Mother Teresa, a Kosovan

THE ALBANIAN QUESTION

Who knows of Kosova, Albania and the Albanians? Who believes Europe’s next war will threaten to break out in these lands? It is true that few people know of the geographic region and oftentimes confuse its location of events, as if they happen in the former Soviet Union, or Argentina. This happens because the mystery enveloping Albania and the Albanians, has not been examined for who they are as a people. Today, the world is entertaining the wildest fancies about the actual conditions of the Albanians, and have hazy notions about their existence. Who are the Albanians and what are they striving for? The answer to the question is "The Albanian Question".

For the Albanians, Kosova is central in their saga about "the Albanian question". Kosova is a region populated with massive numbers of Albanians, under Serbia’s rule. Kosova is situated in the middle of the Balkans in Europe, bordering Albania proper, Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Kosova is claimed by Serbs as their Jerusalem and spiritual heart. If this is the case, say the Albanians now make up more than ninety per cent of the region’s population, then this Serb heart has been transplanted into a foreign body, which is Albania.

In medieval times, Serbia occupied Kosova, and the Serb Orthodox Church was located therein. In 1912, when the Serb armies came to Kosova, in pursuit of Turkish troops, they reconquered Kosova. The Albanians not liberated, they have only been conquered by a new occupier. The majority of the population of Kosova is not Serb but Albanian. Since 1912, Kosova has become, not only a sizable thorn for Serbia itself, but has brought forth a sharp national issue, which is penetrating through the Balkans and Europe, threatening peace to the region. A solution must be found to this problem, and an answer must be given to "The Albanian Question".

During the present decade, the world has become very familiar with "the Albanian Question", as a result of the violence that has been going on in Kosova. The situation in Kosova threatens to precipitate into a general regional conflagration, for signs to the end of these contradictions between Balkan states has not been reached. The Albanian Question is particularly true to the Albanians history, past and present. The Albanians are the oldest race in the Balkans. The determination that this remarkable race has shown, maintaining its mountainous strongholds, through a long series of ages, has hitherto met with scant appreciation in the outside world. The Albanians have had to continuously rise against partition of their own territories. "The Albanian Question" came up for settlement, first in the Congress of Berlin in 1878, as a result of the Turco-Russian War, then again in the London Conference in 1913, as a result of the Balkan War. At that time, there were people who denied even the existence of such a question. There are people who today, deny, as they did in 1878 and 1912, the problem of the Albanian territories.

The general readjustment of the ethnic situation in the former Yugoslavia, constitutes most of the work of the international community, since 1991. The problem of the future of Albanians should be a predominant question in the world today. Its solution cannot be ignored, nor can it be postponed, as it has become a catalyst for the future of the Balkan region. Apart from its connection with the interlocking elements of the politics of southeastern Europe, Albania has a primary set of interests for her own survival. These interests must be clearly comprehended and understood by the powers of the U.N. Contact Group and the United States in particular, for the sole purpose of redrawing the map of the former Yugoslavia. The rights of the Albanians must be learned not through the utterances of the their occupying neighbors, rivals and possible enemies, but through a more direct authoritative medium, the voice of the Albanians themselves.

In the course of her long history, Albania has been invaded by various civilized, half-civilized, and barbarian races. The Gauls, Romans, Goths, Slavs, Normans, Venetians and finally, the Turks, set foot on and have obtained temporary mastery over the Albanian territory. In the course of time, the natives have gradually been driven out or assimilated the invaders. A series of historical events, described by the Greek and Roman writers, centuries ago, apply to the current conditions, in such a way, as to make one imagine that the old writings are contemporary history. It is those events, then and now, that have forced the Albanians to cling with tenacity to their national traditions, language, and customs.

More than a thousand years before the arrival of Slavs, in the sixth century A.D. , the lands east of the Adriatic were the home of peoples known to the ancient world as Illyrians, the precursors of the present Albanians. The Illyrian territory comprised much of what is now inhabited by the Yugoslavs and Albanians. The Illyrian territory comprised the river of Danube in the north, the Adriatic in the west, the Gulf of Ambrakia (Greece) in the south, the Lakeland basin Scupi (Skopje) and the Kosova region in the east. The ancient districts of Calabria and Appulia in southern Italy were included.

The Illyrians had close interrelationship with the Greeks. Being the most ancient people in the region, they shared many old customs and traditions. The Greek colonies, along the coast of the Adriatic, played a great role in the infusion of the Greek civilization into the Illyrian hinterland. For nearly three millennia, except for the present chauvinistic-shadowed century, these two original neighbors have never been in conflict with each other.

The earliest information about the Illyrians can be found in Homer. In the fourteenth book of Iliad, The Paeonians, an Illyrian tribe, are quoted as horsemen who came "from their fertile regions, under the leadership of Asteroups", and took part in the Trojan War. According to Homer, Ulysses landed on the fertile coasts of the Illyrian tribe of Thesprotians. On his return from Troy, Ulysses was welcomed by Phaeton, their generous and heroic king. The Illyrians were also related to the Macedonians. The mother of Alexander the Great was an Illyrian princess from Epirus.

According to Strabo’s Geography, the Greek tradition identified the Illyrians as an ethnos different from Macedonians and Thracians, as well as from the Greeks. They spoke a language, of which no trace has survived. This language belonged to the "family" of Indo-European languages, as shown from the many names of Illyrian peoples and places preserved in Greek and Roman records, both literally and epigraphically. The Greeks had a word for speaking of the Illyrians, "illurizein", and recognized this language as distinct from Greek. The Albanian language of today is entirely distinct from the tongues spoken by the neighboring nationalities. This language is particularly interesting for it is the only surviving representative of the Illyrian group of languages, which formed the primitive speech of the inhabitants in the Balkan Peninsula. In the course of time, the Albanian language has been impregnated by a number of foreign words, mainly of Greek and Latin origin, which are younger than the Albanian language.

The Albanian language is the best available means for a rational explanation of the meaning of names of the ancient Greek gods, as well as the rest of the mythological creations. The Homeric poems abound in words that have survived in the spoken Albanian language. According to the German scholars, who laid the foundations of the Albanian studies in the 19th century, the present day Albanian language represents the latest phase of the old Illyrian language or more precisely, Illyrian dialect. The current version of the theory of the Albanians origin, is centered on the unbroken descend of modern Albanians from the Illyrian people, formed in the Bronze Age. Geographically, it coincides with the territory inhabited presently by the Albanians.

Frequent wars forced the Illyrian tribes to establish alliances with each other. Eventually, these alliances developed into tribal federations. The most important of them, was the federation of the Taulantis, comprising western Illyria, eastern Illyria or Dardania (present Kosova and western Macedonia), and Mollosia (Epirus). In the 3rd century D.C., Alexander the Great of Macedonia incorporated part of Illyria into his own Empire. The Illyrian kingdom culminated with the Queen Teuta, in the 2nd century B.C. She led the Illyrian navy to attack Sicily and the Greek coast colonies. She practiced piracy on a large scale in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, thus antagonizing Rome, which finally sent a large fleet to defeat the Illyrian navy. The Roman-Illyrian wars continued for nearly a century, ending with the conquest of the whole Balkan Peninsula by the Romans and the surrender of the last Illyrian king, Genthius, in 167 B.C.

The spread of Roman citizenship in subsequent generations bound Illyria more closely to the Roman Empire. Most importantly, the fighting men of lllyria became a principal source of soldiers for the Roman army. Most the Roman soldier- emperors, after the later part of the 3rd centery A.D., were of Illyrian origin, ‘Virtus Illyrici’ or ‘Genius Illyrici’. When Septimus Severus, governor of the Danube provinces, seized the throne in 193 A.D., he disbanded the Italian Praetorian Guard, replacing them with soldiers recruited largely in Illyria and Thrace. In 268 A.D. this Preatorian Guard killed Emperor Gallienus and replaced him with Claudius II, one of the brilliant young Illyrian officers, promoted by the ranks. He was succeeded by Aurelian, another skillful Illyrian general, who secured the Danubian frontiers. Aurelian restored both Eastern and Western Provinces to the Roman Empire he reconquered Gaul and stabilized the Roman economy. Later in Roman history, the army of Eastern Rome proclaimed another Illyrian as Emperor, Probus. He liberated Gaul from the Franks and Alemani, and freed Egypt from Sudanese invaders.

Between 282 and 285 A.D., another Illyrian, Marcus Aurelius Carus, was declared Emperor. Upon his death, his son Carinus claimed the throne. The Army of Eastern Rome ignored Carinus, and selected as Emperor one of their own officers, Diocletian, also an Illyrian. He restored the Roman Empire to its former greatness and in 286 A.D., promoted a fellow Illyrian, Maximilian, to the rank of Caesar and Augustus, in recognition of his victories. To further strengthen the imperial power and to assist in ruling, both Diocletian and Maximian chose young Illyrian men as Caesar. Diocletian selected Gaius Galerius in the East, and Maximian chose C. Flavius Constantinus in the West. The latter was the father of the future Constantine the Great. Diocletian and Maximian adopted these young men and gave them their daughters’ hand in marriage, thereby cementing the ties between the East and the West.

Illyria was one the first scenes of the evangelic activities of Paul the Apostle, in which the Christian message was preached. According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle "fully preached the gospel of Christ roundabout Illyricum", and in the flourishing cities of Dyrrachium and Appolonia, still in existence in present Albania. Octavius Augustus had studied at a military academy in Appolonia, before returning to Rome to become its Emperor, when his uncle, Julius Caesar was assassinated. Cicero called Appolonia a "beautiful and imposing city". William Shakespeare had chosen Appolonia as an attractive scene of events in his famous play "The Twelfth Night".

It was during this period of time, the worst persecution of Christians took place. The first martyrs of Christendom in Europe, Florin in 117 A.D. and Lorin in 138 A.D., both Illyrians, had been killed in Ulpiana (near present Prishtina). The Roman Emperor Galerius from Illyria, convinced of the futility of the persecutions on the Christians, issued the Edict of Toleration, which granted Christians the freedom of worship. To the newly instituted Christian Empire, Illyria contributed the men who instituted it. Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and put the symbol of Christ on his soldiers’ shields. He was a native of Naissus ( Kosova), which at that time was an Albanian town, just as it is now a Serbian one. Saint Jerome, the first translator of the Holy Scriptures into Latin, and the Father of Church of Christ, is noted in Butler’s book, Lives of Saints, as born in Illyria and speaking the Illyrian language. Pope Sylvester, and the Emperors of Byzantium, during the 6th century A.D., Justin and his nephew Justinian, were also of Illyrian descent.

The division of the Roman Empire made Illyria, a continuous bone of contention between these two parts of the Empire. One particularly irritating dispute between these two halves of the Empire, was a territorial one. Illyria lay west of the north-south line separating them, and was usually considered part of the West. The Court of Constantinople coveted and seized part of it. This action resented the West and caused Illyria to serve as a perpetual reason for enmity between the two, the same as Albania is doing today.

During the periods of the great tribal migrations, Illyria was repeatedly subject to the first invasions. In 395 A.D., the Visigoths under Alaric, descended upon Illyria, Macedonia and Greece. Their assault was followed by the Huns and then by the Ostrogoths in 461 A.D. From the late 6th century to the mid 7th century, the Slavs, natives of the regions between the Don River and Black Sea, in present Russia and Ukraine, flooded the Balkans, putting an end to Byzantine authority as well as the Roman civilization in this area. Four distinct Slav groups may be identified in the Balkans in the 10th century. They were respectively the ancestors of the present day Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Bulgarians. Within this territory, there were many non-Slav people, mostly survivors of the Illyrians. The memories of Pax Romana, found in the coastal cities of the Adriatic, whether under Byzantium or Slav rule, still evoke strong memories, today. They are the Romanized Illyrians, who retained their Latin culture and dominated the Albanian language. Secondly, the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace at Split, and the remnants of Via Egnatia evoked these memories. This route, Via Egnatia, crossing the Balkan peninsula, linked Rome with the Illyrian ports of Appolonia and Dyrrachium to Constantinople. Via Egnatia was used by the Albanians until late in the last century.

After the barbarian invasions and Slav migrations, the Romanized Illyrians of the north were gradually assimilated or disappeared from the historical scene. Those in the south, who populated New Epirus, Old Epirus, Dardania (present Kosova and western Macedonia) and the south of Prevalitania (present Montenegro) resisted on, by retaining intact a separate Illyrian identity and their own order and social system. In the course of centuries, this old population, with its tormented history, was to lose its ancient name of Illyrian, and entered medieval times under the name of Albanian. The last time, the Illyrians have been mentioned as an ethnic group, was in the 7th century A.D. document of the Byzantine Empire called Miracula Sancti Demetrii. The habitat of the Illyrian tribe of Albanoi was distinguished in the 2nd century A.D., by the Alexandrin geographer Claudius Ptolemy. In the 11th century, the Byzantine historian Michael Attalaite had mentioned the Albanians, as participating in the military revolt fermented by General George Maniaces against Constantinople in 1043. By the end of the 11th century, the Normans occupied these territories and referred to them as Albania. Due to the depression of the Byzantine Empire in the late 12th century, the first Albanian state, Albanoi, reigned by native kings, was recorded.

The Bulgarians, since the 9th century, occupied vast territories of the Byzantines, including Albania. With some intervals, the Bulgarian rule lasted until the year 1241. In 1272, Albania was occupied by Anguins of France, and Charles I was proclaimed Regnum Albaniae, with Dyrrachium (present Durres) as the capital. It was during this time, the first recognizable Serb state, known today as Old Serbia, was born in Rashka ( present Serbia proper), with Stephen Nemanja (1168-1196) as its founder. After conquering part of present Kosova and Macedonia in 1185, Nemanja proclaimed his independence from the Byzantines. The remaining Albanian territories continued to be under the Norman rule even during the 13th century.

In the middle of the 14th century, the whole Kingdom of Albania, as well as Greece and Macedonia was overrun by the Serbian Empire. The Serb Czar Stephan Dushan the Great (1331-1355) proclaimed himself Emperor of the Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians and Albanians. The Serbs relocated their capital from Rashka to Scupi, the former capital of Illyrian Dardania. This region began to be called Kosova. As the Emperors had to be crowned by a patriarch, Dushan raised the status of the bishop of the Serb Church to that of a patriarch. A Serb Patriarchate was created in 1375, in the town of Peia in Kosova.

 

The Turks continued to become a growing menace to the Balkan kingdoms and principalities. Following the Battle of the Maritza River, in 1388, Bulgaria was forced into subjection. The Sultan turned against the Serbs. A coalition of Balkan forces: Albanians, Hungarians,Serbs and Bosnians, led by prince Lazar of Serbia, met the Turks in the Field of Kosova. The battle of Kosova, in 1389, ended with the total defeat of the coalition, and the Serb state ceased to exist. Some Albanian feudals managed to form powerful independent principalities in the mountainous regions of Albania: Prince Balscia established his principality in present Montenegro and Kosova. Prince Thopia established his principality in present Albania proper, and Prince Shpata in Epirus.

 

During the first half of the 15th century, Albanians fought against the Turks under their national hero, King George Castriotti. He was taken captive as a child by the Turks, and brought to the Court of the Sultan. He converted to Islam, and eventually was titled Scanderbeg (Alexander the Commander), in recognition of his performance as one of the Sultan’s best field commanders. When Scanderbeg learned in 1443, the Albanians were revolting, he came to Albania with 300 faithful cavalrymen, renounced Islam, and returned to Christianity. Scanderbeg united all the Albanian princes under his banner, and began a long fight against the Turks until his death in 1468. Scanderbeg made great efforts to organize an alliance of the European Christian states to halt the penetration of the Turks into Europe, envisaging a crusade against them. Scanderbeg traveled to Rome to meet the Pope and ask for his help. Pope Pius II was enthusiastic of this plan and promised support for Scanderbeg, whom he called the "Champion of Christianity". Preoccupied with their own conflicts, the Europeans were slow in responding to the appeal, and with the death of Pius II in 1464, all plans were abandoned.

After Scanderbeg’s death in 1468, the Albanians continued their fight for independence, but resources had come to an end. After a two year siege, the Albanian capital Croya, fell to the Turks, followed by Scodra in 1478 and Durres (Dyrrachium) in 1502. Albania was the last Balkan country to be occupied by the Turks. The Albanian resistance continued in the mountains well into the next century. In 1681, Austria invaded the Turkish-occupied territories of the Balkans, and led to uprisings of its oppressed peoples. The Albanians, in an effort to get rid of Turks, welcomed the Austrian invasion in Kosova. They fought under the leadership of Pietro Bogdani, a distinguished Albanian scholar of the time and Catholic priest. The Turks pushed the Austrians back and hopes of liberation vanished once again.

 

It is interesting to note, the name of Albania has been thought to be derived from the Latin word ‘Alba’, meaning ‘dawn’ in English. Albania is the place where the sun rises to be seen by the West. While called Albania from the westerners, the Albanians called their own country ‘Arberi’, and themselves Arber or Arbereshe. During the 16-17th centuries, the Albanians in Albania began to call their country ‘Skiperi’, meaning in their language ‘the nest of eagles’. In their mountainous lands, the Albanians felt themselves free as eagles. The symbol of the Albanian national flag has been, throughout their history, the double-headed eagle. According to Plutarch, the soldiers called Pyrrhus, King of Epirus from the Illyrian tribe of Mollosia, ‘the Eagle’. Pyrrhus replied to his soldiers: "If I am an eagle, I owe it to you ". The names ‘Arberi’ and ‘Arbereshe’ are preserved to this day, by the Albanians who have migrated from their country. They have formed enclaves in southern Italy, Morea of Greece, and Dubrovnik of Croatia.

Perhaps, the most unusual group of Albanian-speaking people today, live across the Adriatic Sea in southern Italy and western Sicily . Together, they are known as the Arbereshi and arrived in Italy more than five centuries ago . The very first Albanians to land in Italy were recorded in 1448, as soldiers led by King George Castriotti Scanderbeg. They came to defend the Kingdom of Naples against attacks of the Frankish prince of Aragon. In 1459, the Albanian army of Scanderbeg came again, this time to help his ally put down a revolt against the King of Naples. In return for Skanderbeg’s assistance, he was given land near Taranto, some 250 miles south of Rome. Beginning from 1488, around two hundred thousand Albanians crossed the Adriatic from the shores of Albania, with well-armed Turks in hot pursuit . The settlers clung to rocky rural Mediterranean areas of Italy and Sicily, reminding them of their mountainous native land of Albania. Today, most of the people in these areas, with Albanian ancestry, still speak an old form of the Albanian language, and call themselves Arbereshe.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the Turkish pashas (princes) of Albanian descent, began to play an important role in the Ottoman Empire, as the Turks dominated Albania. The Koprulus family, natives of Albania, has given several remarkable prime ministers, governing the Ottoman Empire to its heights in the 17th century. Mohammed Ali, an Albanian pasha, was sent to Egypt to oppress a revolt . After suppressing this revolt he proclaimed himself King of Egypt, disassociating Egypt from Turkey. The most important of pashas, Kara Mohammed Pasha of Scodra in northern Albania, and Ali Pasha Tepelena of Iannina, in the south, extinguished Turkish rule in Albania for nearly a century . They failed to implement a new social order as Mohammed Ali had done in Egypt . Ali Pasha Tepelena was known in the West as the ‘Lion of Iannina’. He made the town of Iannina in Epirus, the veritable capital of a small state, totally removed from Constantinople’s influence. He entered into independent relations with Napoleon of France, and hosted Lord Gordon Byron of Britain, when he visited Albania during the early 19th century .

In the 19th century, the Albanian struggle for national liberation entered a phase with the achievement of political, economic and cultural independence becoming paramount for the Albanians. At the same time, relations had been established with the national movements of Greece, Romania and Italy. Albanians participated actively in these countries’ movements, which has led to their freedom. The first Greek President, Kounduriotis, and the first Italian Prime Minister Crispi, were of Albanian descent. The Albanians in Greece, contributed greatly to the independence of Greece. In the history of the Greek revolution, the Albanian leaders Marco Botzari the Captain of Suliots, Bouboulina the Lady Admiral, and Miauli the Great Admiral, became heroes of this revolution. Today, they are still honored by the Greek people.

The Balkan national liberation movements shook the Turkish Empire, by creating, what is called "The Eastern Question". In 1878 Russia appeared at the gates of the Balkans, trying to impose a Russian solution of who should control the Balkan region. After attacking and defeating Turkey, Russia concluded the San Stefano peace treaty in favour of the Balkan Slavs. The most important provision of the treaty was the enlargement of Serbia and Montenegro, at the expense of the Albanian populated territories. Since then, Russia has been the most important player in the partition of the Albanian lands, thus creating "the Albanian Question", which threatens peace in Europe, today.

In 1878, the Congress of Berlin was held, to revise the provisions of the San Stefano treaty. This Congress failed to recognize the national rights of the Albanian people. Its decision to again divide the Illyrian lands gave immediate impetus for the formation of the Albanian National League(ANL) in Prizren. The ANL decided to defend the Albanian territories and establish Albania’s independence. The Albanians fought battles against both Turkish and Slav troops, particularly in Ulcin (present Montenegro), Shtimle and Kacanik (present Kosova). The Turks could crush the League’s forces in 1881. Trials were staged in Scupi, the capital city of the vilayet (province) of Kosova, and in other Albanian provincial capitals-Scodra, Monastir and Iannina. The reprisals against the Albanians created the first division of the Albanian lands. The Congress of Berlin ceded to Serbia ,the regions stretching from Leskovac and Vranie to Nish . Montenegro was given the littoral regions of Tivar and Ulcin, and the mountainous regions of Plava and Gucia.

Large scale uprisings broke out in Kosova and northern Albania in 1904 and 1910. The insurgents took Prishtina and Vucitern. After fierce fighting against a 40 thousand strong Turkish army in Kacanik of Kosova, the insurgents had to retreat. Another uprising broke out in 1911 in northern Albania. This uprising spilt into Kosova, Pollog (Macedonia), and southern Albania. The Turkish Sultan went to Kosova to try to placate the rebels, but without result, as they insisted on full independence. In 1912, the Albanian uprising engulfed all of the Albanian lands. In Kosova alone, there were 70 thousand insurgents, liberating all the towns of the region, including the capital, Scupi. It compelled the Turkish Government to resign. The new Turkish Government sent a delegation to Prishtina to negotiate peace. But it was too late.

In the Autumn of 1912, the Balkan states formed an alliance against Turkey, and the First Balkan War began. Within a month, the armies of Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece penetrated deep into the Albanian territories. Delegations from all over the country met at a National Congress in the town of Vlora (southern Albania) and, on November 28, 1912, proclaimed the independence of Albania. Unfortunately, it could not stop the second division of Albania, taking place less than three decades from the former one. The London Conference of the six European powers was held in 1913. It gave Serbia the whole of Kosova and Macedonia, predominantly populated by the Albanians. Montenegro was again enlarged at the expense of northwestern Albania. Greece was given a considerable portion of southern Albania. More than two thirds of Albania’s territory was detached from its trunk. Kosova (the Illyrian Dardania), the cradle of the Albanization, was still left under foreign yoke. Serbia, at this time, decided to abolish the oldest language of the Balkan region and all of Europe. The Illyrian-Albanian language was prohibited to be used in public, by people who spoke it, tens of centuries before.

In 1919, international plans for a third division of Albania were being discussed at the Versailles Conference. An Albanian delegation was invited and attended. They vigorously opposed the redivision of their country. Fortunately, for the first time, the United States participated in the international decision-making process of the Balkan region. At that time, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, established the principle of self-determination for nations, and he was a strong advocate for this principle, thus backing the Albanian interests. A delegation of American citizens of Albanian heritage traveled to Paris, and attended the Versailles Conference under the leadership of Bishop Fan Noli. A true believer of democracy, Bishop Fan Noli established the paradigm of democracy in Albania, and became the first democratic Prime Minister of Albania, in the year 1924. Within six months, democracy was overthrown by feudals, backed by the Serb army.

In the Albanian territories occupied by Yugoslavia, known as Kosova, the Serbs began a systematic campaign of subjugation and genocide against the Albanians. The atrocities of the Serbs and the desire of the Albanians to unite with the motherland, gave rise to a very strong liberation movement among the Kosovar Albanians. The Kosovars organized armed groups and waged guerrilla warfare. After eight years, the Serbs ruthlessly crushed the unrest. The national, cultural, economic and social rights of the Albanians were totally repressed. No expression of the Albanian national consciousness was allowed. Thousands of Albanian families began to be forcefully removed from Kosova and were deported to Turkey. A thorough program of massive deportations was devised by the chairman of the Serb Academy of Sciences Vaso Cubrilovic in 1938. He would advise the Serb Government that, "at a time when Germany can expel tenths of thousands of Jews, and Russia can shift millions of people from one part of the continent to another, the shifting of a few hundred thousands Albanians will not lead to the outbreak of a world war". The denationalization policy of the Serbs in Kosova, during this period, failed to suppress the Albanian national consciousness.

Contrary to Vaso Cubrilovic beliefs, ethnic cleansing had erupted in other parts of Europe, creating World War II . As Germany overtook Yugoslavia in 1941, the Kosovar people were liberated by the Germans. All Albanian territories of this state, such as Kosova, western Macedonia and border regions under Montenegro, were re-united into Albania proper. Albanian schools, governmental administration, press and radio were re-established. In 1945, the communists of Tito came to power in Yugoslavia. The Albanian public structures, which had been in place in Kosova for four years, were demolished and replaced by communist Yugoslavian ones. These measures of destruction were contrary to the strong nationalistic sentiments among the Kosovar Albanians. Wishing to keep union with their motherland , an armed revolt of Albanians occurred in early 1945. This Kosovar revolt was harshly suppressed, and Kosova was turned into a mere autonomous province of Serbia, within a federal Yugoslavia. Once again, Albanian-populated territories were ceded to Macedonia and Montenegro, both partner republics with Serbia, in the post-World War. The Albanian communists collaborated with Titoite communists during World War II, and agreed with the re-incorporation of Kosova into Yugoslavia.

In 1949, the Titoite communists, reduced further the status of Kosova, from an autonomous province of Serbia, to that of an administrative one. The Albanians were completely stripped of everything relating to their nationality, and were turned into second-class citizens. They were excluded from political and economic life. Only Serbs could be allowed to hold public and governmental positions of the state. Only the Serb language was recognized as the official ‘national language’. The Serbian language was to be used in the formal administration of the state, courts of law, schools, and all public forums. The Albanian language was prohibited.

The minister of security Alexander Rankovic, was given total freedom by communist President Tito, to take liberty of all Albanian people, men, women, and children. His liberties consisted of killing, political imprisonment, internments of whole families, pillaging and raping of the masses. After two decades of these barbarous treatment, President Tito used Rankovic as a scapegoat to try and to appease the unrest of the Albanian people. In 1967, President Tito urged some improvements be made. Kosova became a socialist autonomous province under Serbia. The Albanians demanded Kosova become a republic of the Yugoslav federation. This demand was forcibly denied. On the eve of the Albanian National Independence Day, November 28, 1968, massive demonstrations of Albanians took place in several towns of Kosova and western Macedonia. They peacefully demonstrated for a free republic of Kosova, incorporating all Albanian populated territories in Yugoslavia. The organizers of these demonstrations were tried and imprisoned.

President Tito implemented constitutional changes in 1974, giving Kosova special status as an autonomous province within Serbia. With its own constitution, and the ability to bypass the Serbian government in many political matters, Kosova became a federal constituency, the same as the other Yugoslav republics. It had its own parliament, government, judiciary system and police. Kosova had a representative and a one voice vote in a rotating eight-member Yugoslav Presidency. Soon after Tito’s death, the Serbs were hard at work trying to re-take Kosova, and return it to its former status, a mere province of Serbia.

Beginning in the summer of 1981, the students at the University of Prishtina began rioting in defense of all Albanian national rights. The status of Kosova to be equal with the other Yugoslav republics, was in question. This situation left over 300 Kosovar Albanians being killed. Thousands of children were being poisoned by the food given to them at their schools. Pregnant women, of both Moslem and Christian beliefs, were receiving injections of drugs, which created human deformity in newborns. Mysteriously, hundreds of Kosovar Albanians rank-and-file of the Yugoslav military began to commit suicide, and were sent to their families in coffins for burial. More than 600 thousand Kosovar Albanians, nearly one-third of the Albanian population, went through police hands at this time. Kosovar Albanians, numbering more than 7,000, received jail sentences for up to 20 years for their participation in protests and demonstrations. In 1988, 89 and 90, waves of massive demonstrations by dissatisfied Albanians were mercilessly crushed by Serb police using military tanks.

The Serb communist leader Slobodan Milosevic began calling nationalistic rallies of thousands of Serbs. He began to lay blame for the Serbs economic troubles on the Albanians and their constitutional status. On March 1989, the Serbs using a police force and military tanks, surrounded the building of the Kosova Parliament, and did not allow 115 Kosovar Albanian voting candidates to vote on constitutional changes Milosevic wanted. This vote abolished the Constutution of Kosova. In a speech before a Serb crowd in Kosova, Milosevic incited them by saying: "This is your country...Yugoslavia does not exist without Kosova...Yugoslavia and Serbia are not going to give up Kosova". With forced constitutional changes and the subsequent dismantling of the Kosova administration and economy, these 115 delegates of the Assembly of Kosova proclaimed, in 1990, the independence of Kosova within the Yugoslav federation, and a government to be led by Dr. Ibrahim Rugova.

Serbia’s response was quick. Milosevic, by order, abolished the Assembly of Kosova and dissolved its government. Consequently, the courts were abolished and the economy was destroyed. All schools in the Albanian language were closed down. The entire Albanian-speaking media (radio , television and press) were silenced. Health services, cultural institutions and all state funds destined for Kosova were usurped. Forms of repression and genocide became multi-dimensional. The Serbs began using media terror, a campaign through radio and press, to repress the Albanian race and Albanization. Ideological differentiation became prevalent when any person voicing a different political view other than the Milosevic communist ideology would lose their job, their pension, health services, and would be denied access to all state run financial lending institutions. The science of Albanologhy and its relevant Institution in Prishtina was closed, and its building was given to Serbs for only Serb use. The Albanian University in Prishtina , the only institute of higher education in Kosova, was closed. All the University buildings and state financial support were given to Serbs for only Serb use.

 

Political trials, ethnic discrimination, punitive expeditions, demonstrators being killed, mysterious deaths of army conscripts from Kosovar Albanian background, deformed newborns, and the poisoning of the children were all part of Milosevic reign of terror. Punitive expedition should not be forgotten, for these were large armed police gangs sent to burn homes, torture whole families, and seek out those Albanians in question, only to kill them. Albanians were fired from every state job, creating a region with an unemployment rate exceeding 70 per cent of the Albanian working force. Every peaceful religious, political, social, and youth gathering by the Albanians was broken up by Serb police and army. Many Albanians were arrested and accused of counter-revolutionary activities. Kosova continued to exist as a state governed only by martial law. Riot police moved against the crowds with unjustified violence, opening fire indiscriminately on the Kosovar Albanian people. This situation has continued unabated, despite the peaceful attitude of the Albanian government of Rugova.

The coexistence of two completely separate and unequal political systems in Kosova, the official Serb state and the Kosovar Albanian government with limited ability to govern, can hardly persist. This government does not have police, army and a judicial system, therefore, it is not a government in the true sense of the word. Relations between Albanians and Serbs are based on a system of apartheid grounded in ethnic hatred and growing fear. A total lack of communication between the two communities and their leaders has produced a political, economic and social stagnation for nearly a decade.

Both the Albanians and the Serbs claim sovereignty over Kosova’s territory. The Serbs consider Kosova to be the ‘cradle’ of their nation and the birthplace of the Serb Orthodox Church. They remember the Field of Kosova, just outside Prishtina, as the site of the Battle of Kosova in 1389, which brought Serbia under foreign occupation. Conversely, the Albanians claim Kosova to be the cradle of Albanization. They are the native and original people of this area, as they are descendants from the Dardanian tribes of the Illyrians. They say the Serb nation was not born in Kosova, but in Rashka, further north in present Serbia. With 90 per cent of the inhabitants of Kosova being ethnic Albanians, living in this region since antiquity, the principle of self-determination, established by President Wilson in 1919, seems needed in this situation for Kosovar Albanians. The Albanians of Kosova assert that Kosova should have its independence since the disintegration of Yugoslavia began in 1991. All constituent people of former Yugoslavia have their own independence and freedom, except Kosovar Albanians.

Albanians in Kosova are Muslim and Catholic. Practicing Orthodox Serbs comprise only 8 per cent of the Kosova population. The Serb occupiers, since 1389 have transformed Catholic churches into Serb Orthodox churches. They have tried to change religion in a country with roots that go back to Homer. Kosovar Albanians are honored that five emperors, ( one of which introduced Christianity to the world), two popes, numerous cardinals and bishops, and soon to become a saint, Mother Teresa, came from their motherland. Mother Teresa, because of religious persecution, was not allowed to enter or communicate to communist Albania and did not attend her mother, brother and sister’s funeral, or even know of their deaths. Cardinal Michel Koliqi of Scodra was persecuted for his religious beliefs and served twenty eight years in prison before before being released. Cardinal Michel Koliqi died January 28, 1997.

The Serbs have a fable that begins in 1689, with a patriarch greeting the Austrian army, who was in pursuit of Turks in Kosova. When the Austrians were forced to retreat, it is said this patriarch led columns of Christian Orthodox Serbs, numbering in the thousands, out of Kosova. The fallacy with this fable is proven in documentation by then Austrian Commanding General Piccolomini. In fact, Austrian troops were greeted by a patriarch. This patriarch was the Albanian Catholic Archbishop Pieter Bogdani of Scupi. He and the Austrian General agreed to join forces against the Turks. This Albanian Archbishop is responsible for the translation of the voluminous "The Christian Doctrine" and many other religious books from Latin into Albanian. There is no historical evidence about any Serb patriarch leading columns of Christian Orthodox Serbs away from Kosova.

It has been proven, the history of the Albanian people has not been historically told. Fables do not make history. In the saga of the Albanian people, the world has learned of the apartheid of a people in their own motherland. Kosovar Albanian Christians and Kosovar Albanian Moslems stand united for their belief of a truly democratic and peaceful land. Their shadow government, that is comprised of multi-religious people, work together to maintain a political, religious and social order, that brings peace for all in Kosova. The absurdity of treating the masses as a minority is hypocrisy in its truest form. How can democracy exist when Serbs regard Albanians as "a minority" when they are the masses? The European community talks of autonomy for Kosova under Serb rule. The United States Government believes that a more balanced democracy should exist for the people of Kosova, by giving them an enhanced autonomy. Now the question arises: How far does this kind of autonomy go to lead to the liberation of the Kosovar Albanian people and create a true democracy in this region? President Wilson envisioned in 1919 the principle of self-determination of nations and was a staunch advocate for this principle. Will this Wilsonian principle be applied to the liberation of the Kosovar Albanian people?

Albanians will not live under Serb rule any more. They refuse to participate in the political systems of Serbia. They will achieve full independence and international recognition for their Republic in Kosova. The policy of a passive resistance against the Serb administration has failed and no longer will be considered. Kosova Albanians have demanded international involvement in the process of finding a solution to this crisis. In view of the rigid position of the Serb authorities and the lack of will by the international community to solve this crisis, the patience of the Albanians have been exhausted. The present political impasse is escalating into a deeper and more passionate national issue. Neglecting a resolution for the Kosova crisis dangerously risks a wildfire that will spread beyond Kosova’s borders. Both the Albanians in Albania proper and the Albanians in Macedonia will not stand for blood being shed from their fellow Kosovar Albanians. Macedonia will be destabilized. Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria will be involved, because of their ethnic backgrounds and territorial ambitions. Turkey, a NATO member, will attack Greece, a NATO member. This will mean a new Balkan War. This will have severe consequences for all of Europe’s security and stability!

There has been a successive reign of terror in all of the former Yugoslav republics, since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Beginning in 1992, Slovenia was the first republic to experience atrocities, by Milosevic of Serbia. Croatia was the second republic to experience Milosevic’s progressive aggression. Milosevic the Serb totally annihilated the town of Vukovar in the summer of 1993. Next in the chain of Milosevic’s terror was Bosnia. All of Europe witnessed mass graves, pillaging, raping of women, complete destruction of towns, and the establishment of concentration camps, while all of Europe has remained passive to this monster. With nothing of value remaining in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, Milosevic the Serb unleashed his police and military aggression on Kosova. Milosevic is the first state leader, since post World War II, to implement a policy of scorched earth. This policy is creating a twenty kilometer wide zone of destruction along the entire border of Albania. This destruction is causing refugee camps to be built in Albania for a constantly growing number of Kosovar Albanians. Milosevic the Serb is implementing a scorched earth policy and the policy of genocide in Kosova, today. Milosevic the Serb is a wanted war criminal, yet western leaders bow to Milosevic as if he was not a war criminal

The United States has made promises to protect Kosova. In 1992, President George Bush let Milosevic know the United States was prepared to use force if Serbian violence spilled into Kosova. President Bill Clinton reiterated this Bush warning. The peaceful resistance of Albanians has been based on these promises. Currently, U.S. policy on Kosova is focused on an internationally mediated and unconditional settlement, between Yugoslav President Milosevic and Kosovar Albanian leader Rugova. Slobodan Milosevic is constantly defying American policy on Kosova, because there is no uniformity in decisions. Milosevic has refused international mediation, and has escalated military and police violence, while implementing ethnic cleansing.

The United Nations Contact Group is divided over the slightest economic sanctions. The Contact Group, a seven-member voting board is not an objective opinion of world affairs. One member, Russia, is closed minded to any issue regarding Russian-backed terrorists, Serbs. How can America financially support an evil government, which gives modern tanks, planes and helicopters to Serbs to shed blood in Kosova? The Kosovars situation seems only to be a true abyss.

What Albanians are looking for today, is nothing more than God has promised to all human beings, Freedom and Liberty. The Illyrian-Albanians are hopeful for these universal rights that are innate in every living creature. The Albanian-inhabited territories are presently divided into six states: Albania proper, Kosova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, and Greece. The Albanians are a homogenous people separated with lines drawn by the international community of mortal men. These lines have divided Albanian regions, Albanian villages, Albanian tribes, and Albanian families. The Albanians are caught in a web of borders among them. The Albanians must apply for foreign visas to visit their relatives just a few hundreds yards away.

Albanians believe in the promise of God. Presently, Albanians are in the same situation as the ancient Israelites. During the Israelites march in search of the Promised Land, they found themselves in the Sinai desert with Egyptians at their back, trying to massacre them, while standing with their feet on the shores of the Red Sea. As God parted the Red Sea, the Israelites were fearful of the walls of water, and they had to make a choice: to be drowned or to be massacred. Replacing their fear with their faith in God, they were neither massacred nor drowned. God let them pass safely through the waterway, so they could reach their Promised Land. God gave them Freedom and Liberty, and sent their enemies to the bottom of the sea. Today, Albanians must choose either to be massacred, or have freedom like their Eagle. Albanians pray God will deliver His Promise.

Kosovar Albanians are hopeful the United States, as a country, which trusts in God,will keep their promise to bring Freedom and Liberty to them. Liberty was given to over seventeen thousand Kosovar Albanians in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. These Albanians, fleeing Serb repression, found themselves scattered hopelessly along the banks of the Rio Grande River, bordering Mexico and the United States. They had a choice to either be drowned or remain hopelessly wandering across the deserts of Mexico. They were neither massacred nor wandered aimlessly. President Reagan, having a deep passion for freedom, liberty, and democracy, spoke to border officials and the Albanians were allowed to pass through the Rio Grande to find freedom and liberty in a democratic land. These Albanians that were given new life, believe President Reagan was moved by FRYMA HYJNORE (THE DIVINE BREATH). This President, not only believed a government is evil that suppresses people, but believed Freedom and Liberty are the Promise of God.

All Albanians are honored that a saintly Kosovar, Mother Teresa, spoke her religious beliefs of God to three consecutive American presidents, spanning two decades. Mother Teresa, an Albanian from Kosova, accepted an invitation from President Reagan to be his guest at the White House. So moved by her presence, President Reagan kissed Mother Teresa on the forehead and called her "angel of the poor". President Bush received Mother Teresa and was inspired by her divine spirit. She had addressed him on the eve of war "I beg you with my whole heart to work for…God’s Peace". Once again, an American president was answering the issues of God’s Promise, Freedom and Liberty. President Clinton invited Mother Teresa to a Presidential Prayer Breakfast, where she spoke about the freedom and liberty of life.

 

In history, scholars have discovered many hidden paradoxes. During World War II, the Jewish people suffered the shameful holocaust of Hitler. They were hunted, tortured, killed, and exterminated by the millions in all countries of the European continent, except Albania. Not one Jewish man, woman or child, living in the Albanian motherland, Kosova and Albania proper, lost a life. They found warm and secure shelter with Albanian families, who promised to hide and protect them from the Nazi Germans, whatever the consequences. The Kosovar Albanian Minister of the Interior, during the German occupation, promised Besa to all Albanians who hid Jewish people. Besa is a pledge of an Albanian to keep a promise at the cost of his life or the life of his entire family.

It is paradoxical that Albanian families in Kosova today, are being hunted, tortured, killed, and exterminated. If Jews found safety in Albania, who is going to give safety to Albanians being massacred by the Serbs? Albanian families all over the world are asking the U.S. Government and international community to stop the holocaust in the Albanian motherland. The world has taken action against Adolf Hitler and Saddam Husein for atrocities, that made them war criminals. How is Slobodan Milosevic different? When will the United States Government and the international community take action to stop the Serb genocide against this three millennia race of Kosovar Albanians? The only answer must be aggressive action against Milosevic the Serb.

Discussion failed to bring peace in World War I and World War II. Force was the last answer to bring peace during both world wars.With escalating violence, bloodshed and ethnic cleansing, Kosovar Albanians are looking for new ways and means to survive. A guerrilla group called the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) has emerged. The recent cycle of violence unleashed by Serbs has been met with counterattacks from the KLA. The KLA is committed to liberate Kosova and to bring their motherland to freedom.

Kosovar Albanians are trying today to do for their motherland, what freedom fighter and Founding Father George Washington, and his fellow countrymen, did for America two centuries ago. Kosovar Albanians are seeking Freedom and Liberty , the same as the American people did two centuries ago. The Kosovar Albanians are fighting to gain freedom from an occupying army, the same as Nathaniel Green and the American Minutemen did. There is one exception, the American Minutemen used armament their adversaries used. The Kosovar Albanians are trying to gain their freedom peacefully, while children demonstrate with wooden sticks against Serb tanks and war planes. Can Freedom and Liberty be won with wooden sticks? Albanians have given Besa for their motherland. The Kosovar Albanians need weapons to bring them Freedom and Liberty. For Freedom and Liberty to ring in Kosova, the U.S. Government must answer "The Albanian Question".

 

Men, women, and children in a democratic republic discuss their differences,
issues are resolved, hope is instilled in the masses, and life lives.

 

Men, women, and children in an oppressed republic are silenced for their
differences, issues are not resolved, despair is instilled in the masses and life dies.

 

DISCUSS PEACE NOW!

 

THIS IS A CALL FOR PEACE

 

PEACE MUST RING NOW!

 

F R E E D O M

L I B E R T Y

 

Home"The Albanian Question"