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Kosovo Origins
by Hugo Roth



It Began With Resolution 343

The text of this more than fateful resolution reads:

"Death to Fascism - freedom for the people!
The Official Gazette of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia
Resolutions of the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia

The temporary ban on the return of colonists
to their former place of residence

Recently it has been observed that, without the approval of the people's authorities, the families of colonists (settlers) have been returning to and moving back to places where they were earlier settled, in Macedonia, Kosovo, Metohia, Srem and Vojvodina.

Since this brings harm to the colonists themselves because it exposes them to diffculties and unnecessary expense and since the conditions for their return to their earlier place of residence are still not met, with regard to all of the foregoing and in order to save the settlers a wasted journey and unnecessary expense

I have resolved

1) that the return of colonists to their previous place of abode be temporarily not permitted, that they stay where they are now and that the National Liberation committees will continue to offer them every assistance;

2) since the issue will be decided by special decree, those concerned will be promptly: informed as to who can move to which area and when.

No. 343
March 5th 1945

Commissar of Internal Affairs
Vlada Zecevic

These twenty or so lines are the complete text of the famous resolution no. 343 which had a crucial, even the most decisive, influence on much of what happened in Kosovo after the end of the Second World War.

The doubt as to whether to comment at all on this decree or not since that which it laid down was so fateful and, without exaggeration, so shameful that any commentary seems superfluous was resolved by the realisation that the absence of a commentary would also exclude a description of some of the hidden intentions of the decree.

Under a system of personal rule, this kind of decision could only be initiated and approved by a persona irrecusabila, that is, a person who cannot. that is. dare not be, denied anything.

In order to understand how this could have come about at all we have to explain under what circumstances and under what conditions it was done.

This was a period of unrestrained and uncritical euphoria brought on by the victory over Fascism, the liberation of the country, the expulsion of the occupier and a belief in a brighter future coloured with Communist ideals. The personification of all of this was seized for himself by one man but this was also zealously ascribed to him by a huge majority of the population, stimulated by the example given them by his closest associates who with idolatrous fervour placed him on a pedestal far beyond reach. In a word, this was a world and a time of a kind of overwhelming mythomania incarnated in one person. It was a time when one was allowed to cheer but had to listen. It was a time of triumph but which was, nevertheless, tinged with doubt. When necessary, cunning was used to hide that doubt as, after all, the text of this decision shows.

The decision talks of a temporary ban but in practice it had the effect of a lasting and permanent ban. Together with Kosovo and Metohia mention is also made of Macedonia where there were not so many mass expulsions and more a policy of Bulgarisation. Srem and Vojvodina are also cited for which some explanation is required. Firstly, Srem was an integral part of Vojvodina (something which was confirmed in the resolution of the Great National Assembly of Vojvodina held on November 25th 1918 directly before unification) and so this artful separation was aimed at demonstrating how essential was the arbitration of the new authorities and it was known who would be that arbitrator.

The Hungarian occupiers also expelled from Vojvodina those families which did not have the right of domicile confirmed before 1918 in the areas of Backa and Baranja but no specific banning measures were applied. Accordingly, it was necessary to soften the decision to ban a return to Kosovo and Metohia using the excuse of the widespread and general needs of Yugoslavia as a whole. While on the subject of Vojvodina it also has to be said that Vojvodina itself was a perfect example of the mass immigration (and migration) of people arriving from the destroyed and razed areas of many parts of Yugoslavia.

Let us finally turn our attention to the hypocritical explanation given in this ban in which it is claimed that this decision was taken in order to spare the settlers (another deceptive expression because those who were returning were not settlers but returnees), as it says in the text, a wasted (?) journey and unnecessary expense.

With this resolution, Kosovo was surrendered to the then already numerically superior Albanian national minority which was boosted by those Albanians whom the occupier had brought to Kosovo and who neither returned to Albania of their own accord nor by a decision or resolution of the Yugoslav authorities. All of the later events in Kosovo can be viewed and understood through the prism of these decisions. If we add to all of this the policy of forced rapprochement as expressed in the various forms of aid offered, the sending of food, weapons and many other articles, the establishing of monetary parity, the building of the first railway in Albania etc, then the reasons become still clearer. The great friendship which promised a federation or, eventually, Albania as the seventh republic in Tito's Yugoslavia shattered like glass in 1948 after the famous split with the USSR and Stalin. Albania was completely reliant on the USSR and so Yugoslavia became its greatest enemy and Albania was for Yugoslavia, more precisely, for J. B. Tito, an unrealised opportunity to be his first step to the throne of the chief of all the Balkan countries.

A new period arose in the relations between the two countries. The open hostility had great repercussions on the attitude of the Albanians on both sides of the border towards the Yugoslav state because, in a majority of cases, the Albanian national minority took a negative stance towards Yugoslavia, the country in which they lived. However, there was no visible or large-scale manifestation of this at the beginning which does not mean that there were no individual or collective excesses. A specific tactic was in play, however- an apparent loyalty to the regime and to serving Tito but combined with a secret process of self-organisation and preparation for "Kosovo D Day". Both methods were employed for the constant accusation of Serbs of Greater Serbian nationalism, of UDBA (State security) conspiracies, of the revisionism of Titoism and other similar things. Many illegal Communist, single nation (Albanian) organisations were formed then but, at the same time, there was a much greater number of illegal organisations with an explicitly nationalistic and secessionist orientation. Since this was also the period when other nationalist organisations in some of the Yugoslav republics set out to realise their own secessionist aims, the pace of their conspiratorial connections and joint actions started to quicken.

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