KOSOVO AND THE SERBIAN SITUATION 1999
The Serbian problem existed long before Milosevic came into being. He is just responsible for exasperating the crisis.
In 1389 the Serbs lost the Battle of Kosovo to the Turks (Muslims) and were replaced in the government of their ancient land by foreigners who began a long and on going process of the power in authority "ethically purging" the others in the territories under their control. Politics of the area have always been colorful and exciting by western standards.
In the 1920's the Serbs, Muslims and Turks (Albanians) actually got along as they rebuilt from World War I. In 1923 the President of Albania signed a treaty with the Muslim (Albanians) allowing these neighbors to get along legally. The Serbs reaction was to try and capture the president who hid behind palace walls with his body guards eating only foods cooked by his mother. In spite of this set of precautions more than 20 food tasters were poisoned in a period of less than 6 months. He was finally captured, his hand (the one he signed the treaty with) was cut off and fed to his dogs. Next his head was cut off and thrown to crowds of Serbs standing in the courtyard below who stomped it to bits and then demanded the body for similar treatment. In the parliament the representative brought guns to the meetings and opening shot more than 150 of their fellows while in the hall. Both sides participated in these activities of vengeance.
Kosovo was at the time in the hands of the Serbs who are 40% of the diverse population--their strength is concentrated in Serbia where they are the majority. Kosovo is a poor and backwoodslike area where no one really wants to live. The youth all leave to find jobs in more economically sound areas--but is does represent the "homeland."
In the 1940 Mussolini captured it as part of his eastward expansion. The land was then taken over by the Germans when the Italians were deemed unfit and unable to control and maintain the territory. When World War II ended the land was taken from the Germans and given to the "new state" of Yugoslavia under the leadership of Tito since he had fought against the Germans and Hitler. The Albanians were now numerically superior in the Kosovo region and they wanted control of the local government. Once in charge they began a systemic purging of Serbians from the land in revenge for the treatment they had been receiving since the 1300's.
It should be noted that during the war local leaders chose sides based on what ever deals they could cut individually. There were Serbs and Albanians fighting on both sides throughout the war with the choice being made based on what was promised to them. During the war years the other majority ethnic group in the area, the Croats took advantage of the unsettled nature of the times to exert their nationalistic plans. This they did by rounding up both Serbian and Albanian leaders and their families and torturing the women and children in front of the men. Then they poked out the eyes of the men and forced them down their throats. They then raped the women again before burning down their buildings and leaving them in the cold. They left bragging that it they survived they would bring forth a new generation of Croats, not Serbs.
When Tito took over he killed thousands on both sides who he mistrusted or who rioted. the major riots in the area occurred in 1918, 1941 and 1945. Peace was only maintained by armed troops walking the center of the streets as both Albanians and Serbs tried to kill each other at every opportunity. Tito believed in a multicultural climate and his program was bought into by both sides as he promised food and jobs to those who remained loyal. Both of these benefits were possible due to the use of funds provided by the Marshall Plan. Still Tito would stop at nothing to quell the dissidents and thousands were killed on into the 50's.
Serbia and the Serbs now felt persecuted on all sides. When ever someone other than a Serb was arrested for a crime they got a slap on the wrist while Serbs were imprisoned and treated much more harshly by the courts which were mostly Albanian. In spite of all this activity the area had one of the highest standards of living in eastern Europe as long as fund from the Marshall plan held out. Tito created a program of censorship and arrested more "political" prisoners than did any other eastern European nation, including Russia. Jobs were created and filled by ethnic quotas regardless of skill level. Managers of banks were switched every 6 months to give all ethnic groups a chance at leadership---but chaos ensued and loans were defaulted because they were not drafted by the "current" management.
Now the major Serbian homeland became Croatian as these refugees moved into the prosperous area. The Serbs were once again finding them selves a minority in their own land. Although scattered, they still comprised more than 40% of the entire population of Yugoslavia, putting them in the majority nationally, but in the minority in any given area.
The Serbians now set into motion a series of plans to gain control of the central government so they could protect their kin in outlying regions.
In 1968 the Albanians rioted in Kosovo and seized local power, this was accompanied by massive murders and rapes which took place on street corners and the beating of school children in their classrooms. The Serbs became angry and struck back. The basic argument was, why are the Albanians getting power, when they are the minority?
The Serbs not that more Serbs have died defending the homeland than anyone else, why shouldn't the land be theirs? After all, was it not they who took the land back from the Turks, and they who drove out the Austrians, who comprised the Black Hand organization that killed Franz Ferdinand in 1914?
Tito responded by bringing in the troops and shooting the Serbs who were demonstrating. the Albanians saw this as a government directive and they stepped up the rape, beatings and murder of the Serbs as well. Tito returned and shot the Albanians. This crisis continued throughout the 1970's until Tito finally died in 1980. While Tito was seen as a hero to the west since h e alone of the eastern European nations stood against the communist menace of the Cold War period, his own nation desecrated his grave, All national groups viewed him as a traitor to their cause and claim he favored the opposite side.
In 1981 the Serbians allowed the Albanians to live in their own settlements and gave them the power to run their own local communities, but they were to stay out of Serbian towns and villages. The idea was to keep the Albanians quiet. It backfired as the Albanians used the opportunity to attack Serbs and then retreat to their "safe" areas for protection. Later in 1981 the Serbs massed their fellows from outlying areas and returned to Kosovo and began massed riots aimed at destroying the Albanians. The Serbs are becoming desperate nationalists and as their numbers grow, they become more daring. The Albanians continue fighting back throughout the 1980's in their traditional manner. The Serbs are serious about nationalism.
In 1986 the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences began complaining to the government regarding the Albanian treatment of Serbians in Kosovo. Albanians had an income from mining, an industry which the Serbians were not allowed to engage in. When the Serbians had successfully farmed some of the land they provided Welfare for Albanians but not that the Albanians had money they would not share with the Serbs who were suffering from recent poor harvests. The Albanians were now decreeing that anything Serbian was not acceptable and were outlawing the use of the Serbian language, customs, dress as degenerate in their own country. The Albanians responded to this legislative activity with more beating and rapes and murders. One Serbian newspaper had a banner which read "Our Women are Not Prostitutes." The Albanians responded the next day with a banner which read: "We wouldn't rape Serbian Women if they WERE Prostitutes." Religion was brought in as an issue. Serbians are Greek Orthodox Catholic and preach a low birthrate. Albanians are Muslim and preach a high birth rate. Serbs claim that the Albanians are using religious doctrine to remove them from the majority position in their own country.
In the fall of 1986 Milosovic appears on the national scene. He has been a good communist following in the footsteps of Marx. His wife is a university professor who teaches Marxism as a political philosophy. Milosovic is a fervent Serbian nationalist and he rallies the Serbian peoples on the promise that the Albanians will never be allowed to hurt Serbians again. He holds ethnic hate rallies throughout the country. All the minorities are afraid of him since he preaches Ethnic cleansing. They are trying to appear good and harmless by remaining quiet. Most minorities lack education and leadership to stage any protest so they feel hiding is the safest option.
By 1990 the Albanians are noticing the shift in political attitudes and have suspended rioting (mostly). Milosovic now turns the Serbs on the Albanians and orders "Ethnic Cleansing." The Serbs now rape, beat and murder the Albanians. Milosovic is proclaimed the Abraham Lincoln of Serbia (he is a majority leader trying to put down a minority rebellion).
In 1991 the Serbian congress (note the exclusion of the Albanians) voted to go throughout the country and dig up the bones of all Serbs who had died fighting for the motherland and use them to build a memorial to the heroes of the past. While much of this was done the monument was not built because it was feared that the Albanians would destroy it and desecrate the bones of the "heroes."
This whole scenario becomes a classic case of a minority rising against a majority and getting away with it. When the Croats and Albanians do terrible deeds they are excused because they are uneducated and a minority who know not what they do. The Serbs want protection for themselves in their own land and revenge for past atrocities. As the Serbs gain power they appealed to the west for help and sympathy. They note that the west has a legacy of doing the deeds like the Serbs are now trying to do in their homeland. France killed Huguenots in the Religious Wars of the 1500's and that was allowed. Cromwell did the same to the Irish and the English during the English Revolution. Spain butchered Indians in the New World, as did the Americans. The Germans killed the Jews in the 1930's and 40's and the Russians murdered dissidents in the 1950's. Event he Jews have slaughtered Arabs in 1947 when they became a nation and again in the 1960's. Therefore, why is the western world taking such a harsh view of the Serbs in the 1980-90's? They point at the USA and ask why we have affirmative action to give jobs to minorities? They note we have Black History Month, and Black Fraternities and Sororities, but all white such activities is regarded as racist. They say, if we decided to celebrate White History month, what would happen in the US? they are celebrating Serbian History in their country and there is a reaction. Would it be less here? Milosovic claims that this is a Clinton ploy to divert attention from his sex scandals. If not for the need for a cover-up the west would not be involved.
While this is occurring, the Bosnians begin to try and purge Serbs from the areas of Bosnia. the world responds by telling the Serbs they can't murder thousands of minority peoples. The Serbian reply is that it is not their fault. They can't help it that they have the better weapons and thus can kill more efficiently. If the minorities had the better weapons, wouldn't they be using them against the Serbs?
Thus the recent attempt by the Serbs to drive the Albanians out of Serbian territories came as no surprise to anyone other than the American Ambassador to Serbia who has since admitted he has no knowledge of Serbian history. Everyone knew this would occur, the question was just when?
The Serbs are trying to play "nice" with the west. Note the treatment of the captured Americans. They were allowed visits from Jesse Jackson and were released unharmed. Serbia noted that they were released in better condition then if they had been arrested by New York City police.
Milosovic is taking a page from Tito's ledger as h e is also killing everyone who opposed him. This includes Serbians. The recent KLA is actually an ancient Albanian terrorist group which has existed for 4 centuries to protect Albanians. Even as they flee the country the Albanians vow to return and seek revenge. Additionally the Romanians, Bulgarians, Turks, and Greeks fear that if they and their nationality are NOT in control they their people will not be safe and all are stock piling weapons for the moment of their revenge. Any armistice in the area with only be temporary given the history of this region.