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The Saga of Kosovo
The Saga of Kosovo

  

 

Kosovo in the New Yugoslavia


Tito, in seeking to win over the Albanians of Kosovo during his wartime struggle to seize power, led them to believe that after the war they would have the right of self-determination, including the right of secession, as we pointed out in chapter twelve. But his decision at the end of the war to make Kosovo-Metohija an autonomous unit within Serbia was not warmly received. Nevertheless, several other actions of the Tito regime began to change the character of Kosovo-Metohija rather radically in favor of the Albanians. As indicated in chapter twelve, some 100,000 Serbs were forced out of Kosovo during World War II, and they were not permitted to return. Moreover, with each passing year, more and more Serbs were forced to leave, between 150,000 and 200,000 in the twenty-year period, 1961-1981. In the meanwhile, in the period after the war, between 200,000 and 240,000 Albanians were brought in from Albania to the Kosovo-Metohija region. And over the years, Kosovo Albanians gained increasing control over events in the province.

Nevertheless, at the very beginning of the new Yugoslav regime, there were considerable difficulties between the Albanian masses and their "liberators." For example, the Kosovo Albanians resisted the "voluntary mobilization" drive. In some cases they simply ignored the appeal, and had to be herded together in their mountain villages, marched down to check points, and transported under armed escort to recruiting posts. Animosity grew and became intense. In one instance a shoot-out developed, leaving 200 Albanians mowed down. In another, 130 Albanians suffocated when cramped into a former gunpowder depot. The founder of the Albanian Communist Party in 1941, Miladin Popovich, now back in Prishtina, was killed by a Balli Combetar member, who walked into his office and murdered him in cold blood. It was in that evolving atmosphere that the Supreme Command of the People's Liberation Army issued a decree on February 8, 1945, placing Kosovo under military administration. In a month's time, the backbone of the opposition was broken. Ironically, it was broken by those who had praised Dimitrije Tutsovich (pre-1914 Serbian socialist) for castigating Serbian bourgeois military methods in dealing with nationality issues!

In 1948, the Yugoslav minister of interior (Rankovich) reported to the party congress that past "weaknesses and mistakes" of the Communist Party were in large part responsible for the difficulties. He said that the Party was wrong when it took the position that Serbian partisan units could not survive in Kosovo during the war because of the "chauvinist attitudes of the Schipetar masses." Secondly, the party was wrong because it had "a sectarian attitude in bringing people into the fold of the anti-fascist front." Rankovich did not, however, mention the fact that during the war Kosovo Moslems looked to Albania as their natural ally, and that there were few if any communists in the area to associate with. Nor did he cite the fact that at least half of the Serbs in the region were overtly or covertly pro-Chetnik. He did admit that the problem of "re-educating" the Kosovo Albanians to soften their opposition to Slav communists had proved to be a rough one.

From the time of the incorporation of Kosovo-Metohija into the People's Republic of Serbia as an autonomous region, it became Serbia's responsibility to demonstrate flexibility, and to adopt the right approach to the Kosovo Albanians. Solid preparatory political education and economic support were the right combination, or so believed Serbia's Communists. For a time it seemed as if the formula would work. As the Republic of Serbia kept steadily injecting aid (economic, cultural, social) into the region, Albanian postwar resistance mellowed, extremists lost their preponderance, and those advising forbearance and self-control gained the upper hand. Some of them were card-carrying communists, others were not, but both never lost sight of the national Albanian cause in multi-national Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslav central government, for its part, had made a commitment to change the way of life in the backward Kosovo-Metohija area. In spite of all difficulties that it encountered, it did not want to see that commitment shortchanged. With all available intensity, it set out to reach its aim--to win over the Kosovo Moslems, just as it had sought to do in the case of the Bosnian Moslems. The former, as reluctant as they may have been, finally obliged. They cuddled comfortably into the new concept, as they began to realize the advantages.

For the Serbian Communists the problem was somewhat compounded by the fact that they had to break through two barriers simultaneously: anti-Serbian and anti-Marxist. In politically educating the Kosovo Albanian masses, the kosovo.netmunists in fact had the task of re-directing the political thinking of the two-thirds majority of the population, from thinking Balli Combetar to thinking Socialist Alliance. The best way to succeed, they thought, would be to give the Kosovo Albanians what they always craved for: regional autonomy in managing their affairs, cultural identity, the right of self-determination, even the right of secession (declaratively). In the postwar federalistic euphoria there was nothing that the Yugoslav central authorities could have done in terms of pointing to the disintegrating pitfalls of the experiment, lest they be blackened and calumnated as "reactionaries."

What began as the "Autonomous Kosovo-Metohija Region" (1947), became the "Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija" (1963), and ended up as the "Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo" (1969). These may seem as insignificant semantics, but under Yugoslav conditions it meant ascending from a faceless geographic entity to a "constituent element of the federation." The 1969 formula was subsequently used by the Albanians to demand the status of a republic in the Yugoslav Federation, which could in turn lead to the riddance of Serbia's tutelage. This scary possibility dawned upon the Serbian Communists only later, when the statistics on the rapidly growing Albanian majority became alarming.

Economically, Kosovo was moving ahead in unheard of leaps, with an annual industrial growth rate of 30 percent. With eight percent of the Yugoslav population, Kosovo was allocated up to 30 percent of the Federal Development Funds. The Kosovo authorities, it was discovered later, used large sums from these funds to buy up land from Serbs and give it to Albanians, clearly a misappropriation. Investment loans were given for periods as long as fifteen years, with a three year grace period, and an interest rate of a mere three percent.

Kosovo, always considered one of the "underdeveloped" areas of Yugoslavia, now received priority treatment. In a five year period in the 1970s, for instance, some 150 million dollars were pumped into it annually. Moreover, of one billion dollars of World Bank development credit to Yugoslavia, Kosovo got 240 million or 24 percent. It is estimated that within the past decade, some 2,100 million dollars have been poured into the Kosovo economy. Much of the cultural support, social services, and educational aid was never to be repaid (i.e., financed by Serbia or the federation).

In view of all this aid, it is often asked, how come Kosovo persistently lagged so far behind other parts of the federation? Why is it among the poorest regions of Yugoslavia? Demographic reasons are usually cited, the Kosovo area having a birth rate of 32 per 1,000 (the highest in Europe), and the largest families (6.9 members). If all of Yugoslavia had grown at that rate its population today would be 50 million instead of 22 million. Other explanations given are Albanian backwardness, lack of management skills, corruption, investing in unproductive prestige enterprises, unrealistic and over-ambitious planning, and growing unemployment (27.5 percent).

Still others point to paradoxical overeducation in the region. The perennial Kosovo illiteracy problem has been on the way to obliteration: within the first few years after the war, 453 elementary schools, 30 high schools, and three institutions of higher learning were opened. Prishtina, a city of about 170,000 has over 50,000 college students and 40,000 high school students. For every 1,000 inhabitants of Kosovo there are 30 young people working toward a college degree which will get most of them nowhere, partly because only 20 percent studied science and technology. Kosovo has some 450,000 high school and university students who compete for 178,000 working places in the whole regional economy, and about 46,000 of those are in the nonproductive sector. A Yugoslav sociologist has pointed to the tensions and pressures that such "uncontrolled explosion of education" created among the Kosovo elite, who in their unsatisfied urge to succeed became "easy prey" to nationalistic views.

The Albanians tend to blame others for their plight; they are prone to accuse the other republics and nationalities of "exploitation" and see themselves as victims. Can it be that aggressive Albanian nationalism, which used to accuse Serbs of not educating Kosovo Albanians, will now charge Serbs with over-educating Albanians? The real answer to the question of the under-development of Kosovo is not in its lack of progress but in the comparative rates of development, which in other areas is four to six times higher. Distancing themselves from other Yugoslav peoples by insisting on a separate, ethnically pure, narrow Albanian cultural orientation (which makes them unemployable in a lingusitically Serbo-Croatian work environment), Kosovo Albanians have isolated themselves from the rest of the Yugoslav community.

While the economic lag is felt by both Albanian and Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo, the cultural isolation is a singularly Albanian phenomenon. This is why Kosovo Serbs resent being forced to learn Albanian and to attend schools with instruction in the Albanian language. It is paradoxical indeed that Serbian efforts to bring Albanians in, only contributed to keeping them out; that the federative philosophy of freeing peoples for the sake of individual development and the broadening of inter-nationality ties, in fact imprisoned them in their own nationalistic confines. Serbian Communists are asking themselves in disbelief: after all we have done for Kosovo, is it possible that the Albanians are less happy in the "new communist Yugoslavia" than they were in "rotten royalist Yugoslavia?"

The question is asked because of the unrest, demonstrations, and protests that have taken place in the region in 1968, during the 1970s, and especially in 1981. And because the communists themselves admit that "the atmosphere is fraught with something bad." Ali Shukrija, one-time Chairman of the Presidency of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, put it this way: "... one enters a shop and the salesman behaves strangely. One enters a butcher's place, the transitor hums, Tirana is on. One switches on the TV set in Prishtina, and does not know if he is in Tirana or here... And then the enthusiasm for folklore: incredibly aggressive... one can see Tirana all the time, the lights directed that way...' (Interview printed in Borba May 10-12, 1982).

Shukrija should not complain. It was the kosovo.netmunist leadership that turned the heads of Kosovo Albanians toward Tirana. They did it in their nationalistic ecstasy, when they got rid of the allegedly Serbian-dominated state security service in the late 1960s. At the time that Shukrija heard the radio in the butcher shop humming, the Kosovo security service was in the hands of the Albanians. They were probably listening to the same tune. Shukrija does not tell. It seems perverted logic, therefore, to blame Serbs for the 1968 demonstrations that occurred in several Kosovo cities.

Following the 1968 disorders, in which a number of persons were injured, most of the Albanian demands were met. One was not: republic status for Kosovo, but they soon got it, in fact if not in name. The 1968, 1971, and 1974 amendments to the Yugoslav constitution, one after another, granted Serbia's autonomous provinces the prerogatives of republics. Kosovo got its own supreme court and its own Albanian flag. Belgrade University extension departments at Prishtina were upgraded to the level of an independent university. This is when the leaders of Prishtina's youth turned away from Belgrade and toward Tirana. Belgrade could not provide either Albanian teachers or Albanian textbooks.

Tirana was more than glad to oblige. In ten years (1971 - 1981) it sent to Kosovo 240 university teachers, together with textbooks written in the Albanian literary language. At the same time came the aggressive folklore that Shukrija was talking about: Albanian historic and socialist movies, Albanian TV and radio hookups, sport and cultural exchange visits. The amalgamation was in full swing. In plain view of the Kosovo Albanian leaders. The latter did not wake up even in 1974, when an alleged "Cominform group" was discovered, or in 1976, when a "movement for the national liberation of Albania" surfaced. When Serbs complained of pressures and "reverse discrimination," their voices seemingly could not be heard because of the ever more vocal clamor of the Kosovo Albanians.

Finally, on March 11, 1981, a routine evening in the student cafeteria turned into turmoil when a wild bunch of youths began demolishing everything that they could get their hands on, which was subsequently depicted as a student protest at the "lousy" food they were getting. After they had beaten up the cashier, broken chairs and window panes, the demonstrators took to the streets of Prishtina, where they were faced by the riot police. Several policemen were injured as well as students, who were dispersed. The demonstrators reappeared on March 26th, this time in the early morning. Allegedly, they blocked the entrance to three student dormitories in Prishtina, and talked the students into attending a mass meeting where "student privileges" would be discussed. This was when political slogans were displayed that had nothing to do with student problems.

In their enthusiasm, the young ring leaders decided on a show of force in another section of the city, by attempting to disturb the running of the so-called "Tito's relay," the annual youth event celebrating the President's birthday. It proved a mistake. The police reacted, and in the ensuing fracas 23 protectors and 14 militiamen were injured. Then on April 1st, as demonstrations spread to other Kosovo cities, with political demands dominating the riots, three groups of demonstrating citizens assembled in front of the building housing the Kosovo Province Committee of the Communist Party in Prishtina. According to a Belgrade weekly (NIN, April 12, 1981),the slogans read: "Kosovo-Republic," "We are Albanians, not Yugoslavs," "We want a unified Albania" ... By the time the evening was over, two demonstrators and two militiamen had been killed.

A member of the Presidency of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist League [Party], Stane Dolants, held a news conference in Belgrade on April 6th. Alleging that the Party leaders had been caught off guard by the riots, he depicted the Kosovo events as the consequence of the "horrendous dynamism of the progress of our society, dynamism which in 36 years spanned in essence one whole century... " He said that the melee was the deed of "two to three hundred hooligans," that the "Kosovo militia was 80 to 90 percent Albanian" and that the two militiamen that were killed were both of Albanian nationality. When it was all over, the Yugoslav press reported that eleven persons were dead and 57 wounded.

Tirana sources, as well as some Albanian sources in Yugoslavia, insisted that one thousand or more persons were killed. One American Embassy source in Belgrade estimated that 200 to 300 were killed. It would seem certain that the number killed was far greater than the Yugoslav press reported.

At the above-mentioned press conference, Dolants tried to minimize the significance of the continuous migration of Serbs from Kosovo, but at the Devich monastery near Prishtina, Mother Superior Paraskeva seemed to be running a better data collection center than the Central Committee of the Party in Belgrade. Standing in the monastery courtyard, and pointing her finger to the surrounding mountains, she spilled out data with the precision of a computer. The delivery was somewhat monotonous, if distressful: "Let us start with the village of Poljana, 48 or 49 [Serbian] families, all gone; Kraljitsa, 68 families, all gone; Ljubovats and Dugovats, around sixty homes, all gone; Gornje and Donje Prikaze, 30 homes, all gone; Klina, some 28 families all gone; Novo Selo, 28 families, all gone; Lavusha, there were 25 homes, all gone; all these people moved out; Oluzha, there were twelve homes, all gone; Trstenik, some 45 families, all gone; then Chikatovo, at one time 60 homes, and Glogovats with 70, no one around any more; Brochana, 28 families, all gone; Krsh Brdo, 18 families, all gone; Ludovich, of 12 families not a single one there. Then this village over there, Banja, well this one I don't know."

The stunned reporter interrupts the litany: "But where did all these people go?" "To Serbia, where else," responds Mother Superior, matter of factly. She then related how she and her sister nuns, 30 of them, lived since 1947. In a state of actual siege, battling the Albanian youths who harass them day and night, throwing stones, raiding the monastery forest, vegetable gardens, animal sheds. "... I was beaten, had broken ribs, my head was bloodied ten times... We must say the militia came often, but what's the use... " But how do you defend yourself, asks the reporter. Mother Paraskeva looks at him for a moment, then adds: "God protects us, who else?" (Mother Paraskeva's interview was published in the Serbian Orthodox Church publication, Pravoslavlje, May 15, 1982).

How come a Serbian nun was so well informed? There are two reasons: first, her personal interest in the people she knew so well, and second, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in May 1969 instructed all ecclesiastical personnel of the Ras-Prizren diocese to collect all pertinent data on all instances of attacks on the clergy, churches and church property committed by citizens of Albanian nationality in the Kosovo area. This order resulted from growing expressions of concern and alarm, both from members of the Serbian population of Kosovo and from Serbian priests who thought that the leadership of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade was not doing much to protect the Serbian faithful. Even after the Kosovo riots of 1981, such expressions were heard. For example, in February 1982, an "open letter" was addressed to the Holy Synod of Bishops by a group of priests from the deanery of Tamnava (town of Ub in Serbia proper), asking the Serbian Episcopate "why the Serbian Church is silent" and why it did "not write about the destruction, arson, and sacrilege of the holy shrines of Kosovo."

The Holy Synod of Bishops had appealed to the official authorities of the Republic of Serbia, as well as to the Federal Executive Council, listing concrete cases, but the situation was not rectified. So on May 19, 1969, the bishops appealed to President Tito. In his reply of May 23, he expressed his regrets, and agreed that the reported incidents were in violation of the constitution. He promised to do everything possible to prevent such incidents and lawless acts, and "to secure for all citizens a safe life as well as the security of their property." He wrote that their letter, together with his stated opinion on the need of taking firm steps for the protection of the law, would be sent to the Executive Council of the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Serbia.

This exchange did not, however, mark a change in the safety of Serbian sacred places in Kosovo, nor did it alleviate the deep-seated vvorries of Serbs in the area. The migration of Serbs and Montcnegrins from Kosovo continued, and was becoming one of the most pressing political issues for the Serbs generally who knew about the situation. Naturally, it was thc Serbs who were most deeply and emotionally concerned, both with the issue of migration and the continu<>us trend of Albanian vandalism against Serbian monasteries, churches, attacks on the Orthodox clergy and nuns, desecration of cemeteries and national monuments.

Life had become incrcasingly difficult for the Serbs and Montenegrins, not so much because they were a minority, but because of the pressures to leave Kosovo. Direct or subtle, these pressures involved discriminatory practices at work, obligatory instruction in Albanian in the schools, lack of' influence in politics, threats of various types, the stealing of livestock and the futility of appearing against seizures of personal personal properto to courts staffed by Albanians. Thus, faced with gcncral animosity and outright pillaging, the frustrated victim finally decides to abandon everything and flee.

Indicative of the trend are the population statistics. In 1946 the Albanians made up about 50 percent of the population of Kosovo, but by 1981 it was 77.5 percent. The corresponding percentage for Serbs and Montenegrins had dropped to about 15 percent (Yugoslav statistics list Serbs and Montenegrins separately). Thus, as the Albanian goal of an ethnically pure Kosovo became a reality, that reality became increasingly unbearable for those who could not pack up and leave.

According to the findings of the Kosovo Special Committee that inquired into the matter of emigration, in the period 1971-1981, over 57,000 Serbs and Montenegrins moved out of the area, confirming the continuous nature of the trend. Parents found that their children had been intercepted while going to school or coming home. Serbian women were raped. Serbian girls were assaulted or kidnapped by Albanians. Farmers found their crops damaged. F,lderly citizens who stayed home got letters or telephone calls that upset their peace of mind. Unfriendly slogans or symbols were sprayed on the walls of Serbian homes under cover of darkness.

The Kosovo Albanian authorities were also anxious to break up the compactness of Serbian areas. To do this they would, for example, build a factory in a solidly Serbian settlement. Under the population key of the Yugoslav government, 80 percent of the workers in that factory had to be Albanians, who then would be brought in, and thus break up the compactness of the Serbian settlement.

Two years after the 1981 events,Belgrade's Politika June 3, 1983), headlined in big letters: MONTHLY--400 EMIGRANTS. The article reported that 10,000 Serbs and Montenegrins had moved out of Kosovo in the previous two years. Kosovo as a whole, it reported, has 1,435 settlements, 666 of which are without a single Serb or Montenegrin, and in 147 settlements they make up only three percent of thc population.

Another reporter (for Pravoslavlje, May 15, 1982) tells of two Montenegrins seen digging in the cemetery of the village of Petrovats: "We moved out in the early spring, but come back to get our deceased mother... It became unbearable here any longer. Now that the village is called Ljugbunar, we could not have a water system, but the Albanians are getting it. There is electricity now, and a paved road as well, but what's the use, there was no place for us here any more... "

The chronology of complaints against Albanian aggressiveness as published in the periodical of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Glasnik, July 1982) reads in part:

1969: the ruins of the ancient Serbian church near Veliki Trnovats were converted into a rest room, and a donkey was found inside. . .

1970: the cellar of the Dechani Monastery was broken into several times...
1971: the Orthodox cemetery in Petrich, all tombstones smashed and the accacia forest trees cut. Albanian youngsters attacked Serbian women on their way to the service in St. Nicholas church in the village of Mushutishte, near Prizren...

1972: the main door of the church in the village of Vinarats, near Kosovska Mitrovitsa, was found broken and removed; the same damage was done to the church in the village of Dobrchan, near Gnjilane; in Prizren the church of St. Nicholas was repeatedly damaged; in the village of Shipolje, near Kosovska Mitrovitsa, fifteen tombstones were smashed; in the village of Srbovtsi, eight tombstones, and in the villages of Opterusha, Orahovats, and Ratinje, the same thing. The monastery woods in Mushutishte raided twice this year, some 30 trees cut down. The nuns who opposed the vandals were beaten and exposed to the worst obscenities. Forest trees belonging to St. Demetrius monastery in Preshevo were cut down and sold openly at the local market...

1973: an Albanian cutting a tree on church property wounded the priest who tried to stop him; St. Mark's monastery church was found with the main door removed, the iconostasis smashed, books torn, and candleholders bent [the same church was later vandalized every time it was repaired ] . .

1977: Rashka and Prizren Bishop Pavle assaulted by an Albanian youngster, who grabbed his beard, shouting, "Hi preacher," and hit him over the head. The incident occurred in the center of downtown Prizren ...
1979: eleven young Albanians raided the Gorioch monastery, shouting insults at the abbot; an unsuccessful burglar set fire in the stable of the Sokolitsa monastery; Devich monastery nuns were assaulted several times and the property plundered ...

1980: a professor of the theological school in Prizren was injured in a street attack; the woods of the Holy Trinity monastery near Prizren, raided by five Albanians who cut 64 trees; in the night between March 15/16, at 3 A.M., the old guest house building--with one wing serving as a library and the other as a reliquary--of the Pech Patriarcahte monastery was set afire and burned down ...

1981: ten windows of the Saint Urosh church in Uroshevets were broken; thirty eight tombstones at the cemetery of the village of Bresja, and six in the village of Shtinga smashed; the church at Uroshevats raided once again, irredentist slogans written on the wall of an adjacent building...

1982: cemetery tombstones in the yard of the church in Kosovska Mitrovitsa were broken; the Devich monastery lost thirty trees from its woods, the monastery sow was found killed with an axe, and the access road blocked by bulldozed huge stones.

Does all of this look like ugly Albanian nationalism or just plain vandalism on a rampage? Serbs and Montenegrins are traumatized, especially since they are getting no answers. Kosovo leaders, such as Ali Shukrija, admit publicly that Kosovo events "have disrupted relations.. . traumatized Kosovo Albanians as well, I can state that openly. It has been a shock to them too... " (Borba, May 10-12, 1982).

But such declarations do not satisfy Serbs and Montenegrins. They are looking for deeds not words. They see no energetic and prompt intervention by local authorities, no attempt to bring to justice those responsible for such acts. They want stiff sentences, purging those in authority, and the clear-cut establishment of who is responsible for all of this: the entire Belgrade policy or the particular interpretation of that policy by the Kosovo leaders? After all, the President of the Kosovo Provincial Committee of the League of Communists is a member of the Presidium of the party's Central Committee. Does he not report to his comrades in Belgrade what is going on in Kosovo? Don't they ask him about what they must have read in the papers or were told by the Patriarch's office? Is this some kind of conspiracy of silence, a cover-up, a snow job? Questions, questions, questions... With the degree of independence that the Yugoslav media have today, such a hot issue cannot just be swept under the rug.

True, there have been a few trials, closed to the public. Why closed? Members of "illegal" organizations have gone to prison. But what of Kosovo's top Albanian leaders? Two have resigned publicly. Is resignation the extent of their penalty? The rector of Prishtina University, the editor of the literary journal, and a few provincial government secretaries were removed from their positions, but slated for other jobs. Is this any way to deal with persons in leadership positions?

What really caused disaffection in Serbian and Montenegrin public opinion was that Kosovo security forces and the police were unable to come up with the identity of the arsonist or arsonists who set fire to the Pech Patriarchate monastery. That blaze shook Serbian public opinion. But the more that Belgrade insisted on learning the truth, the less it got. Kosovo officialdom clammed up. The newshungry Serbian press began its own investigative reporting, and that made everybody unhappy. The kosovo.netmunists accused the reporters of being snoopy sensation seekers, Croatian and some Serbian Communists felt that such efforts were counterproductive, but the broad public did not get what it really wanted: an official response and not news reports.

At this stage, the issue is not only complex, but so emotion-laden that it may be too much to expect clear thinking A Belgrade University professor, an ethnic Albanian (Halit Trnavci), denounced "the blind nationalistic fanaticism" of the Kosovo Albanological Institute and the Kosovo Academy of Sciences, and asserted: "By their declaration of hatred and intolerance toward the Serbian and Montenegrin people in the Kosovo area, they harm the Kosovo Albanians first of all ... We all know that Kosovo harbors the most important and greatest monuments of Serbian medieval culture. For centuries, throughout the rule of those who were our common enemies. . . hundreds and thousands of Albanians protected those Serbian monuments like their own homes, their own children, like their own national shrine... " But can such an appeal reach the minds of his compatriots in Prishtina, drugged by nationalist euphoria?

And what about those Serbs who agree with the prominent author and one-time Tito protege, Dobritsa Chosich, who stunned his colleagues at the Serbian Academy of Sciences when he publicly asked: "What kind of people are we Serbs, that so many of us laid down our lives for liberty during the war, only to see that that victory deprived us of freedom?" And what of Serbian Communists who agree with Serbia's highly placed party and state leader, Dragoslav Markovich, when he said: "After all, Serbia's Communists cannot eternally be considered responsible for the sins of the Great Serbian hegemonistic bourgeoisie!" (Politika, December 26,1981.)

Evidence seems to be accumulating that Serbia's patience may have reached its limit, and that the "red flag" of "Serbian hegemonism" will not be accepted any longer. Forebearance is one thing, but resignation, submission, and acquiescence in their own defeat, especially on the Kosovo issue, is historically un-Serbian. Unless Marxism has won over nationalism and blunted the Serbian sense of history, Serbs cannot become disinterested in their own heritage. Judging by the surge of national intonation in numerous literary works, theater pieces, movies, and art works, the Serbian spirit is very much awake. It is very much alive in intellectual circles, unabashedly evident in the ranks of the youth, displaying national symbols and singing old nationalistic songs, and manifested by the emergence of popular respect for the role of the Serbian Church in the latest national plight.

Today books about Serbia's history are best sellers. Contemporary literati, writing about the sufferings, massacres, and sacrifices under the Croatian Ustashi, Bosnian Moslems, and Albanians, suggest that the reaction of Serbs may lead to dangerous disillusionment with the official slogan of "brotherhood and unity. " As Serbia gropes trying to recharge its atrophied national spirit, those who contributed to the atrophy seem concerned that they not find themselves outside the mainstream of Serbian public opinion. It is clear that 1984 is not 1944. One wonders if to Serbian Marxists there is a crucial difference between being out of touch with one social class and being out of touch with the whole nation?

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