is the second Emperor's Clothes interview with Cedda Pralinchevich,
President of the Jewish Community in Prishtina. In the first interview,
formerly Chief Archivist of Kosovo, described how he and tens
of thousands of other Yugoslavs were driven from Prishtina
by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) with NATO's backing.
claims it bombed Yugoslavia in the Spring of 1999 to stop Yugoslav
war crimes against ethnic Albanians. These supposed crimes supposedly
produced the much-televised Albanian flight from Kosovo. Not so,
says Mr. Pralinchevich.
new more-or-less Foreign Minister Svilanovich stands with NATO
on the war crimes allegations. He has invited the NATO-controlled
War Crimes Tribunal to set up shop in Belgrade and promises
to help them hunt down Serbian leaders.
far as the evidence hunt goes, the Tribunal hasn't done too well.
It employed hundreds of forensic experts and dug up Kosovo for
a year (under KLA direction) but found no evidence of Serbian
atrocities. That failure hasn't fazed NATO. Bolstered by the improved
attitude from Belgrade (Mayor Milan Protich was quoted in the
calling for the "de-Nazification" of the Yugoslav government)
the NATO propaganda machine has stepped up attacks against ousted
President Miloshevich and others, arguing that the exodus of all
those ethnic Albanians proves there must have been atrocities.
Why else would they leave?
In the text, we have tried to spell Serbian names so English-speaking
readers can pronounce them correctly. 'Pristina' is Prishtina',
'Prlincevic' is 'Pralinchevich' and 'Milosevic' is 'Miloshevich'.]
Albanians Fled During NATO Bombing
NATO said the Albanians were fleeing atrocities. We Western
opponents of NATO said they were fleeing the NATO bombing. But
you're saying we were both wrong, that the Albanians weren't fleeing
the Serbs or the bombing." (From the interview below)
Why did so many Albanians leave Kosovo a few days after NATO
began bombing? Was the Yugoslav Army attacking them?
No, not attacking them. In some areas the Army did relocate
people, but not out of Kosovo. The idea was to move them further
into Serbia. You must understand, the Army was presented with
a most difficult situation. A major clash was expected between
NATO and Yugoslav troops. This kind of NATO ground attack was
a special threat in the area bordering Albania.
those circumstances, with the KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army] attacking
inside Kosovo and from Albania and with NATO poised to invade
and about to start bombing from airplanes, how could the Yugoslav
Army hope to protect that border population?
should understand, the Army had had an experience like this in
Vukovar. That was in 1991. Civilians were trapped in a battlefield
between the Army and the Croatian Ustashe [neo-fascist] secessionists.
To avoid making the same mistake again, the Army wanted to empty
a space 40 kilometers deep so people wouldn't be trapped between
the Army, NATO and the KLA.
the same time there was a big increase in the number of KLA terrorists
illegally crossing the Albanian border into Kosovo. In that situation
there were bound to be some unhappy events. It was a most difficult
situation, you see.
Was this at the beginning of the bombing?
Yes, and earlier too. During this period, the Yugoslav government
tried to organize local Albanian Crisis Centers to distribute
humanitarian aid, and also a Headquarters to work with the Yugoslav
Army, organizing ethnic Albanians who lived in the danger zone
to move deeper into Serbia, away from potential fighting.
those ethnic Albanians who did cooperate with the Army became
a target for the KLA. Many were assassinated.
Were these Crisis Centers located all over Kosovo or just
near the Albanian border?
Mostly near the border.
Crisis Centers distributed humanitarian help from all over Serbia.
For example there was food and building materials to repair homes
from the North, from Vojvodina. People sent blankets, food, clothing,
West Misunderstands Ethnic Albanians
Getting back to the Albanian exodus during the bombing, here's
the question: if the Yugoslav Army didn't throw the Albanians
out, why did so many leave? It's true we don't know the exact
number. The Western media has given all sorts of figures, from
150,00 to over a million, which is slightly ridiculous - but certainly
many thousands did leave. Why? To escape the bombs?
No. The reason they left and went out of Serbia, to Albania
or Macedonia, is rooted in the cultural history of Albanian people
living in Kosovo. Because of their mindset, which I think people
in the West thoroughly misunderstand, the KLA had a big impact
when it attacked and executed Albanians who cooperated with the
I would have thought such attacks would turn them against
No, no. They led the ethnic Albanian population
to stop cooperating with the Yugoslav government and start cooperating
with the KLA.
Doesn't a guerilla movement need to treat ordinary people
decently to get support?
Yes, but the KLA was never what you mean by a guerilla movement.
It was a foreign-organized group of terrorists delivering a message.
so-called 'International Community,' that is, NATO, had trumpeted
that they had plans for the Albanians, that they would give them
independence and a Greater Albania, make them a major power in
southern Europe. So there was this intense propaganda from the
West for ten years and at the same time the crisis in the Albanian
community was quite pronounced. Even before the bombing, some
Albanian representatives asked the Yugoslav government to allow
their people to form convoys and go toward Macedonia, basically
to save themselves from this crisis.
What crisis? The fighting between the Yugoslav Army and the
Not exactly, although this fighting did have a big effect.
So did the bombing, which started a bit later; it had a critical
psychological effect. But this was related to the KLA. You see
the KLA was trying to fulfill their own overall goals. To achieve
these goals, which involved proving to the West they could deliver,
they told the ethnic Albanians to leave. And this was not a polite
request. It was an order. Do you see?
the same time the KLA, their special units, and then a bit later
NATO bombers, were attacking traffic on important roads that led
to inner Serbia.
And this influenced the Albanians?
Yes. It dissuaded them from going further into Serbia and
it also told them: Yugoslavia can't help you.
the United States was training their KLA proxies in Albania including
in how to wage this sort of psychological warfare, to deliver
the message that Albanians should temporarily vacate Serbia.
So you're saying that this culture, this Kosovo Albanian
culture, had a strong tendency to respond to carrots and sticks?
That's it. Now you're beginning to understand.
And the U.S. was telling Albanians, "We'll help you
secede; we'll make you a star. But if you reject our help we'll
kill you." Is that it?
Your question is complex. I'll have to give a long answer.
Historically, the Kosovo Albanians were never involved in
frontal battles. Instead, they had groups of warriors called kachatzi,
small bands of fighters that used hit and run tactics. But they
never kept large scale weapons to use in frontline war.
of the purpose of the Western training was to get the KLA to surpass
small group combat and become an army able to carry out NATO's
commands throughout Kosovo. NATO's foot soldiers.
this end, one KLA group left Kosovo and went to Albania where
they were trained by the Americans, and by the way, they became
the core of what is now called the Kosovo Protection Corps. They
marched back into Kosovo with NATO in June, 1999 and seized government
offices and facilities and drove out hundreds of thousands of
Serbs, Roma ["Gypsies"] Jews, pro-Yugoslav Albanians
You're saying that after NATO took over Kosovo these KLA
types were under orders to drive out those people?
Yes. We can see the results of the action of exactly those
forces today. NATO planned the expulsion of 350,000 people. Without
NATO's approval and instructions, these KLA, whom NATO had trained
and brought back to Kosovo, would never have attempted this mass
expulsion. Impossible. NATO was eliminating a potentially rebellious
remember, they didn't expel only non-Albanians. Perhaps the most
important group was Albanians who in any official capacity had
helped the Yugoslav government. They had to go. NATO wanted the
ethnic Albanians who stayed in Kosovo to be without a Yugoslav
So this first wave of Albanians who marched across the border
with the KFOR [NATO] troops - they were hardcore KLA? Not simply
Well some were KLA gangsters and others were ordinary gangsters
from Albania. They carried out and allowed others to carry out
all kinds of crimes. Some wanted revenge; some wanted to steal;
some wanted to do this; some wanted to do that, to achieve whatever
political goals. And no one was interrupting the others. They
were doing it altogether in concert and not interfering with each
They were all KLA? There were no mysterious elements here?
KFOR claims mysterious elements carried out (and still carry out)
KFOR knows exactly who organized the expulsions, but of course,
as it became clear to ethnic Albanians that KFOR would tolerate
criminal actions carried out by the KLA, KLA crime became a mass
phenomenon. Whoever was doing criminal stuff would use the KLA
label. If someone would steal some Serb's car, he would say: "I'm
got to be a joke among Albanians to call themselves 'KLA', to
cover up. If someone wanted to rob someone else's house, they
would say - "We're KLA."
Because they knew that KFOR wouldn't touch them if they were
Yes, they became untouchable.
Getting back to the period up to the bombing: You were saying
that in this area along the border two things were going on: The
army was trying to get those people out of the potential fire
zone plus they were organizing local Albanians for self-defense.
But at the same time a section of Albanians had been organized
by the other side, by the KLA. So they were having a contest for
the hearts of the ethnic Albanians?.
Yes. At first the Yugoslav government felt confident that
they'd succeed in getting the Albanian population to organize
to defend itself from the KLA. The attempt to do this started
during the Rambouillet talks, in the winter of 1999, before the
My impression is that the KLA had a weak base during this
period. Is that true?
Yes, but remember there was a continuous influx of their
people from Albania. So they had weak popular support but they
were getting reinforcements from Albania, trying to turn the tide.
Which is why there were constant border clashes with Yugoslav
troops fighting these intruders.
So the KLA's solid base was in northern Albania?
At that time, yes. But the Yugoslav Government program of
self defense failed in the border area and then gradually throughout
Kosovo people switched to the KLA side.
During the bombing was the KLA used as spotters for NATO
Was the bombing used to drive Albanians out of Kosovo?
Not mainly on its own, but yes, insofar as it reinforced
the KLA's attempt to destabilize the area. Mr. Walker was the
one who was organizing the KLA. Mr. Walker of the Verification
Mission that came into Kosovo, under the OSCE [Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe] umbrella, in the fall of 1998.
see this is a complex thing and I wanted to give a long answer.
Even this international corps of monitors, this Verification Mission,
they were also involved in organizing KLA. Before the bombing
started we had this forced diplomacy. The European Community and
the US insisted that their forces come into Kosovo as peace monitors.
At the head of these peace Verifiers was Mr. Walker.
Verifiers organized the KLA. That's why terrorist attacks by the
KLA increased after they arrived. During that period there was
no major shift of population, whether Albanian or Serbian, though
this international monitor group was laying the basis for migration.
They needed migration to create the impression of a crisis for
international public opinion.
How did they lay the basis for migration?
They did it by having the KLA kill some Albanians who were
cooperating with the government.
The Verifiers, the OSCE Monitors, did all this...?
Yes, they organized the KLA into a more cohesive force so
it could influence events. And they prepared for the bombing.
The Yugoslav government caught some Albanians and some Serbs who
were positioning bombing markers. Those are radio devices that
emit signals to identify targets..
were confused when the OSCE monitors left Kosovo. It should have
been obvious why they left. Their job was done.
OK, I'm confused right now. I'm not sure about our focus.
Are we talking about the Verifiers being responsible for positioning
Yes! That is one thing they organized. I say this in full
responsibility. Yes, OSCE monitors prepared the NATO attack.
KLA is only a proxy for what NATO wanted to achieve in this geographical
area. All the current political turmoil points to NATO, whether
in Kosovo or Montenegro or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Explain what you mean, please.
I mean Kosovo is just one of the points of destabilization
of Yugoslavia. It is manipulated from the US and Europe. And this
is not just what I think. It is obvious.
I apologize for these picky questions. People are starved
for clarification on these points. Nobody has made things clear.
I'm grateful for the questions. And again: I am answering
with full consciousness of my responsibility to be accurate.
I understand. You're an historian of Kosovo.
Yes, I am, and I want people to know the truth about what
getting back to the period before the bombing: the OSCE was taking
steps to produce a migration of Albanians towards Macedonia and
Albania. The idea was to break down the physical barrier of the
border existing between Yugoslavia on the one hand and Macedonia
and Albania on the other. The OSCE wanted to create for the international
community the impression of a humanitarian catastrophe . .
Even before the bombing?
Yes. The OSCE was actually organizing the complete scenario
for the crisis in Kosovo. Once again, they were trying to push
the ethnic Albanian population to Albania and Macedonia to present
the impression of a humanitarian nightmare.
were surprised that right before the bombing significant numbers
of Albanians began moving toward the border. We were surprised.
But of course, it was planned.
But there were no bombs yet.
At that time the KLA had a big influx of reinforcements from
Albania. They attacked road crossings and so on with the intention
of making a total chaos and collapse of the situation in Kosovo.
This was intended to make a point to all Albanians.
But in terms of the population movement, why were the ethnic
Albanians leaving?... I wish you could just give me some idea...
That is exactly why I started answering your question by talking
about the culture of the Albanian people. Because they have a
strong clan structure and as part of that tradition, if the leader
of the village says, "Let's vote for this candidate!"
they tend to vote for this candidate, and if the leaders says
"Let's all go!" - they go
But why would the clan leaders say "Let's all go!"?
First of all, a large part of the ethnic Albanians wanted to return
to the situation that existed a hundred years ago, under the Ottoman
Empire, and again during World War II, when Kosovo was under Nazi-
Albanian control. Most of the Albanian population had been won
to this goal by the secessionist movement.
from the USA
I speak of secession you might think of the Basques in Spain or
the Irish in northern Ireland, but this is very different. In
Kosovo, a foreign Superpower supported the secessionists for well
over a decade. Because of this support, the Albanians were psychologically
prepared to achieve - no, not to achieve, to be given - secession.
As a gift. The secessionist leaders, starting with Rugova, had
promised them, "Do this, do that and the US will intervene
and we will get Kosovo." They had been promising this for
years. "Sacrifice your children by boycotting the schools;
sacrifice your health by boycotting the hospitals; use your suffering
to show foreign public opinion how we suffer under the Serbs,
and the US will come to our rescue."
March, 1999 this political theater had been going on 10 years.
"The US will set us free." And of course, many Albanians
believed that during World War II the German Nazis had set Albanians
Yugoslav constitution of 1974 didn't help. It weakened the central
government and thus encouraged those in Kosovo who wanted to return
to the WW II regime when Albanian nationalists ruled Kosovo under
the German Nazis and terrorized the Serbs, Roma ['Gypsies'] and
Jews. After 1974 the abuses against Serbs and Roma increased.
This was openly manifested during the ethnic Albanian riots in
were race riots, with Serbs as the targets, both the Serbian clergy
and ordinary Serbian citizens. After that the Americans entered
the picture and magnified the secessionists' political strength
ten times over.
Openly Encouraged Secessionists in 1990
example, when US Ambassador Zimmerman arrived in Yugoslavia in
1990 [before the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars of secession] one
of his first acts was to go to Kosovo and open an Exhibition of
architectural works from Chicago. He used this exhibition to boost
the Albanian secessionists..
He didn't invite anyone from the Federal Yugoslav Federal or Serbian
Governments. But he did invite Ibrahim Rugova [the main secessionist
leader at that time] and the like.
snubbing the Federal Government, which represented multiethnic
society, and snubbing those Albanian leaders who opposed secession,
Zimmerman's action had a profound psychological effect
I can imagine. Everyone notices who doesn't get invited to a party.
Yes, and especially in this period, when there was much ultra-nationalist
agitation in Kosovo, to break Kosovo away from Serbia and to take
parts of Macedonia and Bulgaria and link it all up with Albania.
And these were the leaders whom Zimmerman invited. How could Albanians
argue against secession when Rugova could say, "See? We have
the support of the most powerful nation on earth!"
People often present Mr. Rugova as the good guy, by way of contrast
to the KLA.
They have the same goal: secession. The difference is over methods..
Rugova always wears a scarf to illustrate the entrapment, or whatever,
of Albanians in Yugoslavia. He says he'll take it off when Kosovo
secedes from Serbia.
United States, for its own geopolitical reasons, deliberately
encouraged the secessionist tendency among Albanians, used
them against the Yugoslav government in order to destabilize the
fact is that Serbs and Albanians had been living together with
some degree of tolerance for centuries, whenever there was peace...
The United States disrupted this status quo.
and Albanians Worked Together During the Bombing, Until...
In Prishtina, during the bombardment, was there any effort to
have unity between the Albanians, the Serbs and other minorities?
We, as loyal citizens of Yugoslavia, whether Serbs or Albanians,
tried to cooperate and live together, to help each other.
But what about the majority of the people in Prishtina? Did the
majority try to help each other?
Yes. It was the town of intellectuals. We all had flats next to
each other. The children went to the same schools. We lived in
the same apartment buildings.
So the secessionists weren't strong there?
Not at first, but then later even in Prishtina the Albanians were
sucked into the secessionist camp. This could happen because of
certain cultural traits, deeply rooted in their history. During
the bombing, suddenly they started leaving. And when we asked
them, "Why are you doing this?" they replied, "We
Who are you talking about?
Professors, managers at stores, retired people, even retired Yugoslav
Army officers who were ethnic Albanian.
I have to go."
give you an example. My Albanian neighbor was a Professor. He
seemed very much integrated into Yugoslav life. Our children played
together; we were friends, you see. And then, without warning
he packed up and started to leave his flat, to leave Kosovo. So
I said: "Why are you leaving, neighbor?" He said: "Sorry.
I have to." And I said, "Why? We're safe here. Nobody's
bothering you. The housing complex hasn't been bombed. We're all
working together." And he said, "I was ordered to leave."
He gave me the keys so I could watch his flat . ... Ironically,
after NATO took over he returned and then I was forced out by
the KLA gangsters. I gave him my key, so he could watch my flat.
But who ordered him to leave?
The leader of his clan.
To prove obedience to the KLA. This was the KLA's national plan.
All loyal Albanians were to leave during the bombing and go to
Albania or Macedonia to show the world how terrible the Serbs
were; this exodus was staged; it was a performance, Hollywood
in Kosovo. What is Hollywood without actors? A large number of
Albanians had to perform, had to actually leave Kosovo. This was
not so different from what they had been doing for ten years,
you see, pretending they had been locked out of the schools when
actually it was an organized boycott, and so on.
once they were in the refugee camps, the Albanians would be under
the direct leadership of the KLA, which could intensively indoctrinate
them, Which it did.
But why would his clan leader agree to this crazy plan?
You think it was crazy? This gets us to the heart of the matter.
Between the attacks from the KLA on Albanians who cooperated with
the Yugoslav government and the continuous bombing by NATO, especially
of Albanians who disobeyed the KLA, the KLA had gotten their message
across to the clan leaders. So now the clan leaders ordered their
people to pack up and leave.
You know, during the bombing, NATO said the Albanians
were fleeing atrocities. We Western opponents of NATO said they
were fleeing the NATO bombing. But you're saying we were both
wrong, that the Albanians weren't fleeing the Serbs or the bombing.
Let's just say the bombing isn't a sufficient explanation. If
they were just fleeing bombs, why did they have to go to Albania
and Macedonia? Why not to inner Serbia? And what about people
like my friend, who just packed up, seemingly for no reason, and
left? The rest of us, Serbs, Jews, Roma, we were in Prishtina
too. Why didn't we leave? Did we value our lives less than they
valued theirs? No, it wasn't the bombs. They were afraid to disobey
their clan leaders.
the bombing did play an important role. The KLA served as spotters;
they could direct NATO attacks against hostile Albanians, and
this confirmed for the clan leaders that the KLA had serious power.
was psychological warfare, intended to reinforce the psychological
crisis among Albanians, a crisis rooted in fear.
KLA and NATO were telling Albanians: NATO supports the KLA. After
NATO takes over, the KLA will be in charge and if you don't leave
now you will be in big trouble later. There will be no safe refuge.
what I meant when I said you need to know something about Albanian
culture in order to understand why Albanians left.
have to know about blood feud.
Feud and the Canon of Leke
One book has a great hold over Kosovo Albanians. It's called
the 'Canon of Leke Dukagjiniis'. It's a 15th century text that
spells out codes of behavior. It goes into great detail on how
to carry out blood feuds, when and whom it is proper to kill.
It lays out the proper methods to use when killing, rules and
regulations and so on.
this Canon is alive among Albanians today, especially since the
fall of communism. This is an intensely tradition-oriented culture.
Blood feud is a constant threat for Albanians. Thousands of people
in Albania and Kosovo cannot leave their houses because they are
being hunted; even a child in the cradle might be marked for death
as part of a feud. It is for this reason that Kosovo Albanian
houses are often built surrounded by high walls and with gun slits
instead of windows.
methodically killing those who refused to support them, the KLA
was striking a deep fear among Albanians: the refusal of one Clan
member to obey could lead to revenge against his entire clan.
And now the KLA had NATO bombers to enforce blood feud.
took me by surprise was how much this affected Albanians, even
intellectuals. It's amazing. Here is a Professor in Prishtina,
very sophisticated, but when the order comes from his Clan leader,
who is perhaps a farmer 100 miles away, the Professor immediately
packs up and leaves for Albania without even considering saying
We didn't understand the KLA. We thought their terror tactics
were counter productive.
Well, they knew their own people, their fears, their traditions.
They knew that if they could prove they were deadly, the clan
leaders would fall in line.
they live in a society dominated by gangsters. None of this would
have happened were it not for years of effort by the United States.
the involvement of the OSCE Verification Monitors in organizing
the KLA and in spying on Yugoslavia, see:
Spies'' by Jared Israel
''The Cat is Out of the Bag''
- "The roots
of Kosovo fascism'' The title of this excellent piece by
George Thompson is self-explanatory.
the criminalization of politics, economics and daily life in
Kosovo since the June, 1999 NATO takeover see the following:
"Crime and Terror in
the New Kosovo [Documents the criminalization of daily life]
"How will you plead
at the trial, Mr. Annan?" [The London Observer
quotes an internal UN report documenting the criminal nature
of the Kosovo Protection Corps, set up by the UN ]
blame NATO" [A terrible crime reveals the enormity
of NATO's opening of the border between Serbia and Albania.]
United States planners were fully aware of the destabilizing potential
of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo as far back as 1982. Here is a quote
from Yugoslavia, a Country of Study a 1982 book which is
part of the U.S. Army's "Area handbook series." In
the forward, Dr. William Evans-Smith, Director of Foreign Area
Studies for American University in Washington, DC, writes:
study focuses on historical antecedents and on the cultural,
political and socioeconomic characteristics that contribute
to cohesion and cleavage within the society. "Here's
a quote from the book:
largest national minority was its Albanian community, in 1981
numbering some 1.6 million, nearly 7 percent of the population.
Most Albanians were concentrated in Kosovo where they constituted
roughly 80 percent of the population; another quarter million
resided in neighboring Macedonia and Montenegro. All told,
an estimated one-third to one-half of all Albanians lived
in Yugoslavia - making them one of the largest potentially
irredentist communities in the world...
"Some demonstrators [in the 1981 Albanian riots] suggested
that the proposed Kosovo republic ought to include Albanians
in Macedonia and Montenegro too. Some extremists even voiced
secessionist sentiments calling for a 'Greater Albania.'"
book was published by Headquarters, Department of the Army (DA
Pam 550-99), Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
DC. It is available at libraries.