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



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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

132. srpsko carstvo 1346

Serbian Empire of Stefan Dušan in 1355

The Serbian people under Ottoman rule in the 16th century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 ottoman_empire_1481-1683

The Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1683

A revival of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1557

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

143. pecka patrijarsija 1557

Territory of the Second Patriarchate of Peć in 1557

The territory and organization of the Patriarchate of P

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patriarchate_of_Peć_09_2010_1

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

The inter-confessional relations, rights and privileges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

decani

Dečani monastery (14th century) in Kosovo & Metochia

A rebellion of the Serbs in Banat in 1594

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kosovo-big_16738.jpg.axd

Gračanica monastery (14th century) in Kosovo & Metochia

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

ENDNOTES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[26]  Ibid., p. 129.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid., p. 392.

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

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

[37] Војводина, p. 407.

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

[39] Историја народа Југославије, p. 464.

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

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

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

[43] Ibid., p. 401.

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

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

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

[47] Историја народа Југославије, p. 462.

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

[49] Војводина, p. 389.

[50] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[58] Ibid., p. 463.

[59] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2014

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A short history of Kosovo-Metochia



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

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

There are three reasons for such population change:

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

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

Mapa_srpski_manastiri_na_Kosovu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source:

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

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

Note:

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

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

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Is Kosovo a Contested Land?



guilty-ring-call-trade

Serbia entered on December 14th, 2015 a final stage of the negotiations to become a full member of the European Union’s (the EU). The western (the USA/EU) client Serbia’s Government is currently under the direct pressure from Brussels to recognize an independence of the narco-mafia Kosovo’s quasi state for the exchange to join the EU but not before 2020. It is only a question of weeks that a western colony of Serbia has to finally declare its position towards Kosovo’s independence. The President of Serbian Academy of Science and Arts, like all other western bots in Serbia, already publicly announced his official position in regard to this question: Serbia’s Government has to finally inform the Serbian nation that Kosovo is not any more an integral part of Serbia and therefore the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Belgrade is only way towards a prosperous future of the country that is within the EU (and the NATO’s pact as well).

In the following paragraphs we would like to present the most important features of the “Kosovo Question” for the better understanding of the present political situation in which the Serb nation is questioned by the western “democracies” upon both its own national identity and national pride.

Prelude

The southeastern province of the Republic of Serbia – under the administrative title of Kosovo-Metochia (in the English only Kosovo), was at the very end of the 20th century in the center of international relations and global politics too due to the NATO’s 78 days of the “humanitarian” military intervention against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (The FRY which was composed by Serbia and Montenegro)[1] in 1999 (March 24th–June 10th). As it was not approved and verified by the General Assembly or the Security Council of the United Nations, the US-led operation “Merciful Angel” opened among the academicians a fundamental question of the purpose and nature of the “humanitarian” interventions in the world like it was previously in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995, Rwanda in 1994 or Somalia in 1991−1995.[2] More precisely, it provoked dilemmas of the misusing ethical, legal and political aspects of armed “humanitarian” interventions as the responsibility to protect for the very reason that it became finally obvious in 2008 that the NATO’s “humanitarian” military intervention in 1999 was primarily aimed to lay the foundation for Kosovo’s independence and its separation from Serbia with transformation of the province into the US−EU’s political-economic colony.[3]

Kosovo as contested land between the Serbs and the Albanians

The province of Kosovo-Metochia (Kosova in the Albanian), as historically contested land between the Serbs and the Albanians, did not, does not and will not have an equal significance for those two nations. For the Albanians, Kosovo was all the time just a provincial land populated by them without any cultural or historical importance except for the single historical event that the first Albanian nationalistic political league was proclaimed in the town of Prizren in Metochia (the western part of Kosovo) in 1878 and existed only till 1881. However, both Kosovo as a province and the town of Prizren were chosen to host the First (pan-Albanian) Prizren League[4] only for the very propaganda reason – to emphasize allegedly predominantly the “Albanian” character of both Kosovo and Prizren regardless to the very fact that at that time the Serbs were a majority of population either in Kosovo or in Prizren.[5] Kosovo was never part of Albania and the Albanians from Albania had no important cultural, political or economic links with Kosovo’s Albanians regardless the fact that the overwhelming majority of Kosovo Albanians originally came from the North Albania after the First Great Serbian Migration from Kosovo in 1690.[6]

However, quite contrary to the Albanian case, Kosovo-Metochia is the focal point of the Serbian nationhood, statehood, traditions, customs, history, culture, church and above all of the ethno-national identity. It was exactly Kosovo-Metochia to be the central administrative-cultural part of the medieval Serbia with the capital in Prizren. The administrative center of the medieval and later Ottoman-time Serbian Orthodox Church was also in Kosovo-Metochia in the town of Peć (Ipek in the Turkish; Pejë in the Albanian). Before the Muslim Kosovo’s Albanians started to demolish the Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries after June 1999, there were around 1.500 Serbian Christian shrines in this province.[7] Kosovo-Metochia is even today called by the Serbs as the “Serbian Holy Land” while the town of Prizren is known for the Serbs as the “Serbian Jerusalem” and the “Imperial town” (Tsarigrad) in which there was an imperial court of the Emperor Stefan Dushan of Serbia (1346−1355). The Serbs, differently to the Albanians, have a plenty of national folk songs and legends about Kosovo-Metochia, especially in regard to the Kosovo Battle of 1389 in which they lost state independence to the Ottoman Turks.[8]

Nevertheless, there is nothing similar in the Albanian case with regard to Kosovo. For instance, there is no single Albanian church or monastery in this province from the medieval time or any important monument as the witness of the Albanian ethnic presence in the province before the time of the rule by the Ottoman Sultanate. Even the Muslim mosques from the Ottoman time (1455−1912) claimed by the Albanians to belong to the Albanian national heritage, were in fact built by the Ottoman authorities but not by the ethnic Albanians. The Albanian national folk songs are not mentioning the medieval Kosovo that is one of the crucial evidences that they simply have nothing in common with the pre-Ottoman Kosovo. All Kosovo’s place-names are of the Slavic (Serb) origin but not of the Albanian. The Albanians during the last 50 years are just renaming or adapting the original place-names according to their vocabulary what is making a wrong impression that the province is authentically the Albanian. We have not to forget the very fact that the word Kosovo is of the Slavic (the Serb) origin meaning a kind of eagle (kos) while the same word means simply nothing in the Albanian language. Finally, in the Serbian tradition Kosovo-Metochia was always a part of the “Old Serbia”[9] while in the Albanian tradition Kosovo was never called as any kind of Albania.

The province became contested between the Serbs and the Albanians when the later started to migrate from the North Albania to Kosovo-Metochia after 1690 with getting a privileged status as the Muslims by the Ottoman authorities. A Muslim Albanian terror against the Christian Serbs at the Ottoman time[10] resulted in the Abanization of the province to such extent that the ethnic structure of Kosovo-Metochia became drastically changed in the 20th century. A very high Muslim Albanian birthrate played an important role in the process of Kosovo’s Albanization too. Therefore, after the WWII the ethnic breakdown of the Albanians in the province was around 67 percent. The new and primarily anti-Serb Communist authorities of the Socialist Yugoslavia legally forbade to some 100.000 WWII Serb refugees from Kosovo-Metochia to return to their homes after the collapse of the Greater Albania in 1945 of which Kosovo was an integral part. A Croat-Slovenian Communist dictator of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito (1892−1980), granted to the province of Kosovo-Metochia a considerable political autonomous status in 1974 with a separate Government, Provincial Assembly, President, Academy of Science, security forces, independent university in Prishtina and even military defense system for the fundamental political reason to prepare Kosovo’s independence after the death of his Titoslavia.[11] Therefore, Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia was just formally part of Serbia as the province was from political-administrative point of view an independent as all Yugoslav republics. A fully Albanian-governed Kosovo from 1974 to 1989 resulted in both destruction of the Christian (Serb) cultural monuments[12] and continuation of mass expulsion of the ethnic Serbs and Montenegrins from the province to such extent that according to some estimations there were around 200.000 Serbs and Montenegrins expelled from the province after the WWII up to the abolition of political autonomy of the province (i.e. independence) by Serbia’s authority in 1989 with the legal and legitimate verification by the Provincial Assembly of Kosovo-Metochia and the reintegration of Kosovo-Metochia into Serbia.[13] At the same period of time, there were around 300.000 Albanians who illegally came to live in Kosovo-Metochia from Albania. Consequently, in 1991 there were only 10 percent of the Serbs and Montenegrins who left to live in Kosovo-Metochia out of a total number of the inhabitants of the province.[14]

Fighting Kosovo’s Albanian political terrorism and territorial secession

The revocation of Kosovo’s political autonomy in 1989 by Serbia’s central Government was aimed primarily to stop further ethnic Albanian terror against the Serbs and Montenegrins and to prevent secession of the province from Serbia that will result in the recreation of the WWII Greater Albania with the legalization of the policy of Albanian ethnic cleansing of all non-Albanian population what practically happened in Kosovo after June 1999 when the NATO’s troops occupied the province and brought to the power a classical terrorist political-military organization – the Kosovo’s Liberation Army (the KLA). Nevertheless, the Western mainstream media as well academia presented Serbia’s fighting Kosovo’s Albanian political terrorism and territorial secession after 1989 as Belgrade policy of discrimination against the Albanian population which became deprived of political and economic rights and opportunities.[15] The fact was that such “discrimination” was primarily a result of the Albanian policy of boycotting Serbia’s state institutions and even job places offered to them in order to present their living conditions in Kosovo as the governmental-sponsored minority rights oppression.

Gazimestan 2

In the Western mainstream mass media and even in academic writings, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, a political leader of Kosovo’s Albanians in the 1990s, was described as a person who led a non-violent resistance movement against Miloshevic’s policy of ethnic discrimination of Kosovo’s Albanians. I. Rugova was even called as a “Balkan Gandhi”.[16] In the 1990s there were established in Kosovo the Albanian parallel and illegal social, educational and political structures and institutions as a state within the state. The Albanians under the leadership of Rugova even three times proclaimed the independence of Kosovo. However, these proclamations of independence were at that time totally ignored by the West and the rest of the world. Therefore, Rugova-led Kosovo’s Albanian national-political movement failed to promote and advance the Kosovo’s Albanian struggle for secession from Serbia and independence of the province with a very possibility to incorporate it into a Greater Albania. I. Rugova himself, coming from the Muslim Albanian Kosovo’s clan that originally migrated to Kosovo from Albania, was active in political writings on the “Kosovo Question” as a way to present the Albanian viewpoint on the problem to the Western audience and therefore, as a former French student, he published his crucial political writing in the French language in 1994.[17]

One of the crucial questions in regard to the Kosovo problem in the 1990s is why the Western “democracies” did not recognize self-proclaimed Kosovo’s independence? The fact was that the “Kosovo Question” was absolutely ignored by the US-designed Dayton Accords of 1995 which were dealing only with the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina.[18] A part to the answer is probably laying in the fact that Rugova-led Albanian secession movement was in essence illegal and even terroristic. It is known that Rugova himself was a sponsor of a terroristic party’s militia which was responsible for violent actions against Serbia’s authorities and non-Albanian ethnic groups in Kosovo.[19] For instance, in July 1988, from the graves of the village of Grace graveyard (between Prishtina and Vuchitrn) were excavated and taken to pieces the bodies of two Serbian babies of the Petrovic’s family.[20] Nevertheless, as a response to Rugova’s unsuccessful independence policy, it was established the notorious KLA which by 1997 openly advocated a full-scale of terror against everything what was Serbian in Kosovo.

The KLA had two main open political aims:

  • To get an independence for Kosovo from Serbia with possibility to include the province into a Greater Albania.
  • To ethnically clean the province from all non-Albanians especially from the Serbs and Montenegrins.

However, the hidden task of the KLA was to wage an Islamic Holy War (the Jihad) against the Christianity in Kosovo by committing the Islamic terror similarly to the case of the present-day Islamic State (the ISIS/ISIL) in the Middle East. Surely, the KLA was and is a part of the policy of radicalization of the Islam at the Balkans after 1991 following the pattern of the governmental (Islamic) Party of Democratic Action (the PDA) in Bosnia-Herzegovina.[21]

That the KLA was established as a terroristic organization is even confirmed by the Western scholars[22] and the US administration too. On the focal point of the Kosovo’s War in 1998−1999 we can read in the following sentence:

Aware that it lacked popular support, and was weak compared to the Serbian authorities, the KLA deliberately provoked Serbian police and Interior Ministry attacks on Albanian civilians, with the aim of garnering international support, specifically military intervention”.[23]

Conclusions

It was true that the KLA realized very well that the more Albanian civilians were killed as a matter of the KLA’s “hit-and-run” guerilla warfare strategy, the Western (the NATO’s) military intervention against the FRY was becoming a reality. In the other words, the KLA with his Commander-In-Chief Hashim Thaci were quite aware that any armed action against Serbia’s authorities and Serbian civilians would bring retaliation against the Kosovo Albanian civilians as the KLA was using them in fact as a “human shield”. That was in fact the price which the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo had to pay for their “independence” under the KLA’s governance after the war. That was the same strategy used by Croatia’s Government and Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslim authorities in the process of divorce from Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, as violence in Kosovo escalated in 1998 the EU’s authorities and the US’s Government began to support diplomatically an Albanian course – a policy which brought Serbia’s Government and the leadership of the KLA to the ceasefire and withdrawal of certain Serbian police detachments and the Yugoslav military troops from Kosovo followed by the deployment of the “international” (the Western) monitors (the Kosovo Verification Mission, the KVM) under the formal authority of the OSCE. However, it was in fact informal deployment of the NATO’s troops in Kosovo. The KVM was authorized by the UN’s Security Council Resolution 1199 on September 23rd, 1998. That was the beginning of a real territorial-administrative secession of Kosovo-Metochia from Serbia sponsored by the West for the only and very reason that Serbia did not want to join the NATO and to sell her economic infrastructure to the Western companies according to the pattern of “transition” of the Central and South-East European countries after the Cold War. The punishment came in the face of the Western-sponsored KLA.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

Mykolas Romeris University

Institute of Political Sciences

Vilnius, Lithuania

vladislav@sotirovic.eu

ENDNOTES:

[1] The FRY became renamed in February 2003 into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (the SCG) and finally the federation ended in June 2006 when both Serbia and Montenegro became independent states.

[2] On the “humanitarian” military interventions, see [J. L. Holzgrefe, R. O. Keohane (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas, Cambridge−New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003; T. B. Seybolt, Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Conditions for Success and Failure, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2007; D. Fassin, M. Pandolfi, Contemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions, New York: Zone Books, 2010; A. Hehir, The Responsibility to Protect: Rhetoric, Reality and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention,  London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; G. Th. Weiss, Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge, UK−Malden, MA, USA: 2012; A. Hehir, Humanitarian Intervention: An Introduction, London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013; B. Simms, D. J. B. Trim (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention: A History, Cambridge−New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013; D. E. Scheid (ed.), The Ethics of Armed Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge−New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014].

[3] H. Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratak kolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009.

[4] On the First Prizren League, from the Albanian viewpoint, see [S. Pollo, S. Pulaha, (eds.), The Albanian League of Prizren, 1878−1881. Documents, Vol. I−II, Tirana, 1878].  

[5] In 1878 the Serbs were about 60 percent of Kosovo population and 70 percent of Prizren inhabitants.

[6] On the First Great Serbian Migration from Kosovo in 1690, see [С. Чакић, Велика сеоба Срба 1689/90 и патријарх Арсеније III Црнојевић, Нови Сад: Добра вест, 1990].

[7] On the Serbian Christian heritage of Kosovo-Metochia, see [M. Vasiljvec, The Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija: The Historical and Spiritual Heartland of the Serbian People, Sebastian Press, 2015].

[8] On the Kosovo Battle of 1389 in the Serbian popular tradition, see [Р. Пековић (уредник), Косовска битка: Мит, легенда и стварност, Београд: Литера, 1987; R. Mihaljčić, The Battle of Kosovo in History and in Popular Tradition, Belgrade: BIGZ, 1989; Р. Михаљчић, Јунаци косовске легенде, Београд: БИГЗ, 1989]. The President of Serbia – Slobodan Miloshevic, started his patriotic policy of unification of the Republic of Serbia and promulgation of the human rights for the Kosovo Serbs exactly on the 600 years anniversary of the Kosovo Battle that was celebrated on June 28th, 1989 in Gazimestan near Prishtina as the place of the battle in 1389. However, this event was commonly seen by the Western academia and policy-makers as an expression of the Serb nationalism [R. W. Mansbach, K. L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, London−New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2012, 429] and even as the Serb proclamation of the war to the rest of Yugoslavia.

[9] Р. Самарџић et al, Косово и Метохија у српској историји, Београд: Друштво за чување споменика и неговање традиција ослободилачких ратова Србије до 1918. године у Београду−Српска књижевна задруга, 1989, 5; Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија: Историја и идеологија, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, 17−29.

[10] See, for instance, a Memorandum by Kosovo and Macedonian Serbs to the international peace conference in The Hague in 1899 [Д. Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија у српско-арбанашким односима, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2006, 118−123].

[11] From Josip Broz Tito, however, the Serbs in Croatia or Bosnia-Herzegovina did not receive any kind of political-territorial autonomy as Kosovo Albanians or Vojvodina Hungarians enjoyed in Serbia. Nevertheless, for the matter of comparison with Kosovo Albanians in Serbia, the Kurds in Turkey are not even recognized as a separate ethno-linguistic group.

[12] For instance, the Muslim Albanians tried to set arson on the Serbian Patriarchate of Pec’s church in the West Kosovo (Metochia) in 1981, but just accidentally only the dormitory was burnt.

[13] J. Palmowski (ed.), A Dictionary of Contemporary World History From 1900 to the Present Day, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 428.

[14] On the history of Kosovo from the Western perspective, see [N. Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History, New York: New York University, 1999; T. Judah, Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2008].

[15] T. B. Seybolt, Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Conditions for Success and Failure, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, 79.

[16] Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869−1948) was an Indian national leader against the British colonial occupation of India. He became well-known as a leader who organized an Indian civil disobedience movement against the British colonial authorities which finally led to the independence of India. On his biography, see [J. Lelyveld, Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India, New York: Knopf Borzoi Books, 2011].

[17] I. Rugova, La Question du Kosovo, Fayard, 1994. It has to be noticed that Rugova’s father and grandfather were shot to death by the Yugoslav Communist authorities at the very end of the WWII as the Nazi collaborators during the war.

[18] On the Dayton Accords, see [D. Chollet, The Road to the Dayton Accords: A Study of American Statecraft, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005].

[19] On this issue, see more in [В. Б. Сотировић, Огледи из Југославологије, Виљнус: приватно издање, 2013, 190−196].

[20] We cannot forget as well that the KLA-led “March Pogrom” of Serbs in Kosovo (March 17−19th, 2004) was executed when I. Rugova was a “President” of Kosovo. The pogrom was in fact “…a systematic ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbs…together with destruction of houses, other property, cultural monuments and Orthodox Christian religious sites” [D. Kojadinović (ed.), The March Pogrom, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia−Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004, 8].

[21] On the threat of radical Islam to the Balkans and Europe after 1991, see [Sh. Shay, Islamic Terror and the Balkans, Transaction Publishers, 2006; Ch. Deliso, The Coming Balkan Caliphate: The Threat of Radical Islam to Europe and the West, Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2007].

[22] T. B. Seybolt, Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Conditions for Success and Failure, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, 79.

[23] Ibid.

Serbs fighting ISIS

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Kosovo history – Fifth part



Serbs fighting ISIS

The series of long-scale Christian national movements in the Balkans, triggered off by 1804 Serbian revolution, decided more than in the earlier centuries, the fate of Serbs and made ethnic Albanians (about 70% of whom were Muslims) the main guardians of Turkish order in the European provinces of Ottoman Empire. At a time when the Eastern question was again being raised, particularly in the final quarter of 19th and the first decade of 20th century, Islamic Albanians were the chief instrument of Turkey’s policy in crushing the liberation movements of other Balkan states. After the congress of Berlin (1878) an Albanian national movement flared up, and both the Sultan and Austria-Hungary, a power whose occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina heralded its further expansion deep into the Balkans, endeavored, with varying degrees of success, to instrumentalize this movement. While the Porte used the ethnic Albanians as Islam’s shock cutting edge against Christians in the frontier regions towards Serbia and Montenegro, particularly in Kosovo, Metohia and the nearby areas, Austria-Hungary’s design was to use the Albanians national movement against the liberatory aspirations of the two Serbian states that were impeding the German Drang nach Osten. In a rift between two only seemingly contrary strivings, Serbia and Montenegro, although independent since 1878, were powerless (at least until the Balkan wars 1912-1913) without the support of Russia or other Great Power to effect the position of their compatriots within the borders of Ottoman Empire.

karadjordjeDuring the Serbian revolution, which ended with the creation of the autonomous Principality of Serbia within the Ottoman empire (1830), Kosovo and Metohia acquired special political importance. The hereditary ethnic Albanian pashas, who had until then been mostly renegades from the central authorities in Constantinople, feared that the flames of rebellion might spread to regions they controlled thus they became champions for the defense the integrity of the Turkish Empire and leaders of many military campaigns against the Serbian insurgents, at the core of the Serbian revolution was the Kosovo covenant, embodied in the “revenge of Kosovo”, a fresh, decisive battle against the Turkish invaders in the field of Kosovo. In 1806 the insurgents were preparing, like Prince Lazar in his day, to come out in Kosovo and weigh their forces against the Turks, However, detachments of Serbian insurgents reached only the fringes of northern Kosovo. Metohia, Old Raska (Sandzak), Kosovo and northern Macedonia remained outside the borders of the Serbian principality. In order to highlight their importance in the national and political ideologies of the renewed Serbian state, they were given a new collective name. It was not by chance that Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic, the father of modern Serbian literacy, named the central lands of the Nemanjic state – Old Serbia.

Fearing the renewed Serbian state, Kosovo pashas engaged in ruthless persecution in an effort to reduce number of Serbs living in their spacious holdings. The French travel writer F.C.H.L Pouqueville was astounded by the utter anarchy and ferocity of the local pashas towards the Christians. Jashar-pasha Gjinolli of Prishtina was one of the worst, destroying several churches in Kosovo, seizing monastic lands and killing monks. In just a few years of sweeping terror, he evicted more than seventy Serbian villages between Vucitrn and Gnjilane, dividing up the seized land among the local Islamized population and mountain folk that had settled there from northern Albania. The fertile plains of Kosovo became desolate meadows as the Malisor highlanders, unused to farming knew not to cultivate.

The revolt of the ethnic Albanian pashas against the reforms introduced by the sultans and fierce clashes with regular Turkish troops in the thirties and forties of the 19th century, emphasized the anarchy in Kosovo and Metohia, causing fresh suffering among the Serbs and the further devastation of the ancient monasteries. Since neither Serbian nor Montenegro, two semi-independent Serbian states, were able to give any significant help to the gravely endangered people, Serbian leaders form the Pristina and Vucitrn regions turned to the Russian tsar in seeking protection from their oppressors. They set out that they were forced to choose between converting to Islam or fleeing for Serbia as the violence, especially killings, the persecution of monks, the raping of women and minors, had exceeded all bounds. Pogroms marked the decades to come, especially in period of the Crimean War (1853-1856) when anti-Slav sentiments reached their peak in the ottoman empire: ethnic Albanians and the Cherkeses, whom the Turks had resettled in Kosovo, joined the Ottoman troops in persecuting Orthodox Serbs.

The brotherhood of Decani and the Pec Patriarchate turned to the authorities of Serbia for protection. Pointing to the widespread violence and increasing banditry, and to more frequent and persisted attempts by Catholic missionaires to compel the impoverished and spiritually discouraged monk communities to concede to union. Prior Serafim Ristic of Decani loged complaints with both the sultan and Russian tsar and in his book Plac Stare Srbije (Zemun 1864) he penned hundreds of examples of violence perpetrated by the ethnic Albanians and Turks against the Serbs, naming the perpetrators, victims and type of crime. In Metohia alone he recorded over one hundred cases in which the Turkish authorities, police and judiciary tolerated and abetted robbery, bribery, murder, arson, the desecration of churches, the seizure of property and livestock, the rape of women and children, and the harassment of monks and priests. Both ethnic Albanians and Turks viewed assaults against Serbs as acts pleasing to Allah acts that punishing infidels for not believing in true God: kidnapping and Islamizing girls were a way for true Muslims to approach Allah. Ethnic Albanian outlaws (kayaks) became heroes among their fellow-tribesmen for fulfilling their religious obligations in the right way and spreading the militant glory of their clan and tribe.

Eloquent testimonies to the scope of the violence against the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia, ranging from blackmail and robbery to rape and murder, come from many foreign travel-writers, from A. F. Hilferding to G. M. McKenzie – A. P. Irby. The Russian consul in Prizren observed that ethnic Albanians were settling the Prizren district underhidered and were trying, with the Turks, to eradicate Christians from Kosovo and Metohia. Throughout the 19th century there was no public safety on the roads of Metohia and Kosovo. One could travel the roads which were controlled by tribal bands, only with strong armed escort. The Serbian peasant had no protection in the field where he could be assaulted and robbed by an outlaw or bandit, and if he tried to resist, he could be killed without the perpetrator having to face charges for the crime. Serbs, as non-Muslims, were not entitled to carry arms. Those who possessed and used arms in self-defence afterwards had to run for their life. Only the luckiest managed to reach the Serbian or Montenegrin border and find permanent refuge there. They were usually followed by large families called family cooperatives (zadruga), comprising as many as 30-50 members, which were unable to defend themselves against the numerous relatives of the ethnic Albanian seeking vengeance for his death in a conflict with an elder of their clan.

Economic pressure, especially the forced reducing of free peasants to serf, was fostered by ethnic Albanian feudal lords with a view to creating large land-holdings. In the upheavals of war (1859, 1863) the Turkish authorities tried to restrict enterprising Serbian merchants and craftsmen who flourished in Pristina, Pec and Prizren, setting ablaze entire quarters where they worked and had their shops. But it was the hardest in rural areas, because ethnic Albanians, bond together by tight communities of blood brotherhoods or in tribes, and relatively socially homogeneous, were able to support their fellow tribesman without too much effort, simply by terrorizing Serbs and seizing their property and livestock. Suppression in driving of the Serbian peasantry, space was made for their relatives from northern Albania to move in, whereby increased their own prestige among other tribes. Unused to life in the plains and to hard field-work, the settled ethnic Albanians preferred looting to farming.

Despite the hardships, the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia assembled in religious-school communes which financed the opening of schools and the education of children, collected donations for the restoration of churches and monasteries and, when possible, tried to improve relations with the Turkish authorities. In addition to monastic schools, the first Serbian secular schools started opening in Kosovo from mid-1830s, and in 1871 a Seminary (Bogoslovija) opened in Prizren. Unable to help politically, the Serbia systematically aided churches and schools from the 1840s onwards, sending teachers and encouraging the best students to continue with their studies. The Prizren seminary the hub of activity on national affairs, educated teachers and priests for all the Serbian lands under Turkish dominion, and unbeknownst to authorities, established contact on a regular basis with the government in Belgrade, wherefrom it received means and instructions for political action.

33. ZvecanEthnic circumstances in Kosovo and Metohia in the early 19th century can be reconstructed on the basis of data obtained from the books written by foreign travel writers and ethnographers who journeyed across European Turkey. Joseph Miller’s studies show that in late 1830s, 56,200 Christians and 80,150 Muslims lived in Metohia; 11,740 of the Muslims were Islamized Serbs, and 2,700 of the Christians were Catholic Albanians. However, clear picture of the ethnic structure during this period cannot be obtained until one takes into account the fact that from 1815 to 1837 some 320 families, numbering ten to 30 members each, fled Kosovo and Metohia ahead of ethnic Albanian violence. According to Hilferding’s figures, Pec numbered 4,000 Muslim and 800 Christian families, Pristina numbered 1,200 Muslim, 900 Orthodox and 100 Catholic families with a population of 12,000.3

Russian consul Yastrebov recorded (for a 1867-1874 period) the following figures for 226 villages in Metohia: 4,646 Muslim ethnic Albanian homes, 1,861 Orthodox and 3,740 Islamized Serbs and 142 homes of Catholic Albanians. Despite the massive departure of the population for Serbia, available data show that until Eastern crisis (1875-1878), Serbs formed the largest ethnic group in Kosovo and Metohia, largely owing to a high birth rate.

The biggest demographics upheaval in Kosovo and Metohia occurred during the Eastern crisis, especially during the 1876-1878 Serbo-Turkish wars, when the question of Old Serbia started being internationalized. The Ottoman empire lost a good deal of territory in its wars with Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the second war with the Turks, Serbian troops liberated parts of Kosovo: their advance guard reached Pristina via Gnjilane and at the Gracanica monastery held a memorial service for the medieval heroes of Kosovo battle… After Russia and Turkey called a truce, Serbian troops were forced to withdraw from Kosovo. Serbian delegations from Old Serbia sent petitions to the Serbian Prince, the Russian tsar and participants of the Congress of Berlin, requesting that these lands merge with Serbia. Approximately 30,000 ethnic Albanians retreated from the liberated areas (partly under duress), seeking refuge in Kosovo and in Metohia, while tens of thousands of Serbs fled Kosovo and Metohia for Serbia ahead of unleashed bashibozouks, irregular auxiliaries of Ottoman troops.4

On the eve of the Congress of Berlin in the summer of 1878, when the great powers were deciding on the fate of the Balkan nations, the Albanian League was formed in Prizren, on the periphery of ethnic Albanian living space. The League called for the preservation of Ottoman Empire in its entirety within the prewar boundaries and for the creation of autonomous Albanian vilayet out of the vilayets of Kosovo, Scutari, Janina and Monster (Bitolj), regions where ethnic Albanians accounted for 44% of overall population. The territorial aspirations of the Albanian movement as defined in 1878, became part of all subsequent national programs. The new sultan Abdulhamid II (1878-1909) supported the League’s pro-Ottoman and pro-Islamic attitude. Breaking with the reformatory policy of his predecessors, sultan adopted pan-Islamism as the ruling principle of his reign. Unsatisfied with the decisions taken at the Congress, the League put up an armed opposition to concession of regions of Plav and Gusinje to Montenegro, and its detachments committed countless acts of violence against the Serbs, whose very existence posed a permanent threat to Albanian national interests. In 1881, Turkey employed force to crush the League, whose radical wing was striving towards an independent Albanian state to show that it was capable of implementing the adopted reforms. Notwithstanding, under the system of Turkish rule in the Balkans, ethnic Albanians continued to occupy the most prominent seats in the decades to come.

Surrounded by his influential guard of ethnic Albanians, the Abdulhamid II became increasingly lenient toward Islamized Albanian tribes who used force in quelling Christian movements: they were exempt from providing recruits, paying the most of the regular taxes and allowed at times to refuse the orders of local authorities. This lenient policy towards the ethnic Albanians and tolerance for the violence committed against the Serbian population created a feeling of superiority in the lower strata of Albanian society. The knowledge that no matter what the offense they would not be held responsible, encouraged ethnic Albanians to ignore all the lesser authorities. Social stratification resulted on increasing number of renegades who lived solely off banditry or as outlaws. The policy of failing to punish ethnic Albanians led to total anarchy which, escaping all control, increasingly worried the authorities in Constantinople. Anarchy received fresh impetus at the end of the 19th century when Austria-Hungary, seeking a way to expand towards the Bay of Salonika, encouraged ethnic Albanians to clash with the Serbs and disobey the local authorities. Ruling circles in Vienna saw the ethnic Albanians as a permanent wedge between the two Serbian states and, with the collapse of the system of Turkish rule, a bridge enabling the Dual Monarchy to extend in the Vardar valley. Thus, Kosovo and Metohia became the hub of great power confrontation for supremacy in the Balkans.

The only protection for the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia until the end of 1880s came from Russian diplomats, Russia being the traditional guardian of the Orthodox and Slav population in the Ottoman Empire Russia’s waning influence in the Balkans following the Congress of Berlin had an unfavorable impact on the Serbs in Turkey. Owing to Milan and Alexander Obrenovic’s Austrophile policy, Serbia lost valuable Russian support at the Porte in its efforts to protect Serbian population In Kosovo and Metohia, Serbs were regarded as a rebellious, treasonous element, every move they made was carefully watched and any signs of rebellion were ruthlessly punished. A military tribunal was established in Pristina in 1882 which in its five years of work sent hundreds of national leaders to prison.

The persistent efforts of Serbian officials to reach agreement with ethnic Albanian tribal chiefs in Kosovo and Metohia, and thus help curb the anarchy failed to stem the tide of violence. Belgrade officials did not get a true picture of the persecutions until a Serbian consulate was opened in Pristina in 1889, five centuries after a battle in Kosovo. The government was informed that ethnic Albanians were systematically mounting attacks on a isolated Serbian villages and driving people to eriction with treats and murders: “Go to Serbia -you can’t survive here!”. The assassination of the first Serbian Consul in the streets of Pristina revealed the depth of ethnic Albanian intolerance. Until 1905, not a single Serbian diplomat from Pristina could visit the town of Pec or tour Metohia, the hotbed of the anarchy. Consuls in Pristina (who included the well-known writers Branislav Nusic and Milan M. Rakic) wrote, aside to their regular reports, indepth descriptions of the situation in Kosovo and Metohia. Serbia’s sole diplomatic success was the election of a Serbian candidate as the Raska-Prizren Metropolitan in 1896, following a series of anti-Serbian orientated Greek Bishops who had been enthroned in Prizren since 1830.

Outright campaigns of terror were mounted after a Greaco-Turkish war in 1897, when it appeared that the Serbs would suffer the same fate as the Armenians in Asia Minor whom the Kurds had wiped out with blessing from the sultan. Serbian diplomats launched a campaign at the Porte for the protection of their compatriots, submitting extensive documentation on four hundred crimes of murder, blackmail, theft, rape, seizure of land, arson of churches. They demanded that energetic measures be taken against the perpetrators and that the investigation be carried out by a joint Serbo-Turkish committee. But, without the support of Russia, the whole effort came to naught. The prime minister of Serbia observed with resignation that 60,000 people had fled Old Serbia for Serbia in the period from 1880 to 1889. In Belgrade, a Blue Book was printed for the 1899 Peace Conference in the Hague, containing diplomatic correspondence on acts of violence committed by ethnic Albanians in Old Serbia, but Austria-Hungary prevented Serbian diplomats from raising the question before the international public. In the ensuing years the Serbian government attempted to secretly supply Serbs in Kosovo with arms. The first larger caches of guns were discovered, and 190l saw another pogrom in Ibarski Kolasin (northern Kosovo), which ended only when Russian diplomats intervened.

The widespread anarchy reached a critical point in 1902 when the Serbian government with the support of Montenegrin diplomacy again raised the issue of the protection of the Serbs in Turkey, demanding that the law be applied equally to all subjects of Empire, and that an end be put to the policy of indulging ethnic Albanians, that they be disarmed and that Turkish garrisons be reinforced in areas with a mixed Serbian-ethnic Albanian population. Russia, and then France, supported Serbia’s demands. The two most interested parties, Austria-Hungary and Russia, agreed in 1897 to maintain the status quo in the Balkans, although they initiated a reform plan to rearrange Turkey’s European provinces. Fearing for their privileges, ethnic Albanians launched a major uprising in 1903; it began with new assaults against Serbs and ended with the assassination of the newly appointed Russian consul in Mitrovica, accepted as a protector of the Serbs in Kosovo.

The 1903 restoration of democracy in Serbia under new King Petar I Karadjordjevic marked an end to Austrophile policy and the turning towards Russia. In response, Austria-Hungary stepped up its propaganda efforts among ethnic Albanians. At the request of the Dual Monarchy, Kosovo and Metohia were exempt from the Great Powers Reform action (1903-1908). A new wave of persecution ensued: in 1904,108 people fled for Serbia from Kosovo alone. Out of 146 different cases of violence, 46 ended in murder; a group of ethnic Albanians raped a seven-year-old girl. In 1905, out of 281 registrated cases of violence, 65 were murders, and at just one wedding, ethnic Albanians killed nine wedding guests.

The Young Turk revolution in 1908, which ended the “Age of Oppression” (as Turkish historiography refers to the reign of Abdulhamid II), brought no changes in relations between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. The Serbs’ first political organization was created under the auspices of the Young Turk regime, but the ethnic Albanian revolt against the new authorities’ pan-Turkish policy triggered off a fresh wave of violence. In the second half of 1911 alone, Old Serbia registrated 128 cases of theft, 35 acts of arson, 41 instances of banditry, 53 cases of extortion, 30 instances of blackmail, 19 cases of intimidation, 35 murders, 37 attempted murders, 58 armed attacks on property, 27 fights and cases of abuse, 13 attempts at Islamization, and 18 cases of the infliction of serious bodily injury. Approximately 400,000 people fled Old Serbia (Kosovo, Metohia, Raska, northern and northwest Macedonia) for Serbia ahead of ethnic Albanian and Turkish violence, and about 150,000 people fled Kosovo and Metohia, a third of the overall Serbian population in these parts. Despite the persecution and the steady outflow of people. Serbs still accounted for almost half the population in Kosovo and Metohia in 1912. According to Jovan Cvijic’s findings, published in 1911, there were 14,048 Serbian homes in Kosovo, 3, 826 in Pec and its environs, and 2,400 Serbian homes with roughly 200,000 inhabitants in the Prizren region. Comparing this statistics dating from the middle of the century, when there were approximately 400,000 Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohia, Cvijic’s estimate that by 1912 about 150,000 refugees had fled to Serbia seems quite acceptable.

The Serbian and Montenegrin governments aided the ethnic Albanian rebels against Young Turks up to a point: they took in refugees and gave them arms with a view to undermining Turkish rule in the Balkans, dispelling Austro-Hungarian influence on their leaders and curbing the violence against Serbs. But it was all in vain as intolerance for the Serbs ran deep in all Albanian national movements. Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece realized that the issue of Christian survival in Turkey had to be resolved by arms. Since Turkey refused to guarantee the Christians the same rights it had promised the ethnic Albanian insurgents, the Balkan allies declared war in the fall of 1912.


Source: http://nokosovounesco.com/the-age-of-oppression/

Gazimestan 2

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“Mafia State”: Kosovo’s PM accused of running human organ, drug trafficking cartel



Bagra Kosova

In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”

The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.

According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between criminal gangs and “political circles” in Kosovo who just happen to be close regional allies of the United States.

The investigation was launched by Dick Marty, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) special rapporteur for human rights who had conducted an exhaustive 2007 probe into CIA “black fights” in Europe.

The PACE investigation gathered steam after allegations were published by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte in her 2008 memoir.

After it’s publication, Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation’s ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor’s “justice” to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.

A series of damning reports by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the BBC, confirmed Del Ponte’s allegations and spurred the Council to act.

Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war “simply vanished without a trace” into a secret prison “in the Albanian border town of Kukes.”

According to sources who feared for their lives, including former KLA guerrillas, the BBC revealed that disappeared civilians “were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.”

In an uncanny echo of Nazi practices during the period of the Third Reich, The New York Times reported that “captives” were “‘filtered’ for their suitability as donors, based on sex, age, health conditions and ethnic origin. “We heard numerous references to captives’ not merely having been handed over, but also having been ‘bought’ and ‘sold,'” the special rapporteur told the Times.

“Some of the guards told investigators,” the Times reports, “that a few captives understood what was about to happen and ‘pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being chopped into pieces’.”

Mercy was in short supply however, behind KLA lines.

The report states: “As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Once organs were removed from the victims they were auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold by a global trafficking ring still operating today.

The former prosecutor further alleged, The Guardian reported, that “she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials” who she claimed had “smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.”

In a classic case of covering-up the crimes of low-level thugs to protect more powerful criminals, Del Ponte has charged that forensic evidence gathered by ICTY investigators at one of the northern Albania death houses was destroyed at The Hague.

International Network

This brisk underground trade didn’t end in 1999 however, when the break-away Serb province was occupied by NATO troops; on the contrary, operations expanded and grew even more profitable as Kosovo devolved into a protectorate of the United States.

In fact, a trial underway in Pristina has revealed that “desperate Russians, Moldovans, Kazakhs and Turks were lured into the capital ‘with the false promise of payments’ for their kidneys,” The Guardian reported.

It was a “growth industry” that fed on human misery. According to The Guardian, recipients “paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys [and] included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel,” EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the British paper.

“Donors” however, were left holding the bag, lucky to escape with their lives.

At the center of the scandal is the Medicus clinic. Located some six miles from downtown Pristina, Medicus was allegedly founded by university hospital urologist Dr Lutfi Dervishi, and a former permanent secretary of health, prosecutors claim, provided the clinic with a false license to operate.

imagesTwo of the accused, The Guardian revealed, “are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, perhaps the world’s most renowned organ trafficker.”

Prosecutors believe that Harel and Sonmez are the brains behind Medicus and that Shaip Muja, a former KLA “medical commander” who was based in Albania, may have overseen operations at the “clinic.”

Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi’s and, in an macabre twist, he is currently “a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health,” The Guardian reports.

Investigators averred they had “uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja’s central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime.”

Besides lining the pockets of Albanian, Israeli and Turkish criminals who ran the grisly trafficking ring, whose interests might also be served in covering-up these horrific crimes?

A Gangster State, but which One?

The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as “freedom fighters,” during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

As in Albania years before NATO’s Kosovo adventure, organized criminal activities and “the trade in narcotics and weapons [were] allowed to prosper,” Michel Chossudovsky wrote, because “the West had turned a blind eye.”

These extensive deliveries of weapons were tacitly permitted by the Western powers on geopolitical grounds: both Washington and Bonn had favoured (although not officially) the idea of a ‘Greater Albania’ encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia. Not surprisingly, there was a ‘deafening silence’ on the part of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. (“The Criminalization of Albania,” in Masters of the Universe? NATO’s Balkan Crusade, ed. Tariq Ali, London: Verso, 2000, pp. 299-300)

The consequences of this “deafening silence” remain today. Both in terms of the misery and impoverishment imposed on Kosovo’s citizens by the looting of their social property, particularly the wholesale privatization of its mineral wealth which IMF economic “reforms” had spawned, and in the political cover bestowed upon Pristina’s gangster regime by the United States.

In the intervening years NATO’s “blind eye” has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.

Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE report states that “the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation.”

“The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania” during that initial inquiry investigators wrote, “have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses. No subsequent investigation has been carried out into a case nevertheless considered sufficiently serious by the former ICTY Prosecutor for her to see the need to bring it to public attention through her book.”

This is hardly surprising, considering that the ICTY was created at the insistence of the Clinton administration precisely as a retributive hammer to punish official enemies of the U.S.

Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America’s imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals–the losers in the decade-long conflagration–it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.

The report averred that human organ trafficking was only a part of a larger web of crime and corruption, and that murder, trafficking in women, control over global narcotics distribution and money laundering networks were standard operating procedure for Thaçi and other members of the “Drenica group,” the black widows at the center of the KLA spiders’ web.

For his part, Thaçi has called the PACE report “libelous” and the Kosovo government has repudiated the Council’s findings claiming that the charges “were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.”

While one can easily dismiss prevarications from Kosovo’s government, the White House role in covering-up the crimes of their client regime should have provoked a major scandal. That it didn’t only reveals the depths of Washington’s own venal self-interest in preventing this sordid affair from gaining traction.

In all likelihood fully-apprised of the Council of Europe’s investigation through any number of American-friendly moles implanted in European institutions as WikiLeaks Cablegate files have revealed, last summer Thaçi met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House.

Shamelessly, Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo,” and “reiterated the United States’ firm support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House press release.

Indeed, the vice president “welcomed the progress that Kosovo’s government has made in carrying out essential reforms, including steps to strengthen the rule of law.”

An all too predictable pattern when one considers the lawless nature of the regime in Washington.

The Heroin Trail

As I reported more than two years ago in “Welcome to Kosovo! The World’s Newest Narco State,” the KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose “15 Families” control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade.

Albanian traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Central Asia’s Golden Crescent. At one end lies America’s drug outpost in Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for processing and transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into “product” for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 1999, “Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.”

As the murdered investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov reported in 2000 for Mother Jones, as the U.S.-sponsored war in Kosovo heated up, “the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package.”

Despite billions of dollars spent on failed interdiction efforts, these patterns persist today as more than 106 metric tons of heroin flow into Europe. So alarmed has the Russian government become over the flood of heroin penetrating their borders from Central Asian and the Balkan outposts that some officials have likened it to American “narco-aggression” and a new “opium war, researcher Peter Dale Scott reported.

Scott avers: “These provinces” in Afghanistan, “support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime (headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset), including the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former CIA asset. In effect America has allied itself with one drug faction in Afghanistan against another.” Much the same can be said for CIA assets in Pristina.

As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in their 2010 World Drug Report:

Once heroin leaves Turkish territory, interception efficiency drops significantly. In the Balkans, relatively little heroin is seized, suggesting that the route is exceedingly well organized and lubricated with corruption. … Another notable feature of the Balkan route is that some important networks have clan-based and hierarchically organized structures. Albanian groups in particular have such structures, making them particularly hard to infiltrate. This partially explains their continued involvement in several European heroin markets. Albanian networks continue to be particularly visible in Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Italy is one of the most important heroin markets in Europe, and frequently identified as a base of operation for Balkan groups who exploit the local diaspora. According to WCO seizure statistics, Albanians made up the single largest group (32%) of all arrestees for heroin trafficking in Italy between 2000 and 2008. The next identified group was Turks followed by Italians and citizens of Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Kosovo/Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to some extent Greece). A number of Pakistani and Nigerian traffickers were arrested in Italy as well.

As has been documented for decades, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan campaign the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and then provide them with targets.

When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia’s heart during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved “success” without the connivance, indeed active partnership forged amongst Yugoslavia’s nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny has shown,

Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by “a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web…Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27)

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.”

Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.”

Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

As the Council of Europe and investigative journalists have documented, northern Albania was the site not only of KLA training camps but of secret detention centers where prisoners of war and civilian KLA opponents were executed and their organs surgically removed and sold on the international black market.

“The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA–prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict–took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed.”

The report avers, “It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania,” the site of secret NATO bases, “yet only in the second half of 1998,” Marty writes, “through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle.”

“What is particularly confounding” Marty writes, “is that all of the international community in Kosovo–from the Governments of the United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities–undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica Group’s crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and to hold the perpetrators to account.”

While the special rapporteur’s outrage is palpable, the ascension of a political crime family with deep roots in the international drugs trade and other rackets, including the grisly traffic in human organs, far from being an anomalous event conforms precisely to the structural pattern of capitalist rule in the contemporary period.

“What we have uncovered” Marty informs us, “is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors’ respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of ‘political expediency’. But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public?”

Marty need look no further for an answer to his question than to the “political masters” in Washington, who continue to cover-up not only their own crimes but those of the global mafias who do their bidding.

As we have seen throughout the latter half of the 20th century down to the present moment, powerful corporate and financial elites, the military and intelligence agencies and, for lack of a better term, “normal” governmental institutions are suborned by the same crooked players who profit from war and the ensuing chaos it spawns to organize crime, thereby “rationalizing” criminal structures on more favorable terms for those “in the loop.”

In this regard, the impunity enjoyed up till now by Thaçi and his minions merely reflect the far-greater impunity enjoyed by the American secret state and the powerful actors amongst U.S. elites who have profited from the dirty work allegedly performed by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and others like him, who are counted amongst the most loyal servants of imperial power.


About the author:

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

Source: http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.lt/2010/12/mafia-state-kosovos-prime-minister.html

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Kosovo quietly signs up top US lobbyists



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Kosovo’s government has discretely engaged the lobbying services of one of Washington’s top firms for $50,000 a month, after having been forced to cancel an identical agreement with the firm last year for breaking public procurement laws.

Balkan Insight has obtained a copy of an official US document, which shows that Kosovo signed up the services of the lobbying firm Patton Boggs on August 31.

The document, logged at the Department of Justice, says Patton Boggs will offer Kosovo “advisory services on legal and advocacy issues to be used for expansion of bilateral and multilateral relations”.

The company will also be “fostering investments and trade opportunities for Kosovo, as well as gathering funds from foreign aid programs”.

Although the deal with the company was apparently signed on August 31, it has not been announced by the government, which last year was forced to cancel a similar contract.

Frank Wisner, Patton Bogg’s foreign affairs advisor, met Thaci in the United States last July. According to a press release issed by the PM’s office they discussed “current political developments in Kosovo and the achievements up to now of Kosovo’s institutions”.

Wisner is an old Kosovo hand. The former US Secretary of State under George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, appointed him the US’s special representative to the Kosovo Status Talks in 2005. Wisner played a crucial role in negotiating Kosovo’s independence.

In September 2010 the government then voted to employ Patton Boggs at a rate of 50,000 dollars a month [38,000 euro].

The cabinet was forced to cancel the decision in November after Balkan Insight revealed that the move appeared to break Kosovo’s own law on public procurement.

This was because the cabinet had simply selected Patton Boggs instead of allowing a competitive bidding process to take place. The cabinet had also not justified to the Public Procurement Agency why it went ahead with a single-source tender.

Government officials said they annulled the deal on legal advice but denied having broken procurement rules.

The document recently seen by Balkan Insight showed that the annulled deal has since been quietly revived.

The Foreign Ministry said it had awarded the contract in coordination with the Procurement Agency.

Confusingly, the Agency first stated that it had no record of such a request from the ministry, but then later said it did.

Balkan Insight has now seen a copy of the request by the Foreign Ministry to the Procurement Agency to secretly award the contract to Patton Boggs with a single-source tender.

Seemingly unaware that all such contracts are required, by law, to be published online by the US Justice Department, Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry argued that if the contract became public it could hinder Patton Boggs’ lobbying work.

The Foreign Ministry’s request was approved by the Procurement Agency.


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Kosovo’s “Mafia State” and camp Bondsteel: Towards a permanent US military presence in Southeast Europe



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In one of the more bizarre foreign policy announcements of a bizarre Obama Administration, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Washington will “help” Kosovo to join NATO as well as the European Union. She made the pledge after a recent Washington meeting with Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Washington where she praised the progress of the Thaci government in its progress in “European integration and economic development.”1

Her announcement no doubt caused serious gas pains among government and military officials in the various capitals of European NATO. Few people  appreciate just how mad Clinton’s plan to push Kosovo into NATO and the EU is.

Basic Kosovo geopolitics

The controversial piece of real estate today called Kosovo was a part of Yugoslavia and tied to Serbia until the NATO bombing campaign in 1999 demolished what remained of Milosevic’s Serbia and  opened the way for the United States, with the dubious assist of EU nations, above all Germany, to carve up the former Yugoslavia into tiny, dependent pseudo states. Kosovo became one, as did Macedonia. Slovenia and Croatia had earlier split off from Yugoslavia with a strong assist from the German Foreign Ministry.

Some brief review of the circumstances leading to the secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia will help locate how risky a NATO membership or EU membership would be for the future of Europe. Hashim Thaci the current Kosovo Prime Minister, got his job, so to speak, through the US State Department and not via free democratic Kosovo elections. Kosovo is not recognized as a legitimate state by either Russia or Serbia or over one hundred other nations. However, it was immediately recognized when it declared independence in 2008 by the Bush Administration and by Berlin.

Membership into the EU for Kosovo would be welcoming another failed state, something which may not bother US Secretary Clinton, but which the EU at this juncture definitely can do without. Best estimates place unemployment in the country at as much as 60%. That is not just Third World level. The economy was always the poorest in Yugoslavia and today it is worse. Yet the real issue in terms of the future of EU peace and security is the nature of the Kosovo state that has been created by Washington since the late 1990’s.

Mafia State and Camp Bondsteel

Kosovo is a tiny parcel of land in one of the most strategic locations in all Europe from a geopolitical standpoint of the US military objective of controlling oil flows and political developments from the oil-rich Middle East to Russia and Western Europe. The current US-led recognition of the self-declared Republic of Kosovo is a continuation of US policy for the Balkans since the illegal 1999 US-led NATO bombing of Serbia—a NATO “out-of-area” deployment never approved by the UN Security Council, allegedly on the premise that Milosevic’s army was on the verge of carrying out a genocidal massacre of Kosovo Albanians.

Some months before the US-led bombing of Serbian targets, one of the heaviest bombings since World War II, a senior US intelligence official in private conversation told Croatian senior army officers in Zagreb about Washington’s strategy for former Yugoslavia. According to these reports, communicated privately to this author, the Pentagon goal already in late 1998 was to take control of Kosovo in order to secure a military base to control the entire southeast European region down to the Middle East oil lands.

Since June 1999 when the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) occupied Kosovo, then an integral part of then-Yugoslavia, Kosovo was technically under a United Nations mandate, UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Russia and China also agreed to that mandate, which specifies the role of KFOR to ensure an end to inter-ethnic fighting and atrocities between the Serb minority population, others and the Kosovo Albanian Islamic majority. Under 1244 Kosovo would remain part of Serbia pending a peaceful resolution of its status. That UN Resolution was blatantly ignored by the US, German and other EU parties in 2008.

Germany’s and Washington’s prompt recognition of Kosovo’s independence in February 2008, significantly, came days after elections for President in Serbia confirmed pro-Washington Boris Tadic had won a second four year term. With Tadic’s post secured, Washington could count on a compliant Serbian reaction to its support for Kosovo.

Immediately after the bombing of Serbia in 1999 the Pentagon seized a 1000 acre large parcel of land in Kosovo at Urosevac near the border to Macedonia, and awarded a contract to Halliburton when Dick Cheney was CEO there, to build one of the largest US overseas military bases in the world, Camp Bondsteel, with more than 7000 troops today.

The Pentagon has already secured seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania on the Black Sea in the Northern Balkans, including the Graf Ignatievo and Bezmer airbases in Bulgaria and Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, which are used for “downrange” military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Romanian installation hosts the Pentagon’s Joint Task Force–East. The US’s colossal Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo and the use and upgrading of Croatian and Montenegrin Adriatic harbors for US Navy deployments complete the militarization of the Balkans.[ii]

The US strategic agenda for Kosovo is primarily military, secondarily, it seems, narcotics trafficking. Its prime focus is against Russia and for control of oil flows from the Caspian Sea to the Middle East into Western Europe. By declaring its independence, Washington gains a weak state which it can fully control. So long as it remained a part of Serbia, that NATO military control would be politically insecure. Today Kosovo is controlled as a military satrapy of NATO, whose KFOR has 16,000 troops there for a tiny population of 2 million. Its Camp Bondsteel is one of a string of so-called forward operating bases and “lily pads” as Donald Rumsfeld called them, for military action to the east and south. Now formally bringing Kosovo into the EU and to NATO will solidify that military base now that the Republic of Georgia under US protégé Saakashvili failed so miserably in 2008 to fill that NATO role.

Heroin Transport Corridor

US-NATO military control of Kosovo serves several purposes for Washington’s greater geo-strategic agenda. First it enables greater US control over potential oil and gas pipeline routes into the EU from the Caspian and Middle East as well as control of the transport corridors linking the EU to the Black Sea.

It also protects the multi-billion dollar heroin trade, which, significantly, has grown to record dimensions in Afghanistan according to UN narcotics officials, since the US occupation. Kosovo and Albania are major heroin transit routes into Europe. According to a 2008 US State Department annual report on international narcotics traffic, several key drug trafficking routes pass through the Balkans. Kosovo is mentioned as a key point for the transfer of heroin from Turkey and Afghanistan to Western Europe. Those drugs flow under the watchful eye of the Thaci government.

Since its dealings with the Meo tribesmen in Laos during the Vietnam era, the CIA has protected narcotics traffic in key locations in order partly to finance its covert operations. The scale of international narcotics traffic today is such that major US banks such as Citigroup are reported to derive a significant share of their profits from laundering the proceeds.

One of the notable features of the indecent rush by Washington and other states to immediately recognize the independence of Kosovo is the fact that they well knew its government and both major political parties were in fact run by Kosovo Albanian organized crime.

Hashim Thaci, Prime Minister of Kosovo and head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, is the former leader of the terrorist organization which the US and NATO trained and called the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, or in Albanian, UCK. In Kosovo crime circles he is known as Hashim “The Snake” for his personal ruthlessness against opponents.

In 1997, President Clinton’s Special Balkans Envoy, Robert Gelbard described the KLA as, “without any question a terrorist group.” It was far more. It was a klan-based mafia, impossible therefore to infiltrate, which controlled the underground black economy of Kosovo. Today the Democratic Party of Thaci, according to European police sources, retains its links to organized crime.

A February 22, 2005 German BND report, labeled Top Secret, which has since been leaked, stated, “Über die Key-Player (wie z. B. Haliti, Thaci, Haradinaj) bestehen engste Verflechtungen zwischen Politik, Wirtschaft und international operierenden OK-Strukturen im Kosovo. Die dahinter stehenden kriminellen Netzwerke fördern dort die politische Instabilität. Sie haben kein Interesse am Aufbau einer funktionierenden staatlichen Ordnung, durch die ihre florierenden Geschäfte beeinträchtigt werden können.“ (OK=Organized Kriminalität). (Translation: “Through the key players—for example Thaci, Haliti, Haradinaj—there is the closest interlink between politics, the economy and international organized crime in Kosovo. The criminal organizations in the background there foster political instability. They have no interest at all in the building of a functioning orderly state that could be detrimental to their booming business.”3

The KLA began action in 1996 with the bombing of refugee camps housing Serbian refugees from the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. The KLA repeatedly called for the “liberation” of areas of Montenegro, Macedonia and parts of Northern Greece. Thaci is hardly a figure of regional stability to put it mildly.

The 44 year old Thaci was a personal protégé of Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the 1990s, when he was a mere 30-year old gangster. The KLA was supported from the outset by the CIA and the German BND. During the 1999 war the KLA was directly supported by NATO. At the time he was picked up by the USA in the mid-1990s, Thaci was founder of the Drenica Group, a criminal syndicate in Kosovo with ties to Albanian, Macedonian and Italian organized mafias.  A classified January 2007 report prepared for the EU Commission, labeled “VS-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch” was leaked to the media. It detailed the organized criminal activity of KLA and its successor Democratic Party under Thaci.

A December 2010 Council of Europe report, released a day after Kosovo’s election commission said Mr Thaci’s party won the first post-independence election, accused Western powers of complicity in ignoring the activities of the crime ring headed by Thaci: “Thaci and these other ‘Drenica Group’ members are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime,” the report said. “We found that the ‘Drenica Group’ had as its chief – or, to use the terminology of organised crime networks, its ‘boss’ – the renowned political operator … Hashim Thaci.”4

The report stated that Thaci exerted “violent control” over the heroin trade. Dick Marty, the European Union investigator, presented the report to European diplomats from all member states. The response was silence. Washington was behind Thaci.5

The same Council of Europe report on Kosovo organized crime accused Thaci’s mafia organization of dealing in trade in human organs. Figures from Thaçi’s inner circle were accused of taking captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys that were sold on the black market. In one case revealed in legal proceedings in a Pristina district court in 2008 organs were said to have been taken from impoverished victims at a clinic known as Medicus – linked to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) organ harvesting in 2000.6

The question then becomes, why are Washington, NATO, the EU and inclusive and importantly, the German Government, so eager to legitimize the breakaway Kosovo? A Kosovo run internally by organized criminal networks is easy for NATO to control. It insures a weak state which is far easier to bring under NATO domination. Combined with NATO control over Afghanistan where the Kosovo heroin controlled by Prime Minister Thaci originates, the Pentagon is building a web of encirclement around Russia that is anything but peaceful.

The Thaci dependence on US and NATO good graces insures Thaci’s government will do what it is asked. That, in turn, assures the US a major military gain consolidating its permanent presence in the strategically vital southeast Europe. It is a major step in consolidating NATO control of Eurasia, and gives the US a large swing its way in the European balance of power. Little wonder Moscow has not welcomed the development, nor have numerous other states. The US is literally playing with dynamite, potentially as well with nuclear war in the Balkans.

*F. William Engdahl is author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. He may be contacted via his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net

Notes

1 RIA Novosti, US to Help Kosovo Join EU NATO: Clinton, April 5, 2012, accessed in
http://en.rian.ru/world/20120405/172621125.html.

2 Rick Rozoff, Pentagon and NATO Complete Their Conquest of The Balkans, Global Research, November 28, 2009, accessed in
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16311.

3 Tom Burghardt, The End of the Affair: The BND, CIA and Kosovo’s Deep State, accessed in

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/The_End_of_the_Affair%3F_The_BND%2C_CIA_and_Kosovo%27s_Deep_State.

4 The Telegraph, Kosovo’s prime minister ‘key player in mafia-like gang,’ December 14, 2010, accessed in
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/kosovo/8202700/Kosovos-prime-minister-key-player-in-mafia-like-gang.html.

5 Ibid.

6  Paul Lewis, Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring Council of Europe reports, The Guardian, 14 December 2010.


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Kosovo and Ukraine: Compare and contrast



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There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.

Photo: BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today / Twitter

Photo: BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today / Twitter

The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.

The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.

Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.

What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.

Yugoslavia, a different case

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In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.

In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.

“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.

Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.

In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.

But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”

The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.

The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”

“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.

No matter what happens in Ukraine…

Illustration - Krematorsk Airfield explosion - Screenshot from YouTube videoIllustration – Krematorsk Airfield explosion – Screenshot from YouTube video

In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.

Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.

There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.

To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.

The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!

For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.

There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.

In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.

In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.

The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.

In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.

Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.

This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.


By Neil Clark

Article is originally published on RT.com (http://on.rt.com/2azwwq)

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Kosovo: Europe’s “Mafia State”: Hub of the EU-NATO drug trail



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Kosovo’s Prime Minister Accused of Running Human Organ, Drug Trafficking Cartel

In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”

The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.

According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between criminal gangs and “political circles” in Kosovo who just happen to be close regional allies of the United States.

The investigation was launched by Dick Marty, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) special rapporteur for human rights who had conducted an exhaustive 2007 probe into CIA “black fights” in Europe.

The PACE investigation gathered steam after allegations were published by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte in her 2008 memoir.

After it’s publication, Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation’s ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor’s “justice” to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.

A series of damning reports by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the BBC, confirmed Del Ponte’s allegations and spurred the Council to act.

Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war “simply vanished without a trace” into a secret prison “in the Albanian border town of Kukes.”

According to sources who feared for their lives, including former KLA guerrillas, the BBC revealed that disappeared civilians “were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.”

In an uncanny echo of Nazi practices during the period of the Third Reich, The New York Times reported that “captives” were “‘filtered’ for their suitability as donors, based on sex, age, health conditions and ethnic origin. “We heard numerous references to captives’ not merely having been handed over, but also having been ‘bought’ and ‘sold,’” the special rapporteur told the Times.

“Some of the guards told investigators,” the Times reports, “that a few captives understood what was about to happen and ‘pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being chopped into pieces’.”

Mercy was in short supply however, behind KLA lines.

The report states: “As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Greater Albania

Once organs were removed from the victims they were auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold by a global trafficking ring still operating today.

The former prosecutor further alleged, The Guardian reported, that “she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials” who she claimed had “smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.”

In a classic case of covering-up the crimes of low-level thugs to protect more powerful criminals, Del Ponte has charged that forensic evidence gathered by ICTY investigators at one of the northern Albania death houses was destroyed at The Hague.

International Network

This brisk underground trade didn’t end in 1999 however, when the break-away Serb province was occupied by NATO troops; on the contrary, operations expanded and grew even more profitable as Kosovo devolved into a protectorate of the United States.

In fact, a trial underway in Pristina has revealed that “desperate Russians, Moldovans, Kazakhs and Turks were lured into the capital ‘with the false promise of payments’ for their kidneys,” The Guardian reported.

It was a “growth industry” that fed on human misery. According to The Guardian, recipients “paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys [and] included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel,” EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the British paper.

“Donors” however, were left holding the bag, lucky to escape with their lives.

At the center of the scandal is the Medicus clinic. Located some six miles from downtown Pristina, Medicus was allegedly founded by university hospital urologist Dr Lutfi Dervishi, and a former permanent secretary of health, prosecutors claim, provided the clinic with a false license to operate.

Two of the accused, The Guardian revealed, “are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, perhaps the world’s most renowned organ trafficker.”

Prosecutors believe that Harel and Sonmez are the brains behind Medicus and that Shaip Muja, a former KLA “medical commander” who was based in Albania, may have overseen operations at the “clinic.”

Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi’s and, in an macabre twist, he is currently “a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health,” The Guardian reports.

Investigators averred they had “uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja’s central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime.”

Besides lining the pockets of Albanian, Israeli and Turkish criminals who ran the grisly trafficking ring, whose interests might also be served in covering-up these horrific crimes?

A Gangster State, but which One?

The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as “freedom fighters,” during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

As in Albania years before NATO’s Kosovo adventure, organized criminal activities and “the trade in narcotics and weapons [were] allowed to prosper,” Michel Chossudovsky wrote, because “the West had turned a blind eye.”

These extensive deliveries of weapons were tacitly permitted by the Western powers on geopolitical grounds: both Washington and Bonn had favoured (although not officially) the idea of a ‘Greater Albania’ encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia. Not surprisingly, there was a ‘deafening silence’ on the part of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. (“The Criminalization of Albania,” in Masters of the Universe? NATO’s Balkan Crusade, ed. Tariq Ali, London: Verso, 2000, pp. 299-300)

The consequences of this “deafening silence” remain today. Both in terms of the misery and impoverishment imposed on Kosovo’s citizens by the looting of their social property, particularly the wholesale privatization of its mineral wealth which IMF economic “reforms” had spawned, and in the political cover bestowed upon Pristina’s gangster regime by the United States.

In the intervening years NATO’s “blind eye” has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.

Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE report states that “the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation.”

“The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania” during that initial inquiry investigators wrote, “have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses. No subsequent investigation has been carried out into a case nevertheless considered sufficiently serious by the former ICTY Prosecutor for her to see the need to bring it to public attention through her book.”

This is hardly surprising, considering that the ICTY was created at the insistence of the Clinton administration precisely as a retributive hammer to punish official enemies of the U.S.

Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America’s imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals–the losers in the decade-long conflagration–it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.

The report averred that human organ trafficking was only a part of a larger web of crime and corruption, and that murder, trafficking in women, control over global narcotics distribution and money laundering networks were standard operating procedure for Thaçi and other members of the “Drenica group,” the black widows at the center of the KLA spiders’ web.

For his part, Thaçi has called the PACE report “libelous” and the Kosovo government has repudiated the Council’s findings claiming that the charges “were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.”

While one can easily dismiss prevarications from Kosovo’s government, the White House role in covering-up the crimes of their client regime should have provoked a major scandal. That it didn’t only reveals the depths of Washington’s own venal self-interest in preventing this sordid affair from gaining traction.

In  all likelihood fully-apprised of the Council of Europe’s investigation through any number of American-friendly moles implanted in European institutions as WikiLeaks Cablegate files have revealed, last summer Thaçi met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House.

Shamelessly, Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo,” and “reiterated the United States’ firm support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House press release.

Indeed, the vice president “welcomed the progress that Kosovo’s government has made in carrying out essential reforms, including steps to strengthen the rule of law.”

An all too predictable pattern when one considers the lawless nature of the regime in Washington.

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The Heroin Trail

As I reported more than two years ago in “Welcome to Kosovo! The World’s Newest Narco State,” the KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose “15 Families” control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade.

Albanian traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Central Asia’s Golden Crescent. At one end lies America’s drug outpost in Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for processing and transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into “product” for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 1999, “Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.”

As the murdered investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov reported in 2000 for Mother Jones, as the U.S.-sponsored war in Kosovo heated up, “the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package.”

Despite billions of dollars spent on failed interdiction efforts, these patterns persist today as more than 106 metric tons of heroin flow into Europe. So alarmed has the Russian government become over the flood of heroin penetrating their borders from Central Asian and the Balkan outposts that some officials have likened it to American “narco-aggression” and a new “opium war, researcher Peter Dale Scott reported.

Scott avers: “These provinces” in Afghanistan, “support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime (headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset), including the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former CIA asset. In effect America has allied itself with one drug faction in Afghanistan against another.” Much the same can be said for CIA assets in Pristina.

As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in their 2010 World Drug Report:

Once heroin leaves Turkish territory, interception efficiency drops significantly. In the Balkans, relatively little heroin is seized, suggesting that the route is exceedingly well organized and lubricated with corruption. … Another notable feature of the Balkan route is that some important networks have clan-based and hierarchically organized structures. Albanian groups in particular have such structures, making them particularly hard to infiltrate. This partially explains their continued involvement in several European heroin markets. Albanian networks continue to be particularly visible in Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Italy is one of the most important heroin markets in Europe, and frequently identified as a base of operation for Balkan groups who exploit the local diaspora. According to WCO seizure statistics, Albanians made up the single largest group (32%) of all arrestees for heroin trafficking in Italy between 2000 and 2008. The next identified group was Turks followed by Italians and citizens of Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Kosovo/Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to some extent Greece). A number of Pakistani and Nigerian traffickers were arrested in Italy as well.

As has been documented for decades, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan campaign the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and then provide them with targets.

When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia’s heart during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved “success” without the connivance, indeed active partnership forged amongst Yugoslavia’s nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny has shown,

Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by “a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web…Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27)

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.”

Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.”

Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

As the Council of Europe and investigative journalists have documented, northern Albania was the site not only of KLA training camps but of secret detention centers where prisoners of war and civilian KLA opponents were executed and their organs surgically removed and sold on the international black market.

“The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA–prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict–took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed.”

The report avers, “It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania,” the site of secret NATO bases, “yet only in the second half of 1998,” Marty writes, “through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle.”

“What is particularly confounding” Marty writes, “is that all of the international community in Kosovo–from the Governments of the United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities–undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica Group’s crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and to hold the perpetrators to account.”

While the special rapporteur’s outrage is palpable, the ascension of a political crime family with deep roots in the international drugs trade and other rackets, including the grisly traffic in human organs, far from being an anomalous event conforms precisely to the structural pattern of capitalist rule in the contemporary period.

“What we have uncovered” Marty informs us, “is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors’ respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of ‘political expediency’. But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public?”

Marty need look no further for an answer to his question than to the “political masters” in Washington, who continue to cover-up not only their own crimes but those of the global mafias who do their bidding.

As we have seen throughout the latter half of the 20th century down to the present moment, powerful corporate and financial elites, the military and intelligence agencies and, for lack of a better term, “normal” governmental institutions are suborned by the same crooked players who profit from war and the ensuing chaos it spawns to organize crime, thereby “rationalizing” criminal structures on more favorable terms for those “in the loop.”

In this regard, the impunity enjoyed up till now by Thaçi and his minions merely reflect the far-greater impunity enjoyed by the American secret state and the powerful actors amongst U.S. elites who have profited from the dirty work allegedly performed by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and others like him, who are counted amongst the most loyal servants of imperial power.

About the author:

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.


22-12-2010

Original source of the article: www.globalresearch.ca

Illustrated by Vladislav B. Sotirovic

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The history of “Humanitarian Warfare”: NATO’s reign of terror In Kosovo, the destruction of Yugoslavia



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The following text was written in the immediate wake of the 1999 NATO bombings of Yugoslavia and the invasion of Kosovo by NATO troops.

It is now well established that the war on Yugoslavia was waged on a fabricated humanitarian pretext and that extensive war crimes were committed by NATO and the US.

In retrospect, the war on Yugoslavia was a “dress rehearsal” for subsequent US-NATO sponsored humanitarian wars including Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), Syria (2011), Ukraine (2014).

Who are the war criminals? In a bitter irony, the so-called International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague is controlled by those who have committed extensive war crimes.

US-NATO started the war on Yugoslavia. President Milosevic was indicted on charges of war crimes. He was poisoned in his prison cell under the auspices of the ICTY. 

According to Nuremberg jurisprudence, the ultimate war crime consists in starting a war. According to William Rockler, former prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal:

“The [1999] bombing war violates and shreds the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and other conventions and treaties; the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities” against Germans. The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok.”

According to Nuremberg jurisprudence, NATO heads of State and heads of government are responsible for the supreme crime: “the crime against peace.”

Reagan’s NSDD 133 (1984) “Secret and Sensitive”

There is evidence that the US administration in liason with its allies took the decision in the early 1980s to destabilise and dismantle Yugoslavia.

The decision to destroy Yugoslavia as a country and carve it up into a number of small proxy states was taken by the Reagan adminstration in the early 1980s. 

A “Secret Sensitive” National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 133) entitled “US Policy towards Yugoslavia.”  (Declassified) set the foreign policy framework for the destabilization of Yugoslavia’s model of market socialism and the establishment of a US sphere of influence in Southeastern Europe.

Yugoslavia was in many regards “an economic success story”. In the two decades before 1980, annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 6.1 percent, medical care was free, the rate of literacy was 91 percent, and life expectancy was 72 years.

While NSDD 133 was in itself a somewhat innocous document, it provided legitimacy to the free market reforms. A series of covert intelligence operations were implemented, which consisted in creating and supporting secessionist paramilitary armies, first in Bosnia then in Kosovo.

These covert operations were combined with the destabilization of the Yugoslav economy. The application of strong economic medicine under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank ultimately led to the destruction of Yugoslavia’s industrial base, the demise of the workers’ cooperative and the dramatic impoverishment of its population.

Kosovo “Independence”

The record of US-NATO war crimes is important in assessing recent developments in Kosovo.

From the outset of their respective mandates in June 1999, both NATO and the UN Mission to Kosovo (UNMIK)  have actively supported the KLA, which has committed numerous atrocities.

It is important to understand that these atrocities were ordered by the current and former prime ministers of the Kosovo “government”.

Since 1999, State terrorism in Kosovo has become an integral part of NATO’s design.

The present government of prime minister Hashim Thaci (a former KLA Commander), is an outgrowth of this reign of terror. It is not a government in the common sense of the word. It remains a terrorist organization linked to organised crime. It is instrument of the foreign occupation.

Michel Chossudovsky, 23 February 2008, 5 August 2015


NATO HAS INSTALLED A REIGN OF TERROR IN KOSOVO

by Michel Chossudovsky

10 August 1999

This text was presented to the Independent Commission of Inquiry to Investigate U.S./NATO War Crimes Against The People of Yugoslavia, International Action Center, New York, July 31, 1999.

PART I: MASSACRES OF CIVILIANS IN KOSOVO

While the World focusses on troop movements and war crimes, the massacres of civilians in the wake of the bombings have been casually dismissed as “justifiable acts of revenge”. In occupied Kosovo, “double standards” prevail in assessing alleged war crimes. The massacres directed against Serbs, ethnic Albanians, Roma and other ethnic groups have been conducted on the instructions of the military command of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

NATO ostensibly denies KLA involvement. These so-called “unmotivated acts of violence and retaliation” are not categorised as “war crimes” and are therefore not included in the mandate of the numerous FBI and Interpol police investigators dispatched to Kosovo under the auspices of the Hague War Crime’s Tribunal (ICTY). Moreover, whereas NATO has tacitly endorsed the self-proclaimed KLA provisional government, KFOR the international security force in Kosovo has provided protection to the KLA military commanders responsible for the atrocities. In so doing both NATO and the UN Mission have acquiesced to the massacres of civilians. In turn, public opinion has been blatantly misled. In portraying the massacres, the Western media has casually overlooked the role of the KLA, not to mention its pervasive links to organised crime. In the words of National Security Advisor Samuel Berger,

“these people [ethnic Albanians] come back … with broken hearts and with some of those hearts filled with anger.”1

While the massacres are seldom presented as the result of “deliberate decisions” by the KLA military command, the evidence (and history of the KLA) amply confirm that these atrocities are part of a policy of “ethnic cleansing” directed mainly against the Serb population but also against the Roma, Montenegrins, Goranis and Turks.

Serbian houses and business have been confiscated, looted, or burned, and Serbs have been beaten, raped, and killed. In one of the more dramatic of incidents, KLA troops ransacked a monastery, terrorized the priest and a group of nuns with gunfire, and raped at least one of the nuns. NATO’s inability to control the situation and provide equal protection for all ethnic groups, and its apparent inability or unwillingness to fully disarm the KLA, has created a serious situation for NATO troops…2

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), confirms in this regard that:

“more than 164,000 Serbs have left Kosovo during the seven weeks since… the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) entered the province… A wave of arson and looting of Serb and Roma homes throughout Kosovo has ensued. Serbs and Roma remaining in Kosovo have been subject to repeated incidents of harassment and intimidation, including severe beatings. Most seriously, there has been a spate of murders and abductions of Serbs since mid-June, including the late July massacre of Serb farmers.”3

POLITICAL ASSASSINATIONS

The self-proclaimed Provisional Government of Kosovo (PGK) has also ordered assassinations directed against political opponents including “loyalist” ethnic Albanians and supporters of the Kosovo Democratic League (KDL). These acts are being carried out in a totally permissive environment. The leaders of the KLA rather than being arrested for war crimes, have been granted KFOR protection.

According to a report of the Foreign Policy Institute (published during the bombings):

“…the KLA have [no] qualms about murdering Rugova’s collaborators, whom it accused of the `crime’ of moderation… [T]he KLA declared Rugova a `traitor’ yet another step toward eliminating any competitors for political power within Kosovo.”4

Already in May [1999], Fehmi Agani, one of Rugova’s closest collaborators in the Kosovo Democratic League (KDL) was killed. The Serbs were blamed by NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea for having assassinated Agani. According to Skopje’s paper Makedonija Danas, Agani had been executed on the orders of the KLA’s self-appointed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.5 “If Thaci actually considered Rugova a threat, he would not hesitate to have Rugova removed from the Kosovo political landscape.”6

In turn, the KLA has abducted and killed numerous professionals and intellectuals:

“Private and State properties are threatened, home and apartment owners are evicted en masse by force and threats, houses and entire villages are burned, cultural and religious monuments are destroyed… A particularly heavy blow… has been the violence against the hospital centre in Pristina, the maltreatment and expulsion of its professional management, doctors and medical staff.”7

Both NATO and the UN prefer to turn a blind eye. UN Interim Administrator Bernard Kouchner (a former French Minister of Health) and KFOR Commander Sir Mike Jackson have established a routine working relationship with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and KLA Chief of Staff Brigadier General Agim Ceku.

ATROCITIES COMMITTED AGAINST THE ROMA

Ethnic cleansing has also been directed against the Roma (which represented prior to the conflict a population group of 150,000 people). (According to figures provided by the Roma Community in New York). A large part of the Roma population has already escaped to Montenegro and Serbia. In turn, there are reports that Roma refugees who had fled by boat to Southern Italy have been expelled by the Italian authorities.8 The KLA has also ordered the systematic looting and torching of Romani homes and settlements:

“All houses and settlements of Romani, like 2,500 homes in the residential area called `Mahala’ in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, have been looted and burnt down”.9

With regard to KLA atrocities committed against the Roma, the same media distortions prevail. According to the BBC: “Gypsies are accused by [Kosovar] Albanians of collaborating in Serb brutalities, which is why they’ve also become victims of revenge attacks. And the truth is, some probably did.”10

INSTALLING A PARAMILITARY GOVERNMENT

As Western leaders trumpet their support for democracy, State terrorism in Kosovo has become an integral part of NATO’s postwar design. The KLA’s political role for the post-conflict period had been mapped out well in advance. Prior to Rambouillet Conference, the KLA had been promised a central role in the formation of a post-conflict government. The “hidden agenda” consisted in converting the KLA paramilitary into a legitimate and accomplished civilian administration. According to US State Department spokesman James Foley (February 1999):

“We want to develop a good relationship with them [the KLA] as they transform themselves into a politically-oriented organization, …[W]e believe that we have a lot of advice and a lot of help that we can provide to them if they become precisely the kind of political actor we would like to see them become.’”11

In other words, the US State Department had already slated the KLA “provisional government” (PGK) to run civilian State institutions. Under NATO’s “Indirect Rule”, the KLA has taken over municipal governments and public services including schools and hospitals. Rame Buja, the KLA “Minister for Local Administration” has appointed local prefects in 23 out of 25 municipalities.12

Under NATO’s regency, the KLA has replaced the duly elected (by ethnic Albanians) provisional Kosovar government of President Ibrahim Rugova. The self-proclaimed KLA administration has branded Rugova as a traitor declaring the (parallel) Kosovar parliamentary elections held in March 1998 to be invalid. This position has largely been upheld by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) entrusted by UNMIK with the postwar task of “democracy building” and “good governance”. In turn, OSCE officials have already established a working rapport with KLA appointees.13

The KLA provisional government (PGK) is made up of the KLA’s political wing together with the Democratic Union Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties opposed to Rugova’s Democratic League (LDK). In addition to the position of prime minister, the KLA controls the ministries of finance, public order and defence. The KLA also has a controlling voice on the UN sponsored Kosovo Transitional Council set up by Mr. Bernard Kouchner. The PGK has also established links with a number of Western governments.

Whereas the KLA has been spearheaded into running civilian institutions (under the guidance of the OSCE), members of the duly elected Kosovar (provisional) government of the Democratic League (DKL) have been blatantly excluded from acquiring a meaningful political voice.

ESTABLISHING A KLA POLICE FORCE TO `PROTECT CIVILIANS’

Under NATO occupation, the rule of law has visibly been turned up side down. Criminals and terrorists are to become law enforcement officers. KLA troops which have already taken over police stations will eventually form a 4,000 strong “civilian” police force (to be trained by foreign police officers under the authority of the United Nations) with a mandate to “protect civilians”. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has already pledged Canadian support to the formation of a civilian police force.14 The latter which has been entrusted to the OSCE will eventually operate under the jurisdiction of the KLA controlled “Ministry of Public Order”.

US MILITARY AID

Despite NATO’s commitment to disarming the KLA, the Kosovar paramilitary organisation is slated to be transformed into a modern military force. So-called “security assistance” has already been granted to the KLA by the US Congress under the “Kosovar Independence and Justice Act of 1999″. Start-up funds of 20 million dollars will largely be “used for training and support for their [KLA] established self-defence forces.”15 In the words of KLA Chief of Staff Agrim Ceku:

“The KLA wants to be transformed into something like the US National Guard, … we accept the assistance of KFOR and the international community to rebuild an army according to NATO standards. … These professionally trained soldiers of the next generation of the KLA would seek only to defend Kosova. At this decisive moment, we [the KLA] do not hide our ambitions; we want the participation of international military structures to assist in the pacific and humanitarian efforts we are attempting here.” 16

While the KLA maintains its links to the Balkans narcotics trade which served to finance many of its terrorist activities, the paramilitary organisation has now been granted an official seal of approval as well as “legitimate” sources of funding. The pattern is similar to that followed in Croatia and in the Bosnian Muslim-Croatian Federation where so-called “equip and train” programmes were put together by the Pentagon. In turn, Washington’s military aid package to the KLA has been entrusted to Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) of Alexandria, Virginia, a private mercenary outfit run by high ranking former US military officers.

MPRI’s training concepts which had already been tested in Croatia and Bosnia are based on imparting “offensive tactics… as the best form of defence”.17 In the Kosovar context, this so- called “defensive doctrine” transforms the KLA paramilitary into a modern army without however eliminating its terrorist makeup.18 The objective is to ultimately transform an insurgent army into a modern military and police force which serves the Alliance’s future strategic objectives in the Balkans. MPRI has currently “ninety-one highly experienced, former military professionals working in Bosnia & Herzegovina”.19 The number of military officers working on contract with the KLA has not been disclosed.

PART II. FROM KRAJINA TO KOSOVO. A FORMER CROATIAN GENERAL APPOINTED KLA CHIEF OF STAFF

The massacres of civilians in Kosovo are not disconnected acts of revenge by civilians or by so-called “rogue elements” within the KLA as claimed by NATO and the United Nations. They are part of a consistent and coherent pattern. The intent (and result) of the KLA sponsored atrocities have been to trigger the “ethnic cleansing” of Serbs, Roma and other minorities in Kosovo.

KLA Commander Agim Ceku referring to the killings of 14 villagers at Gracko on July 24, claimed that: “We [the KLA] do not know who did it, but I sincerely believe these people have nothing to do with the KLA.”20 In turn, KFOR Lieutenant General Sir Mike Jackson has commended his KLA counterpart, Commander Agim Ceku for “efforts undertaken” to disarm the KLA. In fact, very few KLA weapons have been handed in. Moreover, the deadline for turning in KLA weaponry has been extended. “I do not regard this as noncompliance” said Commander Jackson in a press conference, “but rather as an indication of the seriousness with which General Ceku is taking this important issue.”21

Yet what Sir Mike Jackson failed to mention is that KLA Chief of Staff Commander Agim Ceku (although never indicted as a war criminal) was (according to Jane Defence Weekly June 10, 1999) “one of the key planners of the successful `Operation Storm’” led by the Croatian Armed Forces against Krajina Serbs in 1995.

General Jackson who had served in former Yugoslavia under the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was fully cognizant of the activities of the Croatian High Command during that period including the responsibilities imparted to Brigadier General Agim Ceku. In February 1999, barely a month prior to the NATO bombings, Ceku left his position as Brigadier General with the Croatian Armed Forces to join the KLA as Commander in Chief.

FROM KRAJINA TO KOSOVO: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

According to the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Operation Storm resulted in the massacre of at least 410 civilians in the course of a three day operation (4 to 7 August 1995).22 An internal report of The Hague War Crimes Tribunal (leaked to the New York Times), confirmed that the Croatian Army had been responsible for carrying out:

“summary executions, indiscriminate shelling of civilian populations and “ethnic cleansing” in the Krajina region of Croatia….”23

In a section of the report entitled “The Indictment. Operation Storm, A Prima Facie Case.”, the ICTY report confirms that:

“During the course of the military offensive, the Croatian armed forces and special police committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, including but not limited to, shelling of Knin and other cities… During, and in the 100 days following the military offensive, at least 150 Serb civilians were summarily executed, and many hundreds disappeared. …In a widespread and systematic manner, Croatian troops committed murder and other inhumane acts upon and against Croatian Serbs.” 24

US `GENERALS FOR HIRE’

The internal 150 page report concluded that it has “sufficient material to establish that the three [Croatian] generals who commanded the military operation” could be held accountable under international law.25 The individuals named had been directly involved in the military operation “in theatre”. Those involved in “the planning of Operation Storm” were not mentioned:

“The identity of the “American general” referred to by Fenrick [a Tribunal staff member] is not known. The tribunal would not allow Williamson or Fenrick to be interviewed. But Ms. Arbour, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, suggested in a telephone interview last week that Fenrick’s comment had been `a joking observation’. Ms. Arbour had not been present during the meeting, and that is not how it was viewed by some who were there. Several people who were at the meeting assumed that Fenrick was referring to one of the retired U.S. generals who worked for Military Professional Resources Inc. … Questions remain about the full extent of U.S. involvement. In the course of the three yearinvestigation into the assault, the United States has failed to provide critical evidence requested by the tribunal, according to tribunal documents and officials, adding to suspicion among some there that Washington is uneasy about the investigation… The Pentagon, however, has argued through U.S. lawyers at the tribunal that the shelling was a legitimate military activity, according to tribunal documents and officials”.26

The Tribunal was attempting to hide what had already been revealed in several press reports published in the wake of Operation Storm. According to a US State Department spokesman, MPRI had been helping the Croatians “avoid excesses or atrocities in military operations.”27 Fifteen senior US military advisers headed by retired two star General Richard Griffitts had been dispatched to Croatia barely seven months before Operation Storm. 28 According to one report, MPRI executive director General Carl E. Vuono: “held a secret top-level meeting at Brioni Island, off the coast of Croatia, with Gen. Varimar Cervenko, the architect of the Krajina campaign. In the five days preceding the attack, at least ten meetings were held between General Vuono and officers involved in the campaign…”29

According to Ed Soyster, a senior MPRI executive and former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA):

“MPRI’s role in Croatia is limited to classroom instruction on military-civil relations and doesn’t involve training in tactics or weapons. Other U.S. military men say whatever MPRI did for the Croats and many suspect more than classroom instruction was involved it was worth every penny.” Carl Vuono and Butch [Crosbie] Saint are hired guns and in it for the money,” says Charles Boyd, a recently retired four star Air Force general who was the Pentagon’s No. 2 man in Europe until July [1995]. “They did a very good job for the Croats, and I have no doubt they’ll do a good job in Bosnia.”30

THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL’S COVER UP

The untimely leaking of the ICTY’s internal report on the Krajina massacres barely a few days before the onslaught of NATO’s air raids on Yugoslavia was the source of some embarrassment to the Tribunal’s Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour. The Tribunal (ICTY) attempted to cover up the matter and trivialise the report’s findings (including the alleged role of the US military officers on contract with the Croatian Armed Forces). Several Tribunal officials including American Lawyer Clint Williamson sought to discredit the Canadian Peacekeeping officers’ testimony who witnessed the Krajina massacres in 1995.31

terorista-pripadnik-ovk-uck

Williamson, who described the shelling of Knin as a “minor incident,” said that the Pentagon had told him that Knin was a legitimate military target… The [Tribunal’s] review concluded by voting not to include the shelling of Knin in any indictment, a conclusion that stunned and angered many at the tribunal”…32

The findings of the Tribunal contained in the leaked ICTY documents were downplayed, their relevance was casually dismissed as “expressions of opinion, arguments and hypotheses from various staff members of the OTP during the investigative process”.33 According to the Tribunal’s spokesperson “the documents do not represent in any way the concluded decisions of the Prosecutor.” 34

The internal 150 page report has not been released. The staff member who had leaked the documents is (according to a Croatian TV report) no longer working for the Tribunal. During the press Conference, the Tribunal’s spokesman was asked: “about the consequences for the person who leaked the information”, Blewitt [the ICTY spokesman] replied that he did not want to go into that. He said that the OTP would strengthen the existing procedures to prevent this from happening again, however he added that you could not stop people from talking”.35

THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN CROATIA

The massacres conducted under Operation Storm “set the stage” for the “ethnic cleansing” of at least 180,000 Krajina Serbs (according to estimates of the Croatian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International). According to other sources, the number of victims of ethnic cleansing in Krajina was much larger.

Moreover, there is evidence that chemical weapons had been used in the Yugoslav civil war (1991-95).36 Although there is no firm evidence of the use of chemical weapons against Croatian Serbs, an ongoing enquiry by the Canadian Minister of Defence (launched in July 1999) points to the possibility of toxic poisoning of Canadian Peacekeepers while on service in Croatia between 1993 and 1995:

“There was a smell of blood in the air during the past week as the media sensed they had a major scandal unfolding within the Department of National Defense over the medical files of those Canadians who served in Croatia in 1993. Allegations of destroyed documents, a coverup, and a defensive minister and senior officers…”37

The official release of the Department of National Defence (DND) refers to possibility of toxic “soil contamination” in Medak Pocket in 1993 (see below). Was it “soil contamination” or something far more serious? The criminal investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) refers to the shredding of medical files of former Canadian peacekeepers by the DND. In other words did the DND have something to hide? The issue remains as to what types of shells and ammunitions were used by the Croatian Armed Forces ie. were chemical weapons used against Serb civilians?

OPERATION STORM: THE ACCOUNT OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN REGIMENT

Prior to the onslaught, Croatian radio had previously broadcasted a message by president Franjo Tudjman, calling upon “Croatian citizens of Serbian ethnicity… to remain in their homes and not to fear the Croatian authorities, which will respect their minority rights.”38 Canadian peacekeepers of the Second Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment witnessed the atrocities committed by Croatian troops in the Krajina offensive in September 1995:

“Any Serb who had failed to evacuate their property were systematically “cleansed” by roving death squads. Every abandoned animal was slaughtered and any Serb household was ransacked and torched”.39

Also confirmed by Canadian peacekeepers was the participation of German mercenaries in Operation Storm:

“Immediately behind the frontline Croatian combat troops and German mercenaries, a large number of hardline extremists had pushed into the Krajina. …Many of these atrocities were carried out within the Canadian Sector, but as the peacekeepers were soon informed by the Croat authorities, the UN no longer had any formal authority in the region.”40

How the Germans mercenaries were recruited was never officially revealed. An investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) confirmed the that foreign mercenaries in Croatia had in some cases “been paid [and presumably recruited] outside Croatia and by third parties.”41

THE 1993 MEDAK POCKET MASSACRE

According to Jane Defence Weekly (10 June 1999), Brigadier General Agim Ceku (now in charge of the KLA) also “masterminded the successful HV [Croatian Army] offensive at Medak” in September 1993. In Medak, the combat operation was entitled “Scorched Earth” resulting in the total destruction of the Serbian villages of Divoselo, Pocitelj and Citluk, and the massacre of over 100 civilians.42

These massacres were also witnessed by Canadian peacekeepers under UN mandate:

“As the sun rose over the horizon, it revealed a Medak Valley engulfed in smoke and flames. As the frustrated soldiers of 2PPCLI waited for the order to move forward into the pocket, shots and screams still rang out as the ethnic cleansing continued. …About 20 members of the international press had tagged along, anxious to see the Medak battleground. Calvin [a Canadian officer] called an informal press conference at the head of the column and loudly accused the Croats of trying to hide war crimes against the Serb inhabitants. The Croats started withdrawing back to their old lines, taking with them whatever loot they hadn’t destroyed. All livestock had been killed and houses torched. French reconnaissance troops and the Canadian command element pushed up the valley and soon began to find bodies of Serb civilians, some already decomposing, others freshly slaughtered. …Finally, on the drizzly morning of Sept. 17, teams of UN civilian police arrived to probe the smouldering ruins for murder victims. Rotting corpses lying out in the open were catalogued, then turned over to the peacekeepers for burial.”43

The massacres were reported to the Canadian Minister of Defence and to the United Nations:

“Senior defence bureaucrats back in Ottawa had no way of predicting the outcome of the engagement in terms of political fallout. To them, there was no point in calling media attention to a situation that might easily backfire. …So Medak was relegated to the memory hole no publicity, no recriminations, no official record. Except for those soldiers involved, Canada’s most lively military action since the Korean War simply never happened.”44

PART III. NATO’S `POST CONFLICT’ AGENDA IN KOSOVO

Both the Medak Pocket massacre and Operation Storm bear a direct relationship to the ongoing security situation in Kosovo and the massacres and ethnic cleansing committed by KLA troops. While the circumstances are markedly different, several of today’s actors in Kosovo were involved (under the auspices of the Croatian Armed Forces) in the planning of both these operations. Moreover, the US mercenary outfit MPRI which collaborated with the Croatian Armed Forces in 1995 is currently on contract with the KLA. NATO’s casual response to the appointment of Brigadier General Agim Ceku as KLA Chief of Staff was communicated by Mr. Jamie Shea in a Press Briefing in May:

“I have always made it clear, and you have heard me say this, that NATO has no direct contacts with the KLA. Who they appoint as their leaders, that is entirely their own affair. I don’t have any comment on that whatever.”45

While NATO says it “has no direct contacts with the KLA”, the evidence confirms the opposite. Amply documented, KLA terrorism has been installed with NATO’s tacit approval. The KLA had (according to several reports) been receiving “covert support” and training from the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) since the mid-nineties. Moreover, MPRI collaboration with the KLA predates the onslaught of the bombing campaign.46 Moreover, the building up of KLA forces was part of NATO planning. Already by mid-1998, “covert support” had been replaced by official (“overt”) support by the military Alliance in violation of UN Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1160 of 31 March 1998 which condemned: “…all acts of terrorism by the Kosovo Liberation Army or any other group or individual and all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training.”

NATO officials, Western heads of State and heads of government, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan not to mention ICTY chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour, were fully cognizant of General Brigadier Agim Ceku’s involvement in the planning of Operation Storm and Operation Scorched Earth. Surely, some questions should have been asked…

Yet visibly what is shaping up in the wake of the bombings in Kosovo is the continuity of NATO’s operation in the Balkans. Military personnel and UN bureaucrats previously stationed in Croatia and Bosnia have been routinely reassigned to Kosovo. KFOR Commander Mike Jackson had previously been responsible as IFOR Commander for organising the return of Serbs “to lands taken by Croatian HVO forces in the Krajina offensive”.47 And in this capacity General Mike Jackson had “urged that the resettlement [of Krajina Serbs] not [be] rushed to avoid tension [with the Croatians]… while also warning returning Serbs “of the extent of the [land] mine threat.”48 In retrospect, recalling the events of early 1996, very few Krajina Serbs were allowed to return to their homes under the protection of the United Nations.

And a similar process is unfolding in Kosovo, ie. the conduct of senior military officers conforms to a consistent pattern, the same key individuals are now involved in Kosovo. While token efforts are displayed to protect Serb and Roma civilians, those who have fled Kosovo are not encouraged to return under UN protection… In postwar Kosovo, “ethnic cleansing” implemented by the KLA has been accepted by the “international community” as a “fait accompli”…

While calling for democracy and “good governance” in the Balkans, the US and its allies have installed in Kosovo a paramilitary government with links to organised crime.

The foreseeable outcome is the outright “criminalisation” of civilian State institutions and the establishment of what is best described as a “Mafia State”. The complicity of NATO and the Alliance governments (namely their relentless support to the KLA) points to the de facto “criminalisation” of KFOR and of the UN peacekeeping apparatus in Kosovo. The donor agencies and governments (eg. the funds approved by the US Congress in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions) providing financial support to the KLA are, in this regard, also “accessories” to the de facto criminalisation of State institutions. Through the intermediation of a paramilitary group (created and financed by Washington and Bonn), NATO ultimately bears the burden of responsibility for the massacres and ethnic cleansing of civilians in Kosovo.

STATE TERROR AND THE `FREE MARKET’

State terror and the “free market” seem to go hand in hand. The concurrent “criminalisation” of State institutions in Kosovo is not incompatible with the West’s economic and strategic objectives in the Balkans. Notwithstanding the massacres of civilians, the self-proclaimed KLA administration has committed itself to establishing a “secure and stable environment” for foreign investors and international financial institutions. The Minister of Finance Adem Grobozci and other representatives of the provisional government invited to the various donor conferences are all KLA appointees. In contrast, members of the KDL of Ibrahim Rugova (duly elected in parliamentary elections) were not even invited to attend the Stabilisation Summit in Sarajevo in late July.

“Free market reforms” are envisaged for Kosovo under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions largely replicating the structures of the Rambouillet agreement. Article I (Chapter 4a) of the Rambouillet Agreement stipulated that: “The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles”. The KLA government will largely be responsible for implementing these reforms and ensuring that loan conditionalities are met.

In close liaison with NATO, the Bretton Woods institutions had already analysed the consequences of an eventual military intervention leading to the military occupation of Kosovo: almost a year prior to the beginning of the War, the World Bank conducted “simulations” which “anticipated the possibility of an emergency scenario arising out of the tensions in Kosovo.”49

The eventual “reconstruction” of Kosovo financed by international debt largely purports to transfer Kosovo’s extensive wealth in mineral resources and coal to multinational capital. In this regard, the KLA has already occupied (pending their privatisation) the largest coal mine at Belacevac in Dobro Selo northwest of Pristina. In turn, foreign capital has its eyes rivetted on the massive Trepca mining complex which constitutes “the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, worth at least $5 billion.”50 The Trebca complex not only includes copper and large reserves of zinc but also cadmium, gold, and silver. It has several smelting plants, 17 metal treatment sites, a power plant and Yugoslavia’s largest battery plant. Northern Kosovo also has estimated reserves of 17 billion tons of coal and lignite.

In the wake of the bombings, the management of many of the State owned enterprises and public utilities were taken over by KLA appointees. In turn, the leaders of the Provisional Government of Kosovo (PGK) have become “the brokers” of multinational capital committed to handing over the Kosovar economy at bargain prices to foreign investors. The IMF’s lethal “economic therapy” will be imposed, the provincial economy will be dismantled, agriculture will be deregulated, local industrial enterprises which have not been totally destroyed will be driven into bankruptcy. The most profitable State assets will eventually be transferred into the hands of foreign capital under the World Bank sponsored privatisation programme. “Strong economic medicine” imposed by external creditors will contribute to further boosting a criminal economy (already firmly implanted in Albania) which feeds on poverty and economic dislocation.

“The Allies will work with the rest of the international community to help rebuild Kosovo once the crisis is over: The International Monetary Fund and Group of Seven industrialized countries are among those who stand ready to offer financial help to the countries of the region. We want to ensure proper coordination of aid and help countries to respond to the effects of the crisis. This should go hand in hand with the necessary structural reforms in the countries affected helped by budget support from the international community.”51

Morever, the so-called “reconstruction” of the Balkans by foreign capital will signify multibillion contracts to foreign firms to rebuild Kosovo’s infrastructure. More generally, the proposed “Marshall Plan” for the Balkans financed by the World Bank and the European Development Bank (EBRD) as well as private creditors will largely benefit Western mining, petroleum and construction companies while fuelling the region’s external debt well into the third millennium.

And Kosovo is slated to reimburse this debt through the laundering of dirty money. Yugoslav banks in Kosovo will be closed down, the banking system will be deregulated under the supervision of Western financial institutions. Narcodollars from the multibillion dollar Balkans drug trade will be recycled towards servicing the external debt as well as “financing” the costs of “reconstruction.” The lucrative flow of narcodollars thus ensures that foreign investors involved in the “reconstruction” programme will be able reap substantial returns. In turn, the existence of a Kosovar “narco State” ensures the orderly reimbursement of international donors and creditors. The latter are prepared to turn blind eye. They have a tacit vested interest in installing a government which facilitates the laundering of drug money.

The pattern in Kosovo is, in this regard, similar to that observed in neighbouring Albania. Since the early 1990s (culminating with the collapse of the financial pyramids in 1996-97), the IMF’s reforms have impoverished the Albanian population while spearheading the national economy into bankruptcy. The IMF’s deadly economic therapy transforms countries into open territories. In Albania and to a lesser extent Macedonia, it has also contributed to fostering the growth of illicit trade and the criminalisation of State institutions.

NOTES

1. Jim Lehrer News Maker Interview, PBS, 26 July 1999.
2. Stratfor Commentary, “Growing Threat of Serbian Paramilitary Action in Kosovo”, 29 July 1999.
3. Human Rights Watch, 3 August 1999.
4. See Michael Radu, “Don’t Arm the KLA”, CNS Commentary from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, 7 April, 1999).
5. Tanjug Press Dispatch, 14 May 1999.
6. Stratfor Comment, “Rugova Faced with a Choice of Two Losses”, Stratfor, 29 July 1999.
7. Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Yugoslav Daily Survey, Belgrade, 29 June 1999.
8. Hina Press Dispatch, Zagreb, 26 July 1999.
9. Ibid.
10. BBC Report, London, 5 July 1999.
11. New York Times, 2 February 1999.
12. Financial Times, London, 4 August 1999.
13. See Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Mission in Kosovo, Decision 305, Permanent Council, 237th Plenary Meeting, PC Journal No. 237, Agenda item 2, Vienna, 1 July 1999.
14. Statement at the Sarajevo Summit, 31 July 1999.
15. 106th Congress, April 15, HR 1425.
16. Interview with KLA Chief of Staff Commander Agim Ceku, Kosovapress, 31 July 1999.
17. See Tammy Arbucki, “Building a Bosnian Army”, Jane International Defence Review, August 1997.
18. Ibid.
19. Military Professional Resources, Inc, “Personnel Needs”, http://www.mpri.com/current/personnel.htm
20. Associated Press Report.
21. Ibid.
22. The actual number of civilians killed or missing was much larger.
23. Quoted in Raymond Bonner, War Crimes Panel Finds Croat Troops Cleansed the Serbs, New York Times, 21 March 1999).
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid.
26. Raymond Bonner, op cit.
27. Ken Silverstein, “Privatizing War”, The Nation, New York, 27 July 1997.
28. See Mark Thompson et al, “Generals for Hire”, Time Magazine, 15 January 1996, p. 34.
29. Quoted in Silverstein, op cit.
30. Mark Thompson et al, op cit.
31. Raymond Bonner, op cit.
32. Ibid.
33. ICTY Weekly Press Briefing, 24 March 1999).
34. Ibid.
35. Ibid.
36. See inter alia Reuters dispatch, 21 October 1993 on the use of chemical grenades, a New York Times report on 31 October 1992 on the use of poisoned gas).
37. Lewis MacKenzie, “Giving our soldiers the benefit of the doubt”, National Post, 2 August 1999.
38. Slobodna Dalmacija, Split, Croatia, August 5 1996.
39. Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan, The Sunday Sun, Toronto, 2 November 1998.
40. Ibid.
41. United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-first session, Item 9 of the provisional agenda, Geneva, 21 December 1994).
42. (See Memorandum on the Violation of the Human and Civil Rights of the Serbian People in the Republic of Croatia,
http://serbianlinks.freehosting.net/memorandum.htm
43. Excerpts from the book of Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan published in the Toronto Sun, 1 November 1998.
44. Ibid.
45. NATO Press Briefing, 14 May 1999.
46. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo `Freedom Fighters’ Financed by Organized Crime, CAQ, Spring-Summer 1999.
47. Jane’s Defence Weekly, Vol 25, No. 7, 14 February 1996.
48. Ibid.
49. World Bank Development News, Washington, 27 April 1999.
50. New York Times, July 8, 1998, report by Chris Hedges.
51. Statement by Javier Solano, Secretary General of NATO, published in The National Post, Toronto May 1999.


By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Second Edition, Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization.

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/nato-s-reign-of-terror-in-kosovo/8168

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On target: Ukraine could learn from Kosovo’s troubles



ukraine_map_region_vote

There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media.

On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia.

Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply disappear into other western European countries.

This, of course, explains why there is no public outcry from other members of the European Union over Hungary’s decision to fence out this wave of desperate humanity.

For impoverished Serbia, staunching the flow of these refugees at its northern border has generated the opposite reaction.

“I thought the Berlin Wall had fallen, but now new walls are being constructed,” stated Serbia’s foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, referring to the Cold War barrier that stood from 1961 until 1991.

“We are absolutely and fiercely against (Hungary’s) decision to build a fence.”

While the nationalities of those fleeing through Serbia into Hungary and beyond include Syrians, Somalis and even Afghans, the irony is that the vast majority of asylum seekers are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

The most recent exodus began in earnest in the fall of 2014, when the Serbian government relaxed travel restrictions on Albanians entering from the declared independent state of Kosovo. Serbia has never recognized Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence and still legally considers the region to be sovereign Serbian territory.

In 1999, Kosovo was ravaged by a brutal civil war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbian security forces. The root cause of the public discontent was a severely depressed economy, overpopulation and unemployment. The Albanian underworld was able use that unrest to ignite and impassion a wave of nationalist sentiment that soon boiled over into a full-scale armed insurgency.

That year was the 50th anniversary of NATO and, given the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was a strong desire for NATO leaders to prove that the alliance was still relevant. Thus, NATO threw its full weight behind the Albanian Kosovo rebels.

In the spring of 1999, NATO warplanes, including Canadian CF-18s, launched a 78-day bombing campaign — not just against Serbian military targets in the disputed territory of Kosovo but against civilian infrastructure and utilities throughout all of Serbia. With NATO combat forces, including Canadians, massed in Macedonia for a possible ground war, the Serbian government negotiated a ceasefire on June 10, 1999.

Under the negotiated terms of UN Resolution 1244, Kosovo was to remain the sovereign territory of Serbia after a brief military occupation by NATO troops. Serbian security forces were to resume control of Kosovo’s border crossings and provide protection for the numerous sacred Serbian religious sites and monasteries within the disputed territory.

Of course, that was never actually in the cards. NATO negotiators had never wanted to have ground troops fight their way through Kosovo’s forebodingly steep mountain passes. Therefore, they agreed to all Serbian demands, knowing full well that they would never honour the deal.

In February 2008, that duplicity was formalized when the United States hastily recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and strong-armed allies such as Canada into following suit.

However, the precedent of such declarations of territorial independence based upon ethnic regional majority has prevented many countries from recognizing Kosovo. For instance, Spain, with its Basque separatist movement, and Azerbaijan, with its claim over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, cannot recognize a unilaterally declared independence.

With Russia using its veto to deny Kosovo membership in the UN and Spain, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus doing likewise to keep it out of the European Union, Kosovo has remained in a strange quasi-limbo status on the international stage.

What matters most, however, is that at the end of the day, you cannot subsist on flags. Despite its declared independence, unemployment, poverty, corruption and widespread crime are driving a new flood of Albanian Kosovars to seek a better life — anywhere but in Kosovo.

The people of Ukraine who see their salvation in the form of a NATO intervention should take a good look at NATO’s “success” in Kosovo. Short-term military solutions do not solve long-term economic problems.


By Scott Taylor

2015-06-28

Source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1295935-on-target-ukraine-could-learn-from-kosovo%E2%80%99s-troubles?utm_source=website&utm_medium=mobi&utm_campaign=full-site

EU and Poroshenka

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Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and the rights of the Serbian minority: Ten years after the “March Pogrom 2004”



10 I morto i Serbi

This article deals with the question of political and human/minority rights in the region of Kosovo & Metohija ten years after the „March Pogrom 2004“ and fifteen years after the NATO’s military aggression on Serbia and Montenegro and occupation of the region. An importance of this research topic is in a fact that for the first time in the European history a terrorist-style and mafia-ruled (quasi)independent state was created by a full diplomatic, political, economic, military and financial sponsorship by the West under the umbrella of the NATO’s and the EU’s protective administration. The precedence of Kosovo’s self-proclaimed independence in February 2008 already had several negative „domino effect“ consequences elsewhere in Europe (the Caucasus, the Crimean Peninsula…). The aim of the paper is to present a current situation in Kosovo & Metohija and possible consequences of the Kosovo case for the international relations and the post-Cold War world’s order.

Global Pax Americana and post-modern colonialism

It passed ten years after the „March Pogrom 2004“ in Kosovo & Metohija against the local Serbs organized and done by Kosovo Albanians, led by the veterans from the Kosovo Liberation Army – the KLA and logistically supported by the NATO’s occupation troops in Kosovo & Metohija under the name of the Kosovo Forces – the KFOR. That was simply a continuation of the last stage (up to now) of dismemberment of ex-Yugoslavia – the Kosovo War (1998-1999) and the NATO’s military intervention (March 24th–June 10th, 1999) against and aggression on Serbia and Montenegro (at that time composing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – the FRY) by violating the international law.[1] In this context, we can say that at the end of the 20th century the fate of ex-Yugoslavia was being determined by several international organizations, but not decisively by the Yugoslavs themselves.[2]

The NATO’s military intervention against the FRY in March-June of 1999 (led by the USA) for the formal reason of protection of the human (Albanian) rights in Kosovo,[3] marked a crucial step toward finishing the process of creation of the global „Pax Americana“ in the form of the NATO’s World Order – the NWO.[4] As the NATO used force against the FRY without the UN Security Council sanctions and permission and also without an official proclamation of the war we can call this military intervention in fact as a pure „aggression“ against one sovereign state.[5] In the Balkans NATO acquired not only a big military experience and an opportunity to exhaust old and use new weapons,[6] but also managed to enhance its activities, making its way to a global organization.

After the Kosovo War the UN’s Security Council Resolution 1244 (from June 1999) gave the mandate for the effective protection of the universal human and minority rights values of all inhabitants on the territory of the southern Serbia’s Autonomous Region of Kosovo & Metohija (in English language known only as Kosovo).[7] At such a way, the responsibility for protection of human lives, freedom and security in Kosovo was thus transferred to the “international” public authorities, but in fact only to the NATO: the administration of the United Nations’ Mission in Kosovo – the UNMIK, and the “international” military forces – (the KFOR, Kosovo Forces). Unfortunately, very soon this responsibility was totally challenged as around 200.000 ethnic Serbs and members of other non-Albanian communities were expelled from the region by the local ethnic Albanians led by the KLA’s veterans. At any case, mostly suffered the ethnic Serbs. It left today only up to 3% of the non-Albanians in Kosovo in comparison to the pre-war situation out of a total number of the non-Albanians in this province that was at least 12%. Only up to March 2004 around 120 Serb Orthodox Christian religious objects and cultural monuments were devastated or destroyed.[8]

However, 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 the Nazi-style organized pogroms. During the tragic events of the “March Pogrom 2004”, in a destructive assault of tens of thousands by Kosovo Albanians led by armed groups of redressed the KLA’s veterans (the Kosovo Protection Corpus – the KPC, a future Kosovo Albanian regular army), 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. Nevertheless, the international civil and military forces in the region have been only “stunned” and “surprised” what was going on. The “March Pogrom 2004”, which resulted, according to the documentary sources, in the loss of several tens of lives, several hundreds of wounded (including and the members of the 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,[9] surely revealed the real situation on the ground in Kosovo even 60 years after the Holocaust during the WWII. Unfortunately, the attempts of the Serbs and especially by the government of Serbia at that time led by dr. Vojislav Koštunica (a leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia) to call an international attention to the human and minority rights violation situation in this region proved to have been both unsuccessful and justified.

It is thus necessary to reiterate that ethnic cleansing of the Serbs (and other non-Albanian population) in the region of Kosovo 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. At such a way, the main geopolitical goal of the First Albanian Prizren League from June 1878 is being brought to its attainment, including its implications for the Preševo Valley in South-East Serbia, Western Macedonia up to the River of Vardar, a Greek portion of the Epirus province and the Eastern Montenegro. It is known that the Albanian political workers required within a framework of the First Albanian Prizren League (1878-1881) a creation of a Greater Albania as an autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire composed by “all Albanian ethnic territories”. More precisely, it was required that four Ottoman provinces (vilayets) of Scodra, Ioannina, Bitola and Kosovo would be combined into a single Albanian national Ottoman province of Vilayet of Albania. However, in two out of four required “Albanian” provinces – Bitola and Kosovo, the ethnic Albanians did not compose even a single majority at that time.[10] Nevertheless, such a Greater Albania with a capital in Tirana existed during the WWII under Mussolini’s and Hitler’s protectorate.

The Albanian national movement, established in accordance with the program of the First Albanian Prizren League in 1878, is keeping on with its terrorist activities up today. It was particularly active in the period of Italian and German supported 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 around 100.000 Serbs from Kosovo & Metohija have been expelled from their homes to addition of around 200.000 expelled during Socialist Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1980 lead by Josip Broz Tito who was of Slovene and Croat ethnic origin born in Croatia and notorious anti-Serb.[11] The process of articulation of the Albanian secessionist movement in Kosovo & Metohija continued during the post-WWII Yugoslavia and was carried out by Kosovo Albanian anti-Serb communist partocracy. The process became particularly intense and successful in the period between 1968-1989. For instance, only from 1981 to 1987 there were 22.307 Serbs and Montenegrins who were forced to leave Kosovo & Metohija.[12] The entrance of the NATO’s troops in the region in June 1999 marks the beginning of the last stage of the Albanian-planned and carried out the “Final Solution” of the Serbian Question on the territory of Kosovo & Metohija – a historical and cultural cradle of the Serbian nation, but in which only the ethnic Albanians have to live in the future.

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 on the territory defined by the aspirations. The Albanian terrorism has been developing for more than two centuries. It has the profile of ethnically, i.e. the Nazi-racist style motivated terrorism (like the Croat one), marked by excessive animosity against the Serbs.[13] Its principal features are the following:

1. All kinds of 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 nation which are clearly testifying ten centuries long presence of the Serbs in Kosovo & Metohija.
4. Destruction of the complete infrastructure used by the members of the Serbian community.
5. Destruction of the Serbian cemeteries what means de facto destruction of the historical roots of the Serbs in the region.

A long standing Muslim Albanian oppression and terror against the Christian Orthodox Serbian community in Kosovo & Metohija is a specific phenomenon with the grave consequences not only for the local Serbs. It became, however, clear that sooner or later it will bring about severe problems for the rest of Europe as well.

Ten years have passed from the „March Pogrom 2004“ and fifteen years since the NATO’s military aggression against a sovereign European state of the FRY. At the moment, the crucial questions are:

1) What goals did NATO pursue?

2) Whether it managed to cope with its tasks in the following (15) years?

3) What did these years bring to those who threw bombs and those who were attacked?

It has to be made clear that during the Kosovo War the NATO did not achieve a military victory as it failed to destroy the army of the FRY and the soldiers’ morale. However, a campaign of bombing got the right political atmosphere for destroying Serbia (purposely not so much Montenegro) and for imposing their conditions on the Serbian government, including the rules of the cooperation with the EU, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (in the Hague) and with the NATO as well. After June 1999 Serbia lost almost all opportunities to control its own state’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security becoming in a pure sense of meaning a western political and economic colony. After several years of injustice and punishment by the West before 1999 the Serbs as a nation lost the will to fight, to resist as they were practically alone when tried to repel the attack of the powerful western military alliance in March-June 1999. As a consequence, after June 1999 it became much easier for the West to continue a process of destruction of Yugoslavia and to carry out a policy of transforming the region into its own colonial domain with occupied Kosovo & Metohija as the best example of „die rückkehr des kolonialismus“.[14]

In October 2000 Slobodan Milosević, who was a head of Serbia for ten years, was ousted by the street revolution putsch-style like it was done with Ukrainian president Viktor Janukovich in Kiev in February 2004.[15] At first sight, the move came as unexpected, easy and legal, in the other words – Yugoslavia’s home affair. However, the „Revolution of the Fifth October 2000“ in Belgrade, in fact, had been very thoroughly prepared by special divisions („Otpor“ or „Resistance“) sponsored by the West, especially by the CIA. The method proved to be so successful that, according to one western documentary movie based on the testimonies by the members of the Serbian “Otpor“ movement, it was later used in Georgia (the „Rose Revolution“ in November 2003) and Ukraine (the „Orange Revolution“ from late November 2004 to January 2005 and finally in 2013/2014), but failed in Moldova and Iran in 2009. The same source claims that the Georgian opposition were taught in Serbia, while their Ukrainian colleagues of the „Orange Revolution“ were drilled also in Serbia and in Georgia.[16]

From the time of the end of the Cold War (1989) Serbia remained as a symbol of independence and disobedience to the NATO’s World Order in Europe. However, the new authorities in Serbia after October 2000 obeyed to the NATO’s World Order and everything went smoothly. The dismemberment of the FRY started when having arrived in Belgrade in February 2003, Javier Solana, a top the EU representative and official, suggested to a group of officials from Serbia and Montenegro to admit that the FRY ceased to exist, and adopt the Constitution charter, written in Brussels. Its text was proclaiming, for the beginning, the appearance of a new country. Solana did not face any resistance. Consequently, the FRY was renamed to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, and officially abolished the name ”Yugoslavia” that was in official use from 1929. In 2006 Montenegro and Serbia declared independence, thereby ending the common South Slavic state (only Bulgarians have been out from this state as the South Slavs) established in 1918 under the original name of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (this name was used till 1929). It was Javier Solana who did it regardless the fact that he up today remains a war criminal for majority of the Serbs as he bombed their country in 1999 as the General Secretary of the NATO killing 3.500 citizens of Serbia including and children and women with a material damage to the country around 200.000 billion US $.[17]

After the year of 2000 it was easier to implement the NATO’s plans which seemed simply fantastic under Slobodan Milošević as president of Serbia and later the FRY.[18] The last Yugoslavia (Serbia & Montenegro) was undermined, its integration slowed down till final dissolution in 2006 and Serbia’s strength exhausted. What the NATO, USA and EU failed to achieve in the castle of Rambouillet (in France) in 1998/1999 (during the ultimatum-negotiations with S. Milošević on Kosovo crisis) and through 78 days of cruel and inhuman bombing in March-June 1999, they got on July 18th, 2005, when Serbia and Montenegro signed a deal with the NATO “On the Lines of Communication”. This was a technical agreement which allows the NATO’s personnel and equipment to transit through the country. Under the deal, the NATO could enjoy such opportunities for quite a long time – “until all peacekeeping operations in the Balkans are over”. Thus the NATO was given the green light to enlarge its presence in the region and control the army of both Serbia and Montenegro. On April 1st, 2009 Albania and Croatia have completed the accession process, and have joined the NATO as full members and at a such a way surrounding Serbia and Montenegro by NATO members from all sides except from Bosnian-Herzegovinian. Today the Balkans are NATO’s permanent military base. For instance, in October 2008 Serbia’s defense minister and the NATO’s officials signed agreement on information security, which allows the NATO to control everyone who deals with their documents or just cooperates with them. For the very reason the NATO insisted on secrecy of the negotiations with Serbia.

The aftermath of the 1999 aggression on Serbia and Montenegro for the NATO was the most favourable. Nobody condemned NATO and they felt even more confident in global perspective (Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003…). In the recent years the world has witnessed that the NATO was making several attempts of its own expansion. Currently, the NATO’s military bloc is occupying more positions at the Balkans, using old and building new military camps with attempt to include into its organization Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina (the later one after cancellation of the Republic of Srpska). Still existing a huge NATO’s military camp „Bondsteel“ in Kosovo & Metohija is the best proof that the region is going to be under the US/NATO’s dominance for a longer period of time if the balance between the Great Powers (the US/Russia/China) will not be changed. However, the current crisis over Ukraine is the first herald of such change, i.e. of the beginning of the new Cold War era.

The most disappointed fact in the present post-war Kosovo reality is for sure an ethnic and cultural cleansing of all non-Albanians and not-Albanian cultural heritage under the NATO/KFOR/EULEX/UNMIK umbrella. The proofs are evident and visible on every corner of Kosovo territory, but purposely not covered by the western mass media and politicians. For instance, on the arrival of the KFOR (an international, but in fact the NATO’s „Kosovo Forces“) and the UNMIK (the „United Nations’ Mission in Kosovo“) to Kosovo & Metohija in 1999, all names of the towns and streets in this province were renamed to have the (Muslim) Albanian forms or new names. The monuments to Serbian heroes like the monument devoted to duke Lazar (who led the Serbian Christian army during the Kosovo Battle on June 28th, 1389 against the Muslim Turks) in the town of Gnjilane, were demolished. The Serbs were and are getting killed, assassinated, wounded and abducted, their houses burned to the ground. As we mentioned earlier, the most infamous ethnic cleansing was done between March 17th and 19th 2004 – the „March Pogrom“.

As of today, a number of the Serbs that were killed or went missing in Kosovo & Metohija from June 1999 onward (after the KFOR arrived), is measured in thousands, the number of demolished Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries is measured in hundreds, and the number of burned down Serbian houses in tens of thousands. Even though the KFOR had as much as 50.000 soldiers in the beginning as well as several thousand of policemen and civilian mission members, mainly none of the above mentioned crimes have been solved. In fact, murdering a Serb in Kosovo is not considered as a crime, on a contrary, the murderers of children and the elderly are being rewarded as heroes by their ethnic Albanian compatriots. The province is almost ethnically cleaned like Albania and Croatia. For the matter-of-fact, according to the last pre-war official Yugoslav census of 1991 there were 13% of non-Albanians in Kosovo & Metohija (in reality surely more). However, it is estimated that today 97% of Kosovo & Metohija’s population is only the ethnic Albanian. In the light of the main national goal by the Albanians – the establishment of another Albanian state in the Balkans and Europe, as the first step towards the pan-Albanian state unification – we can „understand“ why it is important to destroy any Serbian trace in the „territory defined by the aspirations“.[19]

In the name of a Greater Albania

The final stage of cutting of Kosovo & Metohija from their motherland of Serbia came on February 17th, 2008 when Kosovo Albanians received Washington’s permission to proclaim its formal (quasi)independence what happened in fact later than expected by Russia and China. At the UN Security Council Moscow said „no“ to Kosovo’s independence as Russia respects interests of Serbia and officially condemns all attempts to impose decisions on other members of the international community by breaking the international law (in the Kosovo & Metohija case it is the UN Resolution 1244). The fact is that the Serbs have not forgotten Kosovo, but have not done much about it either. Now there are some 80 states that recognized Kosovo independence, including 23 EU and 24 NATO members (out of 192 UNO members).[20] Almost all of them are the neighbours of Serbia and with the exception of Bosnia-Herzegovina all the ex-Yugoslav republics have recognized Kosovo. Bosnia-Herzegovina did not recognize it for the very reason: the Republic of Srpska, still as an autonomous political unit within Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside with the Muslim-Croat Federation according to the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement in 1995, has and use the veto right. At the moment, in Kosovo there is the EULEX (European civil mission) and the Kosovo issue is gradually being moved out of the UNO jurisdiction and out of reach of the Russian veto in the UN Security Council becoming more and more the NATO and the EU governed territory. There is and the so-called Kosovo Security Forces (in fact the redressed members of the KLA, which is formed according to Martti Ahtisaari’s plan with active support from the NATO to be in the next years transformed into the regular Army of the Republic of Kosovo.

 photo 9Samodreza_zpsc011f3db.jpg

What is true about today political reality in Kosovo & Metohija is a fact that this territory in a form of a client (quasi)state is given to be administered by the members of the KLA – a military organization which was in 1998 proclaimed by the US administration as a terrorist one. Anyway, the KLA is the first successful rebellious movement and terrorist organization in Europe after the WWII. The movement was originally developed from a tiny Albanian diaspora in Switzerland in the second half of the 1980s to around 18.000 soldiers[21] financed and clearly supported by all means by the US administration.[22] In order to realize its own crucial political task – a separation of Kosovo & Metohija province from the rest of Serbia with a possibility to unite it with Albania, the KLA was allied with the NATO between 1997-1999. The KLA’s strategy of the war terror was based on a long tradition of the Albanians to oppose by arms any organized authority in a form of a state from the Ottoman time up today. However, the military intervention by the NATO in 1999 against Serbia and Montenegro over the Kosovo question was portrayed in the American and the West European media as a necessary step to prevent the Serbian armed forces from repeating the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the truth was that Serbia trained its military on Kosovo & Metohija because of an ongoing armed struggle by the KLA’s terrorist and separatist organization to wrest independence from Serbia for the sake of creation of a Greater Albania with ethnically pure Kosovo & Metohija and later on the western parts of the FYR of Macedonia, the Eastern Montenegro and the Greek Epirus.[23]

Nevertheless, an active US President Barrack Obama congratulated at the very beginning of his presidential mandate the leaders of the „multiethnic, independent and democratic Kosovo“ regardless to the facts that those leaders (especially Hashim Tachi – the „Snake“ and Ramush Haradinay) are proved to be notorious war criminals, that the region (state?) is not either multicultural, nor really independent and particularly not democratic one. However, there are several official EU’s declarations and unofficial political statements encouraging Belgrade and Priština to cooperate and „develop neighbourly relations“ what practically means for Serbia that Belgrade has firstly to recognize Albanian Kosovo independence in order to become the EU member state after the years or even decades of negotiations. The another fact is that the process of international recognizing of the Kosovo’s independence is much slower that Priština and Washington expected at the beginning. From the time of Kosovo’s self-proclamation of independence Serbia’s greatest diplomatic „success“ is the majority of votes in 2008 of the UNO General Assembly supporting the decision that the case of Kosovo independence should be considered by the International Court of Justice in the Hague (established in 1899). On the one hand, the Court’s decision on the issue in July 2010 was very favourable for Kosovo’s Albanian (the KLA’s) separatists and terrorists as it was concluded a verdict that an unilateral proclamation of Kosovo’s independence in February 2008 was done within a framework of the international law. However, on the other hand, the Court’s verdict in 2010 already became also very favourable for separatism movements elsewhere like in March 2014 for the separatists in Crimean Peninsula or maybe soon for their colleagues from Catalonia, Scotland, the Northern Italy (Lega Nord)…[24] Kosovo’s self-proclamation of independence has a direct domino effect only a few months later when in August 2008 the South Ossetia and Abkhazia did the same from Georgia.[25]

The (murky) reality in the present day Kosovo & Metohija, on the other side, is that there is not a single ethnic Albanian party at the deeply divided Kosovo’s political scene which would be ready to accept a „peaceful reintegration“ of the region into Serbia’s political sphere and there is no a single ethnic Albanian politician who is not concerned about the danger posed by the „division of Kosovo“ to the Albanian (major) part and Serbian (minor) part and does not oppose slightest suggestions of the Serbian autonomy for the northern portion of Kosovo & Metohija. However, what is more important: Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders and even the citizens of the Albanian ethnic origin do not even consider national dilemma like „Europe or independence!“ There is no doubt what their answer is going to be in that case. On the other side, what is going on about and in Serbia? The answer is that a nation unable to make a choice between a territorial integrity on the one side, and a membership in an international association (although an important one) on the other, i.e. a nation who cannot choose between these two „priorities“ really deserves to lose both.

At the end, if the international law and fixed order are broken on the one side of the globe (ex. Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq) it is nothing strange to expect that the same law and order are going to be broken somewhere else (ex. at the Caucasus, Ukraine, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, France…) following the logic of the so-called „domino effect“ reaction in the international relations. Finally, it has to be noted that if the Albanian extremism is not stopped, the FYR of Macedonia and Montenegro will have to give parts of their territories populated by the ethnic Albanians (the Western Macedonia and the Eastern Montenegro). In this case, Europe will have to decide how to discuss the issue of the borders’ revision and how to recognize a new enlarged state of a Greater Albania.

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Notes:

[1] That the NATO violated the international law by bombing the FRY in 1999 was clearly recognized in March 2014 by at that time Germany’s cancellor (the PM) Gerhard Schreder (Нова српска политичка мисао, March 10th, 2014: http://www.nspm.rs/hronika/gerhard-sreder-intervenicija-na-krimu-je-krsenje-medjunarodnog-prava-ali-to-je-bilo-i-nase-bombardovanje-srbije-1999.html). On this issue see documentary movie in three parts: „NATO’s Illegal War Against Serbia“ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joaNkHKxapk; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gaz8rzUW0Lc; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4vzr8l3FvU). On the identity and politics in the post-Yugoslavia’s successor states, see: Robert Hudson, Glenn Bowman, After Yugoslavia: Identities and Politics Within the Successor States, London-New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

[2] On the issue of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia and Kosovo question, see: F. Stephen Larrabee (ed.), The Volatile Powder Keg: Balkan Security after the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: The American University Press, 1994; Susan L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution After the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995; Richard H. Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia‘s Wars, New York: A Council on Foreign Relations, 1996; James Gow, Triumph of the Lack of Will: International Diplomacy and the Yugoslav War, London: Hurst & Company, 1997; John B. Allcock, Explaining Yugoslavia, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000; Jelena Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize 1990-2000, I-II, Beograd: IGA“M“, 2003; Ian King, Whit Mason, Peace at Any Price: How the World Failed Kosovo, London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 2006; David Chandler, From Kosovo to Kabul and Beyond: Human Rights and International Intervention, London-Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2006; David L. Phillips, Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and U.S. Intervention, Cambridge, MA: Belfer Center for Science, 2012; Misha Glenny, The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers 1804-2011, New York-London: Penguin Books, 2012.

[3] See: Ken Booth (ed.), The Kosovo Tragedy: The Human Rights Dimensions, London-Portland, OR: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 2001.

[4] On the issue of the NWO and the Russian Balkan policy, see: Vladislav B. Sotirović, „The NATO World Order, the Balkans and the Russian National Interest“, Vladislav B. Sotirović, Balcania: Scientific Articles in English, Vilnius: Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences Press „Edukologija“, 2013, pp. 110-129; James Headley, Russia and the Balkans: Foreign Policy from Yeltsin to Putin, London: Hurst & Company, 2008.

[5] Costis Hadjimichalis, „Kosovo, 82 Days of an Undeclared and Unjust War: A Geopolitical Comment“, European Urban and Regional Studies, 7 (2), 2000, pp. 175-180.

[6] On the issue of used depleted uranium by the NATO during the Persian Gulf War and the Kosovo War, see: Darryl P. Arfsten, Kenneth R. Still, Glenn D. Ritchie, „A Review of the Effects of Uranium and Depleted Uranium Exposure on Reproduction and Fetal Development“, Toxicology and Industrial Health, 17, 2001, pp. 180-191. It has to be noticed that the depleted uranium was used by the NATO‘s forces in 1999 bombing of the FRY in armour-penetrating munitions, military vehicle armor, and aircraft, ship and missile counterweighting and ballasting applications. The combat applications of the depleted uranium alloy in the Persian Gulf War and the Kosovo War resulted in human acute exposure to the depleted uranium‘s dust, vapor or aerosol, and to the chronic exposure from tissue embedding of the depleted uranium‘s shrapnel fragments.

[7] On the universal human and minority rights, see: Will Kymlicka (ed.), The Rights of Minority Cultures, Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 2000; Jan Knippers Black, The Politics of Human Rights Protection, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2010; Dinah L. Shelton, Paolo G. Carozza, Regional Protection of Human Rights: Basic Documents, Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. It has to be stressed that the Albanian minority in Serbia within the region of Kosovo & Metohija 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 & Metohija 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 Milošević’s government did in 1989 it was abolishing of just political independence of both autonomous regions in Serbia – Vojvodina and Kosovo & Metohija 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: Metin Heper, The State and Kurds in Turkey: The Question of Assimilation, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007; Cenk Saraçoglu, Kurds of Modern Turkey: Migration, Neoliberalism and Exclusion in Turkish Society, Tauris Academic Studies, 2010; Michael M. Gunter, The Kurds: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011; Noah Beratsky (ed.), The Kurds, Greenhaven Press, 2013; Ramazan Aras, The Formation of Kurdishness in Turkey: Political Violence, Fear and Pain, London-New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014.

[8] On this issue, for instance, see: Мирко Чупић, Отета земља. Косово и Метохија (злочини, прогони, отпори…), Београд: НОЛИТ, 2006;

Video: Boris Malagurski, “Kosovo: Can You Imagine?”, Canada, 2009

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nHWsWOgtiw&index=2&list=PL999EB6ACC07FC959);

Video: “La Guerra Infinita”, First part, RAI, Italy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho2yXwa2dtE&index=21&list=PL999EB6ACC07FC959);

Video: “La Guerra Infinita”, Second part, RAI, Italy

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EnMJXvK7Bw&index=37&list=PL999EB6ACC07FC959).

[9] March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija. March 17-19, 2004 with a survay of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia-Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004, p. 8.

[10] Душан Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија: Историја и идеологија, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, p. 61.

[11] On Tito’s biography, see: Jasper Ridley, Tito. Biografija, Zagreb: Prometej, 2000; Перо Симић, Тито. Феномен 20. века, Београд: Службени гласник-Сведоци епохе, 2011.

[12] Јеврем Дамњановић, Косовска голгота, Београд: Интервју, специјално издање, (22. октобар) 1988, p. 38.

[13] On terrorism in Yugoslavia, see: Радослав Гаћиновић, Насиље у Југославији, Београд: Евро, 2002.

[14] Hannes Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratak kolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009 (original title: Experiment Kosovo: Die Rückkehr des Kolonialismus).

[15] On the street-putsch in Ukraine in February 2004, see: „Vitrenko Says World Must Name ‚Neo-Nazi Putsch‘ in Ukraine; Cites Zepp-LaRouche on Danger of World War III“ (http://larouchepac.com/node/29889).

[16] Video: „Beyond the Revolutions: The CIA’s Otpor Organization“ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWhtdPZNsns).

[17] On the NATO’s „humanitarian“ intervention in Yugoslavia, see: David N. Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009.

[18] On Slobodan Milošević from the western perspective, see: Louis Sell, Slobodan Milosevic and the destruction of Yugoslavia, Durham-London: Duke University Press, 2002; Adam LeBor, Milosevic. A Biography, London-Berlin-New York-Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2012.

[19] On this issue, see: Petar V. Grujić, Kosovo Knot, Pittsburgh: RoseDog Books, 2014.

[20] On Kosovo’s transition to (quasi)independence, see: Aidan Hehir (ed.), Kosovo, Intervention and Statebuilding: The International Community and the Transition to Independence, London-New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2010. On the question of contested states, see: Deon Geldenhuys, Contested States in World Politics, London-New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

[21] James Pettifer, The Kosova Liberation Army: Underground War to Balkan Insurgency, 1948-2001, London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 2012, the back cover. This book is official history of the KLA ordered and financed by the Albanian-run Kosovo government composed by the KLA veterans.

[22] Sinisa Ljepojevic, Kosovo Murky Reality, Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorsHouse, 2008, p. 1.

[23] See pro-Albanian and pro-western points of view on historical background for the KLA with described its activities up to and including the NATO intervention: Henry H. Perritt Jr. Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of An Insurgency, University of Illinois, 2008. The Albanian KLA 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. On the question of the PKK party, see: Ali Kemal Özcan, Turkey’s Kurds: A Theoretical Analysis of the PKK and Abdullah Öcalan, London-New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2006; Aliza Marcus, Blood and Belief: The Kurdish Fight for Independence, New York-London: New York University Press, 2007; Abdullah Öcalan, Prison Writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century, London: Transmedia Publishing Ltd, 2011; Charles Strozier, James Frank, The PKK: Financial Sources, Social and Political Dimensions, VDM-Verlag Dr. Müller, 2011.

[24] On Lega Nord, see: Anna Cento Bull, Mark Gilbert, The Lega Nord and the Northern Question in Italian Politics, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001; Thomas W. Gold, The Lega Nord and Contemporary Politics in Italy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003; Manlio Graziano, The Failure of Italian Nationhood: The Geopolitics of a Troubled Identity, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010; Andrej Zaslove, The Re-Invention of the European Radical Right: Populism, Regionalism, and the Italian Lega Nord, Montreal & Kingston-London-Ithaca: McGill-Queens University Press, 2011.

[25] Vladislav B. Sotirović, “Kosovo and the Caucasus: A Domino Effect”,Vladislav B. Sotirović, Balcania: Scientific Articles in English, Vilnius: Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences Press „Edukologija“, 2013, pp. 130-141.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2014

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Kosovo’s mafia: How the US and allies ignore organized crime



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Part 1

Region:
In-depth Report:
 
Kosovo's Mafia: How the US and Allies Ignore Organized Crime

Hashim Thaci, From Madeleine Albright (1999) to Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton (2010)

PRISTINA, Kosovo — It was the fall of 2000, just over a year after the end of the war in Kosovo, when two NATO military intelligence officers produced the first known report on local organized crime, painting the former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Hashim Thaci, as having “established influence on local criminal organizations, which control [a] large part of Kosovo.”

The report, the existence of which has not been previously reported, was widely distributed among all NATO countries, according to former NATO sources interviewed by GlobalPost. And year after year as the nascent democracy of Kosovo struggled to move forward and Thaci rose to political prominence, more detailed allegations and intelligence reports, totaling at least four more between 2000 and 2009, would name Thaci, these sources add. The reports were widely available to U.S. and NATO intelligence officials, and at least two were readily available on the internet. In one 36-page NATO intelligence report obtained by GlobalPost, Thaci merits a page to himself with a diagram linking him to other prominent former KLA members who are themselves linked to various criminal activities that include, extortion, murder and trafficking in drugs, stolen cars, cigarettes, weapons and women.

A diagram from a NATO intelligence report detailing alleged links between the current prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, and other people alleged to be involved in organized crime in Kosovo.

Today, Thaci is the prime minister of Kosovo. In fact, he was just recently re-elected to his second term.

In spite of U.S. officials knowing about the numerous and detailed allegations against Thaci and many of his former colleagues in the KLA, he has remained a valued ally of successive U.S. administrations. It is unknown which U.S. officials have seen the reports. But a NATO diplomat said it was common knowledge that Thaci is suspected of criminal activity: “Whenever you looked at him always in the briefings it was ‘suspected of organized crime.’”

And when asked if he heard the accusations against Thaci and others over the years, Daniel Serwer, a former senior American diplomat in the Balkans and now a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said, “Absolutely. It’s been a common allegation.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly embraced Thaci. Former President George W. Bush hosted him in the Oval Office. Vice President Joseph Biden also welcomed him to the White House, in July. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited him in Kosovo as recently as the fall.

“I want you to know, prime minister,” Clinton said to Thaci, during her visit to Pristina on Oct. 13 last year, “that just as we have been with you on the hard road to independence, we will stay with you. We are your partners and we are your friends and we are very committed to your future.”

Serwer said that Clinton has “certainly heard the allegations against them … . We all heard them.”

Kosovo, a fledgling democracy that the United States and NATO together helped liberate and then create in a globally popular war that was partly framed by the United States and its allies as a war of humanitarian intervention, is now hamstrung by corruption and intimidation.Thaci and many of his fellow Kosovo Albanian guerrilla leaders who were key U.S. and NATO allies in the 1999 war have clung to power and are facing numerous allegations of criminal wrongdoing. In a country whose very existence was fuelled by the West’s concern for human rights, many citizens are afraid to criticize a prime minister and his allies, who stand accused of routinely violating human rights.

Based on three months of reporting, involving dozens of interviews with politicians, former KLA members, diplomats, former NATO soldiers, political analysts and officials, GlobalPost has found that concerns about criminality among Kosovo’s ruling political class went largely ignored by the United States, NATO and the United Nations over the past 11 years — and in some cases U.S. and U.N. officials thwarted criminal investigations into former senior KLA figures. That, according to many of these people who have played a part in Kosovo’s recent history, was because the United States, NATO and the United Nations believed that keeping the peace in Kosovo between its ethnic majority Albanians and minority Serbian population — and Serbia itself — was a priority that outstripped all other concerns, including allegations of horrific human rights abuses.

At the same time, the KLA were cast as Kosovo’s heroes and its leaders emerged from the war with unparalleled political popularity and power, which limited the options of the United States and other NATO countries in finding effective partners in Kosovo. “It’s very easy to be holier than thou but in the end in places like this you’re going to meet people who are not good,” the NATO diplomat said. “If they were good people then probably they wouldn’t be in power or you wouldn’t have a problem with the country in the first place. It’s the price of doing business.”

Thaci has not been charged in a criminal case, but the timeline of the mounting allegations against him reveal that U.S. and NATO officials knowingly supported him and other Kosovo leaders who were purportedly involved in serious crimes right from the start of the Kosovo conflict.

“Americans and those who were in charge had access to this and other documents,” said a Western diplomat with knowledge of the region, referring to the intelligence report that is marked on every page as being for the viewing of the United States and NATO. Four other diplomatic, military and intelligence sources confirmed the documents were seen by U.S. officials.

Referring to the 2000 report, a former NATO intelligence officer in Kosovo who had access to a wide array of information relating to organized crime said that the United States and other NATO countries “did nothing after its publication, which made me disappointed and disheartened.”

Florin Krasniqi, a Brooklyn-based businessman who raised large amounts of money for the KLA and shipped high-powered rifles from the United States to the KLA, said he has personally complained to senior State Department officials about corruption and crime at the top levels of government in Kosovo but he said he is routinely dismissed.

“You can be corrupted as hell,” Krasniqi said, “but as long as you keep the stability you are a friend.”

Krasniqi, who was recently elected to the Kosovo parliament, described his former KLA comrade Thaci as “the head of the mafia here.”

Thaci is a telegenic, commanding figure who speaks passable English. He first became close to American officials during peace negotiations in France in March 1999, prior to the outbreak of war.

“I don’t think there’s any escaping the fact that these allegations have been around for a long time and in order to put them to rest there has to be a serious investigation,” said Serwer. Thaci, whom Serwer knows, “would like it to just go away. But I don’t see how it can go away.”

Some of the longstanding suspicions about Thaci and his associates were brought into stark and public focus in December when a Swiss senator named Dick Marty published a report under the auspices of the Council of Europe, a respected human rights organization, accusing Thaci and other prominent former KLA commanders of being involved in numerous crimes, including trafficking in human organs harvested from people who were allegedly killed for that purpose.

Then-State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley responded to the release of the report in December, saying that “any evidence and sources cited in this report should be shared with competent authorities to conduct a full and proper investigation.”

But beyond that, administration officials are reluctant to discuss why successive American governments have backed Thaci even though every administration since Bill Clinton’s has had access to the detailed allegations of Thaci’s alleged ties to organized crime.

The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, declined numerous requests for an interview. A spokeswoman agreed to accept questions for a possible response from Dell, but then he declined to answer any. State Department officials, including former ambassador and current Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow, also declined to comment. Other officials and former officials declined to comment, including Secretary of State Clinton, former Secretary of State Albright and Albright’s former spokesman Jamie Rubin.

A spokesman for Thaci also declined numerous requests for an interview, saying that Thaci was too busy. Thaci also did not respond to written questions. Thaci is threatening to sue Marty over the report. Thaci has called the report “scandalous” and has said that its aim was “to devalue both the KLA and the independence of Kosovo.”

Criminal investigations

Beyond intelligence reports and mounting allegations, several criminal investigations of Thaci’s allies were known to U.S. officials — and three are a matter of public record.

GlobalPost has obtained a case report from the now-defunct U.N. mission in Kosovo’s War Crimes Unit, dated May 20, 2008. The case report describes how, shortly after the war, German NATO soldiers found and released 14 people who were being illegally detained by the KLA in the city of Prizren in southern Kosovo. They also found the body of an elderly Kosovo Albanian man who was still handcuffed. He “showed signs of having been beaten,” the reports reads.

Among those named as suspects in the report is Kadri Veseli, who is considered by many in Kosovo to be Thaci’s closest ally. Veseli was chief of SHIK, the KLA’s intelligence service, an organization that continued to exist and operate without legal sanction until 2008, and possibly exists to this day. In addition to Veseli, other senior KLA commanders and Thaci allies, including Azem Syla, Sabit Geci and Fatmir Limaj, are also named as suspects in the report.

None have ever been charged in relation to the alleged crime in Prizren. But Syla, Geci and Limaj have also been subject to other criminal investigations.

Syla was arrested by police in late 2009 and questioned about whether he was involved in ordering SHIK hitmen to kill a political opponent. Syla has not been charged in the case, whose star defendant is likely to be a self-professed SHIK assassin named Nazim Bllaca.

Limaj, another senior former KLA leader and Thaci’s former minister of transporation, was charged with war crimes in mid-March by EULEX, a mission of the European Union that works with Kosovo officials on enforcing the rule of law.

Last year EULEX investigators raided and searched Limaj’s homes and places of work. He has not been indicted but many observers in Kosovo believe he is, or was, under investigation for massive corruption related to road construction contracts as well as war crimes. (Limaj was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.)

Geci is currently on trial, charged with war crimes by EULEX prosecutors. The EULEX investigation into Geci features Thaci in a cameo, GlobalPost has learned. Prosecutors and witnesses allege the during the war Geci ran a prison in the KLA headquarters in the town of Kukes. In the prison, prosecutors and witnesses say, Geci tortured numerous Albanian prisoners suspected of being collaborators or political opponents of the KLA.

In an interview, one of the estimated 20 survivors of the prison said that he saw Thaci present at the prison. The man, who says Geci tortured him and murdered his brother, has agreed to testify in Geci’s trial but requested anonymity before agreeing to an interview.

“I saw Hashim Thaci with my own eyes,” said the man, acknowledging that it was possible that Thaci did not know the prisoners were being tortured at the KLA base. But, the man said, the prisoners were held in a room with a large window and “he could see us.”

The man said he has told EULEX prosecutors about seeing Thaci at the prison camp. EULEX prosecutors declined to discuss the case.

If a reckoning of some senior KLA leaders is perhaps beginning with Geci’s trial, it has been too long in coming, critics say. Among those critics are people whose job it was to investigate and prosecute criminals in Kosovo after the war.

Protected by the United States?

One of the most frustrating examples of American power in the capital Pristina, say current and former U.N. officials and Western diplomats, was the influence American diplomats exerted over the supposedly independent U.N. prosecutor’s office in Kosovo.

“There was interference by the U.S. mission [to Kosovo] preventing effective investigation and prosecution of senior Kosovo officials,” said a U.N. official, who is in a position to know about the details of the United Nations’ law enforcement efforts during the time that it administered Kosovo, from 2000 to 2008.

The official said that the senior Kosovo politicians were being investigated for being allegedly involved in organized crime, and that U.S. officials prevented searches of the suspects’ homes and in one case were involved with U.N. officials in preventing a sentence from being carried out. The U.N. official said that these phone calls were “well known” and deeply frustrated many of the international prosecutors who were working for the United Nations and wanted to prosecute these Kosovo officials.

On June 14, 2008, the most senior U.N. official in Kosovo, Joachim Ruecker, issued an executive decision suspending the prison term of a former KLA commander named Sami Lushtaku, who had been sentenced to a total of 11 months in prison. Lushtaku was mayor of a town named Skenderaj, where support for the KLA is strong. In his order, which GlobalPost has obtained, Ruecker notes that Lushtaku’s sentence would make him legally ineligible to be mayor and “such an outcome would be politically highly sensitive at this stage and contrary to the public interest.” It is unknown if American officials influenced Ruecker’s legal decision, but a former senior NATO official in Kosovo said that CIA officials in Kosovo had tried to prevent NATO soldiers from arresting Lushtaku prior to prosecution.

Other officials and former officials confirmed that the United States protected some senior political figures, including former KLA leaders close to Thaci, for the sake of creating the impression that Kosovo was a stable country with strong local leaders. The same officials and former officials said that other NATO and U.N. officials were often complicit in suppressing investigations, although many others were angry at the blocked investigations.

“When we talked to them [the former KLA commanders who are still very influential in Kosovo today] we all knew they lied to us and they knew that we knew they were lying but there was not much we could do thanks to politics and their patrons in D.C.,” a former NATO intelligence official who worked in Kosovo told GlobalPost. “They freely run prostitution, petrol smuggling, money laundering, racketeering, intimidation of LDK people [members of a rival political party, the Democratic League of Kosovo]. They get away with murder.

“The Americans were not making criminal investigations easy,” the former NATO intelligence official said. “In a couple of cases that I know of they wanted investigations to freeze because that ‘was not the right time to do it,’ according to them, so they just pulled the plug and there was nothing that we could do. It concerned the big fish.”

A former international monitor with connections to the U.N.’s mission in Kosovo said: “It got to the point where some of my prosecutor friends were told not to do this. One can understand if someone says wait. They might be told hold for a while. But for people to just flat out say ‘don’t you do this ever’ and to treat the prosecutor’s office as an extension of the political office — that’s where lines get blurred.”

The former monitor sat in on meetings involving U.S. diplomats in which they and U.N. officials discussed whether political considerations should prevent certain political figures from being investigated or arrested.

The sense that Thaci and his close associates are protected and untouchable has created what many observers in Kosovo describe as a sense of hopelessness. Thaci is building a large house in the capital, Pristina, and even if the money for the construction comes from legitimate sources many ordinary Kosovars, who are the poorest people in Europe, see the house as a symbol of arrogance and corruption.

“To me this is absolutely reprehensible,” Serwer said.

It is highly unlikely that Thaci would ever be prosecuted by a Kosovo court. “The police, public prosecutors and courts are erratic performers, prone to political interference and abuse of office,” the non-partisan International Crisis Group wrote in a report last year, echoing a view shared by many Kosovars, foreign governments and aid groups.

A GlobalPost reporter interviewed Kosovo’s chief of police, Reshat Maliqi, and asked him why he had not initiated an investigation into Thaci or ordered his officers to search for evidence, given the numerous allegations against the prime minister. “We didn’t try,” Maliqi said, “because someone needs to knock on my door” bringing evidence.

If anyone is to prosecute Thaci it would almost certainly have to be international prosecutors. Since 2008 EULEX has been the most powerful judicial force in Kosovo, which declared independence the same year. Thaci’s opponents and critics hope that EULEX prosecutors will aggressively investigate the prime minister.

A Western diplomat based in Kosovo confirmed to GlobalPost that EULEX had been quietly investigating Thaci for some time. And in January EULEX announced its prosecutors had opened a preleminary investigation into the organ-trafficking allegations in Marty’s report.

There are signs that Thaci’s friends in Washington are becoming increasingly embarrassed by the swirl of corruption and crime that surrounds him and other former KLA commanders.

When Thaci visited Biden in July, Biden was all smiles in public with Thaci but “hammered” him about corruption in their private meeting, according to someone with knowledge of the meeting. Thaci agreed with Biden that there was a problem and said he would try harder to stop corruption and crime in the Kosovo government.

And if Thaci wants to visit the United States again it is now unlikely that he would ever be able to obtain a U.S. visa other than a diplomatic visa, which grants him immunity, U.S. government sources told GlobalPost. The United States does not generally allow foreign nationals into the country when there are unresolved allegations of human rights abuses against them. Thaci has told associates that he is now concerned about traveling overseas because he fears being arrested in a foreign country.

Thaci remains by far the most powerful politician in Kosovo. But if the United States were to withdraw support for him, or for his country, Kosovo would be plunged into political chaos that some people believe would lead to the break-up of the country. Such chaos also comes with a danger of resumed ethnic hostilities.

“At one point the United States is going to say you don’t deserve a country,” said Engjellushe Morina, executive director of the Kosovo Stability Initiative think-tank in Pristina. “Some of Kosovo will go to Albania and some will go to Serbia. It would be a disaster for that to happen. We so badly wanted a state and we didn’t know how to run a state.”


The authors:

Jovo Martinovic contributed to this story.

Matt McAllester, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and long-time foreign correspondent, is a regular contributor to GlobalPost’s “Special Reports.” McAllester and Jovo Martinovic have both been reporting on war crimes and organized crime in the Balkans for over a decade. Their work includes investigations of Serbian war crimes during the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo and the GlobalPost exclusive on the Pink Panther jewelry thieves.

Original source of the article:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/kosovo-s-mafia-how-the-us-and-allies-ignore-organized-crime/24050

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“Responsibility to protect” was not valid in Kosovo and isn’t valid in Ukraine



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The same arguments used to justify a western ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Kosovo in 1999 could be used to support a Russian intervention in Ukraine.

This article originally appeared at Irrussianality


Yesterday, I gave a talk on ‘The Folly of Military Intervention’ at McGill University. Afterwards, one of the students asked me a question about parallels between the wars in Kosovo in 1999 and Ukraine in 2014/15. As I answered, I found myself thinking about the scale of the humanitarian crises in both cases and what this means for supporters of so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’.

In 1999, NATO aircraft bombed Yugoslavia for three months. The aim, according to NATO leaders, was to coerce the Yugoslav government to stop human rights abuses in Kosovo. We were told that NATO’s campaign was a humanitarian intervention. The case of Kosovo was subsequently used to justify the concept of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P), under which state sovereignty is limited and states have an obligation to protect the citizens of other countries if their rights are being attacked.

It is believed that prior to NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, about 2,000 people had been killed in Kosovo. Roughly half of these were Serbs, dead at the hands of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and half were Albanian Kosovars, killed by Yugoslav military and paramilitary forces. While eventually several hundred thousand Kosovars fled their homes to avoid the fighting, the vast majority of these did so only after NATO began its bombing.

According to the United Nations, over 5,000 people have been killed in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk provinces in the past year. It is not clear what percentage is military and what percentage civilian casualties, but it is obvious that the number of civilian deaths in the conflict has been very high. And the situation is getting worse. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights assesses that 262 people died in Eastern Ukraine between 13 and 21 January alone. Meanwhile, the High Commission for Refugees reports that there are now about half a million displaced persons from Donetsk and Lugansk within Ukraine, and that another 200,000 have fled to Russia. The towns and cities of Eastern Ukraine are subjected to daily bombardment from artillery and multiple launch rocket systems. Many of the people who remain there are without electricity and running water.

In short, the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ukraine today is far worse than that in Kosovo prior to NATO’s 1999 intervention. Should the Russian Army invade Ukraine in force, drive the Ukrainian Army out of Donetsk and Lugansk, and bring the war to a rapid end? This, in principle, it is entirely capable of doing. R2P suggests that it should. In 1999, NATO killed about 1,500 Yugoslav civilians in the course of its bombing; it is unlikely that the civilian death toll from a Russian invasion would be much higher, and it might even be lower.

If R2P is valid, then its proponents should surely welcome such an intervention. In practice, I am sure that they wouldn’t. The point here is not to say that we should demand Russian humanitarian intervention in Ukraine; there are many reasons why that would be an extremely bad thing. Rather, the point is to show the absurdity of the humanitarian warriors’ position. Perhaps they can come up with a good explanation for why humanitarian intervention by NATO is justifiable but similar intervention by Russia in a far worse humanitarian situation would not be. I would be interested to hear it.

UPDATE: Brad Cabana (a fellow Canadian & former army captain) has just posted an argument on his blog that Russia should invade Ukraine. He makes his case well. As someone who has opposed the principle of humanitarian intervention ever since Kosovo, I cannot support it, if only in order to be consistent, but it seems to me to be entirely in line with R2P and thus to pose some real problems for the R2P crowd, who despite their alleged principles will no doubt be thoroughly against it.


By Paul Robinson

02-02-2015

Source: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/02/02/3036

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