Dusan T. Batakovic: The Kosovo Chronicles
PART ONE: HISTORY AND IDEOLOGY
THE KOSOVO AND METOHIA QUESTION
Ethnic Strife and the Communist Rule
In the 20th-century history of the two southern regions of Serbia -- Kosovo and Metohia -- there are two periods that are clearly separated by ideological borders. In the first period (1912-1941), in the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, ethnic issues were mainly dealt with in keeping with the civic standards of inter-war Europe, notwithstanding the suffering endured during the war and latent political instability. Compared to ethnic minorities in other countries, the ethnic Albanian minority in Kosovo and Metohia, despite its open antagonism towards the state, was not in an particularly unfavorable position. By Saint-Germain Treaty (1919) minorities on Serbian territory within borders of 1913 (including Kosovo and Metohia), were formally excluded from international protection but it was not particularly used against interests of ethnic Albanians in Serbia.1
In the second period, commencing with the war (1941-1945) and concluded after the establishment of communism in Yugoslavia (1945), the question of Kosovo and Metohia was dealt with in keeping with the Party leadership's ideological stands regarding the ethnic question. Precisely during this period solutions were found providing strong impetus to the old ethnic conflict between Serbs and Albanians, causing deep rifts difficult to surmount today. Ethnic tension in Kosovo and Metohia thus offers a paradigmatic example of the ability of the communist rule to completely change the demographic picture of an area by instrumentalizing existing ethnic differences.
Kosovo and Metohia, and entire Yugoslavia for that matter, depended on the rule of the communist leadership, which cunningly used the manipulation of ethnic differences to consolidate and maintain power. The national policy of the Yugoslav communists was an ideological and national negation of the establishment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which the Serbs saw as their own - the heir to the political traditions and democratic institutions of the Kingdom of Serbia. The Serbs posed the greatest threat for Yugoslav communists in number and political affiliation: to them, communism was a foreign ideology viewed slightingly, as a vogue of the small-in-number deluded youth; but recognized during the war as the gravest threat to independence and freedom. The communists regarded the Serbs as a nation with strong politically constructive traditions and a pronounced national conscience who, spread through the length and breadth of Yugoslav territory, had learned to conduct foreign policy on their own, without tangible foreign support, a nation united by a single Orthodox Church - the bearer of an anti-Soviet mood in the country. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) drafted its followers among the Serbs chiefly from the lower social strata (especially patriarchal communities in Montenegro, Herzegovina, Bosnia and Vojna Krajina) unestablished in Serbian state and political traditions, people who in the name of idealistic Yugoslavism and proletarian internationalism rejected Serbian interests and blindly obeyed the orders of the Titoist leadership.
The Albanians, a people whose national integration fell a whole century behind those of the other Balkan nations, remained in communist Yugoslavia against their will, but found a common interest with the ruling communist party in an anti-Serbian policy via which to achieve their national goals. Time was to pass for the backward ethnic Albanian milieu to admit its new authorities and for the CPY to come to terms with representatives of the ethnic Albanian minority. The question of Kosovo and Metohia was thus dealt with in the inter-relation of three gravity centers of political forces -1. the CPY leadership as the leading factor of might in the country; 2. the ethnic Albanian national movement which had evident continuity despite the ideological affiliation of its bearers; 3. Serbian communists who, though numerically superior in the army, party and politics, as Yugoslavs and internationalists consistently implemented the Titoist policy. The origin of this relation can be seen in the chronological sequence of developments of the CPY's national policy under different political and international conditions.
1 R. Rajovic, Autonomija Kosova. Politicko-pravna studija, Beograd 1985, pp. 100-105.
The CPY as a section of the Comintern and the realizer of its concept in dealing with the ethnic question
There is evident continuity in the CPY's policy in dealing with the position of ethnic minorities which shows that, despite individual aberrations due to the position of communist Yugoslavia in foreign policy, basic political principles, outlined in party programs and resolutions in the inter-war period, were consistently implemented. The CPY coordinated its program of solutions to the ethnic question in the multi-ethnic Kingdom of Yugoslavia with the general stands of the Third International (Comintern), within the framework of which it acted as a separate section, as its work was prohibited in the country.
The Comintern was an important lever of Soviet foreign policy. The Comintern's attitude towards the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was determined by the Soviet policy towards the "Versailles system" of states created under imperialistic peace accords" after World War I, in which enemies of the Bolshevik regime - Great Britain and France - were dominant. The Fifth Congress of the Comintern (1924) abandoned the principle of a federal restructuring of states, created as a cordon sanitaire primarily as a defense against the "proletariat revolution" and a struggle against the Soviet Union, with the explanation that "western imperialists" were preparing an assault on the "first country of socialism". The new political platform's starting point was to break up the cordon surrounding the Soviet Union by singling out and rendering independent the oppressed nations among those states in the enemy camp, including the Kingdom of Yugoslavia - the right of Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia to separation was emphasized, and a special resolution stressed the need to aid the movements of the oppressed nations for the formation of their independent states and "for the liberation of the Albanians". The policy of the Yugoslav authorities had some effect on the Comintern's stand towards Yugoslavia: the royal authorities had failed to recognize the new Soviet state and provided shelter to a large number of Russian emigrants and White Guard military units in the 20s, including the troops of General Vrangel, while Russian societies frequently greeted their patron, King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic (related to the Romanov dynasty through his sister Jelena and his Montenegrin aunts), as the new Slavic tsar.
The CPY, and the Comintern, advocated the stand that the state of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was an unnatural creation which cannot be regarded as a homogeneous national state (comprising three tribes which make up a nation) with a few ethnic minorities, but a state wherein the ruling class of one (Serbian) nation was oppressing the other nations. The thesis on a Greater Serbian bourgeoisie and Greater Serbian hegemony owed much to the theses of the Austro-Hungarian public opinion prior to and during World War I, whereby the Greater Serbian threat posed a chief obstacle to the stabilization of political conditions in the Balkans. Similar stands, only with a more pronounced ideological component, can be found in the works of Austro-Marxists whence such stereotypes were taken and constructed into the views of the Third International regarding the ethnic question in the Balkans.1
The policy to break up Kingdom of Yugoslavia culminated in the decisions of the CPY's Fourth Congress, held in Dresden in 1928. The statement that about one-third of the Albanian nation had remained under the rule of the Greater Serbian bourgeoisie, which was implementing the same oppressive regime" against it as in Macedonia, was supplemented by the stand that its liberation and unification with Albania can be achieved only in a joint struggle with the CPY. With regard to this, support was extended to the Kosovo Committee, an organization of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Metohia who, aided by the Albanian government and Mussolini, raided Yugoslav territory with the aim of winning the annexation of Kosovo, Metohia and western Macedonia to Albania. Tens of thousands of Serbian colonists - chiefly volunteers in World War I and indigent families from Montenegro, Vojna Krajina and Dalmatia, were sealed by the party press as servants of the Greater Serbian policy, although the land they were allotted was not taken from ethnic Albanians. Similar stands were reitered at the Fourth National Conference of the CPY held in Ljubljana in 1934, which stressed the assessment that the Yugoslav kingdom was nothing but the "occupation of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina by Serbian troops" and that it was thus imperative to execute the "persecution of Serbian Chetniks from Croatia, Dalmatia, Slovenia, Vojvodina, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo". Renouncing these regions any Serbian character at all, the CPY believed that these provinces should be organized as separate federal units within the frame of a future communist Yugoslavia. The stand to break up Yugoslavia was changed in 1935, when the Comintern established a new course of struggle of the "national front" against the danger looming from Nazism and Fascism in Europe.2 The CPY abandoned its decision on the annexation of Kosovo and Metohia to Albania in 1940, at the Fifth National Conference in Zagreb, at a time when Albania had been under Italian occupation for a year, but even then, the "colonialist methods of the Serbian bourgeoisie" were condemned and the need for the creation of a separate republic of Kosovo emphasized - "the ethnic problem can be resolved by the forming of a free labor-peasant republic of Kosovo after the Greater Serbian fascist and imperialist regime is overthrown".3 By demonizing Serbian domination in Yugoslavia, Yugoslav communists distinguished less and less the bourgeoisie from the people - thus the idea to form a separate party for Serbia was abandoned, although party organizations for the other Yugoslav provinces were formed. Maintaining such a stand, the CPY received Nazi Germany's attack on Yugoslavia in April, 1941.
1 K. Cavoski, KPJ i kosovsko pitanje, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, Beograd 1988, pp. 361-381. Cf documents in: Istorijski arhiv Komunisticke partije Jugoslavije, Beograd 1949, vol. I-II, passim; Komunisticka internacionala, Gornji Milanovac 1982, vol. VIII, passim.
2 K, Cavoski, op. cit., pp. 365-369.
3 V. Djuretic, Kosovo i Metohija u Jugoslaviji, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, p. 321
The CPY's ethnic policy in its struggle for power in the civil war (1941-1945)
The Kosovo and Metohia question was raised again when the flames of war spread on April 6,1941, throughout Yugoslavia: its army was forced to unconditional capitulation 11 days later and its territory divided among Hitler's allies. Owing to their loyalty to old allies France and Great Britain, and for fomenting a putsch on March 27, 1941 (thereby practically canceling any agreement with the Axis powers), the Serbs were punished as the Third Reich's chief enemy in the Balkans by a division of the Serbian territories: most of Kosovo along with Metohia, western Macedonia and fringing areas of Montenegro were allotted to Albania, which had been under Italian occupation for two years. Bulgaria was given a small part of Kosovo, while its northern parts entered the composition of Serbia where a German protectorate was established. Under a decree by King Vittorio Emmanuele, dated August 12, 1941, Greater Albania was founded. An Albanian voluntary militia numbering 5,000 men - Vulnetari - was set up in Kosovo and Metohia to assist the Italian forces in maintaining order, but which carried out surprise attacks on the Serbian population on its own.
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Metohia, who were declared by Italian and communist propagandas as victims of Greater Serbian hegemony, received, besides the right to hoist their own flag, the right to open schools in their mother tongue. The patriarchal and tribal ethnic Albanian society in Metohia and Kosovo, accustomed to extreme subordination and absolute submission to the local land holders, received the new order wholeheartedly. The destruction of the Yugoslav state, which they never took as their own, was received with vindictive ardor. In the first few months of the occupation, some ten thousand colonist houses were burned in night raids and their owners and families expelled. Colonist estates were ploughed afresh in order that every trace of Serbian presence be eradicated and in the event of their return, to render difficult the recognition of their estates. The destruction of colonist villages according to a plan was to help show international commissions after the war, when new borders would be drawn, that Serbs never lived there. An ethnic Albanian leader from Kosovo, Ferat-bey Draga, said that the "time has come to exterminate the Serbs ... there will be no Serbs under the Kosovo sun".1 Orthodox churches were burnt and destroyed and graveyards desecrated. Ethnic Albanians sought to eradicate every trace of Serbian presence in these areas. During the war, some 100,000 colonists and indigenous Serbs fled for Serbia and Montenegro ahead of Albanian terror, and some 10,000 were killed.2 Along with this, under a plan of the Italian government, adopted before the occupation of Yugoslavia, began an extensive settlement of Albanians from Albania on the estates of the expelled colonists. Their number is roughly estimated at 80,000-100,000; the first postwar estimate put it at about 75,000.3
The insurrection against the occupier in mid-May, 1941, was raised by Serbian officers under the command of Colonel Draza Mihailovic, who organized the Chetnik (guerrilla) movement throughout Yugoslavia: his troops, organized throughout the country, were proclaimed by the government in exile the Yugoslav army in the homeland, and he was made general and minister of war. Two weeks after Hitler's assault on the Soviet Union, Yugoslav communists stirred up an uprising at Moscow's call, which, under the mask of a people's liberation struggle, was in fact a movement for a revolutionary shift of power. After initial talks with Mihailovic's Chetniks, Tito's Partisans set out on a long and bloody civil war. Although there were several collaborationist regimes in the country with strong military formations, the Partisans - the military force of the CPY, saw the Chetniks as their arch-enemy who incorporated the state and political continuity of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
In the civil war that ensued, Kosovo and Metohia assumed a secondary role. The Chetnik movement, organized into two Kosovo corps (about 1,500 men), operated in mountainous regions on the outskirts of Kosovo and Metohia. Cooperation between the occupational Italian forces and the Albanian voluntary gendarmery left no room for their stronger military engagement and protection of the Serbian population. The persecuted Serbs sought refuge in occupied Serbia, where they were received first by the commissariat administration and then a special refugees commissariat under the regime of General Milan Nedic.4
Metohia, which was settled by primarily Montenegrin colonists, had many followers of the CPY, though at the outbreak of the war its membership comprised a mere 270, including some two dozen ethnic Albanians. Even though the CPY condemned in numerous declarations prior to the war the Greater Serbian policy of the bourgeoisie and called during the war on the ethnic Albanian population to rise together with the colonists and Serbian natives for the creation of a "new, justice society", the response was negligible. A party leader, Ali Shukria, tried in 1941 to justify this reaction by saying that the mere name Yugoslavia provoked unanimous indignation among the ethnic Albanians. Clashes between Partisan and Chetnik formations on the one hand and the ethnic Albanian gendarmery on the other showed that ethnic Albanians saw in both of them only Serbs, their age-old enemies.5
The number of ethnic Albanians mustered in partisan units in Kosovo and Metohia was extremely low, numbering only several dozen. Individual units were named after prominent ethnic Albanian communists (Zeinel Aidmi, Emin Duraku), and then after distinguished leaders of the secessionist movement against Serbia and Yugoslavia (Bairam Cum); agitations among the population constantly stressed that after the war, the ethnic Albanians would win their rights, labeling the prewar policy as fascist and maleficent. However, winning over ethnic Albanians for the restoration of Yugoslavia under a communist leadership was slow, since among the ethnic Albanian members of the CPY most had hoped that Kosovo and Metohia would remain in the composition of Albania after the war.
In the Communist Party of Albania (CPA), which was formed from various factions on February 8, 1941, under the supervision of Yugoslav instructors (Miladin Popovic and Dusan Mugosa), were numerous followers of a Greater Albania under communist rule. Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha had taken the first step towards an accord for the creation of a Greater Albania after the war with a short-lasting agreement reached on August 2,1943, in the village of Mukaj with representatives of the Balli Kombetar, a very active organization in Kosovo.6 Miladin Popovic held a similar stand, proposing that ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Metohia be placed under the command of the Chief Staff of Albania and that Metohia come under the organization of the CPA.7 Such aspirations attained their fullest expression in a declaration issued on January 2, 1944 in the village of Bunaj (Bujan), in a conference attended by 49 political representatives of the ethnic Albanian and Yugoslav partisan units (43 ethnic Albanians, 1 Moslem and 7 Serbs present):
"Kosovo and Metohia is an area mostly inhabited by ethnic Albanians, who have always wished to become united with Albania. We, therefore, feel it our duty to point to the road that is to be followed by the ethnic Albanian people in the realization of their wishes. The only way for the Kosovo and Metohia ethnic Albanians to unite with Albania is through a common struggle with the other peoples of Yugoslavia against the invader and his lackeys. It is the only way of winning freedom, when all the peoples, including ethnic Albanians, will be able to make their options with a right to self-determination, including secession. The guarantee for it is the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and the National Liberation Army of Albania, with which it is closely linked."8
The decisions reached in Bunaj, under which the name Metohia was replaced by an Albanian term Rrafshe Dukadjini, were contrary to a declaration by a grand communist assembly held in Jajce in late November, 1943 AVNOJ (the National Antifascist Liberation Council of Yugoslavia - NALCY) at which it was decided that a new, communist Yugoslavia, headed by Tito as partisan marshal, be established on a federal principle whereby "all peoples ... will be fully free and equal", and the ethnic groups guaranteed all the rights of an ethnic minority.9 In his instructions to the communist leaders in Kosovo and Montenegro, Tito rejected the decisions reached in Bunaj, believing that they raised issues which should be dealt with after the war: he realized only too well that his movement would have lost many followers if he had upheld the demands of the ethnic Albanians, as he had proclaimed in principle the restoration of Yugoslavia within its prewar borders. In conditions when the war was not yet over and the establishment of a communist system uncertain, the decision not to touch the borders of Yugoslavia was the only possible solution.
The hostility of ethnic Albanians towards Yugoslav partisans did not wane, despite efforts by party activists to win over fresh adherents. The membership of the ethnic Albanian Balli Kombetar increased and their national solidarity proved to be stronger than ideological divisions. After the capitulation of Italy, the German occupational authorities encouraged aspirations towards the creation of an ethnic Albania, thus on September 19, 1943, the Second Albanian League was founded on the model of its predecessor - the First Albanian League (1878), advocating fiercer clashes with the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia, and a separate SS-Division Scenderbey was set up from the local Albanian forces.
A delegate of the partisan Supreme Command, Svetozar Vukmanovic Tempo, sent in 1943 to reorganize the partisan units in Kosovo, Metohia and Macedonia, informed of "powerful chauvinist hatred between the ethnic Albanians and Serbs ... The extent of the Albanian chauvinist animosity towards the Serbs is evident from the fact that one of our [partisan] units, comprising ethnic Albanians, was surrounded by 2,000 armed ethnic Albanian peasants, and after several hours of fighting the latter recognized that the unit comprised ethnic Albanians. They dispersed, leaving the Italians in the lurch".10 Fresh partisan units, set up in September and October 1943, operated outside Kosovo and Metohia, with not more than 800 men in five battalions. The unit was reorganized in the summer and fall of 1944, but the number of ethnic Albanians remained the same.
A large-scale revolt of the Balli Kombetar followers and Albanian units mustered into partisan formations (November-December, 1944), which broke out after the retreat of the German troops and the establishment of communist rule (the liberation of Kosovo was assisted at Tito's request by two brigades of ethnic Albanian partisans) was thus not unexpected. The revolt was crushed when additional troops were brought in, and military rule was set up in Kosovo and Metohia from February to May, 1945. A leading ethnic Albanian communist from Kosovo maintained contact with the outlaws. He was soon discovered, but A. Rankovic, Tito's closest associate at the time, assessed that his execution would stir up a fresh revolt, thus he was appointed minister in the Serbian governament.11 Initial concessions heralding a lenient attitude towards ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Metohia were made immediately after the new authorities were established: the settlement of at least 75,000 colonists from Albania was tacitly legalized, and a special decree issued on March 16, 1945, forbade about 60,000 Serbs settled in the inter-war period from returning to their estates.12
The conflict between the CPY and the ethnic Albanians during the war was of ideological and state character. The CPY could not allow the fascist forces in Kosovo to create a Greater Albania and thus disrupt the state integrality of the newly established communist Yugoslavia. Most ethnic Albanians continued to support the Balli Kombetar and its solution to the ethnic question. Albanian communists on both sides had hoped that the triumph of communism would bring quicker unification to all Albanians into a single state; thus communist Yugoslavia was regarded as the continuation of the Kingdom.
1 H. Bajrami, Izvestaj Konstantina Plavsica Tasi Dinicu, ministru unutrasnjih poslova u Nedicevoj vladi oktobra 1943, o kosovsko-mitrovackom srezu, Godisnjak arhiva Kosova XIV-XV (1978-1979), p. 313
2 S. Milosevic, Izbeglice i preseljenici na teritoriji okupirane Jugoslavije 1941-1945, Beograd 1981, p.56-104.
3 V. Djuretic, op. cit., p. 323-325
4 Documents published in R. V. Petrovic, Zavera protiv Srba, Beograd 1990, pp. 137-175, 353-358.
5 Dj. Slijepcevic, Srpsko-arbanaski odnosi kroz vekove sa posebnim osvrtom na novije vreme, Himelstir 19832, pp. 307-336, 3437-455.
6 The agreement with the CPA was short-lived and the Balli Kombetar (set up in 1942) entered into cooperation with the German occupational forces after the capitulation of Italy (1943)
7 Zbornik dokumenata i podataka o narodnooslobodilackom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda, vol. VII, t. 1, Belgrade 1952, pp. 338-339.
8 A. N. Dragnich and S. Todorovich, The Saga of Kosovo. Focus on Serbian-Albanian Relations, Boulder Colorado 1984, pp. 143.
9 Prvo i drugo zasedanje AVNOJ-a, Beograd 1953, pp. 227-228.
10 Zbornik dokumenata, vol. X, t. 2, p. 153.
11 S. Djakovic, Sukobi na Kosovu, Beograd 1986, pp. 227-228.
12 V. Djuretic, op. cit. p.
Settling accounts with Serbia and the instrumentalization of Kosovo and Metohia
However, the ethnic Albanians, both nationalists and communists, failed to properly assess the CPY's intentions. The question of Kosovo and Metohia was an important point of support in the CPY's plan to square accounts with Serbia. The squaring of accounts, outlined in party programs, could start only with the achievement of full communist domination. Serbia's conduct during the war provided additional strength to the party's stands: a country with bourgeois traditions and small peasant landholders, devoted to politically constructive institutions and the dynasty, leaned towards the Chetnik movement of Draza Mihailovic. After failing in Serbia in 1941, the small-in-number communists transferred the weight of their operations to Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Military Frontier (Krajina) in Croatia, where the entire Serbian population rose against large-scale terror wrought by the Ustashas (the authorities of fascist Croatia). Cunningly manipulating the indigent Serbian hilly population who, void of developed state and political traditions, cherished a devotion to the cult of "mother Russia" and patriarchal egalitarianism, the communists managed - by calling on the authority of Moscow - to win over many of them who had fallen in numerous Chetnik formations after the capitulation of Italy.
The communists won the bloody civil war, in which ethnic and religious divisions were the chief instigators of massacres, owing to crucial aid from the Soviet troops which, in agreement with Tito, crossed over to Yugoslav territory in the fall of 1944, and helped bring the communists to power and defeat the Yugoslav army in the homeland - the Chetnik movement of Draza Mihailovic. The first to be punished then was Serbia: its bourgeoisie and peasants were exterminated in the "second stage of the revolution", i.e. in the "squaring of accounts with the class enemy" -without trial and by summary procedure, while its youth - conscripted into partisan units, was decimated at the Sremski Front when it was forced to continually storm the well-fortified German positions without sufficient weaponry and military training. With the destruction of its potential classes for resistance - the bourgeoisie, the wealthy peasant layer and the town youth - Serbia's back was broken: most of its bourgeoisie and intelligentsia were abroad (officers, politicians and diplomats), while those who remained in the country were permanently marginated. The raison d'etre of the communist Yugoslavia was a carefully set balance of power among the peoples and minorities of Yugoslavia over a potential threat from Serbian predominance. The importance which the communist authorities attached to the political and ethnic affirmation of the ethnic Albanian minority could not be understood if viewed otherwise.
The numerous Serbs in the party, army and police of Tito's regime were carefully selected by the criterion of blind obedience and complete devotion to the leader, and by their readiness to fully subject Serbian interests to the interests of the CPY. Most of them, through a negative selection of cadres, were recruited from patriarchal Serbian milieus in Croatia, Herzegovina and Montenegro or lower classes in Serbia, as lacking commitment to the national and state traditions of Serbia. Their major task during the entire period of Tito's reign was to fight against "Serbian nationalism and chauvinism" which, considering the Serbs were the predominant nation, constituted the gravest threat to the regime. These Serbs thus mercilessly destroyed everything even resembling the traditions of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Kingdom of Serbia. They were forerunners in the persecution of dignitaries and the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Under such circumstances, the communist authorities in Yugoslavia were able to deal with the ethnic question in keeping with their designs without fearing for their rule.
The predominance of Serbs in the military units of the new authorities demanded, for the sake of precaution, that the question of the status of Kosovo and Metohia be brought up prudently, as the party there - due to stubborn ethnic-Albanian resistance - had no other followers but Serbs and Montenegrins (i.e. Serbs who accepted the CPY's ideological precept on the existence of a separate Montenegrin nation). The decision that Kosovo and Metohia be annexed to Serbia was made after the abolition of military rule on July 10,1945, perhaps under the influence of a large-scale ethnic Albanian resistance towards the new authorities. There is evidence that owing to mistakes made in the ethnic Albanian uprising in December, 1944, the Regional Committee of Kosovo and Metohia was replaced after the First Congress of the CP of Serbia in May 1945, and placed under the direct subordination of the headquarters in Belgrade, though the decision was soon repealed after a protest voiced by the ethnic Albanian communists. Under the 1946 Constitution, the Autonomous Region of Kosovo-Metohia within the composition of Serbia was established, though the communists of Kosovo worked directly under the instructions of the state leadership. Fearing an outbreak of fresh revolts, the CPY ordered that the officials in Kosovo suppress the followers of a unification with Albania. Enver Hoxha was dissatisfied with the attitude of Miladin Popovic, a CPY instructor in Albania who, upon returning to Kosovo, reneged on his promise that after the war Kosovo and Metohia would be annexed to Albania. He was assassinated by followers of the Balli Kombetar in March, 1945, and the assassin - who committed suicide immediately upon executing the task - had with him a standard with the inscription "Kosovo united with Albania".1
The reasons for deep discontent were not ideological but national in nature: in the new, communist Yugoslavia, their aspirations for the annexation of Kosovo, Metohia and western Macedonia to Albania were betrayed. Nevertheless, international political ambitions called for a special relationship towards the ethnic Albanian population: the CPY displayed an open intent to establish domination in Albania. Beyond that aspiration lay plans for a Balkan federation. Tito nurtured grandiose plans - to set up a three-member Balkan federation with support from the Bulgarian leader Georgi Dimitrov, wherein Albania would be one of the three federal units, with the possibility of Greece entering, if the communist guerrillas should win there.
Though not always a reliable memoirist, Enver Hoxha claimed that in summer, 1946, Tito had accepted in principle his proposal for Kosovo and Metohia to be annexed to Albania, with the qualification that the time was not yet ripe, "as the Serbs would not understand us" and that, within the context of the plan for a Balkan federation, Tito had said, "We have agreed on the creation of a Balkan federation. The new Yugoslavia can serve as an example and experience towards that aim. I am referring to this since we are discussing Kosovo. With the creation of a Balkan federation, the question of Kosovo's annexation to Albania would be easily resolved within its framework."2 The fact that plans for the ceding of Kosovo and Metohia to Albania truly existed is evident from the report of talks conducted in Moscow, 1947, between E. Kardelj, Tito's chief advisor for constitutional and ideological questions, and Stalin, when the former explicitly stated that once the Yugoslav-Albanian community was consolidated, Kosovo would be ceded to Albania.3 Owing to the plans for a Balkan federation and fears that a revolution might break out in Albania - that power may be seized by a faction inclined towards life in union with Yugoslavia, the settlement of Albanian immigrants in Kosovo, Metohia and western Macedonia was not stopped after relations were broken off with the CPA, thus an additional 40,000 Albanians established permanent residence there from 1948-1956.4
Tito abandoned the idea of a Balkan federation because Stalin objected to it. The Information Bureau of the Cominform adopted a resolution in July, 1948, which marked a radical break with the Soviet Union and its satellites and the commencement of Tito's independent course, tightly girdled by pro-Soviet regimes. The centralization of power in Yugoslavia was conditional on the threat of a Soviet invasion, thus support was sought again among Serbian communist cadres. When the threat of a Soviet intervention was waning, Tito set out on an extensive reconstruction of the country's social and state organization, wherein the strengthening of federal units (the autonomy of Kosovo and Metohia was enlarged under the 1963 Constitution) was vital in order for him to maintain power.
In order to comprehend Tito's political stands on a solution to the ethnic questions in the Balkans and Yugoslavia, it is important to learn of his basic ideological and national commitments. Shaped during the Austro-Hungarian period, he viewed the Serbian issue with the typical bias of the Austro-Hungarian press on the Greater Serbian threat, which was in the interwar period supplemented by Croatia's view of the struggle against Greater Serbian hegemony. As far as Tito was concerned, "Versailles Yugoslavia was born in Corfu, London and Paris... the most typical country of national oppression in Europe" in which the "Croats, Slovenes and Montenegrins were subordinate, and the Macedonians, Albanians and others enslaved and without any rights".5 He spoke of the prewar authorities disparagingly, "A handful of petty hegemonic Greater Serbs, headed by a king, ruled Yugoslavia for 22 years in their greed for wealth, setting up a regime of gendarmes and prisons, a regime of social and national enslavement".6 The federalization of Yugoslavia, in which only Serbia had two provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohia) showed that the breaking up of Serbian territory was the ultimate objective of Yugoslavia's communist leadership, inner Serbia (without the provinces) was slightly bigger than the Serbia set up by Hitler's Germany after its occupation of Yugoslavia. The CPY provided the state and ideological bases for the creation of new nations (first the Montenegrin nation from an ethnically pure Serbian population, the Macedonian nation - where some 200,000 Serbs in western and northern Macedonia were forcibly assimilated, and the Moslem nation - on a religious basis - from a mainly Serbian population, who declared themselves as Serbs in the first few censuses conducted after the war), in order to lay the foundations for the constitution of Kosovo and Metohia into another Albanian state in the Balkans as the final decision to the constitutional decisions of 1974.7
Ideologically shaped as a supporter of the Comintern, Tito remained all his life a victim to the stand that Yugoslavia could survive only if the threat of the Greater Serbian hegemony in the new social and communist system was decisively and forever dispelled. His fierce struggle with the Chetniks, the defenders of the old regime who advocated a reorganization of Yugoslavia wherein a large federal Serbian unit would be created, could only further consolidate his commitments. The model of Austria-Hungary, which was bound together by the Habsburg dynasty, and strong suspicions of the Serbs as the disorderly factor in the Balkans, were transplanted in a new shape to Yugoslavia, where the state was based on a communist regime. An observation by a British historian, A. J. P. Taylor, on the occasion of Tito's death in 1980, that the "last Habsburg" had passed away, has proved far-sighted and historiographically justified.
2 E. Hoxha, Titistėt: Shėnime historike, Tirane 1982, p. 260-261. In the book Shėminet mbi Kinen, Tiranė 1981, Hoxha gave a different version of Tito's reply: the Greater Serbian reaction could not comprehend a demand for the annexation of Kosovo and other parts of Yugoslavia to Albania" (Zėri i popullit, 17. 05. 1981. The official interpreter of these talks Josip Gjerdja claimed that there was talk of a Balkan federation, in which Greece would be included in the event of the victory of the communist movement, but said that the annexation of Kosovo to Albania was not discussed. (Danas, March 3,1987)
3 V. Djuretic, Kosovo u Jugoslaviji, pp.; Further documentation in: Kosovo. Past and Present. Belgrade 1989, passim.
4 Cf. P. Zivancevic, Emigranti. Naseljavanje Kosova i Metohije iz Albanije, Beograd 1989, passim.
5 J. B. Tito, Nacionalno pitanje u svetlosti NOB, Zagreb 1945, p. 5.
6 J. B. Tito, Temelji demokratije novog tipa, Beograd 1948, p. 28.
7 S. K. Pavlowitch, The Improbable Survivor. Yugoslavia and its Problems, London 1988, pp. 34-47. Cf. N. Beloff, Tito's Flawed Legacy, London 1980; K. Cavoski, Tito - tehnologija vlasti, Beograd 1990.
Centralism in Yugoslavia and the role of the secret police in Kosovo and Metohia
In the centralist stage of communist Yugoslavia (1945-1966), for purposes of consolidating and maintaining power, the new regime implemented a particular policy of internal repression which was stepped up after ties with Moscow were broken in 1948. The structure of the CPY remained the same as well as its policy in dealing with the ethnic question. The affirmation of the Albanian minority group remained a major task of the party in Kosovo and Metohia. A. Rankovic informed in 1949, that there were many discrepancies and mistakes in the party's work, though he set out that "ethnic Albanians in the Autonomous Region of Kosovo-Metohia, who had been oppressed in the old Yugoslavia, have now been completely guaranteed a free political and cultural life and development and an equal participation in all the bodies of the popular authorities. After the liberation, they acquired their first primary schools - 453 primary schools, 29 high schools and 3 advanced schools. Studying from textbooks in their native tongue, some 64,000 ethnic Albanian children have so far received an education and about 106,000 ethnic Albanian adults in Kosovo and Metohia have learned to read and write".1
The international political threat, ideological disintegration within the country and the infiltration of demolition teams stepped up the work of the State Security Service (SSS), which supervised ideological orthodoxy throughout the country, including Kosovo and Metohia. Fearing the enemies of socialism, the secret police brutally settled accounts with ideological adversaries among the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes alike. The large number of Serbs who declared themselves for the 1948 Informburo Resolution (they upheld Stalin's call to overthrow Tito's regime) were convicted to years in prison in the island of Goli Otok (the Yugoslav GULAG), which serves to prove that the SSS, headed by Aleksandar Rankovic, operated as an ideological police and not a service that advanced from Serbian positions as might be deduced by the number of Serbian cadres in it: until 1966, Serbs in the state security comprised 58.3% of the cadres, 60.8% in the militia and 23.5% in the total population; Montenegrins made up 28.3% of the cadres in the security service, 7.9% in the militia and 3.9% of the total population; ethnic Albanians comprised 13.3% in the state security, 31.3% in the militia and 64.9% in the total population.2 Absolute loyalty to the security service, Tito and the party leadership was never questioned, and its chief Rankovic remained loyal to Tito even after his replacement in 1966 (contemporaries testified that Rankovic believed a mistake had been made and that the great leader would realize this one day; he awaited rehabilitation his entire life).
In Kosovo and Metohia and the neighboring areas, the secret police on several occasions discovered that ethnic Albanian officials were making contact with the leadership of communist Albania, but they were never arrested or convicted because the party leadership believed this would repel the small-in-number ethnic Albanian communists from the CPY. Thus, as generally proposed by Rankovic, instead of being put to trial, they were awarded ministerial posts in the Serbian or federal government: from these posts contact with Albania was impossible and the precious ethnic Albanian cadres remained intact. The SSS in Kosovo and Metohia persecuted remnants of Ballist formations and infiltrated agents from Albania for years, not as Albanians but dangerous ideological enemies who were working in team with Enver Hoxha's Albania and the headquarters in Moscow. The armed resistance of outlaws and their aides proved that large quantities of war material were in private possession, thus an extensive operation for the collection of these weapons was carried out in winter 1955/56. Both Serbs and ethnic Albanians suffered equally, though larger quantities of weaponry were found with the ethnic Albanians. The fact that the persecution was not carried out on a national basis (the SSS did not implement it in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro) is evident from numerous complaints lodged by dignitaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church about the abuses of the secret police. The SSS kept arresting and harassing Serbian monks and priests, and with its knowledge a monumental Orthodox church was demolished in Djakovica in 1950, in order that a monument to the partisans of Kosovo be erected in its place.
Since the SSS operatives in Kosovo were recruited mainly from the ranks of Serbs and Montenegrins, special care was taken to include a certain number of ethnic Albanians in every operative unit, and wherever they were in the minority, ethnic Albanian cadres were entrusted with the management of these units. At the Prizren Trial (1956), agents of a spy demolition team, linked with the emigrants and secret Albanian police (Sigurimi), were forbidden from revealing the high-ranking ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Metohia who were involved in the organization of these teams, although conclusive evidence had been unearthed.3
The freezing of ethnic strife in the centralist period was the effect of the purely ideological character of the SSS as the system's defender. Therefore, no large-scale demographic or political changes took place in Kosovo and Metohia. The birth-rate remained high with both the Serbs and ethnic Albanians. The ethnic Albanian milieu took advantage of the 20-year-long respite to entrust the leadership of its national movement, in keeping with the new circumstances, to the ethnic Albanian communist power-holders rather than to organizations of fascist inclination. It is important to note that the character of the still backward ethnic Albanian community essentially remained the same: its adjustment to communism was not reflected in social stratification but in a new patron of their national interests.
1 A. Rankovic, Izabrani govori i clanci, Beograd 1951, pp. 184-185.
2 Intervju, 04. 09. 1978. Cf. Kosovski cvor. Dresiti ili seci? Izvestaj nezavisne komisije, Beograd 1990, pp. 18-19.
3 V. Djuretic, Der politisch-historische Hintergrund Der Tragdie der Serben aus Kosovo und Metohija in der periode nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, in: Kosovska bitka 1389. godine i njene posledice, Beograd 1991, pp. 413-433; Cf. Lj. Bulatovic, Prizrenski proces, Beograd 1988.
Kosovo and Metohia in the transition from the centralist to the federal model
The inter-party squaring of accounts, which ended with the replacement of A. Rankovic and his associates at the Fourth Plenum held in the Brioni islands (1966), marked a fresh consolidation of Tito's personal power which had been threatened by the omnipotent State Security Service. Tito purged the SSS of cadres loyal to Rankovic and initiated the country's further decentralization. By rousing national differences and strengthening the federal authority of each republic, Tito reestablished his sacrosanct rule. In those aspirations, ethnic Albanian communists from Kosovo emerged as important allies, blazing the trail with their criticism of the abuses of the secret police. The assembly of Kosmet reached the decision that owing to the SSS's manipulation with the conclusive evidence against high-ranking ethnic Albanian officials (the so called Djakovica Group, lead by Fadil Hoxha and Xhavid Nimani, made up of communists from Kosovo and Albania which in the postwar development lead the party's organization in Kosovo) all acts pertaining to the Prizren Trial be destroyed; the proceedings were stopped, and an emigrant from Albania was appointed chief of police in Kosovo.
In discussions on the constitutional changes, stress was laid on the enlargement of the autonomy of Kosovo: the demands of the ethnic Albanian communists ranged more or less openly from the demand for the status of republic to the right to sovereignty and self-determination, including secession. Kosovo was not granted the status of a separate federal unit owing to the balance of forces in the party, but the Albanian minority was granted extensive concessions: the name Metohia was removed from the name of the province owing to its Serbo-Orthodox connotation, and the ethnic Albanians were allowed to freely hoist their flag; the province's autonomy was considerably enlarged under the 1968 and 1971 constitutional amendments, while most of the federal funds for development went to Kosovo and Metohia.1
The new political course in Kosovo and Metohia emboldened the nationalists and advocates of a unification with Albania. The fall of Rankovic was interpreted as the defeat of the Greater Serbian forces within the party. The demonstrations of the ethnic Albanian students in Pristina and several other towns in late November, 1968, in which Greater Albanian slogans were heard, were hushed up in public, though they heralded a more aggressive stand of the ethnic Albanian movement in Kosovo and Metohia. Only two high-ranking officials in the Serbian party, the writer Dobrica Cosic and the historian Jovan Marjanovic, had the courage to warn of the increasing ethnic Albanian nationalism. Cosic openly warned:
"We can no longer ignore the extent to which the conviction of the strained relations between ethnic Albanians and Serbs has spread in Serbia, the threat felt by the Serbs and Montenegrins, the pressures to move out, the systematic removal of Serbs and Montenegrins from high positions, the aspirations of experts to leave Kosovo, the unequal treatment in courts and disregard for the law and bribery in the name of ethnic affiliation".2 Both critics of the situation in Kosovo were severely reprehended by both Serbian and ethnic Albanian communists, and they were replaced from their positions. This was the first case where, in keeping with the new ethnic policy and the decentralization of the communist party, Albanian nationalism and Greater Albanian claims were deliberately neglected owing to continual pressure on Serbia, in keeping with the stands of a necessary balance between the federal units in Yugoslavia. The new concept of a decentralized state demanded a change in relations within the party. Control could no longer be exerted over Serbia through a centralized ideological police but out-voting and pressure within the party's Central Committee. The role of Kosovo was of particular importance since, as a militant ethnic group in the territory of Serbia, it could be effectively used as a means of state and party pressure on Serbia. Precisely for these reasons further changes in the state organization strove to transfer the model of the federalization of Yugoslavia onto Serbia - thus the Serbian party was federalized. The framework of relations, established in Serbia and Yugoslavia under the 1968 and 1971 amendments, testifies to the need of the highest priest of Yugoslav politics for the strongest and most consistent political milieu in Yugoslavia - Serbia - to be controlled, by manipulating the deep-rooted fears inherited from the Austro-Hungarian and inter-war periods, and the young and violent ethnic Albanian movement from the professed Greater Serbian threat. Threats of the professed Greater Serbian danger were a suitable excuse for turning the official federal units of the then centralized Yugoslavia into national and state feuds between the communist power-wielders.
The ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo, demographically continually increasing (from 1961-1971, it rose by 42% compared to the Serbian population which increased by 0.7%, the Montenegrin population which dropped by 16% and the ethnic Turkish one which fell by 53%) despite evident advancement in terms of education and culture which lead to romantic pathos and an uncritical approach in the interpretation of history and culture, was still a backward peasant milieu where the local dignitaries were obeyed without question. The national and political interests of the Albanian minority coincided with the interests of the party for the first time. Their alliance was particularly strengthened by an ideological threat imperilling Tito, i.e. the new reform-oriented communist leadership in Serbia which introduced certain western standards in the economy, endeavored to establish control throughout the republic and to bring the cadre-ruled party down to the masses. The new organization of political rule in the country was conducive to the liberalization of the economy, thus decision-making was gradually shifted from the party to the economy. The loss of financial and economic power according to the Serbian model jeopardized the communist party's power throughout Yugoslavia. A follower of the Marxist and Leninist concept of a party, Tito saw his position shaken by the re-organized inter-party relations, a danger perhaps greater than even the police omnipotence during the period of centralist rule. By instigating constant sources of instability - national tensions in Yugoslavia - Tito strove to prove the unfeasibility of Serbia's new political course. Tito saw the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Metohia and the nationalist leadership in Croatia as dealing the hardest blows in the destruction of the new ideological adversaries - the "liberals" in Serbia.
By instigating nationalist movements in the country, Tito strove to create conditions in which he would again emerge as the supreme arbiter in internal conflicts. His support to the Croatian leadership had as its goal to create a counter-weight to the Serbian leadership. The long-term conflict between the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo was used as additional pressure on Serbia. Fearing Serbia's economic supremacy, a coalition was created between the leaderships of Kosovo and Croatia, and the Croatian press wrote about a secret emigration of ethnic Albanians to Turkey (from 1953-1956 the emigrants were mainly ethnic Turks while the number of ethnic Albanians was negligible). By replacing the Serbian and Croatian leaderships (for the sake of "symmetry") with men who owed their power solely to his grace, Tito again became the indisputable master of the country. In the plan to re-establish a protectorate over Serbia, the lifetime dictator decisively upheld the ethnic Albanian communists in Kosovo and Metohia. Relations with Albania (which was openly hostile towards Yugoslavia since 1948), were normalized at the request of Yugoslavia in 1971. One-way cooperation between Kosovo and Albania was established, which, due to the language barrier, remained confined to the southern Serbian province. Some 240 university professors and teachers from Albania, then the last hard-core Stalinist ideological bastion, indundated the University in Pristina (founded in 1970), and scientific and educational institutions opened by the Yugoslav state in order to speed up the cultural emancipation of the Albanian minority. However, cooperation with Albania was used most for the purpose of ideological indoctrination - among the professors from Albania were many Albanian secret service agents, and textbooks imported from Tirana propagated the "Greater Albania" idea, condemned "Titoistic revisionism", instigating 19th-century national romanticism but only in the ideological prism of Enver Hoxha's "Marxism-Leninism". A warning to the local leadership by Hasan Kaleshi, a reputable Orientalist from Pristina, that leading historians in Kosovo were "obviously falsifying history" and had a "directly negative effect on young historians, the detrimental consequences of which may not be apparent today, but will in the future become more and more evident", was interpreted as "national treason".3
The confederal Constitution of 1974 legalized the transformation of Kosovo's autonomy (initiated by the 1968 and 1971 constitutional amendments) into virtually an independent state directly linked to the federation without any ties with Serbia. Consequently, this rounded off Tito's vision of national equality with careful supervision over Serbia and Serbs throughout Yugoslavia. Turning Yugoslavia into a confederal country according to Tito's model, whereby the republican borders had become a framework for the creation of homogeneous national states, rendered the Serbs a culturally isolated and politically unprotected minority group, especially in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The loose community of six republics and two provinces was held together only by Tito's authoritarian rule.
The new leadership in inner Serbia, entirely dependent on Tito, watched silently Kosovo's growing political independence. The atmosphere of neglect and yielding to the environment's lowest instincts completely neutralized economic trends in Serbia, while a small group of opposition-oriented intellectuals in Belgrade, which, owing to its cosmopolitan nature, Tito regarded as the "hotbed of hostility", tried to bring up taboos such as political relations and national strife. Critical remarks on the draft Constitution of 1974 arrived from Belgrade, particularly from the Faculty of Law, indicating that such an order would reduce Serbia to a subordinate position and be a source for fresh national conflicts. The critics of the draft were severely reprimanded and then either discharged, convicted or isolated. The ideologists of Titoism, Croatian and Slovenian communists, carefully watched every move in science and culture, never failing to point out any ideological deviations in Belgrade.4
Comprehensive and systematic Albanization in Kosovo and Metohia, bolstered by the top, gained fresh impetus: the University in Pristina enrolled an ever increasing number of students in order to produce cadres capable of replacing Serbian officials in the administration, judiciary, schools and science, while the federation's funds for the development of Kosovo were increasing by geometric progression: since the early 70's, some 70% of all the federation's funds for underdeveloped regions were allocated to Kosovo (most of the funds were provided by inner Serbia), attaining the figure of around a million dollars a day in the early 80's. A vast part of foreign credits were also targeted towards Kosovo. The hastily educated cadres proved incapable and inexpert in managing the economy, while the local political bureaucracy strove to redirect a large part of the federation's money to finance megalomaniac projects that were to openly display the ethnic Albanians' national domination in Kosovo and Metohia. Demographic explosion - the highest birth rate in Europe (an average 6.9-member family) plus 30 students per 1,000 citizens, rendered all financial measures insufficient. Kosovo remained a primarily peasant environment where society was organized on the basis of tribal traditions, strongly influenced by the Islamic concept of society. Chiefly agrarian, with large families, the ethnic Albanian community craved land. The conflict with the Serbs had social besides national causes: hunger for land for the ever growing peasant population. Another feature of the Albanian milieu was the large percentage of young people educated at faculties of the humanities where they were directly indoctrinated with the national romantic rapture orchestrated from Tirana. A large number of students and academic citizens, most of them without a chance of finding a job, were, owing to the language barrier, bound to Kosovo, and thus transposed their personal discontent into national frustration. The low level of education among the intelligentsia in Kosovo and Metohia had created a particular sort of semi-intellectuals capable of taking in only a limited number of ideas, restricted by the national horizon and ideological model of Albania, an extremely uncritical provenance. The growing number of ethnic Albanian peasants acquired land by persecuting Serbs with the authorities' blessing, and the disproportionate number of semi-intellectuals saw themselves in the persecution of Serbs as executors of the mission - national unification of all Albanians.
As a community relentless to itself (blood feuds were still above than the law), ethnic Albanians attacked the Serbs with specific brutality. By taking over all bodies of authority, the Albanian minority began their planned suppression accompanied by various forms of psychological and physical pressures. State coercion became hard to bear as the state had become Albanian. Outvoting the Albanian language in official use, the creation of typically state institutions, such as a national library and academy of sciences, along with the judiciary, police and administration, showed that a surrogate national state had been created in which the Serbs felt as the persecuted ethnic minority without any protection from Serbia. Tens of thousands of emigrants sought refuge in Serbia proper; even peasants were forced to emigrate, selling off their lands to ethnic Albanians (usually for next to nothing), while the authorities settled the abandoned lands with many-membered emigrant families from Albania.
Serbian communists in whose hands was the fate of the republic made feeble and pathetic attempts in the late 70's to improve within the framework of the existing system the position of Serbs in Kosovo. The nature of their rule, which emanated from the capricious benevolence of Tito, and the limited personal traits of Serbia's leading communists, resulted in their aspirations going no further than inter-party red-tape memorandums (1977). Unable and unwilling to bring the convenient stagnation of Serbia under their rule, the Serbian communists reduced their concern for their fellow citizens in Kosovo and Metohia to sporadic disputes with ideological like-minded person from other republics, believing that, being in the minority in such discourses, incapacitated any further action.
1 M. Misovic, Ko je trazio republiku Kosovo, Beograd 1987, passim. 24
2 Ibid., pp. 120-121
3 Ibid, pp. 150-78-93.
4 R. Stojanovic, Jugoslavija, nacije i politika, Beograd 1988.
The epilogue of the communist solution to the ethnic question in Yugoslavia: the example of Kosovo
Until Tito's death (1980), the varying balance of the nationality contrasts in Kosovo and Metohia was maintained mainly owing to the inviolability of his power. Fresh large-scale demonstrations a year after Tito's death, when it was assessed that conditions for winning a republic (which by the Leninist formula has the right to self-determination, including secession), revealed the substance of the national movement in Kosovo: the annexation of Kosovo to Albania: cheers for Enver Hoxha, the return to the Marxism and Leninism of the Albanian type, the creation of the "Socialist Republic of Kosovo". Dozens of secret ethnic Albanian organizations for the liberation of Kosovo and its unification with Albania, composed chiefly of students, were ideologically linked to the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha.1 The extent to which the ethnic Albanian intelligentsia in Kosovo and Metohia owed its views about the world to dogmatic Marxism imported from Tirana became apparent. It attained absurd limits in the theory of "Albanianism" as the sole national religion (Enver Hoxha forbade the work of all religious communities in 1966) which sought its roots in the remote past - in the need to show that Albanians are of Illyrian descent and thus the oldest and only "indigenous" people in the Balkans - therefore natives, compared to the Slavs who were settlers and intruders on Albanian soil. Thus a cabinet and scientific question on the origin of the Albanians was reduced to a powerful means of national homogenization 2
After bloody clashes between demonstrators and the police in the 1981 uprising, the Federal authorities condemned the entire movement using typically communist vocabulary -, counter revolutionary The usual procedure of replacing the leadership, making ideological purges and adopting new programs produced no tangible results 3 The demonstrations continued in waves, many young people suffered in clashes with the police, but the balance of forces in Kosovo remained the same the emigration of Serbs, of which the press wrote more freely did not stop, instead, it gained fresh impetus, and delegations of Serbs in quest of protection paid frequent visits to the federal parliament The party and state leaderships promised to provide protection when the delegations lodged complaints of abuses, physical persecution, usurpation of estates, language and national discrimination before court, rape on a national basis and the desecration of graves, but failed to undertake efficient steps
Discontent in Serbia and among Serbs elsewhere in Yugoslavia in creased particularly after support was extended to the Kosovo leadership by the Croatian, Slovenian and some Bosnian communists Tito s successors (the collective presidency) were insignificant politicians loyal to the narrow interests of their federal units Incapable of coping with the subtle frisking of the national and Yugoslav, and surprised by the ethnic Albanian uprising in Kosovo and Metohia, they failed to further conceal the essence of the problem and undertake decisive steps in Kosovo fear from the re emergence of Serbian nationalism and chauvinism , displayed through open support offered to the ethnic Albanian national movement in Kosovo and Metohia, revealed the main cause of the whole dispute the inequality of the Serbian nation in the Yugoslav federation Despite official condemnations, the support offered by the Slovenian, Croatian and Moslem part of the Bosnian leadership to the Albanian minority in Kosovo could not be concealed for long the skillfully concealed inequality of the Serbian people in confederal Yugoslavia became an issue on which the state and ideological foundations of Tito's Yugoslavia began to crumble As a reaction, the national integration of Serbs, halted in 1918 and checked in 1945, rose again in the mid-80's into a widespread national movement demanding that the 1974 Constitution be changed, as the people did not wish to reconcile to the tacit support extended by the federal party bodies and republican leaderships to the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo 4
The blockade of the system in Yugoslavia did not allow for the intervention of the leadership of Serbia in the federation thus a subversion was carried out within the Serbian communist party (1988), in which a dogmatic trend assessed that by playing the card of wounded national pride and obvious discrimination, it would win power and maintain it by changing the 1974 Constitution The Kosovo frustration of Serbs, wisely instrumentalized in conflicts of the local political oligarchy in Serbia, soon became the legitimation of the new authorities lead by Slobodan Milosevic The pressure on Serbia from all the federal and republican institutions was so strong that the new leader was greeted as a savior a mythical hero who would retrieve equality in Yugoslavia for the Serbs and bring again Kosovo and Metohia, by hook or by crook, under the sovereignty of Serbia The demonization of the new authorities in Serbia, accused of "Bolshevism", "Great Serbianism", Stalinism and of having aspirations towards hegemony in the media of all the other communist leader ships in Yugoslavia, particularly in Croatia and Slovenia was so great and deafening that it decisively affected the homogenization of the Serbian people around the new power holders
The raising of the Serbian question in Yugoslavia had the entire country seething, which soon proved to exceed ideological differences and shades in the interpretation of Tito's way ', disputes between advocates of socialism with a human face ' and adherents of the dogmatic line The ideological screen suddenly collapsed, forbidden political subjects inundated the press, reexaminations of the interpretations of contemporary history began, justifications of the existing organization, showing that the national question was being opened anew on which depended the survival of the country's present political, ideological and state organization
Serbia found itself in a paradoxical situation, to have its national interests saved by the communist party - the chief culprit of all its troubles The process of the growth of the communist leadership into the patron of the mother nation's national interests had been implemented under Tito's rule since the late 60's by all the leaderships except the Serbian one When, because of the conflicts in Kosovo and Metohia, this took place in Serbia, processes instigated by the detante, Perestroika and Glasnost, which heralded the advent of the post-communist epoch, were already under way in Europe. What had not been possible during Tito's reign was being implemented by Serbian communists seven years since his death: in the still communist Southeastern and Eastern Europe, political wills and national aspirations could only be expressed through the communist party. Communism emerged as a protector of the national interests of the Serbs at a time when, ahead of growing democratic processes in the entire international public, it must have appeared anachronous. Thanks to the dangerous identification of the people and leadership, Serbia, due to measures implemented by the communists in their protection of the endangered national and human rights of Serbs and the state territory in Kosovo and Metohia, was soon branded in the international public opinion as a state of undemocratic and aggressive communist repression.
The situation in Kosovo continued to deteriorate. Clashes between the police and ethnic Albanian secessionists did not stop, while the province institutions, from the police and judiciary, to finances and the economy, were still controlled by the local ethnic Albanian bureaucracy which, supported by the other Yugoslav national-communist élites (particularly Slovenian and Croatian), resisted the demands of "inner Serbia". The measures undertaken by the new Serbian authorities in Kosovo again proved to be a neocommunist delusion on the possibility of an ideological partnership to overcome the existing national conflicts, and that police and economic measures can stop a strong national movement in which all ideological differences began to disappear. The former Marxists and Leninists of Enver Hoxha's type began to adapt to the new political trends in the Eastern and Southeastern European countries which were paved by the Soviet Perestroika and Glasnost, endeavoring to win the sympathies of the foreign public by advocating reforms in socialism and presenting the nationalist conflict in the light of a struggle for human rights. Every new ethnic Albanian leadership, appointed with approval from Belgrade, proved unfit to curb and disinclined to condemn the nationalist movement of its people. Subversions in Serbia's northern Vojvodina province and in Montenegro, which returned to its Serbian identity, were directly provoked by the Kosovo and Metohia question, and the new balance of political forces in the party helped Serbia retrieve its say in the matter concerning its provinces. The congruity of these events nearing the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo (1989), the Serbs' main national holiday, consolidated the authority of the new leadership in Serbia in which the people, unaccustomed to differences in political opinion, gave priority to the saving of national territory. With the disintegration of the Titoist order in Yugoslavia fresh uprisings broke out in Kosovo and Metohia followed by bloody clashes with the police, strikes and diversions which, after an attempt by the communist assembly in Kosovo, in which ethnic
Albanians predominated, resulted in the abolition of the state of Kosovo and the introduction of a state of emergency, after the proclamation of the Albanian state of Kosovo in during 1990.
The failure of the Serbian communists in late eighties to comprehend the extent of the international repercussions of the ethnic strife in Yugoslavia, and pretentious in the worst Titoistic manner, incapacitated an active communication of Serbia with the centers of political and economic power in the world. Due to a negative view of "Serbia's Bolshevik repression", the aggressive and Orientally brutal ethnic Albanian national movement in Kosovo and Metohia was able to present its goals as an authentic and pacific movement of an unusually numerous ethnic minority (it accounts for 15-20% of Serbia's population) which is striving to realize its legitimate human and social rights. However, open support extended to the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (a party which rallies ethnic Albanians in Kosovo) by the new communist leader of Albania, Ramiz Aliu (both before and after the first democratic elections in Albania), with considerable participation by agents of the Albanian secret service Sigurimi in the organization of strikes and armed conflicts (some 200-400 Albanian agents were infiltrated into Yugoslavia in 1990 alone), clearly reveals that a centuries-long ethnic, national and inter-state conflict cannot be justified by ideological differences or a human rights struggle. The fact that the ethnic Albanian question in Kosovo and Metohia is not in reality an issue of ideological differences and human rights is evident from the stands of Serbian opposition parties which are waging a bitter struggle with the former communists and present socialists for the democratization of the country. They are all willing to negotiate with the leadership of the ethnic Albanian national movement about all controversial issues except the one on which the ethnic Albanian side insists: the change of the state borders of Serbia and Yugoslavia.5 The ethnic Albanians' refusal to take part in the December 1990 multi-party elections and be registered in the regular Yugoslav census (April 1991) shows the unwillingness of their leadership to find a democratic solution.
1 S. Hasani, Kosovo. Istine i zablude, Zagreb 1985, p, 175
2 Cf Albanians and their territories Tirana 1985
3 Sta i kako dalje na Kosovu. Dalja drustveno politicka aktivnost SSRNJ u realizaciji politicke platforme za akciju SKJ u razvoju socijalistickog samoupravljana, bratstva i jedinstva i zajednistva na Kosovu Beograd 1985, Cf documents on Serbian complaints in Noc oporih reci. Kompletan stenogram o svemu sto se govorilo na zboru u Kosovu Polju u noci izmedju 24. i 25. aprila 1987. Specijalno izdanje Borba, maj 1987.
4 K. Magnusson The Serbian Reaction Kosovo and Ethnic Mobilization Among the Serbs Nordic Journal of Soviet & East European Studies vol. 4 3 (1987) pp. 3 30, A Dragnich, The Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia The Omen of the Upsurge of Serbian Nationalism in East European Quarterly vol. XXIII No 2 (1989) pp. 183 198, Cf A. Jeftic, Od Kosova do Jadovna Beograd 1988; idem, Stradanja Srba na Kosovu i Metohiji od 1941 do 1990, Pristina 1990; R Stojanovic, Ziveti s genocidom, Hronika kosovskog bescasca, Beograd 1989; A Djilas (ed.), Srpsko pitanje, Beograd 1991
5 Demokratija, 3. 08. 1990.
Continuity and discontinuity
Ethnic intolerance between the Albanians and Serbs, deepened by centuries of confrontation, was expressed through religious intolerance (Albanians as Moslems and Serbs as Christians in the Ottoman Empire), acquiring at the turn of the 20th century vague contours of a national conflict. Unequal degrees of national integration provoked additional tensions in the old conflict: while the Serbs conceived the renewal of their state in the 1804 national revolution, and gained independence in 1878 (Serbia and Montenegro), the Albanians were the last in Europe to begin an organized national movement in 1878 through a small in number national elite, but even then with deep social and religious differences which were not surmounted, not even after the proclamation of the Albanian state in 1912, nor in the interwar period. The national integration of the Serbs, though incomplete, stopped in 1918 with the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, in which the majority of Serbs lived in one state and conceded their national ideology to institutions of Yugoslav character. Discontinuity in the development of the Serbian national movement, deepened during the 1941-1945 war, turned under communist rule into a 50-year-old vacuum whose effects on the protection of primary national interests proved almost fatal. The Albanian national integration had continuity, as opposed to the Serbian one. The young, aggressive and expansive national movement, closed within itself, developed without a standstill, regardless of whether it was lead by feudal lords, outlaws, foreign patrons, Albanian or Yugoslav communists. In a society which harmoniously accepted both in Albania and Yugoslavia the ideological monism of xenophobic isolation which suited its internal tribal structure and a certain intolerance that was racial as well as ethnic. After receiving political asylum in France, the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare pithily explained the nature of the internal resistance of the Albanian society to all ideological challenges. "Communism has not really penetrated into the depths of Albanian society. The Albanians are, as it were, racists: they consider those who do not share their moral customs amoral, as the classic Greeks considered other peoples Barbarians. This racism probably played a role in the Albanian resistance to socialism."1 From this perspective, the depth of the conflict and the mutual misunderstanding of Serbs and Albanians is shown in brighter light. However, it is important to note that in this centuries-old conflict to which their seems no end, in the second half of the 20th century Albanians in Kosovo and Metohia won crucial support from Yugoslav communists to the detriment of Serbs.
1 Ismail Kadare Interview in Le Monde, 26. 10. 1990. 34