(RIEAS Junior Analyst and Coordinator for World Security Network Foundation South-eastern Europe Office)
According to the USA Constitution (Article 4, Particle 3), no new State can be created with the division of an existing one or with the merge between 2 or more. For that it will require decision by all chambers of Congress, the Presidency and all authorities. In the small corner of the Balkans; Kosovo, the USA policy behaves in quite a different mode in relation to its own domestic and constitutional ethics. The quest for Kosovo status is a major challenge and dilemma for the Western countries that will have to decide if they want to provide a clear precedent for their own lands whether in Western Europe, the Americas, or in Russia. Countless of minorities, some of them of Islamic heritage would like to pursue a similar aim like the one Kosovo-Albanians are striving for, and it is absolutely necessary for the Administrations across the world to comprehend the perils involved.
In May 1945 Josef Tito issued a decree whereby it prohibited the return of the Serbian refugees that were forced to leave Kosovo during WW2 and because of the Albanian terrorist practices. Consequently, another decree legalized real-estate buyouts that took place between 1941 and1945. In this way the Albanian ex-SS collaborators that had previously acquired Serbian land under false or illegal manners, were able to maintain their freedom and fortune.
Between 1945 and1948 around 150,000 Albanians from the Northern Albania freely entered Kosovo under the policy of Tito into enchasing the ties between the two countries, so as to maneuver a “Socialistic Union” between Belgrade and Tirana and as a way of reducing Serbian influence in the Yugoslav Federation. What is surprising is that this people were officially categorized as refugees and received hefty state assistance that was paid by cutting considerable state subsidies allocated for Serbia proper. On January 1946 local autonomy for the Albanian community in Kosovo was granted by Tito, thus creating the first step for the final division of this historical Province from Serbia.
Quite a few members of the Kosovo-Albanian community became members of the Yugoslav Communist party in order to provide allegiance to their benefactor and at the same time the Yugoslav state secret service “SDB” recruited Albanians for covert operations. From the early ‘50’s until the mid-70’s the Albanians have managed to expand considerably their population three times more the Serbian one. In 1974 Tito proceeded in declaring the whole of Kosovo as an autonomous state within the Serbian one and a multitude of privileges prepared the current situation as it has been unfolded in the ‘90’s. Schools were obliged to teach Albanian therefore a considerable segment of the population grew without mastering the language of Serbo-Croatian through the formal educational system.
Therefore it alienated itself from the wider society in Yugoslavia. Moreover the University of Pristina instead of evolving as a “Socialist higher education institution” became the hotbed of nationalist action by the then minority of Kosovo-Albanian ultra-nationalists. Serbians or Albanian university professors that had moderate views were regularly harassed and the student unions were radicalized and infiltrated by the Albanian secret service that started in the late ‘70’s to became interested in the dissolution of Serbian-Yugoslavian influence in the Province.
Between 1980 (Death of Tito) and 1987 (Rise of Milosevic to power), over 500 recorded attacks took place against Serbian targets, mainly military and police installations. The attacks had a twofold aim: Psychological pressure against the Serbians and to obtain of armaments that could be used, as it happen, in future guerilla combat. The general decay of the Socialist regime after Tito’s death and the absence of a strong political guidance in parallel with an economic crisis rendered absolute the societal fabric and the interrelations that had developed between Serbian and Albanian citizens in Kosovo. The nationalistic minority gradually imposed its will and became a state within a state, whilst begun to diverge its interest into organized crime activities such as narcotics contraband. The last development increased considerably its clout in the region and connected the unknown Albanian nationalist leaders with the global crime networks that were eager to acquire new collaborators.
After Milosevic ascendant the then Yugoslav state and the re-emerged Serbian nationalism, tried to reverse the situation. Police and security forces arrived in great numbers in Kosovo and Serbian individuals were escorted back in their premises, which they abandoned due to Albanian pressure that was exercised mainly with arson batteries and robberies especially in the rural areas. What is interesting to note is that one of the main purposes of the empowered Serbian presence was to alienate the radicals from the mainstream population, a strategy that failed in most respects because the leadership in Belgrade at that time wasn’t able to combat the organized crime networks that had the main influence in the society due to their extortion methods and weaponry. The result was that the joined forces of the local radical politicians with the crime kingpins proved to be strong forces that lead the Albanian population over the following years.
The ‘90s proved to be a watershed for the Kosovo issue and the involvement of virtually all interested international actors that wanted to profit from the dismantle of Yugoslavia. The UCK rebel force was hastily organized in the mid-90’s through the assistance of organized crime centred in Kosovo and the illegal preparation by certain members of the international community that are well-known, but not the specific issue in this particular article. The boom in the drug trade during that period, the large amounts of capital being accumulated because of oil smuggling and the human trafficking rings that were developed in the Balkans; all assisted into the descent of Kosovo into a lawless area so as to base their operations free of any police control. In addition the fundamentalist Islamists driven by an ideological agenda were able to enter the Balkans and provided logistic, capital and human support to the UCK fighters mainly using the “Green Traverse”, basically the so-called “Balkan Route” by which heroin is distributed from East to West.
Lastly the Secret services of Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and “Compartments” within the intelligence communities in Germany, USA, Britain, and Italy contributed their own part into exploding the Kosovo issue either for state tactics or plainly for personal motives that include influence over the global criminal networks and are of attention in the eyes of corrupt officials because of the vast amount of capital being produced by them. The official policy by the Western countries was shaped by a mixture of blunders concerning the future projection of the Russian power in the Balkans, the inability to understand the coming 9/11 and the real threat of Islamic terrorism and the absence of restrain after 50 years of “Cold War” that provided the opportunity to mediocre bureaucrats and statements to ascend fast in the power ladder and play a destructive role in negotiations and political developments.
The Western societies and interest groups should be well aware that it doesn’t take long for a domestic confrontation to develop into an international quagmire and at the same time provide ample arguments for minorities to mimic historical precedents like the one being described. Currently the Kosovo issue is an untangled international diplomatic thriller and the latest information point out towards a continuation of the instability climate that has hindered any real economic or social development in the region over the past decades.
It is probably high-time for some tough decisions by the “Power echelons” that will address realistically and without prejudice the situation so as to protect their own long-term interests and avoid the high possibility of having to experience similar situations like the one Serbia had. Already large segments of the most politicized members of the European and American communities, either Right-Center-or Left leaning, have come to realize the aforementioned, it is the time for the leadership to grasp the opportunity of advancing the real interests of its own people. Otherwise everything else is pointless sooner or later.