kosovars blew themselves up in suicide bombings in Iraq and Turkey, investigators began an extensive investigation into the sources of radicalism. Mr. Qazimi was arrested hiding in the same woods. On Friday, a court sentenced him to 10 years in prison after he faced charges of inciting hatred and recruiting for a terrorist organization.

Before Mr. Qazimi was arrested, his influence was profound, under what investigators now say was the sway of Egyptian-based extremists and the patronage of Saudi and other gulf Arab sponsors.

By the mid-2000s, Saudi money and Saudi-trained clerics were already exerting influence over the Islamic Community of Kosovo. The leadership quietly condoned the drift toward conservatism, critics of the organization say.

Mr. Qazimi was appointed first to a village mosque, and then to El-Kuddus mosque on the edge of Gjilan. Few could counter him, not even Mustafa Bajrami, his former teacher, who was elected head of the Islamic Community of Gjilan in 2012.

Mr. Bajrami comes from a prominent religious family — his father was the first chief mufti of Yugoslavia during the Communist period. He holds a doctorate in Islamic studies. Yet he remembers pupils began rebelling against him whenever he spoke against Wahhabism.

He soon realized that the students were being taught beliefs that differed from the traditional moderate curriculum by several radical imams in lectures after hours. He banned the use of mosques after official prayer times.

Hostility only grew. He would notice a dismissive gesture in the congregation during his sermons, or someone would curse his wife, or mutter “apostate” or “infidel” as he passed.

In the village, Mr. Qazimi’s influence eventually became so disruptive that residents demanded his removal after he forbade girls and boys to shake hands. But in Gjilan he continued to draw dozens of young people to his after-hours classes.

“They were moving 100 percent according to lessons they were taking from Zekirja Qazimi,” Mr. Bajrami said in an interview. “One hundred percent, in an ideological way.”

Evening prayer at the mosque of the radical imam Fadil Musliu on the outskirts of Pristina, the capital. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Extremism Spreads

Over time, the Saudi-trained imams expanded their work.

By 2004, Mr. Musliu, one of the master’s degree students from Podujevo who studied in Saudi Arabia, had graduated and was imam of a mosque in the capital, Pristina.

In Podujevo, he set up a local charitable organization called Devotshmeria, or Devotion, which taught religion classes and offered social programs for women, orphans and the poor. It was funded by Al Waqf al Islami, a Saudi organization that was one of the 19 eventually closed by investigators.

Mr. Musliu put a cousin, Jetmir Rrahmani, in charge.

“Then I knew something was starting that would not bring any good,” said Mr. Bilalli, the moderate cleric who had started out teaching with him. In 2004, they had a core of 20 Wahhabis.

“That was only the beginning,” Mr. Bilalli said. “They started multiplying.”

Mr. Bilalli began a vigorous campaign against the spread of unauthorized mosques and Wahhabi teaching. In 2008, he was elected head of the Islamic Community of Podujevo and instituted religion classes for women, in an effort to undercut Devotshmeria.

As he sought to curb the extremists, Mr. Bilalli received death threats, including a note left in the mosque’s alms box. An anonymous telephone caller vowed to make him and his family disappear, he said.

“Anyone who opposes them, they see as an enemy,” Mr. Bilalli said.

He appealed to the leadership of the Islamic Community of Kosovo. But by then it was heavily influenced by Arab gulf sponsors, he said, and he received little support.

When Mr. Bilalli formed a union of fellow moderates, the Islamic Community of Kosovo removed him from his post. His successor, Bekim Jashari, equally concerned by the Saudi influence, nevertheless kept up the fight.

“I spent 10 years in Arab countries and specialized in sectarianism within Islam,” Mr. Jashari said. “It’s very important to stop Arab sectarianism from being introduced to Kosovo.”

Mr. Jashari had a couple of brief successes. He blocked the Saudi-trained imam Mr. Sogojeva from opening a new mosque, and stopped a payment of 20,000 euros, about $22,400, intended for it from the Saudi charity Al Waqf al Islami.

He also began a website, Speak Now, to counter Wahhabi teaching. But he remains so concerned about Wahhabi preachers that he never lets his 19-year-old son attend prayers on his own.

The radical imams Mr. Musliu and Mr. Sogojeva still preach in Pristina, where for prayers they draw crowds of young men who glare at foreign reporters.

Mr. Sogojeva dresses in a traditional robe and banded cleric’s hat, but his newly built mosque is an incongruous modern multistory building. He admonished his congregation with a rapid-fire list of dos and don’ts in a recent Friday sermon.

Neither imam seems to lack funds.

In an interview, Mr. Musliu insisted that he was financed by local donations, but confirmed that he had received Saudi funding for his early religion courses.

The instruction, he said, is not out of line with Kosovo’s traditions. The increase in religiosity among young people was natural after Kosovo gained its freedom, he said.

“Those who are not believers and do not read enough, they feel a bit shocked,” he said. “But we coordinated with other imams, and everything was in line with Islam.”

The entrance to the grounds of the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Decani in western Kosovo. In January, four armed Islamists passed through the checkpoint and were arrested at the monastery gates. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

A Tilt Toward Terrorism

The influence of the radical clerics reached its apex with the war in Syria, as they extolled the virtues of jihad and used speeches and radio and television talks shows to urge young people to go there.

Mr. Qazimi, who was given the 10-year prison sentence, even organized a summer camp for his young followers.

“It is obligated for every Muslim to participate in jihad,” he told them in one videotaped talk. “The Prophet Muhammad says that if someone has a chance to take part in jihad and doesn’t, he will die with great sins.”

“The blood of infidels is the best drink for us Muslims,” he said in another recording.

Among his recruits, investigators say, were three former civilian employees of American contracting companies at Camp Bondsteel, where American troops are stationed. They included Lavdrim Muhaxheri, an Islamic State leader who was filmed executing a man in Syria with a rocket-propelled grenade.

After the suicide bombings, the authorities opened a broad investigation and found that the Saudi charity Al Waqf al Islami had been supporting associations set up by preachers like Mr. Qazimi in almost every regional town.

Al Waqf al Islami was established in the Balkans in 1989. Most of its financing came from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, Kosovo investigators said in recent interviews. Unexplained gaps in its ledgers deepened suspicions that the group was surreptitiously funding clerics who were radicalizing young people, they said.

Investigators from Kosovo’s Financial Intelligence Unit found that Al Waqf al Islami, which had an office in central Pristina and a staff of 12, ran through €10 million from 2000 through 2012. Yet they found little paperwork to explain much of the spending.

More than €1 million went to mosque building. But one and a half times that amount was disbursed in unspecified cash withdrawals, which may have also gone to enriching its staff, the investigators said.

Only 7 percent of the budget was shown to have gone to caring for orphans, the charity’s stated mission.

By the summer of 2014, the Kosovo police shut down Al Waqf al Islami, along with 12 other Islamic charities, and arrested 40 people.

The charity’s head offices, in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, have since changed their name to Al Waqf, apparently separating themselves from the Balkans operation.

Asked about the accusations in a telephone interview, Nasr el Damanhoury, the director of Al Waqf in the Netherlands, said he had no direct knowledge of his group’s operations in Kosovo or the Balkans.

The charity has ceased all work outside the Netherlands since he took over in 2013, he said. His predecessor had returned to Morocco and could not be reached, and Saudi board members would not comment, he said.

“Our organization has never supported extremism,” Mr. Damanhoury said. “I have known it since 1989. I joined them three years ago. They have always been a mild group.”


Kosovars celebrating the independence of Kosovo from Serbia in 2008. Credit Bela Szandelszky/Associated Press

Unheeded Warnings

Why the Kosovar authorities — and American and United Nations overseers — did not act sooner to forestall the spread of extremism is a question being intensely debated.

As early as 2004, the prime minister at the time, Bajram Rexhepi, tried to introduce a law to ban extremist sects. But, he said in a recent interview at his home in northern Kosovo, European officials told him that it would violate freedom of religion.

“It was not in their interest, they did not want to irritate some Islamic countries,” Mr. Rexhepi said. “They simply did not do anything.”

Not everyone was unaware of the dangers, however.

At a meeting in 2003, Richard C. Holbrooke, once the United States special envoy to the Balkans, warned Kosovar leaders not to work with the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo, an umbrella organization of Saudi charities whose name still appears on many of the mosques built since the war, along with that of the former Saudi interior minister, Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz.

A year later, it was among several Saudi organizations that were shut down in Kosovo when it came under suspicion as a front for Al Qaeda. Another was Al-Haramain, which in 2004 was designated by the United States Treasury Department as having links to terrorism.

Yet even as some organizations were shut down, others kept working. Staff and equipment from Al-Haramain shifted to Al Waqf al Islami, moderate imams familiar with their activities said.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia appears to have reduced its aid to Kosovo. Kosovo Central Bank figures show grants from Saudi Arabia averaging €100,000 a year for the past five years.

It is now money from Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — which each average approximately €1 million a year — that propagates the same hard-line version of Islam. The payments come from foundations or individuals, or sometimes from the Ministry of Zakat (Almsgiving) from the various governments, Kosovo’s investigators say.

But payments are often diverted through a second country to obscure their origin and destination, they said. One transfer of nearly €500,000 from a Saudi individual was frozen in 2014 since it was intended for a Kosovo teenager, according to the investigators and a State Department report.

Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations were still raising millions from “deep-pocket donors and charitable organizations” based in the gulf, the Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David S. Cohen, said in a speech in 2014 at the Center for a New American Security.

While Saudi Arabia has made progress in stamping out funding for Al Qaeda, sympathetic donors in the kingdom were still funding other terrorist groups, he said.

Today the Islamic Community of Kosovo has been so influenced by the largess of Arab donors that it has seeded prominent positions with radical clerics, its critics say.

Ahmet Sadriu, a spokesman for Islamic Community of Kosovo, said the group held to Kosovo’s traditionally tolerant version of Islam. But calls are growing to overhaul an organization now seen as having been corrupted by outside forces and money.

Kosovo’s interior minister, Skender Hyseni, said he had recently reprimanded some of the senior religious officials.

“I told them they were doing a great disservice to their country,” he said in an interview. “Kosovo is by definition, by Constitution, a secular society. There has always been historically an unspoken interreligious tolerance among Albanians here, and we want to make sure that we keep it that way.”

 Albert Berisha, sentenced to prison for going to Syria to fight, says he did not join the Islamic State. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Families Divided

For some in Kosovo, it may already be too late.

Families have been torn apart. Some of Kosovo’s best and brightest have been caught up in the lure of jihad.

One of Kosovo’s top political science graduates, Albert Berisha, said he left in 2013 to help the Syrian people in the uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. He abandoned his attempt after only two weeksand he says he never joined the Islamic State — but has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison, pending appeal.

Ismet Sakiqi, an official in the prime minister’s office and a veteran of the liberation struggle, was shaken to find his 22-year-old son, Visar, a law student, arrested on his way through Turkey to Syria with his fiancée. He now visits his son in the same Kosovo prison where he was detained under Serbian rule.

And in the hamlet of Busavate, in the wooded hills of eastern Kosovo, a widower, Shemsi Maliqi, struggles to explain how his family has been divided. One of his sons, Alejhim, 27, has taken his family to join the Islamic State in Syria.

It remains unclear how Alejhim became radicalized. He followed his grandfather, training as an imam in Gjilan, and served in the village mosque for six years. Then, two years ago, he asked his father to help him travel to Egypt to study.

Mr. Maliqi still clings to the hope that his son is studying in Egypt rather than fighting in Syria. But Kosovo’s counterterrorism police recently put out an international arrest warrant for Alejhim.

“Better that he comes back dead than alive,” Mr. Maliqi, a poor farmer, said. “I sent him to school, not to war. I sold my cow for him.”

Alejhim had married a woman from the nearby village of Vrbice who was so conservative that she was veiled up to her eyes and refused to shake hands with her brother-in-law.

The wife’s mother angrily refused to be interviewed. Her daughter did what was expected and followed her husband to Syria, she said.

Secretly, Alejhim drew three others — his sister; his best friend, who married his sister; and his wife’s sister — to follow him to Syria, too. The others have since returned, but remain radical and estranged from the family.

Alejhim’s uncle, Fehmi Maliqi, like the rest of the family, is dismayed. “It’s a catastrophe,” he said.


21-05-2016

By Carlota Gall

Source: The New York Times

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Kosovo history – Fourth part



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Donald Trump’s foreign policy adviser: Al-Qaeda destroyed the Serbian army in Kosovo



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Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, published the list of his foreign policy advisers. One of them, claim the US media, is the worst choice possible.

The list of advisers is headed by Senator Jeff Sessions, and includes Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

Phares is the former adviser to another presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Phares is described as a neo-conservative and “an academic who is involved in Christian militia wing of the civil war in Lebanon”.

US media deemed Phares as an inappropriate analyst of US foreign policy, while one of his statements that is being considered unfitting is regarding NATO’s bombing of Serbia and Kosovo.

“An all-out campaign by Al-Qaeda destroyed the Serbian Army in Kosovo and led to regime change in Serbia”.

In an analysis, published one year before Kosovo declared independence, Phares stated that “if that [independence] happens, then the same must also offered Bosnian Serbs.”


22-03-2016

Source: GazzetaExpress

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


07-09-2015

Source: South Front

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Kosovo: An evil little war



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Six Years Later, Kosovo Still Wrong

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

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

Illegal

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Article 1

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

“Article 7

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

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

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

Illegitimate

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

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

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

Unjust

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

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

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

Monument to Evil

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

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

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


By Nebojsa Malic

25-03-2005

Source: Antiwar.com

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Donald Trump: It was a great mistake to bomb the Serbs who were our allies in both world wars



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Donald Trump with Larry King on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing of Serbia criticized Bill Clinton and criminal attack on Serbs, the ally of America in both wars.

“The Clintons have made a mess in the Balkans and Kosovo. Look what we did to Serbia in an aerial bombardment from a safe height. Those same Serbs rescued American pilots in World War II.

It is a mistake that we bombed a nation that has been our ally in two world wars. Clintons believe that was a success, and I find it shameful.

I extend an apology to all the Serbs for the error of American policy, primarily Clinton’s. We need allies in fight against Islamic terrorism who have combat experience fighting this evil – and that in Europe are the Russians and the Serbs.

If I become the head of America the foreign policy will change the course that has until now often been wrong”.

23-12-2015

Source: Newswatch Report

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Kosovo history – Third part



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: No Kosovo Unesco

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Kosovo history – Second part



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: No Kosovo Unesco

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Kosovo history – First part



Monah na rusevinama crkve

In the thousand year long-history of Serbs, Kosovo and Metohia were for many centuries the state center and chief religious stronghold, the heartland of their culture and springwell of its historical traditions. For a people who lived longer under foreign rule than in their own state, Kosovo and Metohia are the foundations on which national and state identity were preserved in times of tribulation and founded in times of freedom.

The Serbian national ideology which emerged out of Kosovo’s tribulations and Kosovo’s suffering (wherein the 1389 St. Vitus Day Battle in Kosovo Polje occupies the central place), are the pillars of that grand edifice that constitutes the Serbian national pantheon. When it is said that without Kosovo there can be no Serbia or Serbian nation, it’s not only the revived 19th century national romanticism: that implies more than just the territory which is covered with telling monuments of its culture and civilization, more than just a feeling of hard won national and state independence: Kosovo and Metohia are considered the key to the identity of the Serbs. It is no wonder, then, that the many turning-points in Serbian history took place in the and around Kosovo and Metohia. When the Serbs on other Balkan lands fought to preserve their religious freedoms and national rights, their banners bore as their beacon the Kosovo idea embodied in the Kosovo covenant which was woven into folk legend and upheld in uprisings against alien domination. The Kosovo covenant – the choice of freedom in the celestial empire instead of humiliation and slavery in the temporal world – although irrational as a collective consciousness, is still the one permanent connective tissue that imbues the Serbs with the feeling of national entity and lends meaning to its join efforts.

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The Age of Ascent

Kosovo and Metohia, land lying in the heart of the Balkans where virutal trade routes had crossed since ancient times, was settled by Slav tribes between the 7th and 10th centuries. The Serbian medieval state, which under the Nemanjic dynasty (12th to 14th century) grew into a major power in the Balkan peninsula, developed in the nearby mountain regions, in Raska (with Bosnia) and in Duklja (later Zeta and then Montenegro). The center of the Nemanjic slate moved to Kosovo and Metohia after the fall of Constantinople (1204). At its peak, in the early the 14th century, these lands were the richest and the most densely populated areas, as well as state and its cultural and administrative centers.

In his wars with Byzantium, Stefan Nemanja conquered various parts of what is today Kosovo, and his successors, Stefan the First Crown (became king in 1217), expanded his state by including Prizren. The entire Kosovo and Metohia region became a permanent part of the Serbian state by the beginning of the 13th century. Soon after becoming autocephalous (1219), the Serbian Orthodox Church moved its seat to Metohia. The heirs of the first archbishop Saint Sava (prince Rastko Nemanjic) built several additional temples around the Church of the Holy Apostles, lying the ground for what was to become the Patriarchate of Pec. The founding of a separate bishopric (1220) near Pec was indicative of the region’s political importance growing along with religious influence. With the proclamation of the empire, the patriarchal throne was permanently established at the Pec monastery in 1346. Serbia’s rulers allotted the fertile valleys between Pec, Prizren, Mitrovica and Pristina and nearby areas to churches and monasteries, and the whole region eventually acquired the name Metohia, from the Greek metoch which mean an estate owned by the church.

Studded with more churches and monasteries than any other Serbian land, Kosovo and Metohia became the spiritual nucleus of Serbs. Lying at the crossroads of the main Balkan routes connecting the surrounding Serbian lands of Raska, Bosnia, Zeta and the Scutari littoral with the Macedonia and the Morava region, Kosovo and Metohia were, geographically speaking, the ideal place for a state and cultural center. Girfled by mountain gorges and comparatively safe from outside attacks, Kosovo and Metohia were not chosen by chance as the site for building religious centers, church mausoleums and palaces. The rich holdings of Decant monastery provided and economic underpinning for the wealth of spiritual activities in the area. Learned monks and religious dignitaries assembled in large monastic communities (which were well provided for by the rich feudal holdings), strongly influenced the spiritual shaping of the nation, especially in strengthening local cults and fostering the Orthodox doctrine.

In the monasteries of Metohia and Kosovo, old theological and literary writings were transcribed and new ones penned, including the lives of local saints, from ordinary monks and priors to the archbishops and rulers of the house of Nemanjic. The libraries and scriptorias were stocked with the best liturgical and theoretical writings from all over Byzantine commonwealth, especially with various codes from the monasteries of Mounth Athos with which close ties were established. The architecture of the churches and monasteries developed and the artistic value of their frescoes increased as Serbian medieval culture flourished, and by the end of the 13th century new ideas applied in architecture and in the technique of fresco painting surpassed the traditional Byzantine models. With time, especially in centuries to come, the people came to believe that Kosovo was the center of Serbian Orthodoxy and the most resistant stronghold of the Serbian nation.

The most important buildings to be endowed by the last Nemanjices were erected in Kosovo and Metohia, where their courts which became their capitals were situated. From King Milutin to emperor Uros, court life evolved in the royal residences in southern Kosovo and Prizren. There rulers summoned the landed gentry, received foreign legates and issued charters. The court of Svrcin stood on the banks of Lake Sazlia, and it was there that Stefan Dusan was crowned king in 1331. On the opposite side was the palace in Pauni, where King Milutin often dwelled. The court in Nerodimlje was the favourite residence of King Stefan Decanski, and it was at the palace in Stimlje that emperor Uros issued his charters. Oral tradition, especially epic poems, usually mention Prizren as emperor Dusan’s capital, for he frequently sojourned there when he was still king.

Among dozens of churches and monasteries erected in medieval Kosovo and Metohia by rulers, ecclesiastical dignitaries and the local nobility, Decani outside of Pec, built by Stefan Uros III Decanski, stands out for its monumental size and artistic beauty. King Milutin left behind the largest number of endowments in Kosovo, one of the finest of which is Gracanica monastery (1321) near Pristina, certainly the most beautiful medieval monument in the Balkans. The monasteries of Banjska dear Zvecan (early 14th century) and Our Lady of Ljeviska in Prizren (1307), although devastated during Ottoman rule, are eloquent examples of the wealth and power of the Serbian state at the start of the 14th century. Also of artistic importance is the complex of churches in Juxtaposition to the Patriarchate of Pec. The biggest of the royal endowments, the Church of the Holy Archangels near Prizren, erected by Tsar Stefan Dusan in the Bistrica River Canyon, was destroyed in the 16th century.

Founding chapter whereby Serbian rulers granted large estates to monasteries offer a reliable demographic picture of the area. Fertile plains were largely owned by the large monasteries, from Chilandar in Mount Athos to Decant in Metohia. The data given in the charters show that during the period of the political rise of Serbian state, the population gradually moved from the mountain plateau in the west and north southward to the fertile valleys of Metohia and Kosovo. The census of monastic estates evince both a rise in the population and appreciable economic progress. The estates of the Banjska monastery numbered 83 villages, and those of the Holy Archangels numbered.

Milutin i Dusan

Especially noteworthy is the 1330 Decani Charter, with its detailed list of households and of chartered villages. The Decant estate was an extensive area which encompassed parts of what is today northwestern Albania. Historical analysis and onomastic research reveal that only three of the 89 settlements were mentioned as being Albanian. Out of the 2,166 farming homesteads and 2,666 houses in cattle-grazing land, 44 were registrated as Albanian (1,8%). More recent research indicates that apart from the Slav, i.e. Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohia, the remaining population of non-Slav origin did not account for more than 2% of the total population in the 14th century.

The growing political power, territorial expansion and economic wealth of the Serbian state had a major impact on ethnic processes. Northern Albania up to the Mati River was a part of the Serbian Kingdom, but it was not until the conquest of Tsar Dusan that the entire Albania (with the exception of Durazzo) entered the Serbian Empire. Fourteenth century records mention mobile Albanian mobile cattle sheds on mountain slopes in the imminent vicinity of Metohia, and sources in the first half of the 15th century note their presence (albeit in smaller number) in the flatland farming settlements.

Stefan Dusan’s Empire stretched from the Danube to the Peloponnese and from Bulgaria to the Albanian littoral. After his death it began to disintegrate into areas controlled by powerful regional lords. Kosovo and parts of Metohia came under the rule of King Vukasin Mrnjavcevic, the co-ruler of the last Nemanjic, Tsar Uros. The earliest clashes with the Turks, who edged their way into Europe at the start of the 14th century, were noted during the reign of Stefan Dusan. The 1371 battle of the Marica, near Crnomen in which Turkish troops rode rougshod over the huge army of the Mrnjavcevic brothers, the feudal lords of Macedonia, Kosovo and neighboring regions, heralded the decisive Turkish invasion of Serbian lands. King Vukasin’s successor King Marko (the legendary hero of folk poems, Kralyevich Marko) recognized the supreme authority of the sultan and as vasal took part in his campaigns against neighboring Christian states. The Turkish onslaught is remembered as the apocalypse of the Serbian people, and this tradition was cherished during the long period of Ottoman rule. During the Battle of the Marica, a monk wrote that “the worst of all times” had come, when “the living envied the dead”.

Unaware of the danger that were looming over their lands, the regional lords tried to take advantage of the new situation and enlarge their holdings. On the eve of the battle of Kosovo, the northern parts of Kosovo where in possession of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic, and parts of Metohia belonged to his brother-in-law Vuk Brankovic. By quelling the resistance of the local landed gentry, Prince Lazar eventually emerged as the most powerful regional lord and came to dominate the lands of Moravian Serbia. Tvrtko I Kotromanic, King of Bosnia, Prince Lazar’s closest ally, aspired to the political legacy of the saintly dynasty as descendant of the Nemanjices and by being crowned with the “dual crown” of Bosnia and Serbia over St. Sava grave in monastery Mileseva.

The expected clash with the Turks took place in Kosovo Polje, outside of Pristina, on St. Vitus day, June 15 (28), 1389. The troops of Prince Lazar, Vuk Brankovic and King Tvrtko I, confronted the army of Emir Murad I, which included his Christian vassals. Both Prince Lazar and emir Murad were killed in the head-on collision between the two armies (approximately 30,000 troops on both sides). Contemporaries were especially impressed by the tidings that twelve Serbian knights (most probably led by legendary hero Milos Obilic) broke through the tight Turkish ranks and killed the emir in his tent.

car lazar

Military-wise no real victor emerged from the battle. Tvrtko’s emissaries told the courts of Europe that the Christian army had defeated the infidels, although Prince Lazar’s successors, exhausted by their heavy losses, immediately sought peace and conceded to became vassals to the new sultan. Vuk Brankovic, unjustly remembered in epic tradition as a traitor who slipped away from the battle field, resisted them until 1392, when he was forced to become their vassal. The Turks took Brankovic’s lands and gave them to a more loyal vassal, Prince Stefan Lazarevic, son of Prince Lazar thereby creating a rift between their heirs. After the battle of Angora in 1402, Prince Stefan took advantage of the chaos in the Ottoman state. In Constantinople he received the title of despot, and upon returning home, having defeated Brankovic’s relatives he took control over the lands of his father. Despite frequent internal conflicts and his vassal obligations to the Turks and Hungarians, despot Stefan revived and economically consolidated the Serbian state, the center of which was gradually moving northward. Under his rule Novo Brdo in Kosovo became the economic center of Serbia where in he issued a Law of Mines in 1412.

Stefan appointed as his successor his nephew despot Djuradj Brankovic, whose rule was marked by fresh conflicts and finally the fall of Kosovo and Metohia to the Turks. The campaign of the Christian army led by Hungarian nobleman Janos Hunyadi ended in 1448 in heavy defeat in a clash with Murad II’s forces, again in Kosovo Polje. This was the last concertive attempt in the Middle Ages to rout the Turks out of this part of Europe

After the Fall of Constantinople (1453), Mehmed II the Conqueror advanced onto Despotate of Serbia. For some time voivode Nikola Skobaljic offered valiant resistance in Kosovo, but after a series of consecutive campaigns and lengthy sieges in 1455, the economic center of Serbia, Novo Brdo fell. The Turks then proceeded to conquer other towns in Kosovo and Metohia four years before the entire Serbian Despotate collapsed with the fall of new capital Smederevo. Turkish onslaught, marked by frequent military raids, the plunder and devastation of entire regions, the destruction of monasteries and churches, gradually narrowed down Serbian state territories, triggering off a large-scale migration northwards, to regions beyond reach to the conquerors. The biggest migration took place from 1480-1481, when a large part of the population of northern Serbia moved to Hungary and Transylvania, to bordering region along the Sava and Danube rivers, where the descendants of the fleeing despots of Smederevo resisted the Turks for several decades to come.


Source: No Kosovo Unesco

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German intelligence service had mafia dossier on Kosovan President since 2005



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The leak of a secret BND dossier on Hachim Thaci which reports that the newly-elected Kosovan President had links to a contract killer and was involved in the trafficking of people, arms and drugs is more confirmation that Western politicians have chosen to support Thaci in the knowledge of his criminal past.

Wikileaks has leaked a secret German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) dossier on Hachim Thaci that dates back to 2005, after the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader had served the first of his two terms in office as Kosovan Prime Minister.

The dossier reports that Thaci, who has recently been elected president of Kosovo, was one of the leaders of organized crime in Kosovo, and part of an international criminal network with involvement in contract killings and the trafficking of people, arms and drugs.

“Kosovo is a center of organized crime that supervises criminal activity across Europe,” the BDN reports.

“Kosovo is divided into three zones of interest of organized crime – Drenica, Dukagjini (Metohija) and the north-eastern part of Kosovo around the river Lab, which are controlled by former KLA leaders. They are closely linked with the local government and Albanian politicians who also have influence in southern areas of Serbia and Macedonia.”

“The Drenica region is controlled by the so-called Drenica group organized around Thaci Hashim, Haliti Xhavit and Selimi Rexhep. This group works closely with organized crime structures in Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic,” the BND wrote.

The dossier reports that Hashim’s Drenica group of criminals established their own security forces, with the direct support of the Czech and Albanian mafia in the Czech Republic.

Tachi and Merkel

Kosovo’s National Intelligence Service (SHIK) also engages in criminal activity, the BND wrote.

“SHIK came into being in its current form in the second half of 1999 in Pristina at the initiative of Thaci … the service engages in spying, intimidation and elimination of democratic forces (via professional killers), particularly the opponents of organized crime. There are well-organized SHIK branches in the Albanian diaspora,” the BND writes, and goes on to name the leaders of the SHIK network in Germany.

The BND reveals that the Kosovan President-elect is suspected to have given orders to a contract killer called Bekimi, and has links to money laundering, fuel and cigarette smuggling through the Salbatring company in Pristina.

According to the agency’s intelligence from 2003, he was involved with wide-scale arms and drugs smuggling through a criminal network in Hamburg.

“One of the biggest financiers of Thaci and the KLA during the war in Kosovo in 1999 and the war in Macedonia was a group of organized criminals centered around Mehmeti Nazar, who lives in Dallas, Texas,” the BND wrote.

Another of Thaci’s backers is Ekrem Lluka, who is a “known smuggler of all kinds of goods: weapons, cigarettes, fuel, trucks and appliances” and suspected of involvement in the financing of Islamic terrorist groups.

​The existence of the decade-old BND dossier on Thaci is further evidence that western governments have supported Thaci’s government of Kosovo, in which he has twice served as Prime Minister, in full knowledge of his links to organized crime.

Thaci, who is currently Kosovo’s Foreign Minister, is due to be inaugurated as president of Kosovo on April 7 after a majority of Kosovo’s parliament voted for his election. Among those who congratulated him on the election were the German ambassador Angelika Viets, and her counterparts from the US, UK, France and Italy.


01-04-2016
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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