HISTORY OF KOSOVO-METOHIJA

The present circumstances impose the need to view the problem of the Yugoslav republic of Serbia's Kosovo-Metohija province in the light of history in order to understand the Albanians' real intentions. Complete historical facts provide clear answers - the issue of Kosovo-Metohija is not the issue of the status of the Albanian national minority or the constitutional and legal position of this territory, but is the issue of the existence of the Serbian people in Kosovo, Yugoslavia and in the Balkans, because the real picture of Serbian-Albanian relations over the past three centuries points to a sole Albanian domination over the Serbs and also to a centuries-old mass genocide against the Serbian population.

The homogeneous Serbian population has been living in the territory of Kosovo-Metohija since the Middle Ages. The state, economic, political and cultural center of the Serbian nation in this territory stemmed right from this ethnic homogeneity. It is in Kosovo that Serbia had built a strong medieval state. Therefore, the awareness that Kosovo is Serbia's parent state is an inalienable part of the Serbian national identity. The Serbian Orthodox Church, founded in 1219, contributed to Kosovo-Metohija's permanent cherishing of the image of the Serbian ancestral land and the home of most important dynastic monasteries - Gracanica and the Pec Patriarchate, set up in 1346. 


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Following an Ottoman Turkish invasion in the late 14th century and the Serbian defeat in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, the Serbs lost their state independence 

and freedom. The Battle of Kosovo is ranked among Europe's major armed conflicts by its historical importance and by the Serbian people's collective memory. The Ottoman Turkish invasion triggered massive migrations in the Balkans, but Kosovo-Metohija continues to exist as a Serbian land with the 97-percent Serbian population in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Since the late 16th century, Serbian liberation movements resulted from national resistance and a refusal to accept the Islamic Turkish rule. The Serbs took part in wars between Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey in 1683 and in 1717. After the Austrian defeat, the Serbs were exposed to a brutal repression that made them move northward in two major migrations under Arsenije Carnojevic III and under Arsenije Jovanovic IV. There is no way to establish the exact number of Serbs that moved out at the time, but it is certain that about 200,000 of them crossed into Austria during the first migration in 1690. The Serbian ethnic being was slightly weakened by the migrations, but the fact is that Kosovo still remained an ethnically homogeneous territory which had been densely populated by Serbs by the mid-18th century.

It was only in the early 18th century that the Albanians started breaking through to South Slavic countries. The key to this breakthrough certainly lies in the Islamization of Albanians. Highly unfavorable economic conditions in barren mountains of Albania gave just an initial impetus to the migration. However, combined with the Islamization and with the Ottoman Turkish policy, the poor economic situation prompted a mass colonization of Kosovo-Metohija and a genocide against the local Slavic population. Within the Ottoman Turkish state, the Albanians enjoyed a privileged position of the ruling people as compared to the local Christians. Predominantly political, rather than economic reasons, prompted Albanians to migrate en masse into a new territory.

The first and second Serbian and Montenegrin liberation wars against the Ottoman Turkey in 1876 and in 1877 marked the Serbs' first direct conflict with the Albanians. The Albanians defended the Ottoman Turkish empire and the territory they had previously occupied. Following these two wars, the Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija were exposed to an organized terror since the setting up of the Albanians' Prizren League in 1878. 
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The nationalist Prizren League was an important moment in the constituting of the Albanian nationalist ideology. It was at that time that the concept of a Great Albania was first formulated. The Prizren League program is directed not only against Balkan countries but also against European countries that have partly been sympathetic to liberation aspirations of Serbia and Montenegro.

The next three decades, until the First Balkan War in 1912, were characterised by the planned persecution, killing, displacement and expulsion of Serbs. The ethnic balance in Kosovo and Metohija was for ever disrupted during this period. More than 400,000 Serbs fled the area for Serbia Proper within some thirty years. The documentation from that period (relating mainly to the Serbian government's diplomatic efforts) testifies to numerous murders, looting from which not even Serbian Orthodox churches and tombs were spared, abductions, attacks and robberies. The ultimate goal was to destroy and expel the Serbian people from their land.

Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece waged the 1912 Balkan War for the liberation of Ottoman Turks. In the Kosovo-Metohija battlefield, Albanians demonstrated openly their animosity offering strong armed resistance. After the war, Albanians were allowed to form their state under the London Conference decisions, but they were not satisfied with its borders despite the big powers' unequivocal position and refusal to allow any territorial aspirations towards Serbia and Greece. Namely, the then Albanian leadership requested that Pec, Mitrovica, Pristina, Skopje and Tetovo be attached to their country - practically they wanted to bring about the project of a Greater Albania.

The attainment of the goal was made possible during the Second World War in the form of a fascist protectorate, following the military debacle of Yugoslavia and Greece. Under the Italian occupation, Kosovo-Metohija, western Macedonia and eastern Montenegro were attached to Albania. In the fascist protectorate created in this way, a large number of ethnic Albanians from Yugoslavia and Greece fought on the side of fascists. Throughout the protectorate of Greater Albania, the non-Albanian population was expelled, destroyed or went missing under the rule of violence and terror. The leadership of the Second Prizren League, which was founded in 1943, spearheaded the expulsions and violence.

Following Italy's capitulation, Greater Albania continued to exist under German rule. The rule of terror against the non-Albanian population intensified, with the notorious Kosovo regiment and SS Skenderbeg division, made up of over 11,000 Albanians, spearheading actions of this kind. Acting consistently in line with positions by the Second Prizren League, ethnic Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija committed numerous crimes against Serbs and Montenegrins - about 100,000 Serbs fled Kosovo-Metohija or were deported from it during the Second World War. Despite the predominantly negative attitude of the Albanian minority during the war, Kosovo-Metohija became a part of Yugoslavia following the collapse of Nazi Germany and was granted the status of an autonomous province with prospects for all-round economic and cultural development.

However, the Third Prizren League was set up in the United States already in 1946. Its goal was the same as that of the First and the Second Prizren League - the creation of a Greater Albania. The Third Prizren League used with Albania's help all propaganda means and acts of sabotage against Yugoslavia. In the next few years, the infiltration of trained terrorists from Albania intensified, while in Kosovo-Metohija pressure was stepped up and the non-Albanian population began leaving the province massively, while Albanian emigrants began streaming into it.

The post-war Kosovo-Metohija policy was aimed at securing political stability. The law banning the return of Serbs who had fled the province was adopted, in which way separatist tendencies were encouraged. Under the 1974 constitution, Kosovo-Metohija became a constituent part of the federation. The power with which ethnic Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija were invested made possible for them to expel Serbs and Montenegrins. Pristina University began increasingly to follow Tirana's instructions. Separatist structures in the ranks of police and judicature became more powerful, prompting tens of thousands of non-Albanians to leave the province, while about 800 localities were ethnically cleansed of Serbs.

The leaving of the province by Serbs and Montenegrins assumed the proportions of organised expulsion. Exposed to threats, blackmail and all forms of pressure and being the victims of killings, Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija no longer felt that their lives or property were safe, while the number of predominantly Serb-populated villages dropped rapidly. Other ethnic communities as well as ethnic Albanians loyal to the state they lived and worked in were also the target of such one policy.

Clashes in the province deteriorated, resulting in an outburst of open Albanian nationalism in 1981. The key slogan - Kosovo-Republic - was first launched in demonstrations at that point, with the demonstrations marking the first stage in the Albanian nationalists' programme whose ultimate goal was secession from Yugoslavia and attaching ethnic Albanian-populated territories to Albania.

Taking advantage of hostilities in the former Yugoslavia, ethnic Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija declared contrary to the constitution a Kosovo-Republic in 1991 through the support by certain circles in the West, setting up parallel authorities and educational and health care institutions and practically forming a state that was an alternative to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Their initial political activity soon acquired the form of conventional terrorism. The activity by the ethnic Albanian terrorist organisation calling itself Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is not only directed against the non-Albanian population - a part of the Albanian minority that is ready to hold talks with Serbian officials were also the target of the repression.

Terrorism in Kosovo-Metohija escalated in 1998, resulting in current developments in Yugoslavia but also in the rest of the Balkans, Europe and the world.

Finally, attention should be drawn to the Memorandum that the Serbian government sent to European powers on January 21, 1913,"No Serbian or Montenegrin government would want to cede or could cede to Albanians or anyone else the Serbian people's holy land. The Serbian people will not and cannot make concessions over this issue nor transactions or compromises and no Serbian government would agree to do that."