Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guest Blog: Kosovo is Serb!

Kosovo je Srbija Kosovo is the heart of Serbia
Thank you to Gregg for asking me to write this article about the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia. As a Serb, and indeed we as Serbs in general, have felt for a long time that we have been somewhat demonised in the West since 1992 and this small corner of the internet at least allows me to put forward an alternative view on Kosovo from a Serbian perspective. I hope you find this piece interesting, informative and hopefully it will make people understand why we as Serbians feel so strongly about Kosovo and its future.........

'When you take away a person's soul and the very root of their existence, that person becomes dead inside without an identity............' 

The above line is a quote by the Serbian historian, Djordje Bojanic and although he talks about a person, the person he is referring to is Serbia and it explains succinctly why Kosovo is seen as so important to Serbs.

Before I talk about the events around the last 20 years, it is extremely important to give a brief history of the relationship between Serbia and her southern province, Kosovo.

There is some confusion as to where the first Serbian peoples originated from. Some historians believe that modern day Serbs are descended from people who came south from Siberia to the Carpathian mountains, before moving further further south and westwards, with a large number settling in the area of modern day Serbia. Other historians, including the noted Serbian historian, Jovan Deretic, believe that modern day Serbs are descended from people who have been in the Danube Valley region for as long as human civilisation in that area can be traced. What has been proven without doubt is that the earliest human remains and evidence of civilisation in the Kosovo region, are those of Serbs, or at least their earliest ancestors. Records have been found showing that it was in Kosovo that the first beginnings of the modern day state of Serbia were born.

Kosovo and Metohija are as much the home and promised land of the Serbs as Jerusalem is of the Jews. In the Serbian people's thousand year-long history, Kosovo and Metohija were the state centre
and the main religious stronghold, the heartland of their culture and springwell of their historical traditions. For a people who spent more time under foreign rule than in their own state, Kosovo and Metohija stand for the foundations on which they preserved their national and state identity in times of tribulation and based it when freedom came. The Serbian spirit and national ideology which grew out of Kosovo's tribulations and suffering (wherein a central place is occupied by the 1389 St. Vitus' Day Battle in Kosovo polje), are the main pillars of that grand edifice that constitutes the Serbian national pantheon.

To say that without Kosovo there can be no Serbia or Serbian nation, implies more than just the territory of its promised land, covered with telling monuments to its culture and civilization, more than just the feeling of hard - won national and state independence: Kosovo and Metohija are the key to the existence and survival of the Serbian nation. It is no wonder, then, that all major turning-points in Serbian history have taken place in and around Kosovo and Metohija. When the Serbs in other Balkan lands fought to safeguard their religious freedoms and national rights, their banners had as their beacon the Kosovo idea, embodied in the Kosovo pledge which was woven into the fabric of folk legend and upheld in countless uprisings against foreign rule. The Kosovo pledge - to choose freedom in the kingdom of heaven rather than humiliation and slavery in the kingdom on earth - is the one permanent connecting tissue that gives the Serbian nation its feeling of being a national entity and that lends meaning to its common strivings. This has been proven time and again in various ways since the Middle Ages.

Kosovo and Metohija, situated in the heart of the Balkans where important trade routes had crossed since ancient times, was settled by Slav tribes between the 7th and 10th centuries.
Dostinik or Destinikon was the first capital of Serbia (Rascia) during the Middle Ages (early 7th century) in present-day Metohija, proven by both historic and archeological facts. That was also one of the first Serbian cities mentioned by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos.

In the 10th century the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos wrote in one of his writings that tzar Iraklis (610-641) has given the province called Dalmatia to Serbs for settlement. The old researches prove that the farthest east spot of Roman Dalmatia was Metohija, whereas in XI and XII century the historians claimed that Dalmatia began where Kosovo is today and it was inhabited by Serbs.

Archeological sites and facts prove best that Kosovo belongs to Serbs. One of them is the oldest Serbian and Slavic testimony found in the early Byzantine findings from Čečan and Gornji Streoc, in the immediate vicinity of Vučitrn (Kosovo). This suggests that Kosovo had a considerable Serbian population in the Late Roman Empire as is confirmed by the many fortresses constructed throughout the entire region. It is an indisputable fact that there are more than 1500 archeological findings of Serbian culture and existence in Kosovo and Metohija. Even the remains of one of our first rulers, Jovan Vladimir, are kept today in an Orthodox church in Elbasan in Albania, which just talks about how far our culture goes.

One of the oldest findings are in Prizren, on the Ostrvica mountin and they also date back to early Byzantine period, the old forms of Serbian cemeteries which just proved the continuity of Serbs on this territory.

Constant presence of Serbian people on this territory is also proved by the old Roman / Byzantine fortresses from IX and X century, especially those the remains of which were found in the towns of Cecan, Zvecan, Prizren and Veletin. Typical Serbian pottery from this time is another proof of Serbs being a genuine nation settled in this area.

The Serbian medieval state, which under the Nemanjic dynasty (12th to 14th century) was to grow into a major power in the Balkan peninsula, developed in the nearby mountain regions, in Raska (with Bosnia) and in Duklja (later Zeta and then Montenegro). The centre of the Nemanjic state moved to Kosovo and Metohija after the fall of Constantinople (1204). At their peak, at the beginning of the 14th century, these lands were the richest and most densely settled regions of the Nemanjic state and its cultural and administrative centre, with fortresses the remains of which can be found today in the southern part of Kosovo in the vicinity of the town Urosevac.

In his wars with Byzantium, Stefan Nemanja conquered various parts of what is today Kosovo, and his successor, Stefan the First Crowned (became king in 1217), included Prizren in his state. The entire Kosovo and Metohija region became a permanent part of the Serbian state by the beginning of the 13th century. Soon after becoming autocephalous (1219), the Serbian Orthodox Church moved its seat to Metohija. The heirs of the first archbishop, Saint Sava, built several additional temples around the Church of the Holy Apostle, laying the ground for what was to become the Pec Patriarchy. The founding of a separate bishopric (1220) near Pec showed that the region's political importance was growing hand in hand with its religious influence. With the proclamation of the empire, the patriarchal throne was permanently established at the Pec monastery in 1346. Serbia's rulers dotted the fertile valleys between Pec, Prizren, Mitrovica and Pristina and their adjacent environs with churches and monasteries, and the whole region eventually acquired the name Metohija, from the Greek metoh which means an estate owned by the church.

Studded with churches and monasteries more than any other Serbian land, Kosovo and Metohija became the spiritual nucleus of the Serbian nation. Situated at the crossroads of the main Balkan routes connecting the surrounding Serbian lands of Raska, Bosnia, Zeta and the Skadar littoral with Macedonia and the Pomoravlje region, Kosovo and Metohija were, geographically speaking, the ideal place to serve as the state and cultural center. Girdled by mountain gorges, and relatively secure against outside attack, Kosovo and Metohija were not chosen by chance as the site for building religious headquarters, church cemeteries and palaces. The rich land holdings of Decani provided an economic underpinning for the wealth of spiritual activities in the area. The learned monks and religious dignitaries assembled in the large monastic community (where they could rely on the rich feudal holdings), strongly influenced the spiritual shaping of the nation, especially in reinforcing local cults and fostering the Orthodox doctrine.

With time, especially in later centuries, the people came to believe that Kosovo was the center of Serbian Orthodoxy and the most resistant stronghold of the Serbian nation.

The below mentioned monasteries just speak the truth for themselves being the institutions worldly recognised. Gracanica Monastery, a 14th century Serbian Orthodox monastery and which today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated in the village of Gracanica 5km from the largest city in Kosovo, Pristina. Another UNESCO World Heritage site can be found 12km from Pec, another 14th century Serbian orthodox monastery, Visoki Decani. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site and 12th century Serbian Orthodox monastery, Our Lady of Ljevis (Bogorodica Ljeviska) was burned down by Albanian mobs in 2004. This particular monastery was built on the remains of a 9th century Byzantine church. This monastery is in the town of Prizren, very close to the Albanian border in southern Kosovo.

In contrast to all these numerous examples of material Serbian culture, Albanians cannot prove any archeological trace of there presence either in Kosovo or in Metohija. There are no testimonies not even from 18th century when they started spreading and inhabiting these regions. The earliest examples come from 20th century in the shape of mosques and towers taken from the Ottoman heritage.

Up to 17th century Serbian orthodox people comprised an absolute majority on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija and there were literally no trace of Siptars i.e. Albanians. Then in the late 18th and early 19th century, Albanians from the northern Albania started settling in as well as the remains of Turks after the end of Ottoman empire. Even then, Serbian population was more than 50%.
By contrast, today's separatists in Kosovo are predominantly made up of people descended from both Muslim and/or Albanian people. The Muslim population of Kosovo arrived after the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 between the Serbs and their ruler at that time, Lazar Hrebeljanovic, and the forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Murad I. The battle saw the deaths of Lazar and much of the Serbian noble class, and saw the end of Serbian sovereignty until 1867, when the last Turkish soldiers left Serbia, resulting in the international recognition of Serbia in 1878 ,including Kosovo, as an independent country again.

The aggression of the NATO forces against Serbia was justified by the invented facts that Siptars, Albanians now living in Kosovo, are actually genuine descendants of pre-Roman Ilyrian tribes living in Kosovo and Metohija whereas those facts are not found in any researches done either in Albania or former Yugoslavia.

The Second World War brought the most dramatic demographic changes in the population of Serbs in Kosovo. The great number of Serbs were killed during the occupation and a vast number was prosecuted from the territory being replaced by more than 100 000 Albanians from Albania. The canny non-Serb policy initiated y Germans was then taken over by a communist Yugoslav leader Tito, being a Commintern agent, who encouraged further migrations of Albanians from Albania to Kosovo and Metohija. He literally forced thousands and thousands of Serbs to leave their hearths and make us space for Albanians. Serbs were even banned to claim their property back which was even supported by the special law reinforced in 1946. It was estimated that almost 300 000 Albanians came to Kosovo and settled there as an ethnic group. Gradually Serbian population, being a majority at the beginning, now represented the segregated minority.

Tito`s initial plan was to form a great Yugoslavia consisting of communist republics, one of which would be great communist Albania with Kosovo and Metohija as its constituent parts. He was even appointing Albanian leader as “national heroes” who were in charge of ethnic cleansing of Serbs.

Tito and his policy managed to provide all necessary conditions for the prosperous growth of the Albanian nation giving them privileges of the minority. Not only that he exempt them from paying taxes and bills, he demanded that there should be schools for both Serbs and Albanians. Serbs were made to learn Albanian at school, whereas Albanians adamantly opposed to learning Serbian and were allowed to spread Albanian influence on Serbian culture in that region. Furthermore, Tito encouraged the Albanian population growth in Kosovo by being the godfather to the 10the child in the family, giving them child allowance for every child.

After Tito`s death, the unrest of Albanians on Kosovo was an everyday occasion. They were doing their best to achieve their goals and Serbian and at that time Yugoslav government was doing everything in their power to prevent bloodshed in that part of the country.

One of the means was by sending special military formations that would make sure peace and order are maintained. To put it precisely, these were “military exercise” carried out in a way that certain number of ordinary people who used to serve army in their early 20s were pulled out from their workposts and families and sent to Kosovo to protect Serbian civilians and maintain peace.
My father obligatorily participated in two of them when my sister and I were still children and I remember that we missed him a lot because he was more than a month away. I talked to my dad often about these events and his experience there and he told me that only bad things happened there and that he could almost got killed. Namely, Albanians train their kids from the very beginnings to handle weapons and bombs i.e. they train them to be murderers. A little Albanian boy was passing the street and was all smeared and untidy and dad`s friend felt sorry for him and offered him a piece of candy he had got for his lunch that day. The kid quickly put out a bomb out of his pocket and threw it at my father`s friend...

Albanians were always boasting about their being a segregated nation, whereas they were always present in the Serbian political scene. They had their representing body in Yugoslav Federal Commity and were never denied any rights.

Despite the high autonomy they enjoyed and the constant participation in both Serbian and Yugoslav governments, from early 80s in 20th century Albanians started requesting more rights showing open segregation of Serbian people living in the province, hoping to scare the Serbs away from the territory and trying to acquire Serbian property and land at bargain prices.

“So called quiet ethnic cleansing” of Serbian population in Kosovo during the last 20 years of 20th century resulted in their claiming to comprise 90% of the population in Kosovo which is questionable. Today they claim that there are 2 m Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. The very important fact to emphasise here is that Albanians boycotted demographic data collection in the past 30 years (1971, 1981, 1991) and non has been carried out so far due to this boycott.

After the NATO bombing, one of the final blows against Serbs in Kosovo (although persistent Albanian intimidation against Serbs is still present) was the so called Pogrom that took place on 17th March 2004 when more than 50 000 Albanians carried out widescale attacks on Serbian people, during which almost 20 civilians were killed, over 4000 Serbs were forced to leave their homes, 935 Serb houses, 10 public facilities and 35 Serbian orthodox churches were desecrated, damaged or destroyed.

Serbs could not sit down and wait for the God to retaliate against the Albanians. We wanted to give them back, to make them suffer and stand in our shoes. Yes, as the whole world knows, we burnt the mosque in Belgrade and Nis. But why do those two mosques have a greater value than our 35 orthodox churches burnt by Albanians? Why do people consider us to be villains and them to be victims? It is simply not fair seeing so much injustice done against my people when all the historic facts claim that they usurped our land and we were only defending what has been ours form the time immemorial.

Ironically, the Serbs being the vast majority in Kosovo population, now comprise almost 4 % of the entire population, whereas Albanians take 92%.

More than 200 000 refugees from Kosovo nowadays inhabit central Serbia living in refugee camps or with their relatives in their houses. Generally people lead a very tough life not knowing where they belong, because they left their hearths, their land and all their belongings.

Those 4 percent of Serbs still living in Kosovo are constantly exposed to violence and threats and we are all aware of the fact the Albanians will never stop until they achieve the final goal which is ethnically clean Kosovo, free from any minorities.

The only goal of Albanian representatives has always been independence and secession of Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia, so they never agreed on any peace talks. The Great Albania is something every single Albanian from Kosovo strives for.

Kosovo independence, recognised by major world forces, proves only that destabilisation of other countries done by the separatists can be successful and encourages destability not only in the region but worldwide. Today it is Kosovo, tomorrow who knows.

Nowadays there are still Serbs living in Kosovo. For example, my sister-in-laws parents still live there, in the town called Gnjilane and they say that it is very difficult to live a normal life. People live without electricity, without water supply in a very terrifying conditions. They are constantly under fear that somebody might kill them while they are in the field or in their houses. It is not safe for them to go to church or to the cemetery to light the candles for their ancestors.

What I have heard from them and what the whole world knows, Kosovo is now a narco-terrorist country.

“ Multi-ethnic, independent and democratic” Kosovo, as Obama puts it, stands today as the main network for the drug, human organs, weapon and people trafficking, manipulating not only the territory of the Balkans but the rest of the world as well.

Kosovo leaders, Taci, Haradinay and Cheku, who participated in the Serbian ethnic cleansing, are not only the leaders of unlawful military formations, but also “bosses” of narco mafia, that financed Albanian terrorist forces. Kosovo is nowadays called “Heroin republic”.

The major Eropean countries, such as Switzerland, Norwey, Italy, England and many others, are centres of Albanian trafficking coordinated also by Albanians who migrated into these countries.
FBA, Interpol and Europol unanimously claim that Albanian mafia is the most serious and threatening organisation in Europe, but obviously nobody has taken any necessary measures to stand up against this.

The writer is a good friend and I am very grateful that she has taken the time to write from a Serbian perspective on the problems in Kosovo. As much as anything I asked her because, as with many issues, I feel that we in the West are being given a one-sided version of events in the Balkans.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. A great post, more needs to be written about this.

Mike said...

Agree wholeheartedly. Excellent article and talk about eye opening.