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Pre-1989 Albanian Rule in Kosovo Discriminated Against ALL non-Albanian Minorities Why is there Civil War in Kosovo, Why Did Clinton Get Involved and What has Been Accomplished?
By Dr. Stephen K. Stoan (Ph.D. History, Duke University, 1970}
Director of Library and Information Services, Drury College
Springfield MO 65802

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Why is there a civil war in Kosovo, why did the Clinton administration get involved in it, and what has been accomplished with more than two and a half months of warfare? Let's review pertinent facts.

The Background

Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia when the area was conquered by the Turks in the fifteenth century. In Serbian history books it is often called Old Serbia. Albanians began arriving in the seventeenth century during the Turkish occupation. It has been recognized as an integral part of Serbia by the international community since 1912.

When the Axis powers invaded and dismembered Yugoslavia in 1941, they attached Kosovo and Albanian-speaking regions of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece to Albania to form a greater Albania under the rule of a fascist dictator. The Kosovo Albanians formed military units to fight for the Nazis, killed more than 10,000 Kosovo Serbs, and drove more than 100,000 out of the province into the rest of Serbia. They brought immigrants in from Albania to fortify the Albanian presence in the province.

When the Croatian Communist dictator Tito came to power in Yugoslavia in 1945, he forbade the Serbian refugees to return to their homes in Kosovo. He then signed a deal with the new Communist dictator of Albania to bring in another 100,000 Albanian settlers. The Albanian majority in Kosovo appears to date from the years around World War II.

An upsurge of Albanian Kosovo violence in 1969-1974 caused another 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins to leave Kosovo and gave Tito an excuse to separate Kosovo from Serbia. He made it an autonomous province under the total control of the now Albanian majority.

Autonomy under Kosovo Albanian control did not result in ethnic peace. Once in control of the province, the Kosovo Albanians continued harassing non-Albanians through legal and extralegal means. They required Gypsies to use Albanian first names. They enacted zoning legislation designed to break up non-Albanian residential communities. They outlawed use of the Cyrillic alphabet even among the Serbs, who had always used it. They refused to permit federal authorities to participate in census-taking, claiming they didn't know how to count Albanians.

The Kosovar Albanians required mandatory instruction in Albanian for all inhabitants of Kosovo, and they imported history and social science texts books from Albania for use in the schools. These taught Albanian nationalism rather than Yugoslav citizenship and praised the era of Turkish control over the Balkans. There were continuing incidents of violence against Serbs and frequent attacks on Orthodox churches, shrines, and monasteries. More Serbs and Montenegrins left. Ignoring Yugoslav immigration laws, the Albanian Kosovars permitted more illegal aliens to immigrate from Albania. By the early 80s, the province was three-fourths Albanian, large numbers of them born in Albania.

After Tito's death, there was another upsurge of Albanian violence beginning in 1981. Throughout the 80s, Western news media, including the New York Times, reported on the ongoing murders and rapes of Serbs and Montenegrins perpetrated by Albanians, the constant attacks on Orthodox churches and monasteries, and the inability of the local Albanian authorities ever to punish anyone.

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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