Page 411 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 411

Such ideas prove that the social community is older and predominant in relation to the state and that it is not only the state which is formed by a people; instead, that is also an interaction in which the people, as a social com- munity, represents both the creator and carrier of the state. a people can exist and survive without a state, even with- out a prominent role in history, but a state cannot exist and survive without a people, without a common conscience and conceptualized existence and endurance.
as the mainstay of the collective memory, the Battle of Kosovo did not exist only in the tradition of the Serbian people. it also left a strong imprint on the first works of the historiography of the New age, which could not appear in Serbia under Ottoman rule. Such a work was, first of all, Il Regno degli Slavi (The Kingdom of the Slavs) by Dubrovnik historian Mauro Orbini / Mavro Orbin (Pesaro 1601),24 who devoted considerable attention to this important event, testifying about the tradition still alive after two centuries, as well as about the broader significance of this historic event.
When the army of the Kingdom of Serbia liberated Ko- sovo and Metohija from the Turks in the First Balkan War in 1912, foreign military observers noted that, after step- ping on Kosovo soil, the Serbian soldiers were falling on their knees and kissing their sacred soil. They also wrote that the Serbian people and its soldiers believed that the army which plunders and mistreats civilians would lose the war.25 at that time, Serbia won three wars: the First and Second Balkan Wars, as well as the First World War.
at that time already, the albanian population in Koso- vo constituted a majority of a little more than 50 percent. This majority was created after the Berlin Congress in 1878, when Serbia obtained its present-day southern regions and extended its present-day border with Kosovo and Meto- hija. The albanians from southern Serbia then began to migrate into Kosovo and Metohija, which was still under Ottoman rule. as Muslims, they did not want to live in a Christian state. at the same time, the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija began to migrate into Serbia in increasing numbers, fleeing albanian violence. The migra- tion of the albanians into Kosovo and Metohija began in the late Middle ages and was continuous during Turkish domination. at the beginning, it was very slow, because the Serbian population constituted a majority in the re- gion—over 90 percent. When an increasing number of the albanians began to convert to islam, from the late 16th cen- tury onward, their settlement was intensified because, as
25 V. Čajkanović, “Motivi prve arnautske pesme o boju na Kos- ovu,” Arhiv za arbanašku starinu, i (1926), p. 75; a. Šmaus, “Kosovo u narodnoj pesmi muslimana (Srpska i arnautska pesma o Kosovu),” Prilozi proučavanju narodne poezije, V 1–2 (1938), pp. 102–121.
The Battle of Kosovo and Kosovo Today— History and Memory
Muslims, they enjoyed a privileged status in Ottoman em- pire in relation to the subordinated Christian population. The second great wave of the albanian settlers in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as in the peripheral parts of southern Serbia, began after the aforementioned Great Serbian Mi- gration in 1690. The albanian migration after the Berlin Congress preceded the one at the time of Serbia’s occupa- tion (1916–1918) during the First World War and, in par- ticular, during the Second World War, when the italian oc- cupier annexed one part of Kosovo and Metohija to its ephemeral creation—Greater albania. Tens of thousands of Serbs, who were settled in the inter-war period, were expelled and deported from Kosovo and Metohija. Under the law of March 1945, the communist authorities of Tito’s Yugoslavia banned the return of those Serbian settlers to their homes. Since then, the emigration of the Serbs and the immigration of the albanians have not stopped.26 Thus, over the centuries, the ethnic composition of the popula- tion in that part of Serbia in which, since the 13th century, the seat of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć, the oldest and longest lasting of the seats of the head of the Serbian Or- thodox Church is to be found, has been radically changed.
Of all the Serbian lands, Kosovo and Metohija have the highest density of Orthodox church institutions, churches, monasteries (Dečani, Gračanica, Banjska, Holy archan- gels, the Mother of God Ljeviška, Devič, and many others), the most important and most valuable monuments of Ser- bian culture and spirituality, some of which have been in- cluded in the UNeSCO World Cultural Heritage List.
Throughout its history, the region of Kosovo and Meto- hija was never a separate administrative unit, let alone a state. at one moment, during Ottoman rule, there was a sanjak with the seat in Vučitrn,27 but the greater part of the territory of that administrative unit did not coincide with the present-day Kosovo borders. The most radical change in the ethnic composition of the population in Kosovo and Metohija occurred within a relatively short time, that is, over a few decades, during the communist regime in Yugo- slavia. at that time, Kosovo and Metohija obtained their present-day borders. at first, those borders were adminis- trative ones, then they become political-administrative ones and Kosovo and Metohija obtained full autonomy. Finally,
26 “During 45 years of the reign of the albanian-Yugoslav nation- al-comunistic partocracy (1945–1989/90) more than 250,000 Serbs and Montenegreans were immigrated from Kosovo and Metohija (...) that caused deep-rooted ethno-national changes.” During this period, only “from 1961 to 1981 the number of declared albanians increased from 646 605 to 1 226 736, which means absolute increase of 580 131, and relatively 89,7%. albanians share in the total popula- tion of the province is 67,1% in 1961, and 77,4% in 1981”: M. Radova- nović, Etnički i demografski procesi na Kosovu i Metohiji, Belgrade 2004, pp. 383, 386, 377–393.
27 at that time, Prizren was the seat of another sanjak; one part of Metohija belonged to the Dukadjin sanjak and northern Kosovo to the sanjak of Bosnia; cf. B. Bojović, Histoire et eschatologie, Paris- Vrnjačka Banja 2008, pp. 140–141.
  Mauro Orbini, Il regno degli Slavi (reprint: München 1985); Ma- vro Orbini, Kraljevstvo Slovena, Belgrade 1968. Orbini’s history, trans- lated into Russian and published in St. Petersburg in 1722, had a sig- nificant influence of Russian historiography.

   409   410   411   412   413