Dusan T. Batakovic
Ass. Professor
The Faculty of Philosophy
Belgrade University

THE SERBS IN KOSOVO-METOHIJA :
WAR, INTERNATIONAL PROTECTORATE AND NATIONAL CATASTROPHE

KOSOVO: WORDS AND THINGS

The very word "Kosovo" has opposing meanings in different ethnic
communities in this part of southwest Balkans. For Serbs, the very
meaning of Kosovo signifies above all a genuine Serbian land, the
sacred territory of the "Serbian Jerusalem" whose glorious cultural and
economic rise in the middle ages was brutally cut off from its European
and Christian background by the Ottoman conquests. The suffering of
Kosovo, heralded by the famous battle of 1389, became a reality for the
majority of Serbian people by the mid-fifteenth century following final
Ottoman victories. After long centuries of Ottoman rule, after the First
Balkan War in 1912 Kosovo, under international settlement at London
Conference (1913) became again a part of Serbia, while Metohija (now
called by Albanians a "western Kosovo") was absorbed by Montenegro,
another Serbian kingdom.

For the average Serb yesterday and today the word Kosovo means Holy
Land from which the Serbs have been systematically expelled and
persistently persecuted in the course of the last few centuries until
the present day. The persecutors were primarily Muslim Albanians - legal
and illegal immigrants who came to settle in different periods during
the rule of Ottomans, Italian fascists, Nazi Germans or Tito's
communists. Poor Albanian highlanders divided into numerous clans and
families from the lean mountain slopes of northern Albania descended
into the fertile flatlands of Metohija and Kosovo. This migrations
happened during the series of war campaigns, but the Albanians were
also resettled by Ottoman authorities or simply called to rebellion
by agents of various great powers. Some migrations of Albanian clans
were sometimes spontaneous settlement from highlands to rich and
economically prosperous valleys in Metohija and Kosovo motivated by
social needs: they searched for food and land which could be found only
among local Serbs, who were of Christian faith and serfs by social
status. The new Albanian settlers, mostly Muslims by faith were
additionally protected by Ottoman authorities or previously settled
ethnic Albanians.

In Serbian language the word Kosovo coupled with word Metohija (metoch
in Greek means a church property), is the official name of the territory
of the southern province of Serbia, covered with 1300 churches and
monasteries scattered all over this area. However, from 1968 the word
Metohija at the demands of Kosovo Albanian communist leadership has
been banned for official political communication, only to be reinstated
in 1990. Kosovo is by all means symbolically the most important word in
Serbian historical dictionary that, after the name of Savior, and Saint
Sava (the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the early thirteenth
century), denotes simultaneously both the national and cultural identity
of the whole Serbian people. The Kosovo tradition grew during the
centuries of Ottoman rule, primarily due to the aegis of the Pec
Patriarchate (1557-1766), and with time it coalesced with the popular
tradition and became the axis of modern ethnic identity in the era of
nationalism. The popular tradition, inspired with basic Christian
values, in the form of the Kosovo oath (the oath that full freedom is
won only with the definite liberation of Kosovo) was a political maxim
on which the modern national ideology was built. During the period of
national romanticism in the nineteenth century, in all Serbian lands -
but most of all in Montenegro during the rule of Bishop Petar II
Petrovic Njegos (1830-1851) - the word Kosovo both with the God's name,
was the expression most commonly used in everyday communication, as a
proof of the living past overshadowing every aspect of the ordinary
life, not only as a reminder of an onerous heritage but also as a
definition of present political priorities.

At the promotion of the book Crucified Kosovo, held on September 15
1999, in Belgrade, His Holiness, the Serbian Patriarch Paul (Pavle), the
Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and Littoral and the Raska-Prizren
bishop Artemije (directly responsible for Kosovo-Metohija, having his
See in Prizren), understood the crucifixion as the suffering of the
Serbian people and the destruction of Serbian churches and monasteries
by the Kosovo Albanians after the arrival of KFOR (Kosovo Force), as
one of the immediate consequences of the establishment of their complete
military control over the southern province of Serbia. The book
contains a long list of 70 destroyed churches, illustrated by updated
photographs of Christian temples freshly turned into ruins. Some of
Serbian churches destroyed after June 12, 1999, were important
architectural monuments, monasteries dating from the fourteenth century,
with frescoes from the late Byzantine period of spectacular artistic
value and beauty. Ten years ago, during the celebration of 600th
anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo (1389-1989) an Serbian poet
stressed, with express pathos, that "Kosovo is the most expensive
Serbian word". He was hinting at the forgotten Serbian sacrifices made
in previous periods and at the hidden persecutions against the Serbs
which culminated at the time when Kosovo was fully ruled by the Albanian
communists (1968-1981) and during the first years of the post-Titoist
succession (1981-1987) jointly by Kosovo Albanians and federal forces .

For ethnic Albanians the word Kosovo (or Kosova in the Albanian
pronunciation) is considered as a symbol of "ancient Albanian land"
which directly connects the ancient Illyrian and modern Albanian ethnic
community in this territory. This is a typical case of "inventing the
tradition" (E. Hobsbawm) having little in common with established
historical facts. In more recent times Kosova is for Albanians a symbol
of Diaspora- type of nationalism which feeds on constant demographic
expansion as a form of ethnic legitimization of pretensions on certain
highly disputed territory. The Diaspora-type of nationalism is, also in
Kosovo Albanian case, closely tied to the control over disputed
territory in order to establish a new national identity and.
Diaspora-type nationalism fits in harmoniously with the social
motivation of poor highlanders from northern Albania who have been
flooding for centuries into the fertile flatlands of neighboring
countries. The fact is that there is no scholarly proof of continuity
between the Illyrians and present-day Albanians. This gap, unyielding
void in the historical records from the sixth to the eleventh century,
did not have any significant effect on the national mythology, on the
establishment of the Illyrian myth as a constituent part of the Albanian
national identity. Regarding Kosovo (as an allegedly Illyrian-Albanian
territory) a double approach was applied: on the one hand the
Illyrian-Albanian continuity (via the tribes of Dardanians) was proved,
and on the other hand there were systematic attempts to "unmask Serbian
myths" about Kosovo.

Due to the ideological projection constructed both by the national
romantic and state controlled Albanian historiography during the
twentieth century, Kosovo gradually became a symbol of "occupied ethnic
territory" for the local Albanians. In the "scientific" interpretation
of Albanian historians, the Serbian monasteries, erected in an
extraordinarily large number in the period from twelfth to fifteenth
century, were frequently built on the older foundations of "Illyrian"
(but, in fact, Byzantine) churches by "occupying" Serbian rulers, kings
and princes of the Nemanjic dynasty.

However, the scholarly confirmed and verifiable facts showed that,
besides monumental endowments erected by Serbian rulers and Church
dignitaries during the Middle Ages, numerous smaller Orthodox churches
and monasteries were built by several dozens of local Serbian lords.
They were usually a native nobility, land-owners, born in Kosovo,
while the most of the names of villages (granted by Serbian rulers to
Orthodox churches and monasteries) were most often Slav. All that,
however, was not considered as scientific argument for the Albanian
romantic-oriented national history, a history which glosses over the
gaps and retroactively establishes "historical continuity", according to
Enver Hohxa's official ideological concept of Albanian history.

Hence, in the second half of 1999, under the full military and
political rule of KFOR and UNMIK, such a great efforts by Albanians to
destroy and obliterate in a quick, systematic action all the Serbian
monasteries and churches in ethnically cleansed areas - is the attempt
to erase all traces of past and present Serbian existence in
Kosovo-Metohija. Even the most significant medieval churches and
monasteries, constantly guarded by KFOR (The Pec Patriarchate, Monastery
of Visoki Decani) in presently ethnically cleansed of Serbs, only
Albanian-inhabited regions, are often shelled from surrounding hills by
KLA forces or simply by local groups of armed ethnic Albanians. In
contrast, the visible absence of a larger number of Albanian historical
sites compared with the overwhelming presence of Serbian monuments
ultimately demands the destruction of the latter so that a new reality
can be justified to the local Albanians and their descendants- Kosovo as
exclusively Albanian land.

In western media, the understanding of Kosovo is far closer to the
Albanian interpretation. There is even an acceptance based hopefully on
ignorance, of the non-scientific theses of Albanian national
romanticism. An typical approach is searching for balanced view between
the two totally contradictory interpretations: although a good
methodology, the choice of wrong or uneven references, between the
Serbian side (which, still, most often relies on reliable scholarly
knowledge) and Albanian interpretation (which is, as a rule, as far as
the past is concerned, radical and contrary to scientifically verifiable
facts). A mathematical choice, usually between moderate Serbian and
nationalist Albanian) an only somewhat modified Albanian version of
historical events.

This approach is facilitated with a following pattern. Everything that
is in conflict with Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian dictator, the famous
"Butcher of the Balkans", automatically becomes legitimate. Therefore
from the Western perspective, the usual pattern is a simplified, mainly
black and white historical interpretations of Kosovo history, including
pre-Milosevic periods.. This interpretations were adapted to the
prevailing Western discourse in official political approach, and were
usually accepted without any serious discussion among the scholars.
Here, however, one should not overlook the readiness of certain western
'experts' to offer their 'scientific' skills in geopolitics, geography
and history to prepare the wider public for the upcoming redefinition of
the composition and character of a certain region, which, implicitly
predetermines its political future. A book by Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A
Short History is a paradigmatic example of the newly created,
politically correct" history. Malcolm, although clearly biased in his
approach, has produced a westernized version political-nationalist
mythology which "scientifically justifies" that Kosovo was through the
centuries an essentially Albanian land occupied by the Serbs, and that
it will be "liberated" in the immediate future. Other more balances
analysis from Western scholars were not, as needed in Kosovo, being
taken into consideration.

The modern Western understanding of Kosovo is simple: it is considered
to be a predominantly Albanian land (with about 90 percent of ethnic
Albanians) which has been suffering for ten year under the rule of the
Serbian minority, under the "Serbian apartheid" of Slobodan Milosevic
and his regime, since 1989. The additional confusion was created with
the usage of the western concept of nation which (following the model
nation-state or l'Etat-Nation) is much closer to the concept of "Kosovo
people", suggesting the existence of a distinct Kosovo nation.
Although, such a separate nation does not exist but only peoples (in
plural) of Kosovo, among whom Serbs and ethnic Albanians are the most
distinct ethnic communities. Under a Kosovo people the Albanian
political propaganda implies, however, only ethnic Albanians (others are
by acquiescence reduced to a minority status), justifying it with an
incorrect data stating that Albanians constitute at least 90 percent
of the overall population in this southern province of the Republic of
Serbia.

That there is no single Kosovo people nor Kosovo nation (as distinct
from the one in Albania or in parts of Macedonia populated by ethnic
Albanians). That the meaning of word Kosovar means nothing but an
Albanian is clearly proved by the fact that the only flag that the
alleged Kosovo nation is using is exclusively the state flag of
Albania, and that the concept of a "Kosovar" has always denoted only an
ethnic Albanian from this region. Serbs use the word "Kosovac" for Serbs
from this region. Even Bernard Kouchner, the civil administrator of the
United Nations in Kosovo and Metohija, had used the term "Kosovar Serb"
on a few occasions, which could mean something like Albanian Serb, until
the bishop Artemije warned him of the crucial difference. The whole
terminological confusion, with the Albanian propaganda behind it, had
one single political aim: to separate the Kosovo question in the eyes
of the Western opinion from global Albanian aims. from the Albanian
minority problem in Macedonia and, most of all, to camouflage the
ethnic, extremist and deeply discriminating concept of Kosovo Albanians
in their road to 'final solution" of the Kosovo question.

Milosevic and the long-standing leader of the Democratic League of
Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova had a kind of tacit, mutually respected
agreement: Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic let self-proclaimed
Kosovo-Albanian president Ibrahim Rugova to organize a parallel
educational, economic, health-care and tax system. It was a system from
which the local Serbian government in Kosovo took only a small cut. In
return, ethnic Albanians persistently boycotted multi-party elections
in Serbia and thus allowed Slobodan Milosevic to win, with about a
hundred thousand Serbian and other minorities' votes, at least thirty
parliamentary seats in the National Assembly of Serbia. This mandates
from Kosovo enabled him to went on ruling the whole of Serbia even
after 1992 when his Socialist party (SPS) together with their coalition
partners de facto lost an absolute majority in the Serbian electorate.
(In Belgrade, for example, it was necessary to win over 80,000 votes to
get a seat in the Assembly).

CONFLICTS VS. NEGOTIATIONS

The KLA (the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army" which is a
"liberator" for Kosovo ethnic Albanians only, while considered by the
Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic communities, primarily an terrorist or
occupying force) was a military wing of the one among many Kosovo
Albanian procommunist guerrilla groups from 1970s. The KLA, organized
into terrorist units, based in the rural areas filled the vacuum left
in Kosovo that had opened after the Dayton agreement in 1995. According
to Western sources it was a group which, in co-operation with the
narco-mafia and the powerful Albanian Diaspora, grew from a kernel of
hard-core Marxist-Leninsts of Enver Hohxa type.

Milosevic, as the main guarantor of the hard-won peace in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, enjoyed after Dayton almost unconditional Western
support, and became chief negotiator for Kosovo crisis. However, the
growing efforts of different international mediators (ranging from the
Roman Catholic mediating organization Sant' Egidio from Rome to the
German foundation Bertelsmann and many other American and French
non-governmental organizations) demanding a solution to the Albanian
issue in Kosovo were left without expected results due to the
procrastination in official Belgrade, but also due to the opposition in
Pristina (where Albanians demanded the return of the autonomy from
1974).

The attempts to normalize the education of young Albanians (allowing
school facilities to be used) and thus reduce inter-ethnic tensions in
Kosovo did not produce the expected results: the Serbian side treated
the education problem as a primarily humanitarian issue, whereas the
Albanian side saw the problem of education system as exclusively
connected to the status question of Kosovo. There were different
proposals coming from the Serbian side on a possible division of Kosovo
and Metohija, as a way to the permanent solution to the problem, while,
at the same time, efforts were being made to situate the problem in a
wider economic-geographical context through different forms of
regionalization.

The distanced, almost irreconcilable attitudes of the Serbian and
Albanian side, blocked the peace efforts in which Slobodan Milosevic and
Ibrahim Rugova remained entrenched in their positions. The impression
of foreign observers was that it was a case of two parallel worlds where
each side totally ignored or only demonized the other. The so-called
Kosovo Liberation Army made the breakthrough, in the winter of 1998,
with its frequent ambushed attacks on the Serbian police and Serbian
civilians. Milosevic's regime reacted in March 1998 with severe,
excessive police measures, when police killed several dozens of Albanian
civilians, while the Kosovo-Metohija Serbs, more than anyone else, found
themselves in a gap, as potential victims of the growing conflict
between terrorist and police forces.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, has, since 1992, severely condemning
Milosevic's regime and asking for democratic solution of the Kosovo
crisis. Already in August 1997, after first large-scale terrorist
actions, the Church took the following position:

"…The opinion of our Church is that the only political solution can be
found in clearly defined national policy and well organized democratic
Serbian state integrated with other European countries. A new democratic
state reorganized according to the models of European parliamentary
monarchies will create new circumstances in which Albanian people of
Kosovo will be able to find a satisfactory status within Serbia. In such
state they will be granted all human, national, cultural and other civil
rights according to the highest European and international standards and
any further insisting on secession will have no support by international
community. Secession of Kosovo from Serbia would immediately produce
larger scale instability in the whole region which might result with
disastrous multiethnic war. Granting of any kind of autonomy to Kosovo
before democratic transformation of Serbian state could also lead to an
increased Serbian emigration from Kosovo. The real key for this
complicated problem might be a more intensive cooperation between
democratic thinking Serbs and Albanians in creation of a democratic
country which would equally treat all its citizens and grant them all
democratic rights. Putting aside all ethnic antagonisms would open gates
for further economic and political integration in the Balkans and
finally bring so long expected peace and economic prosperity to the
whole region."

Through the National-Church Assemblies (Crkveno narodni sabori),
presided over by the Raska-Prizren Bishop Artemije, the Kosovo Serbs
attempted to impose themselves as a legitimate partner in the
Serbo-Albanian negotiations which, undoubtedly, were to begin. They
feared, having in mind the fate of Krajina Serbs that Milosevic would in
order to save his power, eventually let them down. The democratic forces
of Kosovo Serbs (the National-Church Assembly with the representatives
from all Kosovo municipalities joined by, under the auspices of Bishop
Artemije, also by the Serbian Resistance Movement headed by M.
Trajkovic) condemned all violence, from whichever side it came. They
sharply criticized Milosevic's regime, which instead of political means
resorted to direct police clashes, but they also condemned the KLA
(murders of Serbian policemen and of ethnic Albanians loyal to the
state, abductions and murders of Serbian civilians) which showed that by
terrorist acts they want nothing but - "an ethnically cleansed
Kosovo". First KLA started to harass, kidnap or kill isolated groups of
civilians in the villages, but the number of their victims constantly
grew, only to be heralded by the systematic massacres of Serbs, such as
the murder of six young men in Pec, on December, 15 1998.

When it came to the escalation of conflict in the summer of 1998, after
a series of severe clashes, it was clear that Milosevic would choose the
war option to justify the loss of Kosovo where his police forces were no
longer able to control the situation. At the same time, ethnically
mixed villages, in which the Serbian police had clashed with KLA
members, were left either deserted or halved in number. However, only
Serbs left those villages permanently, fearing to face after the
withdrawal of police forces, the retaliation of the KLA supporters or
simply Albanian returnees. The predominance of the Serbian police in
the conflict, however, left the suffering of the Kosovo Serbs almost
unnoticed. The international community was focused on comprehensive
Serbian police actions against the Kosovo Albanians, in which a large
number of civilians also lost their lives.

Proportionally, Serbs also had a large number of casualties. In only a
few months between February 1998 and the summer of the same year, over
200 Serbian civilians disappeared, in whose fate nobody showed any
interest. None of these civilians, among who there were women and
children, were found or released, so the only conclusion is that they
were all killed. Serbs went on leaving the regions of Kosovo where they
were a distinct minority, while the displaced ethnic Albanians,
sheltered in the parts under KLA control, waited for the right moment
to return to their homes. From the talks with the US envoy Robert
Gelbard, in which he warned Milosevic that the resolution of the Kosovo
problem could not be infinitely delayed, but also hinted that the KLA
could be put on the list of terrorist organizations, Milosevic received
a signal that military means should be energetically applied.

The threat of bombing Serbia in October 1998, forced Milosevic to
accept the OSCE 's special Kosovo Verifying Mission that was sent to
Kosovo. This outcome gave fresh impetus to the Albanians; it seems
that the KLA only attempted to use this mission as a shield in the
conflict with reinforced Serbian forces, as, for example, in the case of
the simulated massacre in the village of Racak.

Anti-Milosevic forces at Kosovo, headed by Bishop Artemije took an
balanced position stressing that there are victims on all sides, and
that only mutually acceptable agreement, followed by structural changes
in the system and transition to genuine democratic order. They rejected
ethnic principle that prevailed in October 1998 Milosevic-Holbrooke
agreement: "With serious concern the Assembly is warning the
international community that in the “Milosevic – Holbrooke Agreement”
the ethnic principle has prevailed. The Agreement permits constitution
of the ethnic Albanian administration in Kosovo and Metohija which would

eventually lead to the mass exodus of the Serbs."

Among many other conclusions form National Church Assembly, held in
Pristina on November 7, 1998 here are the most significant ones:

"…5. The Assembly firmly believes that the lasting and stable
settlement between the two opposed sides in Kosovo and Metohija conflict
may be found only within the framework of the radical system changes in
the whole country (and not only in one part of it) and the restoration
of the rule of law. The restoration of democracy and civil society in
Serbia is the only way towards the lasting and peaceful resolution of
the Kosovo and Metohija issue.

6. The Assembly declares that any agreement on the status of this part
of Serbia, achieved without democratic approval of all Serbians, will be
regarded as void and the signatory of the Agreement unauthorized.

7. The Assembly indicates that any political settlement of the Kosovo
and Metohija conflict which would install the Albanian ethnic
administration would be directly opposed to the universal democratic and
civil principles on which the international community is based.
Therefore, the Assembly does not accept discrimination of ethnic
Albanians as second rate citizens in Serbia as well as it cannot accept
that the Serbs become second rate citizens in Kosovo and Metohija, i.e.
Old Serbia.

8. The Assembly underlines that the solution which would establish new
ethnic borders (either internal or external) would not only be in
discord with the 21st century – the age of universal integration – but
might cause further potential conflicts. The support of the ethnic
Albanian rule in Kosovo and Metohija may only increase instability in
the entire Balkans with long term negative consequences for the peace.

9. The Assembly reminds that all previous historic experiences with the
Albanian ethnic rule in Kosovo and Metohija [1968-1987] have had as
immediate consequences systematic human rights violations and mass
expulsion of the Serbs as well as the assimilation of the non-Albanian
population (Turks, Slav Moslems, Gypsies, Goranci etc.)…"

The Kosovo Serb representatives urged that "the leaders of Kosovo and
Metohija Albanians should openly condemn the violence in Kosovo and
Metohija, first of all the activity of the so-called Kosovo Liberation
Army and other ethnic Albanian paramilitary groups," and "that
international community should urgently endorse a special resolution
which would prevent the militant activities form the neighboring Albania
(terrorist training camps, weapons smuggling and illegal coming of
mercenaries over the border)…"

But their main objection to international mediation was on the
envisaged status of Kosovo province: "If, despite everything, the
international community imposed and recognized the ethnic principle for
Kosovo and Metohija Albanians only, the Assembly would consider
organizing of the plebiscite and the establishment Serb self-governance
in Kosovo and Metohija parallel with the Albanian (which would include
the right of self-determination and remaining within the state and
constitutional framework of Serbia) as the only democratic and
legitimate means for the survival of the Serbian people in Kosovo and
Metohija and the existence of Kosovo and Metohija in Serbia."

DRAFTS AND PROPOSALS

A few drafts of the future organization and status of Kosovo preceded
the Rambouillet negotiations. The Kosovo Serbs followed with trepidation
the development of events that foreboded the fatal outcome for Serbia,
particularly in Kosovo itself. In one of the drafts composed by the
American ambassador in Skoplje, Christopher Hill, there was a suddenly
introduced clause that even the borders of Kosovo municipalities were
not to be changed. This was understood as a direct Albanian-inspired
response to the Serbian proposal for cantonization: cantons to be
introduced in Kosovo and Metohija, similar to those in Switzerland, on
the basis of linguistic and cultural criteria of certain areas.

The persistent attempts of Bishop Artemije, Momcilo Trajkovic and their
councilors to involve the representatives of Kosovo Serbs, who were not
under Milosevic's direct control, in the negotiations were blithely
swept aside by both Belgrade and the international community
representatives. In the end, the Kosovo Serbs suffered most, although
they did not actively participate in the conflict (just a small number
of them were in the police, while the majority were engaged in
self-defense from the KLA terrorist attacks). None of Kosovo Serb
political or religious representatives had been accepted to the official
Serbian, that is Yugoslav, negotiation team. The demand of the Serbian
Orthodox Church to have a separate delegation (including the Montenegrin
Metropolitan of Montenegro, Littoral and Scutari, Mgr Amfilohije, the
Raska-Prizren Bishop Mgr Artemije, Momcilo Trajkovic, father Sava Janjic
and Dr. Dusan T. Batakovic) present at the negotiations (even as
observer) was rejected, despite all the official demands from the
Serbian Patriarch Pavle. The principle organizers of the Rambouillet
peace conference did not accept any other delegation apart from the
official one elected and sent by Slobodan Milosevic . Thus, the Serbian
Orthodox Church, vitally interested in the protection of interests of
its more than 200,000 flock and over 1,300 churches and monasteries in
Kosovo and Metohija, was left without the right to be asked in the
process of decision-making.

Nevertheless, in February 1999 the Serbian Orthodox church sent its
delegation to Paris. They submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(Quai d'Orsay) their plan for cantonization, according to which Kosovo
would be organized on the basis of new criteria respecting ethnic
distribution, linguistic and cultural heritage, with five cantons for
the territories with majority Serb and Muslim Slav population. The
number of cantons to be formed by the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija,
in rural regions where they are a distinct majority would depend on
their choice. The Serbian cantons, according to this proposal, would be
formed 1) in the north (municipalities: Zubin Potok, Leposavic, Zvecan
and a part of Mitrovica municipality), 2) in the central part of Kosovo
(on the stretch from Gracanica to Lipljan, with a number of Serbian
villages), 3) in the east part (Novo Brdo, Kosovska Kamenica, Gnjilane)
4) in the municipality of Strpce (under the Brezovica mountain) which
would be connected with the rear of the town of Prizren and regions of
Gora (the population is Goranci, and they speak Serbian), and 5) in the
rear side of Pec towards Istok and Klina. Larger towns would remain
under special multi-ethnic authorities, while two-house assemblies would
prevent ethnic discrimination and encourage positive discrimination.
Multi-ethnic towns would be bridges connecting cantons in rural regions,
with overwhelming Serbian or Albanian population, into a whole, for one
or two generations and by then Serbs, Albanians and other ethnic
communities in Kosovo would, hopefully, learn religious, political and
social tolerance of the European character.

The peace delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church also submitted its
proposal for cantonization to State Secretary Madleine Albright in
Washington D.C., before she left for the negotiations in Rambouillet.
The official letter addressed to Madame Secretary by Serbian Orthodox
Church Kosovo Peace Mission was almost prophetic in explaining what will
be the immediate and long-term consequences of NATO intervention, and
proposed appropriate solutions:

"…In particular, we believe that US policy must cease to be perceived
as hostile to the legitimate interests of the Serbian nation and must,
instead, be directed toward the replacement of the Milosevic regime by a
democratic government at the earliest possible date. The Milosevic
regime, as the repeated generator of crises, cannot be relied upon to
help secure a just and durable peace. However, current American policy
seems to be repeating, once again, the mistakes of the past, relying on
the one hand, upon guarantees given by the Milosevic regime, while
holding only the Serbian nation responsible for the escalating cycle of
violence. This mistaken policy, we believe, now on the verge of a NATO
intervention in Kosovo province, will be entirely counterproductive for
the following reasons:

1. NATO intervention would strengthen the Milosevic regime, which will
become the guarantor of an interim Kosovo implementation agreement. This
would be a major setback for the democratic opposition in Serbia, which
in turn would delay the necessary democratization of Serbia, a necessary
precondition for a stable peace in the Balkan region. In the aftermath
of a NATO intervention, whether in the form of a NATO occupation of
Kosovo or an air campaign against Serbia, it is certain that the
Milosevic regime would take decisive and drastic action against its
domestic opponents. A NATO intervention in Kosovo would risk setting
back the cause of democracy in Serbia and in the Balkans for years to
come.

2. We believe that an interim settlement in Kosovo that grants de facto
rule to the Albanians would result in a complete exodus of Kosovo Serbs
from the province. The proposal currently presented at the Rambouillet
negotiations represents full control by the Albanians over the Kosovo
administration, police, judiciary, and executive power. The recent
political experience during the period up until 1989, when Kosovo
Albanians were in full political control of Kosovo province, was marked
by ethnic discrimination which forced Kosovo Serbs to leave the
province. We have every reason to fear that the interim agreement, if
implemented, would result in a repeat of that experience. These fears
have found further confirmation in the driving out of large numbers of
Serbian civilians from Kosovo by Albanian terrorists following the
withdrawal of Serbian forces after the October 1998 Milosevic -Holbrooke
agreements. Such an outcome, in fact, if not in name, would mean the
definitive detachment of Kosovo from Serbia. This would mean, in effect,
the change in international borders and the first step toward the
creation of a Greater Albania. Such an outcome is completely
unacceptable and a threat to the peace of the entire region. The
ultimatum being presented to Serbia at Rambouillet is a gross violation
of sovereignty that would be unacceptable to any nation.

3. We are concerned that certain dominant factions of the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA), under the influence of the former
communist-inspired leadership from the pre-1989 period, may present a
serious danger to NATO forces if they are deployed in Kosovo.
Potentially even more dangerous are forces under the influence of
Islamic fundamentalists groups connected with terrorist leader Osama bin
Laden. As CIA Director George Tenet stated in his testimony before the
US Senate on February 2, 1999, terrorist elements controlled by Osama
bin Laden are stepping up their efforts to target Americans. The
presence of such radical forces in northern Albania, near the town of
Tropoje, a known KLA staging area, presents a serious danger for
American and NATO forces that may be sent to Kosovo. In addition, it is
also possible that a NATO intervention in Kosovo would result in
radicalization among the Kosovo Serbs and Serbs in general, who would
see NATO as a pro-Albanian force deployed to help Albanians establish
their rule over the province. We believe that it would not be in the
interest of the United States nor of Serbia, nor of the inhabitants of
Kosovo of any ethnicity or religion, to have NATO forces exposed to
danger from radicalized elements on either side.

In short, the proposed NATO intervention would strengthen and
consolidate the anti-democratic Milosevic regime, it would unjustly lead
to the loss of Serbia's ancient heartland, and it would expose American
forces to unnecessary dangers. Such a course is counterproductive and
unnecessary. We believe that there is an alternative course, in the form
of a proposal we have presented to the French Foreign Ministry, which
would encourage an equitable settlement of the Kosovo crisis without
NATO intervention and the presence of American troops in Kosovo. That
alternative is summarized in the proposals for cantonization of Kosovo,
a step toward the localization of government in all of Serbia, as drawn
up by Dr. Dusan T. Batakovic, a member of our delegation. We present
these proposals to you in the hope that they will encourage a change in
American policy to a more productive course from its current path which
we believe will lead to an unacceptable outcome for all concerned."

The author of the cantonization plan, Dr. Batakovic, explained the
legal and political aspects of the plan, and the delegation received
Mrs. Albright's assurances that the project would be submitted to the
negotiating parties in Rambouillet as a new possibility. According to
what she said later, in the course of her visit to Kosovo, to Bishop
Artemije and Mr. Trajkovic, the plan had been rejected in Rambouillet by
both delegations, for their specific reasons. The official Yugoslav
delegation side wanted to remain the only legitimate negotiator, while
the Albanian delegation wanted the whole of Kosovo for itself, possibly
without Serbs.

After Rambouillet, the plan for cantonization was during the next stage
of negotiations in Paris, defined as treason and ultimately rejected by
the ruling coalition in Serbia: the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)
spokesman, Ivica Dacic, and ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, since it
gave up 70 percent of Kosovo and Metohija to Albanian cantons'
self-government. On the other hand, Albanian press tried to put this
plan in context of different proposals for partitioning the Kosovo

MILITARY OPTION: EXIT FOR ALL SIDES?

NATO's decision to resolve the Kosovo crisis by military action came at
the moment when all the main actors in the Kosovo conflict had
calculated that will be the main beneficiary of the war. Nn the eve of
their fiftieth anniversary celebration in Washington, Atlantic alliance
needed a sparkling military victory in Kosovo. The Kosovo campaign was
to be the latest twentieth century success of "the most successful
military alliance in the history of the world." Officially, NATO war
against Yugoslavia had five initial objectives: 1) safe return of
Albanian refugees, 2) withdrawal of all Serbian forces from Kosovo, 3)
NATO military control on the ground, 4) extended autonomy for Kosovo and
5) multiethnic democracy gradually introduced. NATO added two more
objectives afterwards: overthrowing Milosevic and no commitment for
ground troops.

For Serbs Kosovo has a special emotional and political meaning, which
was skillfully manipulated during the previous decade. Milosevic has
chosen bombing of Serbia in order to give up Kosovo after heroic
resistance (as Prince Lazar in 1389), since he could not control the
future developments in Kosovo anyhow. Milosevic probably calculated that
he could later say to Serbian public: you have seen that I have tried
everything, but we had no chance against such terrible odds. The
Russians, who, it seems, promised him more efficient political and
military support also, to some extent, manipulated Milosevic. Therefore
he thought he could gain more by accepting air strikes rather than to
capitulate without any resistance. The Kosovo Albanians, encouraged by
tacit US support for the KLA option (KLA leaders actually promised to
Washington to be a kind of ground troops during the coming NATO air
campaign), considered that a limited suffering of civilians was
necessary in a struggle to "earn" a new status for Kosovo. The Kosovo
Albanians had obviously learnt a lesson from the previous wars waged in
Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia where the decisive changes in relation to
Yugoslavia occurred only after comprehensive military operations which,
due to the suffering of civilians and a high level of destruction,
inevitably attracted media attention and full international mediation.

NATO bombing against FR of Yugoslavia that started on March 24, 1999
strained the Serbian-Albanian relations in Kosovo to their maximum. The
ethnic Albanians were openly rejoicing at bombs falling on Belgrade and
other towns in Serbia. In response, the Serbian police and paramilitary
forces immediately started the mass expulsions of ethnic Albanians from
both urban and rural zones. They were first expelled from Pec towards
neighboring Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, and then from other parts
of Kosovo-Metohija into Albania and the FYR Macedonia. Paramilitary and
irregular police forces of Milosevic's regime expelled more than a half
of the total Albanian population from Kosovo-Metohija, while many
Albanian civilians were robbed, some (perhaps in thousands) murdered,
many houses burnt, whereas the conflicts with the KLA were quickly
resolved: the Albanian paramilitary forces, apart from small pockets in
Drenica and Lab area were crushed and pushed into the mountain slopes
towards the Albanian border.

According to well-informed sources, the expulsion, as a short-term
retaliation, was conceived by Milosevic himself, who entrusted special
irregular and regular police forces with the job of ethnic cleansing.
Suddenly, but only for a moment, the Serbs became the majority
population in Kosovo-Metohija. According to the verbal testimonial of a
monk in Prizren, ethnic Albanians were shocked by the manner, efficiency
and speed of the expulsion: a medical doctor from Prizren openly
admitted to a mentioned monk: "you (Serbs) did to us what we had been
preparing for you"… Regular army and police spent a larger part of the
war hiding from NATO bombs. In other parts of Serbia, where the scale of
the destruction of civilian targets together with a larger number of
civilian casualties constantly grew, there could be neither enough
knowledge of nor enough understanding for the protection and political
interests of the Kosovo Albanians who were equated with NATO and seen as
the main cause of the cataclysmic suffering of the whole country.

Two weeks later and after a poor Russian public political resistance to
the NATO attacks, Milosevic suddenly changed his tactics and ordered
that all Kosovo Albanians, who were hiding in the forests, should return
to their homes. A larger group of Albanians hiding in the mountains
returned to Podujevo and to other parts of Lab area. Following the old
Titoist recipe of "brotherhood and unity", Serbian TV, the main
electronic media under Milosevic's control persistently tried to prove,
with long propaganda coverage of this and similar events, that a
significant part of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were not against
Yugoslavia and that the KLA did not have the support of the majority
Kosovo Albanian population.

At the same time, Milosevic undertook all necessary measures to protect
efficiently the Albanian political leaders who remained in Kosovo.
Albanian leaders expected that, after a few days of air strikes, NATO
attacks would bring about the desired result and open the border to NATO
forces. Ibrahim Rugova and Fehmi Agani, the president and the main
ideologist of the Kosovo Democratic League (LDK), were under the
supervision of special police forces, and special attention - in a way
even more discrete than in the case of the LDK leaders, as was learnt
from well informed sources - was given to the protection of a political
dissident and former spokesman of KLA Adem Demaci and the editor of
Albanian daily Koha Ditore Veton Surroi, two influential political and
public personalities previously very close to the KLA. They, unlike
Agani who escaped the police control and protection, survived
exclusively due to the permanent, more or less visible protection of
Milosevic's police in Pristina itself.

The protection of police forces to the people who did not hide their
separatist intentions and plans, was not, of course, motivated by humane
reasons, but a favor to be returned if needed, for the sake of
justification of one of the possible political options that Milosevic
counted on. The much publicized meetings between Milosevic and Rugova in
Belgrade, at the time when there was a danger of NATO recognizing an
independent Kosovo and Hashim Thaci, the KLA political leader, as a
legitimate representative of the new state, showed that this practice
with adequate police protection, pays off many times, although in the
short term, but this is, as a rule, the only time scale, that Milosevic
counts on in his tactical assessments.

ILLUSION AND EMOTION: THE RUSSIAN FACTOR

The relations between the West and Russia over the Kosovo crisis were,
in many ways, reminiscent of a little re-run of the cold war, when the
two blocks, for their own reasons, supported different sides in a
conflict, which actually served to reveal and sort out the problems in
the two super-power's relations, in this case a reinvigorated NATO and
the remnant of a super-power. Milosevic seems to have calculated on
Moscow's mediation. His brother, the ambassador to Russia, probably
himself misled by promises from the Russian opposition, assured Belgrade
that Russia would stop NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, primarily
with military threats expected to come after the internal pressures on
Yeltsin's regime.

 

In the first month of bombardment, numerous representatives of Russian
patriotic, neo-communist and communist opposition passed through
Belgrade, but their support to Serbs never amounted to more than verbal
encouragement to the "Slav and Orthodox brothers" to persevere in their
resistance, and, sometimes in symbolic participation in music concerts
(e.g. Sergey Baburin and Genady Seleznyov) which, in order to spite
NATO, were organized in all major towns of Serbia. Seleznyov, the
president of Russian Duma, moreover, promised to Milosevic that Russia
will not leave alone their Serbian brethren

The vows of the traditional Russian-Serbian brotherhood and eternal,
natural political alliance between the two peoples, in spite of great
response from the Serbian public, and to an extent in Russia as well,
brought no tangible results. Even the spectacular attempt of the
Yugoslav assembly (granted, without legitimate representatives from
Montenegro) to carry out a speedy vote, under NATO bombs, and pompously
pronounce the accession of the FR Yugoslavia to the existing political
union of the Russian Federation and Belarus is hardly worth mentioning,
except in a symbolic sense. At the time, the Serbian public was denied
the information that the ratification of such an agreement would take at
least a few years, and that the decision on the accession to the
Russian-Belarus union had no other effect, except psychological, least
of all military or political.

Other sources confirm that champagne was opened in the Russian general
headquarters when the first NATO bombs fell on Serbia, not because a
military victory could have been expected, but because of a new
opportunity, in the form of the external crisis, to make Yeltsin and
other levers of Russian power change their approach to the Army. Bearing
in mind the fact that, at that moment, the popular Yevgeniy Primakov was
at the head of the Russian government, it was hoped that his
intervention on the behalf of Serbia, supported by the Russian Army,
lower house of the Parliament (DUMA) and pro-opposition public opinion,
would have enough influence on the West: it was even expected that the
moment would come for the Russian missiles to turn their heads towards
Germany again …

Russian president Boris Yeltsin, however, quickly dismissed Yevegniy
Primakov and appointed Victor Chernomyrdin as his official intermediary
in the Kosovo crisis. That, as an implicit favor to the West, was
politically favorable only for V. Chernomyrdin's political career.
Although inexperienced in diplomacy, Chernomyrdin started his
pre-election campaign for the presidential position with slow and
unhurried consultations throughout Europe and in China. As the key
negotiator to the resolution of the Kosovo crisis, Chernomyrdin tended
to present himself to the Russian public, who had known him primarily
as a businessman dealing in gas, as an authority on world affairs and a
statesman with the instincts of a full-bred diplomat. The Russian
mediation, after Chernomyrdin's frequent and fruitless trips to European
capitals, ended in the final acceptance of the early German plan for the
resolution of the Kosovo crisis which has been adopted almost to the
letter. This plan, produced by German diplomats on behalf of the G-8
after the first weeks of the bombardment already was submitted to
Milosevic in June 1999 as a joint ultimatum by the Finnish president
Marti Ahtissari and by Chernomyrdin. This ultimatum implied the
establishment of a NATO protectorate in Kosovo with a token Russian
participation, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in its implementation.

 

FROM INDICTMENT TO CAPITULATION

The issuing of indictment against Milosevic for war crimes in Kosovo
contributed significantly to the decision of the Yugoslav president, who
deserted by Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin and pushed into a corner, to accept
speedily a total capitulation in Kosovo-Metohija, under the condition
that the new protectorate, under NATO military command, formally covered
by the UN mandate, should not extend to other parts of Serbia which
remained under his control. According to the military technical
agreement signed in Kumanovo, Kosovo is placed under the KFOR
(NATO-led) military protectorate and under the formal authority of the
United Nations civil administration (UN Resolution No 1244).

The agreement, which was clumsily presented to the public as a victory,
was in fact a document on total and irrevocable capitulation, in content
significantly more unfavorable than the project from Rambouillet and
later from Paris. The military-technical agreement from Kumanovo gives
de facto all power to NATO-led KFOR; article V says: "The commander of
international security forces (KFOR) is the ultimate interpreter of this
agreement and safety aspects of the peace solution which the agreement
contains. The decision of the KFOR commander is binding to all parties
and persons."

FROM KUMANOVO TO KUMANOVO : A NATIONAL CATASTROPHE

The acceptance of the military-technical agreement in Kumanovo, in June
1999, had, in a political sense, a multiple meaning. Firstly, Serbia,
which had won Kosovo in the very same place, after a military victory in
the First Balkan war (in the famous battle in Kumanovo, end of October
1912, the Serbian Royal Army liberated Kosovo and the Vardar Macedonia,
having routed the more numerous Ottoman troops) was now obliged to lose
Kosovo definitively and in the same way as a part of its territory.
Secondly, the agreement in Kumanovo gave, as stressed above, all the
power to the NATO commander of KFOR troops. This was to show the
Russians that their active participation was far less counted on than
was the case in the negotiating process, when Chernomyrdin managed to
impose himself as an unavoidable intermediary does, if not in finding a
solution, then at least in making the proposed solution accepted. NATO's
full control in the envisaged protectorate was of essential significance
for its leaders, bearing in mind the level of frustration in Brussels
caused by the unexpectedly resolute defense of the reformed
Serbian-Montenegrin army, followed by small losses in military weaponry
(only a small percentage of the total military equipment).

After a systematic action by NATO bombers against mainly civilian
infrastructure in central and northern Serbia (power plants, refineries,
fertilizer factories, freeways, railways and bridges) the public morale,
after the massive destruction following the last weeks of May 1999,
faced with the end of civilization, gradually deteriorated and
eventually collapsed, a less than few weeks before the Milosevic's
capitulation in Kumanovo, and so Milosevic was able to offer relief in
the form of capitulation with the fig leaf of a UN mandate. Serbia faced
the similar situation in which the German Imperial Army found itself at
the end of the World War I: the army, undefeated, firmly in trenches,
resolute to fight on, the front lines firmly controlled, and all of a
sudden, politicians sign the capitulation.

Milosevic congratulated to the army, and hiding behind UN resolution
which formally left Kosovo inside Yugoslavia, proclaimed victory over
NATO. Milosevic addressed to the army which has a significant role in
Serbian society. Serbian tradition learns that they should see
themselves as valiant warriors who win and defend their freedom when
attacked with fury and full sacrifice. Praises to the army were
followed by Milosevic's praise to the revived UN role in the final stage
of the Kosovo crisis, forgetting that it was precisely the UN (that is
the Security Council on behalf of the UN) that established the Hague
International Tribunal, where his indictment is being prepared (although
still not publicly read in the courtroom) for war crimes in Kosovo-
Metohija.

The last Serbian illusion referred to the role of Russia in the crisis
resolution: the sudden take-over of Pristina airport by Russian forces,
which arrived in Kosovo from the Bosnian battalion via Belgrade before
NATO forces, had only a symbolic meaning. For Russia it was an attempt
to create an impression at home that she had regained a position of a
great power in international relations, whereas among the Serbs in
Kosovo, and particularly in Pristina, the arrival of the symbolic number
of Russian parachutists was welcomed with unprecedented ovations, as a
real victory within a hollow victory promised by Milosevic; this was
the last Serbian illusion about the scale of Russian influence. The
reality, however, immediately proved to be different. The Russians
limited themselves to remaining at and around the Pristina airport at
Slatina, while the vastly superior NATO-led forces in KFOR were taking
over five separate sectors. After the efficient and complete withdrawal
of Yugoslav military and police forces from Kosovo province, NATO-led
KFOR troops settled their headquarters in Pristina and established
their full protectorate in Kosovo.

Russian troops were left without the expected separate sector of
responsibility in the north of Kosovo, the region with majority Serb
population, which was coveted by most Serbs as a protection measure, but
rejected as an attempt at division and a renewal of the cold war both by
NATO and the ethnic Albanians. The journalists' questions as to what
kind of division it would be since Kosovo is a part of the FR Yugoslavia
were met with a confused silence or some unconvincing explanations.

After that the UN interim administration (UNMIK) was established, all
the Serbian power, not even formal any more, was left totally deprived
of legitimacy. The masses of Serbian refugees leaving Kosovo in huge
numbers, replaced the Albanian returnees who rushed immediately, without
waiting for a NATO approval, from Albania and Macedonia back to Kosovo.
A dangerous and maybe a deliberate precedent was made in this envisaged
military-political vacuum: the Yugoslav border (that is Kosovo border)
with Albania and Macedonia stayed totally open for weeks and maybe even
months. This allowed unhindered passage not only to Kosovo Albanians,
but also to Albanians from the two neighboring countries with the
opportunity to indulge in thieving and murdering without any control. If
it is borne in mind that northern Albania is not only the poorest corner
of Europe, but also the center of drugs traffic for the whole of Europe,
the region with the proportionally largest number of gangs, both
narco-mafia and arms dealers, it is easy to imagine the scale of crime
that swept over the plains of Kosovo and Metohija, where Serbian houses
were plundered, set on fire or simply occupied one after the other.

For weeks numerous empty trucks, most often rented, kept arriving from
northern Albania, filled with goods and valuables from the plundered or
deserted Serbian houses, and the whole process was accompanied by a new
wave of ethnic cleansing, this time directed against the Serbs,
facilitated by the more or less indifferent approach of KFOR who were
just taking up positions and settling down. Hence it was very easy,
under the pressures of armed Albanians, and not only those from the
so-called KLA, to submit the unarmed Serb civilians to all kinds of
violence: from rape and robbery to expulsion and murder. Since Metohija
(the plain between Drenica, Istok, Pec and Prizren) had a smaller
percentage of Serbs than a Kosovo proper, and since it is geographically
closest to Albania, the first blow of the united forces of Albanian
returnees and Albanian bands from the north of Albania landed on the
local Serbs who were ethnically cleansed within a matter of days.

Although a significant number of Serbs from Pec, Prizren, Djakovica,
Istok, Klina and villages in the wider surroundings of these towns left
their homes and started withdrawing with the Army, fearing cruel
Albanian retaliation, nearly half of the Serbs in Metohija believed
that KFOR would protect them and Albanians leave them in peace (since
they took no part in the persecutions of Albanians) and decided to stay
in their homes, a decision for which many of them paid enormous price -
a large number of women, including under age girls and old women were
raped, whereas most men were kidnapped, tortured and eventually killed.
The inhabitants of some small Serbian enclaves, the villages of
Gorazdevac near Pec and Velika Hoca near Prizren, including a few
hundred civilians surrounded in Orahovac, organized a kind of
self-defense and later KFOR positioned its forces there in order to
separate the two conflicted ethnic communities. Returnees, who were
forced by Milosevic's regime from the central part of Serbia back to
Metohija were immediately killed; Italian troops, part of KFOR,
started guarding the largest monasteries, Pec Patriarchate and Visoki
Decani, which Albanians were preparing to destroy, only after the
repeated warnings of the Metropolitan of Montenegro Amfilohije
Radovic. As stressed by the Western press, "at the Patriarchate of Pec,
another ancient bastion of Christendom near Kosovo's border with
Albania, handful of Serbian priests, nuns and laity have holed up under
the protection of Italian troops. The clergy are kept busy burying the
dead and rescuing icons, relics and bells from the 40 or so churches
that have been damaged or destroyed by vengeful Albanians."

The celebration of 610th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, June 28,
1999, proved to be the most sad event for the Serbs, who being under
comprehensive wave of retaliation by Kosovo Albanians, and still
unprotected by KFOR, were facing an exodus. The Serbian Patriarch Paul
with several Bishops visited the famous battlefield accompanied with
heavily armed British KFOR soldiers. The Patriarch Paul and Bishop
Artemije warned the western government that "if nothing is done in the
nearest future, we are seriously afraid that all Kosovo Serbs would be
forced to leave the province." As observed by British reporter, "In
practice. It is harder and harder to survive as a Serb - or, some would
say, as anyone but an ethnic Albanian - in Kosovo."

The biggest massacre took place on July 23, in the village of Staro
Gracko few miles from Lipljan where 14 Serbian peasants were killed
while working in their fields. "Black Friday: in Staro Gracko, as
stressed by the press, made illusions on successful KFOR mission almost
hollow. Although Louise Arbour and Bernard Kouchner promised an
efficient investigation into the massacre of innocent civilians, the
perpetrators have not been found.

Only the Church remained with the Serbian people in Kosovo- Metohija in
the most difficult time: both low and high officials of Milosevic's
regime from the province were the first to leave Kosovo with their
families, while a significant part of the civilian Serbian population
left their homes with the army and the police forces, fearing ruthless
retaliation. In the first three months of KFOR administration in Kosovo,
from approximately 220,000-250,000 Serbs living in Kosovo-Metohija, over
150,000 of them moved further up north in inner Serbia (Romas, i.e.
Gypsies and some Muslim Slavs, whose houses were also burnt or occupied
by ethnic Albanians also left the province which became NATO
protectorate).

The documentation, received from church sources in Kosovo, gives the
data on the number of Kosovo Serbs in bigger cities before and after the
arrival of KFOR:

- Gnjilane : Of 25,000 Serbs the number fell to 5,000
- K. Mitrovica Of 27,000 the number fell to 15,000 Serbs
- Kosovo Polje: Of 20,000 the number fell to 10,000 Serbs
- Pec: Of 12,000 in the municipality the number fell to less than a
hundred Serbian civilians in the town
- Pristina (the town itself): Of 30,000, the number fell to 500-1000
persons
Prizren: Of 5-6,000 in the town, the number fell to 600 Serbs.

At least half of them left after threats, attacks, murders and looting
by the Kosovo Albanians: the Serbs were ethnically cleansed first in
larger towns where they were a minority (in Pristina the number of Serbs
has fallen about forty times since the arrival of KFOR, from nearly
40,000 to 1,000), whereas the Serbs from Prizren and Pec disappeared
almost completely, the only ones who remained were too old to travel.
The Serbs in Prizren and Urosevac were exposed to similar persecutions.
The sorrowful picture of a new wave of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and
Metohija this time from Serbs took place in all parts of Metohija
(which, after the adopted Albanian terminology, is called 'western
Kosovo" in Western sources) where Serbs, unlike in Kosovo itself, were a
distinct minority.

Parallel with persecution of the Serbian civilians, the target of the
Albanian retaliation were numerous Serbian Orthodox monasteries, ranging
from medieval Byzantine-type monuments to the more recent churches
erected in the sixteenth century and later, until last decade. Over 70
Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries were first plundered, and then
either totally destroyed or desecrated and damaged to the extent that
they are impossible to repair. One third of these churches were
high-ranking cultural monuments dating from the medieval period with
invaluable frescoes or remains of frescoes (St. Marko Koriski church and
monastery in Korisa near Prizren, monasteries Zociste near Orahovac and
Devic in Drenica, Church in Petric, Bogorodicna crkva (Our Lady church)
in Musutiste, Sveta Trojica (Holy Trinity) near Suva Reka, St.
Archangels monastery near Kosovska Vitina, Sveti Jovan Krstitelj (St.
John the Baptist) church in Samodreza near Vucitrn, several more recent
Serbian cathedrals build in Djakovica and Urosevac etc). As stressed
by Western observers "…this demolition cannot be just 'revenge' – Nato's
usual excuse for the destruction under its auspices. You do not just
fill with rage and spend days gathering explosives to blow up churches.
This is vandalism with a mission."

This "vandalism with a mission" is, undoubtedly an integral part of
every standard practice of ethnic cleansing: the stones of the destroyed
churches are taken to other places in order to erase all the traces of
Serbs once living there. The Pec Patriarchate and, somewhat less,
monastery of Visoki Decani are still today occasionally shelled from the
surrounding hills. Metohija, apart form several hundred Serbs still
living under siege in Gorazdevac is ethnically cleansed part of
Kosovo-Metohija province. Even more dangerous is the pattern of
albanization of Serbian monuments. Many "Albanian intellectuals" and
"historians" are advocating simply 'takeover' of the Serbian monuments
as Albanian ones, as they, for example, Bogorodica Ljeviska (Our Lady of
Ljevisa), had been turned into mosques during the Ottoman domination.

The results of the ethnic cleansing would be even more extensive if the
representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church had not stood up to
protect the Kosovo Serbs. On June 15, 1999 the Holy Synod of the
Serbian Orthodox Church made a public call for Milosevic's resignation
and the formation of the national salvation government. At the beginning
of July 1999, Bishop Artemije met with the Albanian representative,
under the supervision of the UN interim administrator (Sergio Vierra de
Melo), to agree on how to halt the wave of violence against Serbs and
the establishment of tolerable relations between the two highly
antagonized ethnic communities. The Albanians, however, abused the joint
statement of July 2, 1999, in which, among other things, Milosevic's
regime was condemned. The same day they celebrated the anniversary of
the illegal proclamation of the "Kosovo Republic" in the streets of
Pristina and other parts of the province, a celebration followed by
another wave of violence against Kosovo Serbs.

Serbian signatories accepted cooperation tending, to avoid a further
spiraling violence and to bind the Albanian side - primarily the KLA
which remained the only armed military ethnic group - to prevent
violence against Serbs and other ethnic groups which started immediately
after KFOR came into the province.. But the Albanian practical moves,
contrasting the agreed measures forced the Serbian Orthodox Church
representatives, from the Metropolitan Amfilohije to Bishop Artemije, to
distance themselves from the Albanians.

Bishop Artemije and Mr. Trajkovic sent a letter to the temporary chief
of UNMIK Sergio de Melo in which they accused Thaci of heading
"celebration and unrest in Pristina", only two hours after signing the
agreement. On this occasion the monuments to Serbian writers Vuk St.
Karadzic and Petar II Petrovic-Njegos were demolished, and soon after, a
new, unfinished Serbian church in Pristina was blown up. Asking the
UNMIK chief to "call the representatives of KLA to submit the full
details about the arrested and kidnapped Serbs without any delay ", they
stressed that they had "clear indications that camps for Serbs are still
existent in Kosovo. Who runs them and how long they will go on existing
are the questions to be answered by the KFOR representatives. It was
also demanded that the "crimes committed by different armed Albanian
formations against the Kosovo Serbs be fully investigated by the Hague
international tribunal for crimes in the territory of former Yugoslavia,
and not by local Kosovo courts" .

Instead of formal promises more energetic measures on the ground were
asked for, which would force the leaders of the KLA and other Albanian
paramilitary and irregular police formations to suppress the waves of
violence which, with the rhythm of five to ten Serbs killed every day,
with systematic expulsions from certain regions and accompanying
destruction of sacred buildings, continued with the unrelenting force.

In its new statement from July 5 the Holy Synod of the Serbian
Orthodox church stressed that it expected "international forces to stop
as soon as possible the terror tactics used against the Serbian, Muslim
and Roma population by KLA members and other groups of Kosovo Albanians
and those from neighboring Albania which are using KFOR as a shield for
the total ethnic cleansing of the Serbian people. We also expect the
honorable members of the Albanian people to stand up to the revenge and
retaliation carried out by some of their compatriots these days against
innocent people. All crimes committed from either side in the course of
this tragic civil and ethnic conflict must be brought up before unbiased
international courts, so that divine and human justice can be
satisfied."

The continuation of violence, however, forced the Serbian Orthodox
Church to try again to answer the present burning questions to their
believers. In the statement issued after the Episcopal consultation it
was stressed that they supported "all democratic and patriotic forces in
our country and their demands for radical and speediest possible changes
in our society, starting from the formation of the temporary
transitional government and the preparations for immediate elections".
The KFOR and UNMIK representatives were, however, requested by Serbian
Orthodox Church to stop the terror and total ethnic cleansing of
Orthodox Serbs and other ethnic minorities, perpetrated in their
presence and, as stressed by the Church, under their auspices. If the
Yugoslav government is to be blamed for previous evils that took place
in Kosovo and Metohija, the international forces, which have taken over
the power and thus the full and undisputed responsibility for security
in Kosovo and Metohija, are responsible for the present crimes, the
planned and systematic destruction of the Serbian people and their
centuries-old holy places, churches and monasteries and whole villages
and regions. The persecution did not diminish. Serbs fought back, by
erecting barricades, by demanding that the disappeared and kidnapped be
released (who were as a rule killed), in spite of all this 11,000 Serbs
were expelled at the time from Obilic alone. At the same time,
systematic attacks on stronger Serbian enclaves in Kosovo went on, so
the village of Dobrotin in the immediate vicinity of Lipljan also became
a target for shelling, besides Serb-inhabited areas of Obilic and Kosovo
Polje.

SPONTANEOUS CANTONIZATION: AN ANSWER TO ETHNIC CLEANSING

A part of Kosovo-Metohija Serbs, deprived of secured corridor for
passage to central Serbia, found temporary shelter in the neighboring
enclaves with a Serbian majority, and thus in a very short time Kosovo
(without Metohija) became spontaneously cantonized in the manner very
similar to the cantonization map created by the Serbian Orthodox Church
and the Serbian Renewal Movement from Kosovo long before the beginning
of the war. From the five cantons on the map of the proposed
cantonization (see the map enclosed) only the Metohija canton does not
exist, whereas the other four are now reinforced with the influx of new
Serbian arrivals. The largest and most significant concentration of
Serbs, in the north of Kosovo, encompasses the largest Serbian enclave,
stretching from Kosovska Mitrovica (one fifth of the town with a Serbian
majority, the northern part across the river Ibar) and Zvecan to
Leposavic and Zubin Potok. Thanks to, primarily, French troops of the
KFOR forces, the "reunification" of Kosovska Mitrovica did not happen,
that is, the local Serbs were not totally expelled as they were from
other Kosovo towns, so that their houses and flats could be taken over
by the Albanians. KFOR forces boasted of having reduced the scope of
violence against Serbs in other places, forgetting to clarify the main
reason for this: the cessation of violence against Serbs was not the
result of the reinforced security of certain sectors but primarily of
the fact that the Serbs had almost disappeared from those regions.

Nevertheless, spontaneous cantonization has kept, at this moment,
around 90-100,000 Serbs in the four separate zones: 1) north, which
spreads to the north of the river Ibar and Kosovska Mitrovica, to which
came the citizens of the region around Vucitrn; 2) central, which
encompasses the territory between the village of Gracanica and town of
Lipljan with tens of Serbian villages, to which came some citizens from
Pristina and neighboring villages 3) the region from Kosovska Kamenica
to Gnjilane, where the Serbian majority from a part of Gnjilane is
finding shelter; 4) in the zone of Strpce with the Brezovica mountain
where some of the Serbs from Prizren and surrounding region fled from
violence and persecution. After the arrival of KFOR, the cantonization
plan (which would be implemented, in a revised variant, with the
approval of the UN), which envisaged the preservation of special ties
between the Serbian zones (or cantons) in Kosovo and the state of Serbia
was explained to Serbs who greeted and supported it massively at all
their meetings in Kosovo. The support to the cantonization project also
came from most opposition democratic parties in Serbia, which saw it as
their duty to support the efforts of Bishop Artemije in raising the
question of the protection of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

FROM CO-OPERATION TO FAILURE

Remaining faithful to the principle position that multi-ethnic Kosovo
should be preserved and that bridges of trust should be re-built, Serbs
authorized Bishop Artemije and Momcilo Trajkovic to represent them in
the Kosovo Interim council presided over by Bernard Kouchner, on behalf
of the UN, where ethnic Albanians are represented by the representatives
of the KLA, LDK and other political groups. The key question for Serbs
was the security issue: the Kosovo Interim Council, however, discussed
only the questions concerning Albanian security and humanitarian
problems, whereas Serbian proposals concerning the similar needs were
either ignored or openly rejected, by the UN administrator or Albanian
representatives.

UNMIK and UNHCR representatives in Kosovo during the first months were
operating with completely inaccurate number of remaining Serbs, giving
the top figure of 30,000. Only after frequent and energetic protests
from Bishop Artemije, the number was officially raised to reasonable
number of approximately 97,000 on September 11, 1999. The persecutions
of Serbian civilians and systematic destruction of churches was not,
however, halted. Although all the representatives of the international
community, from Xavier Solana to Bernard Kouchner said that the revenge
policy in Kosovo was totally unacceptable, almost nothing has been done
to stop systematic persecution of Kosovo Serbs. The only exception
turned out to be a muscle action of French troops and policemen in
Kosovska Mitrovica area, where they successfully halted ethnic
Albanians to repeat the persecution of Serb with taking over their
property followed, a pattern already applied in other parts of the
province. .

The Serbian members of the Kosovo Interim Council witnessed that their
justified demands, completely in accord with the proclaimed aims of both
military and civil mission - were more or less diplomatically ignored,
particularly the key question of efficient protection of Serbs. In order
to raise security issue as a priority, they repeatedly broke off
co-operation with UNMIK as a sign of protest against accelerated ethnic
cleansing taking place before the very eyes of KFOR and UNMIK. The
representatives of both military and civil administration just shrugged
their shoulders, complaining about their inability to protect every
single individual, stressing that they were understaffed, etc. But, the
main problem for the Serbian representatives was that all the attacks
against Serbs, instead of being qualified as a calculated plan of ethnic
cleansing, were described as incidents, and there were even those from
among the international representatives who tried to justify the
understandable desire for retaliation among ethnic Albanians after great
crimes committed, on behalf of the Serbian side, against them before and
during NATO bombardment. A journalist Veton Surroi made the only
exception on the Albanian side. He dared to condemn the systematic
violence against Kosovo Serbs after June 1999 in his article "Bells of
Shame" qualifying this Albanian persecution practice as a form of
fascism.

The Bishop Artemije, who had been condemning violence on both sides
for years, warned that it was the duty of KFOR and UNMIK to provide
effective protection for all Kosovo Serbs, and condemned the fact that
greater persecutions with more devastating results happened under the
international protectorate than during the war with NATO or even under
Milosevic's rule. One ethnic cleansing, as stressed the Bishop, was
substituted with another a fact for which, to the surprise of
democratically and pro-western orientated Serbs, the international
community somehow showed their full understanding. M. Trajkovic warned
that only the extremists on both sides can claim their victory: KLA
which proclaimed as their goal an ethnically cleansed Kosovo and
Milosevic who, before the Serbian public again, gets new proof that the
international community has been deliberately undermining general
Serbian interests, rather than as publicly claimed, fighting the
non-democratic Serbian regime represented by Milosevic.

Through a revised cantonization draft, which would be implemented in
full co-operation with UNMIK and KFOR, Bishop Artemije and M. Trajkovic
tried to create an inter-space which would allow Serbs - of whom there
are still about 90 to 100,000 in Kosovo - to survive this critical
phase, to keep their national identity and their language and save their
endangered cultural heritage. General assessment among Kosovo Serbs was
that the only realistic hope to halt ongoing ethnic cleansing was their
revised plan for cantonization. This plan was first rejected by Kouchner
and then by leading European foreign ministers of Germany and France,
Joschka Fischer and Hubert Vedrine. The European ministers justified
their rejection by the claim that the cantonization plan would allow a
division of Kosovo although, according to the basic idea and due to the
scattered Serbian enclaves on the ground, the cantonization project
reminded more of a leopard skin than a clear-cut division. Moreover, in
the view of the Serbian representatives, the cantonization project was
the viable plan that prevents the development of the two trends deeply
in contradiction to the basic values of European democracies. It
prevents Kosovo from becoming mono-ethnic through systematic ethnic
cleansing operated by Kosovo Albanians, and defends the right to
multicultural society to all ethnic groups, including the right to the
preservation of cultural heritage, some of which - as the Serbian
medieval art and architecture - belongs to the world cultural
heritage.

On September 18, 1999, the Bishops' synod of the Serbian Orthodox
Church issued a strong warning statement in which it demanded that,
respecting the UN Charter and general values of Christian and entire
modern civilization, the representatives of the international community
(UNMIK and KFOR including other NGO's), should halt the ethnic cleansing
of Kosovo Serbs in the Kosovo province and stop the evil wave of
systematic destruction of Serbian churches and monasteries.

The Serbian representatives in the Kosovo Interim Council were,
however, left without a counter-proposal of the international community
that would efficiently protect the Serbian people and their monuments in
ethnically cleansed Metohija and in Kosovo proper, while, at the same
time, all proposals of the Serbian side were, as observed by all
independent analysts, cynically ignored or rejected. After many
failed attempts to have some of their proposals accepted, feeling unable
to help their people in Kosovo-Metohija in an efficient way the
representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serb National-Church
Assembly (although they enjoyed up to 90 percent support of Kosovo
Serbs), decided to withdraw from the Kosovo Interim Council. In this
way they refused to serve, as Serbian representatives as a formal cover
for UNMIK plans, which, as was assessed, were deeply contradictory to
the basic interests of the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox
church in Kosovo-Metohija. During the same period, under UNMIK
authority, all other important institutions in Kosovo-Metohija, after
the expulsion of Kosovo Serbs (some exceptions in Kosovska Mitrovica
area only) became ethnically purely Albanian. The Serbian
representatives considered that the absence of basic protection of
endangered Kosovo Serbs was not, as explained by representatives of the
international community, the lack of soldiers within KFOR troops and
proportionally small number of international policemen. They noticed the
obvious absence of political will among those among those in leading
NATO states who are to decide upon the future of Kosovo.

Bishop Artemije, the protector of Serbs and ethnic Albanians alike,
before and during NATO air strikes, although open to cooperation, found
out that the representatives of international community. The UNMIK and
KFOR, were either unwilling or unable neither to guarantee a short-term
protection to Kosovo Serbs. Apart from tiny part of Kosovska Mitrovica
and northern (Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok) area, the full
political responsibility of UNMIK and military control of KFOR proved to
be inefficient and unwilling to match chaos and KLA-orchestrated
violence against the Serbs. In contrast, all the Serbian proposal were
ignored or refused, although were usually dealing with basic security
issues. Therefore, after three months of unsuccessful attempts to obtain
the minimal protection of Serbs and their property in Kosovo-Metohija,
on September 22, 1999, Bishop Artemije, together with Momcilo Trajkovic
decided to definitively leave the Kosovo Interim Council. The immediate
reason was the formation of "Kosovo Protection Corps", after only
formal disarmament of the KLA (in fact, as noticed by foreign
correspondents, only old and disused guns were handed in). Kosovo
Protection Corps was created, from, as expected, ethnic Albanian (KLA)
members only. This legalization of mono-national Albanian police and
army forces fitted in with ambiguity on future Kosovo status, announcing
that, an independent Kosovo, cleansed of Serbs, should be recognized in
a near future. Bishop Artemije and Trajkovic stressed, on that
occasion, that in return; "Serbs in Kosovo are fully justified in asking
for the realization of the demand for cantonization and the creation of
the Serbian Protection Corps."

After three months of suffering under the KFOR and UNMIK authority, the
position of Serbs, according to the statement of Raska-Prizren
Bishopric, is still dramatically deteriorating. In his public statement
Bishop Artemije underlined that the results under the UN and KFOR
protectorate are devastating: nearly 200,000 Serbs left Kosovo
(percentage higher than that of Kosovo ethnic Albanians during the NATO
bombing) and that over 350 Serbian civilians were killed, over 450
disappeared, while thousands of Serbian houses plundered and burned, or
both, and that more than 70 churches and monasteries razed. Bishop
stressed that all this has happened after the war was over and after all
Serbian military and police forces left Kosovo. This wave of ethnic
cleansing against the Serbs happened under full responsibility of nearly
50,000 soldiers and other members of international peace keeping
forces. Serbs were, practically, expelled from all multi-ethnic regions
and forced to live in ad hoc created areas, as stated by the Bishop
Artemije, Indian-like reservations or Jewish-like ghettos. The Serbs are
also denied their basic human rights and the right of freedom of
movement, education, work and health care. Among older Serbian citizens
of Kosovo it did not go unnoticed that in the World War II, after the
first wave of violence in 1941, the level of Serb protection was in some
areas significantly better than KFOR protection operating on behalf of
the United Nations.

The policy of "double standard" often underlined by the Serbs is quite
visible in the KFOR slow and unmotivated search for Serb victims of
terror and violence. In search for mass graves of the Albanian victims
the OSCE experts, on various occasions, opened graves in which they
discovered only Serbian victims.. They, for instance, found a Serbian
mass-grave in the village of Ugljare with 13 Serbian corpses from a
nearby village, Ranilug, but the KFOR representatives in Gnjilane tried
to diminish the significance of this discovery, refusing to specify
whether the victims of the massacre were of Serbian nationality.

Nothing has changed since the Kosovo Serb representatives warned on
UNMIK and KFOR forces. Serbian Orthodox Churches had been still
destroyed, and persecutor of the Serbs unpunished. As witnessed by
journalist of The Independent two months after Bishop Artemije and
Trajkovic protesting against the persecution of the Kosovo Serbs, left
Kosovo interim Council the ethnic cleansing is still l'ordre de jour for
Kosovo Albanians: "The postwar "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo's Serbs
appears to be nearing completion as armed Albanians continue to murder
and kidnap the tiny minority of Serbs who remain in the province more
than five months after Nato troops arrived – in the words of their UN
mandate – "to ensure public safety and order". Of Pristina's 40,000
Serb population, only 400 are left. Statistics from the Serb church and
a human rights group in Pristina suggest as many as 316 Serbs have been
murdered and 455 more kidnapped, many of them killed, since Nato's
arrival. If these figures bear any relation to reality –and most are
accompanied by names and dates – then the number of Serbs killed in the
five months since the war comes close to that of Albanians murdered by
Serbs in the five months before Nato began its bombardment in March.
Most Serb victims died in the first two months after Nato's entry, but
house-burning and murder continues. […] But since neither Nato nor
K-For will admit that a conflict continues under their control in
Kosovo, albeit a largely one-sided one in which the Serbs are the
principal victims, war crimes tribunal officials cannot investigate the
killing of Serbs. This means their murderers have only the largely
impotent UN police force to reckon with. No wonder, then, that minority
groups continue to flee Kosovo. The 300-strong Croat community at
Letnice were preparing to celebrate their 700th anniversary in the
province but left en masse last month for Dubrovnik. And this week, the
president of the tiny Jewish community in Pristina, Ceda Prlincevic,
left for Belgrade after denouncing "a pogrom against the non-Albanian
population". He had left Kosovo, he said, "with only the Talmud".
Similar assessments were made by other Western correspondents traveling
through Kosovo during the last months of 1999.

 

UNMIK AND THE KFOR MISSION: WHAT WENT WRONG?

The UN and KFOR mission in Kosovo-Metohija can be judged on two levels.
Officially the whole military operation started in order to prevent
ethnic cleansing and humanitarian catastrophe. The fact that hundreds of
thousands of ethnic Albanians, expelled during the NATO bombing, managed
to return safely to Kosovo-Metohija is only one side of the coin. If the
KFOR and UNMIK mission claim that they has been successful, then there
must be an unknown, hidden agenda that is significantly different from
the one that is publicly proclaimed and which is based on the UN
resolution No 1244.

Compared with solemnly proclaimed principles and values of the
European Union, USA and UN, the international mission in
Kosovo-Metohija is an almost total political failure: the practice of
ethnic cleansing, this time against Serbs, has not been halted, on the
contrary it has received new impetus. Serbian or, as the euphemism goes,
"non-Albanian cultural heritage" has been systematically destroyed,
while Milosevic is still in power in the rest of Serbia. Further on,
impoverished and mafia-controlled Albania has not been stabilized, the
FYR Macedonia is, moreover, additionally destabilized; if Kosovo is
taken from FR Yugoslavia, Macedonia is expected to federate into
ethnically-based pro-Bulgarian and pro-Albanian parts. The whole region,
from the global security perspective, became less stable after June
1999, jeopardizing any international attempt to achieve a long-term
stability within democratic environment, free-market economy and full
protection of human rights.

The "Berlin Wall" between Serbia and Albania has been pulled down, but
it seems that, as far as Albanians are concerned, everything is being
done for a new one to be erected, this time between Kosovo province and
the rest of Serbia. The broader geopolitical impact of this kind of
policy will have far reaching effects not only for Serbs who are left
again to disappear from the territory they inhabited for nearly a
millennium. The other possibly devastating consequences are the
following: the attempt of Albanian nationalist to destabilize and divide
the FYR Macedonia could be probably followed by a civil war in Albania
between the Muslim-dominated north and Orthodox-oriented south, areas
sharply divided by culture, customs and views on the country's future.
Unconditional support of the international community to the national
cause of the "Kosovars", that is of ethnic Albanians from
Kosovo-Metohija has, in turn, strengthened the previously seriously
shaken power of Slobodan Milosevic in the rest of Serbia.

CANTONIZATION RECONSIDERED?

Policy-makers should, therefore, taking into consideration recent
developments in Kosovo, pledge themselves to ensure, at first place, an
unbiased and highly efficient protection for all ethnic groups in
Kosovo, including the respect of their differences and rights to their
own languages and cultures, with the efficient protection of their
respective cultural heritage. The lack of multicultural practice,
democratic political culture and inter-ethnic tolerance, will impose
the interim solutions: the mentioned rights should be preserved by the
establishment of some form of temporary security zones, or priority
security zones, cantonization, or some similar form of interim
internal territorial reorganization in the coming period, in order to
protect the human rights of each ethnic community. This could secure
simultaneously a self-rule for ethnic Albanians in their areas, but also
badly needed protection of Kosovo Serbs and a kind of self-rule on
their territory. All measures concerning status issues should, apart
from well-known Albanian demands, meet the basic demands of the Kosovo
Serbs: to preserve a special political ties with Serbia and Yugoslavia,
as a first step towards surviving and avoiding a total national
catastrophe. Return of the all refugees, as a basic demand of
international community should be another step in confidence-building
process. The Kosovo issue rest, however, directly tied to the further
democratization of Serbia, which will, hopefully, have stabilizing
effect in the whole region.

END