Sunday, 17 February 2008

It looks like it's coming

Well, we've been holding out for so long (a good old Serbian tactic!), avoiding Kosovo independence. But from what we're hearing and seeing on the news, it looks like it will be coming this time, and very soon. Kosovo Albanians from the diaspora have come in large numbers to their homeland, and don't want to be disappointed!

Of course, Kosovo raises many issues for us Serbs and represents many things. It is a major part of our national identity, considering our history. I also consider Kosovo as having played an important part in our history, in that a number of events in our history either occurred there, or were in some way linked to that small plot of land. Particularly the famous 1389 Battle of Kosovo between Prince Lazar (known in folklore as Emperor Lazar) and Sultan Murat, which represented on the one hand the cause of the Serbian people's centuries-long suffering under Ottoman rule, and on the other hand our determination to free ourselves from such bondage.

Also in terms of geneology, or rodoslovlje in our language, many of my people's ancestors, perhaps my ancestors among them, were born, lived and died in Kosovo, not to mention left their land for a number of historical reasons, considering the major migrations my people have undergone. And being a Croatian Serb, I can be sure that my ancestors lived in many different parts of the Western Balkans further south and east from where my more recent ancestors lived.

However, the reality of the past often differs sharply from the reality of the present. Things change, many things and dramatically. Not to mention how history itself is quite often not so straightforward!

I mentioned in "My opinion on Kosovo", that the Kosovo issue may remain "for many years to come an unresolved conflict, like Cyprus or Palestine". Now, it looks like it might resolve itself sooner. But who knows? Maybe Kosovo could find itself in the same position as Taiwan; recognised by some, not by others.

Serbia, unless you already know, has already declared in advance null and void any declaration of independence coming from Priština. And I don't think Serbia's government will change its position anytime soon, and I don't think Serbia should be compelled to either. And dare I remind you that partitioning the province has likewise been swiftly rejected by Serbia.

With regards to the seemingly upcoming declaration of independence by Kosovo's Albanian leaders, there's really nothing I can do to stop them, and not just because I am located thousands of miles away. These Albanian leaders represent over 1.6 million Albanians in the province, the vast, over-whelming majority of whom want the land they live on to become its own state separate from Serbia, and have wanted it since 1999 and even before.

Personally, I'm mostly worried about the Kosovo Serbs, my fellow ethnics in the province who live as a beleaguered minority. I hope that they will stay in the province and maintain links with the perhaps soon-to-be reduced Serbia, and not leave in great number from their homes and villages. However, I have seen on the news that the UN is already prepared to offer aid to these could-be future refugees in the north of the province.

One idea I heard the Serbian president Boris Tadić mention is a possible Kosovo Serb parliament to represent all the Serbs in the province. I think this could be a good idea, as such an institution could make the province's Serbs feel represented by a major institution whose members they would be able to elect. And as such, it could provide Serbs with the reassurance they need to stay in Kosovo. Whatever the relationship this possible institution might have with Priština's government, if it even gets established, waits to be seen.

Ethnic composition of Kosovo (2005) (Image from Wikipedia)
I also wonder what the other minorities in Kosovo will do; what their position is and how they will react to a unilateral declaration by Albanians. What is the position of the province's Roma population, many of whom still live internally displaced in the province's refugee camps? What about the Muslim Goranis, Turks and Bosniaks, Albanian-speaking Ashkalis & Egyptians, and what will the small number of the ethnic Croat Janjevci still left in the province do? And will these groups look to Serbia for support like the Kosovo Serbs, or will they readily accept living in an independent Kosovo separate from Serbia and become self-declared citizens thereof and active participants of its society?

God knows what will happen…

EDITED: 17th FEBRUARY

12 comments:

Owen said...

Thanks for fixing the Comments at last, Alan!

When Serbs / people with a Serb background on the internet refuse to acknowledge other people's concerns they don't get listened to - and then they don't appear to have any understanding why, e.g. on EU, Kosova, etc.

Because you speak with reason and fairness you have a chance of being listened to when you set out the concerns of your family and friends and tell their side of the story.

You write with a combination of thoughtfulness, common sense and fairness. You know my views so we'll not agree on everything but we can communicate.

Has it ever struck you as an anarchist that you might have a future as an ambassador?!

Owen said...

I support independence for Kosova, I don't think the history of the last twenty-odd years can allow any other outcome, but you're right to point out the concerns about those minorities you mention and others.

Kosova is poor and for the poorest in a poor country life is going to be pretty grim anyway but in a divided society with memories of discrimination, conflict and atrocities marginal communities are going to be even more vulnerable.

Hopefully an independent Kosova now has the chance to improve the cricumstances of all its citizens, but Thaci needs to be careful that the gains of independence are shared equitably.

The German human rights organisation Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker / Society for Threatened Peoples (which was an advocate for the Albanian community during the years of oppression) has a team in Kosova working with the minority communities generally, including the Serbs and Roma. Regrettably working in Kosova is very difficult for them.

How the government deal with the issue of the minorities in the face of any provocation is going to be a test of their commitment to democratic principles. If we demand respect for human rights from Serbia we have to do the same for Kosova.

Whatever difficulties they may face neither side must be allowed to use the other's failings as a way of evading their own responsibilities.

Alan Jakšić said...

Owen,

Thank you for the encouraging critique and kind words. And I'm sure I've heard of that ambassador vacancy somewhere! ;-)

I don't support Kosovo independence, but who am I to tell over a million and a half people in the province-turned-self-declared-republic that they can't have what they've wanted for so many years? Instead, my concern is with my fellow Serbs there and other minorities. And I also wonder what kind of cooperation could be achieved between Serbian and other minority representatives with the Priština government, not to mention other forms of inter-ethnic cooperation.

You are right about Kosovo being a divided society with vulnerable communities, and likewise right to point out that "respect for Human rights" and "commitment to democratic principles" must be enjoined upon the Kosovo government.

How the "gains of independence", like you put it, can be "shared equitably" I wonder. But I definitely agree with your last sentence ending with, "[using] the other's failings as a way of evading their own responsibilities."

And I will have a look at the website of the German human rights organisation you mention. I think I've seen its name somewhere on the net before.

All the best,

Alan.

Owen said...
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Owen said...
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Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor said...

Hi Alan. This is the only Serb blog that I like to read because I consider you to be objective. You are very nice guy. Kosovo was gone in 1999. And the independence is just a light at the end of the tunnel.

Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor said...

Hi Alan. I just looked at your photo. I know we should judge people by how they look, but you look exactly how I imagined you! Nice, calm, and reasonable. All the best to you.

Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor said...

correction: "I know we should NOT judge people..."

Alan Jakšić said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Jakšić said...

Daniel,

Thank you for such kind words, I really appreciate it. I hope you'll find other Serb blogs just as enjoyable as mine. :-)

The picture in my profile was taken in Zadar in July of last year. I went there that day with my mother and cousin with her two kids. The cousin is married to your man from Bihać, and they live in Austria. There are quite a few mixed marriages on my mother's side to Croats, Slovenes, and an American (her sister!).

And that was a good assessment you made about me based on the picture, Dan. Considering which, it looks like I picked the right one! ;-)

All the best!

Alan.

julien said...

Hi,
i'm a journalst at France24. I'd like to interview you about this post. Do you think you could send me your phone number. jpain AT france24.com
All the best
Julien Pain

Anonymous said...

i am sorry but this is all about oil caspian to secific.Serbs lose Albanians lose they just do not see it yet.Kosovo-Metohija has 800 years od Srb history gone.But as the boomerang it might fly back to its owner.We are all gonna lose we meaning the average citizen nationalism is nurtured by those in power and i do not mean Bush,Brown,Thaci or Tadic this is about creating a one world government.Srbija Irak,Palestine, and to some degree many many other people like the Kurds at least resisted.I pray tonight for ALL no matter ethnic group religion or culture that fight against US/NATO fascist domination.ZIVELA SRBIJA