Serbia's colony demands independence

Submitted by martin on 9 February, 2008 - 7:54 Author: Colin Foster

The narrow victory of Boris Tadic in Serbia’s presidential election on 3 February slightly lessens the tensions over the independence of Kosova. But only slightly.

Kosova’s elected government, currently operating under UN control, was likely to declare independence immediately if Tadic’s rival Tomislav Nikolic had won the presidency. Now it will delay a few weeks.

Kosova, 90% Albanian in population, was conquered by Serbia in 1912, and again after World War Two. It was a “colony” of Serbia for most of the 20th century. Its people have a right to self-determination.

From about 1974 to 1988 Kosova enjoyed fairly liberal autonomy. Then Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic launched a crackdown, culminating in an attempt in 1999 to massacre or drive out the Albanian population.

In face of NATO bombing, Milosevic eventually withdrew from Kosova, and the following year his rule in Serbia was topped by popular revolt.

Since 1999 Kosova has been under UN control. Chauvinism still runs warm in Serbia. Tadic does not dare recognise Kosovar independence, but - unlike Nikolic - he is determined to get Serbia into the EU, and knows that most EU states will recognise Kosovar independence.

Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica refused to back Tadic for president - although Tadic’s party is part of his government - because he considered Tadic too “soft” on Kosova. Kostunica is more “eurosceptic” than Tadic.

Relations are further envenomed by the persecution by Kosova’s Albanian majority of its Serbian minority.

Because most of the big powers (except Russia) are willing to accept Kosova’s independence, and Serbian imperialism is relatively small-scale and regional, some on the left are inclined to deny Kosova’s rights. But the rights of oppressed nations are not conditional on the power oppressing them being the USA, or a US ally.


Submitted by martin on Sun, 10/02/2008 - 10:43

This is how Leon Trotsky, who was a war correspondent in the area at the time, described the Serbian conquest of Kosova.

"They had fought the Turks in order to 'liberate' the Christians, they had massacred peaceful Turks and Albanians in order to correct the ethnographical statistics of population...

"All through those places a terrible tornado has raged, which has torn up, broken, mangled, reduced to ashes everything that man's labour has created, has maimed and crushed man himself, and mortally laid low the young generation... The Turks burned and massacred as they fled. The local Christians, where they had the advantage, burned and slaughtered as the allied armies drew near. The soldiers finished off the wounded, and ate up or carried off everything they could lay hands on. The partisans, following at their heels, plundered, violated, burned..."

To be sure, Kosova was mainly Serbian in 1389... But the posthumous rights of the Serbs of 1389 do not override the rights of the living Kosovar Albanians of 1912 or 2008.

I have no political sympathy for Kosova's government, and I denounce the mistreatment of the Serbian minority in Kosova. But the Kosovars have the right to self-determination.

Because they are Muslim, they will automatically be loyal to NATO? Muslims all just naturally love the USA and NATO? Not likely.

Submitted by martin on Thu, 28/02/2008 - 16:57

Several further (lengthy) comments, mostly by Arthur Bough, can be found here.

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