|kosovo.net : History : Kosovo Origins|
by Hugo Roth
32. The only field which has remained outside our schema is that of linguistics except for the portrayal of Slav toponyms on Albanian territory which are both witness to the one-time numerous Slav elements in Albania and to the quiet losss of identity. The mutual exchange of linguistic influences between the two neighbouring peoples was a normal thing. A significantly greater number of Serbian words entered the Albanian language but the Serbian language also took words from Albanian like, for example, "katun", "vatra", "bardoka", "krapa", "zalo" and also the word "pljacka" (=robbery, plunder, plillage) concerning which Dr. Petar Skok says in the text "Slovenstvo i arbanske ekspansije" (Slavdom and the Albanian Expansion, Catena mundi, p. 543): "only ours through borrowing, according to its root a Greek word and the Albanians spread it throughout the Balkans. It was the most customary word in their speech and it is thanks to them that this word became a Balkan one". Clearly this word entgered the Serbian language in tandem with the assaults by Albanian herdsmen on Serbian pasture-lands.
34. The enormous sums paid for Serbain land sounds contradictory in relation to the well known asseveration of how the Albanian national minority is exploited, deprived of possibilities etc. The facts about the sums paid to buy up Serbian property, however, have their well known explanation in the irrregular sources of income (as evidenced in the many trials for narcotics trafficking etc.) the "tax" levied for the political parties of the secessionists and similar things.
35. On the previous map which displays the, at least for now, unrealised aim of a unified Moslem territory in the Balkans, the district of Sandzak, that is, originally Ras, is also designated. In connection with this, we point out the aggressive appetite shown by Austo-Hungary in the ninetheenth and twentieth centuries is today being repeated by the Islamic world. It concerns the stubborn attempt to sever the natural connection between Serbia and Montenegro by takin over Ras (Sandzak) which vividly confirms the value of the old saying - divide et impera!
36. In order to draw the reader's attention to the most absurd parts of this quotation, we have alloved ourselves the luxury of interjecting suitable punctuation marks in brackets which are not to be found in the original text.
At the Crossroad
The present period in Yugoslavia has been marked by the secession of Slovenia and Croatia, the latter including territory where Serbs formed the majority, the separation of Macedonia and the attempt to impose an Islamic government in a Bosnia and Hercegovina still in the grip of a war whose outcome is uncertain. The republics of Serbia and Montenegro have decided to remain in Yugoslavia and so they are continuing to call their joint community Yugoslavia.
Within this new constellation, the Shiptar national minority for the most part find themselves in the new Yugoslavia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The percentage of Shiptars in the other former Yugoslav republics is far less significant than that in Yugoslavia, a fact which has guided the direction of Shiptar activities.
With reference to this comment let us be permitted to point out one essential but, nevertheless, unnoticed and unmentioned detail which will enable us to acquire a clear idea and concept and, perhaps, even reach new conclusions about the reasons and aims which guided the leaders of the Shiptar political organisations in the choice of direction of their activities.
Let us recall the views expressed in the chapter "It is also a question of names" in which we extensively detailed the Albanian and, consequently, the Shiptar, aspiration for contemporary Albanians to be represented as the direct descendants of the Illyrians. Let us permit ourselves at this point to add some additional details.
Let us establish first of all where the Illyrian homeland was according to scientific and, especially, cartographic sources.
We shall make use of the most reliable as possible sources in order to establish the location of the Illyrians. The first two "proved" their objectivity in the years of their publication, that is, at a time when the Albanian national territory had still not been marked out, that is, when the Albanian state was still not in existence. Under discussion are the historical atlases of Kuipert 29 and Sieglin 30, the former published in 1884 and the latter in 1893. Together with them are two contemporary historical atlases of Italian origin whose selection is justified by the fact that, after the Roman victory over the Illyrians, the Illyrian lands were incorporated within the Roman empire. Since these are reliable historical facts, it is only logical that the victors knew where and what they had conquered. The Italian atlases used are the Atlante storico and Atlante storico ilustrato. 31
At the first glance (only two maps are included in this electronic edition) it is noticeable that the maps from all four sources precisely and identically show the area inhabited by the Illyrian tribes from the third century BC to the second century AD to have been located along the eastern shore of the Adriatic sea, that is, in that part which would for centuries after that time bear the name "Dalmatia". That transitional period is even marked in the Atlante storico from Novara with the two-fold name of Illyria and Dalmatia. Before we consider the essence of the facts presented, it is worth taking a look at one more. Not one of the cited maps locates the Illyrians within the interior of the Balkan peninsula - marked there are the Thracians, Dardan, Macedonians, Epirotes, Tribals etc., that is, Pannonia, Moesia Superior and other places.
If the sources, whose credibility we have established, point to the fact that the ancient Illyrian territory was in a north-westerly direction, along the Adriatic coast, while contemporary Albanian factors are attempting to prove an unbroken Illyrian-Albanian continuity, then the logical question arises - how is it that the so-called "true successors" of the IIlyrians are not oriented towards their original homeland (which the author of this book does not even by chance suggest since his ideas are not slanted in that direction nor guided by that logic) but towards regions eastward of the so-called original Illyrian territory, that is, towards Serbia, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro. However, that orientation, in fact, expansionism, is not equally displayed nor seen with the same purpose.
In fact it would also have really been in accordance with the nationalist concept of Blut und Boden ("blood and soil") if the Albanian chauvinists had turned towards the northwest, that is, to the "old lands", but the fact that they have not is probably the result of an analysis of the geopolitical situation, historical conditions and circumstances in the Balkans. Flowery propaganda conducted from greed won the day.
Even a superficial analysis shows that during the time of the first Albanian attempts at expansion in the nineteenth century, in the period of the first League of Prizren, almost all of the "original homeland" of the Illyrians was under the rule of Austro-Hungary, then one of the most powerful countries in Europe and second only to the Ottoman empire in the Balkans, which a priori made any campaign in the direction of Illyria, that is, Dalmatia, impossible. The situation within that empire, however, apparently offered certain hopes for national autonomy within its framework if the Turks should so allow but, as is well known, not only did the Turks not so allow but they also came down vengefully hard on the Albanian leadership and people. In short, in neither one nor the other case was there any possibility or chance of the realisation of Albanian aims. On the other hand, the already mentioned descent of the shepherds and, after the Turkish invasion, the poverty-stricken inhabitants of Albania into the Kosovo and Metohia valley which coincided with the Turkish taking of the Balkans and the Islamization of the Albanians was clearly carried out for the purpose of using and possessing pasture-land. That gradual descent of the Albanians into lands populated by Serbs opened the way for their later penetration into Kosovo and Metohia. After all, this was also a precondition for the announcement of those pretensions which today are very real. 32
It has already been mentioned that the attitude of the Albanian and Shiptar expansionists is different for each of their neighbours. Representatives of the Albanian people fairly frequently proclaim what those specific approaches are when they make statements abroad and in contacts with the press.
When peace and the resolution of the ethnic, confessional and civil war in Bosnia and Hercegovina is being discussed in this country, that role is given to the former head of the Communist party in Kosovo. He has been explicit "... The only solution is the separation of Kosovo from Serbia and the creation of our own republic!"
As far as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is concerned, he also offers an uncompromising solution according to which it is possible "... to resolve the Albanian issue only by recognising the Albanian in this republic as completely equal with the Macedonian people, acknowledging both peoples as state-constituting peoples!" Let us, nevertheless, not forget that wing of the Albanian Macedonians which has already proclaimed a separate Albanian state in Macedonia, calling it "Ilirida".
The "recipe" for Montenegro runs thus: "...the Albanian people must have a single political territorial autonomy for all those districts where Albanians form a majority of the population!" and, according to the "recipe", these are a part of Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro!?), Plav, Gusinje, Rozaje, Ulcinj, Tuzi and Bar.
An opportunity has not arisen for the person in question to announce the "solution" for Greece but this is because it has been known from earlier that the Albanians consider that Northern Epirus which they call Qameria should belong to them.
In normal circumstances these kinds of views, so openly and unhesitatingly expressed, should not even be mentioned because they are in contradiction both with the principles upon which the United Nations are founded and with the Helsinki declaration. It is obvious that the Shiptar secessionists, not only in Kosovo and Metodia, are relying on the forces which stand behind them, the most prominent of which are to be found in the Moslem states.
The Islamic component was not particularly noticeable in the early stages of Shiptar secessionism because it did not accord with the encouragement coming from the "leading atheist state in the world", that is, Albania. This does not mean, however, that a majority of the leaders from the Moslem religious structures were not actively involved in the secessionist movement but only that they did not stand at its head and did not give it a religious designation. It was more important for the Shiptar secessionists to follow and bow to the current political trends, going along with and making use of those which offered the greatest opportunities.
In the beginning this was the Albanian and state leadership so that, during the period of Dr. Sali Berisha's rule, support was found both in the Albanian state and in the international community, that is, in the western countries. However, since that side has shown more and more in recent times that the "problem of the Shiptars, that is Kosovo" should be resolved within the framework of Yugoslavia, Islamic tendencies have strengthened. After all, let us recall that Albania itself has joined the Community of Islamic states and, in addition to that, two other crucial factors are influencing the new Shiptar orientation. One of these factors is the Bosniak-Moslem movement of Alija Izetbegovic and the other is the Sandzak-Moslem movement of Sulejman Ugljanin.
The basis of both these movements lies in Islam although modified, for very practical reasons, into a pseudo-secular version adapted to the needs of the present political climate prevailing in contemporary Western society.
All of this has one, ultimate, aim, visible to the observer but undeclared. This aim, in principle, is not new and is clearly expressed in the well known view "everything which was once Islamic must be so again". However, in this specific instance, although within a relatively small area, in the south of Europe, it has a far-reaching significance. Namely, the south of Europe is the only place where there are regions in which Moslems have been living since medieval times. They are the descendants of converts from the ranks of the original inhabitants who accepted the Moslem faith and they are to be found in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Hercegovina (that is, the probable Bosnian-Croat federation) and Albania. The ties between them has created a transversal which connects them with Turkey and through that country with other Moslem countries in Asia and Africa as well. Furthermore, the potential has been created for the uniting of all of the south European Moslems because it should not be forgotten that Islam recognises no boundaries and that they accepted the present format modelled on other states as a result of the disunion within Islam map no.13.
It is interesting to note that, in all of the aforementioned region, the location of several Balkan states, the total number of Moslems does not surpass the number of Moslems who live, for example, in Germany and it is almost identical with the number of Moslems in France or with the number of Moslems in the United States.
Whether that numerical coincidence points to some other possible future coincidences of another kind in those countries, we do not know. We believe that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will more easily be able to answer that question.
One can pose the very logical question in connection with the thesis that future conflicts will be conducted in the form of trade wars as to what significance and role Albania will have and who is the candidate that is engaged in conquering this still undefined "hill" but certainly not a firm redoubt for which, so it seems to us, circumstances do not hold out much promise. Albania is located in an insignificant and small area with unsatisfactory terrain and its only advantage is that it can serve as one of the two flanking watchtowers overlooking the entrance to the Adriatic.
As far as the potential influence of the Albanians is concerned, it amounts to no more than a barely audible sound within a relatively compressed space, in fact, only so far as the Albanian national minorities reach in the neighbouring states, that is, in Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Greece. Their activities which, hitherto, have appeared in the greatest possible degree as negative, openly secessionist and destructive in all three countries without exception, reveal fairly clearly who is the source of the bad relations between neighbours and the potential instigator of crises and disagreements.
The three major candidates, however, who are undoubtedly very interested in exercising their influence in Albania are the United States, Italy and both Islamic currents, the fundamentalist and the milder, nearer, secularist.
From the historical point of view, Italy is the oldest of the occupiers of this region, from 146 BC to the Venetian Republic in the Middle Ages and once more as the ally of Fascist Germany during the Second World War of which something has already been said in the pages of this book.
However, it is very difficult to say how far Italy would get involved today in such an adventure in the new, changed geopolitical and, as Edward Lutvik, director of strategic and international studies in Washington, calls it, geo-economic conditions. After all, during the secessions and wars which have engulfed the Balkans in the last decade of the twentieth century, Italian policy has clearly failed to find its way, is lacking in ideas and has no sense of direction. Not completely understandably although not unexpectedly (with regard to its recent rulers), Italy has neglected its possibilities, sullenly withdrawn into itself and followed the political lead of others in an area where, until recently, it played an active part. It seems, however, that Italy has recently started to move again although less so in the area of the former Yugoslavia and somewhat more in Albania with, for now, humanitarian aid and a little more investment in the Albanian economy.
It is uncertain what the extent of Italian involvement in Albania will be. It seems that this does not only depend on Italy but it would surely be to the benefit of both sides. Italy has the necessary capital and Albania has oil, mineral wealth, the potential for livestock and so forth. Such a connection would offer Albania the opportunity for more serious development so essential to this, without belittlement or maliciousness, unfortunately most backward of all the European countries. Maybe internal economic prosperity would lead to a change in Albanian policy and, instead of demonstrating the constant desire for expansion towards its neighbours, it would be more realistic for Albania to devote itself to developing its own potential. Such a change in attitude would lower tensions in the Balkans where, let us not forget, they have too frequently passed the tolerance threshhold and become the motive for a fierce settling of accounts between the Balkan peoples. This especially appeared in a very passionate and violent form when the instigation for such action came from outside and the greater the influence and power of the outside sponsor, the greater were the effects.
Now something in short about the other candidate. A firm and resistant form of secular Islam does not exist. Relatively modest grounds and motivations can in a very short time easily replace a secular government with a radical fundamentalist one and this would inevitable lead to the using of Albania as a place d'armes facing Europe. This is not the author of this book's hypothesis but is laid down in a published programme in which it is written: "The first and most important conclusion is certainly the conclusion concerning the incompatibility of Islam and non-Islamic systems. There is no peace or co-existence between the 'Islamic faith' and non-Islamic social and political institutions."33
It is clear from the foregoing that there is no room for doubt. There would be no peace! After all, at the time of the writing of this book (June 1994), war is still raging in the former republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina.
As far as the United States is concerned: the strongest power in the world, freed from a "counterbalance", wants to be "present" at all the "potentially useful" points in the world.
Everything that has been said in this chapter describes what kind of crossroads faces the peoples and minorities of the Balkans. Until now we have spoken mostly of the choice of road selected by one side and significantly less about the other which represents the state-constituting nations of Yugoslavia.
The Serbs and Montenegrins find themselves, yet again, at the centre of a crisis in the Balkans. How and why is this so? Jovan Cvijic, the great Serbian scientist, geographer and anthropologist, has explained this simply and precisely: "We have built our house in the middle of the road and so we get in everyone's way! This witty statement really does sum up the essence of the attitude taken towards the Serbs. They are in a place where they hindered and got in the way of all those who wanted to roam about in this part of the world whether they were the great and powerful whose complex of greatness harried them into imprudent and incautious steps or the small and weak, pushed by impotence into unrealisable adventures. History has gifted modern Serbia (from Karadjordje's time, 1804) with much suffering, destruction, pressures and other misfortunes but never with subjugation.
This fact, that a people resists subjugation and does not accept defeat, is surely not well received by those for whom "Serbia stands in their way" and so the reactions from that quarter are not surprising.
One more factor is of importance when discussing the unavoidable causes which provoke the animosity shown, particularly by the great, towards Serbia. That people is, according to its characteristics, mentality and historical experience, very focused and so is predisposed to taking initiatives and playing a key role in many historical events, especially during the last two centuries. For example: starting the struggle for the national liberation of all the peoples in the Balkans, that is, the Serbian revolution of 1804; the decisive role played by Serbia during the First and Second Balkan wars; the successful struggle for the liberation of Serbia during the First World War and the beginning of the uprising against the Third Reich during the Second World War. All of these actions confirm that Serbia was an indispensable factor in resolving the many problems in the Balkans. It is both interesting and yet strange, however, that the Serbian question which has so often been raised in modern European history has even to the present day remained unresolved.
Without any hesitation or deep analysis it can be said that a significant number of the Balkan peoples have resolved their problems at the expense of the Serbs. The Albanian national minority today is trying, once again, to do the same with the noticeable help of some other Balkan peoples according to the principle of taking advantage for oneself from the conflicts of others. However, one cannot deny the role of the actions of the Serbian people itself in the dividing of the Serbs, in the unenviable situation of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia and the general situation in which Serbia has found itself in the last three to four years. Neither this time was the well known disharmony lacking. A similar negative effect can be ascribed to the Serbs' lack of resistance to the sly ploy of buying up their houses and land in Kosovo and Metohia for fabulous prices, far above their real value. They have sold their possessions for large amounts of foreign currency and abandoned Kosovo and Metohia. This method of buying up Serbian property has been just as effective as the expulsions achieved by threats, attacks and other forcible means. Momentary wealth has been acquired with a signature on a sales contract but also the uncertain status of an emigrant.34
The unusual but successfully organised sources of income which have enabled the Shiptar secessionist factors to make use of similarly unusual high finances have offered them the opportunity to buy significant privileges for "small change". The chaotic situation in the entire financial and economic system in the country, primarily as a consequence of the sanctions against Yugoslavia, has led to a situation where, at one time, the average monthly pay of those in work amounted to no more than two or three Deutschmarks. This situation brought about the easy buying-out of a good part of the Serbian bureaucratic class in Kosovo and Metohia and it went so far that, among other things, even school certificates were bought for money. The usual price for many other kinds of similar services was ten Deutschmarks and so this phenomenon, because of the large profits, is called in the Albanian language "tel marke".
The concurrence of a series of unfortunate and unpleasant circumstances has led to sad and impermissible weaknesses which have had a tragic effect on the morale of both peoples in Kosovo and Metohia. The Serbs on the defensive, subject to temptation, restless and with no real confidence in the future and the Shiptar people, headed by an arrogant, nationalistic leadership which for the most part is sucked into a witches' brew of chauvinism, caught up in the illusion that, with the help of an external factor, it will be able to carry out a forcible secession exemplified in the widespread misuse of the guiding slogan "Kosovo - Republic" (read: "Kosovo - Albania").
Both peoples find themselves at a dangerous crossroads. To live alongside each other in such tension is not possible and both one and the other sense this. The Shiptars hoped that outside pressure, sanctions, hostile encirclement and suchlike would break Serbia and that others would enable them to realise their aim. The Serbs have relied on their firmness and the hope that the experience gained in their age-old struggles for survival would prevail this time as well.
Both sides have understood that the path from the crossroads can lead only in one direction. The Serbian government offered a democratic state and full civic rights to every citizen of Yugoslavia. The Shiptar leadership knew that if it accepted that, the passion and craving for secession would dry up. What then?
Let us return once again to the already mentioned functionary for whom a political resurrection has been arranged so that he might proclaim what ought to be done. He stated both the basis and the ways and means for what "ought to follow".
Here is what he found as the basis: "From ancient times until today Kosovo has had its political identity, borders, autonomy and varying degrees of independence." Without the need to refute every one, literally, every one of the attributes connected to "Kosovo from ancient times", let us mention, apart from the already proffered maps of Ptolemy, Peutingeriana map and those of Waldzeemuller, Ortelius, Vavasori, De Wal, Cornelius and many others. We shall also draw attention to one more detail for which we are indebted to the historian and publicist, Mihailo Stanisic, who writes that the present names Kosovo, Metohia and Kosmet are not only a falsification of history but also a deception with far-reaching consequences. Both in history and geography Kosovo represents only one of ten districts known for centuries as Old Serbia (he also says more precisely that Old Serbia consists of nine districts, leaving out Ras alias Sandzak )35 which, as ancient, natural, topographic- orthographic and toponymic entities, the invaders of Serbian lands fused into the single name, Kosovo, in order to make it easier to exterminate the cradle of Serbdom and the inheritance and foundations of the Serbs' state and history.
These are the districts: Gornja (Binicka) Morava, Kosovo, Lab, Gornji Ibar (Ibarski Kolasin), Drenica, Hvosno-Metohia, Prizrensko polje with Gora and Has, Sredacka and Sirinska Zupa. (see Map1)
After listing these facts, there is really no need to add anything at all to the thesis about "Kosovo from ancient times..." but, in conclusion, it is necessary to cite the solution offered by that, may we be forgiven but we have to say, resurrected politician: "If the United States and Europe continue to hold the view that Kosovo should stay under the control of Serbia, a great injustice will be done to the Albanian people (??) which it will never accept. The unresolved Albanian question in the Balkans (?!) will become a time-bomb and the Albanians will be forced to engage in a war (!!!) for their liberation. But, that war will take on wider dimensions..." 36
<< Previous | Home | Next >>
Copyright ©1999 kosovo.net.