How does Mertus explain ethnic conflict in Kosovo/a? Identify the bones of contention in ethnic conflict. What is the KLA? Discuss why its role was significant in Kosovo/a during the 1990s.
o Assigned Readings: Mertus, “Slobodan Milosevic: myth and responsibility.” open Democracy, 16 March 2006, http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-yugoslavia/responsibility_3361.jsp (Blackboard 9); Esman, An Introduction to Ethnic Conflict, Cambridge: Polity Press Ltd., 2004, pp. 70-92.
o Foreign Affairs LEARNING COMMUNITY ONLINE: Chris Hedges, “Kosovo’s Next Masters,” Foreign Affairs May-June 1999 78 (3): 1-7 online, http://www.foreign affairs.com/articles/55007/chris- hedges/kosovos-next-masters
Carnegie Council Transcripts, Julie Mertus, “Considering Elections in Kosovo: Lessons Learned from Bosnia,” October 16, 2001, http://www.cceia.org/resources/ transcripts/194.html
History is War by Other Means
o The classical Serbian view holds that the people who lived in Kosovo were overwhelmingly Serb until barely a few generations back. If this were true, then the modern Serbian claim to the land would be that much stronger
o Albanian historians have always claimed the right of ‘first possession’ arguing that their ancestors, the ancient Illyrians and Dardanians, lived here long before the Slav invasions of the sixth and seventh centuries
o the truth is unclear and is not what matters ??" it is what people believe it to be ??" what people believe can be put to everyday use
o under the dynasty of the Nemanjic monarchs a first identifiably Serbian kingdom began to be fashioned
o in the history of Kosovo and Serbia, Sava must rank as one of its towering and most influential figures ??" until 1219, the Serbs or rather the people who were on their way to developing a national consciousness as Serbs, teetered on the brink between western Roman Catholicism and Byzantine, eastern Orthodoxy
o in 1219 Sava obtained autocephalous status for what was then to become the Serbian national church ??" autocephaly means within the Orthodox church
o until 1355, Nemanjic power was supported by two pillars, that is to say, the state and the church ??" when, however, the Serbian nobility was swept away by the Ottoman invasions, the church remained ??" in this way, the idea that Serbia would be resurrected ??" like Christ ??" was one that was nurtured by the very existence of the church ??" as most of the Nemanjic monarchs were canonized, their images were painted on to the walls
of Serbian churches and monasteries ??" for hundreds of years, the Serbian peasant went to church and in his mind the very idea of Christianity, resurrection and ‘Serbdom’ blended together
o historical interpretations ??" who actually lived in Kosovo at the time of the Serbian kings? ??" 28 June 1389, Battle of Kosovo, legend / myth that spread through the generations about the conflict infused the fervor of nineteenth century Serbian nationalism, which aimed to liberate Kosovo from the yoke of the Turks
o in medieval Kosovo, the majority of people who lived there were mainly Orthodox, and thus, ancestors, in the main, of modern Serbs ??" over the centuries a higher proportion of Albanians was to convert to Islam than Serbs ??" one of the main reasons for this was that the Albanians did not have a powerful national church like the Serbs, nor was the power of Catholicism as strong amongst them as it was in, say, modern Croatia
o there were long periods of peace in Ottoman Kosovo as well as long years of war and depredation ??" during the 18th and 19th centuries the vast majority of the people who lived in Kosovo were peasants ??" politically, the Serbs counted for little, but the case of the Muslim Albanians was different ??" because it was Muslim, the Albanian aristocracy was the power in the land, and in constant struggle with the Sultan and the Turks
o the Albanians had ambivalent feelings towards the Turks and the empire ??" on the one hand, they professed their loyalty and love of the Sultan ??" on the other, they wished to be left alone to run their own affairs as they saw fit ??" as the empire became increasingly sclerotic, the Albanians, as they began to contemplate their long-term future, became increasingly nervous
o as the Christian states of the region, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece slowly began to emerge as powers in their own right, all claimed land inhabited by Albanians ??" the empire was some form of guarantee that Albanians, if they could achieve autonomy within it, would thus be able to assure their continuing dominance in the lands where they lived and avoid being partitioned by the Christian states
o the Albanians were right to fear for their future ??" from 1804, as Serbia began to emerge, first as a rebel province and then as an autonomous principality within the empire, Muslims, including Albanians who lived there, soon found themselves prevailed upon to emigrate or flee
o Albanians in areas of what is now southern Serbia experienced the burning of villages ??" most of these people fled to Kosovo, which was to remain Ottoman until 1912 ??" as recent Balkan wars underlined to a new generation, the influx of embittered refugees from one community always bodes ill for the innocent civilians of the other ??" in increasing numbers Serbs began to leave
o the Serbian-Turkish wars of 1876-78 ‘caused the most massive migration process in the Balkans in the course of the 19th century’ ??" by one estimation, a million Christians and a million Muslims ??" including Albanians from those lands reconquered by the Serbs ??" fled their homes
o while it seemed clear that much of the southern and western parts of Kosovo were thoroughly Albanian, it was noted that the other parts had compact Serbian populations, especially in the east and from Mitrovica to the then Serbian border ??" there were those who wondered if the area should not eventually be partitioned, an idea that was to resurface among Serbian intellectuals such as the novelist and briefly Yugoslav president, Dobrica Cosic, in the 1990s and again after NATO’s intervention in 1999
o N.B. much of the Kosovo conflict can be related to the fact that many Serbs have never been willing or able to rid themselves of the idea that the Albanians, with whom they shared a state for the best part of a century were not to be treated as equals ??" rather they thought of them as a people who could be patronized or dismissed as belligerent peasants who, instead of complaining, should have been grateful to be living in Yugoslavia
o during World War II while many Albanians collaborated willingly with the Italians and the Germans, they did so not out of love of the Axis, but out of hate for the Serbs ??" Tito’s Partisans who first raised the standard of rebellion in Serbia in July 1941 found it hard to recruit in Kosovo
o N.B. right up to the end of the war, the Partisans were never able to recruit significant numbers of Kosovo Albanians to join them ??" those who did come to the colors in 1944 did so confident in the belief that they were fighting not just for Communism but for an Albania in which Kosovo would be included ??" they were to be betrayed
o in July 1945 Kosovo was formally annexed to Serbia ??" Kosovo was then declared to be an autonomous region of Serbia which in turn became a constituent part of the new Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia
o after so much turmoil, ordinary Kosovars were more confused about the future than anything else ??" it was also not at all clear to them what the politicians were up to since any debates were not conducted in public
o N.B. in 1946, Tito told Enver Hoxha, the Albanian Communist leader: ‘Kosovo and the other Albanian regions belong to Albania and we shall return them to you, but not now because the Great Serb reaction would not accept such a thing.’
o at this time the Albanian Communists, in Albania and Kosovo, were very much under Yugoslav tutelage ??" however, this is not the only reason why they did not oppose the re-annexation of Kosovo ??" the other reason was at this time, until Yugoslavia’s break with Stalin in 1948, there was much talk of an all-embracing Balkan Federation, in which case, the issue of Kosovo might be resolved within that wider framework
o there were those who argued that this was not possible and that the moment had arrived in a ‘planned’ way to ‘unmercifully clean…those territories which we wish to settle with our own national elements’ ??" the interests of the state ‘ require that lands deserted by minorities be settled as soon as possible in order that they and the entire Europe be brought before a fait accompli’ ??" this argument was that ‘we might never again have such an opportunity in order that we may make our state ethnically pure…the minority problem, if we do not solve it now, will never be solved’
Kosovo - Republic
• in the postwar years, the peoples of Yugoslavia were classed as either ‘nations’ or ‘nationalities’ ??" the former were entitled to Yugoslav republics ??" they were the Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians ??" in 1971, they were joined by the Bosnian Muslims
• N.B. by contrast, ‘nationalities’ were peoples who were, in effect, cut off from the existing motherland ??" the most important of the ‘nationalities’ were the Kosovo Albanians and the Hungarians who lived in Vojvodina in the north, both of whose people had existing states ??" the real point was that nations ??" who had republics ??" were, under the constitution, theoretically possessed of the right to secede ??" under no circumstances could the Kosovo Albanians ever be allowed to become a republic lest one day they should actually try to exercise that right
• in 1974 Kosovo became a Yugoslav republic in all but name ??" it was represented on the federal presidency, along with its northern counterpart, Vojvodina, and the six republics ??" power was by now very much in the hands of the local Albanian Communists ??" Kosovo had its own assembly, police force, national bank and all the other accoutrements of republican status ??" these were years of rising expectations and many Kosovo Albanians wanted more
• Tito died in 1980 ??" Yugoslav politics deprived of its final arbiter, and, slowly but surely, the system began to unravel ??" in Kosovo, the first signs of this came in March and April 1981, when the province was rocked by demonstrations
• people in Kosovo wanted to be free from Serbian domination ??" the feeling was that, despite autonomy, key positions were still held by Serbs and pro-Serb Albanians
• N.B. example of Solidarity movement in Poland at the time gave the Kosovo Albanians hope ??" the opposition had an anti-Communist and social aspect in Poland ??" in contrast, in Kosovo the opposition had a national character ??" instead of being anti-Communist, the Kosovo movement was anti-colonialist and nationalist
Literature Reference: Julie Mertus. Kosovo How Myths and Truths Started a War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
• once we see ourselves as victims, we can clearly identify an enemy ??" steeped in our own victimhood, we no longer feel bound by moral considerations in becoming perpetrators
• facts are rarely the driving force behind human behavior ??" in terms of their bearing on ordinary human lives, experience and myth are far more persuasive and influential than factual truth ??" with respect to Kosovo, Serbian officials are to blame for years of gross human rights abuses against Albanians, but in order to understand why these abuses continue and to predict future patterns of behavior, we must look beyond the facts of abuse and to other ways of knowing the past ??" we need to examine lived experience and evolving myth
• we must hear Truths, see them, touch them, but not insist upon their immediate transformation ??" only time can change the perception of experience and shape the telling of myths ??" outsiders who demand an immediate retelling are perceived as illegitimate; any reshaping must come from within
• each society has its regime of Truth, as Hannah Arendt has noted ??" society determines the types of discourse that its values and makes function as true, and society determines as well the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth
• the telling of Truths may narrow the gap between Truths, creating a common bridge toward something else ??" yet sometimes the divisions between peoples are too great, the fear too intense, the desire of some to maintain or gain power too overwhelming ??" the mere telling is not enough to stem conflict ??" thus we cannot stop after the telling ??" we must have the will to think of bold, even drastic interventions to change the status quo into a more peaceful something else
• Kosovo exemplifies a society in which the identities of two competing groups (there known as “nations”) have long been tied to Truths about the other ??" nonetheless the war in Kosovo cannot be attributed to ancient hatreds ??" rather the conflict is the result of recent hatreds fueled by recent propaganda campaigns ??" the case of Kosovo illustrates what happens when political leaders exploit the most demeaning truths about the other to create intense feelings of insecurity and victimization
• Mertus’ analysis suggests the conditions which foster a politics rooted in antagonistic Truths: a culture of victimization and a history of real and imagined domination of one group over another, long-term human political and social oppression of a disfavored ethno-national group, structural poverty, unmet human development needs, media manipulation of misunderstandings among the general populace, and the absence of civil and political institutions which allow for divergent opinions ??" these are the conditions we must address if we are to encourage the creation of peaceful and just societies wherein history as established fact is accepted as legitimate and experience and myth no longer drive a wedge between oppositional groups ??" these are the stories we must hear if we are to foster institutions and processes that promote peace and justice for all
• popular accounts of Kosovo are marked by three lines of rhetoric that obfuscate what is really happening ??" first, the rhetoric of complexity: it is simply impossible to find out what is happening in the Balkans….Albanians live in so many different places and their names are so hard to pronounce… second, the rhetoric of denial: nothing ever changes in Kosovo; the situation never really worsens ??" third, the rhetoric of Balkan primordialism ??" these people keep killing each other and there is nothing anyone can do ??" Serbs and Albanians just hate each other
• the Kosovo crisis is not difficult to understand as long as one keeps in mind that people are behind guns and politicians depend on people ??" both sides now feel like victims; both sides now feel entitled to take some liberty in “taking back” what is rightfully theirs ??" politicians manipulate public aspirations and fears in order to suit their own need to stay in power ??" these fears are grounded not only on factual events but also on events as remembered, refashioned and retold
• the resurrection of Balkan power plays and the manipulation of a dark form of nationalism began at least twenty years ago in Kosovo, before the fall of the Berlin Wall
, before the first shot in Slovenia, the first raid into Vukovar, the first shelling of Sarajevo
• the events in Kosovo in 1981-90 comprise a major chapter in the final years of Yugoslavia ??" developments in Kosovo during these years “led to a fundamental realignment of politics in Serbia and the growth of dangerous, defensive, populist and officially sanctioned nationalism.” ??" an anti-democratic coalition within Serbia of nationalists and communists manipulated the myth of Kosovo to formulate nationalist ideology and produce propaganda ??" Serbs were said to be the victims of Albanians in Kosovo; they needed the protection of a strong leader like Milosevic ??" populist gatherings ??" “meetings of truth” on Kosovo became the main vehicle through which Milosevic spread his message
• the seeds of war sown in Kosovo were rooted in the political aims of the powerful ??" from 1989 onwards Serbian leaders orchestrated a low-intensity state of siege in Kosovo, using police and paramilitary harassment and other human rights violations to cripple Albanian aspirations ??" with state-controlled media supporting his repressive tactics in Kosovo, Milosevic did not need an all out war in Kosovo to garner popular support and maintain power ??" wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina suited that task just fine ??" but as soon as the Dayton Peace Accord ended the fighting in Bosnia, Milosevic turned his full attention to Kosovo ??" the emergence of militant Albanian groups in Kosovo further intensified Serbian feelings of victimization ??" these feelings served to erase any ethical responsibility to back peaceful resolution of the conflict ??" Serbians were well prepared for the inevitability of more war
• the people of the region patterned their behavior around what they believed to be true, based not on what some outside “expert” writes but on their own personal experiences and on the myths perpetuated by the local media and other popular storytellers ??" for those who are interested in understanding and predicting behavior, what matters is not what is factually true but what people believe to be “Truth”
• Serbs and Albanians structure their lives around Truths that are closely linked to their identity but that may have nothing (or everything) to do with factual truth or lies ??" the opposite of Truth is not necessarily a lie; rather it is a competing Truth linked to an alternative self-image
• ??" the problem, I realized, is that local political leaders were manipulating particularly malignant strains of national Truths, aided by inaccurate and distorted media reports and deteriorating economic and social conditions ??" understanding this process entails talking to local people about what they believe to be true and reading the local media, not The New York Times, Le Monde or The Guardian
• Kosovo is integral to both group’s competing national identities: the national awakening of Albanians occurred at the League of Prizren in 1878, but Kosovo also contains places of significance to modern Serbian national identity, including the site of the patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, established in 1346 in Pec ??" as Sabrina Ramet has pointed out, the Kosovo debate is much like the Palestinian issue: “Two ethnic communities with distinct languages and religious traditions lay claim to the same territory with competing historical arguments as evidence”
• the willingness of most Serbs to sacrifice themselves for Kosovo is “less widespread than their (self-proclaimed) leaders admit ??" this explains why Milosevic and other Serbian leaders have to supplement national animus with an organized campaign of hysterical propaganda, employing journalists and intellectuals to shape Truths for popular consumption
• Outsiders may be useful in helping to create institutions and mechanisms for the nonviolent resolution of future conflicts in the Balkans and elsewhere, but in order to be effective they must begin to understand Truths that can start wars ??" Kosovo illustrates well the important role played by history as experience and myth in shaping human behavior ??" the main propellant behind war in Kosovo was not ancient history and ancient hatreds, but recent hatreds manipulated by a carefully orchestrated, fear-mongering media campaign ??" these stories became the Truths for Kosovo Serbs and Albanians, serving to guide their behavior as perpetrators and victims
• after 1981 there were frequent expressions of hostility towards Serbs who were leaving Kosovo steadily after that point ??" some Serbian churches and graveyards were vandalized and many Serbs did feel a pressure to leave
• Serb emigration and the high Albanian birth rate led to census figures that indicated the Albanian segment of the population was about 82.2 percent in the 1980s and early 1990s ??" it reached about 90 per cent as the new millennium approached
• in 1984 work began on a Memorandum by prominent academics in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts ??" articulated a widely held belief on the part of the Serbs that the policy of ‘a weak Serbia ensures a strong Yugoslavia’ was provoking a backlash among the Serbs
• the Memorandum asserted that Serbs were being subjected to nothing less than ‘genocide’ ??" in the face of this situation, Serbia must not be passive and wait and see what the others will say, as it has done so often in the past ??" rise of Milosevic who devoted himself to the renewal of the Serbian state and fought for the salvation of the Serbian people from new slavery and annihilation ??" it was the dynamics of the political conflict in Kosovo, which resulted in war, first briefly in Slovenia, then in Croatia and then in Bosnia-Hercegovina
Genocide ??" International Legal Definition (http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/ officialtext.htm)
The international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:
1) the mental element, meaning the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such", and
2) the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called "genocide."
Article III described five punishable forms of the crime of genocide: genocide; conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity.
Excerpt from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide
"Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide. "
It is a crime to plan or incite genocide, even before killing starts, and to aid or abet genocide: Criminal acts include conspiracy, direct and public incitement, attempts to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide.
Punishable Acts The following are genocidal acts when committed as part of a policy to destroy a group’s existence:
Killing members of the group includes direct killing and actions causing death.
Causing serious bodily or mental harm includes inflicting trauma on members of the group through widespread torture, rape, sexual violence, forced or coerced use of drugs, and mutilation.
Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to destroy a group includes the deliberate deprivation of resources needed for the group’s physical survival, such as clean water, food, clothing, shelter or medical services. Deprivation of the means to sustain life can be imposed through confiscation of harvests, blockade of foodstuffs, detention in camps, forcible relocation or expulsion into deserts.
Prevention of births includes involuntary sterilization, forced abortion, prohibition of marriage, and long-term separation of men and women intended to prevent procreation.
Forcible transfer of children may be imposed by direct force or by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or other methods of coercion. The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as persons under the age of 18 years.
Genocidal acts need not kill or cause the death of members of a group. Causing serious bodily or mental harm, prevention of births and transfer of children are acts of genocide when committed as part of a policy to destroy a group’s existence.
The law protects four groups - national, ethnical, racial or religious groups.
A national group means a set of individuals whose identity is defined by a common country of nationality or national origin.
An ethnical group is a set of individuals whose identity is defined by common cultural traditions, language or heritage.
A racial group means a set of individuals whose identity is defined by physical characteristics.
A religious group is a set of individuals whose identity is defined by common religious creeds, beliefs, doctrines, practices, or rituals.
The crime of genocide has two elements: intent and action. “Intentional” means purposeful. Intent can be proven directly from statements or orders. But more often, it must be inferred from a systematic pattern of coordinated acts.
Intent is different from motive. Whatever may be the motive for the crime (land expropriation, national security, territorrial integrity, etc.), if the perpetrators commit acts intended to destroy a group, even part of a group, it is genocide.
The phrase "in whole or in part" is important. Perpetrators need not intend to destroy the entire group. Destruction of only part of a group (such as its educated members, or members living in one region) is also genocide. Most authorities require intent to destroy a substantial number of group members ??" mass murder. But an individual criminal may be guilty of genocide even if he kills only one person, so long as he knew he was participating in a larger plan to destroy the group.
The Rise of the Kosovo Liberation Army ??" Independence from Serbia or Else
as the Albanians became progressively radicalized, their new voice emerged in the KLA. Rugova, the old pacifist, became more a symbol of outmoded moderation than a leader. By ignoring the plight of Kosovar Albanians, the West lost much of its credibility before NATO began its bombing campaign during spring 1999. Many Albanians felt let down by the world and their own meek leaders. In the late 1990s, the KLA fighters were the region’s new power brokers.
the political leadership that emerges in Kosovo is likely to come from their ranks ??" militant, nationalist, uncompromising and deeply suspicious of outsiders. United States intelligence agencies, preoccupied with tracking militant Islamist groups and Iranian agents in Bosnia, were caught off guard by the Kosovo rebel force’s emergence, strength, and popularity.
in 1995, isolated attacks on Serbian police and civil targets were carried out by unnamed parties in Kosovo, though it was not until February 1996 that the name "Kosovo Liberation Army" was used for the first time following a series of attacks against targets that included police stations, Serb government officials, and Serb refugee centers in western Kosovo.
observers initially doubted the existence of the KLA. The moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova attributed the attacks to Serbian agents provocateurs. However, it soon became clear that the KLA was genuine. The Serbian authorities denounced it as a terrorist organization and increased the number of security forces in the region. This had the counter-productive effect of boosting the credibility of the embryonic KLA among the Kosovo Albanian population.
the founders of the KLA were Kosovo Albanians who were frustrated by the Rugova-backed "passive resistance" strategy. They sought to bring the issue of Kosovo's relations with Serbia to a head by provoking an open conflict, in which they believed the West would be forced to intervene.
for the past nine years, the military ambitions of the former Kosovo Liberation Army’s leaders have been curtailed by absorbing its commanders into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) ??" a civil defense force which acts as a fire service and is partly armed. The force is to halve in size after independence.
Western efforts to keep Serbs and the ethnic Albanians in the same country mirrored the fruitless peace efforts carried out during the first three years of the Bosnian war. The refusal to accept the creation of ethnically “pure” enclaves left diplomats paying homage to multiethnic institutions, however hollow, and lofty democratic ideals that nearly all Balkan leaders detest.
the belief that Kosovo can remain a Serb province and the two groups can live together, if only the ethnic Albanians are given a little more freedom, is fraught with risks. Given that between 1966 and 1989 an estimated 130,000 Serbs left the province because of frequent harassment and discrimination by the Kosovar Albanian majority, this reasoning is at best naïve.
Strategies of Conflict Transformation
• Moderating Political Conflict (Motivation for Violent Conflict/Capacity for Dispute Resolution)
? from zero-sum, distributive confrontations that perpetuate violence to system of governance where competition for power can be conducted through non-violent processes
• Defeating Militant Extremists (Capacity for Political Violence/Capacity of Security Sector)
? from context dominated by armed groups willing to use violence to context where armed groups are subordinated to legitimate governmental authority, reintegrated into society or defeated
• Institutionalizing the Rule of Law (Impunity of Obstructionists/Capacity of Legal System)
? from instruments of state repression where political and criminal elites enjoy impunity to servants of the public capable of preserving order, basic rights (Leader-Centric Perspective to Servant-Leader Orientation)
• Developing a Legitimate Political Economy (Political Influence of Illicit Wealth/ Capacity of State and Economy)
? from a situation in which the gray and black markets predominate and illicit wealth determines who wields political power to functioning formal economy in which integrity of revenues required for essential state services is protected
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