“We Have the Right to Live”: NATO’s War on Yugoslavia and the Expulsion of Serbs from Kosovo

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Serbian refugees from Kosovo.     Photo: Gregory Elich

In the period before the 1999 NATO attack on Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) waged a campaign to secede and establish an independent Kosovo dominated by Albanians and purged of every other ethnic group. In October 1998, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled the KLA’s vision: “We will never change our position. The independence of Kosovo is the only solution…We cannot live together [with Serbs]. That is excluded.”

Once NATO’s war came to an end, the KLA set about driving out of Kosovo every non-Albanian and every pro-Yugoslav Albanian it could lay its hands on. The KLA left in its wake thousands of looted and burning homes, and the dead and dying.

Two months after the end of the war, I visited Hotel Belgrade, located on Mt. Avala, a short distance outside of Belgrade. Those who had been driven from their homes in Kosovo were housed in hotels throughout Yugoslavia, and in this one lived Serbian refugees.

The moment I entered the hotel, the sense of misery overwhelmed me. Children were crying, and the rooms were packed with people. The two delegation members who accompanied me and I were shown all three floors, and the anger among the refugees was so palpable I felt I could reach out in the air and touch it. Nearly everyone here had a loved one who had been killed by the Kosovo Liberation Army. All had lost their homes and everything they owned.    Read More »

“A World of Sorrow”: The Tragic Plight of the Roma in the Aftermath of NATO’s War on Yugoslavia

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Elas Raqmani (seated).  Photo: Gregory Elich

Once NATO’s 1999 war on Yugoslavia came to an end, units of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) poured across the border. The KLA wasted little time in implementing its dream of an independent Kosovo purged of all other nationalities. Among those bearing the brunt of ethnic hatred were the Roma, commonly known in the West as Gypsies. Under the protective umbrella of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), the KLA was free to launch a pogrom in which it beat, tortured, murdered and drove out every non-Albanian and every non-secessionist Albanian it could lay its hands on. Read More »

Entangled in Neocolonialism: The Weight of Chains

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An Interview with Boris Malagurski

Who in their right mind would actually want to be a colony?  That is the question asked in the opening section of The Weight of Chains, the latest film directed by Boris Malagurski.  His film demonstrates how the South Slavs emerged from centuries of colonial rule under the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, and unified to form an independent Yugoslavia.  In sharp analytical detail, Malagurski’s film dissects how Western intervention systematically undermined that independence and helped destroy Yugoslavia, plunging the region into war in the process.

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How the Nobel Peace Prize was Won

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The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari has been widely hailed in the West, where there has been an outpouring of praise for the man and his efforts. Widely seen as a tireless promoter of peace and reconciliation, Ahtisaari has a lesser known sign.

Although his record is long, Ahtisaari’s role in the diplomatic end to NATO’s 1999 war against Yugoslavia is regarded as the key point in his selection. In praising the man, Nobel committee secretary Geir Lundestad noted, “There is no alternative to an independent Kosovo.” This baldly political statement indicates why Ahtisaari’s selection is proving so popular among Western leaders, and it is Kosovo that shows just whose interests Ahtisaari has served. Read More »