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Head of the Center for Studies of Contemporary Balkan Crisis,
RAN Institute of Slavic Studies,
The first Yugoslav state was established in 1918. It was a unitary and centralized kingdom and the resolution of the national issue in it did not suit many of the nations in the country. The Yugoslav Communist Party had to address the national issue in its documents during World War II due to both the multiethnic character of the country and the need to unite various groups of the population in the antifascist struggle. Josip Broz Tito wrote that the new Yugoslav state was to be established on federalist foundations providing for absolutely equal rights of Serbs, Croats, Slovenians, Macedonians, and Montenegrins. The people of Bosnia-Herzegovina were not mentioned in this list because they were considered Serbs or Croats of various religious denominations. Until 1943 it remained an autonomous province
of Serbia. Tito decided to grant Bosnia-Herzegovina the status of a republic only after World War II on the request of Bosnian communists. Correspondingly, it was planned to establish six republics - Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Autonomies were not discussed at that time, but equal rights were guaranteed to ethnic minorities.
Speaking at the constitutional assembly of the Communist Party of Serbia on May 12, 1945 Tito outlined his concept of a federation where internationalism and a "love to a monolith Yugoslavia" were to prevail. In his opinion, the Federation was to be cemented by "the idea of the unity and fraternity of the peoples of Yugoslavia". Subsequently, this evolved into the key thesis of the interethnic relations ideology in the Yugoslavian Federation.
The Federation was created following the national principle -the number of federative subjects was equal to the number of nations (with the exception of Bosnia-Herzegovina). The first Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia adopted in 1946 proclaimed six republics plus an autonomous province of Vojvodina and an autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia. According to the Constitution the republics had equal rights. The very first article of the Constitution guaranteed the right for self-determination including secession. This principle was more of a declaration which was meant to unite rather than to disunite equal nations. This provision was not included in the subsequent Constitutions of Yugoslavia.
The country's communist authority tended to regulate the relations between republics on the basis of a parity representation in the administrative bodies, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and the army. The republics delegated representatives to one of the
chambers of the Skupshchina, where decisions were adopted by a simple majority. Even though the interests of the republics were represented by the Nationalities Council, in a short time it was concluded that nations do not play an important role in the system of social relations. The rights of cultural development and free use of native languages were guaranteed to ethnic minorities, and the sovereignty and security were guaranteed to the republics. Equality to law was guaranteed to citizens regardless of ethnicity, race, and religion. Their rights included the following: education, the use of all cultural institutions, freedom of press, unions, assembly and manifestations, and also the rights to defense of the country, to the scientific research and to the arts.
The Federation established in 1945 was meant to be a federation of balance adequate to the interests of all its nations. New nations emerged as well - the Macedonians and the Montenegrins, which now had republics of their own. At the same time Bosnia-Herzegovina comprised three nations, one of which (a Muslim one) enjoyed special conditions for its development. Following the program of their Party, the Serb communists did not pursue the integration of all the Serbian territories, thus successfully tackling the struggle against the Serbian hegemony. The country's leadership believed that bringing up the "Serbian issue" could violate the national balance which was so hard to keep. The Serbs had to accept the fact that their countrymen in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia were granted the state-forming nation status.
Upon the establishment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the national politics started to play an important role in the domestic life of the country and in its international relations.
On the one hand, this politics regulated the relations of the Federation's numerous nations and ethnic groups. On the other hand, it was a major factor in the interactions with the neighboring countries, since the nationals of other states lived in Yugoslavia as ethnic minorities and the Yugoslavians were also minorities in 7 adjacent countries.
Ethnic minorities in Yugoslavia included Albanians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Italians, Germans, Romanians, and others. The Albanian population grew faster than others during the socialist epoch, whereas other populations declined, especially after 1961.
The interethnic strife during World War II took a heavy toll on the mentalities of the nations, especially those residing on the territories of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Cases of vendetta, hostilities, and mutual mistrust took place during several post-war years. There were frictions between Serbs and Albanians, Croats and Serbs, Macedonians and Albanians, and also between Serbs and Macedonians because the Serbs expelled during the war were not allowed to return to Macedonia.
Certain principles were adopted to avoid conflicts and to harmonize the relations between nations. According to one of them, the differences, offenses, and hate of the previous epoch were not to be mentioned. The young state with its new program of relations between nations sort of turned the page by providing equal rights to all the peoples involved in the development of the new society. The Croatian national chauvinism was considered tantamount to fascism in order to make it possible for both Serbs and Croats to live in Croatia. Discussions of the genocide of the Serbs in Croatia were silenced and the Yasenovats concentration camp became a symbol of the evil of fascism in general. In that
epoch attempts were made to forget the genocide of the Muslims perpetrated by the Chetniks, as well as the cruelties of the Albanians and their collaboration with the fascist regime. Another principle was to overcome the legacy of the "ruling nation" and to replace it by a concept of a new Yugoslavian nation formed in the process of building socialism. The development of the internationalist Yugoslavianism was to become the basis of the country's political and national unity. The Party assigned itself the task of preventing recurrences of national egoism and chauvinism. Anything that could potentially infringe on the Federation or violate the national unity was condemned as "treason", "counter-revolution", and "crime". The most complicated or delicate national problems were examined by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia either at closed sessions of its Political Bureau or at sessions also attended by the leading Party activists from the republics. The political system of the society, which was modeled on the USSR, facilitated this processes.
From the very start the country emerged as a centralized state, but the resolution of national problems transformed it first into a federation and subsequently into a de-facto confederation. The country was divided into 6 republics, and Serbia included two autonomous provinces. The borders between republics were defined in a fairly arbitrary manner and were not identical to those between ethnic territories. In any dispute the sole argument was that in a socialist state the administrative borders did not matter. Later it transpired that in reality those borders mattered a lot when the disintegration of the Federation began and the territories of the future states were defined.
In the early post-war years the political consolidation was a necessary condition for the quick restoration of the country devastated by the war. This circumstance overweighed the national issue. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia invariably reacted harshly to any nationalist leanings in culture, science, and politics assuming that a revolutionary centralism and strict egalitarianism in relations between nations guaranteed the national equality. A lot was done in the country for the training of ethnic professionals, for assisting the underdeveloped republics and provinces, and for bringing the economic development of regions to equal levels.
Josip Broz Tito was self-assured enough to believe in 1948 that the national issue was resolved with great success and that all the nations of the country were satisfied with its resolution.
The 1947 Constitution of Serbia detailed the rights of ethnic minorities and the powers of the authorities of the autonomous provinces. National minorities were represented in the regional authority institutions in accord with the local population structure. They were to adopt Charters of the autonomies independently and to specify the rights and obligations of the regional authorities. The Charters of Vojvodina, Kosovo and Metohija were adopted in 1948. The Regional People's Committee and the Regional Executive Committee were established as supreme authorities in Kosovo and Metohija. The delegates of Kosovo and Metohija represented the province's interests in the Skupshchinas of both Serbia and Yugoslavia. The Constitutions of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia decided that the Metohija region delegated 15 representatives directly to the Council of Nations of the Skupshchina of Yugoslavia and to the Skupshchina of Serbia. For years to come Kosovo and Metohija became a source of tensions
and, subsequently, of a conflict in the relations between nations not only in Serbia but in the entire Yugoslavia.
After the war the Yugoslavian leadership did nothing to restore the old ethnic structure of Kosovo and Metohija. Instead, a decree "On a Temporary Ban on the Return of Colonists to Their Previous Residence Regions" (that is, to Macedonia, Kosovo, Metohija, Srem, and Vojvodina) was issued hurriedly on March 6, 1945. Thus the national structure of Kosovo and Metohija was transformed in favor of Albanians shortly after the war. None the less, the author does not know of any evidence of Serb's intolerance to Albanians. The land lots previously owned by Serbs and Montenegrins who were prohibited from returning to their homes were transferred to Albanians. According to the available data they acquired about 25,000 hectares of land. An October, 1948 Session of the Skupshchina of Serbia stated that "the pre-war injustice suffered by Shiptars whose lands were taken away from them was remedied in Kosovo and Metohija". The Albanians were a majority in Kosovo and Metohija: according to the 1948 poll they numbered 498,242 (68.45%) compared to 171,911 Serbs (23.62%) and 28,050 Montenegrins (3.85%). There could have been 60,000 more Serbs in the region but they were prohibited from returning. At the same time, 75,000 Albanians that were moved to the region from Albania by the Italians during the war stayed on the lands of the Serbs that had to flee or were killed.
The equal rights of Albanians in terms of the language were confirmed practically by a parallel use of the Albanian and the Serbo-Croatian languages for administrative purposes. In 1948 the local and regional People's Committees were staffed by Albanians 64% and 60% respectively, though only 10% of the region's
population was literate by the end of the war. The politics in Kosovo and Metohija in the early post-war years was marked by a broadening involvement of Albanians in the public affairs. Prior to 1948 the People's Front in the region comprised 227,358 Albanians in over 57,000 organizations. The membership in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was more of a problem - only 0.35% of the population joined the Party. 32% of the Party members were Albanians, and 64% were Serbs and Montenegrins. Documents show that nationalist views were still popular among Albanians including even the Party members.
Separatist activities of the radical fraction of the Albanian population in the Kosovo Autonomous Province of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began right after World War II and went on continuously. The separatists' prime goal was to secede from Yugoslavia and to join Albania. They kept advancing towards this goal persistently year after year. Their current means and tactics evolved but the goal never changed regardless of the status of the province in the republic, the funds invested in its development, and the condition of the relations between nations in the Federation. The separatist activities were divided into consequent phases: nationalist propaganda in the 1950ies, demonstrations and provocations in the 1960ies, armed resistance in the 1970ies, insurgency in the early the 1980ies, and a war for independence in the late 1990ies. After the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the goals concerning Kosovo and Metohija were combined with the plan to unite all the Albanian-populated territories - the west of Macedonia, the east of Montenegro, and the south of Serbia. This plan is materializing at present.
Vojvodina was a multinational territory. It was also divided by the Independent State of Croatia and the occupied Serbia during World War II. Serbs constituted 33%, Hungarians - 26%, Germans - 21%, and Croats - 7% of the population of Vojvodina during the war. The status of Vojvodina was determined in April, 1945. Since Serbs were the most numerous ethnic group in the region, it was decided to establish the autonomous Vojvodina as a part of Serbia, though the creation of an autonomy for the prevalent minority on the territory could have been more logical. The first Vojvodina Charter was adopted in 1948. It declared the People's Skupshchina and the Supreme Executive Committee as the main authorities. Vojvodina was represented by 20 delegates in the Council of Nations of the Skupshchina of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in the Parliament of Serbia.
In Macedonia the complexity of relations between nations was due to the presence of a large faction of the Muslim population - Turks, Albanians, and Macedonians who converted to Islam (about 30%). Following the Party's recommendation the Macedonian Government based its national politics on the slogan of "brotherhood and unity" and was particularly concerned about chauvinism and separatism of which it suspected the ethnic minorities - Serbs, Bulgarians, or Albanians. Representatives of the Albanian and Turkish minorities were in the Government, got elected or appointed to other institutions of authority. After the end of the occupation, there was a large Albanian population in the western part of Macedonia, partially consisting of Albanian citizens. A mass migration of the Turkish and partially the Albanian population to Turkey began in late 1940ies - early 1950ies. The International Relations Commission of the Central Committee of
the Communist Party of Macedonia considered this a political issue and monitored the situation continuously. The numbers of the people leaving kept increasing. According to the Commission's data 143,800 Muslims left Macedonia in 1951 - March 1959 including Muslim Macedonians, Albanians from Kosovo and Sandzak, and Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
There was also a Serb problem in Macedonia. After a ban was imposed on the colonists' return to their native lands in Macedonia some 140,000 Serbs were assimilated artificially - they had to change the suffix "ic" to "ski" in their names to find jobs and to live in the republic.
Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991 and was recognized internationally as an independent state. According to the 1994 poll the country's population was 2,075,196,1,378,687 of them - Macedonians, 478,967 - Albanians, 39,866 - Serbs, 47,408 - Gypsies. The majority of the population was Orthodox (66.66%), 30.06% were Muslims, and 0.49% were Roman Catholics. The ethnic minorities in Macedonia are the 22.9% Albanians, 4% Turks, 2.3% Gypsies, 2% Serbs, and 0.8% Vlachs (Many of the Albanians had no documents to confirm Macedonian citizenship and did not take part in the poll. According to the estimates made by the Albanians, they constitute about a third of the country's population).
The Macedonian leadership intended to implement a democratic model of statehood protecting the rights of national minorities in accord with the highest international standards. The Macedonian constitution entitled ethnic minorities to express, freely preserve, and develop their national identities, to establish cultural and artistic institutions, scientific and other associations, and to carry out instruction in their native languages in preschools
and secondary schools. A Committee for Relations Between Nations functioned as a part of the Parliament. Representatives of ethnic minorities held numerous positions in the administrative and judicial systems. For example, in mid-1990ies 16% of the Foreign Ministry staff, 8.7% of the Police Ministry staff, 8.16% of the Defense Ministry staff, 13.2% of judges, and 20% of the Supreme Court staff were ethnic minorities.
The relations -with the Albanian population remained a serious problem despite all the efforts of the country's leadership. Macedonia persistently tried to preserve the interethnic accord and to develop a democracy. The number of Albanians studying in Albanian classes in schools increased from 8.5% in 1992 to 12.4% in 1994. 6% of the students in the Skopje and Bitola Universities were ethnic Albanians. Special Albanian Divisions were opened at the Pedagogic Departments of the Skopje and Bitola Universities, the Department of Philology of the Skopje University, and at the Theatre Department. Programs in Albanian were broadcasted daily by the national radio and television. 19% of the Police School cadets were Albanians. The Albanian political parties were represented in the Parliament and played a significant role in the country's political life. The Constitution envisioned a parallel use of the Albanian language (or that of any other ethnic group for administrative purposes in the communities where the Albanians (or other ethnic minority) numbered over 20% of the total population. The delegation of the Council of Europe which visited Macedonia in May, 1995 was impressed by the level of protection of minority rights and human rights in general in the republic. However, Albanians demanded greater rights, an establishment of an Albanian
University, and a greater representation in the Government institutions (30%). The radical wing of the Albanian minority wanted an autonomy for the western regions of Macedonia and adhered to the idea of creating an independent state for Albanians.
Croatia. The contradictions between Serbs and Croats were a permanent factor of interethnic tensions in the republic. The Serb population in Croatia resided compactly on 32% of the republic's territory and made 12.2% of the total population. Serbs suffered the worst ethnic cleansing in history in 1941 - 1945 in the Independent State of Croatia, which was created by the Ustashe organization with the support of Hitler and Mussolini.
According to the 1947 Constitution, Croatia was a republic of the Serb and Croatian peoples. The ethnic minorities were Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Ukrainians, Rusyns, and Poles (a total of 5.2% of the population). Serbs were not considered and ethnic minority. They made 14.5% of the population of Croatia according to the 1948 poll, which was more than Albanians and Hungarians together in Serbia. Still no autonomy for Serbs was envisioned. This status of Serbs was in effect till 1990.
In 1990 the Croatian leadership with its program of secession from Yugoslavia intended to draft a new Constitution so as to assign to the Serbs a status of an ethnic minority instead of that of a state-forming nation. But Serbs considered themselves a nation equal to Croats, as it was written in all the Constitutions of Croatia. Other developments at the time were the change of the name of the language from Serbo-Croatian to Croatian, a ban on the Cyrillic alphabet in official correspondence, a ban on the Serb TV and radio programs (which Slovenians, Hungarians,
and Albanians still had), a ban on newspapers and periodicals using the Cyrillic alphabet, and the elimination of Serb history and literature from school curricula. The Serbs' struggle for their rights and the reluctance of the Croatian leadership to grant them even a cultural autonomy resulted in a cruel war and the UN involvement in the settlement of the conflict.
Italians were the only ethnic minority in Yugoslavia whose position was regulated by international Acts. According to the February 10, 1947 Paris Peace treaty with Italy and to the 1954 Italy-Yugoslavia Treaty, Yugoslavia assumed certain obligations concerning the Italian population on the territories included in Croatia. Equal rights with all the peoples of Yugoslavia, the rights to publish newspapers and periodicals in Italian, to establish cultural, sporting, and public organizations, the rights to use Italian in preschools, initial, secondary, and special schools were guaranteed to the Italian population. The names of streets, villages, and public institutions were to be written in both languages on street signs in communities where the Italian minority made over a quarter of the population.
Bosnia-Herzegovina was a part of the fascist Independent State of Croatia during World War II. The life of the population (Serbs, Muslims, and Croats) was plagued with the problems related to migration from region to region, mutual extermination, hate, and moral and economic devastation. Still, Bosnia-Herzegovina remained relatively stable in all aspects including the interethnic relations in the post-war years. The Bosnians acknowledged the importance of the legacy of tolerance between the three religions traditional for the Bosnian territory. It has never been doubted that when Bosnia-Herzegovina became a republic
for the first time after 1945 the local Muslims got rights equal to those of Serbs and Croats, enjoyed the same access to education as they did, and started to represent themselves in the Party and Government institutions on a parity basis.
The official stance on the issues concerning ethnic minorities is exemplified by the development of culture and education in the Federation. Immediately after the liberation, the Federation authorities focused on the development of the country's educational system and of the schools for the ethnic minorities (Albanians, Turks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Czechs, etc.) in its republics. Decrees on the mandatory 7-year and 8-year education were adopted in 1946 and 1952 respectively. Starting with 1953 schools were organized on a territorial basis. Students of all nationalities attended the same schools, and the instruction corresponded to the students' ethnicity - it was in Serbo-Croatian or, for example, Albanian or Turkish.
7 theatres and 35 cultural societies used minority languages. Books, periodicals, and newspapers were also published in these languages. The numbers of copies printed in Albanian and other minority languages were higher than ever. 45 books (over 213,950 copies) were published in 1947 in Hungarian, Albanian, and Romanian. In 1949 this number reached 152. 12 newspapers and periodicals in Hungarian, 10 - in Albanian, 3 - in Romanian were published in 1948. The tendency after 1945 was to increase the number of newspapers and periodicals annually. In 1949 the number of printed media in Hungarian increased by 10, in Albanian - by 7, and in Romanian - by 2 compared to 1945.
However, unresolved problems due to the heterogeneous ethnic and religious structure of the population on the entire
territory of Yugoslavia persisted in the country. The problems which can be generally termed as nationalism-related surfaced already in the first post-war decade. Yet this nationalism was neither homogeneous nor identical over the Federation. It manifested itself either in attitudes of some ethnic groups to others, or in the relations with the republican or central authorities, that is, as separatism. The burden of the accumulated interethnic tensions remained in place implicitly for a while. The unresolved or ignored ethnic contradictions in most of the republics in the first post-war years were a delayed-action mine - its blast in the early 1980ies, as it happened in Kosovo and Metohija, echoed in the 1990ies, caused gross problems, and triggered the disintegration of the Federation.
What we witness in the early XXI century is not just the creation of five new states instead of the former republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia / Serbia and Montenegro) on the post-Yugoslavian space, but also the tendency of some nations to continue the secession process on the level of autonomous provinces (Kosovo and Metohija, Vjovodina) and even some territories (the south of Serbia, the west of Macedonia). It is also more than obvious that international organizations support some of these tendencies selectively.
Serbs in Croatia wanted a cultural autonomy in the early 1990ies, but it was denied to them by Franjo Tudjman, leader of the Croatian Democratic Union party which ascended to power in 1990. Serbs tried to protect the lands where they were the majority. Then international organizations did everything possible to support the unification of all the Croatian territories.
They ignored the fact that Croats achieved this by armed force and in a particularly cruel way - by ethnic cleansing against Serbs, thus making the population mono-ethnic. Serbs had no international support which Croats had.
Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina wished to establish a "Croatian" state in Herzegovina but found no international support. The interests of Croats were ignored in Dayton.
The Muslims in the west of Bosnia intended to demonstrate to the international community an alternative and peaceful way of resolving interethnic and inter-religious tensions. They established an autonomous province at the far west of Bosnia-Herzegovina with this purpose. However this version of autonomy was not supported internationally since it was an unfavorable option for the unity of the Muslim state.
Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina used military force and won an uncertain statehood status in the Bosnia-Herzegovina state system proposed by the international community in Dayton. However in the post-Dayton period international organizations went on implementing the plan which failed to materialize during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and other republics. Obviously, the international organizations intended to eliminate the Serb Republic's independence in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to establish a unitary Muslim state.
Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija were supported absolutely by international organizations. By the late 1990ies the Albanians enjoyed full support of the US and Europe. They openly engaged in armed struggle with the Yugoslavian army. The Albanians became an equal subject of the international negotiations. In fact they established a state of their own
independent from Yugoslavia on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija with its own police, judicial system, education, and an open border with Albania and Macedonia. They proclaimed an illegal republic of "Ilirida" on the Macedonian territory with an underground educational system including a university; created the National Liberation Army of Macedonian Albanians and a Liberation Army of Preshevo, Medveje, and Bujanovac. Albanians also became more active in Montenegro - having supported President M. Djukanovic during the elections they demanded to open the border with Albania and the President promised that this will be done.
Throughout the 10 years of the crisis on the post-Yugoslavian space international organizations practically convinced the Albanians of their assistance and support. They did so first by their partial treatment of the sides involved in the conflict; secondly, by their adopting an invariably anti-Serb position, by encouraging the activities of the Muslims; thirdly, by a permanent overstatement of the "human rights problem in Kosovo" in mass media; fourthly, by their loyal treatment of the Albanian armed insurgency in the region; fifthly, by making concessions to the Albanian side and implicitly helping it in the negotiations; and sixthly, by punishing Serbia with air strikes for its refusal to accept the unfair conditions of the treaty.
International organizations also created favorable conditions for the separatists after the NATO aggression. The Group of Eight statement of May 6, 1999, the Chernomydrin-Ahtisaari-Milosevic deal of June, 1999, and the UN Security Council Resolution #1244 did not condemn separatism but instead condemned the activities of the Yugoslavian Army in Kosovo and Metohija,
"violence and repressions in Kosovo", and demanded a withdrawal of the Yugoslavian military and police forces from Kosovo. They confirmed the territorial integrity of Kosovo as a part of Yugoslavia, not Serbia (meaning that Kosovo would have the right to demand independence in the case of disintegration of Yugoslavia). All the Kosovo deals envision phases of a certain level of sovereignty of the province - the establishment of a "provisional administration" for a transition to a "transitional administration"; the creation of Kosovo self-government institutions beyond the control of Serbia, elections without the involvement of the federal and republican authorities; the establishment of a demilitarized buffer zone not on the Kosovo territory but on that of Yugoslavia, which spanned the Albanian-populated lands making it easy for Albanians to operate there.
Only the US and NATO support and the activities of international organizations backing the Albanian extremism made it possible for the Albanians to reach their goals.
The NATO presence in Kosovo after June, 1999 allowed the Albanian separatism to flourish. NATO paid no attention to the murders of Serbs in Kosovo and to the demolition of the Orthodox culture landmarks, and practically encouraged the creation of an ethnically uniform Albanian region. Cases of direct assistance to the Albanian insurgents are also known. The Macedonian military believe that food packages with K-For labels found in the village of Tanushev abandoned by the insurgents are evidence of the above. The CIA which operated a base in the Albanian port of Durres since 1998 helped the Kosovo Liberation Army to organize military offensives to overthrow the Regime of S. Milosevic. The German soldiers who had to leave Tetovo after their barracks came under
fire from Albanian militants of the "National Liberation Army" hardly suspected that the people who shot at them could have been trained by German instructors. In 1996, Hansjorg Geiger, the newly appointed chief of the BND, ordered to start a regional base in Tirana to recruit commanders for the Kosovo Liberation Army. Representatives of the Albanian militants in Macedonia admit that at least 700 Kosovo war veterans are in their ranks and that some of them are among their commanders.
Albanians in Macedonia also received full support from the international organizations when they rose with arms in 2001 demanding a status equal to that of Macedonians and a transformation of Macedonia into a federation. The West made the Macedonian leadership accept the Albanian demands.
The events in Macedonia are not a local conflict but a forecasted metastasis of the Albanian nationalism and separatism, which proliferated from Kosovo to the south of Serbia and to Macedonia. Six months of fighting resulted in a $600 mln damage to the small Macedonia, which is approximately a fifth of its GDP. Industry, coal mining, agriculture, services and investments were the areas of the economy which suffered the worst damage.
Macedonia's politics has always been that of peace and of settling any conflicts by peaceful means. Therefore the country was unprepared for a war of a guerilla type. Macedonia's army, being one of the smallest in Europe, had to deal with about 90 so-called Albanian self-defense squads numbering up to 5,000. Mostly these were the former militants from the Kosovo Liberation Army with their extensive experience of fighting against the Yugoslavian army. It was obvious that Skopje was unable to restore order without foreign support. Due to this the country's leadership had
to turn to NATO. A UN Preventive Deployment Force joined by 300 US soldiers has been stationed in Macedonia since 1993. In December, 1993 Macedonia decided to request admission to NATO. The republic joined the Partnership for Peace on November 15, 1995 - the country considered this a "breakthrough" and a move towards the system of the European and global security. However, Europe and the US took the side of Albanians in the conflict between them and Macedonia, not considering Albanians as terrorists but demanding that Skopje implement a Constitutional reform desired by the Albanian minority. The Macedonian authorities accepted all the demands of the West despite being aware that now the Macedonian population's rights were being infringed on - amnesty was granted to the insurgents, ethnically mixed police forces were created, amendments to the Constitution were adopted, and urgent elections took place.
Albanians at the south of Serbia. Albanians living in the southern regions of Serbia also struggle to secede from it hoping that the Kosovo experience will help them in doing so. In this region, the Albanians created the Liberation Army of Preshevo, Medveje, and Bujanovac which, according to different estimates numbers 2,000 - 5,000. They felt fairly self-confident in the demilitarized zone and even paraded in Bujanovac. The terrorists are heavily armed with grenade launchers, mortars, and other close-combat weaponry. A settlement of the conflict via Serbia's concessions pacified the terrorists just temporarily. Immediately upon the resolution on the Kosovo status favorable to the Albanians the separatists in Preshevo, Medveje, and Bujanovac will resume their activities.
Albanians and Muslims in Montenegro. The situation in
Montenegro was also favorable to the Albanian extremists when the relations between Serbia and Montenegro entered the final crisis stage. Albanians are about 7% of the population of the republic (12% are Muslims altogether). A militant group of the Montenegro Albanians called "Liberation Army of Plav-Gusinje" declared itself on March 19,2001. M. Djukanovic will not be able to resist the Albanian extremism seriously since he made generous promises to them when convincing them to vote for him and his party at the past elections. Consequently, a rising of Albanians in Montenegro is only a matter of time.
Hungarians in Vojvodina. The Hungarians are a significant ethnic minority in the region. Their movement for greater rights has been intensifying continuously throughout the last decade. Forces calling themselves "autonomists" and advocating a reform of the political relations with Serbia are getting more active. The local separatist tendencies have already attracted the attention of Europe, and thus it is likely that the Hungarian separatism in Vojvodina will find support and will be embraced by a number of European organizations.
Therefore, the following tendencies are found in the activities of international organizations:
The creation of obstacles for the unification of the Orthodox Serbian people in a single state; a blockade of any potential for the strengthening of its positions; weakening Serbs by reducing their territory via making the territories with predominantly Muslim populations independent.
Support of separatist tendencies among the Slavic and orthodox peoples (Montenegro, Macedonia).
Support of the Albanian separatist movements (Serbia,
Macedonia) and their subsequent unification in a single state.
Therefore, the politics of double standards in the activity of international organizations protecting human rights and ethnic minorities is obvious: only the minorities adopting anti-Serb positions (Albanians, Hungarians) or those who weaken the Slavic unity (Albanians in Macedonia, Montenegrins in Serbia and Montenegro) and who contribute to disintegrating the Slavic space are supported. The anti-Serb and anti-Orthodox position is the bottom line of many of the activities of international organizations.
It would be wrong to assume that the independence of Kosovo will be a precedent for all the unrecognized states in the post-Soviet and post-Yugoslavian space. The Balkan crisis has shown how partial the treatment of different sides in a conflict can be. For example, whereas Kosovo can be proclaimed an independent state, Serbs in Croatia could not even mention a cultural autonomy. Albanians in Macedonia can expand their rights thus moving towards autonomy, but Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina are offered a unified Bosnia. Therefore, Kosovo can become a precedent only for a separation of territories from Russia. But should some territory attempt to join Russia, the international organizations will oppose this move.
It is extremely important for us to understand that Yugoslavia has been a proving ground for the technique of inducing the disintegration of multiethnic federations and for rapidly recognizing subjects (particular territories) of federations as independent countries; for the control of regional political processes; for the destruction or creation of states against the will of the peoples living in the region; for overthrowing defiant political leaders and changing the political systems of countries. This example is a major danger for Russia.
The danger for Europe is that "limiting the territorial sovereignty" can evolve into an internationally recognized concept and the "humanitarian interventions" can become a form of violence with the use of "peacekeeping forces", the presence of foreign representatives, and with "temporary" administrative institutions.
The following measures have to be taken to prevent regional problems from dropping out of the view of Europe:
The entire European politics must serve the interests of stabilizing the situations in all parts of Europe. Cooperation and joint efforts are desirable as well as the development of uniform criteria for resolving national issues without such notions as "good" and "bad" nations. There must be no rigid regional division lines or separation of "second grade" countries from the unified Europe.
* The principle of inviolability of borders must be observed strictly.
* Precedents destroying the unity of Europe must not be allowed.
* Europe should exclude political motivation from the integration process and be guided solely by the economic one.
* Balkan cooperation backed by the stabilization of the Balkan space must be a priority.
* Dialog must become the only condition of resolving contradictions and conflicts.
* The emerging practice of destroying sovereignties by force should be opposed.
* It is necessary to continue the work on activating the European mechanism (EU, OCSE, etc.) of resolving European crises.
At present the problems of security and political stability are crucial for all the countries of the Balkan region as a prerequisite of any subsequent steps in the regional integration. The Balkans must resolve their problems independently and without interference from the outside. For example, it is possible to organize annual or more frequent Balkan forums (the Balkan Group of Seven, the Eight,...) in order to develop strategies, to deal with urgent current problems, and to develop tactics by joint efforts of heads of the Balkan countries.
Since Europe is interested in participating in the resolution of Balkan problems, it would be natural for it to consider establishing an international conference analyzing the factors destabilizing the south of Europe; to transfer the resolution of the Kosovo and Metohija problem to the sphere of international law, for example, by launching an international legal expertise on the status and legal position of Kosovo in Serbia, Albanians in Macedonia, and the statehood of Serbia and Montenegro.
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