Page 825 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 825

sovo Myth—forged before, during and after the Battle of Kosovo.
Many brilliant Westerners: Goethe, Sir Walther Scott, Dame Rebbeca West, to name just a few, have written, passionately, about the Serbian “epic of defeat” at Koso- vo. The Kosovo cycle of heroic folk poems is the very soul of the Serbian people. To excise it from the Serb national being by turning Kosovo over to albania would be like giving away the alamo to Mexico, or Pearl Harbor to ja- pan.
all over Kosovo stand Serbian medieval churches and monasteries, with the frescos that have, in some ways, antedated or paralleled the italian Renaissance. There are, however, no albanian cultural, religious, or any other monuments there, unless the turbe (an islamic chapel)— erected over the bowels of Ottoman Sultan Murat i, killed at the Battle of Kosovo by a Serb noble—is to be counted as such.
it is extremely unrealistic to expect the Serbs, a his- torically fighting people, to stand by forever, and watch their Kosovo compatriots driven away from the historic heartland of all Serbia.
Mr. Chairman, members of the american Congress, ladies and gentlemen, i hope that the following gentlemen will make the whole albanian-Serb issue of the Plain of Blackbird more clear to you in the next hour. as the most powerful nation on earth—still—there is much we can do, given our knowledge, and the will to use it.
Thank you very much.
(Dr. alex Dragnich was unable to attend because of poor health and his paper was read by Mr. Miloš Milen- ković.)
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Congress:
i am alex N. Dragnich, retired professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. in the years 1947–1950, i was Cultural attaché and Public affairs Officer in the american embassy in Belgrade, and have since written a number of books and articles about Yugoslav history and politics. i also served in other capacities in the U.S. Gov- ernment, including that of Chester W. Nimitz Professor at the United States Naval War College in Newport.
i am sure that you and other members of the House and of the Senate have asked yourselves why you needed to concern yourselves with american citizens who involve themselves in the quarrels of the inhabitants of the coun- tries of their forebears.
as a free american, born here of Serbian immigrant parents, permit me to try to answer that question in terms of United States national interests. i am pleased that my parents came here, because we their children have been able to grow up in a society of free men and women who enjoy the blessings of liberty.
americans of Serbian background have been well aware, and proud, that these blessings of freedom are pre- cisely what their forebears struggled for in the old home- land. in the course of the 19th century, after nearly 500 years of Ottoman domination, the Serbs fought success- fully to regain their independence, and toward the end of the century were successful in establishing democratic political institutions. all of this was done with virtually no help from the outside and with great sacrifices.
But there is more than this identity of aspirations that brought Serbs and americans together. The Serbs fought as our allies in two world wars, and with untold suffering.
More important, in terms of United States national interests, is the role of Serbs in Yugoslavia. They are the most numerous, nearly twice as large as the next largest group, the Croats. They were the principal instrument in the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918—the ones who sacri- ficed the most on its behalf and in the interwar years they were the strongest supporters of the common state.
There have been allegations that in those years the Serbs abused their dominant position. Recent studies, both here and in Yugoslavia, have demonstrated that such was not the case. But whatever history’s ultimate judgment on that question, it remains a fact that there cannot be a Yu- goslavia without strong Serbian support.
No one should lose sight of this fact, because United States foreign policy is committed to an integral Yugoslav state. it was so when i served in our embassy in Belgrade 40 years ago, and i believe that that is still U.S. policy.
at the same time it is important to note that recent years have witnessed disintegrative forces at work in Yu- goslavia. The actions of the albanians against the Serbs in Yugoslavia’s Kosovo province in recent years is only the most visible of these. One result is that the Serbs, who are convinced that they have generally been getting the “short end of the stick” in Tito’s Yugoslavia, have been asking themselves why they should continue to support a com- mon state if others seemingly do not want to do so.
This has, it seems to me, important implications for the United States. i believe that the Congress should avoid taking actions that may further contribute to disintegra- tion in Yugoslavia, and thereby undermine United States policy. Moreover, i should also like to add that i believe that the State Department needs to be more on the alert. While i cannot prove it, i have the distinct impression that the State Department has for far too long been taking the Serbs for granted.
This does not mean that any group in Yugoslavia should be free of criticism. But members of the Congress should keep in mind that no nationality group in Yugoslavia fa- vors a communist system. Unfortunately, there are times when some of these groups blame each other for their plight. Consequently, if members of the Congress are in- clined to respond to injustices in Yugoslavia, they should do so on behalf of all the peoples there. To align them-
a Chronicle of the Contemporary Suffering of Kosovo-Metohian Serbs

   823   824   825   826   827