June 7, 2001


Two years ago this week, on June 9, 1999, a tired Yugoslav Army general emerged from a tent of a NATO helicopter base near Kumanovo, Macedonia, and announced that he had just signed an agreement capitulating to NATO, after 78 days of resistance to the Alliance’s terror-bombing. British General Michael Jackson was more jubilant. “NATO’s resolve in conducting a sustained air campaign has finally achieved this agreement, and now is the time to look ahead,” quoted New York Times.

Two years hence, NATO’s “peacekeeping” in Kosovo has resulted in over 250,000 non-Albanian refugees, thousands of ethnic murders, demolition of over 100 churches and countless other cultural monuments, a flowering of sex-slave trade, and two new separatist wars – in Serbia’s Presevo Valley, and in Macedonia.


Thanks to NATO’s intervention and General Jackson’s “looking ahead,” Kumanovo has become a symbol not only of Yugoslav capitulation, but of Macedonia’s struggle for survival. It has been a month since Albanian bandits of the so-called “National Liberation Army (UCK)” have dug into a string of villages just outside that city, demanding that the government of Macedonia capitulate to their demands. Macedonian attempts to deal with the bandits the only way other civilized countries deal with terrorists – by force – have consistently been sabotaged by no other than Javier Solana, former NATO Secretary-General in charge of the Yugoslavia bombing. Judging by the news from Macedonia, Solana and the UCK achieved their goals: Skopje is ready to capitulate.


It was hard to expect anything else, given NATO’s strong “support” of Macedonian government shown in demands to offer a blanket amnesty to all UCK and end “ethnic strife” by “creating a Macedonia that would suit the Albanians.” Prime Minister Georgievski was forced, through Solana’s “mediation,” to create a national unity government that included both major Albanian parties, even though their political programs were in full agreement with the UCK bandits.

To the perennially mendacious, government-supporting media in the West, the struggle in Macedonia quickly became an “ethnic conflict” between Albanians who demanded “end to discrimination” and the repressive “Slavs” (thus robbed of their Macedonian nationality and statehood), who only needed to give in to achieve peace. Already there are “human rights” organizations wailing about the “abuses” of Albanians at the hands of Macedonian security forces.

Framed as an issue of “human rights,” invoking the images of black South Africans fighting apartheid with the aging Arben Xhaferi cast as the Albanian Nelson Mandela, the media version of Macedonia’s plight is diametrically opposed to the truth. For while Albanian parties are ethnically exclusive and Albanian demands focus on separation and segregation of ethnic communities, the so-called “Slav parties” are neither ethnically based, nor are they exclusive of Serbs, Turks, Roma or Albanians, for that matter. It is the Albanian minority trying to foist an apartheid on the Macedonian majority, destroying the Macedonian state in the process.

Solana and his EU/NATO patrons know better than to let facts interfere with their argument, though. As long as their pet NGOs and pet media keep reinforcing the desired fiction, the pressure on Skopje is bound to grow. Even some Macedonians – albeit those friendly to the Western imperial establishment – have accepted their government’s capitulation as “peace.” Solana himself is returning to Skopje this week, to “to help local leaders agree measures to address minority Albanian grievances.”


Hammering the last nail in was this Monday’s op-ed in the Washington Post, by no other than William Walker, former US diplomat responsible for starting the Kosovo War. Yes, it was Walker who – as head of the OSCE “verification mission” in Kosovo – “discovered” the “Racak massacre” in January 1999, and helped pave the way for the Rambouillet ultimatum and NATO’s attack soon thereafter. Dubbed “Mr. Massacre” for his prior record in central America, he dutifully justified this reputation by describing a dozen dead KLA bandits as civilians killed by Serbs in a “clear crime against humanity.”

This character, then, had the temerity to advise the US government to intervene in Macedonia – on the side of the Albanians, of course. Painting a picture of Macedonia straight out of the UCK propaganda manual – filled with blatant lies such as that “Macedonia is a nation of many minority groups, with none representing an overwhelming majority,” for example – Walker was advocating, in no uncertain terms, that Washington forces the Macedonian government to recognize the UCK as legitimate, and grant all of its demands. Not only did he heap legitimacy on the UCK (“NLA”), he also compared the Macedonians to Slobodan Milosevic, crudely appealing to the still-festering collective psychosis in the West, inundated as it is with the vitriolic notion of Milosevic as Evil Incarnate.


Walker’s verbal abuse came at the time when Yugoslav government is nearing collapse over the federal extradition law. Washington, namely, demands Milosevic’s head on a silver platter at the so-called War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, using as blackmail the vacuous promise of several million dollars in loans to rebuild what NATO bombs and US sanctions have destroyed over the past decade.

President Kostunica, aware that direct rejection of imperial demands is usually “rewarded” by bombing, has pledged to pass a law allowing for extradition of Yugoslav citizens to foreign courts. This initiative, however, has been blocked by the Montenegrin representatives in the Yugoslav federal parliament, who insist that extradition is not a Constitutional power of the federal government!

Montenegro’s current regime, however, has no intention of passing an extradition law, and the Serbia government – led by Kostunica’s insidious rival Zoran Djindjic – wants none of that responsibility, either. Extradition is extremely unpopular among the people of Yugoslavia, overtaxed and price-gouged by the current government, so both Djindjic and Montenegro’s separatist leader Djukanovic would prefer that Kostunica gets the blame for passing the law – and if at all possible, for them to get the credit if any “aid” comes from the West.


Of course, Washington could care less who passes the law and how, or even if the law is passed, as long as Milosevic is turned over. For that would constitute admission of command responsibility for “crimes” ICTY will easily “prove” by its Inquisition methods, and give full legitimacy to NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, or its sponsorship of massive ethnic cleansings of Serbs from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. All of Milosevic’s capitulations, numerous and tragic as they were, would pale in comparison.

With this problem at hand, Yugoslavia is unlikely to help Macedonia much, even though the two countries signed a defense pact last week.


Immediately following Walker’s call and Solana’s announcement, the UCK restarted the fighting around Tetovo, from which  they were banished in March. Killing five Macedonian soldiers – one of whom was Albanian, incidentally (so much for ethnic warfare) – they sent their own message to Skopje: Give up now, because you will have to do it soon anyway. And if Reuters is to be believed, most Albanians in the countryside are loyal to the UCK.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Georgievski again called for a state of war, only to meet vocal US opposition. Yet, though the government seems ready to surrender, the people of Macedonia want nothing to do with it. Someone shot at President Trajkovski’s office Wednesday. Riots erupted again in Bitola, where three of the most recent victims of UCK attacks were from – a reprise of the April riots triggered by the UCK’s massacre of eight Macedonian policemen and soldiers.

Ironically, “Mr. Massacre” was right about one thing. The current state of affairs is untenable. Something will have to give – either the determined UCK and their Western sponsors and apologists, or the weak, clueless Macedonian government.

Text-only printable version of this article

Nebojsa 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 every Thursday.


Past Articles


Terms of Betrayal

Presevo – A False Victory

The Balkans: Land of Delusions

Enemies at the Gates

ICG’s Blueprint for Destruction

Kosovo: Between Death and Taxes

Madness in the Mountains: Montenegro's Looming Secession

A House Divided


Empire at the Gates

Macedonian Maelstrom

Pax Americana

The Fourth Balkan War

Mayhem in Macedonia

Surreal Realm

Santayana’s Curse

The Croatian Conundrum

March of the Black Eagle

Showdown in Belgrade

Out of the Shadows

With a Grain of Salt

Crusade's End

The Worst of Times

Moments of Transition

Déja Vu

The Crucible

Bandits on the Border

It's the Spelling, Stupid

Zoran Djindjic: Serbia's Richard III

Wheels of Injustice

The Tragedy of Bosnia

The Suspended Castle

Hand Of The Empire: Decision in Kosovo

Introduction: The Balkans Babylon

ITN: Case Closed


And so, two years since Milosevic caved in to NATO demands and let the fox into the henhouse, his successors and the government of Macedonia are facing decisions crucial to their very survival. In both cases, doing what Washington and NATO are demanding amounts to capitulation, certain to destroy both their countries. Resisting, however, takes the intestinal fortitude – one that has been worn away by a decade of wars and/or poverty, and powerful propaganda from the West.

If these are the times that try men’s souls – and the current situation certainly qualifies – then the eyes of the world should watch every move of the confounded leaders in Belgrade and Skopje. Maybe a triumph of their willpower and wisdom, as unlikely as it is absolutely necessary, will mark an end of the beginning in the Balkans’ prolonged agony.

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