Paper for the “Symposium on Final Status for Kosovo: Untying the Gordian Knot”

                        Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology

                        Chicago, April 16-17, 2004


Dr. Božidar Jakšić





Over the past years, virtually every citizen of Yugoslavia has felt prompted to reflect about the dangers of the irresponsible state treatment of the Kosovo crisis. The dilemma set up a decade ago – »to disentangle, or to cut the Kosovo knot?« - turned out to as one of those political and ideological platitudes that are not capable of generating any rational solution. For decades, both key parties – the Serbian and the Albanian cultural and political elites alike – have contributed to creating and nourishing an apartheid society in Kosovo. The ideology of »blood and soil« underlying the approaches of both elites, invoking historical, territorial, ethnic and demographic claims – whatever seemed convenient at different points in time – could not have produced but blood on the soil, an endless chain of human suffering.

Frustration and mistrust were a fertile ground for fear and hate that members of the Serbian and Albanian national elites have stimulated and nurtured for years, decades... Old ties of trust and understanding were being severed persistently and systematically, on a daily basis. Ethnic divisions were equally manipulated by the Serbian bourgeoisie, by the »communist«, Titoist government, and by the newly created Albanian political and cultural elite. In the past decades it never occurred to an overwhelming majority of Kosovo Serbs that it would be a good idea to learn the Albanian language, to become familiar with the customs of their Albanian neighbors, to try to understand their political and cultural aspirations, and to build bridges of trust together with Albanians. New Albanian generations have not only refused to learn the Serbo-Croatian language and to participate in public life of Serbia and Yugoslavia, but instead, especially in the last decade, have set their unique goal: independent (Albanian) Kosovo. By the exclusiveness of their only political goal, they were reinforcing the authoritarian government in Serbia which exposed both Albanian and Serbian populations to repression, terror, and powerful media torture. Both sides have crossed the Rubicon – they destroyed the possibilities for establishing confidence, they rejected the ideas of dialog and understanding. It is as if they made a joint and willing effort to set the stage for bloody clashes precipitated by the tragic events in Drenica in February 1998 (the massacre of the Jasari family). At that time already, it was clear that both sides chose the option of armed conflict. And when some of the international factors, above all the US government, took the stand that military intervention was necessary, a disaster on a far larger scale was imminent. It took place in spring of 1999. The five-year period since NATO air strikes against Kosovo and Serbia have shown that tragedies and suffering have not been stopped. NATO and other international factors have not accomplished the goals they set for themselves, and they are accomplishing what they wished to prevent. Neither multiethnic and democratic Kosovo, nor prosperous and democratic Serbia are within sight of their citizens. The cruel everyday of material poverty and spiritual misery of an overwhelming majority of populations of both Serbia and Kosovo witness to that.

On this condensed period of human suffering, I am presenting to the attention of this honorable gathering the following notes, written down over a longer period: the first two parts were written in the summer of 1998 and the summer of 1999, respectively, while the introduction and third part has been prepared especially for this symposium. It must be stressed that the present author is not eligible to take part in any Albanian-Serbian dialog. For, the author has sought to keep aside from the broad circles of »national workers«: Serbian, Croatian, Bosniac, Albanian, as well as from any political power centers. Moreover, in view of the outcomes of the actions of national cultural and political elites, he has maintained a sharply critical attitude – not to use stronger words, like censure or contempt – to their »activities«, often resulting in crime and plunder. This contribution therefore should be taken as a personal view of a non-indifferent inhabitant of the Balkans, who is trying to understand the proportions of human tragedy around him.



From the Balkan perspective, the end of the 20th century looks dark and gloomy just like its beginning. The Balkans are finishing this century in the same way as they started it – with a war. The breakdown of the second, „socialist“ Yugoslavia began with the crisis in Kosovo. There are good reasons to believe that what remains of Yugoslavia is going to end it will be in Kosovo, too /again, that finish its state and legal existence/ as a state.

Intolerance and hatred have been cultivated in Kosovo for decades. The ideology of blood and soil takes its tribute on both sides. In the 20th century the two ethnic communities, having lived together for hundreds of years – sometimes in conflict, sometimes in peace and mutual understanding – have tried to create two separate societies. Even promenades for the young are strictly separated, not as a result of the most recent wave of violence. An apartheid society has been created, and it took a long time. What was forgotten, however, was that apartheid proved unsustainable even in South Africa.

Today all citizens of Serbia are exposed to measures of an undemocratic, corrupt, primitive and arrogant political regime. They are unable to consume their basic civil rights. And where civil rights and liberties are denied to Serbs as the majority people (comprising two-thirds of the population), they are certainly denied also to the members of other nations - Albanians, Hungarians, Bosniaks, and others (comprising one-third of the population altogether). To speak the truth, citizens of Serbia of non-Serbian nationality feel the repressive character of the political and police apparatus more acutely. This fact often serves as a basis for political manipulation, to which Serbs – and members of other nations equally - easily fall prey. As a result, a member of another nation is perceived as an enemy to be destroyed, or at least expelled, rather than as a co-citizen to cooperate and coexist with. In this respect the manipulation matrices of both Serbian and Albanian political and cultural elites are very much alike. Serbian political propaganda depicts Albanians as terrorists and so tries to justify state terror against Albanians. Of course, the terror does not affect Albanians only, but in today’s Serbia they are most drastically affected. On the other side, the Albanian political and cultural elite presents to Albanians the state terror of the Milosevic regime as the terror of Serbs against Albanians.

Ethno-nationalism is at work on both sides. Serbians and Albanians compete who will make the stakes higher, i.e. who will set more extreme national goals. None of the sides thinks about building bridges of confidence between members of the two peoples, necessarily and historically dependent on each other. Highly set national goals make dialogue impossible. In the meantime, the life of both peoples is increasingly more difficult, with growing material poverty and spiritual emptiness. The shadow of political repression by both „our own“ and „theirs“ is cast over the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia.

Both peoples are victims of the anathema of highly set national goals. For the ideologists of the Serbian ethno-nationalism, Kosovo is the „cradle of Serb hood“ and an „internal affair of Serbia“. In spring 1998 the Serbian authorities, at the initiative of the President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic, went so far as to organize a referendum with the aim to get the „people“ reject „foreign interference“. Of course, the „people“ – like in good old Stalinist times – rejected „foreign interference“, while representatives of the international community come every day to Belgrade and Pristina to talk and negotiate. As a matter of fact, behind the façade of refusing foreign interference there lies no concern for the sovereignty of the state (which, incidentally, still waits for a full international recognition), or for the dignity of the citizens. What the regime really thinks about its citizens was clearly shown by the 1996 electoral fraud, responded to by the citizens with persistent three-month daily demonstrations. It is simply an arrogant primitivism of a political clique, which believes that, „in its own yard“, it can do whatever it pleases with unrestrained arbitrariness, without anybody having the right to „interfere“.

Things do not fare much better with the „cradle of Serb hood“ either. Although Serbian ethno-national ideologists assert that Orthodox faith is an essential component of being Serbian (discarding in this way numerous atheists as „bad Serbs“), Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo are today „sacred“ in a national-political rather than in a religious sense of the term. Returning to the mythical past and appealing to one’s historical rights (as if Albanians did not have historical rights in Kosovo) is totally counterproductive in the service of contemporary political interests. For achieving wrongly designed political goals both the Orthodox Church and the cultural heritage have become instrumentalized. No wonder then that the political elite of Serbia has chosen state terror as a means of reaching these goals. During the centuries, Serbs and Albanians guarded the Pec Patriarchate, a cult place of Orthodox Christianity and one among the most significant monuments of the Serbian culture, – together. Couldn’t this fact serve as an example and direction where to seek solutions to current conflicts?

The anathema of highly set national goals would hurt Serbs, if Kosovo really remains „an internal affair of Serbia“. The reason is simple: Serbia lacks material, organizational and moral strength for solving this problem. Many years ago, Leo Trotsky, reporting from the Balkan front in the year 1912, insightfully remarked: „With the annexation of Kosovo, Serbia got a millstone around the neck of its development“. An authoritarian-type state – and the Balkans have not come to know any other type – including the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or the Republic of Serbia, is unable to face rationally a problem like Kosovo is. Serbia is a poor society, whose industrial production has fallen to the level of the early 1960s. It has been excluded from international financial and investment transactions. The overwhelming majority of the population lives on the verge of the existential minimum – or below. According to some estimates, the undeclared war in Kosovo costs Serbia about 2 million DEM per day. At the same time, neither the state nor the population can meet their most elementary needs. In a word, Serbia lacks any prerequisite for solving on its own the problem of one of the most underdeveloped regions in Europe. It would mean just the continuation of the agony. A horrible end would be replaced by unending horror!

The ideologists of the Albanian ethno-nationalism have chosen another approach, but their goals are no less highly set. Since Albanians belong to different religions, they have declared that religious affiliation is not essential for the Albanian nation. They have proclaimed an „independent (Albanian) state of Kazoo“ as their chief, and often only goal. In the current relation of forces between Albanians and Serbs, this goal is not easy to achieve. It would demand massive human victims and, probably, large-scale material destruction. Is this price worth paying for the achievement of the said goal? For the time being, many Albanians seem to think so, although they increasingly turn to various international factors, asking for help. Bearing in mind the doctrine of unchangeable state borders in Europe, after the experiences with the breakdown of the „real socialist“ system, this help is very unlikely to be sufficient for the realization of such an extreme goal. Certainly, help will not fail to come either, but it will oblige the Albanian political elite in Kazoo to lower its aspirations. The Albanian elite is therefore facing a period of difficult bargaining both with Serbian political representatives and representatives of the international community.

Thus it would perhaps be worthwhile for the Albanian political factors in Kosovo to analyze thoroughly the experiences of Bosnia’s in expecting international assistance during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It would be even more worthwhile to think over what elements of infrastructure they possess for organizing a truly independent state, in the conditions of Kosovo’s economic backwardness and a politically unfavorable environment. If they balanced these two elements carefully, they would perhaps be somewhat less disappointed then they sometimes are with the conduct of the international factors in the Kosovo crisis. In that case, the highly set goal of „independence“ might become less attractive. Also, some „middle“ solutions, based on the principles of tolerance, cooperation and confidence-building measures might become much more desirable than they seem to be now.

            In sum, both Serbs and Albanians are victims of the maximalist policies of their elites, and drawn into a closed circle of hatred and violence. The problem is that the spiral of evil is accelerating. Today, it has been indisputably established that the repressive measures of the Serbian state in Kosovo have reached the proportions of state terror against a part of Serbia’ citizens of Albanian nationality. It is equally indisputable that there are terrorist groups on the Albanian side, and that acts of individual and group terror have been present in Kosovo for decades. The case of the police raid on the Drenica village in early 1998 was nothing but a fascist-like punitive expedition in the style of the raids of German troops on Serbian villages during World War II. Kidnapping and killing civilians perpetrated by Albanians also belongs into terror against people. A four-year-old cannot be a terrorist, and killed together with terrorists. Violence against people, arrogance and primitivism cannot possibly be justified by claiming that one acts „in the name of the state“ or „in the name of the nation“. Such deeds should meet with condemnation and feeling of shame in all citizens of Serbia. All that is needed is a little common sense, honesty, and sense for human dignity.

            Kosovo crisis can not be solved either quickly or simply. Searching for a peaceful solution will be a long drawn, controversial and difficult process, full of dashed hopes. In the meantime the number of victims is on the rise, and material damage is becoming greater and greater. The increased poverty will turn the citizens of Serbia, Serbs and Albanians, into helpless people whose hopes are vanishing. Reason and moral courage would command dialog, communication and building of bridges of trust.

            Whence then the mutual lack of readiness to negotiate? On the Serbian side reasons also lie in the nature of government of Slobodan Milosevic. Into the basis of his power the „skill“ to make old conflicts fade by making new ones is tightly woven. Conflicts with neighbors or with a number of citizens of Serbia, be they Serbs or not, are imperative for his staying in power, because they arouse the fear of changes in the electorate of Serbia. So it happens that politics with atrocious results is over an over confirmed at elections. It is true that the government of Serbia is offering negotiations to Albanians, but the changes are conditioned by the acceptance of the political dictate. The other solution offered is „a trip over Prokletia mountains“ (into Albania), as if they are not citizen of Serbia who are living in Kosovo for generations. Between those two possibilities lies the cruel reality of more and more open armed conflict, undeclared war. Actually, since the escalation of conflict in Kosovo in the early eighties, the government of Serbia did not offer Albanians any rational choices. It is left to speculation what would be the answer of the Albanian side to rational challenges. It seems that the „Kosovo dream“ of the Serbian political elite is like Tudjman’s „solution of the Serbian national question in Croatia.“

            Albanian politicians are also talking about accepting negotiations on the condition that the issue is secession, that is creation of  „independent (Albanian) State of Kosovo.“ Is that „independent state“ the ultimate goal of the Albanian political elite we can only guess, but it is likely that this stance is dictated by internal reasons. Albanian political elite is refusing participation in the political life of Serbia. This way they practically refuse any possibility to fight for democracy together with a part of the democratic political opposition in Serbia. The parliamentary seats that would go to the Albanian representatives (about 30 seats in Parliament) belonged to Milosevic’s party on all elections to date. This attitude of Albanian politicians is strengthening the government they are struggling against.

            We can conclude that neither Serbian nor Albanian political elite is favoring democratic solutions. That is what makes the situation of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo so tragic. Albanian political elite prefers the path of confrontation and open conflict, in order to show that Serbs and Albanians can not live together. The government of Serbia is amply helping with this. The circle of evil closes. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The international community will need a lot of perseverance, patience and wisdom to break that circle.

The role of various international factors in the Kosovo crisis is a distinct and very important topic. Both the Serbian and the Albanian sides are often dissatisfied – and sometimes with a good reason – with the conduct of the international community. But it is unquestionable that the conflicts in Kosovo would have already surpassed the level of the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Croatia, had it not been for the „influence of foreign factors“. This, of course, does not mean that the influences and pressures of the international community on the two sides have always been balanced, rational and optimal. On the contrary, they often consist of a mixture of ignorance, arrogance, and cynical pragmatism. Yet, we should not forget that in this stage of conflicts in Kosovo without the active participation of the international community the elementary preconditions for initiating the process of peacefully solving the Kosovo crisis would be absent. Another thing may be added here. If the aim of reducing tensions is approached by insisting on human rights and liberties – those grand achievements of humanity – no success will be made. For, unfortunately, in both Serbian and Albanian cultures, the ideas of citizens’ human rights and individual liberties have never, to put it mildly, occupied a very prominent position in the hierarchy of human values. Similarly, humanitarian aid, however invaluable for people on the verge of starvation, cannot be a way out of the crisis either. It is necessary that the USA, European Union, and Russia understand that a peaceful solution of the Kosovo crisis is their vital interest. It is necessary to make and implement a comprehensive plan of getting people out of material poverty and cultural misery. It could be a new version of the Marshall Plan, like the one implemented in Germany after World War II, that would open possibilities to people to substitute the „diluvial Balkan hatred“ with hard work, cooperation, and trust.



Twentieth century in Europe is ending where it started - in the Balkans. It is also ending in the same way as it started - with Balkan wars that grow into international conflicts. This spring internal Balkan contradictions, conflicts and animosities have led to the action denoted by the unusual name of "mercy angel" or "NATO air strikes". These are just euphemisms for a brutal aggression from the air against the country whose citizen I am (Yugoslavia). The proclaimed objectives of the action, as presented to the public, were the "prevention of humanitarian catastrophe", i.e. the protection of the Albanian ethnic community in Kosovo, and struggle against the political regime of Slobodan Milosevic. The actual effects are disastrous: a new, much more serious humanitarian catastrophe of Kosovo Albanians, with over three-quarters of a million refugees and displaced persons; exodus of the Kosovo Serbs into Serbia and Montenegro (about 25 percent of their total number by 20 June); civilian casualties throughout Serbia and Montenegro; destroyed industrial plants, traffic and other infrastructure, schools and hospitals, electricity transmission equipment, bridges connecting people in both physical and symbolic senses. As for the environmental catastrophe, its proportions are such that I prefer not to talk about it at all, in order not to disturb the peaceful sleep of respectable citizens of West European countries.

            In bringing this disaster about NATO policy, led by the USA, and the policy of Slobodan Milosevic were complementary rather than opposed. Namely, I consider the dilemma "either NATO or Slobodan Milosevic" to be a false one, a mere propaganda trick of the two sides. If I oppose NATO aggression against my country that does not mean I support Milosevic's policy. If I am an opponent of Slobodan Milosevic's policy that does not mean I support NATO military actions against my country. How could I, after all, when for two and a half months, together with ten million Yugoslav citizens, members of all ethnic communities, I was playing "Russian roulette" and could have any time become part of the "collateral damage" that the next day NATO spokesman Jamie Shea would mention with a smile, and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair would contemptuously ignore. I will not deny, therefore, that I am speaking on my own behalf, pro domo sua, and hopefully to the benefit of ordinary people, citizens of Yugoslavia. I reject both policies. Indeed, I hold both policies responsible for the unending chain of suffering to which human beings in the Balkans have been exposed in the recent past, in the present, and in the future.

            I will try to substantiate the thesis about the complementarity between the policy of NATO (USA) and the policy of Slobodan Milosevic, because I think this is important for any attempt at articulating an alternative to the policy formulated at meetings such as those at Davos or those of G 8 countries.

            Without the slightest doubt, Slobodan Milosevic's regime is repressive, not only against minority ethnic groups such as Albanians, but against Serbs and Montenegrins as well. Repression and selective terror, an all-encompassing system of war propaganda, daily bombardment of the population with propaganda, rousing hatred against others, particularly neighbors, a disastrous economic policy, general pauperization of the population - here are just some of the features and results of this policy. The attitude toward the University and the independent media as evidenced by the repressive laws adopted in 1998 are just the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive system of repression. One does not have to belong to the Albanian ethnic community (and non-Serbs make up one-third of the general population) in order to experience the repressive spirit of the regime. Ill-devised and even worse enforced laws are a fertile soil for legal anarchy. Countless decrees with the force of law issued by the Government make citizens totally helpless before the power and arbitrariness of the authorities. The feelings of powerlessness and despair, coupled with feelings of hatred and rage, are the basic characteristics of frustrated citizens. If one adds poverty, unemployment and fear of an uncertain future, it becomes easier to understand how the citizens of Yugoslavia easily fall prey to the populist policies of either ruling or opposition parties.

            Last year the repression against the Albanian population rose to the level of state terror whose first victims were members of the Albanian ethnic community in Kosovo. There response to state terror often consisted have individual and group terror which also furthered human suffering. The response of the state organs to this terror was brutal. Particularly violent was the raid on the Albanian villages in the Drenica area in February 1998, when more than 80 men, women and children were killed. This typical punitive expedition was presented to the Yugoslav public as an "action against terrorists". Albanians for their part also responded with terrorist actions, most frequently murders and kidnappings. The spiral of hatred and violence in Kosovo kept spreading and accelerating. By the beginning of NATO aggression on 24 March this year about 2,000 people had been killed, while about 50,000 had fled as refugees to other countries or as displaced persons to Montenegro. According to the findings of the research I conducted in the beginning of 1999 in Montenegro there found shelter Albanians fleeing from state terror, and to a lesser extent members of other ethnic groups, fleeing from the terror of those who were fighting for an "independent Albanian Kosovo".

            Slobodan Milosevic's Kosovo policy should have been curbed and neutralized. Are bombs and cruising missiles destroying the bridges of Novi Sad, about 500 km away from Kosovo, the best means to this purpose? Hasn't the bombing encouraged Slobodan Milosevic' policy to intensify violence in Kosovo? Has NATO aggression not added the suffering of all Yugoslav citizens to the suffering of the Albanian people? Isn't the destruction brought about by two and a half months of bombing in Kosovo so great that nobody will ever again wish to be "protected" by NATO? Possibly, NATO wanted to stop with military means a policy characterized by "ethnic cleansing" and crime; but it enabled, and itself committed, crimes on a far wider scale. Along with all the collateral damage for citizens of Serbia, it also caused collateral gains for Slobodan Milosevic's policy. It made possible a partial realization of the dream of every Serbian chauvinist of a Kosovo with no Albanians. To flee from areas affected by bombing and other military operations is an expression of a natural human instinct for survival. (Serbs were also fleeing Kosovo to Serbia, but those facts are little known.) Besides, the bombing served as a pretext for crimes that forced over three-quarters of a million Albanians into exile. This "job" Slobodan Milosevic's policy could do at the pace of, let's say, 50,000 people a year; but NATO bombing helped to achieve in eleven weeks the results for which Milosevic would have needed 15 years! NATO, then, by its action attained what it wanted to prevent. It caused a humanitarian catastrophe on a far wider scale[3] and enabled Slobodan Milosevic's policy, "on the ground" and in the noise of NATO jets and bombs and cruising missiles, to eliminate whomever and however it deemed suitable. It turned Yugoslavia into a "free hunting district" for his policy! It directly prevented what it wanted to attain: the protection of Albanians in Kosovo and the dismantling of Slobodan Milosevic's political regime. If anyone in the Balkans targeted by NATO air strikes has managed to remain a normal human being, he/she must be astounded by this short-sightedness of NATO (USA) policy. Other detrimental consequences - such as the growth of anti-Western and anti-democratic mood among Serbian citizens, the exodus of Serbs after the arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo, disturbances in the international legal system, erosion of the prestige of the UN, tensions along the lines Moscow-Washington or Peking-Washington - are too well known to be specifically mentioned here.

            If NATO by its aggression against Yugoslavia supported what it wanted to pull down - Slobodan Milosevic's regime - and destroyed what the developed countries should have supported (the basis for a dignified human life for all citizens of Yugoslavia), most reactions of Slobodan Milosevic's political regime were conducive to NATO's ends. Violence against Yugoslavia was responded to by the regime with more violence and crimes against Albanians in Kosovo. Along the way, martial law was proclaimed which made possible the issuing of a series of decrees annulling the already fragile civil rights and liberties; there was also exemplary terror (the assassination of a journalist), and all citizens were delivered to the mercy of whimsical state institutions. The regime took advantage of NATO aggression as an opportunity to silence the opposition, proclaiming any dissent to be treason and canceling the possibility of publicly expressing any opinion dissonant from the official state propaganda. Nowadays, all Yugoslav television stations, including sports channels, broadcast news programs of the state TV.[4] The dream of one and only propaganda message has come true! There is symbolism in the fact that on 24 March 1999, the same day when "NATO air strikes" began, the government in Serbia closed down the independent and widely popular Radio B92. Instead of this radio station, citizens of Yugoslavia began listening to the sound of the American B-2 and B-52 planes.

            After the beginning of NATO aggression the policy of Slobodan Milosevic did most for the policy of NATO and USA by enhancing repression and crimes against Albanians in Kosovo. Huge waves of Albanian refugees fleeing from both repression and the bombs of those who were allegedly "protecting" them overflowed Macedonian and Albanian borders with Yugoslavia. It is as if NATO sought to make true at least a part of the political dreams of Mr. Zoran Lilic, former president of FR Yugoslavia and the actual deputy prime minister of the federal Government, who once "kindly" offered the Kosovo Albanians to go to Albania across the mountain with a symbolic name - Prokletije (the Damned Mountain). As if NATO met the wishes of Dr. Vojislav Seselj, Serbian deputy prime minister, who announced that in the case of NATO bombing there would be no more Albanians in Kosovo. By the crimes committed against Albanians "in the name of the defense of the Serbian cradle", Slobodan Milosevic's policy turned public opinion of the world against Serbs and provided the basis for after-the-fact political and moral justifications of the destruction of a country and ruining the material foundation of life of its inhabitants. And the acceptance of "Russian help" to "bring the process back to the UN", which was actually nothing but a Russian endeavor to reappear on the world scene in the role of a significant (powerful) actor, enabled NATO to supply retroactively its aggression against Yugoslavia with a legal basis as well.

            Thus the policies of Slobodan Milosevic and NATO (USA) mutually complemented and helped each other. NATO propaganda used to the utmost the tragedy of endless lines of refugees from Kosovo to Albania and Macedonia, while Milosevic's propaganda handled the images of the destruction of Serbia in the same way. Nobody seemed to understand that these series of TV images at one side and the other were just aspects of one and the same human tragedy. Of course, what is especially tragic for Yugoslav citizens was that in none of the Yugoslav media could they learn anything on the enormous tragedy of their Albanian co-citizens. Slobodan Milosevic's policy needed NATO bombing for keeping Yugoslav citizens from realizing that due to a wrong policy (of apartheid, promoted by Serbian and Albanian sides alike) enforced for several decades, Kosovo had already been lost for Serbia before the first NATO bomb fell. Similarly, at this moment, in a ruined country, he can rule without disturbance and glorify the victory over the "NATO armada". The question is only - for how long! On the other hand, NATO needed Slobodan Milosevic's policy in order to reclaim the meaning of its existence lost after the fall of the Berlin wall.

            Hence Milosevic's policy turns out to be an expression of NATO's internal needs. Slobodan Milosevic has been implementing his policy of force and violence for more than ten years. If such people did not exist, NATO would have to invent them. And yet, there are very few presidents of West European governments, foreign ministers, career diplomats, or generals, who have never had the "honor" to sit on Slobodan Milosevic's sofa, like at a sort of psychoanalytic therapy session. It took more than ten years for Western governments to realize what the citizens of Yugoslavia knew all along: that Slobodan Milosevic' policy is not part of the solution, but rather the core of political problems in the Balkans. In the meantime, representatives of Western governments and international institutions cynically did their business with Milosevic enhancing his political power and prestige, at least at home, where these contacts have served him well to consolidate his position. And with 100,000 policemen, you hardly need any other basis of legitimacy to rule an impoverished country. Western ruling circles supported him even against the will of the Serbian citizens. Suffice it to recall the great three-month civic protest in Serbia in winter 1996/96! Milosevic was, and I am afraid will remain, the "natural" partner of the policy of USA and other Western governments and institutions; of a policy that is often a combination of cynical pragmatism and incompetent neo-colonialist arrogance. And the citizens of Yugoslavia must stay content with the slight comfort that Milosevic's policy, having risen on the wings of the Kosovo crisis, has exhausted all its potentials and will disappear with the establishment of the international protectorate in Kosovo. To put it simply - Kosovo was the birthplace of Milosevic's power, it might also be its grave.

            Some parts of the Balkans are doubtless the deepest pockets of European poverty: Bosnia, Albania, Serbia with Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia... Today's Yugoslavia is not only poor, but also a devastated country. The society has been torn by internal conflicts and external pressures. Who now remembers the economic embargo, introduced in 1993 and then alternately relieved and strained from time to time! Yugoslav industrial production is hopelessly outdated, and this spring it has also been physically destroyed by NATO attacks. Traffic and other infrastructure as well. In the 1990s, the economy has been ruined to such an extent that the level of production has fallen by 50 percent, while many factories had not been using more than 25 percent of their production capacities even before the bombing. The citizens of the country have become so impoverished that a middle class can no longer be said to exist. An extremely narrow stratum of the nomenclature and war profiteers, comprising about 3-5 percent of the population, holds both capital and power in their hands, while over 90 percent of the population live on the verge of minimum of vital needs or below. The system of citizen savings has been completely ruined, so that it currently amounts to 2 DEM per capita annually. External debt of the country amounts to about 12 billion dollars, and interest increases this debt at the rate of 800 million dollars per year.

            At this moment the citizens of Yugoslavia are discouraged and helpless: NATO planes in the sky, Milosevic on the ground! They are being pushed into isolation by both the so-called international factors, and Slobodan Milosevic's policy, their life being reduced to a beastly struggle for survival. The world cannot isolate itself from what is going on in the Balkans, it cannot escape into "splendid isolation". Neither can the Balkans isolate itself from the world. Or more precisely - it can, but only briefly and at the expense of its own citizens.

            I am convinced that the citizens of ex-Yugoslavia deserve a better fate. Only a policy that will turn hatred into love, hostility into trust, and poverty into affluence, that will replace fields of pain by joys of life, has the right to call itself alternative and humane. Such a policy of economic prosperity, human rights and non-violence, the policy of trust in the human striving for freedom, can put an end to the latest Balkan tragedy and prevent its spreading.



In searching for a possible solution to the «Kosovo issue», for a rational modality of the «final status for Kosovo», many circumstances are of prime importance. Two will be mentioned here. The first question is: where have the national – political and cultural – elites, in seeking to achieve their ambitious ethno-national goals, brought the Balkan peoples at the turn of the millennium? A precise answer is provided by the picture of the West Balkans which today is not encouraging: two formal international protectorates (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo), two semi-formal protectorates (Macedonia and Albania), and two informal protectorates (Croatia and Serbia-and-Montenegro). These protectorates are drastic proofs of the immaturity of ethno-national elites to build realistic visions of the future for their nations and citizens of their states, and to realize their proclaimed goals. What is more, by resorting to criminal means, in which Milošević's clique in Serbia only took the lead but the others followed, no positive results could have been achieved at all. Balkan ethno-nationalisms have demonstrated remarkable combativeness in mutual rivalry they provoked hostilities between nations, fear and hate among members of some nations. But essentially, they have been complementary – they mutually nourished and consolidated each other. It may safely be argued that the opposing Balkan nationalisms feed upon each other, to a very considerable degree. It has also been said: «National movements start as sleeping beauties, and end up as Frankenstein's monsters.»

The situation is similar with terror, the basic characteristic of the »third Balkan war«. Kosovo has not only become the topos of a conflict between two irreconcilable nationalisms, but its citizens have also sometimes been the protagonists, and sometimes the victims, of three kinds of mutually complementary terrorisms. The most transparent one was certainly the terror perpetrated by the Serbian repressive institutions, and in the last decade of the 20th century also para-state and paramilitary groups, in Kosovo. On the other hand, in the Albanian ethnic community the traditional kaçak forms of violence against the population were replaced by acts of individual terror, and later on, after the 1999 NATO air strikes, organized terror as well. Hence the extremely unpleasant surprise of the international factors when after arriving in Kosovo in June 1999 they faced the most diverse forms of violence against Serbs and Roma, committed in the name of revenge and promotion of the »Albanian national interest«. The surprise was all the more unpleasant since the crimes against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo were taking place in the presence of the international armed forces that had neither enough power nor political will for a more efficient intervention. Although in these crimes the participation of various bandit gangs has also been proven, behind them undoubtedly lay a deliberate policy to destroy the idea of a multiethnic Kosovo. The victims turned into executioners in the presence of the international military forces with a UN mandate! The prospects for a lasting peace are more than uncertain. These two kinds of terror – from Serbian and Albanian sides – cannot be mechanically equaled. Certainly, state terror is far more dangerous than individual one, though at different points in time they have assumed quite different intensity and often changed places.[6]

Finally, these two kinds of terror were reinforced by the addition of the third kind – the »terror from the sky« in spring of 1999, whose protagonist was NATO. This »Merciful Angel«'s terror finally closed the terror triangle in West Balkans. State terror in the name of Serbia and of defense of Kosovo as the »cradle of Serb hood« was in the late 1990s joined by the terror of the UCK, launching undeclared and unconventional war against Kosovo Serbs and Serbia; the third side of this triangle was taken up by the undeclared, high-tech airforce war by NATO in which Serbs and Albanians, Serbia and Kosovo, suffered alike, with negligible NATO losses. Each of these terrorisms had its own premises and justifications, its goals and its cruelties. Without any doubt, ethnic conflicts and terror against Albanians had to be stopped, but every reasonable person must wonder whether cluster bombs or depleted uranium are the right means to stop »humanitarian catastrophe«. Proofs abound that the majority Albanian population was struck, in addition to the enhanced repressive measures of the official Serbian organs, and violence and plunder by various gangs not always composed according to the 'ethnic principle', also by the bombs and terror of their alleged protectors from the air and from the ground. The deeply moving pictures of the mass exodus of the Albanian population during NATO intervention have traveled the world. Though in using this images there was also shameless manipulation with human misfortune, for well-intentioned people all over the world it was evident that Kosovo Albanians were victims of wrong policies of Belgrade, Washington, Brussels, but also Pristina, and that all inhabitants of Kosovo and a larger part of Serbia were victims of a massive destruction of human lives, homes, infrastructure, natural resources, with consequences difficult to anticipate. 12 billion dollars were spent on these air strikes, but problems for which they had been undertaken were not solved. Instead, they became insoluble, for Albanians, for Serbs, and for the international factors involved.[7] Moreover, NATO actions added fuel to the flames of inter-ethnic hatred. The power of this hatred is best illustrated by the new wave of violence in Kosovo in March 2003 when people were killed, human lodgings burned down, and religious buildings and cultural monuments destroyed that are not just landmarks of the Serbian culture and the Eastern Orthodox church, but also several centuries old cultural valuables belonging to the entire humanity.[8]

The second important question is: How to dissipate fear, how to bridle hatred and replace it with trust, how to open up the horizon of hope that coexistence is possible? At that, one should bear in mind that the Balkans is just one of the many regions in the world where executioners and victims change places very quickly. Almost overnight, from executioner one can turn a victim, and vice-versa. Of course, not all the members of the Serbian people living in Kosovo exposed their Albanian neighbors to a comprehensive system of repression. They were themselves often victims of a repressive system whose center was located in Belgrade, just as in many cases they were the victims of individual acts of terror perpetrated by extremist Albanian elements. However, it is certain that many Kosovo Serbs supported wholeheartedly the populist Belgrade regime and watched indifferently the repression against their Albanian neighbors. Moreover, some of the current Kosovo Serb leaders began – and continue – their political activism as exponents of the wrong policies of the official Belgrade towards Kosovo. Thus it comes as no surprise that they failed to come to terms with their Albanian neighbors, and that they could not, and sometimes did not want to, protect and understand the latter. Thus Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, sometimes unjustifiably, have born the stigma of persecutors of the majority Albanian population. Those who really plundered and murdered in Kosovo withdrew – or, better, fled – with the appearance of the first NATO military units, leaving the domicile Serb population to the mercy of the law of  vendetta.

I hope the latest tragic events in Kosovo and in Serbia may serve as a basis for a better understanding of the thesis of «full responsibility» of both Serbian and Albanian sides in Kosovo, with no intention to establish artificial symmetries. I hope there is no need to convince anybody that any person of good will, regardless of ethnic background, took with infinite sorrow the news of the assassination of Serbian children (more than 6 months ago) in Kosovo, and in March this year the news of the tragic loss of lives of three Albanian children. Similarly, it may be assumed that such a person would condemn with indignation the destruction of such monuments to all-human – in this case Orthodox – culture such as the Bogorodica Ljeviška in Prizren, [9] as well as the burning down of mosques in Serbia.[10] The thought – however uncertainly founded – that the majority of (Albanian and Serb) citizens of Kosovo respond in the same way, is encouraging.

I shall not conceal my opposition to some aspects of the struggle for Kosovo independence, though I have a certain understanding for the idea. I myself have written that the process of fragmentation of Yugoslavia has not been historically completed.[11] Furthermore, there is no doubt that under current circumstances Kosovo is lost for Serbia, though this fact will in Serbian political life play the role of a powerful source of populism and ethno-nationalism, and an obstacle to any serious and more long-term stabilization of democratic institutions in Serbia. The Serbian political elite is equally aware of this fact, but there is no politician in Belgrade who would have the courage to state it clearly and openly to the Serbian public. [12]

For me the crucial thing is that in Kosovo an apartheid society was being systematically created which a priori rejects coexistence and reasonable dialog.[13] The nationalist trance of both Serbian and Albanian politicians and cultural elite members (what most often means one and the same), their narrow-mindedness, their incapability to grapple with the immenseness of their historical task, have deepened the abyss between peoples, so it is no wonder that the more reasonable and far-sighted ones have been proclaimed traitors and fallen victims at different critical points.

The blind ethno-nationalisms, Serbian and Albanian, have been sowing fear among citizens of Serbia and Kosovo. Hatred has grown, leading otherwise simple, peaceful and diligent people into criminal acts of murdering civilians, property destruction, expulsion. Hatred was killing every hope, constrained the capability of human reasoning and turning both Serbs and Albanians into blind instruments in the hands of grand nationalist manipulators. Waves of populism have been flooding this part of the Balkans, and the so-called national leaders have enjoyed plebiscitary support. Milošević's regime in Serbia, for instance, may be, among other things, characterized as «plebiscitary Caesarism». Serbia's exit from this condition, as political events in Serbia after the assassination of Premier Đinđić show, is more than uncertain. In Kosovo the situation is no better, even if the violence of 17 March is not taken as the only parameter. Another thing to be stressed is the large amount of hypocrisy demonstrated by certain international bodies in Kosovo, presenting «Potemkin's villages» rather than the real state of affairs to Western power centers.[14]

A special role in sowing fear and stirring up hate has been played by the mass media and representatives of political, scientific and cultural elites in both nations. The philosophy professor Muhamedin Kullashi is certainly right when he singles out the role of intellectuals and the media in producing fear and hate.[15] The current situation is virtually disastrous. Rational notes are rare, and even if they are heard they are considered traitorous at both sides. Hatred is so thick that it can be cut with a knife. The orchestrated hysteria of the Belgrade means of propaganda initiated by political parties tends, and mainly succeeds, to bewitch the bulk of the Serbian public opinion and to surpass the similarly hysterical propaganda in Pristina.[16]

It is not only peace prospects that are uncertain. The future of citizens of Serbia and Kosovo is equally uncertain, regardless of their ethnic background. Ordinary citizens are facing struggle for survival. Production output has fallen to the level which does not ensure to the citizens even the existential minimum. At that, it must be borne in mind that in Serbia 40 % of the population capable of work is with no employment, and in Kosovo the percentage is even higher – 60 %. Neither in Serbia nor in Kosovo is there internationally relevant production, or sizeable economic investments. Shortage of bread, jobs, drinking water, electrical power, traffic infrastructure,[17] the disastrous material condition of educational, scientific and cultural institutions are characteristic of Serbia and Kosovo alike. In that respect one could argue, without necessarily being very sarcastic, that Kosovo is part of Serbia, and Serbia part of Kosovo.

The political formula »standards before the final status for Kosovo« is certainly an expression of serious political reflection on a hardly soluble problem. One should not suspect it was set forth bona fide, out of a desire to make Kosovo a democratically organized society, and to eliminate fear and hatred from people's souls and conduct. This formula has only one shortcoming: under the existing circumstances, it is irrelevant and unfeasible. Namely, Kosovo might proclaim its independence today, after the desire of the Albanian political elites, and the international community might confirm this independence, or else, Kosovo's independence might, after the desire of the Serbian political elites, be postponed ad calendas graecas; but the Kosovo problem will not be solved. To put the matter bluntly – there is no comprehensive and permanent political solution to the Kosovo problem. The international protectorate in Kosovo, like it or not – Serbs, Albanians, even international organizations managing the Kosovo administration – will continue for a very long time, until the circumstances of daily life change. This, symbolically speaking, means in practice until a person of Serb origin can stroll freely along the streets of Pristina, and a person of Albanian origin along the streets of northern Mitrovica, and until an Albanian neighbor in a remote Kosovo village starts assisting his Serb neighbor in farming jobs, and vice-versa.

However much such a picture may seem utopian in the current conditions, it is not unfeasible provided that the basic political approach changes, in Serbia and Kosovo alike. Military forces and huge quantities of arms – probably necessary in the given circumstances – only cement the existing situation, but they do not facilitate its modification towards the development of democratic institutions. Part of the financial resources nowadays given away for expensive administration and the military, if invested in the reconstruction of industrial plants and economic revival would come closer to more long-term solutions. What is most needed are investments in profitable economic activities. People must be given jobs so that they can provide for themselves and their families. It is necessary to ensure to the inhabitants of Kosovo, and Serbia, the chance to cover with their income the rents for the apartments they live in, their electricity and phone bills, and costs of meeting their health and cultural needs. Young jobless people should get out of Kosovo cafes and join study groups at universities in Europe and elsewhere in the world – Albanians and Serbs together. Full gender equality must be ensured and employment provided to the female workforce in Kosovo public institutions and industrial enterprises. The sites of the burned-down homes of the refugees must be turned into construction sites, into new homes for returnees – Serbs, Roma, and others. And finally, Serbia and Kosovo must be cleansed of dumpsites and their natural environments made healthy and worthy of human beings. All these tasks, that would involve importantly both Serbs and Albanians together, cost far less than the maintenance of the bulky administrative and military apparatuses. Insofar as the pursuing of these goals would bring citizens of Serbia and Kosovo increasingly closer to each other, it will be less and less important whether Kosovo and Serbia are parts of one state, or two independent states in good neighborly relations, or minor parts of broader European integrations.

Currently, citizens of Serbia and of Kosovo are exposed to powerful xenophobic propaganda and policy. In the wide strata of the population, this is generating frustration and a feeling that international factors are treating unjustly precisely their own national community. “The world is not just to us”, “powers of the world do not respect our just struggle and sacrifice”, “the world hates us and backs our enemies” and similar phrases may be heard, as if in a duo, from both Serbs and Albanians. Such feelings close down the prospects for life in the Balkans into the constraints of struggle for survival. As a result of the Balkan “diluvial hatreds”, the process of decay will go on for years, probably decades. Serbs will blame Albanians, Albanians will blame Serbs, at least as long as both sides do not realize there are at least some interests that they share. In order for them to realize this as soon as possible, new personalities and new (anti)politics are necessary. And they are not yet in sight. 

Let us try to work on a better understanding among ordinary people, citizens of Serbia and Kosovo, be they Serbs, Albanians, Bosniacs, Roma, or Hungarians. If Albanians in Serbia are stigmatized, just like Serbs in Kosovo, let us do something for a better understanding of the culture and history of these – whether someone likes it or not – culturally and historically very close peoples.[18] Namely, if daily life of an ordinary Kosovo Albanian and Serbian family is analyzed, it is not difficult to discern a similar cultural pattern of living: the relations within the family, the manner of organizing daily and domestic life, respect for the guest, mistrust of the alien, relations among the neighbors, way of conducting trade and petty business, manner of reaching agreement over joint tasks, relations between younger and older members of the family, and a whole set of other details of their everyday are similar.[19]

Nevertheless, fear and hate have not destroyed hopes completely. Among Albanians there is a strong, not totally unfounded fear of the very idea of a return of any form of Serbian administration to Kosovo, while among Serbs there is no less strong and no less well-founded fear of their total disappearance from Kosovo. From these fears hatreds grow which are stirred up by political elites and propaganda instruments, at both sides. These hatreds lie at the roots of the new terrorism in Kosovo. We may wonder whether fear, hatreds and terror have killed every hope. However what I have to say may run counter to the widespread notions of the actual situation in Kosovo, the answer is – no.

Let me cite just one example. Mother of the 12 year old boy Egzon Deliu who drowned in the river Ibar in Kosovo on March 16, 2004, Sevdia Deliu, and the father Zaim Deliu, appealed to stop the violence. According to TV and press reports, mother Sevdia said: «I bore him after seven daughters. He was the greatest joy in my life. I want all this to stop, so that no mother experiences what I am going through now.»[20]

A person who knows anything about Albanian, Montenegrin or Serbian family tradition and culture will understand what it means for a family when after seven girls a son is born. After losing this son, that is, after an indescribable tragedy, the mother had so much human strength and generosity to issue an appeal to stop the violence. Her husband (the father) joined her, with very calm and noble words. For these people who proved stronger than the greatest possible family tragedy, I have the deepest respect, and I am grateful to them for giving me back the hope for the possibility of normal human life in the Balkans. This hope was also reinforced by people who in Pančevo, a Belgrade suburb, wrote on the wall of the town hall: «We will protect our Albanians».

Unfortunately, ethno-nationalist vampires will haunt the Balkan region for a long time to come, and people will live unhappy in material poverty and spiritual misery. I am wondering if people of good will – from the Balkans and from other parts of the world – could do something to at least alleviate human suffering which is the chief characteristic of life in both Serbia and Kosovo at the moment.


The paper has three parts, of which two – "Kosovo – the anathema of ethno-national goals«,  and »From a Balkan perspective« - were written earlier, and the third one, on fears, hatreds and hopes, is written especially for the symposium on the final status of Kosovo. Both the Serb and the Albanian national elites have set their 'national goals' maximalistically. Both elites find democratic solutions inconvenient. In this way dialog and cooperation among members of the two ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija have been precluded. Both parties have succumbed to irrational passions and been drawn into an infinite circle of fear, hate and violence. The author then provides a critical analysis of the tragic consequences of US and NATO policy, for both Serbs and Albanians. He points to the complementarity of the policies of NATO and the Belgrade government towards Kosovo. This was particularly manifested in the similar manners of operation of their propaganda machineries. Closing the paper, the author makes three conclusions. One, in Kosovo the roles of executioner and victim are interchanged very often; two, the current state of autism and xenophobia, populism and ethno-nationalism are pushing the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo increasingly deeper into misery and struggle for mere survival; and three, a new, anti-political approach to solving the Kosovo problem is necessary.

  Key words: Kosovo, Serbia, national elite, inter-ethnic conflicts, 'humanitarian catastrophe', war suffering, fear, hatred, hope

In Kumodraz, April 5, 2004

1 The paper presented at the international conference Interculturality and Tolerance, Belgrade, May 1998, finished in August 1998. It was published in English in the collective volume Interkulturalnost i tolerancija (Interculturality and Tolerance), “Republika”, Beograd 1999, pp. 265–272. In abridged form, the paper was also published in French and German in Archipel, No. 57, janvier 1999, pp. 6–8.

[2]  Paper written in early June 1999 as presentation at the international conference La dictature des marchés? Un autre monde est possible, held in Paris (Universite Paris 8) from 24 to 26 June 1999, organized by ATTAC (Le Monde diplomatique). It was a conference with over one thousand participants from 70 countries. At the conference, the paper was presented in English, while its somewhat shorter version was published in French and German in Archipel, No. 63, July 1999, p. 2–3, S. 2–3.

[3] Thus NATO has proved a good/bad (depending on the perspective) student of Slobodan Milosevic's political craft: an acute problem is to be "solved" by causing another, much more serious one!

[4] To speak the truth, not exactly all. The TV station run by Slobodan Milosevic's daughter broadcasts satellite program of the Chinese television 24 hours a day, although there are just a handful of Yugoslavs who speak Chinese.

[5] This part written for the “Symposium on Final Status for Kosovo: Untying the Gordian Knot” in March 2004.

[6] For example, the intense terror against Albanians was amplified by the Milošević regime in the latter half of 1990s, but the terror against the non-Albanian population immediately after the period of NATO air strikes, in the name of UCK, was also intensified to the maximum, so much so that not even international military forces could control it. Interestingly, in the first case victims were not only Albanians, just as many Albanian families were exposed to the terror of the Albanian factors. The Belgrade media very carefully recorded every incident and violent act against Kosovo Serbs after the arrival of the international armed forces, but as for the acts of terror and violence against Albanians committed by organized gangs or groups «in the name of UCK», they were mentioned in only the most general terms.

[7] Interestingly, at the time of NATO bombing the total Serbian foreign debt amounted to precisely 12 billion dollars. If these 12 billion dollars had been invested in reconstruction and development of both Serbia and Kosovo, without any doubt conditions would have been created for such economic and cultural prosperity that would reduce Albanian/Serb mutual fears and hate to the lowest possible measure.

[8] It is an encouraging sing that both the Kosovo government and the Orthodox Church in Albania understood the tragic nature of the destruction of these cultural monuments, and offered aid in their reconstruction. This applies particularly to the aid provided by the Albanian Orthodox Church, since a part of the responsibility for burning down cultural and religious monuments certainly lies with the Kosovo authorities and the international forces whose protection measures proved to be inadequate.

[9] To put it simply, I am opposed in principle to any violence (being aware that state violence, especially of the most powerful forces, and then also of the petty dictatorial regimes in the world, is by far the more dangerous than individual violence and pillage). However, the «struggle for independence» of any society may not be based on destroying centuries-old cultural heritage. This «independence» - let me quote the words of the 19th century Montenegrin poet-bishop-statesman P. P. Njegoš – will have «its traces stink of inhumanity». Some Serbs definitely have reasons to be ashamed, held accountable, and to repent for all that has been done in the name of «defense of Serbdom». But I am afraid that just at this moment Albanians are also making their own list of reasons for future repentance and accountability. I am wondering what is it in human beings that makes them behave as vandals of the modern era.

[10] The Serbian public opinion largely condemned very strongly the burning down of the two mosques (in Belgrade and in Niš) in March this year. Still, the fact is disturbing that most of these condemnations, rather than being unconditional disapprovals of these barbarisms as such, were imbued with regret that these acts diminished the propagandistic advantage of the Serbian side over the Albanians who had burned down many churches and monasteries in Kosovo.

[11] See my book Balkanski paradoksi, Beogradski krug, Beograd 2000.

[12] The Belgrade government, for example, very often emphasizes the sovereignty of the state of Serbia over Kosovo, referring to the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1244 and rightly pointing to the unfavorable status of Serbs and other non-Albanians (e.g. Roma) in Kosovo, but they never – as a government taking care of all its citizens – address the Albanian citizens of Kosovo. It is as if they would like to assert their sovereignty over the territory, but not over the overwhelming majority of the population! Whether this positive addressing to Albanians would bear any fruit is, of course, an open question, but it is noticeable that this mistake is generally avoided by the Kosovo government, which increasingly often addresses the Serb inhabitants of Kosovo, offering them cooperation.

[13] The psychologist Milenko Karan, an inhabitant of Pristina for many years, put that simply: «Two concrete blocs are being created, and concrete blocs cannot talk to each other». His friend, a person with high public prestige, Mr. Fehmi Agani, was of a similar opinion. Both of them opposed  with all their hearts the creation of «concrete blocs» in Kosovo. And both had a tragic end: Mr Agani was murdered «in the name of Serbdom», which was a first-order political crime, while Milenko Karan ended his refugee life shattered by not only illness but also pain. I do not consider the fact that Karan was Serbian, and Agani Albanian, to be particularly important; what I am thinking about is why is it always so that the better ones, the nobler, the more honest, have to succumb, while the Mafiosi remain! At the same time, the Albanian and Serbian organized crime circles have had an «excellent» cooperation throughout the conflicts and the bombing, sowing death, misery, suffering, fear, hatred and despair around them.

[14] At the same time I strongly reject the thesis favorite among Serbian nationalists and politicians who are fanning the new wave of populism in Serbia – namely, that “nothing has been done”in Kosovo. This is simply untrue. An overwhelming majority of representatives of international institutions, all the way down to ordinary privates, perform their duties honorably. They have worked as much as they could and knew. Another problem is that the behavior of some individuals was often composed of a mixture of ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy. Neither Albanian nor Serbian factors however have taken pains to help these people and make their stay in Kosovo easier. As if their only goal were to create as much confusion as possible.

[15] See «Kosovo and Disintegration of Yugoslavia», u Conflict or Dialogue, Subotica, 1994, p.180. See also Kullashi's paper «The Production of Hatred in Kosova (1981-1991), in: Kosovo – Kosova Confrontation or Coexistence, (ed. by Ger Duizings), Peace Research Centre, University of Nijmegen, Political Cultural Centre 042, 1996, pp. 56-69. Interestingly, in the Belgrade philosophical journal Theoria No. 3-4, 1987 (see p. 20) in a paper entitled «Kosovski procentni račun» (The Kosovo Percentage Calculation), Milan Kovačević, also a philosophy professor, set forth the thesis that conflicts, failures and sufferings may be «...the bridge that can bring Serbs and Albanians together, since not just once has it turned out that misfortunes suffered by the ones did not make the others happy.» The events, unfortunately, took the opposite direction and the gulf between the two sides has grown increasingly deeper, all the way to an almost total mental blockade of any rational dialog and common search for optimal solutions.

[16] The reason for this is probably not just the somewhat more rational Albanian propaganda machinery but also the presence of the international factors with their huge military and political power within the protectorate. That the propaganda war sometimes assumes farcical proportions is evidenced by the case of decorating the house of parliament in Pristina with images from Albanian history. The Serbian representatives turned this into a scandal and refused to enter the building. Just elementary commonsense was necessary to add to the decorations motifs from the history of the Serbian, and also Turkish and Roma and Gorani peoples in Kosovo, and there would have been no problem. This elementary common sense was absent in Albanian nationalists while decorating the building, and the affair flared up, very much assisted by the Belgrade media.

[17] In Serbia, there are about 200 kilometers of railways where maximum speed, for security reasons, is 20 km per hour. In Kosovo, the situation is even worse. In Serbia, not just people are dying in misery –  whole villages, even towns are dying as well (Majdanpek, for example). The natural environment is completely devastated. While Serbs and Albanians hate and fight each other, wild dumpsites threaten to litter both Serbia and Kosovo.

[18] Against the platitude («but look what the others have done to us») widespread among Serbian nationalists, I have fought all my life, and I want to stay consequent. By this of course I do not secure for myself the claim to truth, but I do strive to secure for myself the right to search for the truth, without being hindered in this quest by loyalty to the state whose citizen I am, or national solidarity. That «others» have done more evil may be true or not, but I uphold the view which has no «understanding» for any evil. Greater understanding for one evil just because the evil done by the rivals is far greater cannot be a good political or moral option. Between two evils, I refuse to choose: I reject both!

[19] A detail is particularly interesting: a perceptive observer is sure to note that Serbs displaced from Kosovo – not always but very often – surround their newly built houses in Serbian towns with high walls, in virtually the same way as Kosovo Albanians do. A cultural pattern has been transplanted to a totally different milieu! Linguists could also describe a similar tone in speaking the two languages, Serbian and Albanian, and to recognize on the basis of it the speech of Serbs born in Kosovo.

[20]The father Zaim Deliu reasons in the same way: «It's enough. Now I have a double suffering, that after my son's death new graves are being dug, people are wounded. Please, it's enough, one should stay calm and be wise, we should listen to our friends and those who wish good to Kosovo.» Quoted after Danas, Monday, March 22, 2004, No. 2367, Vol. VIII, p. 1.