interview by Branislav RADIVOJSA
Djilas believes that instead the Serb side should propose new borders between Serbs and Albanians and a way to divide Kosmet. If such a proposal was made twenty years ago, Serb position would have been much better, but if it is delayed for another ten years, it will be too late, because the province is sliding towards full and formal independence.
But, what about Western promises that Kosovo will become multiethnic? Our collocutor says that that is a pipe dream, and mentions the most recent wave of ethnic cleansing of Serbs.
"Some say that that was a well organized, in advance prepared action. I do not question that. But if we excessively emphasize ‘good organization', we ignore the root cause of mass participation in the terror, very strong hatred of Serbs among Albanians. Therefore, ethnic cleansing will not be stopped if the organizers of the action are caught. We cannot change reality, the deeply rooted hatred of the Serb minority.
"That hatred hasn't diminished even after five years of international presence in the province. If someone wanted to order coffee in Serbian in Pristina, all of know what would happen," Djilas says.
Why is KFOR not prepared to protect Serbs? Because, in that case it would become a target of Albanian attacks. There would be victims among Western soldiers, and the public in the West would have a hard time accepting that. The West has spent too much money on its interventions in Kosovo and in connection with Kosovo to protect Albanians who are now attacking and killing their protectors. That is why KFOR soldiers are not prepared to confront the attackers on Serbs. And that is why their bases in the province are like islands protected by huge walls. They have tanks and all sorts of modern weaponry, and are surrounded by protective walls, while Serbs are unarmed and have no protection at all.
What about calls for multiethnicity in Kosmet?
In the former Yugoslavia, neither Knin [former Serb majority town Croatia] nor Sarajevo are today multiethnic. Given that, why would something similar be achievable in Kosmet? In the former Yugoslavia, over the last fifteen years, ethnic cleansers have had a lot of success. International forums expressed their dissatisfaction, issued proclamations, but did not do anything significant to stop the process. They are not doing anything to stop or reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and Metohija, which consequently can only mean that "cleansing" will continue.
Aleksa Djilas does not believe that the international forums will accept the proposal for cantonization of Kosovo. The cantonization implies setting up of Serb armed formations that would protect the population. Consequently, the West is again talking about multiethnicity and expecting that the recent events will soon be forgotten. On the other hand, that works for Albanians, as time is on their side. They are exploiting western indifference and slowly inching towards their goal.
"We cannot avoid the question whether the recent events were a defeat for Albanians? Short term yes, is was a defeat because some of Western sympathy has been lost. However, long term, this was a victory for Albanians. The destroyed churches cannot be brought back to their pre-destruction condition, and expelled Serbs will prefer to settle elsewhere, rather than return to their homes. As far as the world is concerned, these events will be forgotten in no time, because great powers tend not to dwell on events that portray them in bad light.
"By force or by bribe, one way or another, Kosmet is becoming ethnically clean and going towards independence," Aleksa Djilas emphasizes. Consequently, he believes that our politicians, instead of competing who is a bigger patriot and hero ("patriot at somebody else's expense"), must be rational, "as it is better to save little, than to lose everything".
We say to this sociologist that it is unrealistic to expect that Serb politicians will advocate separation of a part of the territory that is defined both by the constitution and UN Resolution 1244 as a part of Serbia. He responds that politicians should above all be concerned with the interests of their voters.
"I think that Serb intellectuals should not participate in romanticized homogenizations, or incitement of strong emotions, like our politicians. Instead, they should try to see things as they really are. Romanticized homogenization in the late eighties and during the nineties was paid very dearly, with loss of much territory and exodus of population. Now it's time to make sure we learnt something from those bad experiences. There is a Chinese proverb, which says ‘experience is a good school, but tuition is very expensive'! Unlike politicians, intellectuals have a possibility to express unpopular views, which may irritate people, but forces them to be more realistic. Intellectuals should not court the public opinion by saying, while monasteries are on fire, that we shall ‘return to Kosovo' and that ‘Kosovo will again be ours'. However, some of them are doing just that".
In his opinion, it is not surprising.
If France, because of the conflict in Algiers, reached a brink of civil war, strong reactions in Serbia to the events in Kosovo are definitely not surprising. Also, keep in mind that France did not have its most important cultural and religious heritage in Algiers, while Serbia does have it in Kosovo.