How Yugoslavia Was Wiped Out From The Map (III)

Part I,  Part II

Kosovo Albanians

On April 6th, 1941, the German troops invaded both Yugoslavia and Greece. All of Kosovo became occupied by the Italian, German, and Bulgarian troops during a week. On April 17th, the Royal Yugoslav Army signed an armistice with Germany (but not capitulation! It means that Yugoslavia did not surrender unconditionally to the Axis forces!). On April 21st, the Italian and German ministers of Foreign Affairs on the meeting in Vienna agreed that most of Kosovo territory should be put under the Italian control and to be included in a Greater Albania. North Kosovo became put under German control. On the same day, the German division commander, General Eberhardt, met in Kosovo Mitrovica with the local Albanian leaders, including and Xhafer Deva, to formalize the Albanian takeover of the local government and to discuss the expulsion of Kosovo Serbs and Montenegrins (who at that time have been declaring themselves as the Serbs) from the region. In May 1941, Montenegrins settled around Peć in West Kosovo were driven out of Kosovo by the local Albanians. In the following three months, some 20.000 Serbs and Montenegrins were expelled.

Benito Mussolini on June 29th, 1941 officially proclaimed a Greater Albania, and most of Kosovo, under the Italian occupation, in the next month became annexed by Albania which was the Italian protectorate. After the Italian capitulation on September 8th, 1943 to the Allied forces, a large public meeting was held by the Albanian leaders in Prizren (West Kosovo), now under the German occupation, to proclaim a second nationalistic League of Prizren (the first was in 1878−1881) to confirm separation of Kosovo from Serbia and Yugoslavia. The expulsion of Serbs and Montenegrins continued till the end of the war when in sum around 100.000 of them were expelled and 20.000 killed.

From December 31st, 1943 to January 2nd, 1944 it was a Conference of Bujan in Albania during which the Kosovo Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia demanded the rights to self-determination (only for Kosovo Albanians) and to reunite Kosovo with Albania after the war. The non-Serb and anti-Serb Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia blessed the decisions of the Bujan Conference. In May 1944 the deportation of Kosovo Jews to the death camps in Germany started organized by the newly formed Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division.

The German troops left Kosovo on November 19th, 1944, and have been soon replaced by the Yugoslav partisans who had to fight Albanian rioters for the next several months. A communist Government of Yugoslavia on February 8th, 1945 was forced to introduce a military rule in Kosovo in order to pacify Albanians. The same new Yugoslav Government in Belgrade of J. B. Tito issued on March 16th, 1945 a provisional decree (which decisions became realized in full) banning the return of expelled Serbs and Montenegrins during the war by the Albanians. A pro-Albanian policy of the Yugoslav communists continued and on April 29th, 1945 Tito’s Yugoslavia became the first country in the world to recognize the new communist regime in Albania (during the war, Albanian communists were getting support only from their ideological comrades from Yugoslavia).

After WWII, J. B. Tito’s regime had to cope with armed Albanian groups seeking to maintain the wartime union of Kosovo with Albania and systematic ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Serbs as it was in 1941−1945 directed from the Government of a Greater Albania whose PM was Muslim Mustafa Kruja and who publically said in Tirana in 1942 on the bilateral meeting with the Albanian leaders from Kosovo:

“We should endeavor to ensure that Serbian population of Kosovo has to be cleansed – the area to be cleansed of them and all the Serbs who had been living there for centuries should be treated as the colonialists and, therefore, sent to the concentration camps in Albania or the Serb settlers should be killed”

On September 3rd, 1945, the presidency of the People’s Assembly of Serbia passed a law on the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija as a constituent part of Serbia. Therefore, Kosovo Albanians were granted territorial-political autonomy within Serbia differently from Albanians in Yugoslav Macedonia who did not enjoy such privilege status in their socialist republic. Kosovo became farther from Serbia and closer to Albania on July 9th, 1945 when Yugoslavia and Albania signed Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance (what practically meant that Yugoslavia had to feed Albania). On November 27th, 1945, it was signed Treaty on a Customs Union between the same country as a part of J. B. Tito’s political design to include (a Greater) Albania with Kosovo into Yugoslavia as her seventh socialist republic.

However, the process of inclusion of Albania with Kosovo into Yugoslavia (Titoslavia) was stopped after June 28th, 1948 when Yugoslavia was expelled from the Cominform after a Warsaw conference of communist parties of the Eastern (Soviet) Bloc. Two days later, socialist Albania renounced all economic agreements with Tito’s Yugoslavia. As a reaction, on November 12th, 1949, Yugoslavia renounced the 1945 Pact of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with Albania. Further, on October 11th, 1950, Yugoslavia broke off diplomatic relations with Albania (re-established on December 22nd, 1953). That was the end of J. B. Tito’s idea to include Albania with Kosovo into Yugoslavia. Enver Hoxha’s regime in Albania started overwhelming anti-Yugoslav propaganda with claims on Kosovo as part of Albania.

Yugoslavia signed in 1953 agreements with Turkey and Greece (the Balkan Pact) which facilitated volunteer emigration of Yugoslav “Turks” to Turkey but many of them have been, in fact, Muslim Albanians from Kosovo. There were around 13.000 as an initial wave of those emigrants. That was a kind of realization of the 1938 Yugoslav-Turkish agreement about the resettlement of the Yugoslav Muslim Albanians to Turkey which never became realized for three reasons: 1) Lack of financial coverage of the project; 2) Death of Kemal Pasha Atatürk; and 3) The start of WWII.

In 1956, the Yugoslav security forces organized in Kosovo a great action of collecting illegal weapons from Albanians who traditionally have been treating a gun as a family member. The real reason for such action was underground propaganda from Albania among Kosovo Albanians for the rebellion against Yugoslavia and the inclusion of Kosovo into Albania. According to Albanian sources, several thousands of Albanian families emigrated to Turkey. In the same year, in June and July, it was organized the Prizren Trial, in which the Yugoslav Department of State Security (the UDB) claimed to have uncovered a network of spies and agents from Albania in Kosovo. The trial resulted in long prison sentences for the nine accused Albanians who spent twelve years in prison.

Kosovo autonomy (like of Vojvodina) became enlarged in 1963 within Serbia under the new Yugoslav Constitution. The official title of the province became: Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. Consequently, ethnic Albanians in the province were getting more and more power at the expense of the Serbs and other non-Albanians. Further anti-Serbian action done by the Croatian-Slovenian-Albanian lobby in the party structure was on July 1st, 1966 when Aleksandar Ranković, Minister of the Interior, at the Brioni Plenum in Croatia lost all of his posts and influence under the accusation of spying J. B. Tito. However, that was just an excuse to remove him as a Serbian strong man in Kosovo, to open the box of Albanian nationalism and separatism in Kosovo. The long-standing every day terrorization of Serbs and Montenegrins by local Muslim Albanians in Kosovo started to last up to the present. Next year J. B. Tito paid his first visit to Kosovo in sixteen years encouraging ethnic Albanians in „protection of their rights“ what they willingly understood as the right to secession.

A new phase of Kosovo relations with both Serbia and Yugoslavia came in 1968 when, despite enjoying more rights compared to other ethnic minorities in Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians staged anti-Yugoslav demonstrations in Priština in October and November, an administrative center of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo. Socialist Yugoslavia saw for the first time, open demonstrations and unrest on an ethnic basis when Kosovo Albanians openly required republican status for the province even though they have been a privileged ethnic minority in Yugoslavia compared to all others. This move was very appreciated by the Serbophobic bloc in the ruling Central Committee of the Union of Yugoslav Communists (the SKJ) and as a direct consequence, on December 16−18th, December 1968 it was adopted an amendment to the Yugoslav Constitution which made Kosovo a constitutional element of the Yugoslav federation. Even the official title of the province was changed according to the wishes of Albanian nationalists: from Kosovo and Metohija to Kosovo. Simply, the word Metohija which designated a Serbian-Christian Orthodox nature of the province was omitted.

The next 1969 year saw the further process of Albanization of Kosovo when Albanians got the right to fly their national flag (of neighboring Albania). In that year, the process of physical connections of Kosovo with Albania started when Yugoslavia and Albania signed an agreement on road transport. On February 15th, 1970 the University of Priština was founded based on the branch of the University of Belgrade. The new university in Kosovo province soon became a nursery garden of Albanian nationalism, chauvinism, and separatism from Yugoslavia. In fact, that was a real reason why this university was established at all. The textbooks were coming from Albania including and numerous visiting professors who have been propagating the ideas of WWII Greater Albania. Next year the cultural relations between Albania and Yugoslavia became improved that meant in practice more Albanian propaganda on the soil of Kosovo. In 1972 the Orthography Congress of the Albanian language was held in Tirana attended by delegates of all Albanian populated lands including Kosovo as well. The Congress agreed upon a definitive orthography for the standardized Albanian language to be applied in Kosovo too. The linguistic preparations for a Greater Albania were obvious.

The turning point in the process of Kosovo secessionism from Serbia and Yugoslavia was in direct connection with the last Yugoslav Constitution adopted in February 1974 which gave to both Kosovo and Vojvodina Provinces the status virtually equal to that of a Yugoslav Republic. Therefore, Kosovo Albanians enjoyed never before seen rights of one autonomous province having their Constitution (which was in some articles in opposition to the Constitution of Serbia), President, Assembly, Academy of Science and Art, police forces, territorial defense forces (army), education system, and veto rights in the federal structures of Yugoslavia. Truly speaking, Kosovo became an independent state as a second national state of ethnic Albanians. The 1974 Constitution fully open doors for Kosovo secession from Yugoslavia. It became proved only several months after the death of Josip Broz Tito (May 4th, 1980).

In March-April 1981 there were huge student and later national demonstrations of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who demanded the independence of the province or/and its inclusion into Albania. Dozens of people were killed in direct clash with inter-republican police forces and thousands were imprisoned. The Federal Government of Yugoslavia imposed a state of siege in Kosovo in order to protect the territorial integrity of the country. It was followed by a purge in the communist party leadership in Kosovo in July and August 1981.

From 1974 onward, the crucial political problem in Kosovo was Albanian terror over the Serbs and Montenegrins and as a consequence massive exodus of them from the province mainly to Central Serbia. As the Yugoslav authorities did not want to do anything to protect the Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo, in 1986 it was released a draft version of the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts (the SANU) in Belgrade which openly described a real situation in the province as “genocide” calling the federal Government to protect Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo from Albanian nationalism and to prevent Albanian separatism. Next year on April 24th, party boss of Serbia Slobodan Milošević went to Kosovo, met by Kosovo party leader Azem Vlasi, to listen the grievances of Kosovo Serbs.

As S. Milošević’s Government started to work on the improvement of inter-ethnic relations in the province, in 1988 have been organized mass demonstrations by Kosovo Albanians against his policy as they felt that they will lose ground for secession and further terror over the Serbs and Montenegrins. Belgrade dismissed the Albanian communist leadership of Kosovo but in reaction, there was a strike of Trepča miners of Albanian nationality who soon on November 18th marched on Priština where have been joined by factory workers, students, and pupils (around 100.000 protesters).

The unrest in Kosovo continued next year as in February the miners organized a hunger strike. The Serbian People’s Assembly suspended the political autonomy of Kosovo on March 28th, 1989 in order to prevent further road to the secession of the province and to equalize the position of Serbia with other republics on the federal level. Albanian protests have been put down by force. On June 28th, 1989 there was one million Serbs from all Yugoslavia at Gazimestan (near Priština) to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo. Pan-Serbian patriotism and wish to defend Serbian Kosovo against Albanian chauvinistic nationalism reached a peak. In the same year, on December 23rd, the first Kosovo Albanian political party was founded – the Democratic League of Kosovo (the LDK), led by the moderate nationalist, Ibrahim Rugova.

The year 1990 was a year of the first democratic post-WWII elections across all Yugoslavia firstly in Slovenia and lastly in Serbia and Montenegro. However, during the elections in Slovenia and Croatia, in April and May, thousands of Albanian school children in Kosovo were taken to the hospital allegedly suffering from stomach pains, headaches, and nausea. Ethnic Albanians were fast to suspect a mass poisoning but, in fact, it was a mass politicized hysteria in order to attract international attention. The most strange fact from the whole story of this event was that in ethnically mixed schools only Albanians became “poisoned”. Nevertheless, this event was extremely misused in Slovenia and Croatia to further forge anti-Serb propaganda and Serbophobia especially in Croatia where the ultra-nationalistic HDZ party won elections. In May, it passed an amendment in Serbia to the law on universities which made the use of “minority languages” illegal at university in Kosovo (today, in many European democracies the university language of study is only the state language like, for instance, in Lithuania).

To be continued

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