Slobodan Markovic on Thu, 8 Apr 1999 22:26:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> NYT on Kosovo 12 years ago!

    I found The New York Times article about Kosovo, written 12 years ago!
    During SFRY, before Milosevic had any real power in Serbia!



            Slobodan Markovic   | http://solair.eunet.yu/~twiddle
            Internodium Project |


The New York Times
November 1, 1987, Sunday, Late City Final Edition
Section 1; Part 1, Page 14, Column 1;

"In Yugoslavia, Rising Ethnic Strife Brings Fears of Worse Civil Conflict"

By DAVID BINDER, Special to the New York Times

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia

Portions of southern Yugoslavia have reached such a state of ethnic
friction that Yugoslavs have begun to talk of the horrifying possibility
of ''civil war'' in a land that lost one-tenth of its population, or 1.7
million people, in World War II. 

The current hostilities pit separatist-minded ethnic Albanians against the
various Slavic populations of Yugoslavia and occur at all levels of
society, from the highest officials to the humblest peasants. 

A young Army conscript of ethnic Albanian origin shot up his barracks,
killing four sleeping Slavic bunkmates and wounding six others. 

The army says it has uncovered hundreds of subversive ethnic Albanian
cells in its ranks. Some arsenals have been raided. 

Vicious Insults

Ethnic Albanians in the Government have manipulated public funds and
regulations to take over land belonging to Serbs. And politicians have
exchanged vicious insults. 

Slavic Orthodox churches have been attacked, and flags have been torn
down. Wells have been poisoned and crops burned. Slavic boys have been
knifed, and some young ethnic Albanians have been told by their elders to
rape Serbian girls. 

Ethnic Albanians comprise the fastest growing nationality in Yugoslavia
and are expected soon to become its third largest, after the Serbs and

Radicals' Goals

The goal of the radical nationalists among them, one said in an interview,
is an ''ethnic Albania that includes western Macedonia, southern
Montenegro, part of southern Serbia, Kosovo and Albania itself.'' That
includes large chunks of the republics that make up the southern half of

Other ethnic Albanian separatists admit to a vision of a greater Albania
governed from Pristina in southern Yugoslavia rather than Tirana, the
capital of neighboring Albania. 

There is no evidence that the hard-line Communist Government in Tirana is
giving them material assistance. 

The principal battleground is the region called Kosovo, a high plateau
ringed by mountains that is somewhat smaller than New Jersey. Ethnic
Albanians there make up 85 percent of the population of 1.7 million. The
rest are Serbians and Montenegrins. 

Worst Strife in Years

As Slavs flee the protracted violence, Kosovo is becoming what ethnic
Albanian nationalists have been demanding for years, and especially
strongly since the bloody rioting by ethnic Albanians in Pristina in 1981
- an ''ethnically pure'' Albanian region, a ''Republic of Kosovo' ' in all
but name. 

The violence, a journalist in Kosovo said, is escalating to ''the worst in
the last seven years.''

Many Yugoslavs blame the troubles on the ethnic Albanians, but the matter
is more complex in a country with as many nationalities and religions as
Yugoslavia's and involves economic development, law, politics, families
and flags. As recently as 20 years ago, the Slavic majority treated ethnic
Albanians as inferiors to be employed as hewers of wood and carriers of
heating coal. The ethnic Albanians, who now number 2 million, were
officially deemed a minority, not a constituent nationality, as they are

Were the ethnic tensions restricted to Kosovo, Yugoslavia's problems with
its Albanian nationals might be more manageable. But some Yugoslavs and
some ethnic Albanians believe the struggle has spread far beyond Kosovo.
Macedonia, a republic to the south with a population of 1.8 million, has a
restive ethnic Albanian minority of 350,000. 

''We've already lost western Macedonia to the Albanians,'' said a member
of the Yugoslav party presidium, explaining that the ethnic minority had
driven the Slavic Macedonians out of the region. 

Attacks on Slavs

Last summer, the authorities in Kosovo said they documented 40 ethnic
Albanian attacks on Slavs in two months. In the last two years, 320 ethnic
Albanians have been sentenced for political crimes, nearly half of them
characterized as severe. 

In one incident, Fadil Hoxha, once the leading politician of ethnic
Albanian origin in Yugoslavia, joked at an official dinner in Prizren last
year that Serbian women should be used to satisfy potential ethnic
Albanian rapists. After his quip was reported this October, Serbian women
in Kosovo protested, and Mr. Hoxha was dismissed from the Communist Party. 

As a precaution, the central authorities dispatched 380 riot police
officers to the Kosovo region for the first time in four years. 

Officials in Belgrade view the ethnic Albanian challenge as imperiling the
foundations of the multinational experiment called federal Yugoslavia,
which consists of six republics and two provinces. 

'Lebanonizing' of Yugoslavia

High-ranking officials have spoken of the ''Lebanonizing'' of their
country and have compared its troubles to the strife in Northern Ireland. 

Borislav Jovic, a member of the Serbian party's presidency, spoke in an
interview of the prospect of ''two Albanias, one north and one south, like
divided Germany or Korea,'' and of ''practically the breakup of
Yugoslavia.'' He added: ''Time is working against us.''

The federal Secretary for National Defense, Fleet Adm. Branko Mamula, told
the army's party organization in September of efforts by ethnic Albanians
to subvert the armed forces. ''Between 1981 and 1987 a total of 216
illegal organizations with 1,435 members of Albanian nationality were
discovered in the Yugoslav People's Army,'' he said. Admiral Mamula said
ethnic Albanian subversives had been preparing for ''killing officers and
soldiers, poisoning food and water, sabotage, breaking into weapons
arsenals and stealing arms and ammunition, desertion and causing flagrant
nationalist incidents in army units.''

Concerns Over Military

Coming three weeks after the ethnic Albanian draftee, Aziz Kelmendi, had
slaughtered his Slavic comrades in the barracks at Paracin, the speech
struck fear in thousands of families whose sons were about to start their
mandatory year of military service. 

Because the Albanians have had a relatively high birth rate, one-quarter
of the army's 200,000 conscripts this year are ethnic Albanians. Admiral
Mamula suggested that 3,792 were potential human timebombs. 

He said the army had ''not been provided with details relevant for
assessing their behavior.'' But a number of Belgrade politicians said they
doubted the Yugoslav armed forces would be used to intervene in Kosovo as
they were to quell violent rioting in 1981 in Pristina. They reason that
the army leadership is extremely reluctant to become involved in what is,
in the first place, a political issue. 

Ethnic Albanians already control almost every phase of life in the
autonomous province of Kosovo, including the police, judiciary, civil
service, schools and factories. Non-Albanian visitors almost immediately
feel the independence - and suspicion - of the ethnic Albanian

Region's Slavs Lack Strength

While 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins still live in the province, they are
scattered and lack cohesion. In the last seven years, 20,000 of them have
fled the province, often leaving behind farmsteads and houses, for the
safety of the Slavic north. 

Until September, the majority of the Serbian Communist Party leadership
pursued a policy of seeking compromise with the Kosovo party hierarchy
under its ethnic Albanian leader, Azem Vlasi. 

But during a 30-hour session of the Serbian central committee in late
September, the Serbian party secretary, Slobodan Milosevic, deposed
Dragisa Pavlovic, as head of Belgrade's party organization, the country's
largest. Mr. Milosevic accused Mr. Pavlovic of being an appeaser who was
soft on Albanian radicals. Mr. Milosevic had courted the Serbian backlash
vote with speeches in Kosovo itself calling for ''the policy of the hard

''We will go up against anti-Socialist forces, even if they call us
Stalinists,'' Mr. Milosevic declared recently. That a Yugoslav politician
would invite someone to call him a Stalinist even four decades after
Tito's epochal break with Stalin, is a measure of the state into which
Serbian politics have fallen. For the moment, Mr. Milosevic and his
supporters appear to be staking their careers on a strategy of
confrontation with the Kosovo ethnic Albanians. 

Other Yugoslav politicians have expressed alarm. ''There is no doubt
Kosovo is a problem of the whole country, a powder keg on which we all
sit,'' said Milan Kucan, head of the Slovenian Communist Party. 

Remzi Koljgeci, of the Kosovo party leadership, said in an interview in
Pristina that ''relations are cold'' between the ethnic Albanians and
Serbs of the province, that there were too many ''people without hope.''

But many of those interviewed agreed it was also a rare opportunity for
Yugoslavia to take radical political and economic steps, as Tito did when
he broke with the Soviet bloc in 1948. 

Efforts are under way to strengthen central authority through amendments
to the constitution. The League of Communists is planning an extraordinary
party congress before March to address the country's grave problems. 

The hope is that something will be done then to exert the rule of law in
Kosovo while drawing ethnic Albanians back into Yugoslavia's mainstream. 

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