'Beneath The Surface'
Kosovo Crisis Debate KPFK Radio Los Angeles 13-03-1998
Transcript of a radio debate as violence flared again in Kosovo... 'Beneath the Surface' Pacifica Network, KPFK Radio 90.7 FM, Los Angeles. 13 March, 1998. Host: Suzie Weissman (SW). Producer: Nalini Lasiewicz.
Intro by SW: Once again the Balkans are in turmoil.
Last week, the Serbian special police massacred over eighty civilians in Kosovo, the southern Serb province populated almost entirely by ethnic Albanians. Kosovo is a powder keg, and opening a war there invites the possibility of broadening the war to perhaps Macedonia, Albania, perhaps Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.
To help us sort out this dangerous situation, we turn to our guests:
In New York: Bogdan Denitch Professor, CUNY/NY and Director for the Institute for Transitions in Democracy, an NGO with offices in Zagreb, Sarajevo, Tuzla and Belgrade (BD);
and Marko Maglich Serbian American human rights activist and law student (MM)
In Belgrade: Borka Pavicevic Center for Cultural Decontamination (BP)
In London: Christopher Long a British journalist who has covered the region throughout the Balkan war. (CL)
- Break -
SW: Welcome to 'Beneath the Surface'. Police attacks in Kosovo last week may be a terrible preview of things to come, especially if the Serbian Radical Party has its way. According to their program, which is available on the Internet, they aim to eradicate the Albanian presence, which is 90% of the population from Kosovo, which is hailed by the Serbs as sacred land. The Kosova Liberation Army is a new but active force as well. And, while the Serbs are responsible for this attack, and Milosevic started his bloody nationalist career with threats to Kosovo in 1987, we are once again witnessing nationalisms confronting each other with bloody consequences. To delve 'Beneath the Surface' tonight we speak first to Marko Maglich who was one of the organizers and speakers at a demonstration yesterday in NY in front of the Yugoslav embassy. Welcome to 'Beneath the Surface', Marko. Can you tell us what you did yesterday in NY?
MM: Actually, it was Wednesday, which is the same day that 'Women in Black' always did the protests in Belgrade, (BP: hmmm) and we kind of mirrored that. We had a silent vigil across from the Yugoslav mission to the UN on Fifth Avenue here. It was organized basically by a couple of people who just said we've got to do something. Here I am, steeped in law school, and this thing was happening all over again where the bloodshed begins to happen and you get consumed with it and you can't get your work done and flames are being thrown all over the Internet. Some people that I had met through the Balkan Dialogue Group at the American Friends Service Committee and I decided we just had to get out there and say something. In the end we didn't say much because it was silent, but we stood across the street with our signs and hopefully we won't have to repeat it as often as the 'Women in Black' did. But, you never know, the way things are looking, it may become a regular thing.
SW: The War Crimes Tribunal has decided, it appears, to take a closer look at what's going on in Kosovo. Do you have any information on that?
MM: It's a good thing that the investigation is being done. It's not necessarily a final assertion and establishment of jurisdiction for them, they can still come in and challenge jurisdiction. The Tribunal, though, does cover everything in the territory of Yugoslavia since 1991 so it is open-ended in terms of the future. So, it's open-ended for time and it covers that territory. The problem is that the law that's covered isn't applicable until you have an armed conflict. An armed conflict can be an internal armed conflict, there is some law called Common article 3 to the Conventions which enables internal conflicts to be covered, but they still have to meet certain criteria like the opposing forces or the insurgent forces have to have certain amount of organization and they have to have control over a certain amount of territory. It's kind of debatable whether it's at that level, at least yet.
SW: You do have, of course, the insurgents in the Kosovo Liberation Army. Would they, presumably, constitute this force?
MM: If anyone is going to constitute it, it would be them. But in terms of a legal definition, it may or may not meet it yet.
SW: I think the burning question is since this is clearly aggression that has been started by the Serbs using not the Army but the Police, is this something that the International War Crimes Tribunal might have the courage to indict Slobodan Milosevic for?
MM: I mean, it depends if it leads back to him? In a sense, this might be one of the positives. I mean, you know, we are looking at horror, but you look for the good things that could come out of it. One of them is that he was shielded from liability in Bosnia because he didn't have that command and control that (Radovan) Karadzic had. Obviously that's going to be a lot harder for him to establish here. So if you get that ideal that this stuff is covered legally, then I'm hoping he may have shot himself in the foot.
SW: Well, tell us Marko before you have to leave, what kinds of things are you doing in NY.
MM: I'm hoping we don't have to keep doing this! I'm a student here, working on human rights law and actually my focus now is on Turkey because I have to go on a human rights mission this spring. But, however, the parallels are interesting.
SW: There may be connections too. Well, thanks for being here with us on 'Beneath the Surface' and good luck to you.
MM: Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure.
SW: I'd like to turn to my other guests. We have Christopher Long, who is one of the longest serving specialist war correspondents covering the front line events in the Balkan war for the British media and was doing that, I believe, from 1991 to 1995. Welcome!
CL: Good evening.
SW: And Borka Pavicevic is from the Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade and has been a long-time activist for democratic rights and spoke to us on a regular basis during the monumental demonstrations that she participated in for at least three months last year. Welcome back, Borka Pavicevic.
BP: Good evening Suzie.
SW: I'm so glad we have you with us too. Christopher, you listened to what Marko Maglich had to say about the possibility of the International War Crimes tribunal taking up this issue. Do you know anything about that?
CL: I'm not really an expert on that and have been learning a lot from him from the Internet [both chuckle]. My feeling is slightly pessimistic about the whole of the war crimes effort because unlike the Nuremberg trials fifty and more years ago, we seem here to be working from the small fry upwards. There seem to be quite a number of relatively unimportant alleged war criminals surfacing and the ones at the top so far have not been picked up...
SW: ...and in fact are still in power...
CL: ...and in fact are still in power. There are those who would say that names as grand as Tudjman and Milosevic should be on that list. But I think if you work from the bottom upwards, there isn't the same deterrent value as there is in picking off the big sharks first and then working your way down to the little minnows.
SW: Great. We're joined now by Bogdan Denitch, I want to introduce him. He's a professor of political sociology at CUNY (City University of NY) Graduate Center and also he's the Director of the Institute for Democracy in Transitions to Democracy, an NGO with offices in Zagreb, Sarajevo, Tuzla and Belgrade. Bogdan, welcome to 'Beneath the Surface'.
BD: It's good to be here. Hello Borka.
BP: ...Hello and good evening...
SW: So glad to have you all here. Now, let's move away from the war crimes tribunal to the war crimes themselves. The Serbs are responsible for this massacre in Kosovo. I read on the Internet the Program of the Serb Radical Party. It is amazing. It calls for the eradication of the Albanian presence in Kosovo. That's 90% of the population. It calls for doubling the salaries of Serbs who move in into their places. It's about as horrific a program as one can imagine. Of course they're not in power yet, but let's ask Borka first how do you see the situation and what is the response in Belgrade to this latest action?
BP: Listen. That's what you said now [is key] who is or who is NOT in power. And, what is on the front page, and actually what is behind it and who is working with whom and what's really happened... that's what is very important to [talk about]. What has happened [last week] has not just happened yesterday [for the first time]. That it has lasted for a long time and actually Kosovo becomes the topic or the issue as some people would like to say, at the moment when the Yugoslavia was divided. Then that problem of course appears like a problem which was previously discussed inside of the former Yugoslavia. I'm mentioning that because today, actually the main issue [in the Serbia] is, is the Kosovo interior problem of Yugoslavia or of Serbia? Therefore I mention that was once upon a time. And then, what we are doing, tomorrow at noon, we have at the Center for Cultural Decontamination is a gathering of all NGO organization in Belgrade. Afterward we are supporting 'Women in Black', which Marko mentioned when he was speaking, in a public action in the city center, demonstrating against that violence. It will be tomorrow (Sat March 14). The discussion will be called: Information: The Report from Kosovo. I think it is terribly important to be very precise. We invited all the people who have been on Kosovo, so it will be a few journalists and the people from the Helsinki and the humanitarian Les Enfants and we will show the tape of a documentary because I think it is extremely important to know what really is going on.
At the same time, you know this is [discussion we're hosting is designed to give] some kind of demystification that you should be a specialist of Kosovo, that everyone has to have specialist knowledge to draw any conclusions It is NOT like that. But at the same time it is extremely important to inform the [eople in Belgrade what really is going on. Because it's a question of the twenty years.
I must tell you something you may or may not know, that we have an incredible, almost incredible virtual reality here something quite opposite to the Internet and that is that official media have recovered all the war propaganda and are using the words very much like it was, even MORE strongly than in was, during the war in Croatia, during the war in Bosnia, during the elections in the Montenegro, now we have such a words for the Kosovo issue. That means 'the terrorist and the terrorist and the terrorist'. And, what I want to stress now, when we are talking about this, it's important to have a fine and real words. For all sides. And even for the international community. Me, we, all [of us] are using the things [what has already been said] that we think can save the situation, like a dialog you know. We just have to find a proper way, a real open direct language, to explain what is going on because it is the end of the using, how to say, [terminology embezzled by the State to obfuscate its meaning, to turn it on its head.] The human rights problem is something that is used in the sense of the State language and in the political language and of course, here, for a long time, we are talking about 'State and the State and the State' and 'the Frontier and the Frontier and the Frontier' but nobody is talking about what kind of State do we have and what those frontiers mean.
SW: Well, OK, I'm really glad you said that Borka. It sounds like your group has a lot of cultural decontaminating to do and I want to turn now first to Bogdan Denitch to kind of respond to that and talk a little bit about these States. First I think we need to get some background. I said at the opening that Milosevic really started his nationalist career in 1989 with threats against Kosovo...
SW: 1987. Thank you very much, and this was clearly different from Bosnia because it kindles a feeling, I guess, in all Serbs because Kosovo is so sacred to them. Can you give us a little bit of information and background?
BD: Well, the sacredness of Kosovo is an artifact created by intellectuals and academics. I mean let's not carry on. Most Serbs I know, intellectual or non-intellectual have never been in Kosovo, have never entered the monastery and they'd be perfectly happy to have somebody else die for it. So, it's a split passion. It's very much like the feeling many Israelis have about the West Bank. They don't want to give it away and they don't want to face the fact that they're a small minority there.
Almost everything that is popularly believed about Kosovo and Serbia is wrong. From the history to today's time... from the Battle of Kosovo, where probably more Serbs fought on the Turks' side than on the Serb side, all the way down to what the population of Kosovo was. But the real relevant thing is that, even if you took the argument at it's face value, that the Albanians are newcomers having only come there from the 17th century, is a bullshit argument. They came to Kosovo, according to Serbian legend, roughly when the Europeans came to north America. It happens to be untrue, they were there from at least as early as the Middle Ages.
The real problem was I think put together very well by Koca Popovitch, a major Partisan war hero, who said "with great difficulty, it is possible to imagine Kosovo Albanians becoming Yugoslavs. It is completely impossible to make them into Serbs". Now, what that means to me is that the only conceivable solution for this carnage that's shaping up there and the international community is keeping it's mouth shut on that would be for Kosovo to become a sovereign republic within Yugoslavia. That is, if Kosovo may not succeed and must remain in Yugoslavia, it should remain in with the same rights as Serbia and Montenegro. It should be a Republic. And, many well-known Albanian leaders [like Bakali and Vlasi] have come out for that.
There are two ironies in Kosovo right now. One is that Rugova, who's committed to non-violence, (head of the leading party in Kosovo or the thing that was the leading party among the Kosovo Albanians) it's become a more fluid question [since the police massacres] and he has the most rigid demands. He demands independence or nothing. The more radical guys, including the armed struggle people actually would vote for demand for autonomy and the removal of the police [at a minimum]. The Serbian police are, of course, an army of occupation. They don't represent even the local Serbs let alone the 90% population which is Albanian. The other irony is this: Albanians in Kosovo are being punished by the international community for having been non-violent. That is a clear message which is, non-violent struggle doesn't get you any attention. They were off the agenda [to the great relief of the international community and Belgrade both]. They weren't discussed at Dayton and the world [believed] it had all the time in the world to catch up with Kosovo. Once violence started, then all of a sudden Kosovo becomes a [serious] thing. And lastly, at the point on which I insist and I think that's where I differ from most NGOs in Serbia, not Borka but from the other NGOs, I do not think it is appropriate for Serbian NGOs to denounce Albanian terrorism while denouncing the police. I do not think that the two are equivalent. I think that the Albanians who took arms, (I think it was a bad strategy,) but took up arms, were far more analogous to the Algerian and other anti-colonial freedom fighters and even to the Partisans, than to terrorists. The terrorists are the Serbian police.
SW: Do you know anything about the Kosovo Liberation Army, are these...
BD: They are very small. And there are apparently two currents. One probably is at least theoretically closer to the Marxist party, although I don't think that the Marxist party has anything to do with them, and their support comes from abroad, from the Albanian Diaspora in Switzerland and in Germany. There also have been some talk that some of the groups going under their name have been police provocateurs, which is quite possible. I mean the Serbian police has done similar things in the past. But I think that there is a genuine armed struggle movement and it is increasingly popular among the students and the young.
SW: OK, we'll turn now to Christopher Long. You've listened now both to Borka and to Bogdan and you were on the scene from '91 to '95, paying attention to what Borka said about the heightening use of war language, how do you assess the situation there?
CL: Yes, well I happened to be there purely by chance in spring 1989, when exactly this same sort of thing happened and it was, in a way, the beginning of the Serbo-Croatian and Bosnian wars, so it's sort of like a flashback to see it all happen again. I couldn't disagree with anything either of them said, and I have tremendous admiration for Borka, saying what she has from Belgrade, because it's not easy to represent her views there. I think the biggest problem Kosovo faces is that there isn't, yet, a figurehead, a military leader who they can rally around. When I say that's a problem, until a figure of that sort emerges, I don't think there's going to be anything on an organized basis by the KLA and Rugova is certainly not going to be the military leader of the future. It all rather reminds me of Izetbegovic. Exactly as we've just heard, they were told: "Keep clean... don't get involved... don't fight... don't arm... and the West will look after you". And, of course, the West did nothing of the sort. We are seeing the same thing happening again. They've been promised by CSCE in Skopje and other places: "Don't get involved, don't fight, and we'll take care of you" and, of course, they haven't.
SW: Borka, turning to you now, how do you respond to first of all what Bogdan Denitch said about not creating a symmetry between the actions of the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Serbian police, and secondly as perhaps as a solution, organizing or demanding autonomy within Yugoslavia.
BP: Yeah... listen... I first want to say that I completely agree with that mythological and para-mythological explanation of Bogdan's. I would just want to say that during all this war the Serbian regime has an incredible number of the different excuses for the violence. For example one is the territorial argument. The second are Historical. The third time they are Familiar. The fourth time, they are Majority. Now, what is it we are doing with the majority and minority? What is the democracy if most of the population wants something, then how we deal with that when the most of the population was for the Big Serbia you know? Bogdan is completely right in that using the different arguments in a volunteristic way as you like it to make a situation sure for yourself.
I just want to say something. And of course I make the statement that the officials are permanently pushing, the single idea of terrorism and you will see that in most of the announcements in Yugoslavia and in the international community. This is something which everyone is stressing, dividing terrorism from people and then to speak about the Serbian police action. Which is, by the police action it means that it is the solution of the regime. And what I must say I'm afraid of is that some people want that war. You know, this is a will for something. Because that will was present during the whole Yugoslavia war, somebody wanted it. This is actually is a question of human rights in the context of the political will when something is useful for that. We are looking for that for ten years '87 was the beginning and every step of that regime was, in a sense, I don't know ending, but it is the proper legitimization. You said the Radicals are not in the power. But the police, radicals, all together, as it was a very big story that we have paramilitaries. What does it mean 'paramilitaries'? All those actions are subordinated and somebody is ordering those actions.
SW: Who's doing this? Is this the last gasp of a weakened Milosevic, who's had demonstrations against him, who wants for some reason to ignore the IC and press ahead to, for, I don't know, to gain popular support?
BP: You see, Suzie, this is one incredible paradox. You have this extremely developed xenophobia here and now it, in a moment, is all Serbian, Belgrade if I may say, official propaganda is they say that terrorism is something international. And actually, that's what happened with us and our dear regime is, that you have permanently denied the international rules, and you say "No, no." And you are abusing that theory that everybody is hating us, that everyone against the Serb, that it is like this New World order and so on. At the end, you are accepting everything. What I want to stress is that Milosevic is making a colony from these people.
CL: I think that actually another agenda is behind this... I'm sure that Milosevic is trying to out-Seselj Seselj and out-Draskovic Draskovic because you know that way he can be certain that he will have support from the vast majority of the Serb population and has bolstered his position which is weakened. But there is another issue which has run right through this war from when Milosevic and Tudjman had their secret talks, at the very, very beginning of the war. And that is the question of where the north-south main rail and roadway routes will run down to the Mediterranean. (BP: ah uh) At the moment, the Croats are very busily and heavily investing in their Dalmatian route which would run down from the Dalmatian coast into Albania and through to the Mediterranean. There is the other big possible route which is Belgrade, Skopje, Nis and down to Thessaloniki, And in the background, whoever controls the north-south trade route through what was Yugoslavia will provide the gateway to Europe from the south and to most of the world. I think that this is an issue that is lurking right at the back of an awful lot of things. I'm not saying it's the most important thing. It's not responsible for 80 deaths for more than 80 deaths in Kosovo last week. But it's on the agenda and it's something which the West would be very unwise to ignore.
SW: How do you see it, Bogdan Denitch?
BD: Oh, I think that Milosevic is smarter than people give him credit for. That he is going to manoeuvre the opposition into taking most of the initiatives over Kosovo. He's already compromised Dodik, who was the best news we've had so far [BP moans] into offering to enter into this case, which is a bad mistake. The demonstrations were betrayed, the demonstrations of last year were betrayed. The leading party [Draskovic's SPO] is now in alliance with Milosevic right now and the second most powerful party, the Djindjic's party, is nationalist, quite clearly. I think that the terrible thing about Kosovo is that the Parliamentary opposition, with a few exceptions, for the Vojvodina people [the League of Social Democrats, led by Nenad Canak] is utterly silent [including Vesna Pesic], and that this is the same problem we have in Croatia in that sense, Croatia and Serbia are alike. The democratic opposition that the West likes, the respectable centrist opposition, will not counterpoise itself to the Nationalists. The people who do counterpoise themselves to the Nationalists tend to be left wingers and [laughs] they're not liked or rated.
SW: But, do they have any support?
BD: Yes, yes they do. For example, the trade union Nezavisnost in Belgrade, everybody tells me it's a small union. When I go there, I notice that they have more members than the rest of the NGOs put together. I don't know what 'small' means. In the case of Zagreb, there's really a massive opposition and there was demonstrations against Tudjman led by the unions one day and by the NGOs the other. I think there is an opposition but I think it has been kept out of the media, rather systematically, because it doesn't fit the model. The model is, what the Americans want is, a pro-market, pro-Western, not very radical, civilized liberal opposition. Those people just don't exist.
SW: Isn't that also the case in terms of the demonstrations we saw earlier against Milosevic so that the working class was, let's say hesitant to take part?
BD: For one thing, their demands were never put together! The fact of the matter is that much of what the middle-class opposition claims to want actually would make the conditions for the workers worse.
SW: And I was going to say as well that looking to the other countries who have begun the transition to the market. It doesn't look so good for the working class.
BD: No, particularly because Djindjic who at least is in the opposition, is very much committed to a real market, which would mean massive unemployment in Serbia under the present circumstances. The problem is that the mass opposition to Milosevic and to Tudjman, in my opinion, given the great economic misery, will either be right populist, like Seselj, or left at least social democratic, but it would not be liberal and moderate. A nice moderate intellectual opposition will never have any real effect in that area.
SW: How would you classify Milosevic, as a populist nationalist?
BP: I think that the stupidest thing the opposition in Belgrade does is by calling Milosevic leftist. I mean, that is the stupidest goddamn thing. It gives away the legitimacy on left issues and it actually reinforces his support among workers. It is stupid! By the way, it's interesting to consider why it is that they do that stupid thing repeatedly and have the slogan as Down with Reds and Commies as the main slogan of the Belgrade demonstrations day and night for months. I was there and I was there in Pristina, day and night. In Pristina the students consider themselves left wing.
SW: We have to take a break and when we come back, I'd like to ask do you know anything about the mood in Kosovo itself? What's the social composition of those who are opposing Serbian aggression? Do we know?
BD: Just a word before we sign off... There's been an excellent statement put out by Shkelzen Maliqi who is one of the more reasonable [intellectual] leaders in Kosovo and we are in day to day touch. The trouble is that they find it very difficult to find opposite numbers in Serbia.
SW: If the war propaganda moves ahead and there is a new Yugoslav war against Kosovo, and it has the possibility of drawing in Albania, Macedonia, and perhaps then Bulgaria, Greece and maybe even Turkey, this is all conjecture, but I'd like to get your ideas on that and what the international community's response should be. I'll start with Bogdan Denitch.
BD: Well, I think that Turkey is extremely concerned about the Albanian issue. It's calling for conferences and would at the very least provide arms.
SW: Do you believe that Turkey is interested because they are Muslims and they are acting as a client of the United States in this regard?
BD: No, I don't think it's acting as a client for the U.S. I think they're interested in secular Muslims. There are not that many of them in the world.
CL: I think it's to demonstrate that Turkey feels that she's been snubbed by the European Community in not being offered membership because of her civil rights.
BD: That is, if the Kosovars were not Muslim, they would have been treated much better, is the feeling.
CL: To some extent, I feel Turkey is feeling left out of things and that this is an issue in which she can flex some muscles.
SW: Continuing on this vein, do you see that this is the war that will spill over and include much of Europe?
CL: The great danger with Kosovo, just to get it geographically right, is that its really a very large plain entirely ringed by mountains and it's extremely poor. And the villages are widely scattered very cut off from each other. The names of the places where atrocities have been happening are not even marked on most maps. So... Srbica, Likosane... they are tiny places. So it's difficult for people in that area to mobilize and communicate. It's like it was in the eastern part of Bosnia where the communities are cut off from each other.
BD: Well, one of the places involved is Srbitza (chuckles) is where my grandparents were from, it's not that small.
SW: (laughing) It's not so small then.
CL: Well, in a country where the population is 2 million at the most... I mean, they are very small by the standards of an audience in the West listening to this program.
BD: But, like in Algeria, the percentage of the population which is of arms bearing age is rather large. It's mostly quite young and I think it's to be devoutly hoped for that the war would not be headed off. But I think that unless Serbia is hammered and hammered by the international community right now, they will continue stalling on any substantive talks.
CL: I think that's right. I think that in the end, it could very easily mirror the situation in Bosnia in which the sheer numbers of people and the commitment of people I'm talking about the Muslim community there where in the end they just win through.
BD: By the way, among the lessons from Bosnia is that, for God's sake, intervene early enough so that lives are saved and so that the cycle of hatred and revenge isn't established. The intervention in Bosnia proved that it could have been done equally well two years earlier and I think that the United States bears a heavy responsibility because they talk tough and do very little.
SW: But given that they are talking tough right now, I wonder why the Clinton administration is jumping in with hard words from Madeleine Albright right now, do you think this has anything to do...
BD: This is a pattern! They've done that on Bosnia. They made the Bosnians turn down three agreements before the Dayton agreement. Always implicitly promising a better agreement. Every agreement that the Bosnians got offered was worse than the previous one. I think Albright is doing something extraordinarily irresponsible. She is talking very tough when she knows that the Pentagon is not preparing for an intervention. I think a slightly softer talk and a slightly bigger stick would make much more sense.
SW: OK. Let's ask Borka Pavicevic what the feeling is from Belgrade. Do you have any hopes that the international community is going to help out?
BP: What I think I have to say to Bogdan, I think it's very important, I think that you can't speak in the terms of the subject of Eastern Europe transition. In Yugoslavia, there is NO transition. I am deeply convinced that the war burst out because of the non-willing for transition. Actually, that's what's going on in Serbia. The regime wants to possess everything. I deeply agree with Bogdan about the complete misunderstanding about Milosevic and especially that the party of Mirjana Markovic, Milosevic's wife, is a left orientated party. That game, between the opposition and the ruling parties, that the ruling parties are left and that the opposition is right, is one of the most biggest misunderstandings in all political life in Serbia. Neither of them are left parties, neither of them are right parties. It's a mimicry of everything, and that is why, actually, it has been done and why I think that the Kosovo situation is a terribly dangerous.
The regime in Serbia is not capable of ANY transition. They don't want that. The Yugoslav war burst out because of non-possibility of a transition society and non-possibility of entering modern European society. And this is the nature of that regime, and therefore this regime is producing the war, and therefore I think the situation is extremely dangerous in that it is organized will [deliberate] to have the situation as it is. And this is what I want to say to Denitch... I don't think that any transition, there is no will here, nothing is a property, even the Hyatt Hotel in Belgrade has no (????) It means that you are keeping a permanent volunteristic situation that you can do whatever you want, in any minute that you need it and that it's useful for you. And now, who knows what is the aim of Kosovo Battle, again, if I may say, because it was something in the fourteenth century. But we see with our eyes that all that national mythologemma are just the mimicry for stealing, and for the taking of all property in this country, including our lives.
So, I mean, this is for me the main point. I can't say everything about the Kosovo situation. I'm afraid that there are confrontations of the political wills and the international community, I think, should really recognize what is going on. And not having this, in-general position, for example ìdialog will save us, or any floscula [Latin for buzz-word! Ed.] which is made upon something what we invented that is going on and it's not going on for real.
CL: And also to recognize that Kosovo is not necessarily the last chapter in all this because Sanjak is also waiting to happen. Western Macedonia is another possibility of producing serious problems of this sort. And I'd really be interested to know what Belgrade thinks about how long Montenegro will remain loyal to Serbia? (BP: hmmm)
SW: So you're really talking about the continuing disintegration of Yugoslavia.
CL: I think there are still several more chapters to go.
BD: Macedonia is an independent state now.
BP: Any war from here is not finished.
BD: What Borka says makes a great deal of sense but we have to think another thing through which makes this even worse. Namely, yes, this regime is not capable of making a change and working toward transition. The tragic thing is that the opposition isn't either. This opposition has been, on the Kosovo issue, just as bad as Milosevic. That's why the decontamination that is being done is extremely important. There really does need to be some decontamination. Macedonia, by the way, has been already worrying about refugees. There are something like 8,000-10,000 Kosovar refugees in Montenegro already, and one point which I want to make, which isn't too well understood, is that the Kosovo opposition is not exclusively nationalist. The main paper, Koha Ditore is not nationalist. It's published by Veton Surroi. They do me the honor of publishing my stuff.
SW: Are you saying then that what, it's a democratic opposition?
BD: They're for a civil democratic state, some of them. An autonomous republic within Yugoslavia which would have special cultural relations with Albania just like Serbs want to have special cultural relations with Republika Srpska in [in Bosnia-Hercegovina].
SW: And so, what are the chances of this happening, do you think?
BD: The longer the police are there, the smaller the chance. There are over 100 people who have been murdered. There are lots of women and children who have been murdered, Christopher Hedges reports are quite detailed, there was torture of the people who were killed. Incidentally, we have rather good reportage on Kosovo. NY Times has been excellent.
SW: Yes, it has been excellent, with pictures...
BD: Hedges is, I'm worried about his safety. He's been to the funerals. He's been talking to the armed struggle people...
SW: ... And other journalists have been beaten up...
BD: Right, and he's rather well known right now and an easy to recognize guy. I worry about him.
SW: And Christopher Long, what about you? Are you heading back to the area?
CL: I think that's likely if things carry on the way they're going, yes.
SW: I'd like to get ending statements from everybody about what you think should be done what should be the response of the international community and what if anything our listeners should know...
CL: I think a lot less of politicians meeting in gilded halls and smart hotels in Western Europe and a lot more very decisive and very tough action on the ground in Belgrade and in Pristina. All this sort of diplomatic stuff is not going to achieve anything. We'll just see Bosnia again and another four or five years of mayhem unless these people learn from past mistakes.
SW: Thank you Christopher Long... and Borka, what final thought do you have?
BP: Listen, I think that if possible, as much as it is possible, it is necessary to spread what's really going on in Kosovo and to try to mobilize democratic possibilities in Serbia because I think that nowhere the political situation will change while such a government and regime still exist and politicians are on the top of this society. And what we can do is, really what Bogdan said, to decontaminate. I mean, this is actually after so many years that some kind of the national sickness, which is used of course, and I don't see any solution then to fight every fight against such a nationalistic regime in Serbia. This is what should be changed, and at that moment you can talk about democratic dialog and other civilized relations among the people.
SW: Thank you. We have one minute left. Bogdan Denitch...
BD: I think that massive aid is needed to the hardcore opposition to Milosevic and Tudjman. I think the two are linked. (BP: yes..) They both effect the Kosovo area because, of course, there is always the argument, these guys are getting away with this stuff, why aren't we?î I think that we have been, the United States, extremely damaging in the area because we have permitted our so called allies in the case of Croatia, to commit the kind of crimes that we condemn elsewhere. In the case of Kosovo, I think we need to help our friends. That is to say, democrats who are not nationalists.
SW: Well, thank you all for joining us. I'm Suzie Weissman . We've been discussing Kosovo. Thanks to producer Nalini Lasiewicz. Thanks for listening and we'll be back next Friday with another Beneath the Surface.
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