|kosovo.net : History : Kosovo Origins|
by Hugo Roth
22. Milan Bartos, 1901-74, professor of law at Belgrade University, arbiter at the permanent arbitration tribunal at the Hague, president of the UN commission for international law, president of the world association for international law - chief work: International public law, I-III, Belgrade, 1958
24. In fact the map which was not for the public was that of 1913 which was submitted by representatives of the Albanians to the London ambassadorial conference which was discussing the resolution of the future status of Albania.
The Imperialism of the Small
During his stay in Prizren more than 125 years ago the Russian diplomat, Timayev, uttered the prophetic words: "...The Albanian people is taking control more and more of the lands on which it is settled and perhaps it will soon happen that it will play some role in the destiny of Europe regardless of the fact that the greater part of it is now in an uncivilised state."
Clearly, one should understand the expression "...in the destiny of Europe..." in a limited and conditional sense because at that time no Albanian state existed as a possible factor which could be a challenge and play some kind of key role nor was there even Albanian autonomy within the Turkish empire which could have eventual political implications. One should understand conditionality in the sense of influence on the nearest neighbours and only through expansion in their direction could there be brought about some change which would also have an influence on Europe. Yet, even without these restrictions, the unbelievable capability of the Russian consul to foresee events is really extraordinary but it was clearly understood too late.
We shall mention one more very important detail arising from the words of the Russian consul and which relates to his subtle and correct observation of the then only presaged but today manifest and clear Albanian insistence on the realisation of the idea of a Great Albania. That which the consul in Prizren then foresaw is happening in one variation today and this has a rarely used but a specific name. It is called "mini-imperialism", a term coined by the academic, Milan Bartos. 22
In using this expression, M. Bartos starts from the premise that together with political, economic and mercantile interests financial interests also begin to be taken into consideration and become an important factor in state relations. Territory is no longer something just to be won by a state but also by companies, banks etc. and so, besides large states, this method also begins to be used by small states whether as a result of particular advantages or at the instigation of large countries on whose support they rely. In this context let us mention Dedijer's 23 view of this phenomenon: "... a new departure in the age of imperialism was that some small states, especially in the Balkans, which had acquired independence, often of a purely nominal character, after the Congress of Berlin in 1878 also concluded agreements in various spheres of interest at the expense of those enslaved Balkan peoples which still had not succeeded in liberating themselves from Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian overlordship. This happened particularly in the cases of Albania and Macedonia". Bartos termed this phenomenon "mini- imperialisms."
Since Albania certainly was not led in its aims and plans to work for itself financially by way of companies and banks nor to participate in agreements concerning spheres of interest, its "imperialism" had to make use of a well-tried matrix and method, the conquering of territory. Accordingly, this is not the same type of the so-called financial mini-imperialism but a new phenomenon and form in which a small country with the help of the great powers or aided by some specific circumstances aspires to win new territory for itself. For that reason I think it better to call this phenomenon "the imperialism of the small" consistent with the fact that small states also display an open interest in usurping the territories of others.
That it is a question of a low, in fact, a retrograde way of working without any great prospect of success directs such small peoples to use the help of large countries or particular circumstances which arise as a result of a change in world politics and state relationships. That we should portray these Albanian tendencies as faithfully as possible we shall pass over all of the activities carried out before Albania acquired independence especially as enough has already been said about the relationship of the Albanians towards their neighbours. We shall say something about those occurrences which clearly illustrate the aspirations to usurp territory which belonged to Albania's neighbours. That was the time when King Ahmed Zogu abandoned the policy of friendship towards the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and turned to Mussolini's Italy evidently not foreseeing what kind of embrace from the Italians was awaiting him. The Albanians themselves but also at the instigation of the Italians began a propaganda campaign against Yugoslavia and Greece. Thus, in 1939, at the time when Italy had not yet launched its attack, that is, before April 7th 1939 and before King Zogu fled abroad, there was published in Albania for the first time (to our knowledge) a political map of Albania on which were also portrayed the territories of the neighbouring states, Yugoslavia and Greece, as the object of Albanian aspirations.
Much can and should be said about this map, because it introduces a separate chapter which has continued with small and, in fact, insignificant breaks practically until the present day. Many combinations, speculative ideas and the most diverse arrangements have been simply superseded and disappeared but the reason for which this map was drawn up and its subject matter continues with full intensity and persistence.
The map itself, from the cartographic point of view, will not enthuse anyone because its composition and appearance fall short of the basic technical, aesthetic and design requirements but, like other similar maps, it has its own specific and eloquent language from which we see, not for the first time, how and to what extent the ends justify the means.
Namely, even those who are less well acquainted with the cartographer's art, will see and understand at first glance that the continuity of pretensions is stubbornly retained and transmitted across the generations and through the most diverse forms of government, that is, from monarchy to a socialist state entity and from that to a civic state as present day Albania is now.
The map which we are showing is considered, at least for the public 24 outside Albania, as the first example and, therefore, as the model for all contemporary maps which portray the unified ethnic area of the Albanian people. Except for the map's title "Shqipnija ethnike" which means "ethnic Albania" and which is in typewritten form, all the other inscriptions on the map are handwritten which considerably detracts from the map's quality but it does offer the impression of so-called national authenticity. That impression was particularly necessary in that year of 1939 because the disposition of the Albanian ethnic area was not as shown on that map but it was certainly part of the aims and wishes of Albanian expansionists. After all, the map's title which does not appear in many of the later editions eloquently speaks of the then still masked, later "revolutionary" and the recent so-called nationally justified aspirations and demands of a large part of the Albanian and Shiptar people.
It is very characteristic that all the versions published later, including the present day maps, (such as the map No 10 presented underneath), appear in an unaltered and unchanged form. The Albanians' territorial aspirations towards the former Yugoslavia and Greece and today, in the changed territorial circumstances, towards Yugoslavia, more precisely, Serbia and Montenegro, towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece were evidently determined once and for all more than half a century ago and, in spite of the many recent upheavals, Albanian-Shiptar sources stubbornly insist on presenting their maps today in the same way whether it is a question of those published in honour of some congressman, an edition published by some Shiptar gastarbeiter organisation somewhere in Europe or for any other purpose with the territories of the "Albanian ethnic areas" firmly laid down in them. If, by chance, some diminution of territory is found on the map, the reason lies exclusively in a printing error or in the inexpertise of the draughtsman because it is completely clear and evident that what and how much is wanted was determined a long time ago!
Nevertheless, the problem is not as simple as it would seem from the persistent and continuing activities of the Albanians in the motherland and the diaspora because it is never said whether their ideas could be carried out at all. There are numerous obstacles of which the most important is that those territories which are foreseen as part of the Albanian ethnic area do not belong to them nor have they ever belonged to them since the name "Albania" was first mentioned. They are territories which belong to other peoples and states although they are designated on the maps with Albanian names like, for example, Northern Epirus as Cameria and so on.
It is unnecessary to list other reasons because this first is suffcient if the charter and principles of the United Nations are respected but one cannot pass over the unbelievable fact which recently came to light (in April 1994). Namely, at protests directed at the former, late president of Albania, Enver Hoxha, as to why Kosovo and Metohia was not attached to Albania during his rule, the answer which so angered and disappointed Albanians was "We couldn't do it because Yugoslavia was still stronger than us then". Even if we pass over the essence of the question which is the incarnation of open aggression and, at the same time, unreality, let us reflect on the implications of these aspirations so boldly expressed both then and today. Since, however, this belongs to the sphere of speculation and guesswork, we shall leave discussion of the possible outcome for the final chapter of this book.
In the meantime, let us turn to the answer to the question as to how the Serbian side (and this indirectly also applies to the Yugoslav side) reacted to this persistent and prolonged problem in Serbian-Shiptar relations.
It has already been said earlier that the Serbian and Montenegrin armies took some parts of northern Albania during the Balkan wars but that single controversial penetration into Albania was annulled because the Serbian and Montenegrin troops had to withdraw at the demand of the European powers of the time, especially Austro-Hungary. The period which followed, virtually to the present day, passed in the clear defence and preservation of Yugoslavia both without and within the Yugoslav territories, most of all in those areas settled by the Shiptars.
During the period of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, beginning in 1918, most of the hostile acts committed against Yugoslavia in the areas bordering Albania were attacks by kacaks. These were Albanian outlaws who, according to the tried and trusted method of the Balkan peoples, gathered together in conspiratorial groups comprising of malcontents and launched armed actions against those they considered to be their enemies. The kacaks were led by well known nationalists engaged in conspiracies against the governing structures in their own state and by some religious leaders one of whom described the aims of the kacaks in a proclamation thus "... firstly that we join together in the spirit of the holy unity of Islam and then we shall receive help (from outside author's comment) in uniting together into one whole, into one state which shall stretch as far as our language is spoken!"
The armed kacak attacks on the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and occasionally also against the Albanian authorities were stopped in 1923 when Ahmed Zogu consolidated his grip on power but they were renewed in a milder form in 1937. Neither during the first nor the second period were the ideas cited from the proclamation above realised.
We have already discussed in detail the so-called "government of Albanians and Shiptars" in place during the occupation as well as the period when both Yugoslavia and Albania were countries with socialist systems. Let us mention only that the methods of action were different during the period of mutual friendship in relation to those used during the period of mutual intolerance. Yet, even in those cases, the proposed plans were neither realised nor had any visible success. Only after the transition of both of the aforementioned states from socialism to multi-party democracies did there appear a marked effort, particularly on the part of the Albanian national minority in Yugoslavia to use mass actions and other new and diverse methods, aided and abetted by the hierarchies in some of the republics of the former, united Yugoslavia, in an attempt to amputate parts of Serbian territory and join them to Albania.
We have to inform our readers that a complete review of all of those demonstrations and individual, group and mass actions would fill not just one but several books and we shall limit ourselves, therefore, to the briefest summary of the most characteristic means and methods used in the carrying out of anti-Yugoslav activities.
We must devote special attention to one aspect of those activities which, through its long duration, laid the basis for all the subsequently used methods and that was the penetration of the Albanians into Serbian areas, chiefly in the south, that is, Old Serbia, and their rapid population growth there. This was described in detail in the chapter headed "Comings and goings" where statistical indicators were given and so, on this occasion, we shall mention only the historical range of this phenomenon.
It began innocently enough in the late Middle Ages when Albanian herdsmen left their barren mountains and descended into the Serbian lowlands in search of fertile land. These innocent migrations were replaced by more aggressive ones, urged on by the Turkish occupation authorities of the time which used the Albanians, adherents of the same faith, as guardians of the Osman government. All of this was transformed in the third phase, known as the awakening of Albanian nationalism, into the systematic penetration of Kosovo and Metohia by the forcible "buying up" of land and homes, the expelling of the Serbian population and the speedy transformation of a large number of villages and places into ethnically pure Albanian settlements.
After Kosovo and Metohia had become gradually but in a planned way almost ethnically pure Shiptar areas, the moment came for the open march towards secession. In the strategic sense it can be said that almost all of the methods known in terrorist handbooks have been used alongside the customary ones used by party and trade union organisations. Some of the methods arise from the period of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia among which can be numbered non-payment of taxes, the boycotting of elections, obstruction of education and so forth.
In this extensive analysis we have found both the customary peaceful protests and strikes but also planned excesses which were used for the carrying out of brutal attacks rare even for the Balkans let alone in Europe. We shall mention only two of these planned actions but that will be sufficient to acquire a picture both of the aims and of the means employed. The mass strike of workers at the Stari Trg mine in 1987 was carried out according to a previously composed scenario and direction, indeed, not too successfully but typically theatrical in nature. The intention was to demonstrate the bitterness felt by members of the Albanian national minority who both downed tools and went on hunger strike. The strike not only attracted a great deal of attention from the foreign media but also from the political leaders of the secessionist movements in Croatia and, especially, in Slovenia. They immediately rushed to the aid of the "exhausted" miners with money, blankets and other things but especially with propaganda support via the media (Slovenia was geographically nearest western Europe and so was most suitable for that undertaking) which informed the world of Serbian hegemonism and the suffering of the Shiptars. Thus many live TV pictures were transmiffed of exhausted and starving miners being taken from the mineshaft and transferred to ambulances staffed by emergency medical teams. The self-satisfaction of the associated actors and sponsors was suddenly punctured when it was established that the organisers had been supplying the "hunger strikers'' through a side tunnel, that those men who, "fainting from hunger and exhausted because of the horrific conditions underground (where they were holding their strike)', were brought out and transferred to the ambulances were all cleanshaven and that they had been using a secondary exit at night to go home and sleep. Only the Yugoslav public saw this, however, because Slovenian television did not then broadcast those revealing scenes.
The second case relates to what was known as the single-nation poisoning affair. It concerned an action involving school children when the leadership of the regional secessionists decided to demonstrate against the system of schooling founded upon the principles prescribed by the Yugoslav education authorities.
The scenario was very similiar to the previous one but this time it was primary-school and secondary-school children who were transferred to ambulances and hospitals. The absurd proposition that the children of only one nationality (clearly in this case the Shiptars) were being poisoned by some substance transmitted through the air or the water-supply while the children of other nationalities remained unaffected was again successfully used for propaganda purposes but, due to the "fault" of poor direction, cameras that were sent to the hospitals arrived at an inopportune time so that they came across the "poisoned" children playing, walking through the corridors etc. because the not particularly lively nurses had failed to drive them back to their wards and beds in time. Therefore, this tasteless farce in which children were misused for political purposes also experienced an inglorious end.
The situation was completely different with regard to some of the other disturbances of which we here give but a few examples. In the village of Graca unknown perpetrators dug up the grave of a small child that had just recently died, removing the body from the coffin and tossing it aside onto the ground.
In another village, Samodreza, a terrorstricken mother watched her twenty-six year old son being murdered before her eyes. The message in this case was clear - we are the masters in this land and you will again be the raya! 25
A third case was also very characteristic. An attack was carried out on a man, D. M., in a field near Gnjilane in which a beer bottle was rammed into his anus, the broken glass inflicting severe injuries on the unfortunate victim. In this instance, the message had a psychological basis and the sexual variation speaks for itself. There is no need to discuss further the cases of rape, assault, robbery etc. whose motives, as in the above-mentioned cases, were of a purely political nature. There will remain in the consciousness of not only the victims but also the organisers and instigators of these acts an indelible scar and the question - What happened to the dignity of the people who did these things? What has happened to the psyche of those manipulated children who learned openly, in front of their parents and teachers, to lie and deceive? What will happen to their trust in grown-ups and, finally, what will happen to all of them if their plans are not realised, if all of their hopes come to nothing, if all of the promises are not fulfilled and their aims dissolve like a mirage? How much stronger is this kind of politics, in the negative sense, than man, his ethics and conscience?
Especially to be condemned as immoral, at least among a nation of warriors, are the repeated attacks by Shiptar soldiers in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) on soldiers of other nationalities in their dormitories or other buildings in the barracks. To murder soldiers with a weapon that has been entrusted to you is considered a perfidious act meriting only scorn because it is an abuse of trust and so the justified odium is reserved less for the psychopathic personality of the perpetrator and more, particularly from the moral point of view, for the organisers of such attacks.
It is important to state, however, that many members of the Albanian national minority were not willing to participate in attacks like those mentioned above and in the many others not described. A significant number remained aloof from this kind of campaign and this number was much greater than was perceived or sensed. In spite of exposure to and pressure from their chauvinistic co-nationals, they remained outside it all although this was frequently risky and dangerous not only for themselves but also for their close kin. Only when the opportunity should arise will it be seen that many understood how unrealistic were the promises of the leaders of the national- secessionist movement. It will also be seen how great was the abuse of their influence by those Yugoslav republics which used the Shiptars to achieve their own secession after which they denied them not only propaganda
It is evident that we have intentionally not involved ourselves in enumerating and describing all of the various instances and methods employed in the campaign for the creation of a Great Albania. That will be a task later on for many historians, archivists and other experts whose field of study this is. It was more important by citing the most typical examples to enable the reader to acquire a general although clear insight into the ways in which the attempt was made in the twentieth century to realise that for which I have used an evidently adequate syntagma - the imperialism of the small.
It remains for us to answer two questions which very probably have also occurred to the readers of this book because without explaining and resolving them it would not be possible (within the limits and confines of this theme) to have a complete picture of Kosovo and Metohia, that is, of the syndrome of Serbian-Shiptar relations. We will, therefore, give the answers to these questions in the following chapter.
<< Previous | Home | Next >>
Copyright ©1999 kosovo.net.