Niko ne sme da vas bije*

According to the latest reports, Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia on February 17th, and as we know from a leaked document, the United States, which strongly favour an independent Kosovo have been pressuring (or strongly indicating their desire, whichever you preffer) Slovenia to be among the first countries to recognize an independent Kosovo. This has sparked a heated debate in Slovenia, which has as of late concentrated mostly on who is to blame on the leak rather than should Slovenia actually recognize Kosovo, slthough the latter is a much more important question.


While some prominent politicians (incluing Former President Milan Kučan) and some highly-respectable bloggers think otherwise, I’m covinced there are scores of reasons for immediate recognition of Kosovo. As odd as it may seem, Slovenia and Kosovo share a common link in recent history (apart for the fact that they’ve both been a part of Yugoslavia). Personally, I think that for a plethora of reasons it is Slovenia’s – shall we be dramatic – duty to recognise an independent Kosovo as soon as the province declares independence.

As all nations, Kosovars too have a right to self-determination and their drive for an independent Kosovo is far from recent. Still as a part of Yugoslavia, Kosovo demaded an “upgrade” from a status od an autonomous region withih Serbia to a full-fledged republic. This did not happen, although the cry “Kosovo Republjik!” was getting louder and louder. And while the Yugoslav constitution of 1974 did not recognize Kosovo as a state within Yugoslavia (the six republics were treated as sovereing states, a fact that helped Slovenia greatly in getting legal ground for independence in 1991), it gave the region all the attributes of a republic.

It had its own administration, judiciary, assembly, police, League of Communists, eductational system, media – and perhaps most importnatly: it has equal representation in all federal organs as the republics – including the eight-member Presidency, comprised of representatives of the six republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia) and two autonomous regions (Vojvodina and Kosovo). The 1974 Yugoslav constitution gave republics and regions as much independence as they could get without actually breaking up Yugoslavia – and it definitely gave Kosovars about as much independence as they could get for the next 34 years.

As Yugoslavia began experiencing a deadly mix of severe economic troubles, a grid-locked political system, a power-hungry Yugoslav National Army which was about to perform a coup d’etat and a drive by Serbia’s leadership (predominantly Slobodan Milošević) to solve problems by redrawing borders in favour of Serbia, the country that was once a powerful player began to disintegrate into sun dust.

A part of disintegration were also constitutional changes of 1988 which almost completely reversed the constitution of 1974 and – althtough illegal – stripped Kosovo of its autonomy, transfering all decisions about the future of the region from Priština back to Belgrade. And this is where paths of Slovenia and Kosovo intersect for a brief moment in history.

In Kosovo, the stripping of autonomy and subsequent replacing of region’s Kosovar leadership prompted miners in the mining town of Stari Trg to declare a hunger-strike until the autonomy is restored. The strike ended without meeting miner’s demands (naturally), but not before a meeting was held in Slovenia by both the emerging opposition and the ruling communist party supporting the miners, which sent shockwaves throught Belgrade, because Slovenia and Kosovo were suddenly on the same wavelenght – a seemingly impossible event until then.

But the fate of Kosovo was sealed much before that. In 1987 as the region grew restless and Serbs, being a minority in the region, but an overwhelming majority in Greater Serbia (Serbia plus both regions) often clashed with Kosovars – mostly with words, but sometimes with fists. And on one such occasion, Slobodan Milošević, then still Serbia’s second-in-command was witness to such a fight as Serbs in Kosovo gathered en masse and the predominantly-Kosovar police, fearing a riot, started using batons. Milošević ran out to see what was going on and he used a phrase which transformed him from a colourless aparatchik to a nationalist leader.

Niko ne sme da vas bije!” (noone is allowed to beat you), he said to the demonstrating Serbs, who were already throwing rocks as the police and the mob (correctly, as it turned out) understood that as a green light for a rampage. A rampage that went on until 1999 – the year that Milošević lost his fourth war in Yugoslavia, this time beaten by NATO forces. The phrase became the gist of Milošević’s political creed – that Serbs are somehow superior to all other Yugoslav nations and have the right to live in Great Serbia – a country which spans to wherever in Yugoslavia Serbs live.

Thus Milošević started the breakup of Yugoslavia in Kosovo and it is only right and fitting that the process come full circle and ends where it started twenty-one years ago. Slovenia declared independence only four years after that fateful phrase and the memory of every political power in the world (including the EU and the US) trying to block our way to independece one way or another is still very much alive.

Not so much out of solidarity or heeding to a US dictate, but out of the fact that Kosovo has similiar legal grounds for independence and that Serbia lost it by waging war against its people (just as it did in Slovenia), I think that Slovenia must recognize Kosovo as soon as it declares independence. I think it is only fair that Slovena uses the same arguments when deciding on this as it did when arguing its own case for independence seventeen years ago.

I recognize the fact that times change and that today Slovenia has a growing economic interest in Serbia and that the US is probably favouring independent Kosovo out of economic reasons (and that Russia is probably opposing it for precisely the same reasons) and that an independent Kosovo could be viewed by other independence movements across the world as a model for their cause, but it would be extremely unhealthy if the process of Yugoslav breakup is not completely finished. And that includes the fact that two of the most wanted war criminals, Radovan Karadžić and general Ratko Mladić, both responsible for Serbian atroccities in Bosnian war are still at large.

The EU (including Slovenian government) is in danger of short-circuting the process by giving Serbia a partnership agreement before the two are brought before the Hague tribunal. Should this happen, the Serbs will skate clean yet again, which will both undermine the seriousness of the Hague tribunal and the belief in human rights which the EU supposedly holds so dear. This would also send a disatrous message to other candidate states, especially Croatia and Turkey, possibly stopping the expansion completely and preventing the EU from becoming a global player also in geopolitical terms.

In short: Slovenia should recognize Kosovo as soon as the region declares independece and refrain from signign any treaty until Karadžić and Mladić are in the Hague – or at least until proof given that they will find themselves there in an extremely short period of time. This is vital both for completion of the conclusion of the Yugoslav breakup and the continuation of EU expansion.

*special mention (Serbian only):

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

39 thoughts on “Niko ne sme da vas bije*”

  1. What is going to become of Kosovo is I guess more or less a done deal. What we are talking about now, are therefore only symbolic gestures. Yet in this case comparing Slovenia and Kosovo is really mixing apples and pears. Not many territories on this green planet of ours have witnessed so many conquests and exodoses as has this little piece of land during the last thousand years, but of course the question at hand is here and now. You speak of the population there as “Kosovaes” implying there is an ethnic identity of the sort. As far as I know, there is the majority of Albanians and the minority of Serbs living in Kosovo. As few as sixty years ago the prime minister of (fascist) Albania was suggesting to cleanse the area of Serbs. The point being, the idea was not an independent Kosovo, but a united Albania. But Yugoslavia won the war and Kosovo became part of it. It could have been completely integrated with Serbia, but I guess because of Tito’s policy of keeping Serbia weak it was granted all the benefits you mention. And only in these recent years the balance of the population gradually changed to the overwhelming Albanian majority. Anyway, the comparison with Slovenia is out of place and the question, when the “Kosovars” became “a people” is to be answered. As I said, independence is probably a done deal, but do we really have any moral obligation to rush with it?

  2. Another of Slobo’s famous phrases was “Ne čujem dobro”, which he said, when the mob assembled on the steets of Beograd called for the arrest of Kosovar communist leadership (Vlasi).

    I fully agree with Pengovsky’s reasoning. Any Slovenian who doesn’t support the right of people to be free and to associate with whomever they wish – especially when they are discriminated against, should be ashamed of himself!

    Independence is never achived with full agreement – it is always AGAINST someone and against AGAINST an established legal order. Let’s also not forget, what the main Serbian arguments against Kosovar self-rule are:

    1. Serbian medieval myth – Kosovo is God given land
    2. 95% of population shouldn’t be free, because they reproduce like locust
    3. UN Resolution 1244

    Could someone provide a link, where Kučan says that he doesn’t support he immediate recognition of Kosovo. I find it odd, since he was the one, who called the famous conference in Cankarjev dom in support of Kosovo some 20 years ago.

  3. @abaris: OK, I wouldn’t use the word “ashamed”, but definitely lacking historical memory. To see Kučan’s position on Kosovo, click here and run the video

    @Luka: Kosovo Albanians (Kosovars) represented an overwhelming majority in Kosovo way back in Yugoslavia. But agreed, there was a population outburst in recent years. That is not the point, however. The point is that Kosovo Albanian perceive themselves as a nation and have all the atributes of a nation – have had them at least since 1974. Tito didn’t just want to keep Serbia in check, but rather keep the balance between various national aspirations which were always present in Yugoslavia.

    And it is not as if Kosovo is none of our business… As I said: two decades ago we were in the same boat and for the same reasons. Slovenia has had a lucky break (plus all the usualy cited goodies) while Kosovo hadn’t. I think that now that they are about to get what they want is somewhat unseemly for Slovenia to go “Geez, I don’t know….”

    And just to make one thing clear: Kosovo is not the same than (say) Republika Srpska, which did not exist as a constitutive part of Yugoslavia, but was created from without, as an excuse for Serbia to claim a part of Bosnia.

  4. @P: The issue being (or that should be) debated is not whether Slovenia should actually recognize Kosovo as an independent state, but rather when and on what terms it should do so. We are in a fundamental disagreement in that you keep comparing Slovenia to Kosovo. Here, I share my POV with Luka.

    A more accurate comparison would have been one with Carinthian Slovenians in Austria. They live in their own region/province with its own governmental structures etc. with probably as much power if not more than Kosovo had in Yugoslavia. So hey, if they propagated more Kosovar style and not like the average Slovenian while at the same time being willing to be quietly assimilated into the Germanic population, perhaps they’d have been asking for their independence right now? Lord knows they’ve suffered their own share of abuse.

    To my eyes, the big difference in Slovenia and Kosovo gaining independence is in how it happened/is happening. Every nation (nation!) certainly does have the right to self-determination, but it should fight it out on its own, not under the auspice of great powers that can force the greater entity to award the independent status, with much more than humanitarian impulses driving them to do so. Kosovo Independence serves other interests, not just securing the status of human rights in the region.

    When it comes to the signing of the EU partnership agreement, we again do not see eye to eye. I do agree that the EU should stand firm and not make any concessions regarding the delivery of war criminals to the tribunal prior to signing any partnership agreement with Serbia. However, that has no bearing on Kosovo. You build your argument on the premise that rapid accession to the EU is high on the Serbian list of priorities and so important that they are willing to trade territory for it. I could be wrong, but I really don’t think so.

    I will state my opinion here again. The only reason I personally would support Kosovo independence is that it is more or less fait accompli. Why it came to that is a question that Serbs will have to deal with (Luka gave some great pointers to explore there). Since to my mind, Serbia is being forced by outside forces (similarly as Iraq is being forced to ‘democratize’) to let go of territory, those same forces should somehow make it up to them. Not by waving paper promisses in front of their eyes to raise hopes for a better life in distant future (in an entity they perhaps don’t even want to join), but with something very tangible.

    @abaris: Kučan stated that in an interview for Studio City. You can watch it online at RTV Slovenia website.

  5. The basic principle established in international relations is, that you have the right to independence ONLY if you are discriminated against and if you don’t discriminate against others yourself. That’s why the majority of foreign policy experts think, that Serbia and Kosovo should part and that Belgium should remain an unifed state. And yes, if Corinthian Slovenians were the overwhelming majority, they would have the right of self-determination.

    The fact that independence servers other interests than human rights isn’t an argument against it. The argument of dr. Filomena is analogous to the arguments of the “radical left” in the 90’s, which was opposed to the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia because of it’s “imperalist agenda”, ignoring the horrendous human rights violations commited by the Serbs.

    I’m personally hoping for the day, when some Great Power “exploits” the cause of the Palestinian statehood for their own geopolitical agenda.

  6. I completely agree with Pengovsky’s assesment. Kosovo was lost the day when Serbs started with the ethnical cleansing in 1999 and EU was incapable of stopping them (as always), so they needed to bring American air power. The irony of all is that independent Kosovo will like Albania probably became just an American missile base like Albania is slowly (Valona Bay), but not by the fault of the Americans but more by the fault of the Europeans, who could with some clever sense solve this crisis once and for good.

  7. Sorry, but I’ve heard quite a lot of rubbish on this thread: Let’s take it in reverse order:
    Abaris says:
    “The basic principle established in international relations is, that you have the right to independence ONLY if you are discriminated against and if you don’t discriminate against others yourself. ”
    – Well, if you’re correct, Arabis, then the Albanians certainly don’t deserve to get an independent Kosovo. Because if anyone has discriminated against all other peoples with whom they’ve shared the space, it’s been the Albanians in Kosovo. Roma, Serbians, Bosniaks, and all other non-albanian peoples in Kosovo have found themselves on the wrong end of Albanian ethnic cleansing. So by your logic such Albanians certainly shouldn’t be rewarded with the territory on which they discriminate. I couldn’t agree more!
    But if they hadn’t been so terrible, you would have claimed they had some “right to independence”. Where have you seen that, Abaris? In your weird dreams perhaps. Give us a quote. If people are discriminated against, they have the right to demand political reform, not the destruction of the state.

    Pengovsky claims Slovenia was in the same boat as Kosovo. Apart from a willingness to declare UDI, the cases are very different. Slovenes were a constituent part of the original South Slav state, with no state anywhere else. Slovenes and Slovenia had no significant territorial controversies with anyone else. As such their right of self-determination was agreed, only their un-negotiated departure a cause of conflict. (Macedonia and Montenegro did it better). But according to the Yugoslavian constitution Albanians, Hungarians and others were minorities because they already had a mother country elsewhere. And Kosovo was always – even under the 1974 constitution you quote, a constituent part of Serbia (defined in 1974 as a “socio-political community”, thank you very much.) As such, Kosovo political rights should be exercised within the state, not without.

    Pengovsky also says: “Kosovo is not the same than (say) Republika Srpska, which did not exist as a constitutive part of Yugoslavia, but was created from without.”
    Actually, Republika Srpska was created by those Yugoslavs in the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia who wanted to stay part of Yugoslavia, the sovereign state of their birth and choice, and not to be forced out of their own country by someone else’s self-determination. Yugoslavia it was not allowed to be by those outside powers (initially, Germany. Later the US). But if you consider the pre-existing Yugoslavian situation should define the rights of its peoples, then you should certainly listen to how it defines both Kosovo and the Alb minority who have created a majority there.

    You will no doubt conclude from the above that I view Pengovsky’s main article as historically very flawed and tending to baseless propaganda. And you’re right to think so. But for now back to Abaris, who also says:
    “Serbian arguments against Kosovar self-rule are:

    1. Serbian medieval myth – Kosovo is God given land
    2. 95% of population shouldn’t be free, because they reproduce like locust
    3. UN Resolution 1244”

    Abaris, there is no such thing as a Kosovar. But whatever CIA-dreamed up name you give the Albanians who live there, Serbia has offered them self-rule. Complete self-rule. But they want to grab the land instead.
    Serbia would prefer that they didn’t because:

    1. Every country has the right to its own historic territory as well as to the rest of its territory.
    2. The “locust-like reproduction” you mention doesn’t confer independence rights. Even less so as one significant proportion of it was by illegal immigrants! Nice to see themselves enjoying themselves in their adopted country!
    3. UNSC 1244. Yes, Abaris, that’s right. And don’t forget the UN Charter. And the Helsinki Final Act. Basic building blocks of international law. Which the superpower wants to to destroy – by unilaterally amputating Kosovo from Serbia.

    Since 1389, Serbians always seem to fighting for what’s right, whatever the price. After fighting the Ottomans, Nazis, etc., Serbia is in effect now fighting for the right of small countries to the protection of international law. For the right of small countries to shape their own future – as sovereign states, not victims of Great Power realpolitik.
    One day, Slovenia may need to invoke those same rights which it is now being tempted to forget. My dear Slovenes, ask not for whom the bell tolls…

  8. @abaris: Again; I think an independent Kosovo to be an accomplished fact. What I feel to be at issue is the terms under which ‘Serbia and Kosovo should part’, not whether it should happen. I do have an issue with comparing Kosovo to Slovenia, however, as I believe Slovenia to have gained its independence more or less on its own.

    For the record, I supported the NATO bombing in 1999. Publicly on the interenet as well, which didn’t win me any new Serbian penpals (though I did get involved personally in helping Belgrade friends through the roughest period by collecting and sending pharmaceutical products and money via reliable bus drivers etc…) However, I supported the intervention not in support of an independent Kosovo, but in hopes of stopping the terrible bloodshed and suffering of the people.

    There is a difference in stopping a genocide from being committed and forcing a sovereign state to give up part of its territory.

    I am about to write posts on the Israel/Palestine issue, by the way. I was over there, including Ramallah, a month ago, where I had the chance to hear the story from both sides, including from the Palestinian Chief of Staff Dr. Rafiq Husseini and a high official of Fatah. I do look forward to a debate on that issue. But I digress…

    I agree with Marko G on many points and the one I’d like to emphasise is this: “If people are discriminated against, they have the right to demand political reform, not the destruction of the state.”

  9. @dr. fil: Perhaps I should make one thing clearer: Brussels (and now Ljubljana) promising a fast-track to the EU to “soften the blow” is not a Serbian problem per se. It is actually something EU is doing of its own accors without anyone actually asking for it (not pubicly, at least). The EU is behaving as if membership can be negotiated and not achieved and that is a problem. And I agree that Serbia couldn’t care less for membership at this point.

    More on Carinthia/Kosovo comparison later.

    @Marko G: Thank you for your point of view. I realize that I was stirring the pot a bit with this post and don’t want to come off as patronizing or anything. We fundamentaly disagree about the basics, but that is not necesarily a bad thing.

    I would however, like to point out the following: You said that Every country has the right to its own historic territory as well as to the rest of its territory.

    Had thar trully been the case, Slovenia would be entitled to entire Carinthyia (Austria), Veneziana (Italy) and part of Primorsko-Goranska županija (Croatia). All of these countries could in turn claim a not-so-small piece of Slovenia as their historic territory.

    The very concept of “historic territory” is at odds with peaceful coexistence and adopting it as a rule is a fast track to yet another bloodshed on a European scale as there are European feuds that go back way more than “just” 1389.

  10. @Marko G

    Serbia has absolutely NO PLAN to integrate Kosovo in its own economy. It wants to rule the territory – without the people, so that it can preserve the option of Serb recolonization and ethnic cleansing of Kosovars at a future, more politicaly convenient date. Such medieval strategies have absolutely no place in a modern, civilized Europe. The only reform that the Kosovars ever got from Serbia was the one, which suspended their autonomy and led to the hunger strike of the miners. They protested with their stomaches, not with the AK-47’s.

    How could one not expect retaliation and discrimination, when 5% of the people were determined to rule over the other 95% with their military supremacy. The future Kosovar constitution, which is currently being co-written by the Western Powers, will surely include articles, which promise the protection of ethnic minorities and the Serb cultural heritage.

    1. No country, tribe or religious group has any right to its historic territory! It only has the right to the territory, where the majority of its population currently reside.
    2. If a country wants to preserve its territorial integrity, it has to take measures to preserve its cultural identity by controlling illegal immigration BEFORE its citizens are outnumbered by some other ethnic group. That’s why I share the view of Samuel Huntington and Lou Dobbs in their opinion, that the current Democratic and Republican parties in the USA are absolutely crazy for caving to the pressures of the Latino vote for short-term political gain and not contructing an effecitve border fence.
    3. UN is a debating club, a remnant of the Cold War, which was estabished by realpolitik to divide the World to the winning participants of the WW2, giving each its own sphere of influence and ignoring the moral right of small countries to choose their own way. It was a cage for nations then, when the permanent security council member was USSR – and it is a cage now, when the seat is filled with its authoritarian successor, which wields the power of veto. It is you who is dreaming that the future world can be governed by some artifical law, held hostage by a failing ex-world-power.

  11. This has become a really interresting debate, so I feel like adding some points to it, since I think “both sides” are missing some. First I completely agree with Pengovsky (and abaris) about the question of “historic territory”. It’s a contradictio in adiecto anyhow, since exactly in which period in history would we define it? Being really radical about “historic territory” we should probably all just crowd back to Kenya. So political situations should be settled on the basis of here and now. That is why my view is closest to dr. filomena’s. Yes, Kosovo will become independent, but the thing is not as simple and one sided as abaris and also Pengovsky are trying to show it. Yes, the ethnic cleansing in the ninetees was a terrible thing and had to be stopped immediately. And let me remind you again that only in 1942 Albanian prime minister said, I quote: “We should endeavor to ensure that the Serb population of Kosovo be – the area be cleansed of them and all Serbs who had been living there for centuries should be termed colonialists and sent to concentration camps in Albania. The Serb settlers should be killed.” Well, at least it was more direct than: “Niko ne sme da vas bije!” Today, ratio being over 90% against around 8% it is clear which side was more effective and why the loss of Kosovo is fait accompli. But again, I don’t think, there is an established identity of “Kosovar” as yet. But i the people there think of themselves as Albanians, is Kosovo than not becoming just an independent extension of Albania?

  12. @penkovsky
    Just to clarify:
    I said “Every country has the right to its own historic territory as well as to the rest of its territory.” referring to territory within the sovereign state itself, i.e. historic + rest of territory = total territory of the state. I was not referring to territories outside the state at the time of writing. (That would obviously, as you indicate, open a Pandora’s Box of secessionist disputes). I was simply making an obvious point in answer to Abaris who seemed to consider Serbia’s age-old historic presence in Kosovo to be disadvantageous in establishing her right over the territory!
    But while we’re on it, there is a key point here: Serbia’s historic territory – Kosovo and Metohija – is part of its sovereign territory. The demand for a Kosovo independent of the rest of Serbia is, in additon to being a demand that a sovereign state give up its own territory against its will, also a demand that, as one writer put it, “Serbs and Serbia waive sovereignty over their own cultural heritage and over the territories that safeguard their national identity.” Who could agree to that?

  13. @Marko G:
    A very good point indeed. And obviously we are faced with an out-out option of Kosovars (or Kosovo Albanians) about to declare their own state and Serbia not willing to be torn appart. I don’t think anyone expects Serbia to go crazy with joy over that.

    However, a case for Kosovo Albanians to remain within Serbia has long ago been shrod to pieces by Serbia itself (specifically, under Milošević’s rule and additionally with subsequent administration’s inability to either make a clean break with Milošević’s legacy or claim succession and face the music).

    I don’t think that a country which has either directly or via proxy violated territorial integrity of three countries can morally justify its claim to a region which it illegaly stripped of autonomy in 1988/89. Add to that that Kosovo Albanians did execute their rights directly within the Yugoslav federation (and not through Serbia as you say) and suddenly a case for their independence becomes much stronger.

    This is also a case aganist Luka’s statement that only “here and now” should be taken into consideration when deciding on the future of the region.

    Ultimately I agree that we are talking about changing status of borders here and that a grave danger exists of Kosovo either becoming a focal point of Macedonian Albanians and potential aspirations of Albanian nationalists. But the whole breakup of Yugoslavia was one big change in status of borderds, so this is only a continuation of a long process.

    As for Kosovo remaining within its existing borders, this will be a job for KFOR or whatever military presence will establish its longterm military presence there. But foreign troops would have remained there in any case.

  14. I hope that Pengovsky will support the independence of Republika Srpska with the same ardour as he is now supporting the independence of Kosovo. Although I am pretty sure that he will come up with some filmsy excuse that will allow him to differentiate between the two cases, thus parading his anti-Serbian stereotypes as arguments supposedly anchored in international law.

  15. Actually, I’m establishing a case based on 1974 Yugoslav constitution and I see the issue of Kosovo as a part of Yugoslavia breaking up, whereas Republika Srpska is (as I noted already) a different case as it is directly connected to Bosnian conflict. It’s status is confirmed by the Dayton Accords which are the legal basis for any – if any – further changes in the status of its federative units.

    And far idea be it for me to promote any stereotypes (save those about Slovenes), let alone anti-Serb sterotypes. What I am saying is that Serbia as a political entity (i.e.: its leadership present and past) has little moral ground to claim that territorial integrity superceedes a nation’s right to self-determination in adition to the fact that Kosovo’s nationhood was in large part established by the 1974 constitution.

    But my most basic point actually was that Slovenia should recognize Kosovo ASAP as opposed to wait and recogize it further down the road.

  16. Well, it is hard for me to see, how Kosovo can be regarded in the context of Yugoslavia break-up, but not Republika Srpska.

  17. Maybe I am slightly siding here with Serbs willing to continue at least some sort of the negotiation. In my view this is the only way both sides can take the responsibility to build upon in the future. Yes, Serbs have missed many opportunities to redeem themselves but I dont see how cutting their balls off like that would make any better. I don’t know, I guess I have difficulty seeing things as a mere political case. I understand the dream of the Kosovars for independence, at first just an idea, then brought into action as a response to the Serbian oppression. But then, where are those famous Kosovars? Except for Rugova and Tacqi, I know nobody. Okay, and I know a little bit about their community here in Slovenia. Which is, I know nobody, they live in a separate reality… Maybe thing will clear up after they are finally free.

  18. @Der Komisar: For one, Kosovo was an constitutionally-defined part of Yugoslavia and had direct representation in federal organs, whereas Republika Srpska was created in October 1991, by which time Yugoslavia already ceased to exist.

    @pele: A very good point. Ideally, all of this would be done without anyone losing face (i.e.: finding middle ground), but I fail to see how you can have the cake and eat it in this case. But should this opportunity arise in the near future, I think both sides should take it.

  19. I am new to all of this, but I followed Dr. Fil’s recent posts with great interest. I think a lot of interesting points are brought up here on the question of when and where a region/group has the rights to secession. I am concerned that Kosovo is just a symptom of the utter disrespect with which smaller nations are being treated so America and other superpowers play their land (and waterway) grab game.

    I want to agree with Marko when he says, “If people are discriminated against, they have the right to demand political reform, not the destruction of the state.” While the Serbian leaders have been no saints in the past 10-20 years, I don’t think America is supporting Kosovo because they care about protecting the human rights of poor Kosovo Albanian babies. I think it unfair that the sins of the past have come to roost in this land seizure. It seems diplomacy has become an utter farce and no one seems to believe in the power of law and human rights anymore. Countries are being run like corporations where we have mergers, dissolutions, ousters of the CEO, and restructuring of staff. Diplomacy is just the trojan horse, you think the train is stopping at your station but really its come to run you over. So while I agree with the idea that reform is what is in order, without anyone to really push for it, and with the winds of the international community blowing further and further away from amicable agreements, it is sort of an impossible thing to get behind. The UN is a total joke at this point, so until we get a truly effective international body together and push the right to secession waaaaay into the back as an option, we won’t be able to seriously begin to talk about this kind of reform.

    Kosovo, is alas a done deal, but I don’t think Slovenia needs to go running and screaming to give them the first pat on the back. This is a really excellent opportunity to put a spotlight on all the deficiencies and missteps that allowed the situation to get to this point and Slovenia would do well to engage Serbia, Kosovo, and the international community in a conversation about that rather then sending a congratulatory fruit basket.

  20. Agreed, up to the last paragraph. As I said in the beginning, Slovenia should recognise independent Kosovo due to the fact that both Slovenia and Kosovo were feeling the wrong end of the same stick in Yugoslavia – not because the US said so.

    And yes, I agree that a round or two of soul-searching must be made especially on the part of the US and EU, but if the process of Yugoslav breakup is not completed, the stability of the region will be endangered in the short term.

    Having said that, I must say that a lot of great viewpoints have been shared here in the past two days and I hope more will come. So far I’ve learned a lot.

  21. I see that some women here have problems understanding the issue at hand, so I’m going to translate it into feminist rethoric:

    What you are saying is that a woman (Kosovo) in a forced marriage (since WW1), who owns 95% of the house she is living in and has been raped and beaten daily by her abusive husband for the past decade, doesn’t have the right to kick him out of the house (independence), because the Caholic Church (UN) says, that the sanctity of marriage should be preserved at all costs and that they will get along just fine, if they only talk to the priest.

    And if she gets a divorce, don’t dare to send her a fruit basket!

  22. A few comments:

    @Dr. Fil: “If people are discriminated against, they have the right to demand political reform, not the destruction of the state.” I have to say I disagree with this statement to a degree. Overall I believe it’s mostly true. On the otherhand I would say in most cases, “destruction” is a little over the top. It’s not as if when/if Kosovo secedes Serbia will implode & cease to exist. Also I would say how realistic is it to think any amount of demands/protest will result in reforms when you are such a small minority of the country (speaking in general not specifically about Kosovo).

    @abaris: totally agree w/ you on the illegal immigration view point. As for the USA though…I agree w/ your “caving to voters for political gain” viewpoint (of course isn’t that true of most govt’s), but building a fence would solve nothing. All it would be is a big waste of money. Especially since nobody would ever try to fix the source of the problem. Honestly all the hardships most illegals endure trying to cross and people think a darn fence is going to stop them, especially when patrols along the border aren’t sufficient.

    @camille: I disagree with your land grab statement to a point, in general I find it to be true. In the case of Kosovo though I don’t find it as big a factor. In America’s case their interest is most likely to step-in so the situation doesn’t end up like Bosnia. As far as land grabs go I think America & most Americans could really care less…it’s not as if there is anything of importance in Kosovo to USA’s national interests(not to sound blunt, and uncaring this is just what I believe to be reality). I think that was clearly evidenced by how long it took any nation or U.N. to step in during the wars there in the mid-90’s. You probably have a case more for Russian since they seem to want to support Serbia to stay friendly with certain countries as a buffer.

    And as to your comments about the UN…well I wholeheartedly agree. Have they ever not been a total joke though? I would think not in my lifetime. They seem to only step-in when it’s already too late, or once everyone has been slaughtered.

  23. Hm… I don’t think women have a problem understanding the problem, it’s just that filomena and camille see it differently. And I don’t think it’s gender-related 🙂

    But your analogy (altough rather crude) does carry a point. Although I can totally see how this could be applied further into saying that the woman is leaving (and not kicking the man out of the house) to shack up with a new lover (the US) which will only (ab)use her further (oil and gas pipelines, military bases)

    Obviously everyone is playing an angle here. Including Serbia and Slovenia.

  24. pengovsky: Actually…USA’s military is dwindling down it’s force presence in Europe w/ a few exceptions. Mostly pulling back to the USA, or possibly Middle East. As for oil & gas pipelines? Why would the USA need those on Kosovo soil? Maybe Russia or EU would want pipelines but USA? They would transport all fuel via tankers fueled at ports that were much closer to their source origin.

  25. pengovsky: Actually…the US military is dwindling down it’s force presence in Europe w/ a few exceptions. Mostly pulling back to the USA, or possibly Middle East. As for oil & gas pipelines? Why would the USA need those on Kosovo soil? Maybe Russia or EU would want pipelines but USA? They would transport all fuel via tankers fueled at ports that were much closer to their source origin.

  26. @Michael N: No problem 🙂 As far as pipeline is concerned, check out AMBO pipelne. Even if doesn’t run through Kosovo (although it might now that Kosovo will be independent), the US military base in Kosovo will probably be tasked with protecting it.

  27. @abaris – Actually I identify more as a womanist than a feminist (my views being much in line with INCITE). As such, while I am interested in the well-being of all women and would neverwant any woman to have to live with abuse, the fact remains that there are millions doing so every day. I am interested in a wholistic approach that addresses both the results and root causes of systemic violence. I am not arguing so much against Kosovo leaving (since, as I mentioned I am not well-versed enough to make a strong argument) but rather against secessionism as some quick-fix answer for gnarly political problems. If the husband is such a monster, then he clearly needs to be dealt with, no?

    as for oppressed people being rewarded with sovereign rule over a particular territory…i am a black american, we were promised 40 acres and a mule each when slavery was abolished. needless to say we never got it, but if you are now saying that we actually have a legitimate claim to an even larger parcel of land, then sign me up! i know a few native americans who might be interested in the deal too, please have the UN give us a call and tell us when we can kick those other guys out of our house.

  28. pengovsky said: Although I can totally see how this could be applied further into saying that the woman is leaving (and not kicking the man out of the house) to shack up with a new lover (the US) which will only (ab)use her further (oil and gas pipelines, military bases)

    Obviously everyone is playing an angle here. Including Serbia and Slovenia.

    i say: bravo! but what next?

  29. @camille: Your comment @ 11.39 got caugth in the link filter (two or more links).

    But to aswer your question: What’s next? This would probably demand a whole new post but I imagine it would include a more or less permanent military presence of the US and/or the EU, possibly the Russians as well. It would also mean rapidly developing democratic standards and institutions on Kosovo, perhaps most of all, a solid civil service which would be spread throughout the region and would be monitored by the EU directly (say, the Belgians ;))

    It would also mean giving the Serb minority an extremely large political and cultural autonomy, preserving and developing their heritage and identity, but aslo develop mechanism to integrate, rather than separate both societies.

  30. Hi you guys, I would really appreciate it if you took the time to vote in the poll that I set up at my website on the issue of Kosovo. You will find it in the sidebar at

    Pengovsky, thanks for letting me post this here! I wouldn’t normally solicit visits from other blogs, but on this issue, I truly would like to see the response…

  31. Camille’s instinctive recognising of propaganda on this thread, whilst herself being pretty new to the region, is in my view, really sharp. And her imagery, too, eg re countries being run like corporations, carries great insight, I’d say.

    @Michael N: you say Kosovo Alb secession would not involve the destruction of the state. Well, actually it would in those areas where the secession occurred. And secession is occurring wherever the Albanians feel they can make it happen. Hope they never rent a room in your house!

    @ Dr Filomena: I understand your feeling in 1999 that the NATO bombing was justified. I just feel that you came to that conclusion on the basis of systemic misinformation from the mainstream media. I’d like to address that separately.

    @Pengovsky, so far I haven’t replied to your more strategic points partly because there’s so much in them I would contend that is inaccurate. But let’s address some examples:

    “As all nations, Kosovars too have a right to self-determination and their drive for an independent Kosovo is far from recent”.
    – Pengovsky, please, get real: firstly there is no such animal as a “Kosovar”. The very word looks to me like CIA-speak. Designed for native English-speaking US audiences (a) to give a falsely antiquated image of the Albanians who live in Kosovo (b) to present them as somehow ethnically different from the rest of the Albanian nation. Which they clearly are not.. Call them Gogs if you like, but “Kosovars”? Come on!
    Hence given that there’s no such thing as a Kosovar nation, then a Kosovar right to “self-determination” is also non-existent. Dammit, they didn’t even self-determine their own alleged name! You, therefore, are either propagating, or falling for, propaganda.
    As for the “drive” by the Albanians in Kosovo to turn this Serbian territory into their own possession, you must know what their “drive” involved. Especially when, as you say, Tito gave this traditional Serbian territory
    “its own administration, judiciary, assembly, police, League of Communists, eductational system, media – and perhaps most importnatly:…equal representation in all federal organs”
    He also gave this area these particular administrative boundaries, by the way. And he did all of this to weaken Serbia by dividing it. Communist-imposed division you would legitimize. Because, like you, the Comintern also railed against a (bourgeois) “Greater” Serbia, and ordered it to be carved up. And Tito implemented the essence of that Comintern 1928 conclusion.

    Tito’s resultant Comintern-inspired division in effect gave the Albanians full control over Kosovo. So what did they do with this control?
    Well, they abused it – continuing to cleanse some 150,000 people in the period from 1961 to 1988. A short space of time; a time officially called peace; a time before Milosevic, and a time well before the wars of the 1990’s. A time of Alb control filled with the horrors of Albanian extremist-perpetrated murder, rape, arson, destruction and ethnic cleansing aimed against all things Serbian in this Serbian province; a time when the Albanian authorities condoned what was being done, and when Albanians even coined the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ to describe it.
    Milosevic became popular in Serbia by being the first to publicly articulate what was going on in this Serbian province, and acting to stop it. Then Kosovo’s Albanians, shorn of their ability to oppress, moved into a parallel world of their own; not driven from their jobs, but simply refusing to turn up for them; not forced to abandon their language, but refusing to attend state institutions even though the Serbian state provided them with education in their Albanian mother tongue. Not lacking rights but refusing to exercise them.

    You describe this action taken to stop the ethnic cleansing of non-Albs as “illegal”, stripping “Kosovo of its autonomy, transfering all decisions about the future of the region from Priština back to Belgrade.”
    Well, you may be interested to know that you’re wrong on all counts. Kosovo’s Alb population was deprived of the judicial and legislative powers conferred in 1974 because of the thousands of acts of violence its extremists were perpetrating and its men in power condoning. If ever there was a case where more direct rule needed to be reimposed by the state, it was re. Kosovo province. And that’s why the legal decision to do this by adjusting the constitution accordingly was taken by Serbia and all the other republics forming the then Yugoslav government, including Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and your own republic of Slovenia.

    But Kosovo’s autonomy was never abolished, only curtailed to prevent the abuses described. Only its federal status was abolished, and right to overrule the rest of Serbia at federal level (a kind of Balkan West Lothian question). At the end of the day, what Belgrade gave Belgrade was entitled to take away. As for example Britain has often reimposed direct rule from London over Northern Ireland for infinitely less reason without bringing into question its right over the province.
    Why you should ignore the infinitely longer period when the current territory of Kosovo was just part of Serbia, and arbitrarily focus on the contradictory constitutional provisions of the 1974-1988 period to build a case for separating this part of Serbia, while ignoring also the dark events in this period, is for you to answer.

  32. @MarkoG: I probably have overstreched my point with “Kosovar” identifier. Fine. Let’s call them Kosovo Albanians. I think the good doctor has already scrutinised me on this point. But it is of no matter, because the name is hardly a key factor here.

    The point I’m making time and again is that Kosovo Albanians do have the right to self-determination based on the 1974 Yugoslav constitution. Period. No if’s, no but’s. Kosovo (and Vojvodina, mind you) was recognized by this constitution as an integral part of Yugoslavia, with direct representaiton in all federal organs and while Kosovo’s, shall we say, sovereignity was executed within Serbia, it was not executed through Serbia.

    I’m fully aware of the fact that even in 1974 Serbia and its leadership felt disenfranchised by the constitutional changes, but fact of the matter is that the constitutional change was aimed at reducing inter-nationalist tensions which were already abundant at the time. Furthermore, the 1974 constitution was passed legally, whereas it’s reversal in 1988 was not. And this is why I say that the 1988 Serbian constitution was passed illegaly.

    Namely, the 1974 Constitution provided for a specific procedure of constitutional changes, which included that any change of Kosovo’s status be approved by a 2/3 majority of Kosovo Assembly. This did not happen, but Serbia nevertheless enaced the change. The same went for Vojvodina, by the way. So Belgrade indeed gave, but it did not take away within the procedure provided.

    And thus, Kosovo’s autonomy was abolished, because after 1988 there was no autonomy to enact in the first place. And why do I concentrate on 1974-88 period? Because, 1974 is the last (and therefore the only applicable) legal ground for every event regarding dissoulution of Yugoslavia.

    You claim that Kosovo Albanians abused control that was given to them. I can’t speak to that, you may be right, you may not. I don’t know. What I do know is that Slobodan Milošević abused power that was entrusted to him and that he incited a wave of nationalism which ultimately destroyed Yugoslavia. He was given a Serbia which excersiced a weak control over Kosovo, and now – for wars later – we have a Serbia without Kosovo. Even Miroslav Šolević, one of Milošević’s henchmen in Kosovo conceeded that much.

    Kosovo didn’t need to become independent. But once Milošević got the ball rolling, its independence became inevitable.

    As for everything else, especially regarding the “traditional” Serb territory, I realize this is a touchy subject, but history is a harsh mistress, and modern day Serb rule in Kosovo was enacted only after the 1912 Balkan war. I know all about 1389 and Vidovdan, but half of millenium does change things profoundly. You can’t just continue where you stopped 550 years ago and say “this was mine forever”. Had that been the case Slovenia might as well claim entire teritory of Carinthia. Guess what the Austrians would say about that.

  33. More than four IIIyrian Entities compose Albania.
    All of them speaks Illyrian language but with different dialects. Three first has a very distinct Illyrian dialect named GEGE and the rest has another Illyrian dialect named TOSKE.
    On 1912 they united in one single state and agreed to be named Eagle’s Land. SHQIPERIA.
    The foreign “SKOLARS” named Albania based on the name of only one of the Entities.
    This was not only Ignorance but also a big mistake of these “very educated Scholars“.
    The situation then was so critical for SHQIPETARET, so they accepted any injustice and compromise. This was the big price they pay to gain the independence. Of course many other Illyrian entities was ignored. This has been done in purpose to use Illyrian territories as a trade merchandise to please slavics, which in return were used in two wars. The Slavics paid their price. They lost 56 million people 1908 – 1946. Illyrian paid bigger price. They were spread over 5 different states.
    It’s about time to recognize the historical right of Kosova (Dardania) to have its destiny fulfilled-That is full independence. Kosova never was a Serbian province. It was there, since the times of birth of European civilization, a very distinct Dardanian/llyrian identity. Always populated by Dardanias who, although under constant pressure of forcefully migration by Serbian shovinism, Tito’s Yugoslavia & Milloshevic’s Serbia, still make up 92% of the population. They speak ilirian language with the dialect GEGE. Serbs always have been a minority there. We know that Serbs appeared in Balkans (then llyria) only by the 6th Century AD, and they speak a language more similar to Ukrainian then Russian. They have always been a minority and ‘the story’ of Kosova being the Heartland of Serbia is just a pure Serbian nationalist fantasy. Facts Speak Louder Than Words and Serbian’s Lies Will Collapse by Themselves. Serbs always have been considered as oppressors there, not just by Albanian majority, but also by other ethnic groups too. Serbs just occupied Kosova during the rise of the Serbian nationalism early 20th century from Ottomans, who by then were loosing the Balkans after 500 years of occupation. The borders of Kosova are well established and recognized. Now Kosova should be Free!
    To find the answer for the question “do you think Kosovo’s independence will strengthen separatist movements elsewhere”, please refer to:
    Erich Hartman – top ace of all the time. German Luftwaffe Bf 109 Pilot.
    Near the end of WWII, in early May 1945, Hartmann, then Gruppenkommandeur of famous Jagdgeschwader 52, and his Commodore, Hermann Graf, ground crew, family members, and other civilians, who had joined the squadron, seeking protection approaching Russian army, moved west in direction of territory already occupied by US troops. On May 8th, 1945, the soldiers and civilians surrendered to US troops in the region between Bavaria (German province) and Czech border. But on May 17th, the US Army delivered all of these German troops and civilians to the Red Army. How did the Russian troops treat the civilians? They tortured, raped German woman, children at least 12 years old. Some woman were shot after the rapes. Others were not so lucky. A twelve year old girl whose mother had been raped and shoot being raped by several solders. She died from these acts soon afterward. Then more Russian came, and it began all over again. During the night, entire German families committed suicide with men killing their wives and daughters, then themselves. This is the way the slavics treat the human been, the innocent civilians. This is the way the Serbs treated innocent Croatian, Bosnian and Dardanian civilians. If any entity of human been will be treated like that, then they are in title to ask and gain the independence.

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