Why is there Civil War in Kosovo, Why Did Clinton Get Involved and What has Been Accomplished?
By: Dr. Stephen K. Stoan, Ph.D. History, Duke University, 1970
Why is there a civil war in Kosovo, why did the Clinton administration get involved in it, and what has been accomplished with more than two and a half months of warfare? Let's review pertinent facts.
Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia when the area was conquered by the Turks in the fifteenth century. In Serbian history books it is often called Old Serbia. Albanians began arriving in the seventeenth century during the Turkish occupation. It has been recognized as an integral part of Serbia by the international community since 1912.
When the Axis powers invaded and dismembered Yugoslavia in 1941, they attached Kosovo and Albanian-speaking regions of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece to Albania to form a greater Albania under the rule of a fascist dictator. The Kosovo Albanians formed military units to fight for the Nazis, killed more than 10,000 Kosovo Serbs, and drove more than 100,000 out of the province into the rest of Serbia. They brought immigrants in from Albania to fortify the Albanian presence in the province.
When the Croatian Communist dictator Tito came to power in Yugoslavia in 1945, he forbade the Serbian refugees to return to their homes in Kosovo. He then signed a deal with the new Communist dictator of Albania to bring in another 100,000 Albanian settlers. The Albanian majority in Kosovo appears to date from the years around World War II.
An upsurge of Albanian Kosovo violence in 1969-1974 caused another 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins to leave Kosovo and gave Tito an excuse to separate Kosovo from Serbia. He made it an autonomous province under the total control of the now Albanian majority.
Autonomy under Kosovo Albanian control did not result in ethnic peace. Once in control of the province, the Kosovo Albanians continued harassing non-Albanians through legal and extralegal means. They required Gypsies to use Albanian first names. They enacted zoning legislation designed to break up non-Albanian residential communities. They outlawed use of the Cyrillic alphabet even among the Serbs, who had always used it. They refused to permit federal authorities to participate in census-taking, claiming they didn't know how to count Albanians.
The Kosovar Albanians required mandatory instruction in Albanian for all inhabitants of Kosovo, and they imported history and social science texts books from Albania for use in the schools. These taught Albanian nationalism rather than Yugoslav citizenship and praised the era of Turkish control over the Balkans. There were continuing incidents of violence against Serbs and frequent attacks on Orthodox churches, shrines, and monasteries. More Serbs and Montenegrins left. Ignoring Yugoslav immigration laws, the Albanian Kosovars permitted more illegal aliens to immigrate from Albania. By the early 80s, the province was three-fourths Albanian, large numbers of them born in Albania.
After Tito's death, there was another upsurge of Albanian violence beginning in 1981. Throughout the 80s, Western news media, including the New York Times, reported on the ongoing murders and rapes of Serbs and Montenegrins perpetrated by Albanians, the constant attacks on Orthodox churches and monasteries, and the inability of the local Albanian authorities ever to punish anyone.
Yugoslavia finally reversed the autonomy decision in 1989 because of obstructionist constitutional tactics by the Kosovo provincial government. This decision was not a unilateral act of Slobodan Milosevich, the newly elected president of Serbia, though he pushed for it. It was made jointly by all the republics of Yugoslavia, including Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia.
As Republican Senate aide Jim Jatras wrote: "One of the ironies of the present Kosovo crisis is that Milosevic began his rise to power in Serbia in large part because of the oppressive character of pre-1989 Albanian rule in Kosovo, symbolized by the famous 1987 rally where he promised the local Serbs: "Nobody will beat you again." In short, rather than Milosevic being the cause of the Kosovo crisis, it would be as correct to say that intolerant Albanian nationalism in Kosovo is largely the cause of Milosevic's attainment of power."
The KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) was formed shortly thereafter from a Maoist organization dedicating itself to free Kosovo. As recently as a year ago, the United States government condemned the KLA as a terrorist group, linked closely to Iran, the Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin-Laden, and the heroin traffic in Europe. Europeans have likened it to a Mafia because of its lawless involvement in organized crime, including prostitution.
The stated goal of the KLA is to create a greater Albania by attaching Yugoslav Kosovo and Albanian-speaking regions of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece to Albania. Using Albania as a base and conduit for weapons, the KLA began carrying on a terror campaign against the Yugoslav government in Kosovo, assassinating and kidnapping not only Serbs but also Albanians and other ethnic groups who opposed their desires for independence.
Kosovo continues to be home not only to Albanian-speaking Muslims, but also to nearly half a million other people. The goal of the KLA is to create an ethnically pure Kosovo by driving out or culturally assimilating the rest of the population. Their claims of 1.8 million Albanians in Kosovo are demographically impossible, even with immigration, for there were only 645,000 Albanians in the last full federal census carried out in 1961. There have also been many emigrants from Kosovo to other parts of Yugoslavia and Europe.
With the collapse of the Communist regime in neighboring Albania in the 1990s and the nearly anarchic conditions in that country, more Albanians crossed the porous borders with Yugoslavia into Kosovo.
Within Kosovo, Yugoslav forces were attempting to deal militarily with KLA terrorism. Using as an excuse an alleged massacre of Albanian Kosovars at Racak by Yugoslav security forces in mid-January, 1999, Mrs. Albright and Mr. Clinton demanded to "mediate" at Rambouillet. The massacre was quickly identified as a KLA set up. This did not deter Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Albright from pursuing their designs. It is now known that Mr. Clinton had made a decision months earlier to seek to destroy Milosevich. Racak was the pretext.
The Yugoslav delegation that came to Rambouillet included Muslim Albanians, Muslim Serbs, Christian Serbs, and Turks. They were prepared to talk directly with the KLA, but Mrs. Albright never permitted this to happen. Instead, her team went back and forth between the two groups laying down terms.
The Yugoslav government accepted the basic principle that there should be autonomy in Kosovo (guaranteeing the rights of all Kosovars, not just Albanians) and consented to an international peace keeping force provided it be brought in under the auspices of the UN. Mrs. Albright insisted on bringing NATO troops in. She finally issued an ultimatum to the Yugoslav government to accept her terms or be bombed. This ultimatum is referred to as the Rambouillet Accord.
The ultimatum laid down detailed guidelines on how the province was to be governed. It demanded that Kosovo have the right to override any laws or judicial decisions made by the Yugoslav government, be permitted to conduct its own foreign policy, and be organized economically along lines dictated by NATO. It said nothing about protection of the rights of the non-Albanian Kosovars. It demanded that Yugoslavia permit NATO troops to be brought into Kosovo and to have free passage anywhere else in Yugoslavia without subjection to Yugoslav laws (a venerable imperialist practice called "extraterritoriality"). NATO troops were also to have the right to commandeer media facilities as they saw fit. The NATO forces would themselves conduct a plebiscite in Kosovo in three years on the status of the province.
There was no way Yugoslavia could accept the Rambouillet "Accord" without surrendering her sovereignty, possibly losing part of her national territory, and becoming a satellite state of NATO. Both President Milosevich, as elected president sworn to defend Yugoslav sovereignty, and the Yugoslav parliament rejected the ultimatum. An ultimatum, after all, is not an act of diplomacy. It is an act of war.
Mrs. Albright's and Mr. Clinton's have manipulated the ethnic diversity issue to suit their immediate purposes. In the case of Slovenia and Croatia, they accepted and actively promoted societies whose sole reason for seeking independence from an already multiethnic Yugoslavia was ethnic exclusivism. They are now doing the same thing in Kosovo on behalf of one ethnic group the Albanians. As one Canadian journalist put it in writing of Kosovo, "to first say that countries shouldn't be organized along ethnic lines, and then demand self-government for one group within a nation on the sole basis of ethnicity, is an exercise in self-contradiction." He adds: "This is endorsing one ethnic group at the expense of another. It's saying the Albanians may use their ethnic majority in Kosovo to assert their political identity, but the Serbs in Yugoslavia may not."
Mrs. Albright's tactics at Rambouillet are considered to be a violation of recognized international law. It is a basic principle of international law embodied in the Vienna Convention on Treaties adopted on May 26, 1963, which entered into force on January 27, 1980, that agreements negotiated under threat of force are null and void. Section 2, Articles 51 and 52 make clear that coercion is impermissible as a negotiating instrument.
There was no "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo before the NATO attacks, only an ongoing conflict between Yugoslav security forces and KLA separatists. In January 1999, an intelligence report from the German Foreign Office stated: "Even in Kosovo an explicit political persecution linked to Albanian ethnicity is not verifiable. The East of Kosovo is still not involved in armed conflict. Public life in cities like Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilan, etc. has, in the entire conflict period, continued on a relatively normal basis." The "actions of the security forces (were) not directed against the Kosovo-Albanians as an ethnically defined group, but against the military opponent and its actual or alleged supporters."
Soon Part 2...