(U-WIRE) LEXINGTON, Ky. – Imagine the following scenario: Puerto Ricans have organized a Puerto Rican Liberation Army to claim Florida as their land, laying claims to it because they have lived there for 50 years after emigrating from Puerto Rico. The U.S. Army decides to protect its own territory, but the Big Powers, headed by China, side with Puerto Ricans and bomb all major American cities, including Washington, D.C., all because the United States has dared to reject an ultimatum securing long-term independence of Florida.
The situation in Kosovo is exactly the same, and sounds just as absurd to me.
I have lived in Belgrade, the now-bombed capital of Yugoslavia, for 21 years. Since NATO, and consequently, the American media, have decided to side with Albanians in this conflict, let me give you a brief introduction to some recent Serbian history.
The Albanians in Kosovo have been so “oppressed” over the last 50 years (that is, since their arrival in Kosovo) that Serbian children had to take Albanian as a foreign language in Kosovo elementary schools. They have been so “oppressed” that they now make up more than 90 percent of the population in this province, whereas they only made up 40 percent to 50 percent after World War II. “Expansionist” Serbs were systematically intimidated, forced to sell their land and move away from Kosovo.
Furthermore, Albanians were so politically “oppressed,” that they decided to boycott all federal and local elections in Serbia, never voting for or teaming up with any of the opposition parties, or launching a party of their own for that matter, thus refusing to give their contribution to Serbian political life.
In spite of all that, nobody in the world has ever questioned the legitimacy of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, or bothered to ask why it is carrying the official flag of Albania, and why its leaders are speaking of “Greater Albania,” not only in Serbia, but also in Macedonia and Greece. In any case, NATO is trying to neglect these facts and talk about justice in its attempts to support Albanian independence, and punish Serbians.
Today, even the leader of Albanian separatists called on NATO to discontinue the bombings after Pristina (a predominantly Albanian city) was left without electricity, and an additional 100,000 people fled Kosovo as a direct result of NATO bombings. In this sense, the United States, oops, NATO policy in Kosovo has terrible consequences on Serbian cities, infrastructure and people, but does not seem to be helping Albanians much either.
In fact, the real question is whether NATO actually cares about either side. It is clear the Albanian rebellion was a perfect opportunity for NATO, dominated by the United States, to further spread its influence across the Balkans. The United States is playing “Risk” again in this region, by surrounding Serbia with countries that have been, or will soon be, admitted into NATO, and is planning to encompass Kosovo and eventually the rest of Serbia, pushing NATO boundaries toward the east, that is, Russia.
It was supposed to be a great deal for both Albanians and NATO – NATO would help Albanians gain independence from Serbia, and Albanians would in return allow NATO troops into Kosovo.
It is indeed ironic that President Clinton, trying to justify the bombings, spoke of unity in Europe, when he and his allies’ policy has played a significant role in the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia, and is directly responsible for the breakdown of Serbia.
It is also ironic that none of those “allies” even condemned, let alone punished, the expulsion of 250,000 Serbs from Croatia over a couple of days in August 1995. In fact, U.S. officials openly admit giving military support to Croatians and Muslims in the war in Croatia and Bosnia, which resulted in 800,000 Serbian refugees pouring from these regions into Serbia.
Try to imagine yourselves as a Serb, spending the last several days in bombing shelters, or as an Albanian, walking hundreds of miles to escape death. Is the deal NATO has with Albanian separatists eventually going to help the Albanian population, or is it only going to destroy the Serbian and Albanian populations and further NATO’s own interests?
-Natasa Kovacevic is a student at the University of Kentucky.