of the Black Eagle
weeks ago, Carla Del Ponte marched into the presidential palace
in Belgrade demanding the head of Slobodan Milosevic. What
she got were marching orders, and none too gentle, either.
Within a week the United States sent two heavy-hitter
Senators, known for their extreme hostility to Serbs,
to follow up on Del Ponte’s message: You will surrender; resistance
years ago, during the NATO attack on Yugoslavia aimed at rescuing
the KLA from a military disaster, Senator Lieberman proposed
the KLA so "Kosovans could defend themselves." At the
same time, Senator McCain advocated a ground
invasion of Serbia in order to save the KLA. Sending these
two into Belgrade was, by itself, a very clear signal on the
part of the US establishment.
is most intriguing, then, that the visit by such "distinguished"
characters coincided with the launch of a violent series of
attacks by Albanian militants, first in Kosovo, then in the
Presevo valley. The valley lies in that narrow strip of land
into which the Yugoslav government is forbidden to go lest
it provoke NATO’s wrath – but which any Albanian "Liberation
Army" is allowed to use freely for artillery deployment, sniping
and calculated acts of terror.
Del Ponte’s fiasco and the lackluster follow-up by McCain
and Lieberman, the axis of pressure on Belgrade shifted. For
four days, Albanians rioted in Kosovska
Mitrovica, the only town in that occupied wasteland where
Serbs made a stand against ethnic cleansing and thus survived.
They attacked French occupation troops and hurled themselves
at the bridge leading into the part of town where the Serbs
were barricaded. The Albanian government actually demanded
of Serb parts of Mitrovica, demanding "coexistence and cooperation"
from the Serbs. On Saturday, the attacks stopped and the Albanian
crowds dispersed, as if nothing happened. French reporters
and fatigue" for this development, but that is by far
not the only possible explanation. Snow did not stop the Albanians
of Presevo valley, after all.
January 26, the so-called "Liberation Army of Presevo [Preshevo],
Bujanovac [Buyanovats] and Medvedja [Medvegya]" gathered in
the town of Dobrosin [Dobro’shin] and celebrated
its anniversary. Under the very noses of American KFOR
troops, sitting on a hill above the town, UCPMB commanders
pledged to fight for "freedom" of the "people of this land,"
and not accept "slavery" – meaning, presumably, staying in
Serbia. The aforementioned "freedom" – meaning, no doubt,
annexation to an independent Kosovo – was promised by next
days after the rally, the Albanian "army" – known as UCPMB
– attacked the border positions of the Yugoslav
Army for the first time, wounding four soldiers and killing
one. The attacks have escalated ever since, ranging from random
shots in the direction of Bujanovac
to a major push into Lucane
[Luchane] and Veliki
Trnovac [Trnovats]. The attacks were violent enough for
Yugoslav President Kostunica to leave the World Economic Forum
in Davos, Switzerland, and rush
back to Belgrade.
reaction to the attacks was at least coherent. Some American
commentators proposed that NATO should occupy
the DMZ and thus "solve" the problem. Of course, NATO’s
procedures would call for another DMZ beyond that perimeter,
and the whole lurid business would start all over again, but
who can bother with such details?
itself issued contradictory statements for days. First it
advocated "restraint," while Secretary-General George Robertson
urged the Yugoslav government to give
in to UCPMB demands and make the militants into local
police – the Alliance’s preferred solution in Kosovo. Only
two days later, NATO officials stated that the DMZ will be
narrowed to enable Yugoslav security forces to deal with the
militants. Another official even said that UCPMB’s agenda
be Greater Albania – something that’s been painfully obvious
for a long time now, but as realizations go, better late than
instead of seizing this opportunity, the Serbian government
– run by Zoran Djindjic, who was at the time receiving
instructions and demands from Colin Powell in Washington
– ran around like a headless chicken.
IN OUR TIME"
Djindjic returned from Washington, he announced that his government
was willing to talk terms. His deputy, Nebojsa Covic,
actually put together a
plan giving the Albanians precisely what Lord Robertson
suggested. Covic also ordered Yugoslav troops in the area
to engage the militants – violating the constitutional
chain of command.
and Djindjic’s Herculean effort to offer appeasement was met
UCPMB attacks, which Serbia’s Minister for Ethnic Minorities
– a moderate Muslim, as it happens – described as an obvious
sign that the militants "do not want negotiations."
I were running the UCPMB, I would keep fighting, too. The
harder they fight, the more they are offered in exchange for
stopping. Following their logic, some day they might even
be given everything they want. And if the Yugoslav security
forces actually manage to deal with their political leaders’
cowardice, there is always the implicit protection of NATO
– which is determined not to allow any armed Serbs into the
DMZ, whether it’s crawling with heavily armed Albanians or
not. Serbian and Yugoslav governments say they would never
compromise their territorial integrity, but they have shown
no readiness to act upon those words. With NATO – which graphically
demonstrated that "territorial integrity" and "international
law" are just empty phrases – at their back, Albanian militants
feel they can do anything they want. There is nothing to stop
them, and they certainly do not lack
printable version of this article
Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and
currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian
War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo,
and had contributed to the Independent. As a historian who
specialized in international relations and the Balkans, Malic
has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and
Serbian politics, which were published by the Serbian
Unity Congress. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com appears
MATTER OF WILL
does one solve a problem like Presevo? There are no easy
answers – not any more. NATO and Belgrade either do not
know what they want, or lack the verbal skills to communicate
it to the rest of us. One can only hope that the people
running Yugoslavia haven’t completely lost their minds,
since they seem to be pretending that the past ten years
never happened, and trying to roll back the Albanians through
the emasculated UN bureaucracy and cooperation with NATO
– with predictable results.
on the other hand, know precisely what they want.
who wants answers to questions about the Albanians' political,
cultural and military agenda need only visit the web page
of their main lobby in the United States, the Albanian-American
Civil League – headed by former Congressman Joe DioGuardi.
Its portal leaves no
room for doubt. There, on a blood-red background, stands
a map of Albania as they envision it, encompassing both
the current state, Kosovo (Kosova), Presevo valley
(Kosova Lindore, or "Eastern Kosovo"), southeastern
Montenegro, northwestern Greece
(Chameria) and western Macedonia, including even
its capital, Skopje (Shkupi). Simply put, Albanians
have designs on every neighbor’s land – and choice parts
program has advanced the furthest in Kosovo. Three major
Kosovo Albanian leaders spoke in one voice during this week’s
visit to Washington, where Colin Powell promised them continued
US engagement. There is a certain vindication in seeing
Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and Veton Surroi act as one.
It proves that there is no real difference between them,
no distinction between "hard-liners," "moderates" and "intellectuals."
They are, first and foremost, Albanians determined to have
an independent Kosovo.
that respect, last week’s violence in Mitrovica might not
have been aimed at the surviving Serbs. More likely, it
was a show of force to KFOR and NATO, a warning message:
to be aware
and afraid that the Albanians could rise up and attack
them at any moment, should KFOR step between them
and their goals.
EAGLE, WHITE EAGLE
the past decade, America’s policy in the Balkans was rationalized
by the claim that Slobodan Milosevic was executing a plan
to create a "Greater Serbia." This accusation was first
made, and endlessly parroted, by the regimes in Croatia
and Muslim Bosnia, as they fought to remove or subjugate
Serbs within their desired boundaries.
enough, the concept of "Greater Serbia" as a bogeyman dates
all the way back to post-1903 Austria-Hungary, which viewed
Serbia as a threat to its imperial ambitions in the Balkans.
Though that ultimately led to Austria-Hungary’s demise in
World War I, the concept never lost its propaganda value.
It was seized upon by the Comintern in the interwar period.
The Yugoslav Communist
Party adopted it as one of the major program points,
and even used it to openly endorse the creation of Greater
Albania at its Fourth Congress in Dresden in 1928.
The Communists never offered any evidence to support their
theory of the "Greater Serbian imperialist bourgeoisie’s"
supposed "enslavement" of Balkan nations. Then again, those
who believed in Communism never needed much evidence for
two-headed white eagle thus became a symbol of an evil class
enemy, while Albania’s two-headed black eagle became a tool
to be used in that struggle. For the better part of the
20th century, whether in Tirana or in Belgrade,
the fate of Kosovo was determined in accordance with that
understanding. The results of this policy are rapidly becoming
came Kosovo. Then Presevo. Now, Albanian aggression is spreading
even further. Last week militants from Presevo attacked
a British patrol that tried to stop them from crossing
into Kosovo, as another group declaring itself the "Albanian
Liberation Army" of Macedonia fired a missile into a police
station in the western Macedonian town of Tetovo. Needless
to say, Tetovo is a town with a large Albanian population.
January 30, the Hungarian daily Nepszabadag
identified the clashes in Presevo as part of the drive for
Greater Albania. This remarkable fact – that a paper from
a very zealous NATO country would put the two and two together
and come up with a conclusion NATO and the US have tried
to desperately to ignore – went completely unnoticed in
of Albanian irredentism is spreading. For most of the century
it was contained in Kosovo, where it erupted violently in
1915-18, 1941-46, 1968, 1981 and 1989. Its latest malignant
manifestation – the KLA
– was boosted by NATO’s 1999 air war. It has incubated for
a year in the Presevo valley, where NATO is again vetoing
any intervention. Now it is beginning to waken in Macedonia.
Albanians in Montenegro are still quiet, since the separatism
of Djukanovic’s regime is actually serving their purposes,
but if Montenegro is allowed to leave the Yugoslav federation
I am willing to wager there would be a "Montenegro Liberation
Army" springing up soon thereafter.
THIS GOES ON…
happened in Kosovo after its "liberation" offers insights
into the possible shape of a Greater Albanian state, and
the position of all non-Albanians in it. Anyone who has
monitored the disastrous course of NATO’s occupation – personally,
or from sketchy reports that still described enough of the
horror – is well aware that life in such a state would come
close to the darkest visions of hell; a hell NATO and its
Imperial leadership – in their arrogance, ignorance and
boundless stupidity – will have helped create. This hell
is not yet inevitable. If the current trends continue, however,
that will only be a matter of time.
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