Showing any sympathy for the present plight of Serbia is swimming against the tide of received opinion, which was largely generated by the successful propaganda of the West, particularly concerning Bosnia and Kosovo. The demonization of Serbia was taken to grotesque proportions and, in general, faithfully and uncritically repeated in the mainstream media. So, for many people, their “default setting” is that Serbs were uniquely wicked and brutal to their erstwhile fellow Yugoslavs in pursuit of a “Greater Serbia”.
This narrative is a grossly inadequate basis from which to make an appreciation of Serbia’s present situation. As the weight of repetition of the “demon Serb” theory is so overwhelming, I will be putting the contrary case whilst conscious that no side in the unhappy disintegration of Yugoslavia was guiltless of atrocity.
At this area of the world’s surface, where the tectonic plates Of Islam, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity collide, one could start the story at least as far back as the Fourth Crusade but it is only necessary to go back to the Second World War to form a coherent picture of what has happened in Kosovo. It had always been a heartland of the Serbian Church and national consciousness, containing churches as important as Canterbury, Salisbury and Winchester are in England.
The Axis powers favoured Albanians and arranged for a large part of the Serbian population to be expelled from Kosovo and replaced by Muslim Albanian immigrants. This was the beginning of the now overwhelming Albanian majority in the province. At the end of the war, Marshal Tito agreed with his communist comrades in Albania that the incomers should remain in new Socialist Yugoslavia and prevented the expelled Serbs from returning.
The communist takeover after the war was bloody in the extreme. Not only were wartime scores settled but there were wholesale massacres of those deemed to be “enemies of the people.” The new masters made as sure as they could that there would be no competition with their leadership from the former elites. The bien-pensant, leftish world came to regard “non-aligned” Yugoslavia as a more moderate version of socialism than the Soviet variety but it was certainly not so at its inception nor for many years thereafter.
Tito’s treatment of the Serbs was conditioned by two considerations – firstly that many Serbs had backed the royalist Resistance (the Chetniks) under General Mihailovic and secondly that Serbia should not dominate the new Yugoslavia, as it had done before the war. The communist partisans’ civil war with the royalist Chetniks had been fought at least as vigorously and dirtily as the war against the German occupiers.
To reduce Serbian influence, he drew the boundaries of the constituent republics, so that large numbers of Serbs would live as minorities in Croatia, Bosnia and elsewhere outside Serbia. Whilst these borders were more or less local government boundaries, it was not such a burning question. Yet these were the boundaries which the Western powers would later recognize as the borders of sovereign states – states furthermore with aspirations to Serb-free, racial and religious purity.
A sort of political correctness was enforced in socialist Yugoslavia in which multiculturalism between and within the constituent republics was officially maintained. The basis of the state was a form of Marxist class outlook which was supposed to predominate over cultural and linguistic differences. The slogan was “unity and brotherhood.” In some ways this appeared to be reasonably successful.
Intermarriage between different cultural groups was quite common and the atheist stance of the authorities tended to mask religious differences. Perhaps Gordon Brown’s late conversion to official “Britishness” is a faint echo of this.
As testified by Mitar Balevic at the Hague tribunal, Kosovo was different - subject to Albanian agitation for an ethnically pure state from the 1950s onwards. There were large scale demonstrations on Albanian Flag Day in 1968 and Serbs were persecuted throughout the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. There were murders, expulsions and rapes, as well as desecration of churches, exclusion from public employment and medical discrimination at Pristina Hospital – especially in the maternity department. Between 1961 and 1981, the Albanian population doubled and the Serbs declined from being one quarter to one sixth of the population.
Tito granted local autonomy in 1974 but this only increased the Albanian appetite for driving out the Serbs. The Serbian alphabet was banned and Serbian school text books destroyed. Some 20,000 Serbs fled after the riots of 1981. After the death of Tito in 1980, German foundations and institutes, deniable instruments of government policy, were prominent in supporting the Albanians. Their efforts were increasingly supplemented by the German Secret Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst) which fostered the separatist movements in all parts of Yugoslavia.
It was against this background that Slobodan Milosevic went on April 24, 1987 to speak at Kosovo Polje, holy ground in the Serbian national story – the battlefield where the Serbs went down to glorious defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1389 – The Field of the Blackbirds.
This speech has been consistently misrepresented in the West as a sort of declaration of war on the mostly Muslim Kosovo Albanians but that is a total untruth. Milosevic’s words were shot through with the Yugoslav brand of multicultural Political Correctness. “Protect brotherhood and unity”…. “nationalism always means isolation from others, being locked in a closed circle and stopping growth”…
He exhorted people to “emerge from a state of hatred, intolerance and mistrust” whilst making clear that there would be no ethnically cleansed Kosovo, from which all Serbs would be expelled.
That may have been one cause of Albanian outrage. Until then, they had been consistently successful in working towards that aim. The other famous incident on this occasion was an attack by Kosovo-Albanian police on some of the Serbian crowd which provoked Milosevic’s remark “Nobody should beat you”. This was reckoned to be very un- PC in the vocabulary and discourse of “unity and brotherhood”. Apart from that, he appealed for calm. Yet time after time, this speech is represented in the West as the provocative ravings of an extreme nationalist.
A couple of quotations from separatist leaders supported by the West make an interesting comparison.
“Genocide is a natural phenomenon in keeping with the human-social and mythological divine nature. It is not only permitted but even recommended by the Almighty…for the maintenance and spreading of the One True Faith” FRANJO TUDJMAN – first President of post war Croatia, who also said “Thank God, my wife is nether a Jew nor a Serb”. (Mrs. Thatcher later accepted a decoration from him).
“There can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic institutions. The Islamic movement must and can take power as soon as it is morally strong enough, not only to destroy the non-Islamic power but to build a new Islamic one”. ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC, first President of Bosnia- Hercogovina, eulogized at his funeral by Paddy Ashdown as the father of his people. With Ashdown’s approval, Bosnian war dead were officially classified as “shahid” – martyrs in the Jihad against the Infidel.
So, a clerico-fascist and an Islamic extremist were supported by Western intelligence agencies, governments and armed forces as bearers of “European values” to the benighted Balkans. To do this, the EU member states broke their obligations under the UN charter and the Helsinki Accords by which they had guaranteed to accept existing national borders in Europe. They recognized Slovenia and Croatia diplomatically. This was done principally at Germany’s instigation and the German government regarded this sudden about turn by the other EU states as a triumph. The Foreign Minister was cock-a-hoop “By this, Germany has regained diplomatically everything lost in Eastern Europe as a result of two world wars”. It opened the way for the new “Drang nach Osten”.
The pretext for the later air war on Yugoslavia was based on the accusation that Serbs were committing genocide against the largely Muslim Albanians in Kosovo. It undoubtedly was an unpleasant, dangerous time. Statistics from the period before the war suggest that an Albanian in Kosovo was about as likely to meet a violent death as an ordinary inhabitant of Washington DC at the same period, whereas a Serb was around twelve times more likely to come to an untimely end.
The Kosovo Liberation Army was known to police authorities all over Europe as a major criminal organization, deeply involved in drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Yet both the German and American governments contributed to its training and arming for Kosovo’s “liberation”. Its commander from 1998 (later prime minister of Kosovo in 2006) was one Agim Ceku, a former Yugoslav army captain who first became a general in the HVO (Croatian Army). Assisted by access to all NATO intelligence on Yugoslav forces and with the aid of NATO airpower, he was a very successful commander, responsible for the expulsion of around 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia in “Operation Storm”(1995). He also appears to have had command responsibility at the time of the Medak Pocket massacre where Croatian forces fired on Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. They later discovered the evidence of the massacre for which nobody has been brought to book. An Interpol warrant exists for Ceku’s arrest.
Wartime “information” from NATO told us that at least 100,000 young Albanian men from Kosovo were missing, presumed murdered. Yet the Spanish forensic team, sent to look for mass graves was gravely embarrassed. In late 1999 its leader complained that he and his colleagues had become part of “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machine because we did not find one, not one mass grave”. The Wall Street Journal concluded that NATO stepped up its claims when it saw “a fatigued press corps drifting towards the contrary story – civilians killed by NATO bombs… The war in Kosovo was cruel, bitter, savage. Genocide it wasn’t”.
The Spanish forensic team found 2108 bodies in 1999. The killing did not stop with the end of the war. According to a report in the Sunday Times, based on figures from the UN Mission in Kosovo, 420 Albanians were killed between June 1999 and March 2000, as the KLA dealt with perceived traitors. In the same period 1041 non Albanians (mostly Serbs) were killed. The “protection” offered by KFOR and their KLA allies was distinctly shaky. Serbs have continued to “disappear” or be found dead since, yet nobody has been brought to court, let alone convicted. In the same period (1999-2008) some 154 Orthodox Serbian churches have been destroyed and some 300 mosques have been built with funds from extreme Saudi Arabian Wahabi organizations. Like Bosnia-Hercegovina, where some 1500 foreign Mujahedin have settled as Bosnian citizens, Kosovo has become part of the “green wedge” of Muslim territories pushing closer to the gates of Vienna.
In spite of its experiences at the hands of the West in general and EU powers in particular, there is considerable support for membership of the EU in Serbia. The recent re-election of Boris Tadic as president (with 50.57% of the vote) is an indication of this. Pro EU Serbs think that the EU is “modern” and a safe place to be. Given Serbia’s former demonization, isolation and pariah status, it is easy to see the attraction of this. Then their clinching argument is “It is inevitable”. But the narrowness of Tadic’s victory shows that there is a large body of opinion which is by no means reconciled. Tadic has talked tough for domestic consumption but, if he runs true to form, he will succumb to EU blandishments.
Will the EU dispensation eventually make former Yugoslavia into an area of harmony and cooperation? How stable is the EU/NATO-imposed settlement? Is it a settlement or merely an armistice until some shift in the balance of great powers? In the map which follows, Great Britain, “Britoslavia”, is divided up, approximately as Yugoslavia was. It does not quite match the regionalization plans of John Prescott but would have much the same effect in reducing the independence, defensibility, security and international influence of the inhabitants of these islands.
There follows, along with references, a map (rather charmingly of the traditional counties) showing Perthshire as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northumberland as the Republika Srpska, Nottinghamshire as Serbia (now containing one million refugees of all former Yugoslav ethnicities), Cambridgeshire as Voivodina, Sussex as Kosovo, and Cornwall as Montenegro.