The International Journal of the Albanian Studies (IJAS)

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Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1998 13:19:06 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: The International Journal of the Albanian Studies (IJAS)

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The International Journal of the Albanian Studies (IJAS)

The International Journal of the Albanian Studies, Volume 2, Spring
1998 is out of print now.

The following is the Introduction to "The Serb-Albanian War, and
International Community's Miscalculations" - one of the many studies
focusing on the Albanian Question.
(From the moderator: Only introductory part of the article is
reproduced here. The entire text - 110 Kb in plain text - can be
received from the MINELRES moderator by request. Just in case - it
goes without saying that in no way does the content of the MINELRES
postings reflect the views of the list owner. 

Shinasi A. Rama
Columbia University
The Serb-Albanian War, and International Community's Miscalculations.
The announced Serb–Albanian War in Kosova exploded in the first week
of March 1998. Since then, the fighting has intensified steadily.
Entire towns and villages are being razed to the ground, dozens of
Albanian civilians are being slaughtered everyday, and hundreds of
thousands of people have become refugees. The fierce resistance that
the poorly armed Albanian peasants have put up to the well-equipped
Serb army, to the paramilitary troops, and to the Serb police has left
the analysts perplexed. Although armed only with very light weapons,
the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), as the umbrella organization that
leads the Albanian resistance is known, has grown to about 80,000
fighters. The KLA controls a large part of the rural areas, which
according to some estimates, is approximately 40 percent of the
territory of Kosova.

Policymakers and analysts that have followed closely the political
process in Kosova, are puzzled and perplexed by the recent
developments. For most of them, the most disturbing aspect of the
Serb–Albanian War is that the Albanians have definitely switched en
masse from their exemplary non-violent Ghandian behavior to the more
traditional, and their opinion the more effective method of realizing
their goal of gaining the independence of Kosova. The main concern of
policymakers is that the longer the Serb–Albanian War lasts, the more
the chances are increased that a part of the Albanians in Albania, if
not even the Albanian government itself, will have no other choice but
to support the Albanians in Kosova and fight on their side. The
possibility that the further prolongation of the conflict in Kosova
will spillover and destabilize Macedonia appears almost certain.

At the regional security level, the expectations are that in case the
war spreads, all of the Balkans will blow up. Croatians, and Bosnians,
might decide that while Serbia has its hands tied fighting the
Albanians in Kosova, it might be payback time. Croats and Bosnians
could decide to settle their 'federal' problem by force. On the other
hand, even Bulgaria is being prepared to play a few tricks demanding
territory that it ceded before to Yugoslavia in 1945 and it will
continue to be extremely sensitive towards Macedonia. Bulgaria sees
here an opportunity to play a role in the game and attract sufficient
attention from the competing interests in the Balkans, from the
Russians and the Americans alike.
I contend that there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the
handling of the Serb-Albanian situation by the international
community. One of the very first lessons to be drawn is that the
post-Dayton strategy of the international community aimed at the
solving of the Balkan riddles has backslided. One of its major
objectives, the prevention of the explosion of the Serb-Albanian War
and the preservation of the status quo in Kosova was not achieved.
Yet, surprisingly enough, although, it has utterly failed to prevent
the Serb-Albanian War in Kosova, the strategy of the international
community has not changed substantially.

The objectives of the international community appear to have remained
the same, plus sa change et plus c'ést la meme chose. Among these
objectives are, first, the preservation of the rump Yugoslavia and the
consideration of the war in Kosova as an internal matter of Serbia,
the logical end of which is to force Albanians to remain within
Serbia. Second, the containment of the conflict in Kosova and the
avoidance of the spillover in Albania and Macedonia. Third, the
setting of an arms blockade so that Albanian resistance in Kosova
would be spent easier and faster. Fourth, showing some political
support for Rugova and his non-violent movement and in the case Rugova
fails, play the Albanian game with other 'realist' Albanian
politicians. Fifth, and more importantly, to save the Dayton Agreement
and the "three in one and each on its own" formula that, so far, with
heavy support from the United States, has kept Bosnia together.

Without questioning the logic of this policy, I argue that its
fundamental assumptions are mistaken. I examine the reasons why the
policy pursued by the international community in the past could not
prevent the Serb–Albanian conflict. I suggest that by insisting on the
same objectives while the reality on the ground has radically changed,
the international community's Balkan policy is headed towards another
downfall. The fundamental unchanged assumption of the international
community's strategy, the belief that a second Yugoslav experiment
could be repeated successfully with Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians
is, under the current circumstances, extremely imprudent and
unrealistic. Similarly unforeseeing is the belief that the panacea for
the Balkan quagmire rests with the internal democratization of Serbia.
On the one hand, Miloshevic has acted ruthlessly and efficiently in
defense of the 'Serb Cause' and for the creation of a Greater Serbia.
He has been determined to expel the Albanians from Kosova and to
eliminate them as a political factor in Yugoslavia. Even the Serb
opposition and its leaders, do not want to talk about any kind of
co-existence with Albanians. They beat the drum of the Serb
victimization and hatred against Albanians louder than Miloshevic
does. On the other hand, the Albanians in Kosova do not recognize the
Serb state. For the last twenty years they have considered Serbia as
another country that has occupied their own country. These are some
strong reassurances that the chances that the current containment and
appeasement policy a la Münich described above might fail even in the
future have increased substantially.

I proceed in the following way. In the first section, I review the
Western policy towards the Albanian question in Yugoslavia and the
arguments used to justify the continued colonization of Kosova. I
focus especially on the effect that the signing and the implementation
of the Dayton Agreement had on the Albanians and their expectations
for independence from Serbia. In the second section, I briefly analyze
the post-Dayton developments, then I focus on evolution of the current
crisis. In the third section, I present the arguments why the current
strategy of the international community is bound to fail. In the
conclusion, I argue that the international community ought to realize
that attempts aiming at the partition, continued colonization, or
regionalization of Kosova are the real threats to the regional
stability. These attempts inevitably will prolong the conflict, they
will force Albania to enter the war and definitely will lead to a
destabilization of Macedonia. It is high time to realize that there
are no realistic chances for Kosova to remain any longer as part of
the rump Yugoslavia, save as a Serb colony. The international
community should give very serious consideration to the recognition of
Kosova as an independent political entity. This is the only possible
way to avoid the spillover of the war that could involve all the
neighboring states.


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