Just to remember....

Burning of the Patriarchate Monastery, 1981
Monasteries were set on fire not long ago too
Extremists Albanian nationalists set on fire the Patriarchate Monastery, 1981

Here we bring a few texts from the NYT and WP on the situation in Kosovo between 1982 and 1987. In many contemporary texts on Kosovo there is a tendency to see the events in Kosovo only in the last decade. NYT and WP writers admit that Kosovo in that time was based then on severe discrimination against Serbs and non-Albanians. Therefore the present day ethnic cleansing of Serbs and other minorities is not simply a result of revenge but a strategy of Albanian extremists to make Kosovo a mono-ethnic Albanian state.

The Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija
the complete Internet edition


1. NYT, July 12, 1982: Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia
2. NYT, Nov 1, 1987:
Rising Ethnic Strife Brings Fears of Worse Civil Conflict
3. WP, Nov 29, 1986:
Ethnic Rivalries Cause Unrest in Yugoslav Region

Kosovo Serbs in the eighties - a country woman in Prekale village
takes her rifle to defend her children in the fields

The New York Times, Monday, July 12, 1982

Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia

"Serbs .... have... been harassed by Albanians and have packed up and left the region.

"The [Albanian] nationalists have a two-point platform, ...first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania."

"Some 57,000 Serbs have left Kosovo in the last decade... The exodus of Serbs is admittedly one of the main problems... in Kosovo..."

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


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

BYLINE: By DAVID BINDER, Special to the New York Times


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 Croats.

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 Yugoslavia.

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 today.

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 authorities.

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 hand.''

''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.

GRAPHIC: Photo of a street in Pristina, in Kosovo, Yugoslavia (NYT/David Binder); Remzi Koljgeci of the Kosovo party leadership (NYT); map of Yugoslavia

Desecrated grave in Kosovo
Serb Cemetery desecrated by Albanian extremists, 1986, Kosovo


By Jackson Diehl

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, November 29, 1986 ; Page A14

PRISTINA, YUGOSLAVIA -- Growing tension between lbanians and Serbs here this year has converted this poor southern region from a chronic local trouble spot into the potential flash point of a country increasingly divided by national rivalries.

Since the outbreak of riots here in 1981, authorities of the autonomous province of Kosovo have faced a steady challenge from separatist and nationalist groups among the dominant Albanian population. More than 1,000 people have been jailed for seeking Kosovo's independence from Serbia, the Yugoslav republic to which Kosovo nominally belongs, or unification with the neighboring nation Albania.

The significance of this conflict has been multiplied this year by the emergence of concern among Yugoslavia's Serbs, the country's largest ethnic group, about the "forced emigration" of Serbs from Kosovo under pressure from the Albanians.

Small farmers, tradesmen and professionals have been steadily leaving the province's cities and the small Serbian villages around them, raising the prospect that a historic seat of the Serbian nation will soon be populated only by Albanians. More than 20,000 have emigrated since 1981 out of a total Serbian population of about 220,000. Meanwhile, the Albanian population of over 1.2 million is expanding at the fastest pace in Europe.

The local Serbs, arguing that Albanian-dominated provincial authorities have offered them no protection from violent attacks, have signed petitions and staged several demonstrations outside Pristina this year. To the embarrassment of authorities, they have also sent three delegations to press their case in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and of Yugoslavia.

The acts have inflamed nationalist feeling among Serbians outside Kosovo and prompted demands by intellectuals and even Serbian communist political leaders for constitutional changes and other drastic action to stop the emigration and restore Serbia's control over Kosovo. The Serbian outbursts, in turn, have provoked concern by leaders of Yugoslavia's five other, smaller republics, who sympathize with some complaints but are wary of Serbian national aspirations.

The last delegation of Serbs to visit Belgrade early this month, meanwhile, warned that they would take up arms against their perceived tormentors among the Albanians.

"This should be very seriously considered. This is a warning, and we understand it that way," said Vukasin Jokanovic, a Serbian member of Kosovo's governing executive council. "We must take urgent measures to win back the confidence of these people."

The official receptivity to complaints from Kosovo increased this year following local and national congresses of the Yugoslav League of Communists that purged many Kosovo leaders, and the inauguration of a new federal government under Prime Minister Branko Mikulic. Three federal delegations visited Kosovo last summer to examine Serbian complaints about the
courts, local administration and police force. A package of measures was adopted to slow emigration, including a ban on land sales by members of one ethnic group to members of another.

Even a brief visit to Kosovo, which is about half the size of Maryland, quickly reveals seemingly intractable roots of ethnic tension.

"Laws will never stop the emigration," remarked Jokanovic in an interview. "The law {on land sales} is only accepted by people who really don't want to emigrate."

The broadest cause of Kosovo's troubles, officials and residents say, is its pervasive poverty. Living standards here are comparable to those in Africa or Latin America and are less than one-third the level of those in Yugoslavia as a whole. About 124,000 workers, or more than 35 percent of the work force, are unemployed.

Development programs here have repeatedly failed, pouring money into inefficient industrial projects and rickety, quickly rusting skyscrapers in Pristina.

"For a long time we were wrong in our policy. We were afraid of investing in agriculture and the private sector," said Aziz Abrashi, the provincial economy secretary. "We tried to put peasants from the countryside straight into modern factories."

Meanwhile, much of the rapidly expanding Albanian population has come to view Kosovo as its homeland. Albanians felt oppressed by the rule of Serbians, imposed by former president Tito's police chief, for two decades after World War II. A relatively small minority in multinational Yugoslavia, the Albanians say they are discriminated against outside the province. In
Albania itself, the world's most rigid Stalinist government has kept the nation so isolated and poverty-stricken that about 5,000 refugees have fled across the heavily guarded border to Kosovo. A powerful tradition of close-knit clans has bound the community together, raised the birth rate and discouraged emigration to other parts of Yugoslavia.

The result, said economists and government officials, has been pressure for land in Kosovo even from those Albanians who are neither separatist nor anti-Serbian.

"Let me explain the psychology of an Albanian farmer about the land," said Abrashi, himself Albanian. "For centuries these people have been defining their existence and their worth only through land. They are ready to make great sacrifices, to work 30 years, to go and work abroad, to live in terrible conditions so as to collect, dinar by dinar, the money to buy a piece of
land. And the land must be near that of the rest of the family. For that they will pay almost any price."

Land prices in Kosovo, despite its poverty, are five times those in Serbia and typically range around $35,000 for an acre of good farm land, Abrashi said. Newspapers have reported sales of farms for over $1 million. As a result, Serbs, who unlike the Albanians have attractive alternatives outside the province, have had a powerful economic incentive to sell their land to

For the Serbs who have remained, frustrated Albanian youth have kept up a steady harassment ranging from the painting of hostile slogans on Serbian homes and vandalism of Serbian graveyards to beatings and rapes.

"One cannot speak of these developments as being only the deeds of individual {Albanian} groups anymore," said Serbia's interior minister Svetomir Lalovic in a recent speech. "At issue are seriously disturbed inter-ethnic relations."

Few killings have been recorded since the 1981 riots. But in the three months of July, August and September, authorities recorded 34 assaults by Albanians on Serbians. Two instances of rape provoked outraged demonstrations near Pristina and motivated the last, angry delegation that marched on the federal parliament in Belgrade.

Yugoslav officials predict that it will take many years to resolve the tensions in Kosovo, and dissidents are even less sanguine.

"We did not deal with the emigration for a long time, and now that it has reached this stage it is very difficult to break the chain of events," said Jokanovic.