Page 605 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 605

nouncing “cultural and spiritual genocide” directed against the Serbian Christian heritage (desecration of churches, monasteries and graveyards, harassments and attacks on monks and nuns, etc.) widely distributed through the re- ligious press, the Patriarchate, no longer seen as a paro- chial and conservative organization, but as a natural pro- tector of national interest in dangerous situations, grad- ually regained the confidence of the wider public and es- tablished a new moral influence on a largely secular Serb population.176
Despite the growing support in all Serb-inhabited ar- eas of Yugoslavia—from Slovenian enclaves, most of east- ern and western Bosnia, Dalmatia and the whole of Kra- jina (areas of the former Habsburg Military Frontier) in Croatia to Herzegovina, northern Macedonia, Montene- gro and Vojvodina—for the protection of the Serbs of Ko- sovo and Metohija, the main federal institutions, still fully controlled by the old-age dogmas of the League of Com- munists, remained hostile to any significant change of po- litical or legal provisions or to any kind of new constitu- tional arrangements that could impose restrictions on the discrimination against Kosovo Serbs and other non-al- banian ethnic groups and harmonize the legal system in the whole of Serbia.
On 25 October 1987, the eight-member Federal Presi- dency decided to deploy federal police forces to Kosovo and Metohija in order to maintain order. The Kosovo al- banian nomenklatura read this act as clear evidence of los- ing support among other nationalistic leaderships inside the Federation. eventually supported by official Belgrade, local Kosovo Serb communists emerged victorious in this conflict, which ended up with repeated purges of alba- nian communist leaders in Priština as well as elsewhere in Kosovo and Metohija.
as a result, after the federal authorities failed to en- sure the protection of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, the problem was bound to become a means of highly or- chestrated political manipulation, in particular when a new communist hardliner, Slobodan Milošević, using a popu- list strategy, imposed himself in the middle of 1987 as the sole protector of Serb national interests. Milošević’s in- tention was to re-establish the influence of the discred- ited League of Communists on the basis of a newly-dis- covered Serb nationalism, a model already applied a de- cade before in other constituent republics of federal Yu- goslavia. Most Serbs perceived him as a genuine Serb pa- triot who pretended to be a hard-line communist. Milo- šević, however, turned out to be a communist only pre- tending to be a Serb patriot.177)
Kosovo and Metohija: History, Memory, identity
His neo-communist populism gained momentum as the collapse of communism encouraged by nationalism was already underway in Soviet-dominated eastern eu- rope and the Soviet Union itself. Milošević’s hard-line com- munist approach to the national question soon proved to be the most discrediting element for general Serb inter- ests in Yugoslavia.178
even before Milošević rose to power in 1987, the se- cessionist movement of the Kosovo albanians had been able to mobilize a large spectrum of albanian Diaspora in the West, using a mixture of traditionally right-wing accusations against the Serbs and an ultra-left “Marxist- Leninist” rhetoric furnished over the years by enver Hox- ha’s albania. after the 1987 party coup in Belgrade, alba- nians skilfully portrayed themselves as the main victims of the neo-communist regime of Slobodan Milošević, while Serbia was often portrayed as the “last bastion of com- munism in europe”.179 Using politically correct liberal rhet- oric, and staging well-organized pacifist demonstrations, Kosovo albanians managed to attract the attention of the Western media and their political elite.180
Nevertheless, in reality, while maintaining full control over the key institutions and executive power in the Prov- ince, Kosovo albanians, and extremist nationalists in par- ticular, continued to harass and discriminate the non-al- banian population. a rare first-hand american correspon- dent noted that “ethnic albanians already control almost every phase of life in the autonomous province of Koso- vo, including the police, judiciary, civil service, schools and factories. Non-albanian visitors almost immediately feel the independence—and suspicion—of the ethnic al- banian authorities.”181
The Kosovo albanians, following the pattern of strict tribal obedience, were organized as a homogeneous po- litical movement bound by common nationalist ideals. Political freedom and human rights, as viewed by the Ko- sovo albanians, were exclusively linked to their collec-
177 For more, see Slavoljub Djukić, Kako se dogodio vodja (Bel- grade: Filip Višnjić, 1991); Kosta Čavoški, Slobodan protiv slobode (Belgrade: Dosije, 1992)
178 j. F Brown, Nationalism, Democracy, and Security in the Bal- kans (Brookfield: Dartmouth Pub, 1992); Lenard j. Cohen, Broken Bonds: Yugoslavia’s Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995).
179 D. T. Bataković, Kosovo. La spirale de la haine, 71–77.
180 For an albanian point of view, see ibrahim Rugova, Independ- ence and Democracy (Prishtina: Fjala, 1991; alush Gashi, ed., The Denial of Human and National Rights of Albanians in Yugoslavia (New York: illiria, 1992); Open wounds: human rights abuses in Kos- ovo (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993).
181 The obvious result of such a policy was the following: “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.” (David Binder, “in Yugoslavia, Ris- ing ethnic Strife Brings Fears of Worse Civil Conflict”, The New York Times, 1 November 1987).
  “Declaration of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church against the Genocide by the albanians on the indigenous Serbian Population, together with the Sacrilege of their Cultural Monuments in their own Country”, South Slav Journal 11/2–3 (40–41) (London: South Slav journal, 1988), 61–64, 87–89.

   603   604   605   606   607