Context of ‚March 15, 1981: Albanians Accused of Burning Pec Patriarchate‘
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Yugoslavia is the first country to recognize the Albanian Democratic Government. Albania sends envoys to Yugoslavias embassies in 16 countries. By May 1946, Albania will begin conducting its foreign relations with other countries through Yugoslavia, with the reported approval of the USSRs Josef Stalin. [Kola, 2003, pp. 71, 76-77]
Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle
Overnight, the Pec Patriarchates guest house and monks dormitories are heavily damaged by a fire, which also destroys many furnishings and books. However, Albanians say the newer and less valuable Sisters at Pec convent is the only building lost, not the Patriarchate building. The Patriarchate has been the historical center of the Serbian Orthodox Church since the Church became independent from the Eastern Orthodox Church after 1346. No arrests are made and many Serbs are angry, hearing from the media that the historical Patriarchate building is what burned. Judge Hoti, an ethnic Albanian, will find that an accidental electrical problem sparked the fire. The damage is not major, but the federal Yugoslav government subsequently spends a lot on rebuilding, and many Serbs will attend the reconsecration in 1982. [Vickers, 1998, pp. 9-10, 197-198]
Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle
The official US policy at this time is that the US in working to keep Yugoslavia together. But in an interview with a Croatian newspaper, US ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman says, We are aiming for a dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states peacefully [Danas, 1/21/1992]
Entity Tags: Warren Zimmerman
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline
The Struggle for Kosovar Albanian Self-Determination
This is the home page for the The Struggle for Kosovar Albanian Self-Determination investigative project, one of several grassroots investigations being hosted on the History Commons website. The data published as part of this investigation has been collected, organized, and published by members of the public who are registered users of this website.
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Deputy Secretary of State Designate Lawrence Eagleburger is called to testify in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Yugoslav situation. He tells the senators that Serbian communist leader Slobodan Milosevics actions are very harmful, creating the worst [conditions] with regard to the national question since the end of the war, and says that ethnic Albanians are the victims and the US should speak out. He also says Yugoslavia is used to reacting adversely to any outside intereference. [Kola, 2003, pp. 184]
Kosovos Assembly, in a highly irregular vote on March 23, approves the new Serbian constitution, already approved by the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on February 3. The Kosovo vote does not meet the three-fourths majority necessary for amendments and is not held with a quorum, people from Belgrade and security personnel vote, and the votes are not actually counted. Assembly members are threatened if they vote no. The vote occurs under a state of exception, with disorder in the province and mobilization of the military.
Kosovo’s Position under the New Serbian Constitution – Under the new Serbian constitution, the province is again called Kosovo and Metohija, and the autonomous provinces are defined as a form of territorial autonomy, regulated by the Serbian constitution. The 1968, 1971, and 1974 constitutional changes opposed by Serbs are nullified and Kosovo is in about the same position as it was under the 1945 and 1963 Yugoslav constitutions. The province loses its Executive Council and Assembly, and autonomy in police, courts, finance, and planning. Kosovo can pass statutes with the approval of Serbias Assembly.
Kosovar Demonstrations – Following the vote, hundreds of thousands protest, saying, Long live the 1974 Constitution! and Tito-Party! resulting in the declaration of martial law. Twenty-four civilians and two police are killed, but Paulin Kola will later put the number at over 100 killed and hundreds injured, while Miranda Vickers will say 28 are killed. Kola will refer to The Timess March 31 issue, saying 12 police are critically injured and 112 less seriously injured on March 23; Radio Ljubljana says 140 Albanians are killed and 370 wounded through April; Albanian academic Rexhep Qosja will say in 1995 that 37 are killed, hundreds injured, and 245 intellectuals and 13 leaders arrested; The Times of June 2 says 900 are arrested, and on April 22 the Union of Kossovars writes to UN Secretary General Javier Peres de Cuellar, saying over 1,000 were killed and thousands hurt. More than 1,000 are tried in Ferizaj, according to a 1998 book by Noel Malcolm. Kosovo is again placed under a state of emergency. Workers who do not work are fired or arrested.
Slovenian Reaction – About 450,000 Slovenians sign a petition supporting their governments views and opposing the crackdown in Kosovo.
Serbian Reaction – Hearing of the Slovenian petition, over 100,000 demonstrate the following day around Serbia, Vojvodina, Skopje, and Titograd.
Albania’s Reaction – Albanias relations with Yugoslavia had been deepening in the late 1980s, but Albania reacts more strongly to the March events. Foto Cami condemns Yugoslavias erroneous policies on the ethnic Albanians and says it will damage regional cooperation. Protests follow throughout Albania. Yugoslavia blames Albania for the violence in Kosovo. Ramiz Alia, now general secretary of the PLA, will say at a Political Bureau session in August 1990 that Western governments told Kosovar Albanians that to solve the problems in Kosovo, Albania had to change its government.
Soviet Reaction – Soviet media support the Serbs and refer to violence by Albanian nationalists, while saying that the majority in Kosovo and Vojvodina support the new Serbian constitution.
Western European Reactions – The UK says nothing. Although Yugoslavias Foreign Minister, Budimir Loncar, meets with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in April, the contents of their talks are unknown to the public. Three years in the future a high-ranking official in Germany will regret this inaction.
American Reaction to the Turmoil in Kosovo – On March 9, three US senators proposed Senate Concurrent Resolution 20Relating to the Conditions of Ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia, which was passed prior to March 23. US policy supports Kosovas position under the 1974 Constitution and the resolution asked President George H. W. Bush to reiterate this to the Yugoslav leadership. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee conducted a hearing on March 15. [Vickers, 1998, pp. 234-238; Kola, 2003, pp. 180-184, 190]
Entity Tags: United Kingdom, Josip Broz Tito, Margaret Thatcher, Miranda Vickers, Noel Malcolm, Party of Labor of Albania, Javier Peres de Cuellar, Germany, Foto Cami, Budimir Loncar, 1945 Yugoslav Constitution, 1963 Yugoslav Constitution, Paulin Kola, 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, Assembly of the Province of Kosovo, Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Albania, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Radio Ljubljana, Rexhep Qosja, Union of Kossovars, Ramiz Alia, United States of America, Yugoslavia, The Times, US Senate, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
The June 9, 1999 Military Technical Agreement between the International Security Force (KFOR), Yugoslavia, and Serbia, ending NATOs bombing campaign, creates a ground safety zone (GSZ), which is closed to the Yugoslav army and heavy weapons, and is five kilometers wide along the Serbia-Kosova border. The majorities in the nearby Serbian counties of Presheva, Bujanovic, and Medvegja are Albanian historically, though Albanians will not be the majority in Medvegja a few years later. The Liberation Army of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovic, known by its Albanian acronym, the UCPMB (Ushtria Clirimtare e Presheves, Medvegjes dhe Bujanovcit), organizes to join the region with Kosova and uses the GSZ as a refuge. British journalist John Phillips will later suggest that the UCPMB was a provocation to help Slobodan Milosevic regain power or provoke a coup by the Yugoslav military. Others say that the UCPMB was created by the CIA or US State Department to destabilize Yugoslavia prior to the overthrow of Milosevic on October 6, 1999, but it is now out of control. According to a paper presented to the Conflict Studies Research Center at Sandhurst, England, the guerrillas show signs of American training: their method of marching, what they sing on the march, and their tacticstactics that did not develop over the three years fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Albanian scholar Paulin Kola will later quote an unnamed UCPMB officer who says, If [the US military] ask us to fire three rounds tomorrow, thats what we do. The UCPMB also says it can get in touch with NATO. The guerillas are strong and publish their newspaper in US-occupied Gjilan, Kosova. At one point US forces will lose track of an alleged Albanian CIA operative originally arrested by the British and charged with bombing a bus. Nonetheless, Kola will say the UCPMB acts out of local Albanians historical desire to be included in Kosova and fear of Yugoslav vengeance. The UCPMB will emerge officially in January 2000. [Kola, 2003, pp. 372-375; Phillips, 2004, pp. 1-3, 10]
Entity Tags: Yugoslavia, John Phillips, Conflict Studies Research Centre, Central Intelligence Agency, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Paulin Kola, Republic of Kosova, Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslav Army, United Kingdom, United States of America, UCPMB, US State Department DUPLICATE