June 28, 2001

Macedonia: The cards are on the table

After a decade of moves and countermoves, wars and rumors of wars, slaughter and destruction, it seems all the cards are finally on the table this week. As Macedonia is in the process of being sacrificed to the Empire’s crazed attack dogs, and Serbia is being forced to sell out the elementary principles of law for less than the customary thirty pieces of silver, the forces behind both campaigns of destruction must feel a power rush of epic proportions. They no longer seem to need the smokescreen of rhetoric and platitudes to obscure their sinister scheming. As temperatures rise, so does their arrogance, approaching again the preposterous levels of Rambouillet and the beginning of NATO’s aggression in the spring of 1999.


Last Thursday, as the armed wing of the Albanian movement for destroying Macedonia perched above Skopje with big guns, the Macedonian government bent over backwards to negotiate with their political wing in the lake resort of Ohrid. It seemed that Macedonia would surrender peacefully, welcoming a NATO occupation force.

But the Albanians played too hard. They rejected an offer to make Macedonia a citizen-state, demanding equal right to nationhood, veto power and vice-presidency in perpetuity. Macedonia’s police minister walked out, and so did President Trajkovski. In a rare display of character, he even called the Albanian negotiators "dishonest."

Why would the Albanians want to be reasonable, though? To begin with, the entire strategy of the EU, the U.S. and NATO has been to force the Macedonians to appease every demand of the Albanian political wing (PDP and DPS) in order to sideline the militant wing (the UCK) – claiming all along that the two are completely separate and mutually exclusive. If so, why had one of the parties supported the bandits when they first attacked Tetovo? Why had both parties signed a protocol with the bandits and their KLA brethren, in the NATO-occupied Kosovo city of Prizren last month? And why did both Albanian political leaders subsequently refuse to renounce that protocol? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Further proof of the politicos’ connection to the bandits came when the Macedonian army charged the bandit positions in Aracinovo, which threatened the city of Skopje, the airport and oil refineries. Albanian politicos immediately started complaining, and this time NATO joined them. Then, after two days of heavy shelling, the bandits decided to give up. They got on US army trucks, with all of their weapons, and were chauffeured by a company of American troops to a nearby village.


On that evening, the Macedonian people had had enough. Thousands rallied in Skopje, storming the Parliament, chasing away government officials, demanding Trajkovski’s resignation, shooting in the air and demanding weapons. But their rage was also aimed at the foreigners who gleefully aided in Macedonia’s dismemberment – journalists, who have recently been prone to publishing distasteful and manipulative rubbish, aimed at rationalizing Albanian demands and presenting Macedonians as aggressors without even recognizing their right to exist, calling them "Slavs" instead.

From the New York Times and the BBC to London’s Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, the western media have faithfully served the cause of the Albanian militants – inviting the question, of course, who exactly might be behind the Albanians?


There is the OSCE, a Euro-American organization ostensibly charged with helping observe elections. Of course, that didn’t stop the American spy William Walker from abusing the OSCE mission in Kosovo to stage the Racak massacre for the KLA’s benefit. Nor did it stop Robert Frowick, a veteran of electoral manipulation in Bosnia, from arranging the above-mentioned Prizren powwow of Albanian bandits and their political counterparts. OSCE is, apparently, proud it has "played a key role" in advocating "greater constitutional equality and linguistic rights" for the Albanians.

It does not take a genius to realize that the EU always sends Javier Solana to Skopje when they need to strong-arm the Macedonians to appease the Albanians some more. Having "supported" the Macedonian government for months by urging it to compromise its basic principles – indeed, its very existence – the EU has finally spelled it out: unless Macedonia surrenders right ruddy now, we won’t give it a dime in aid.


Should one even bother to single out Human Rights Watch, that annoying yelping dog of the United States government tasked with barking as loudly as possible at the enemy du jour? It was the HRW that gave enormous publicity to a badly written and entirely phony-sounding pamphlet, allegedly printed by an organization called "Macedonia paramilitary 2000."

Ought one even bother to note that in the Balkans, no militia calls itself "paramilitary"? Even the word (paravojska in Serbian) sounds effete and derogatory. No, it is always the "Guards," the "Lions," the "Tigers," the "Volunteers," the "Lads" – never, ever "paramilitary." No self-respecting US street gang would ever call itself the "hardened delinquents."

Similarly, HRW and the media parade the fact that their IQ level barely matches toast when they explain the term "Shiptar" as "derogatory name for Albanians." Shiptar, you see, is merely a transliteration of Shqiptar, an Albanian word meaning…"Albanian." There is no "q" in Slavic languages – Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian or any other.


Ambassador Frowick’s secret treaty-making should have been a clear sign the United States is involved in Macedonia far more than its media would like the people to know. Even that might be just the tip of the iceberg. A recent BBC report revealed an entire secret war the US waged in Bosnia, causing the war to last two more years and claim 150,000 additional casualties.

Yet one might still wonder why the Emperor of the Known Universe, Lord Protector of Kosovo and Bosnia, God-Anointed Champion of Democracy, Leader of the Free World, His Imperial Presidential Majesty George II Bush would have any interest in helping the pseudo-socialist EU dismember a country that has proven a fairly faithful US client.

Part of the answer could be in the extremely vocal Albanian lobby in the United States Congress. Another part could be the current US government’s fascination with oil, combined with the fact that Macedonia sits right on top of the proposed Balkans pipeline. Bulgaria and Albania control the ends of the pipeline, though, which makes them far more important US clients. Perhaps that is why the GIs are acting as UCK’s van pool.


One of the reasons the Macedonians are so apprehensive about fighting back is the horrific lesson Washington has given their northern, and much stronger, neighbor. Not only has Yugoslavia been bombed in order to save the Kosovo Albanian separatists – many of whom are now among the bandits in Macedonia – but its current government largely owes its position to millions of dollars in "aid" from Washington. And the United States is determined to get a pound of flesh for every penny of it.

Last Saturday, the Yugoslav government chose to violate the Constitution along with the fundamental principles of law, federalism and democracy. Aware that a law allowing for extradition of Yugoslav citizens would never pass in the Parliament, it issued a government decree instead. Not only was this unconstitutional, it also violated the rights of Yugoslav citizens, wrecked the code of criminal law, and destroyed the coalition with representatives of Montenegro, the other part of the Yugoslav federation.

Blackmailed by Washington and the EU, brow-beaten with a foreign debt that miraculously tripled over just a few years, sapped by relentless propaganda and itself filled with opportunistic, unprincipled scoundrels, it is a miracle the new Yugoslav government has resisted for a full eight months.

Milosevic, hated as he is both by Washington and the current regime in Belgrade, is peripheral to the entire issue. At stake was the principle of obedience to US wishes, superseding constitutions, sovereignty, borders and logic. If Milosevic is indeed delivered to Madeline Albright’s pet court, it will be a small victory for the politicians who fought him, a giant victory – and ultimate justification – of NATO’s 1999 aggression, and a colossal defeat for the people of Yugoslavia, especially the Serbs.

Given all that, President Kostunica’s support of this blatantly illegal action is at the very least baffling. If he thinks temporary security can be bought by sacrificing liberty, he must have skipped reading Ben Franklin while translating Jefferson.

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

The Empire Shows Its Hand

The Return of Kings

Meditations On The Edge Of The Abyss


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


It is both appropriate and ironic that this column will be published on June 28. On that day in 1914, a young Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip shot and killed the Austro-Hungarian crown prince, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary reacted by demanding the surrender of Serbia, thus sparking the Great War – later called World War One. Also on June 28, in 1989, Slobodan Milosevic gave a speech to one million people, gathered in Kosovo, warning of nationalism, separatism and the creeping foreign menace. The Western media have used this speech – never quoting what was actually said – to paint Milosevic as a nationalist, separatist and a menace to the Balkans.

What a million Serbs had been celebrating in Kosovo, by the way, was the 600th anniversary of a battle that marked the end of medieval Serbia, but set the foundations for preserving the Serbian culture, heritage and nationhood. On that day in 1389, a Serb army of knights, men-at-arms and peasants fought the invading Ottoman Turks. They lost, but in the process crippled the Turkish Empire and bought themselves and the rest of Europe some 60 years of time to prepare a defense. Though physically it was too late for Serbia to recover, the idea of fighting against overwhelming odds for one’s liberty and faith took root in the people and enabled the Serbs to survive 400 years of Turkish slavery.

Lazar, the Serb king who chose to fight at Kosovo when he could have just as easily surrendered to the overwhelming Turkish force, became a martyr and a saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Milos Obilic, the legendary knight who killed the Turkish sultan during the battle, has been celebrated in epic poetry as the epitome of heroism. On the other hand, the seemingly "reasonable" duke Vuk Brankovic, who abandoned Lazar during the battle in order to become the ruler of Serbia after the Turkish victory, became a synonym for treachery.

On the day of that battle was the festival of St. Vitus, or Vidovdan – a crossover from an ancient Slavic deity Svetovid, a patron of harvest, war, healing and prophecy. Folklore has it that all things can be seen for what they are on Vidovdan. The future becomes easier to see, as does the past. Since Lazar’s time, it has also been a day for hard, fateful choices.


How much harder can it get, than the present choices facing both the Serbs and the Macedonians? The survival of their nations is at stake, threatened by an overwhelming outside force manifested locally in Kosovo and northern Macedonia. Should they fight, like Lazar – knowing that they might lose – or run, like Brankovic, hoping to make the best out of slavery? To a pragmatist with no moral values, that may depend solely on whether he or she considers the Americans to be gentler masters than the Turks, a point which is actually very hard to argue.

Will Belgrade and Skopje actually surrender their dignity and freedom for the vacuous promises of "aid," knowing full well that Western generosity in loans is only matched by its generosity with bombs – and that every penny will have to be paid in blood, conveniently seized from the people rather than the self-abasing, subservient government? Is there, among the Serbs and Macedonians, a leaders left with the wisdom and determination to make Lazar’s choice?

One can only hope.

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