by Milan MILOSEVIC
The Serb entity would be under the protection of the Yugoslav Army and Police while the Albanian would be highly autonomous and be protected by international forces.
"Finally, both Serbs and Albanians must realize that avoidance of compromise only extends the war in which both sides will most definitely be losers," Covic said in the round table discussion about Kosovo at the international conference "Security in Southeastern Europe in the Early 21st Century".
Serbs in Kosovo had mixed reactions to the proposal, while the Albanians responded with threats, claiming that Covic's proposal aims to divide the province.
While allowing for the possibility that two entities may be formed in Kosovo, president of the Yugoslav Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Momcilo Trajkovic warned that strategy about that must first be adopted at the state level, that those whose fate is at stake should be consulted, and that Covic's proposal is "a dangerous solo improvisation".
Former KLA political representative Adem Demaci assessed that Kosovo Albanians should "draw a lesson" from that proposal. "If the international community is having second thoughts or changes its mind regarding the fundamental principle that Kosovo Albanians should decide their fate on their own, that will be an introduction into a new bloody war in which the international community will be a participant, and that would be a crime for both Albanians and Serbs," he said.
Alush Gashi, secretary of the Democratic League of Kosovo, stated that Covic's proposal "has only one goal - to destabilize the situation in the already unstable region". One of the leaders of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo Jonuz Sallihaj, stated that Covic and both Serbs in Kosovo and those who live far away from it should understand "the new reality in Kosovo".
Ethnic Occupation: However, Covic's proposal is based on the analysis of "the new reality". After consultations with the state leadership, Serbs announced that there can be no discussion of their participation in Heakerrup's elections on November 17 unless the issue of their basic security is resolved. Zoran Lutovac from the Institute of Social Sciences, who participated in the discussions regarding Kosovo as an expert, says that Covic is basing his proposal on the analysis of the urban planning expert Branislav Krstic. Krstic does not advocate a division of Kosovo, as some claim, but seeks a balanced solution for a multiethnic community, a foundation for normal life and more efficient protection mechanisms for minorities at the time when everything, following the logic of fait accompli, is being directed towards the de facto establishment of ethnically cleansed Kosovo.
Branislav Krstic's book "Kosovo Facing Judgment of History" asserts that we are witnessing the final phase of the Albanian ethnic occupation of Kosovo, under protection of the U.N. (ethnic transformation of settlements and disappearance of Serb settlements, ethnic takeover of the towns and cities, ethnic cleansing of whole regions and changing of ethnic ownership structure in the province). Before the process went more slowly and gradually, over three decades, while the last phase took only one month. The number of Serb settlements, stable before the war, has been significantly reduced (in 1961 there were 247 Serb settlements, in 1981 232, while in 1999 there were only 188; in 1961 there were 644 purely Albanian settlements, and in 1999 there were as many as 1123). There are no more Croat settlements in Kosovo. The minority population is running away from the ethnically mixed settlements. It is shocking that the number of ethnically pure Albanian settlement has increased in two decades (1961-1981) by 250, and in only two months in 1999 by a much larger number. Out of 11 cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants, not a single one was ethnically pure, while all of them are now purely Albanian, except for Kosovska Mitrovica, Gnjilane and Prizren, there some Turks remain. Albanians now control all the municipalities, apart from the three insignificant ones. The majority Serb population has survived only in the north, and partly in the central and eastern Kosovo, Krstic concludes.
"The use of native language, the elementary right that must not be denied any ethnic community, especially not in public communication, is endangered in Kosovo. If KFOR had to issue instructions against public use of any Slavic language, it is obvious that there is no distinction between the public use of a Slavic language and the yellow armband in Nazi Germany," writes Krstic emphasizing that the "Slav language" that was in use at all times in the past [under Ottomans for example], has been suppressed under the U.N. protectorate.
Otherwise, Krstic, with a series of figures, tables, drawings and maps, presents Kosovo as a multicultural and multiethnic territory important equally to Serbs and Montenegrins and Albanians. Those dry facts are a clear criticism of the concept "blut and boden" [flash and soil], effects of the policies of the previous regime [in Serbia], a futile war - as well as a consequence of the policies of the international community in Kosovo.
Ethnicity and Heritage: Branislav Krstic in 1994 published the book "Kosovo Between Historic and Ethnic Claims" in which, as the title indicates, he investigates possibilities of finding compromise that would satisfy historical (Serb and Montenegrin) claims and ethnic (Albanian) claims. He seeks a solution somewhere between the following postulates: "Ethnic rights cannot be achieved by occupying historically Serb territories" and "the territory of a state cannot be larger than the land that can be occupied by its people". He advocates adoption of clear criteria. Serbs cannot consider for their ethnic territories those regions where ethnic Albanians were 90 percent of population in 1921. Similarly, Albanians cannot claim the whole Kosovo.
Krstic at one point worked for the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and points out the significance of Serb, Albanian, prehistoric, Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, common cultural heritage in Kosovo, its links with the historical rights as the key criteria that cannot be ignored in the analysis of the problems related to Kosovo and Metohija. He concludes that the Serb historical heritage and territories covered by Albanian cultural heritage do not overlap. He recalls the Convention About the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage from 1971 and European Convention About Architectural Heritage from 1985 and the right and obligation of a state to protect its heritage.
Versions From 1992: In 1992 Krstic proposed that in Kosovo, in the part of the province that cannot be controlled by Serbia, ethnic Albanian territory with special status ("Peace protection territory", based on the well-known Vance-Owen plan [for Bosnia]) be formed, and that Serb and Montenegrin historical regions be integrated in their mother country. In December 1992 he presented this proposal to the then federal Prime Minister Milan Panic (whose adviser warned about possible negative reactions of the Serbian government), and then presented two versions of the proposal to the president of FR Yugoslavia at the time, Dobrica Cosic, who, with remark that in both versions too many ethnic Albanians would remain in Serbia, arranged for a meeting with the Chiefs of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, General Zivota Panic, and another three generals. The idea was forgotten after Cosic was dismissed soon afterwards.
In June 1993 Krstic again presented the project at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Thought and noted that Z.Pesic, S.Stojanovic, V.Kostunica and N.Popov showed most understanding for the project.
Krstic's proposal, at that point as a finished first book was delivered on August 19, 1994, to the then president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, but there was no response to either the book or a letter that he received separately.
Krstic again presented results of his research to the Serb Academy of Sciences in front of the Committee for Research of Kosovo and Metohija in 1996, and in 1997 he talked to Patriarch Pavle, who called on six public personalities to state their opinions. In the general apprehensive atmosphere, based on experiences from Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia, the author redirected the emphasis of his work towards the fight for rights, instead of fight for territory, which leads to war and loss of territory.
Besides, the idea about a division of Kosovo appeared on several occasions in the politics of Serbia. In his book "Last Days Of The Former Yugoslavia", Bora Jovic wrote that on September 11, 1990 Dobrica Cosic presented to him his ideas about "redrawing borders towards Croats and Albanians" ("it makes sense to redraw the border so that we keep coal and some of our sacred sites, Gracanica, Gazimestan"). In 1996 the president of the Serb Academy of Sciences and Arts Aleksandar Despic asserted that Kosovo should be divided...
New Circumstances: In 2000 Krstic compiled old and new research in the new book "Kosovo Facing Judgment of History". The book is a collection of historical, social, political, demographic, migration related, urban development related, diplomatic, and international-legal facts and simulations of different options. In accordance with new circumstances, the push of the research changes its direction and the idea about two entities becomes more pronounced.
Krstic quotes the Resolution of the Security Council and Rambouillet Agreement in parallel and demonstrates that FR Yugoslavia lost the war, that she got worse conditions than in Rambouillet, that she lost control of a vital road towards Skopje, over the upper parts of the drainage basin of two key rivers, Ibar and Morava, that she had to leave her cultural heritage at mercy of Albanians and that with the imposed treaty she was denied constitutional mechanisms for action in her province. He notes that Serbia is now not appropriately represented in the implementation of the Resolution 1244. He believes that the problem of Kosovo cannot be boiled down to the problem of Serbs in the province, emphasizes that Kosovo Serbs did not have legal support from their state, nor long-term policy, nor common attitude with respect to the UN Mission in the province, nor in the implementation of self-rule.
Cantonization: Fighting for survival, return of the expelled and normal life in Kosovo, representatives of Serbs in the Transitional Council (they abandoned this body because of discrimination and refusal to consider their requests) proposed the creation of cantons. This project, dating from 1998, was created by historian Dusan Batakovic, now the Yugoslav ambassador in Greece. Representatives of the Serb Orthodox Church submitted the plan for cantonization of Kosovo in February 1999 to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. That plan proposed that large towns and cities remain under mixed Albanian-Serb administration, while cantons would encompass mostly rural areas with Serb majority and Serb monasteries with the land they owned before 1941 and the final expropriation [by the Communist authorities] after WWII. Borders between municipalities would be modified to give opportunities to form smaller municipalities that would include settlements with Serb majority. Five cantons were proposed: Ibarski Kolasin, encompassing current municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan, in which Serbs are in majority; area between Kosovo Polje and Lipljan with a number of Serb majority villages - Caglavica, Gracanica, Laplje Selo etc.; region between the current municipalities Kosovska Kamenica, Kosovska Vitina, and Gnjliane; Sirinicka Zupa centered in Strpce, that would also include neighboring Sredacka Zupa, as well as Opoje and Gora, inhabited mostly by Muslim Slavs; Serb majority areas between Pec, Istok and Klina, with numerous Serb majority villages and large land holdings of the monasteries of Decani and Pec Patriarchate. Similarly, land holdings of other monasteries (Gracanica, Devic, Goroc, St. Archangels, Zociste, Banjska, Draganac, Sokolica etc.) that would first be returned, would be added to other cantons.
That plan, submitted just before the start of the war in 1999, was not accepted by the international factors. In 1999 Kosovo administrator Bernard Kouchner, however, reacted to the repeated proposal for cantonization with the idea of regrouping Serb population to safe areas, to protected zones. Nevertheless, great powers took the cantonization proposal off the agenda. Ministers Vedrine and Fischer during their visit to Kosovo asserted that "cantonization is contrary to the efforts of the international community to build united Kosovo". The USA also opposed the proposal.
As urban planner, Krstic criticizes "cantonization". He believes that the so-called pilot projects proposed by the USA also violate Resolution 1244. He emphasizes that people must live on uninterrupted territory outside enclaves. "Multiethnic Kosovo must imply disappearance of enclaves as a way of life. Regardless of the term used to name these territories (cantons, zones, enclaves), they can only make sense as a transitional solution, as after several years they would turn into reservations, Bantustans, for the Serb population... It is well-known that apartheid is the most extreme mode of denial of human rights. The population is Kosovo has been segregated, not according to religion as under the Ottomans, but according to ethnicity. This is usually referred to as ghettoisation... Many individuals and organizations oppose the division of Kosovo, while in practice Kosovo has already been divided and ethnically segregated, which is unacceptable," Krstic concludes.
Reorganization: The reorganization proposal is based on the conclusion that the military success that leaves behind a political void is equal to a defeat and that, with the conclusion of war, the conflict between the rights of Serbs to historical territories and the right of Albanians to the territory where they are in majority hasn't been resolved - and that conflict is the essence of the problem. Since the war and measures taken by KFOR and UNMiK are not removing the causes of the conflict, Krstic proposes that the idea of compromise between the rights through reorganization of the territory be considered. The reorganization must meet four criteria. First, the entity with Serb majority must secure that Serbia remains sovereign over the most valuable part of her historical heritage; secondly, the Albanian majority entity should encompass most ethnic Albanians; third, land ownership should keep its significance, as it confirms the right to a certain territory to a far grater extent than the number of settlers arriving at the time of demographic expansion; fourth, both Serbs and Albanians have the right to self-government on the territory where they are in majority.
Krstic says the following: "It is known that in the province, in the north and north-east, there is a relatively compact territory consisting of municipalities with majority Serb and Montenegrin population that, together with ethnically mixed municipalities make up a large and significant region. This territory was much larger twenty years ago, but the demographic expansion of the Albanian population has thoroughly modified its ethnic structure."
Krstic claims that the creation of two entities would be a way to realize legitimate rights of both Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
The Serb entity would include monuments that are an irreplaceable part of the Serb culture and national history, such as the Pec Patriarchate, Decani, Gracanica and Kosovo Polje with surrounding territory and population. The remaining valuable monuments, that based on mutual agreement should remain a part of the Serbian heritage (for example remnants of the St. Archangels monastery, Bogorodica Ljevis and St. Salvation churches in Prizren) should, in Krstic's opinion, be moved.
Krstic concludes that after the "reorganization" implemented, or tolerated (irrelevant from historical perspective), by NATO in Kosovo, Kosovo is not any more a multiethnic and multireligious territory and is left without multiethnic towns and cities that were carefully nurtured by the Ottomans. There are no more Serbs, Montenegrins, Croats, Slavic Muslims, and Slav inhabitants in general in them...
The author of the "Kosovo Facing History" believes that neither of the entities should be left without cities. Among other, that would provide inhabitants of the entities with education, health care, and public life without discrimination. He therefore believes that the Serb entity should include Kosovska Mitrovica (left to Serbia even by Germans in WWII during occupation), a part of Pristina and Pec etc., while the Albanian entity would keep other parts of Pristina and Pec, Prizren ,Djakovica, Urosevac etc. The Serb entity should naturally include the upper parts of the drainage basins of the two main rivers in Serbia, Ibar (Ibarski Kolasin) and Morava (the corresponding part of Kosovo Morava valley).
Entity with Slav majority would have 174,600 Serb and Montenegrin inhabitants, 163,100 ethnic Albanian inhabitants, and 53,000 inhabitants from other ethnic groups (Krstic bases this on the data from the last regular population census conducted in 1981). The ratio of Serb/Montenegrin and Albanian population would be 44.6% vs. 41.7%, and twenty years ago, therefore before ethnic cleansing, was 63.1% vs. 28.5%.
The entity with Albanian majority, which would encompass most of Kosovo and Metohija with most towns and cities, would have 1,063,600 Albanians, 86.7% of total population, as well as 61,900 Serbs and Montenegrins and 67,000 inhabitants from other ethnic groups. Most Albanian historical monuments would be in that entity.
Reorganized Kosovo would remain as a province of Serbia and Yugoslavia, under protection of the NATO and Russian forces, i.e. under the auspices of the U.N. Refugees could return without discrimination and the province could survive as a multiethnic territory. That would avoid the division of Kosovo population into the free population and population forced to live in enclaves.
Bosnia or Croatia: The essence of Krstic's approach is that there are two legitimate claims to Kosovo and that both of them must be recognized.
"Great powers have applied two approaches in the solution of ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, one in Croatia and another one in Bosnia. In Croatia they allowed ethnic cleansing of Serbs, but claim that they are determined not to allow that in Kosovo. In Bosnia, the state they wanted to preserve as a multiethnic and multireligious state, they established two entities... They are facing the choice - they either want ethnically cleansed Kosovo, or the establishment of two entities". Krstic is convinced that there is no third option, because the current model is only a version of the former "ethnically cleansed Kosovo and several Slav enclaves".
Krstic also lists questions for which there are no answers at the moment:
Covic, working patiently to defuse the dangerous situation in the buffer zone, could have perhaps spotted that the international factors are also aware of the gravity of these open questions, so that it can be concluded that he did no make a slip of tongue when at the abovementioned international conference with relatively benign profile he drew attention to the proposal for finding compromise between the historic right of Serbs and ethnic right of Albanians to Kosovo.