June 10, 2008

A Dark Corner of Europe, Part II

Destruction Central Sarajevo.jpg

“The Balkans produce more history than they can consume.” – Winston Churchill

“Sarajevans will not be counting the dead. They will be counting the living.” – Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb leader, war criminal, fugitive

Sarajevo can be startling for first-time visitors. Shattered buildings, walls riddled with bullet holes, and mass graveyards are shocking things to see in a European capital in the 21st Century. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was more violent than the others in the former Yugoslavia, and it shows. If I believed in ghosts I'd say Sarajevo must be one haunted place. At the same time, the reconstruction and cleanup work is impressive. The destruction gave me a jolt, but at the same time I was slightly surprised I didn't see more of it.

Bosnia is a troubled country with a dark recent past, but it is no longer the war-torn disaster it was. Sarajevo was under siege for almost four years by Bosnian Serb forces on the surrounding hilltops who fired mortar and artillery shells and sniper rounds at civilians, but it’s over and it has been over for more than a decade. Most damaged buildings have been repaired, and many neighborhoods look almost as though nothing bad ever happened to them.

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I was on my way to Kosovo to investigate the world's newest country after its declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. It made little sense to visit only Kosovo without taking at least a brief look at some of the other countries in the former Yugoslavia to get a little on-the-ground regional perspective.

My long-time friend Sean LaFreniere joined me on the road-trip portion of the trip from Serbia's capital Belgrade to Kosovo's capital Prishtina. It is of course impossible to acquire anything like a masterful understanding of the contemporary Balkans on a whirlwind trip in a rented car, but that wasn't the point. Both Sean and I have wanted to visit the region for personal reasons for more than ten years. And I knew I could see Kosovo, the focal point of my trip, with clearer eyes if I first had some context and could compare and contrast the brand-new country with some of its neighbors.

Turksih Quarter at Dusk Sarajevo.jpg

Sarajevo, though, is a bewildering place for a first-time visitor trying to get a handle on things, much as Lebanon was the first time I traveled there during the twilight of the Syrian occupation. Out-of-date books and simplified media reports for distant foreign consumption can only help so much in these kinds of places, I'm afraid. There is a great deal of local detail rarely covered by foreign correspondents that can only be absorbed through immersion. Acquaintances of mine who live or have lived in Syria say the same is true there, and I believe them. It’s probably true almost everywhere.

“Maybe in twenty years Bosnia will be nice again,” said a Bosnian I know who lives now in Oregon.

“I love Sarajevo,” an Albanian woman in Kosovo later told me, “but I was there recently and saw on their faces that they are unhappy, more than they were a few years ago. You could see it and feel it.”

On the other hand, Sean and I met a man named Avdo in the Turkish Quarter of the old city who says the situation is bad but getting better. His biggest complaint wasn't about politics, but the exorbitant price of real estate in the city.

Whether it's getting better or worse, I can't say. Serbian writer Filip David's basic diagnosis seems to be right, though. “In Sarajevo it is not a good situation,” he said to me and Sean in Belgrade the day before we left Serbia for Bosnia. “My friends who are Croatians and Muslims, they are not satisfied. It doesn't function. Serbs, Croatians, and Muslims in the [government] that must decide, they can't decide anything. Everybody must say yes.”

Bosnia-Herzegovina is ethnically divided between Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Muslim Bosniaks. No group commands a numeric majority. Muslims makes up a plurality of the population at just under one half, but everyone is a minority. The country is also politically divided between the Serb-controlled Republica Srpska and the rest of the country. Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Republica Srpska aren't three separate regions, however. Republica Srpska itself divides both Bosnia and Herzegovina. The map is a mess, and so is the country.

Bosnia Map Emphasis Bosnia.jpg

Bosnia Map Emphasis Srpska.jpg

It doesn't feel like a mess on a brief visit, though, the way Baghdad does, for example. The Bosnian war was ferocious – worse than Iraq's – and seeing Sarajevo in reasonably good shape was a welcome reminder that terrible wars end. I could not have imagined Sarajevo looking the way it does now in the middle of the 1990s.

Old European Buildings Sarajevo.jpg

Fountain and Minaret Sarajevo 2.jpg

Some of my friends and family thought I was a bit strange for wanting to see Bosnia, even though the war has been over for more than ten years. The truth is that Sarajevo is great for cultural and historical tourism. Belgrade is sometimes described to would-be travelers as an undiscovered jewel of the Balkans, and it's true that the place is a bit underrated for what it has to offer, but that goes at least double for Sarajevo. Serbia is still known for extreme politics, but that won't affect visitors. Bosnia's former reputation as being go-there-and-die dangerous is a much harder one to live down no matter how out of date.

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It’s a beautiful place, actually. Not only is it worth seeing, it is worth going to see. Sarajevo’s old city center is unique. One part looks and feels like Turkey, another like the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire. There aren't many cities in the world where in less than five minutes you can walk from an Eastern urban environment to another that is unmistakably Western. Sarajevo reminded me of Beirut in both good ways and bad. Bad because, like Beirut, parts of it are still shot full of holes despite the massive and impressive reconstruction since the war ended. Good because, also like Beirut, there are sizable numbers of mosques and churches in a city that has been a civilizational crossroads for centuries.

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Orthodox Church, Sarajevo

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Inside a Catholic church, Sarajevo

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A mosque minaret and a clock tower, Sarajevo

Before the war, the percentages of Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the city were more or less even, with Christian Serbs and Croats together just barely eking out a majority. The war changed the demographics, though. Sarajevo is mostly Muslim Bosniak now. That’s fine as far as it goes, but the city sadly no longer is the same kind of living example of inter-religious tolerance and co-existence that it once was. Nationalists like Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and their ilk made sure of that.

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Sarajevo war cemetery, photo copyright New York Times

Aside from some of the architecture, however, Sarajevo doesn't necessarily look or feel like a Muslim-majority city. In this way it resembles Istanbul, only from outward appearances it is even more secular. Most Bosnians aren’t demonstrative about religion.

Old Buildings and Hills Sarajevo.jpg

I saw very few women wearing Islamic headscarves. Alcohol is no less available than it is anywhere else in Europe – or in Turkey for that matter – for those who want it. It is hardly an Islamist environment. Sarajevo is a city of both the East and the West, but it is wholly European at the end of the day.

Sean and I stayed at the Holiday Inn, a hotel made famous by war correspondents in the mid-1990s. It looks like a modernist cube from the 1970s, though it was built in the 1980s. It fits in rather well in a part of the city near the center that is dominated by other modern buildings. Some are generically international while others look explicitly communist.

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Holiday Inn and nearby towers, Sarajevo

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View from inside the Holiday Inn during the siege of Sarajevo. Photo from the Bosnian Institute

The war never left my mind while Sean and I were in Sarajevo. Something that struck both of us at once upon arrival in the city is how narrow it is in the old part of town. Serb snipers took up position in houses on the tops of the hills and fired at anyone they saw moving, including, of course, fellow Serbs who decided to stay. The infamous “Sniper Alley” was right outside our hotel. The narrowness of the city – you can walk from one edge at the bottom of one hill to the other side in just a few minutes – means the snipers always were close. If you can see the hills, the hills can see you, and the hills loom beautifully but ominously over everything.

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That night I dreamed I was trapped there during the siege, scrambling to find a place where I couldn't see hills.

*

“[Serbs] say Republica Srpska has the right to separate from Bosnia,” Filip David said to me and Sean, “but they stopped because the United Nations asked them to stop. If Serbs speak in that way, they have no right to protest Kosovo.”

“So now they've realized the contradiction and quieted down?” Sean said.

“Yes,” David said. “They stopped in this moment, but in the future nobody knows. The Croatians in Bosnia are not satisfied. They [also] ask for their own territory and government.”

“So it may yet split into three,” Sean said.

I have no idea if Bosnia will ever actually split into three. Dividing it up peacefully, equitably, and in a way that would satisfy everyone wouldn’t be possible. Partitioning unevenly mixed countries, especially those with so many mixed families like Bosnia and Iraq, is a nasty business. Kosovo’s break with Serbia was a lot cleaner than what could be done in Bosnia or what could be done anywhere in Iraq south of the three Kurdish autonomous provinces. James Longley captured the gruesomeness of the idea well in his documentary film Iraq in Fragments. “The future of Iraq will be in three pieces,” says an old man. A young child, perhaps the man’s grandchild, answers him this way: “Iraq is not something you can cut into pieces. Iraq is a country. How do you cut a country into pieces? With a saw?”

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A steep hill in Sarajevo leads to a war cemetery in a residential neighborhood

It's on the minds of some in Bosnia, though, and Kosovo's declaration of independence makes the question more complex than it already was.

Sean and I met with Samir Beglerovic from the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo and asked him what he thought about it.

“What does the Muslim community of Bosnia think about the independence of Kosovo?” I said.

“I think everyone can support this independence,” he said. “Everyone who knows the situation in ex-Yugoslavia knows that Kosovo had maybe the worst position in ex-Yugoslavia before the 1990’s. So there is support for them. In the beginning all Kosovo wanted was to be a republic within Yugoslavia. They didn’t allow that, so then the problem began and they wanted independence, and finally they got it. People from Bosnia – Muslims and Croatian people – they are supporting this.”

“Does anyone here who isn't a Serb support the Serbian side?” I said.

“There was some talk,” he said, “[about whether or not] it was good for Bosnians for Kosovo to seek independence now. Some thought it would be better if they waited three, four, or five years because we don’t have a clear situation [in Bosnia]. They say that now, by giving Kosovo independence, Serbia is sending a clear sign to the Republica Srpska that they can do the same thing to Bosnia. And now Bosnian politicians think from this perspective it would be better for us if they didn’t do it now.”

While it may seem reasonable to let the Serbs in Republica Srpska leave Bosnia if they want to, as many think it is reasonable to accept Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, there are grounds for rejecting the idea, and not just because it would be messy. There are also issues of justice.

“49 percent of Bosnia is Republica Srpska,” Beglerovic said. “But from 80 percent of it, people were killed and expelled from their lands. This is territory they won by war, nothing more.”

Ethnic Map Bosnia Ninety One.JPG
Ethnic map, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1991

Ethnic Map Bosnia Ninety Eight.JPG
Post-ethnic cleansing map, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1998

As you can see from the maps, Serbs made up an ethnic majority only in parts of what is now Republica Srpska. Kosovo never expanded its borders through war inside Serbia proper before the declaration of independence, but the Bosnian Serb Army and affiliated paramilitary units used mass murder and ethnic-cleansing to bring as many Serbs as possible inside Bosnia within geographically contiguous territory purged of Croats and Bosniaks.

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An ethnic map of Yugoslavia in 1994. Notice the relative homogeneity of Kosovo compared with Bosnia

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National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, shelled, burned, and gutted by Bosnian Serb forces during the seige of Sarajevo in 1992

Sean and I met Predrag Delibasic, a half-Serbian and half-Bosnian writer and film maker, in Belgrade the day before we arrived in Sarajevo. He told us about his childhood in Bosnia where his group of closest friends were from different ethnic backgrounds. They were the subjects of a documentary film he made called Maturity Exam.

His friends then and now were from different backgrounds. Filip David introduced me and Sean to Delibasic and the rest of his crowd who meet every day at the same cafe downtown. Members of their group hail from Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

“Everyone here is of the same opinion,” David said. “We are all in favor of good relations with Kosovo and each other. We have only one Serb, and he is an anti-nationalist.”

“We are all friends,” Delibasic said. “We don't care about ethnicity. But others, people around here...it's hard. The radish is too deep. It cannot be uprooted.”

Many at the cafe didn't speak English, so Sean and I spent most of our time talking to David and Delibasic, who did.

“My best friend now is a Serb who married a Bosnian woman,” Delibasic said. “Jovan Divjak, the Serb defender of the city of Sarajevo.”

General Jovan Divjak was the highest ranking Serb officer in the multi-ethnic Bosnian Army during the war. His very existence shows that even then the liberal idea of a cosmopolitan and ethnically-mixed Bosnia was still alive in the hearts and minds of some of its people. Not every Serb agreed with Slobodan Milosevic's and Radovan Karadzic's genocidal ethnic nationalist campaign, and some fought and died to put a stop to it. Many were singled out and publicly executed by nationalist Serb forces for resisting and for refusing to fight Bosniaks and Croats.

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Sarajevo's Eternal Flame, a memorial to the military and civilian dead in Bosnia-Herzegovina during World War II

“Do you know who that man is?” Delibasic said and gestured behind him. “The man at that table there with the white hair?”

I looked to my right and saw who I thought he was talking about four tables down.

“The man sitting with the young woman?” I said.

“He was Tito's general,” he said.

Yugoslavia's communist dictator Josip Broz (Marshall) Tito must have had more than one general. “Which general?” I said. “What's his name?”

“He is General Jovo Kapicic,” he said. “His son owns this cafe. We are good friends.”

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General Jovo Kapicic

One of the small pleasures of traveling to the small capital cities of small countries is how easy it can be to meet important people even by chance. Sean and I didn't want to talk about Tito's general, however. We wanted to talk about Bosnia, where Delibasic grew up.

“When I was a kid in Sarajevo,” Delibasic said, “some visiting Montenegrin nationalists asked me, who are you? I had no idea, and I didn't care. So I made up an answer. I am Jewish! I said. My mother said no, no no. But I didn't know or care. My friends were Jews, Muslims, and Catholics. After I was told I wasn't Jewish, I said I was a Muslim. But that wasn't right either. So after that I've always just said I am a Yugoslav. If I could, I would take citizenship in Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro, as well as in Bosnia and Serbia. But I can't. I still call myself a Yugoslav, but the census-takers won't accept that as an answer.”

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Predrag Delibasic

Explaining the crackup of Yugoslavia as a natural resurgence of “ancient hatreds” in a post-communist ideological vacuum is tempting for many observers, but it's wide of the mark. It's true that Tito kept a lid on nationalist sentiments in its varied republics during the communist era, and it's also true that the Balkans in general have a long bloody history. But nationalism, in particular Serbian nationalism, was deliberately crafted as a replacement ideology by Slobodan Milosevic and like-minded political leaders desperate to cling to power and grab onto whatever they could as the country came apart.

Milosevic's, though, wasn't the only violent nationalist movement in Yugoslavia’s history that Predrag Delibasic personally had to contend with. He is old enough to remember World War II vividly, and he told Sean and me about his experience with the Ustasha – the armed Croatian fascist movement aligned with the Nazis.

“Armed and drunk Ustasha men came to our house when I was thirteen years old,” he said. “They demanded our papers and couldn't find them. My mother was very brave. She screamed at them and told them it was their fault because they messed up the house. The commander put a gun in her mouth. I grabbed the man's gun and said Kill me, not my mommy!

He and his mother were then taken to prison in Visegrad, just inside Bosnia near Serbia. They managed to escape and were smuggled across the border with the help of a train conductor. His family reunited in Uzice where his father waited for him and his mother.

Later he joined Tito's Partisans. “I was a member of the Communist Party,” he said. “But I was ideologically quiet.”

He didn't fare any better with the communists than he did with the Ustasha.

“I was falsely accused of being a Stalinist,” he said, “after Tito broke with Stalin in 1948. Only recently, almost sixty years later, did I finally receive a document explaining exactly why I was arrested.”

As it turned out, according to the document, Delibasic was accused of being a Stalinist because he met with a visiting film student from Moscow.

“They sent me to Goli Otok,” he said. “Tito's concentration camp.”

Goli Otok was a prison on an island in the Adriatic, now part of Croatia. It's name means Naked Island. The island is mostly bare, as were its prisoners. “They made us march naked,” he said, “and do forced labor.”

Communist Section Sarajevo.jpg
Communist architecture from a hilltop in Sarajevo

“That must have made you re-think communism,” Sean said.

“Yes,” Delibasic said and nodded as he widened his eyes. “The camp was run by Tito's general.”

“Which general?” I said. “Him?” Was he talking about the man he had just pointed out less than a half hour before? The man I had taken a picture of who was still sitting just a few tables down? Whose son owned the cafe?

“Yes,” Delibasic said and gestured by nodding his head in the direction of General Kapicic. The old gulag chief nursed his coffee only a dozen or so meters away. “It was the hardest time of my life. I could not believe that my beloved Partisans would build such an infernal place.”

I could hardly believe he was friends with the general who ran it, who made him work and march naked for meeting a film student.

Just a few minutes later, General Kapicic got up to leave and stopped by our table on his way out. Delibasic introduced me and Sean to him.

“He is a good friend to me,” Kapicic said to us in English, “and now to you. He is a very smart professor, and you should listen to him.”

After the general left, I had to ask. “How can you be friends with him? After what he did?”

“You heard what he said,” Delibasic said. “I accept it, and I don't hate anybody.”

*

Around a thousand Arab veterans of the insurgency against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan volunteered to fight a “jihad” against Serbs in Bosnia. The Bosnian Army was desperate for help at the time. European countries imposed an arms embargo on Yugoslavia which severely degraded the Bosnians’ ability to defend themselves. The Serb forces had most of the weapons, and the embargo preserved the imbalance of power. As it turned out, though, the Arabic mujahideen from the Middle East had no more effect on the war in Bosnia than they had when they ran off to Afghanistan. In each place they were basically tourists with guns who made little or no impact on the outcome of the war, or even the outcome of major battles. Some of these characters stayed in Bosnia where they still live today.

Bosnia has a bit of an Islamist problem, but they aren't its biggest cause. Saudis and others from the extremist Wahhabi school of Islam swooped in after the war ended to rebuild damaged mosques in their own severe style and to impose their rigid interpretation of religion, as much as they can, on culturally liberal Europeans.

Fountain Courtyard Sarejevo.jpg
An Ottoman-style fountain in the courtyard of a mosque, Sarajevo.

Stephen Schwartz – journalist, author, and Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism – has done a much more thorough job documenting the phenomenon that I could even attempt here, but I wanted to ask Samir Beglerovic about it since he lives there. He's a Sufi and therefore detested by Wahhabis as much as Christians, Jews, and other so-called “infidels” are.

“How much of a problem is this?” I said.

“We have a problem and I think it is obvious,” he said. “In the beginning, during the war, mostly people didn’t realize what was going on. They had their priorities to deal with – how to survive, how to do this, how to do that. And after the war I think the majority somehow didn’t recognize what was going on. We have seen some changes, we have seen some things we didn’t know about before, different approaches, different attitudes. There is something we didn’t have before in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mostly they were targeting the common people, not intellectuals as much. They were students that had gone to study in other countries in the East, and when they had received their MA or PhD they came here to Bosnia.”

“Do you think it is a big problem,” I said, “or a small problem?”

“It depends,” he said. “As far as individuals are concerned, we have to accept everyone, but regarding organizations, movements, we have to be very careful. As far as an individual is concerned, it is his choice, but if he wants to work within society, with students, you have to stop it, or you have to direct it through our traditional institutions.”

“What is it exactly that the Wahhabis are trying to do here?” I said. “Are they trying to make Bosnian Muslims more conservative, or do they have a bigger agenda?”

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Samir Beglerovic

“They say We have to Islamize you,” he said. “That's the notion they are using, to Islamize. They think that even the practicing Muslims – that means going to mosque, praying – they think they are not good enough, they have to be better. And also that our perception of Islam is wrong.”

“What is your perception of Islam according to them?” I said.

“I don’t know what they think,” he said. “They say it is full of innovations, things you cannot find in Islam. We made it up or got it from the interactions with the non-Muslims living traditionally here in Bosnia-Herzegovina, here in this part, especially from Europe. So it is a religious position, the Islamization. You are not Islamic enough, we have to Islamize you more.”

“What is it about your version of Islam that they don’t like specifically?” I said.

“Every segment of it,” he said. “Meaning our clothes, we are dressing like Europeans, the way we look, we don’t say you have to wear a beard, or that it doesn’t have to be long. It’s also the literature we are using because mostly we are leaning on the traditional scholars of Islam while they are leaning on the so-called reformers. There are lots of things. The logical aspects of Islam, the interior and exterior of the mosques, everything. Almost everything we do is wrong. It's very hard to recognize why and from where they get this kind of attitude.”

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Post-modern mosque, Sarajevo

“How popular are they here?” I said.

“We don’t have statistics,” he said. “That’s our major problem. We don’t do statistics. 1997 and 1998 were very hard years here in Bosnia, after the war. In 1996 it was still a kind of war. Sarajevo hadn’t been integrated yet in the first half of 1996, so 1997 was the year, you could say, you could begin to live a normal life. Or try to live a normal life. And then the first shocks came to you – you do not have a job. If you want to repair your house, repair your apartment, send your kids to school, go to school yourself, you need money. Therefore you need a job, and they were hard to find. So in the beginning people were mainly disappointed with the new aspects of life in Bosnia, post-war life, when everyone was expecting that the government would support people somehow, and we wouldn’t be having trouble with food and schools. And then there was this group that came in and started criticizing anyone who had any important position in the community, the government, or the political parties. The best way to recognize their strength may be from the newcomers on the Web sites, because in the print media they don’t have much space. We now have very strict regulations.”

“Today?” Sean said.

“Yes,” Beglerovic said. “In Bosnia-Herzegovina the Regulatory Newspaper Agency, the RAK. Radio stations and TV stations have to get a license from them.”

“After that are they monitored?” Sean said.

“Yes,” Beglerovic said. “They are monitored. And in the beginning if you do something wrong, first you pay, then you can be banished. There are a lot of inter-religious and nationalist...let's call it bad words.”

“So if you incite amongst the public,” Sean said, “the government will be upset with you.”

“Yes,” Beglerovic said. “There are some standards we didn’t have before.”

“This is a problem for the Wahhabis?” I said.

“For everyone,” he said, “but also for the Wahhabis because you are asking about them. The only space they can get is on Web sites.”

Turkish Quarter River Sarajevo.jpg

“What do Bosnian Muslims think of NATO and the US?” I said. “I know most Serbs don’t like us, but what about your community?”

Albanians in Kosovo love the United States for saving them from the mass murder and ethnic cleansing campaign waged against them by the Milosevic government. Bosnians, though, were left to twist in the wind and face Serbian guns alone for years with very little assistance. I would not expect Bosnian Muslims to feel the same way about Americans that Kosovar Albanians do, but some help is better than nothing, and it has not gone unnoticed.

“We consider NATO the only way for feeling secure in our land,” Beglerovic said. “And it’s said that the only friend we have is the United States. So that’s why each time when someone like Richard Holbrooke says that Bosnia could be a place for Al Qaeda, it scares us. It can mean that we lose our only friend.”

“It won’t happen,” Sean said.

“Historically,” Beglerovic said, “we had our friends in Austria and in Germany. But the only practical support we get is from the United States. I mean, okay, Germany accepted a lot of Bosnian refugees, and everyone helped in a way, but the most practical help is coming from the United States.”

I have no idea where all this is going, if Bosnia will be okay or if it won't. Will the country split into pieces? Will there be more fighting? Will the Islamists become dangerous to those who live inside and outside the country? I can't say, and I won't even guess. I've learned to be wary about predicting events in the Middle East – a part of the world I'm much more familiar with – so I know better than to guess what will happen in always-complicated and hard-to-read Bosnia. There are too many unresolved problems and too many variables. But the fact that it resembles, in some ways, a Yugoslavia writ small did not leave me feeling as optimistic as I would have liked. History there isn't over, that much is certain.

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Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 10, 2008 12:34 AM
Comments

A year ago, I was in Croatia, which had had their own war of independence several years before Bosnia's. So much of what I see in these pictures looks somewhat familiar. Give Bosnia a few more years, and it may become as pleasant a place to visit at Croatia.

Posted by: Bigfoot Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 6:04 AM

It is so fascinating to read about your travels to Bosnia and Serbia. I did refugee work in Frankfurt with IOM dealing mostly with bosnian refugees. I thought the comment about Germany was very interesting because I didn't know that the Germans allowed them to stay. The US took in thousands of Bosnians because they wouldn't let them stay in western Europe and the couldn't go home. I think Canada and Australia accepted some as well. You wouldn't believe how many I sent to Fargo, ND.

Posted by: kitkat Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 9:08 AM

While it might go without saying that this is another great read, it's worth saying again.

However:
"How can you be friends with him? After what he did?"

This is the attitude that leads to a desire for some form of a perfect justice -- but fails to understand that no justice system is peaceful. In many ways, all wars are about correcting some prior injustice, often with outside observers saying such post-war justice isn't worth the war.

Christian mercy allows the bygones to be gone, so that life today and in the future can be lived with happiness, even if not with justice.

Typically the injustice is clear -- but what is justice after the injustice? That's a grey area.

I think the nationalist Serbs are likely to want to leave -- with acceptance of Kosovo as the reason to call for a referendum in Republika Srbska with a call to join Serbia.

If the Croats also want to leave, but the Bosniak Muslims get Sarajevo, that would likely be economically OK.

My preferred solution and advice would be for Bosnia to attempt to copy Switzerland, and cantonize with strong local autonomous cantons, and a weaker central gov't. But central dictator & elite friendly UN & international community folks are always against cantonization.

Which I also advocate for Iraq.

Thanks also for more great maps. I think the ethnic cleansing was less in Bosnia area than that done by the victorious allies in the Czech Sudetenland. Commie Serbs remember fascist Croat attrocities from WW II -- "How could Serbs be friends with Croats after that?"

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 9:19 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 06/10/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 9:53 AM

I hear you, Tom.

I think, though, that it takes a deeper level of forgiveness to forgive what an individual does to someone personally than to forgive what a nation does to another nation.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 10:49 AM

Great article Michael,

I hope Bosnia doesn't succumb to the divisive and radicalizing efforts of the Wahhabis.

I think the Muslim extremists feed off of rancor and grievances to catalyze their incitement.

It is easier to point out issues people are still rotten about in Bosnia, since the displacement and ethnic cleansing by Serbs in the 1990s. Many Muslim Bosniacs know that where their houses used to be, now there live stranger Serbs in Republika Srpska.

Such facts, such unsettled injustices can serve as bridges toward inciting hatred for Christians.

Kosovo's detachment was much cleaner surgery, so I hope the wound doesn't fester.

By the way, that article Beyond "ancient hatreds" you liked to was great!

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 10:56 AM

Broadly I agree with Medaura, many Muslim Bosniacs know where their houses used to be and that they are occupied by Serbs in Republika Srpska. This is plain wrong and there needs to be restitution of some sort.

But this is true of Serbs from the Krajina and Western Slavonia too. Their homes are full of strange Croats who have settled in them after they were Ethnically Cleansed.

It is also true of some Kosovo Serbs who were forced out and have had their properties occupied or destroyed.

In all cases though, I believe there are government level efforts to address theses lingering injustices and grim after effects of ethnic war.

The challenge now is for regional governments to support each other in dealing with the problem.

One problem that I can foresee is the one mentioned by Filip David, namely that if it is legitimate for Kosovo to seceded, then there is literally nothing stopping the Republika Srpska from seceding too. Kosovo's independence has legitimised the ambitions of those elements in the RS who want to clinch the dream of a Velika Srbija through merging RS with Serbia proper.

Luckily Serbia is dead against this and rightly so.

For the record I am against splitting up Bosnia and I think that the Republika Srpska should be merged into the Federation as soon as possible.

I also marvel that the Bosnian Muslims, the most victimised and brutalised people in the region, are the most non-nationalist, forgiving and generally peaceful people I have come across.

One has to admire their "Ubuntu*".

I mean this in the African sense not the Linux distro sense - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_(philosophy)

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 12:37 PM

Tom,

Just a note to support your points about forgiveness. One sees it already in the region (in my experience anyway). People want to move on.

I am not sure that Cantonization is the right road, although anything is better that the current situation.

My only reason, and it is not very solid, is that I think Bosnia is where we start the process of reinforcing the nation state after the troubles of the last 20 years.

It can be where we make a stand against ethnic nationalism and ethnic segmentation.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 12:46 PM

Excellent article. In order for Bosnia to be at peace, serbian fascism needs to be rooted out.

Posted by: hamdija Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 12:48 PM

Nice to see some agreement here this time. Wonders never cease.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 12:50 PM

Limbic,

I have never heard you make a statement I agree with without appending to it mitigating ifs and buts.

It seems like everything you say in favor of or in sympathy with any other Balkan nation but the Serbs, is done for the purpose of equivocating Serbia's actions or bringing the discussion back the the "us poor suffering Serbs".

I know full well that the demographic disturbances which occurred in the 90s were often non-transitive in Bosnia: Serbs kicked off the Bosniacs, The Croats kicked off the Serbs, and so on and so forth.

If you look at the excellent "before and after" ethnic maps of Bosnia-Herzegovina which Michal has provided though, it is clear on which side the momentum of abuse was.

The Serbian population of Bosnia on average gained a lot of territory. The Croat population gained a little territory from the Serbs, whereas the Bosniacs got screwed on net balance.

Both the Bosniacs and the Croats were in defensive positions throughout the ethnic cleansing efforts in the 90s initiated by the Serbs.

The Arab states and every anti Semite on Earth screeches to this day about Israel's small territorial gains during its defensivewars in the Middle East and ask for Israel to unconditionally give back everything it gained.

The morality of these claims is very skewed: Had the Arab aggressors won the wars, Israel would have been wiped off the face of the Earth, no ifs or buts. But if they lose the wars, they should not give up anything and should retain control of all their territories. What is the deterrent factor then for aggressors? If they win, they destroy their target, if they lose, they shouldn't lose anything?

The point is that the ethnically cleansed regions of Bosnia were immediately colonized by a Serb influx from Serbia proper. Unless these colonizers go back home and make room for the displaced Bosniacs to go back to their homes, none of the other displacement issues can be solved, because this is the primary roadblock to settling the score.

Again, Serbian-initiated and propagated violence in so to be equivocated as 'a cycle of violence' (like Israel's actions against Gaza terrorists are almost universally portrayed).

"a pox on all your houses"---that's a bullshit attitudes that only goes to obfuscate what really happened in former Yugoslavia.

Limbic, I invite you to provide sources about your claims of "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs in Kosovo, because your preliminary numbers (200-270K Serbs 'ethnically cleansed' from Kosovo) make zero sense to me, as they imply that more Serbs left than there had ever lived in Kosovo.

Also, evidence, if you got any, that they didn't merely leave voluntarily, but were forced off their properties in the numbers you claim.

>>>taps fingers...

>>>waits...

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 1:16 PM

Perhaps it would be asking too much, but I would also love to find out when these alleged acts of ethnic cleansing took place in Kosovo.

Was it right under the noses of the KFOR troops?

That would be interesting.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 1:38 PM

Michael,

The only thing that ruins this article for me is the link to that racist bigot Schwartz.

It is a matter of genuine regret that he seems to be a serious source for you in your understanding of the region.

Here is not the place to discuss that article, but please note that Schwartz is a self-confessed Serb-hater.

The man is clearly brilliant, but absolutely blighted by a genuine hatred of all things Serb.

It ruins his work, as his biases and bigotry lead him into distortion, inaccuracy and downright lies on just about anything to do with Serbs or Serbia.

You think I am being unfair? Being a bit hair-trigger with the Serbophobe label?

Well sample his own words:

"Serbs, except for the few that defended Sarajevo like my friends Jovan Divjak and Mirko Pejanovic, are pigs. You are welcome to love pigs, but remember, they eat human flesh." - Stephen Schwartz, 25/2/2008 - http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/open-serb-hatred-must-be-answered/#comment-15767 (read that post for my debunking of another one of Schwartz's Serb-hating diatribes).

I can provide you with more examples of his racist bile if required.

People reading that article should keep in mind that it is mostly speculation and guesswork, not even attempting to be even handed and is grossly unfair in its (mis)portrayal of Serbs.

It is a racist classic of the historical revisionist school written by a notorious on-record Serb-hater.

For those looking for a decent work about the Balkans, make sure you read Rebecca West's magnificent 1942 classic "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon".

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 1:41 PM

Limbic,

For someone so enlightened in critical thinking and formal logics as you profess yourself to be, I am surprised at your gaffe above.

Why don't you reproduce the actual quote?

Someone claiming to be Schwartz writes:

So if Albanians are savages and the KLA were terrorists, Serbs, except for the few that defended Sarajevo like my friends Jovan Divjak and Mirko Pejanovic, are pigs. (emphasis added)

If the moon is made of cheese then you are Slobodo's love child.

If I utter the above sentence, note that I am not revealing a belief that you are Slobodo's love child.

(if A then B) is not logically equivalent to B.

Beat it!

The person singing himself off as Schwartz is not saying that he thinks Serbs are pigs (with or without the cited exceptions), but that they are just as much flesh eating pigs, as the Albanians are savages and the KLA were terrorists.

For that matter, I have as little proof but as much intuition that you are not at all Irish/South-African but rather a Serb claiming to be a Westerner, as you have proof and intuition about the exodus being a KLA media orchestrated stunt.

Anyhow, please address any actual factual or interpretational falsehoods or inaccuracies regarding Schwartz's analysis, instead of dismissign everything he says because he is an alleged, or allegedly self-declared, Serbophobe.

Do I need to run you up to date with logical fallacies? Dismissing an argument because of its source's supposedly evil/tainted pedigree is also a logical fallacy.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 2:02 PM

Kejda,

You wrote, "The point is that the ethnically cleansed regions of Bosnia were immediately colonized by a Serb influx from Serbia proper.

Please support this with some sort of evidence. This conflicts with what I have seen and heard in the Republika Srpska.

You invite me to post evidence, so her we go again.

There were two big "cleansing", the first in the immediate aftermath of the NATO occupation/Serb retreat:

Human Right Watch noted in 1999, a mere 7 weeks after the bombing....

"Life is returning to Kosovo as refugees return from Macedonia and Albania. Yet for the province's minorities, and especially the Serb and Roma (Gypsy) populations, as well as some ethnic Albanians perceived as collaborators or as political opponents of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), these changes have brought fear, uncertainty, and in some cases violence. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 164,000 have left Kosovo altogether. Many others have moved to Serb or Roma enclaves under KFOR protection within Kosovo." [ http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/kosov2/ ]

They later upped their tally to 200,00 saying of the outbreak of ethnic violence in 2003 that "The attacks bear similarity to the campaign of arson, abduction, intimidation and killing directed at Serbs and Roma in the summer of 1999. This campaign of violence forced 200,000 Serbs and thousands of Roma from the province. " [ http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/03/18/serbia8129.htm ]

In March 2003, due to the violence their was another exodus, albeit smaller, and since then there has been a steady trickle of Serbs fleeing intimidation and ethnic violence.

In 2007, the "UNHCR Statistical Yearbook 2006" [
http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/STATISTICS/478cda572.html ] put the number of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees as:

  • 98,997 persons with confirmed refugee status in central Serbia
  • 206,504 IPDs from Kosovo Province
  • 21,000 IPDs within Kosovo Province

According to that report, Serbia and Montenegro (then one country) was had the 3rd highest concentration of refugees in the world.

Just download the statistical annex, it says it all.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 2:40 PM

Kejda,

The UN is the minimum figure as far as Serbs are concerned.

According to Serbia’s Commissioner for Refugees, "330,000 IDP’s from Kosovo arrived in Serbia in August 1999, of whom 209,579 remain in Serbia today". [ http://www.mfa.gov.yu/Bilteni/Engleski/b271107_e.html ]

All of this proves what I have said and supports the previously posted report "Final status for Kosovo – towards durable solutions for IDPs or new displacement risk?" [ http://tinyurl.com/5w66r8 ]

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 2:44 PM

Kejda,

As for evidence that they did not "merely leave voluntarily", I will set aside your blatant ignorance of the definitions of Ethnic Cleansing I invite you to Google and read these reports:

Failure to Protect: Anti-Minority Violence in Kosovo, March 2004

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA - ABUSES AGAINST SERBS AND ROMA IN THE NEW KOSOVO

And it was not just Serbs of course, the Roma and Gorani suffered too.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/feb/19/bandonedinkosovo

There is always good old CNN

"NATO, the U.N. and OSCE, and several hundred non-governmental organizations, now populate Kosovo. Under their eyes, about 250,000 Serbs, Romas, Turks, Gorani, Bosnians, Croats and Jews have been ethnically cleansed from Kosovo by the very ethnic Albanian leadership with whom the West intimately cooperates." [ http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/kosovo/stories/present/kfor/ ]

I think that should settle this discussion once and for all.

[Sorry about the multiple posts, my comments kept getting eaten]

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 2:47 PM

Kejda,

We already know you and Schwartz are allies in your loathing of Serbs.

Nothing new there.

If Mr Schwartz was not calling Serbs pigs (which seems odd since he also called them canines, troglodytes and evil) then what did he mean by "Then you should go to Serbia and live with the pigs you love so much"?

Here are some choice cuts from his recent Pajamas Media article ( http://pajamasmedia.com/2008/02/heroic_serbs_storm_us_embassy.php )

"Serbs do not change" - RUBBISH.

Serbs...revel in their bravery when it comes to murdering children and old people...interpret diplomacy as aggression and attempted genocide" - LIE

Serbs "sold out the Jews" - LIE

"Serbs hate Muslims because Muslims wash before praying" - You cannot make this stuff up!

So this is a Serb LOVER Kejda? A Serb Lovers like you huh :-)

The man is an open unashamed on-record racist loon.

You are now on record defending him.

As for my poisoning Schwatz's well, that is EXACTLY what I am doing. I do not expect you to understand this, but there are circumstances where it is completely legitimate to reveal provenance and pseudo-authority. This is one of them, just as it is when I reveal Dr Bob recommending "Super Supplement" is a doctor of theology not medicine.

Schwartz is masquerading as a neutral authority. It lends him credibility. I am destroying that credibility by pointing out that he is heavily biased, has an axe to grind and is a raving bigot.

With that in mind, an intelligent reader will be able to make up their mind better about his claims.

I have already done my bit to discredit Schwartz.

There is no need for me to waste any more time on him. Schwartz is now recognised as a radical, an extremist and a bigot. Sadly it is only when people cite him do they find out from their readers, professors or editors that they are citing someone who is to Balkan studies what David Irving is to Germanic Studies, namely an agenda driven apologist masquerading as an objective scholar and analyst.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 3:19 PM

Correction: Schwartz did not call Serbs "evil" (that I know of). I was confusing him with another commenter.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 3:23 PM

I've looked into these numbers as well. I have to. It's my job.

United States Army officers (whom I trust a great deal) pointed me to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. They claim that 65,000 Serbs were displaced from Kosovo. That number makes a lot more sense than 200,000 because there weren't 200,000 Serbs in Kosovo to begin with. Kosovo's Serb population is not below zero.

It should also be pointed out that not every person who migrates is a victim of ethnic cleansing. There were revenge attacks, yes, and there is obviously no excuse for them. But there was no ethnic-cleansing campaign in Kosovo that even remotely resembled with the mechanized military offensive that the Milosevic government waged against Albanians. Kosovo's first elected prime minister after the NATO intervention was the noted pacifist Ibrahim Rugova. The KLA leadership lost that election in a landslide. And Kosovo has no armed forces. The KLA doesn't even exist anymore. The only soldiers in Kosovo are the international soldiers from NATO countries that make up KFOR.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 3:31 PM

Limbic,

Human Rights Watch is not a source. They do not conduct statistical report, merely second-handedly cite others.

You pointed me toward a big list of pdf documents. I have no time to parse through all of them. Please find me the exact direct document from UNHCR, or any other statistical report, not websites where I have to fish for more sources.

In any case, how do you account for the information on this study on the demographic changes in Kosovo?

http://www.ks-gov.net/ESK/esk/pdf/english/population/Demographic%20changes%20of%20the%20Kosovo%20population%201948-2006.pdf

Table 2, Page 11.

In 1991, according to the assessment of the ex-Yugoslav Federation Office of Statistics (YFOS), the Serbian population in Kosovo was 194,190.

In 2006, according to SOK, there are 111,300 Serbs in the province.

That puts the number of those who left, to be no more than 82,890 Serbs.

This number is largely inflated because the number of Serbs living in Kosovo now is likely under-reported, because many Serbs have refused to part take in these statistical studies in Kosovo (I wonder why)

So how does Belgrade's math work? 330,000 IDPs arrived in Serbia from Kosovo in 1999, though less than 200K Serbs ever lived in Kosovo?

From the IDMC link you provided, let me quote some interesting information:

  1. Debate about figures is ongoing
  2. IDP figures is based on registration but it is estimated that some 20,000 Roma IDPs in Serbia are not registered

(Anyone can register, and I know Belgrade's government to have encouraged Serbs to register. The definition of an IDP is not as strict as that of a refugee.)

  1. Since no registration of IDPs has taken place in Kosovo, the figure is a UNHCR estimate

It gets much more interesting!

However, other organizations indicate different figures. Some claim the actual numbers may be lower while other think they should be much higher as many IDPs, particularly Roma, have not officially registered.

Serbian authorities are so far reluctant to organise a new registration exercise of IDPs which would clarify the issue.

hmmm, I wonder why that is.

From the very same source: http://www.internal-displacement.org/idmc/website/countries.nsf/(httpEnvelopes)/E2928D405B865F3D802570B8005AAF37?OpenDocument

ESI (European Stability Initiative), 7 June 2004:

"While there are no official population figures in Kosovo, both Serbian and Kosovo government data suggest that there are currently around 130,000 Serbs resident in Kosovo. The Belgrade-based Kosovo Coordination Centre (CCK), which is the Serbian administrative body responsible for Kosovo affairs, published a detailed report in January 2003 which gives a figure of 129,474 Serbs in Kosovo in 2002. This corresponds closely with ESI estimates based on primary school enrolment figures from the Kosovo Ministry for Education. There are 14,368 pupils in Serb-language primary schools in Kosovo in 2004. Using data on the age structure of Kosovo Serbs from a number of post-war surveys, this suggests a total Serb population of 128,000.

According to the last Yugoslav census, there were 194,000 Serbs resident in Kosovo in 1991.

(what I had cited)

During the 1980s, the number of Kosovo Serbs had declined. It is unlikely that the number of Serbs increased again during the 1990s. In fact, during the 1990s, the Serbian government felt compelled to introduce various measures aimed at stemming the emigration of Serbs from Kosovo.

The extent of Serb displacement from Kosovo is therefore likely to be around 65,000.

Contrary to a widespread perception, two-thirds of the pre-war Kosovo Serb population actually remain in Kosovo. (...) Contrary to another perception, almost two thirds of the present resident Serb population in Kosovo live south of the river Ibar [separating northern majority Serbian Kosovo from South Kosovo]

The IDMC has the following comment to make about this:

Contrary to what the ESI report say the Serb population in Kosovo has increased in the 1990s. Between the 1991 census and 1996, some 19.000 Serb refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have been sent by Milosevic regime to Kosovo. (OSCE, 1 September1999, Part IV, Chapter 19).

(these people had been dumped by Milosevic by expropriating Albanians and turning their houses and property over to these newcomers, so they SHOULD have left after 1999, if they hadn't left already. But read below, most of them had left already:)

However, according to UNHCR Belgrade, most of these refugees have either left Kosovo, been resettled or taken citizenship of Serbia. (UNHCR Belgrade, email correspondence, 7 July 2005)

The Smoking Memo, Limbic, here it is!!!

I guess don't even bother to find me the right PDF document among that big list of links thrown against the wall, for the UNHCR report:

UNHCR's own documents repeat the results of the Serbian government registration exercise. UNHCR, which operates on the territory of Serbia by invitation of the government, has not carried out an independent investigation. In the fine print of some of its documents, however, it expresses serious doubts about the official figures.

(The report that claims over 140K-200K displaced Serbs from Kosovo is just propaganda admittedly fed by the Serbian government to UNHCR!!)

"The sum of the estimated number of minorities living in Kosovo, and the number of currently registered IDPs in Serbia and Montenegro, results in a figure significantly higher than the minority population that has ever lived in Kosovo…"

Bingo!!!

An undetermined number of minority returnees who have returned to Kosovo, including those who left during the NATO bombings but returned immediately after, never de-registered.

Bam!! Does that sting, Limbic?

"Realistically, therefore, much lower numbers than those non-Albanians currently registered as IDPs in Serbia are truly IDPs, or remain IDPs in search of a durable solution, or await voluntary return." (ESI, 7 June 2004, D.1.Return)

So Limbic, all your sources were bogus, do you have any other sources?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 3:49 PM

Michael, you link to the same source I did above???

How did you miss the headline "IDPs from and within Kosovo: 206,000 in Serbia and 21,000 within Kosovo"

That is basically what I have said all along (including their points about Roma and Gorani).

As for quibbling about whether these IDPs were Ethnically Cleansed, the accepted definitions:

I use the definition offered by the Commission of Experts, in their first Interim Report 10/2/1993

'Considered in the context of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing means rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force and intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area."

Andrew Bell-Fialkoff says "...ethnic cleansing can be understood as the expulsion of an `undesirable' population from a given territory due to religious or ethnic discrimination, political, strategic or ideological considerations, or a combination of these."

[http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19930601faessay5199/andrew-bell-fialkoff/a-brief-history-of-ethnic-cleansing.html ]

Given these definitions, and the facts of not onky what happened and CONTINUES to happen daily in Kosovo, the question is beyond doubt in my mind.

The the mechanized military offensive in 1998/99 was against the KLA with undeniable crimes also commited against civilians (mostly after the bombing).

The deracination of Serbs, and the obstruction of returnees, is an ongoing problem in Kosovo today.

It is low intensity operations conducted at the level of all ethnic war - machetes, drive-bys, hand grenades, stonings, arson....

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 3:59 PM

So Limbic,

All your sources relate either directly to the UNHCR report, or indirectly (because the Human Rights Watch takes it at face value).

But it turns out that the UNHCR report consists merely of numbers fed to them by the Serbian government (which also claims a total of 330K Serbs displaced from Kosovo, a number which the international monitoring authorities agree with me, in that it is bigger than the number of Serbs to have ever lived in Kosovo in the first place).

All your sources are either direct figures of the Serbian government, which are absurd and do not stand up to minimal scrutiny, or second-hand figures of the Serb Government (the UNHCR report), or third-hand figures of the Serb Government (the Human Rights Watch, citing the UNHCR report).

All the independent estimates not cooked by the Serbian government neither directly nor indirectly, converge at 65K, which is the figure Michael was given.

Also, like he points out, many of these people left voluntarily. Emigration of Serbs from Kosovo had started way before 1999, as the above sources reveal.

Next!

Throw me something else to debunk!

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 4:03 PM

Limbic said:

"Michael, you link to the same source I did above???

How did you miss the headline “IDPs from and within Kosovo: 206,000 in Serbia and 21,000 within Kosovo”

That is basically what I have said all along (including their points about Roma and Gorani)."

Your very source, which you didn't think people would read beyond the first sentence of two, explains that the basis for those numbers are mere estimations from the UNCRH, and then proceeds to explain that the UNCRH seriously doubts these numbers itself, because it was not allowed to conduct independent studies in Serbia, but was merely fed data by the Serbian Government.

Did you miss the memo?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 4:05 PM

Off topic, so as to ease Limic's embarrasement over being caught using the Serbain Government's bogus data as "independent sources":

Without needing citation, the Republika Srpska agreed to the creation of the constituent parts of Bosni-Herzegovina via the Dayton Accords.

So when Limbic claims that this entity has the same "right" to secede just as the Kosovars do, then basically he is arguing that the Dayton Accords are null and void as far as the Serbs are concerned.

The Dayton Accords may indeed have been forced on the Serbs but that's what happens when you lose a war.

No country can initiate a war, lose it, and expect there to not be unpleasant consequences.

The treaty is unlikely to be very pleasing but the leaders did sign and agreed to abide by it.

Kosovo had no such treaty as the area was taken by fiat and declaration rather than by treaty.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 4:19 PM

Limbic: How did you miss the headline “IDPs from and within Kosovo: 206,000 in Serbia and 21,000 within Kosovo”

Oh, Limbic. Read the whole damn document.

The extent of Serb displacement from Kosovo is therefore likely to be around 65,000. Contrary to a widespread perception, two-thirds of the pre-war Kosovo Serb population actually remain in Kosovo. (...) Contrary to another perception, almost two thirds of the present resident Serb population in Kosovo live south of the river Ibar [separating northern majority Serbian Kosovo from South Kosovo]

Contrary to what the ESI report say the Serb population in Kosovo has increased in the 1990s. Between the 1991 census and 1996, some 19.000 Serb refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have been sent by Milosevic regime to Kosovo. (OSCE, 1 September1999, Part IV, Chapter 19). However, according to UNHCR Belgrade, most of these refugees have either left Kosovo, been resettled or taken citizenship of Serbia. (UNHCR Belgrade, email correspondence, 7 July 2005)

UNHCR's own documents repeat the results of the Serbian government registration exercise. UNHCR, which operates on the territory of Serbia by invitation of the government, has not carried out an independent investigation. In the fine print of some of its documents, however, it expresses serious doubts about the official figures.
"The sum of the estimated number of minorities living in Kosovo, and the number of currently registered IDPs in Serbia and Montenegro, results in a figure significantly higher than the minority population that has ever lived in Kosovo…

Your own source bolsters exactly what I and Kejda have been saying, and undermines you what you have been saying. You have to read past the headlines and wade into the details.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 5:03 PM

Great post, Michael.

I have just been reading this amazing book on Leftism by von Kuehnelt (supposedly a great influence on W. Buckley). I think he would probably argue that the Balkan permanent state of war is a result of the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian empire after WWI, which removed any real buffer state able to resist Naziism, all in the name of democracy. First the Anschluss, and then hell on earth...

Maybe the Balkans were better under Tito, because he stopped the inevitable savagery that results from pure direct democracy (just like in the French Revolution). Maybe they do need a Tito type, a sort of constitutional monarchy.

It is certainly a fool's errand, and a bloody one, to still try to subdivide and reassign every ethnic subgroup to a certain autonomous area. The Wahabbis and the nationalists know that this direct democracy provides them a rich field in which to plant their seeds of hate.

Posted by: PJ Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 7:03 PM

PJ:

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."-Ben Franklin

So long as you recognize that, why do you recommend authoritarian regimes to other peoples of the world instead of a constitutional republic (not a democracy) based off of the template of the US?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 7:10 PM

That's what I am recommending, medaura, some sort of constitutional republic with--and this is they key--checks and balances on all facets of government. It's the checks and balances that save us. We have the electoral college, we have states' rights over federal, we have the Supreme Court, we have a non-political military. But a state like Kosovo, half the size of Germany, which is smaller than Wyoming, may be in need of other solutions. Certainly not fascist or nationalistic, but perhaps not in the style of the US.

(And BTW von K also also uses Franklin quote!)

Posted by: PJ Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 8:02 PM

Oh, well first of all I thought you were referring to Bosnia-Herzegovina or Serbia, not Kosovo.

Kosovo Albanians don't have any history of aggression toward their Balkan neighbors.

I think the checks and balances of a classically liberal republic are very scalable for large as well as small communities. It is ultimately all about the protection of negative rights (life, liberty, property, due process) and the enforcement of contracts.

I wish American Diplomats with balls and confidence in their country's political structure would push such a model on Kosovo. It might fly there, given the overall hysterical love for everything American.

"Maybe they do need a Tito type, a sort of constitutional monarchy."

That, though, is not only a far inferior solution, but there is no chance in hell it will happen in Europe at this day and age, especially in Kosovo.

Franklin has some amazing quotes. Him and Jefferson are my all-time favorite Americans.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 8:26 PM

"Kosovo Albanians don't have any history of aggression toward their Balkan neighbors."

No, but Kosovo still must defend itself against aggression, so you can't ignore the military question. Can NATO do this and for how long?

And, yes, a republic is all about protecting the liberty of individuals, but that includes defense too.

Perhaps Karzai is a better example than Tito. He is elected, answers to two houses of parliament and a judiciary, but he is clearly more of the statesman or aristo class. He's a professional, in other words, not a demagogue, and governs within the law, not above it, not matter his popularity. The checks and balances imply a US-type system; maybe this would work in Kosovo as well.

Posted by: PJ Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 9:01 PM

Terrific reporting, thank you.

"But a state like Kosovo, half the size of Germany, which is smaller than Wyoming, may be in need of other solutions. PJ

Percisely, and that's something that is not being roundly considered. After all, the term "Balkanization" implies something deleterious for a reason, a set of reasons, and the full force of that is not often allowed to register.

Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 10:00 PM

Ha!

Kosovo is MUCH smaller than half the size of Germany. It's more like, half the size of Albania, which is itself about one eighth of the size of Germany.

Size has nothing to do with it though. You have tiny states like Monaco or Luxemburg, which precisely because of their size, never had any illusions of colonialist expansion (military spending), and became prosperous and attracted wealth as free trade low taxes islands within Europe.

Though Kosovo does not have the luxury of forgoing self-defense measures, given Serbia's chauvinistic rhetoric "Kosovo is and always will be Serbia".

Michael_B:

Percisely, and that's something that is not being roundly considered. After all, the term “Balkanization” implies something deleterious for a reason, a set of reasons, and the full force of that is not often allowed to register.

What do you think is inherently deleterious in the formation of new states, be it also in the Balkans, and how do you think it applies to the issue of Kosovo specifically?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 11:17 PM

Michael and Kejda,

I am sorry to say that it is you, NOT me that has misread the report and you are selecting the one paragraph of the arguments section to support your claim.

"Debate about figures is ongoing".

The ARGUMENTS are listed and you see fit to selectively quote the only one that questions my figures, and that is based in data from 2000 and is disputed by the UNHCR!

The conclusion and current thinking and summary ALL support exactly what I have said.

I mean why not just call the US Embassy in Belgrade and ask them. It is more honest and accurate that selectively citing reports.

Here are the organisations and reports listed there that support me. Please note they are the ones with up-to-date reports from last year (2007) and include the Red Cross, UNHCR and OSCE:

Coordination Centre of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija (CCK), 20 November 2002, Principles of the Program for Return of Internally Displaced Persons From Kosovo and Metohija
Council of Europe (COE), Commissioner for Human Rights, 16 October 2002, Kosovo: The Human Rights Situation and the Fate of Persons Displaced from their Homes, CommDH11
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), July 2003, The Vulnerability Assessment of Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia and Montenegro
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 31 May 2005, The situation of internally displaced persons in Serbia and Montenegro: issues paper
Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), 1999, Human Rights in Kosovo, As Seen, As Told
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), August 2004, Estimate of refugees and displaced persons still seeking solutions in South-Eastern Europe
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), 26 April 2002, Humanitarian Risk Analysis No. 18, Humanitarian Situation, Protection and Assistance: Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia Montenegro
UNHCR Belgrade/Praxis, March 2007, Analysis of the situation of internally displaced persons from Kosovo in Serbia

Here are the two report, using data from 2000, that support you:

European Stability Initiative (ESI), 7 June 2004, The Lausanne Principle: Multiethnicity, Territory and the Future of Kosovo's Serbs

U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), April 2000, Reversal of Fortune: Yugoslavia's Refugees Crisis Since the Ethnic Albanian Return to Kosovo

Folks, go there and read the thing and then decide for yourselves.

http://www.internal-displacement.org/idmc/website/countries.nsf/(httpEnvelopes)/E2928D405B865F3D802570B8005AAF37?OpenDocument

It is Kejda and you Michael that ought to be squirming after trying to pull a fast one like this.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 11:38 PM

Kejda,

You revived our fruitless discussion about Kosovo in Dark Corner 1, and now it blights what could have been a decent discussion about Bosnia here.

Now that I have correct you and Michael in your premature gloating about the number of IDPs cleansed from Kosovo (see my post above), I think it is worthwhile dancing on the grave of your claims a little.

A few facts. The Republika Srpska did not agree to Dayton, it was created by Dayton.

It is widely considered to have been a terrible move that rewarded the Bosnian Serbs for successful ethnic cleansing.

Their right to seceded is the same right that the Kosovo Precedent has given to all ethnic nationalists, namely that if it is OK to change the borders of a sovereign democracy (Serbia) and create an ethnic state (Kosovo), then what political or moral objection can one assert against the RS if they want to turn their discrete ethnic entity into a state?

You can point out the injustice of how they acquired their territory, but you cannot deny that there are 1,500,000 Serbs in a territory that have the same right to Self-determination that Kosovars do.

You say that The Dayton Accords were "forced on the Serbs", which again reveals your ignorance about what actually happened.

Dayton was a boon for the Bosnian Serbs. They were delighted with Dayton. It silenced the guns just at the point that their military fortunes were turning, at near the height of their territorial control in Bosnia.

Republika Srpska did not even exist before 1995, so it could not have "initiated" the war. The Bosnian Civil War was just that, a civil war between competing Ethnic Alliances for territory.

Additionally RS it did not "lose" the war. It is widely considered to have a gross unfair proportion of territory.

Dayton, just like all treaties, is only binding so long as the actors agree to it. It was a hasty and desperate accord designed to stop the bloodshed, not foster a nation.

As such it needs to be updated. The problem is that Kosovo has really opened the door to the twisted dream of Greater Serbia like never before.

I am dead against any more of this Ethnic Nationalist madness. Thankfully the political elites of Croatia, Albania and Serbia are also against any more nationalist border changing.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 12:43 AM

Limbic: ...is disputed by the UNHCR!

Your own pet number is disputed by UNHCR.

From your own link:

UNHCR's own documents repeat the results of the Serbian government registration exercise. UNHCR, which operates on the territory of Serbia by invitation of the government, has not carried out an independent investigation. In the fine print of some of its documents, however, it expresses serious doubts about the official figures.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 12:52 AM

Limbic: what political or moral objection can one assert against the RS if they want to turn their discrete ethnic entity into a state?

This was already covered in the main article: it's because a huge amount of that territory was won by war and does not belong to Serbs.

If the Serbs have the right to all of the RS, then Israel has the right to annex the West Bank and Gaza forever by the same logic. If you don't like that example, then also by the same logic the Palestinians have the right to annex Tel Aviv to their statelet in Gaza if they can conquer it.

If the Serbs in the RS hadn't stolen all that land in a genocidal war, I'd agree that they should be able to leave Bosnia if they want out. But that's not what happened. See the maps I published.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 12:58 AM

Kejda,

Final post here for a while, I have to get to work.

I have addressed the fraud that you (and sadly Michael) tried to pass on us all by pointing out that you (and he) selectively cited the only paragraph of the arguments section of the IDMC report that even questions my figures.

That is both intellectually dishonest and smacks of desperation.

The IDMC and up-to-date reports from the UNHCR and International Red Cross are unequivocal: There are over 200,000 IDPs in Serbia, around 20,000 within Kosovo and around 16,000 in Montenegro. They seem to think that the numbers could be boosted by the uncounted Roma IDPs.

You are welcome to flatly deny the reports of independent humanitarian organisations and the UNHCR, who working on the ground have had 9 years to gather the facts and make their annual assessments.

You are also welcome to dispute that they were Ethnically Cleansed, but in so contradict the accepted definitions posted above.

If the Serbs left "voluntarily" then I suppose the Bosnian Muslims formerly of the Republika Srpska left "voluntarily" too?

Choose carefully now Kejda, you are already biting the proverbial bullet, soon you will be chewing it.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 1:07 AM

Limbic: If the Serbs left “voluntarily” then I suppose the Bosnian Muslims formerly of the Republika Srpska left “voluntarily” too?

Oh, come off it, Limbic. You know damn well that nothing Albanians did in Kosovo even remotely compares to what Radovan Karazdic's Bosnian Serb forces did to get rid of Bosniaks in the Republica Srpska. Show us the Albanian Srebenica or retire this equivalency game you are playing.

You're the one who is desperate here. I have no dog in this fight. I am not from the Balkans, nor have I "gone native" among Albanians as you have among Serbs. You're emotionally invested in your pet group. I'm not. If the Albanians did what Karadic's army did, I would say so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 1:16 AM

Michael,

About Republika Srpska, please see my response to Kejda and you above.

I agree about the injustice how it acquired their territory, but you cannot deny that there are 1,500,000 Serbs in a territory that have the same theoretical right to Self-determination that Kosovars do.

I cannot see how one can grant that right to Kosovars and deny it from Serbs without resorting to a double standard.

As for that report and the disputed figures.

You are quoting a report by the European Stability Initiative (ESI) from June 2004 which claims that the "In the fine print of some of its documents, however, [the UN] expresses serious doubts about the official figures."

The UNHCR e-emailed the IDMC in 2005 to DISPUTE the ESI report, noting that Serbs were settled in Kosovo in the 90s, thereby explaining the apparent discrepancies between estimated pre-war populations and the REGISTERED current IDP populations.

Today, in 2008, the UNHCR, International Red Cross, IDMC and every NGO actually working with IDPs in the region ALL AGREE that the number of IDPs from Kosovo is in the region of 220,000 .

I am not sure how I can offer any more proof than this?

Danish Refugee Council? - http://www.flygtning.dk/Serbia.2722.0.html
Catholic Relief Services? - http://crs.org/serbia/projects.cfm
The US State Department? - http://www.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2007/92585.htm

I am not wasting time on this any more. I live here, I trust the experts on the ground, and my sources (which include US embassy staff) are both impeccable and fresh.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 2:19 AM

Michael,

You are absolutely right, Albanians in Kosovo were and are not nearly as bad as the Bosnian Serb forces in Bosnia. But since I did not say that, though, you can consider that straw man dead.

I said Serbs, tens if not hundreds of thousands, have been Ethnically Cleansed from Kosovo.

The means are not generally the same as those used in Bosnia and the Krajina, but the ends are.

You can label me "desperate", and accuse me of having "gone native" and being "emotionally invested" in my group (Serbs), but none of this challenges a word of what I have written.

You do have "a dog in this race", Kejda, and she revived the fruitless Kosovo discussion here.

You called bullshit on my figures, I defended them.

You accuse me of trading in equivalence, when what I am doing is drawing parallels and revealing hypocrisies and double standards.

  • Right to self-determination: Kosovo - si! Republika Srpska - no!
  • Ethnic Cleansing: Bosniaks from RS/Kosovars from Kosovo - si! Serbs from Krajina and Kosovo - no.
  • General All Round Bad Guys: Serbs - si! Everyone else - no!

Forgive my cynicism about the Balkans, I picked it up in discussions like this one.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 2:37 AM

Michael,

Update on the figures.

The IDP project in the US Embassy in Belgrade officially say that the 200,000+ figure is right, but off the record they say that they believe the figure is less, estimating the number of IDPs from Kosovo in Serbia as being in the region of 100,000.

As you are a US citizen, I fully understand that you would trust those figures. Since anything from the Serbian government is immediately junked as "biased" in this forum, please understand those that reject that that lower unofficial US government figure in the same way.

My own opinion is that 100,000 sets a bottom level for numbers, considering the Serbian government estimates are in the 300,000 range, the UNHCR is in the 200,000 range and the US Embassy is in the 100,000 range.

No one I am talking to is suggesting anything like 65,000. The Roma organisations alone claim that number of Roma IDPs.

Until there is more clarity and definitive evidence either way, I am sticking with the UNHRC's figures.

Here is the funny thing, I do not really care what the exact figure is because my points do not, and have never, depended on the exact numbers.

100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 - take your pick.

None of this changes the undeniable fact that Kosovos's minorities, already tiny, have been and continue to be displaced by the ongoing Ethnic Violence and intimidation in Kosovo. I call that displacement Ethnic Cleansing, and that conforms to the accepted definitions of the phrase posted above.

To me, this means that crimes against minorities in Kosovo TODAY are largely ignored whilst we all focus on crimes committed by Serbian dictators and Ethnic Nationalists nearly a decade (or more) ago.

I think it is time for some balance and relevance to the situation on the ground today.

That said, this discussion, like the one in the previous post about Serbia, is now off-topic and no longer fruitful.

Sayonara for now.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 4:55 AM

Limbic,

The deleterious thinking on your behalf that it producing your "arguments" is giving me a headache.

Republica Srpska was created per the Dayton Accords, conditional on the Serbian residents occupying that area abiding by the Dayton Accords. Hence, the Dayton Accords bind Republica Srpska to the Bosnian confederation.

Republika Srpska did not even exist before 1995, so it could not have “initiated” the war. The Bosnian Civil War was just that, a civil war between competing Ethnic Alliances for territory.

Serbs started the war, not Republica Srpska. Don't twist my words again. Republica Srpska and its binding into the Bosniac confederation was a result of the war.

Dayton, just like all treaties, is only binding so long as the actors agree to it. It was a hasty and desperate accord designed to stop the bloodshed, not foster a nation.

Uh, no. It only needs for its actors to have initially agreed to it, and doesn't necessarily require for them to be pleased with the results of their treaty today.

That's how treaties work. If they were as fickle as to be rendered null by the mere future dissatisfaction of the parties with its results, it would be a very different political world indeed.

The only practical and political recourse Republica Srpska has in coming out of the Dayton Accords is to start another war.

Kosovo, on the other hand, never owned its existence within Serbia or Yugoslavia to any treaty agreed to by its population's representatives. The terrirtory was merely annexed to Serbia in 1912 by the invading Serbian forced.

No one asked Kosovoar Albanians how they felt about it, so by proclaiming independence, they are not breaking any agreement they had previously entered with any third party.

What part don't you understand?

Also, as far as the numbers of displaced Serbs go, I mean come on. Aren't you embarrassed to even show your face here now?

Michael and I did not merely quote a single paragraph that clashes your numbers; pretty much the entire entry on IDMC is a disclaimer on the numbers presented on the headline.

Information overload won't get you very far here either: You quote a ridiculous number of "sources" without any websites for me or anyone else to check their validity.

The burden of proof here now is on you: It was revealed very clearly that the Serbian Government has not allowed independent investigations into the demographics of displaced Serbs from Kosovo as late at 2006.

You are welcome to flatly deny the reports of independent humanitarian organisations and the UNHCR, who working on the ground have had 9 years to gather the facts and make their annual assessments.

The UNHCR has not been allowed by the Serbian government, as per their own admission which you are furiously turning a blind eye to, to do any independent work on the ground. It has merely been reporting figured of IDPs as reported by the Serbian Government.

I invite you to find a single independent study with proof that it was allowed to conduct independent work, instead of relying on Serbian figures.

By the way, even such "independent" work would be inherently prone to inaccuracies, since anyone in Serbia can go up to the investigators and claim to be an IDP from Kosovo, a behavior greatly encouraged by the Serbian government.

The most telling objective assessments of Serbs displaced since 1999, are the before-and-after statistics. These reveal a number around 65K.

Before screeching 'ethnic cleansing!' about this number too, consider that almost all of Kosovo's strata of bureaucrats and state administrators were imported from Serbia. Kosovar Albanians were largely excluded from local government. This strata of government stooges had no employment prospects in Kosovo outside the realm of Serbian government, and was hated by the Albanians for its tyrannical tendencies. They packed their bags and left. Good for them!

I am not denying that acts of barbarism, arson, vandalism, and even murder were directed at some ethnic Serbs by some ethnic Albanians. These, however, were sporadic incidents that were punished when/if the culprits were caught by KFOR, and cannot be blamed for the fact that about 65K Serbs left Kosovo.

That I personally know of, many of those who left sold their properties off since they didn't have prospects of returning.

Some of those who left never really owned their houses anyway; they had been recently sent off as colonizers so they abandoned their houses to their rightful Albanian owners who had been expropriated to make room for them.

No, it certainly not my intention (and even less so Michael's) to blight this discussion. But you couldn't help sneaking in equivocating claims, bullshit statistics about 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo, and the likes. You can't expect people to just let you get away with it for the sake of the discussion going on.



Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 7:43 AM

> Sarajevo is mostly Muslim Bosniak now.

First you complain about the evil Serbian wiping out muslims in Serajavo. Next Sarjavo has been cleansed of Serbs. There is a logical error here.

Posted by: Onslo Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 7:49 AM

> An ethnic map of Yugoslavia in 1994.

This map is a bit misleading.
Muslims are pink
Other major groups are orange.
But the other major groups are muslims too.
The labels are not perfect.

Posted by: Onslo Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 7:52 AM

> The point is that the ethnically cleansed
> regions of Bosnia were immediately colonized
> by a Serb influx from Serbia proper.
> Unless these colonizers go back home

This is laughable, considering that the mess started with eastern Europe being occupied and colonized by the caliphate some 800 years ago.

Posted by: Onslo Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 7:55 AM

Limbic says:

The UNHCR e-emailed the IDMC in 2005 to DISPUTE the ESI report, noting that Serbs were settled in Kosovo in the 90s, thereby explaining the apparent discrepancies between estimated pre-war populations and the REGISTERED current IDP populations.

Contrary to what the ESI report say the Serb population in Kosovo has increased in the 1990s. Between the 1991 census and 1996, some 19.000 Serb refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have been sent by Milosevic regime to Kosovo. (OSCE, 1 September1999, Part IV, Chapter 19). However, according to UNHCR Belgrade, most of these refugees have either left Kosovo, been resettled or taken citizenship of Serbia. (UNHCR Belgrade, email correspondence, 7 July 2005)

Those people were first of all, settlers. If they had been kicked out of Kosovo by Albanians in 1999 I would have no problem with that, because Milosevic expropriated Albanians from their homes to give to those settlers.

But they had actually left before 1999 already! They had either left Kosovo, or had been resettled somewhere else.

I provided this information yesterday, why do you feign ignorance?

Until there is more clarity and definitive evidence either way, I am sticking with the UNHRC's figures.

Yeah, suit yourself. So long as you admit that you are sticking merely by the figures of the Serbian Government, because that is what UNHRC's figures are.

My own opinion is that 100,000 sets a bottom level for numbers, considering the Serbian government estimates are in the 300,000 range, the UNHCR is in the 200,000 range and the US Embassy is in the 100,000 range.

Anyone here could give less of damn about your opinion. Sources are what matter, and they paint a different story.

You do have “a dog in this race”, Kejda, and she revived the fruitless Kosovo discussion here.

My dog in this race is the one with its facts straight. Why shouldn't I defend Albanians against your insinuations, if sources are on their side? Counter my sources, if you can, instead of speculating about my motives. Your motives are beyond speculation here anyway.

It is you who has revived the Kosovo discussion here. You slip in crazy statements, and the only way to not revive the discussion is to let them go unchallenged.

Excuse me for being as impolite as to refuse to do that!

You talk as if not a single word Michael or I quoted has gone through your ears and in between your skull though. Do you even read what we write? Your dismissive attitude toward facts and sources just emphasize the futility of even debating with you.

I don't find it worthwhile, but again, your bullshit should not be left floating on the web uncontested.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 7:57 AM

Onslo:

This is laughable, considering that the mess started with eastern Europe being occupied and colonized by the caliphate some 800 years ago.

Well actually, the mess started in the 7th century when Southern Slavs (future Serbs) came from the East and torched, murdered, and raped existing Illyrian tribes in the Balkans.

Serbs have fought Albanians over the regions of now Southern Serbia and Kosovo centuries before any Ottoman was to be found in the region and both parties were 100% Christian.

This has never been a religious conflict, rather an ethnic conflict.

Nice try though.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 8:01 AM

Look, Limbic, here's the problem with labeling all ethnic migration ethnic cleansing. I hope you understand my example since you are not an American.

In Detroit, Michigan, (as well as in other cities in the 60s and 70s) we had what we call "white flight" from the inner city, when hundreds of thousands of white Americans fled the city during a time of ethnic unrest and violence. No one in America, except perhaps for KKK members, would say that black Americans ethnically cleansed white people.

What happened to Serbs in Kosovo was worse than what happened in Detroit, but it is much closer to what happened in Detroit than to, say, Bosniaks in Srebenica or Banja Luka.

You are aware of the differences in what happened in each place yourself, so in a way there is no need for me to argue the semantics with you. But it appears that you're making a moral and/or historical equivalence argument. I'm arguing the point for the sake of readers here who are less well-informed about what happened, who think the Albanians of Kosovo really did behave no better than Radovan Karadzic. There are plenty of people who believe that and worse about the Albanians, even that Serbs were fighting Al Qaeda in Bosnia and Kosovo, that Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic, etc., were fighting "the good fight."

Just look at what people at the "Free Republic" Web site say about all this. Many of them really think Kosovo is an Al Qaeda state, which is ridiculous.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 10:52 AM

Onslo: First you complain about the evil Serbian wiping out muslims in Serajavo. Next Sarjavo has been cleansed of Serbs. There is a logical error here.

Sarajevo was not successfully cleansed of Muslims. The siege was not successful. Now most Serbs don't want to live there. There is no error here.

Muslims are pink
Other major groups are orange.
But the other major groups are muslims too.

Not all the orange groups are Muslims. Only the Albanians are, and some Albanians are Christians. Montenegrins and Hungarians are included in the "other" orange category, too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 11:01 AM

Kejda,

Regarding your ongoing denial about the figures. I refer you again to to my answer to Michael and yourself above where multiple sources, not least of which is the UNHCR itself - in 2007 - which states the number is over 200,000.

Since you have not offered any new arguments or evidence, there is no need for further response.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 11:03 AM

Kejda,

I see now your bigotry is reaching back into the distant past.

You wrote:

"Well actually, the mess started in the 7th century when Southern Slavs (future Serbs) came from the East and torched, murdered, and raped existing Illyrian tribes in the Balkans."

I see this as yet another example of your Serb-hating bigotry on display.

I suppose you heard this in school when you were 12, just before you went home and heard NATO reading out their target lists .

Not much is know about the Illyrians, but it is true that they were Slavicized (ie. were assimilated into Slav culture) around the 7th century. Those slave, by the way, were not future Serbs, but Croats.

That assimilation should tell you something about who the descendants of the Illyrians are likely to be :-)

Whilst raping and looting was perfectly normal in those times (I mean, just look at what became of the biggest rapists and looter - they ended up the Danish!) I have not seen anything to suggest the Slavs were particularly barbarous to their new neighbours.

It seems from a quick Google on the matter that apparent experts seem to think Bosnians are the ones most fitting to bear the title descendants of the Illyrians (although most agree that Illyrian genes are probably scattered throughout the Balkan peninsula).

http://www.amazon.com/Illyrians-Peoples-Europe-John-Wilkes/dp/0631198075

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Megistias#On_Albanian_claims_regarding_illyria.2Cpelasgians_and_others

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 11:06 AM

Ok Michael, so the Serbs leaving Kosovo was a form of "white flight"?

Riiiiiiiight :-)

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 11:10 AM

Limbic:

Having problems with reading comprehension?

Kejda,

I see now your bigotry is reaching back into the distant past.

You wrote:

“Well actually, the mess started in the 7th century when Southern Slavs (future Serbs) came from the East and torched, murdered, and raped existing Illyrian tribes in the Balkans.”

Then you go on to describe how rape was perfectly normal in the day. Oh, look at the Vikings=Danes today! Slavs (your proxy for Serbs) did no worse than the Vikings! Just like the Serbs did no worse in exterminating Jews than many other European countries (it is all about equivalence, to you).

But I am a bigot for paraphrasing historic developments?

Then you go and deny or dilute the well-established ethnic continuity between Illyrians and Albanians with more bullshit. If you can't provide trusted sources for something as clear and tangible as the number of displaced Serbs from Kosovo, I guess you cannot be expected to provide anything decent regarding issues as exotic as genetic studies on the Balkans' nations.

The funny thing is that I did not even claim that Albanians are the only descendants of the Illyrians or any such thing, but merely that Southern Slavs (no, it was not proto-Croats, but mainly proto-Serbs, check the geography) brutalized the existing Illyrian population, a fact which you don't even bother to deny.

Instead you go on and dig racialist materials, as if that is what it's all about.

And irrespective of the prevalence of Illyrian genes (I won't get into a disgusting back and forth with you on issues of racial purity), the point I made is that the conflict between Serbs and Albanians over Kosovo had nothing to do with the Ottomans. Most Serbian nationalists want to use the Islam-vs-Christianity dichotomy to encapsulate the dynamics of the conflict, because it puts them (the "noble Christians") in a better light.

If anything, the Ottomans' rule calmed the region down, so Serbs and Albanians couldn't openly fight over territory and were both under the same dominion.

The conflict had started when Albanians were just as Christian as Serbs were and had nothing to do with religion.

I will also go on record and say this:

I have good reason to believe that you are not who you say you are. That you are a Serb pretending to be a Westerner.

There's a dime a dozen of such fake characters around the internet, and you are way too manipulative and too emotionally invested in re-writing Serbia's history to be just an innocent useful idiot indoctrinated during his stay in Belgrade.

I could be wrong, but that's where my money is.

In any case, you are not interested in the truth, and you have no shame either, because your lies have been debunked here many times over. But you keep throwing it against the wall.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 1:42 PM

I'm Chrisitian, and If I was locked in a concentration camp I don't know if I can forgive a general the who ran the place, much less forge a friendship with him. Sometimes you meet some extraordinary people.

Posted by: lee Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 2:52 PM
Percisely, and that's something that is not being roundly considered. After all, the term “Balkanization” implies something deleterious for a reason, a set of reasons, and the full force of that is not often allowed to register.
"What do you think is inherently deleterious in the formation of new states, be it also in the Balkans, and how do you think it applies to the issue of Kosovo specifically?"
I didn't indicate I had a problem with either new or small states, though Monaco and Luxemburg are pure anomalies, not analogous to the problems in the Balkans. Truth is Kosovo is virtually a "done deal," isn't it? And in the end, if it turns out for the better - the best hope being that it turns into an exemplar state - then that will be worth applauding, I'd agree it's at least a possibility. So perhaps you're right, we'll see how it turns out. I don't believe it's as promising as is being suggested, but we can both hope I'll be wrong on that score; the future is not the past, at least not necessarily so. Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 3:52 PM

> Not all the orange groups are Muslims.
> Only the Albanians are

Yes, a large part of the map is orange
where it should be pink.

Posted by: Onslo Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 6:31 PM

> Sarajevo was not successfully cleansed of
> Muslims. The siege was not successful.
> Now most Serbs don't want to live there.

Here in Holland, where there is peace, 2% of the population cause 20% of the violence. Those 2% are maroccans, that is muslims.

It is not hard for me to imagine the post war violence caused by muslims. The real, non-reported genocide.

Posted by: Onslo Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 6:36 PM

Onslo: It is not hard for me to imagine the post war violence caused by muslims. The real, non-reported genocide.

Kosovo isn't Morocco.

If the genocide is real, where is it? Why isn't it reported? Why didn't I see it? Why are American soldiers standing around not doing anything about it and telling me it isn't happening?

Oh, but you can "imagine" it. Good for you. Maybe you can become a better foreign correspondent than I am, all the while basing your dispatches on your imagination. Let's see what you got. Wow us.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 7:10 PM

“What do you think is inherently deleterious in the formation of new states, be it also in the Balkans, and how do you think it applies to the issue of Kosovo specifically?”

I am not a statesman, but here is my opinion. Balkan conflict is based on ethnic and/or religious difference. After both WWI and II, populations were forcibly moved in Eastern Europe and the Balkans to satisfy the (rather dumb) peace treaties which, among other mistakes, left all the ethnic Balkan states on their own militarily and also enabled the Soviet Union.

Yet the people of the region have proved time and again that they can forgive, forget and live in peace; it is the political opportunists (or the Soviets in the past) who instigate the bloodshed. Maybe the region can be bound by a very loose federal system to at least facilitate commerce, like the EU but elected. But any such 'state' must have a monopoly on force for at least a generation--maybe that can be supplied by NATO. Without a federation, you have several small states each with a militia. Before you know it, it's pre-surge Iraq. (At least Bush finally saw the light there and let the military kill the bad guys instead of trying to satisfy them with a seat in parliament.)

On false comparisons: The federal system works in the US because there is no ethnicity called "American" to muddy the drawing of boundaries or to be exploited by nationalists, unlike in the Balkans. Our differences are mostly on political values that can be worked out by elections and dialogue or judicial intervention.

And Monaco, ethnically European, is bounded by France and the Mediterranean. Kosovo and the others are bounded by hostile ethnicities--no comparison.

Posted by: PJ Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 8:13 PM

Kejda,

I am not sure why you are a bigot, neither do I care.

Normally this malaise is caused by an interplay between your upbringing, education (or lack thereof), culture, peer group, life experiences etc.

As for the scars of your bigotry, well they are livid.

A good example is where you claim that proto-Serbs (not Croats, not Bosnian, not Montenegrins, ie. the ones living on that ancient territory now) "torched, murdered, and raped existing Illyrian tribes in the Balkans.”

Prove it then. It is insupportable rubbish and you know it.

In today's libel you are imputing that Serbs are inherently and by nature inclined to rapine and looting.

You are welcome to believe whatever racist myths you like, but please do not insult the rest of us by asserting that there is any basis to your fantasy.

As for the links between Albanians and Illyrians, I am not denying anything.

It may well be the case that Albanians are the direct descendants of the Illyrians, but that claim is certainly not undisputed nor well established.

Just read the links I posted in my previous post. The worlds acknowledged expert on Illyrians appears to flatly disagree with you about your national provenance. He has been hotly attacked by scholars from the university of Tirana who do a good job of defending their claims, but the matter is very much in dispute.

Additionally, it seems to me that the worst elements of Albanian society and politics are centred around Illyrianism.

I read that Illyrianism is to Albania what the Kosovo Myths are to Serbs - sentimental nationalist myths. I have not verified that, although it seems that at least some Albanian historians and politicians in the links above are quoted as saying so.

Seeing the lies and distortions about Serbs and the selective misquoting of their liberal politicians, scholars and historians, I am reluctant to subject Albanians to the same unfair treatment.

as I have said before, you are a radical Kejda (at least in these discussions to appear to be), a hard core right-winger in every arena you operate. Your counterparts in Serbian politics are the Radical party. In Albania it is the Greater Albania Illyrian sentimentalists. All of you quote the others liberals and scholars to support your bigoted ideas about the other.

rather than subject you to a dose of your own medicine, just note that the intellectually honest path is usually also the most gracious.

As for my trusted sources about Kosovo IDP numbers, yet again I refer you and anyone else who wants comprehensive proof of your inability to face the facts, to the UNHCR, Red Cross, US State Department and the many other sources I posted above.

Now we get to a fun part for me.

You assert that I am not who I claim to be. You claim you "have good reason to believe" that I am a Serb pretending to be a Westerner.

I know you cannot believe it. I am delighted that people like you are sickened and alarmed that non-Serbs like me are popping up in greater and greater numbers and forcing your bigotry back up the arses it comes out of.

As I mentioned to you before, I am your absolute worst nightmare: A non-Serb rationally defending Serbs (especially the modern democratic and increasingly liberal 21st century Serbia).

Now here is the challenge I threw down in the other forum: Lets really put our money where our mouths are. I bet you, say $50, that I am not a Serbs. This means I am not linked to Serbia by birth, ancestry or marriage. I do not want your money of course, I want you to commit to donating that money to a charity if you lose. I, of course, will do the same.

I nominate Michael Totten as reasonable referee.

Are you game?

PS. You repeated your anti-Semitism libel above. This and your other lies are the equivalent of the blood libel against the Jews.

You are doing to Serbs what was done to Jews for centuries, making up lurid and patently false charges of brutality and evil that the ignorant and bigoted accepted as

You wrote that the "Serbs did no worse in exterminating Jews than many other European countries", well actually they did not exterminate Jews at all. They died with Jews in Nazi death camps. They, and the Roma, were fellow victims. This fact, and their resistance and efforts in saving Jews have led to their being honoured by Israeli organisations.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 2:10 AM

Limbic, please be more brief and give up the need for "the last word" -- I now usually skip your comments, as well as Medura's.
You two should argue this on your own blogs so as to allow true comment about Michael's post, including one or two of your posts, to flourish.

Michael, tiny typo: "Srebenica" is missing second r. I confess to often misspelling it, and have to google "Srebrenica" or close to get it correct.

After WW II, Ukraine took over a good chunk of Slovakia, the Sub-Carpathian Ruthenian area (Ruthenes are a small minority in Slovakia, Ukraine, and maybe Hungary). After the USSR disolved in 1992, Ukraine continued the ownership it won in war 47 years before independence.

The precident of gaining terrority and then changing regimes has already been set. I think the Ruthenes should be allowed to have a referendum on independenc, or swithching back to Slovakia, or staying with Ukraine. But it's not going to happen.

Soon, by 2015 I'd guess, there will be calls by politicians in Republika Srbska for separating. Even if most Serbs do want it, there is a question of whether the Central Gov't would allow separation (it should), and whether Serbia would be punished for accepting unification with RS (they shouldn't be, but will likely be threatened).

I support more local democracy, despite their imperfections, including easy infatuation with prior, national greivances. I think cantonization offers the best realistic balance of unity / autonomy.

Personal non-forgiveness is harder, and costs more, than national non-forgiveness. On a personal level, not forgiving others (their tresspasses against you) means you will be filled with a personal bitterness, with a personal object to hate (due to the injustice).

At the impersonal national level, those who refuse to forgive the others have little or no personal cost in their non-forgiveness. Perhaps (like Limbic here?) they even maintain an internal image of themselves as supporting justice. In their hate.

It is not injustice alone that leads to war, but the willingness to use war to correct the injustice.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 5:43 AM

You are absolutely right Tom. I would skip my and Kejda's comments too.

Our discussion is now a fruitless and frankly boring slagging match.

Apologies from me for any hijacking of the legitimate discussion. Its over now for my part.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 6:01 AM

Tom,

My dilemma since Limbic got here has been 1) ignore him and go on with the discussion (a lot simpler and more pleasant outcome but it comes with the consequence of leaving his false propagandistic claims remain unchallenged with the tacit stamp of approval) 2) challenge his deceiving/false claims with credible sources and facts (more tedious, and also comes with the common side effect of him ignoring the rebuttals, screaming louder, throwing more absurd claims in the mix (which I have to then choose whether to address or not), and the discussion tends to degenerate.

I have personally apologized to Michael in private about contributing to vitriol in the comment sections, but from his own responses on this thread, it seems to me that he is also more interested in bullshit not going unchallenged than in 'playing it nice'.

I don't discuss such issues in my blog. Bullshit like Limbic's tends to be thrown against the wall of important and commonly-read blogs such as this.

It's where there is a greater chance that it will be read and stick in the mind of the readers.

Personally, I would rather people stopped reading my comments so long as they also didn't read Limbic's, than they paying attention to his while they remain unchallenged. At least this way it's a null-null situation and little damage is done.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 10:27 AM

PJ,

It seems to me that you are deliberating in a vacum though.

I mean, we all have great administrative master-plans for humankind at large but, irrespective of their possible merits, why bother discussing something you have no power to enact?

Existing European countries (even in the Balkans) won't just reorganize themselves on a macro-scale according to anyone's suggestion.

Serbia is what it is, Macedonia is what it is, Albania is what it is, Greece is what it is.

Kosovo is the only open-ended part of the equation because its political structure isn't final yet and there is room for molding it.

Of these countries, Macedonia (short-lived) and Albania have never been in a war of aggression, so why would they ever consider diluting their sovereignty with their more aggressive neighbors?

A loose federal system with centralized monopoly of force is what Yugoslavia was, and it turned out a disaster.

Balkans countries need borders drawn around ethnic lines to contain conflict. I wish ethnicity didn't exist or didn't have any practical significance to people all over the world, but it just does. Clean borders cut along ethnic lines do a lot to prevent conflict.

In this sense Kosovo's independence is one step in the right direction.

Beyond that, Kosovo needs a free market economy. Lessons can be learned from the USA, though even the US has been screwed over by Hamiltonian protectionist tendencies and over-centralization. Hong Kong is perhaps a better example to look up to.

Because of its size, Kosovo doesn't need further sub-divisions into states/provinces, and in the comparision to the USA I wasn't so much referring to federalization, as to the universal principles and common law behind the republic: respect for property, free expression, free trade (didn't really happen in America, but whatever), and so on and so forth.

This will ensure that the new economy is viable.

Second, tariffs, quotas, and other protectionist measures would be greatly harmful. Free trade with the neighbors is the only way to cement mutually-beneficial relationships and heal old wounds.

Protectionist measures keep these Balkan countries isolated and alone, with no stake in each-other's economic/political situations.

When communism collapsed in the late 80s early 90s in Eastern Europe, the bulk of people in these countries was confused, as they didn't really understand the alternative. Eastern European countries tried to mimic the West like monkeys, but they didn't really understand what they were doing.

Some, like Poland, finally got it, but many are struggling with corruption, idiotic economic measures, and overall clue-lessness as to what they're into. Albania in particular is very bad with this regard, which is why I don't wish it upon Kosovo to join Albania anytime soon.

Kosovo is starting out in the 3rd millenium. They have had an extra decade to learn how to not screw it up like many Eastern European countries did.

Poor political structures are hard to correct or dislodge after being created. Kosovo has a chance to start a new, and I don't see any negative forces holding it down, with perhaps the exception of Wahhabis trying to make inroads in the region.

Maybe the region can be bound by a very loose federal system to at least facilitate commerce, like the EU but elected. But any such 'state' must have a monopoly on force for at least a generation—maybe that can be supplied by NATO. Without a federation, you have several small states each with a militia. Before you know it, it's pre-surge Iraq. (At least Bush finally saw the light there and let the military kill the bad guys instead of trying to satisfy them with a seat in parliament.)

On false comparisons: The federal system works in the US because there is no ethnicity called “American” to muddy the drawing of boundaries or to be exploited by nationalists, unlike in the Balkans. Our differences are mostly on political values that can be worked out by elections and dialogue or judicial intervention.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 11:18 AM

Why am I discussing it? Because somebody here asked.

Posted by: PJ Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 12:13 PM

Gee I'd like to be part of the discussion, but in the previous discussion Limbic had a hunch that I don't actually exist (because hey, where can you go once you've impugned someones motives-only onward to declaring them a nonentity!), and in Douglas Adams-style poof of logic I'm dissap--

Posted by: capital L Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 3:25 PM

Capital L:

Now don't go that far. You do exist, but only as a figment of my tortured mind!

hahahah.

Having no idea wtf you were talking about, I checked the old thread about Serbia and laughed my ass off.

Limbic's logic is interesting:

Anything that's inconvenient to him is not real.

Serbia didn't exterminate over 11K Jews in WW2 (Serbs were rather the victims)

No ethnic cleansing took place in 1999 in Kosovo. It was all a KLA-orchestrated media stunt.

People who seem to agree with me in that he is full of shit are not real. They are just my other internet personas.

Maybe that was me hijacking Michael's administrator account and posting all those comments debunking his 'statistics'.

It all makes perfect sense.

Please, Capital L, do part take in the discussion!

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 10:03 PM

It seems that despite my efforts to gently leave the discussion, the memebots Kejda and L have not been deactivated by their controllers.

FOLLOWING IS FOR KEJDA AND HER SHILLS

Kejda, I have comprehensively addressed your slanders multiple times.

I have (and anyone can simply scroll up and see) nailed your lies and evasions to the wall on matters as diverse as IDP numbers, Illyrian history, my identity and your persistent blood libel against the Serbs.

I am glad you have apologised to Michael, I did too (although I had the courage to do so publicly).

It seems though that you apologise for yourself only to continue with the vitriol.

Michael very publicly called bullshit on my claims and I very publicly defended them with links (see above) to sources as diverse as the UNHCR, Red Cross and several other NGOs.

Michael chose to leave that discussion alone in his subsequent posts. Draw your own conclusions.

As for my comments here and elsewhere, so long as I continue to read lies and libels from you or anyone else, I will correcting them if I have the time and if I think there is any point. It is a testament to my hopes you will one day mature into someone worthwhile that I am hounding you.

You can look forward to my presence in whatever forum I find you spreading lies and disinformation.

Since once again you attempt to imply that Serbs were Antisemites, I will dose you with some of your own medicine:

Perhaps you can find me the Serbian version of the Albanian SS Division, 21st_Waffen Mountain_Division of the SS Skanderbeg - 1st_Albanian. You cannot, it does not exist.

How does that sit with your Jewish identity?

Albanians were valiant in their defence of Jews during the war - hiding them, refusing to hand over lists of Jews etc. It is matter of national credit.

Here is the thing: SO WERE SERBS.

Were there traitors? Did some Albanians collaborate? Apparently so....

http://www.islam-watch.org/Serbianna/Albanian_role_holocaust.htm (see how it feels to have obvious bile like

Did some Serbs collaborate? yes.

You are trying to smear Serbs as nazi collaborators when in the Balkans they were the overwhelming victims of Nazi persecution, with 200,000 of them dying in death camps alongside Jews and Roma (I fully expect you to dispute the numbers, just like Stormfront scum dispute the numbers of Jew exterminated).

Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999? Hell yes. First the Serbs, aided by KLA propaganda and media exaggerations, effected the huge exodus of Kosovars. All those people returned within months.

Then somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 Serbs(depending on which sources you accept. UNHCR, Red Cross and others say 200,000 - see links above) were Ethnically cleansed. They remain to this day exiled and unable to return home because of ongoing ethnic intimidation.

Next lie?

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 4:15 AM

Limbic,

I am not even reading your crap anymore. I read the first sentence. You sound insane.

Look up the usernames of my "sock-puppets" and you will see they each "deesine" and "Capital L" have commented on this site from a long time ago: deesine from at least 2005, when I didn't even know who Michael Totten was.

You are ridiculous and are ruining the discussion platform for everyone else.

Please shut up.

Posted by: popcontest Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 8:18 AM

Now this is mighty ironic. That was my husband's account, which for some reason was signed in be default. That is him, http://www.peekyou.com/USA/New_York/New_York/Michael_Hussey/5
as you can check very easily he is my husband and his alias is 'popcontest'.

Enough with the conspiracy theories to explain what you find inconvenient. You are embarrasing yourself.

As for the Holocaust, please don't get into it. These are easily verifiable facts. You just do further damage to your credibility by tempering with well-established facts.

Only a family of 6 and no more Jews were turned in to die in Albania. ONLY one! I am not saying Albanians were angles. But this is history. Don't try to re-write it.

At least 11K Jews were exterminated in Serbia, not by the Ustache in Croatia, but in Serbia proper, by the Serb police. The Orthodox church played a shameful role in this.

I already showed you the documentary, which you conveniently neglected to address: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=536994724131610421&q=serbs+jews&ei=yJFSSIDDKYOWrgKz7eTNDA

Thisis not even directly relevant, only in so far as you constantly try to re-write history, or equivocate Serbia's role in history with that of its neighbors.

A single family of six turned in by the collaborators is not the same as over 11K.

Also, do some more research before you accuse long time posters of being anybody's sockpuppets. You look like an idiot when proven wrong (which you can easily be shown, should anyone Google these user-names, and find out they have been commenting here a long time ago)

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 8:30 AM

I see that my husband had left a comment under 'popcontest' on the last thread "Dark Corner of Europe, Part 1" which explains why I was logged in under his name.

For anyone still reading Limbic's rants, here are the users he claims are just my fake accounts for the mere reason that they also, and independently from me, find him to be a lying sack of manipulative bile:

from 2005:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/000894.html

Look up deesine there.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/totten/2762?cp=5

Look up "Capital L" there.

I have no more time to read his inane rants/conspiracies, but I would be impressed if he admitted that he was being stupid and conceded the matter.

I predict that instead the conspiracy will get deeper, that he will claim that I have had these fake accounts since 2005, and been commenting with them on Commentary Magazine, and I had been waiting all this time to unleash them on Limbic.

It's getting farcical now.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 8:46 AM

By the way, this:

http://www.islam-watch.org/Serbianna/Albanian_role_holocaust.htm

is disgusting. Nice source you got. Do you keep those bookmarked, nice and handy for your every propaganda plot?

I am not sure Michael will even want to link to that site.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 9:03 AM

From the very same source you cited, Limbic, under the very same Serbian authors of that despicable "entry" about Albania:

http://www.islam-watch.org/Serbianna/index.html

Bosnian 'White al-Qaeda' seen as grave threat to Europe - Serbianna [10 Jan 2008]

Utah killings by Kosovo Muslim Youth Was Jihad - Serbianna [19 Mar 2007]

Kosovo Muslims declaration of Jihad against the UN - M. Bozinovich [09 Feb 2007]

I wonder why all those authors are Serbian, and why they even group themselves according to their nationality.

Hmmm,... interesting.

Michael Totten said (to you Limbic):

But it appears that you're making a moral and/or historical equivalence argument. I'm arguing the point for the sake of readers here who are less well-informed about what happened, who think the Albanians of Kosovo really did behave no better than Radovan Karadzic. There are plenty of people who believe that and worse about the Albanians, even that Serbs were fighting Al Qaeda in Bosnia and Kosovo, that Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic, etc., were fighting “the good fight.”

Just look at what people at the “Free Republic” Web site say about all this. Many of them really think Kosovo is an Al Qaeda state, which is ridiculous.

Indeed.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 9:09 AM

Meduara/Kejda/L/popcontest,

All I can say is BUSTED! :-)

You cite racists like Schwartz then cry over Islam Watch? Like I said, it was a lesson for you in what it is like to get smeared with the sort of filth that your bigot sources like Schwartz produce.

You accuse me of being a fraud and then express outrage at me for paying you the same discourtesy. can you not see the hypocrisy in that?

I am pretty sure that you are not L, that you genuinely made the mistake of posting with your husband's account and that you are not part of some shill network. My point in all this was to show you that bad faith and seeing the worst in someone (i.e. never giving them benefit of the doubt) can lead them appearing to be plausibly guilty even though they are innocent.

Do you still think I am a Serb? I presume that you don't.

If yes, are you on for the $50 charity challenge? If no, then I think my point is made.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 10:25 AM

Limbic,

Don't talk about the benefit of the doubt. I showed you where users 'deesine' and 'Capital L' had posted before. You gave them the 'benefit of the doubt' only after I showed you the links with their previous comments. A better way to put it, is that you implicitly retracted your ridiculous claim.

When did you give them the benefit of the doubt by accusing them of being non-existent, with the only 'evidence' for your claim being that they inconveniently happened to largely agree with me about you?

Yes, I still think you are a Serb, or in any case, not who you say you are. Please, don't harass Michael about this. He doesn't want to be an arbiter, he doesn't care!

I also didn't "claim" you were a Serb, but merely voiced a suspicion, for which like I said, I have no proof. And no, I am not "game", I won't get into more weirdness with you, place bets, or unearth your birth certificate.

I didn't quote Schwartz; Michael did. You can accuse Schwartz of having strong and negative opinions about Serbia (an assessment I would agree with), but you have yet to show any factual inaccuracies in any of his articles. He does not make up stuff, cite shady sources, or try to conceal his true opinions. If you can, try to counter Schwartz with sources, instead of dismissing everything he writes because he is a 'Serbophobe'.

Many of your sources, on the other hand, and specifically those articles on Islam-watch, are preposterous, absurd on their face, don't cite their references, and contain more factual errors and outright misinformation than I have time or space to debunk here. They were written by Serbian authors who also claim that Al-Qaeda has been in Bosnia, and that Kosovar Albanians have waged Jihad against UN forces.

All in all, you better pray people don't read your posts (like Liberty Dad), because those who follow your comments through the threads, like Capital L and deesine, will almost inevitably come to conclusions you won't find pleasant.

It has nothing to do with readers' point of view, and plenty to do with your changing numbers, citing bullshit propagandistic articles, etc.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 11:36 AM

Kejda,

You meet good faith with bad faith, charity with insult and evidence with denial.

Several times now I have had you at a disadvantage. Every time, instead of twisting the knife, I have let you off, offered some concession, and shown good faith.

Where there have been very clear positions on matters of fact, I have posted unequivocal evidence to support my claims (like UN and Red Cross reports), but I also revealed evidence that supports your claims, evidence I could as easily have withheld (like the US Embassy's figures).

When, by accidentally posting with your husbands identity, you appeared to confirm that you were in fact a memebot using multiple fake identities to give the appearance of support for your arguments, I did not simply rest my case, satisfied with the your damning yourself. Instead I mercifully conceded that I believed you. I let you off.

Your response? More vitriol and attacks. Despite my overtures and concessions, you persist with this ungracious behaviour of yours.

I have directly challenged you to settle your most vehement claim, namely that I am not who I say I am (an Irish South African living in Belgrade) but actually a Serb. This is a charge that I am liar, an imposter and a fraud.

Since obviously I know that I am who I say I am, and that I can prove it easily, I can really stuff you on this, but again I let you off.

I invited you to accept a $50 challenge where you promise to give $50 to a charity of your choice if a neutral third party confirms that I am who I say I am.

You have declined the challenge but continue to stick to the charge, behaviour which is a strange mixture of cowardice and spite.

Well this is going to sicken you. Here is a YouTube video I made nearly a year ago, for fun, but also becuase (shock horror) you are not the first person to question my provenance:

The Links Between Ireland and Serbia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLINOzD5QiY

You may find some of the other videos very interesting too, like the one on Kosovo and those debunking Palestinian propaganda.

I really think we ought to stop this discussion now. We both committed to doing so.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 14, 2008 3:46 AM

I really think we ought to stop this discussion now.

Then why don't you?

Posted by: David Fleck Author Profile Page at June 14, 2008 6:21 AM

Favid Fleck:

Then why don't you?

Beats me,.. I think I'll let him screech all alone.

Like a smarter commenter around here put it, even the monkeys get tired of playing with their own poo eventually.

;)

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 14, 2008 10:04 PM

Now now Kejda. Be nice. Think of your blood pressure.

This is a gem I encourage anyone here to read:

A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion
http://tinyurl.com/3y74eq

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 1:12 AM

Actually, I am enjoying the "discussion" between Limbic and everybody else.

I am learning a lot about history from Kejda. Plus reading her has made me look up Albanian and Illyrian history. It's fascinating!

As for the poster who said "It is not hard for me to imagine the post war violence caused by muslims. The real, non-reported genocide.": Three you!

I don't know if you ever met Muslims or know anything about Islam, but it seems to me like you didn't and don't. The idea that Kosovo Muslims, because of their (mostly non-practiced) faith belong into the same category as the (secular) PLO is ridiculous.

The "real, non-reported genocide"... if you cannot find a genocide to your liking, you can just imagine one, right?

Your idea reminds me of the "Palestinian holocaust" one sometimes hear about, the "genocide" that tripled the size of the Arab population in the region. And now we have the Kosovo genocide, caused by Muslims, a "genocide" that made Serbs appear out of thin air. 200,000 Kosovo Serbs became 250,000 refugees and 60,000 (or what was the number) of Serbs left in Kosovo now.

I think we need a new word for those "genocides" where the "victims" actually multiply instead of diminish.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 3:52 AM

[A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion]

I think you need to add:

"Do not feel as though you MUST ALWAYS HAVE THE LAST WORD OVER YOUR OPPONENT" to your list.

Posted by: David Fleck Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 10:51 AM

Fleck, 'tis added.

Leauki, if you are learning about history for Kejda, I pity you and your offspring!

I suggest your take your doubt about numbers to the UNHCR or the Red Cross. They have an agenda after all unlike your Albanian teacher.

There has never been a genocide or anything like it in Kosovo. What has and continues to happen to the Serbs and Roma of Kosovo is Ethnic Cleaning, something one Leauki defines as "The mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group unless said group is one of Jews". I would add "or Serbs".

http://forums.politicalmachine.com/81628

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 3:06 PM

"Leauki, if you are learning about history for Kejda, I pity you and your offspring!"

That's nice. And all the best to you.

"I suggest your take your doubt about numbers to the UNHCR or the Red Cross. They have an agenda after all unlike your Albanian teacher."

You argue for the Serbian side, she argues for the Albanian side. Why is it relevant that she has an agenda, when both of you clearly chose sides?

Do you realise that anything you say about her arguments being doubtful because of her "agenda" falls back on you since you also have an "agenda"?

I don't your numbers, not necessarily the UN's or Red Cross'.

Do you understand the difference between your words and theirs?

"There has never been a genocide or anything like it in Kosovo."

It's difficult when NATO interferes. But one poster up there spoke of a genocide committed by Muslims anyway.

Can you tell me why somebody would make up a genocide for the region where none has taken place, according to you, and why that somebody believes that it would have been Muslims, not Serbs, who would be responsible for it?

Do you even realise that a nutter like that is on YOUR side, not Kejda's?

"What has and continues to happen to the Serbs and Roma of Kosovo is Ethnic Cleaning, something one Leauki defines as “The mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group unless said group is one of Jews”. I would add “or Serbs”."

You find the dictionary, I see. Very good!

But nevertheless, given that several times as many Albanians fled Kosovo than Serbs, I would be careful about calling it ethnic cleansing if I were you.

If it was ethnic cleansing, then the Serbs are easily responsible for at least three quarters of it, since most refugees were Albanian, and I assume the Albanians did not cleanse Albanians.

So what's your argument here?

Kosovo Albanians can be blamed for the "ethnic cleansing" of less than 100,000 Serbs in a conflict that created several hundred thousand Albanian refugees? Is that it?

Why not find those responsible? How many Serbs does it take to make several hundred thousand Albanians flee?

It's probably a good thing that you are not a Serb, because you represent Serbia badly!

Serbia doesn't need you to whitewash its recent history in an attempt to make it look like the victim. Serbia needs to accept that it lost the wars it started. It's that simple.

And burning American flags and blaming a Zionist conspiracy somehow doesn't convince me that Serbia has reached that stage yet.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 5:11 PM

Leauki,

You argue for the Serbian side, she argues for the Albanian side. Why is it relevant that she has an agenda, when both of you clearly chose sides?

I don't think there is such thing as an Albanian side versus a Serbian side of the story.

Rather, there is history which did take place in the Balkans, and there is only one possible account of such events which did take place.

On the other hand, there are countless lies and 'revised' versions of history. Everyone with an agenda want his/her account to be taken at face value as what actually happened.

That's what facts and sources are for: establishing how close your account of history matches what really happened. I may have sympathies towards Albanians because I was deeply affected as a 12-year-old child by the aftermath of the ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians and their flood to Albania as refugees. I lived with a strange Kosovar family in my house for months, and heard some gruesome first-hand accounts that I will never forget. I am sympathetic to their 'side' because I can relate from personal experience.

However, that's not my side. I am on the side of the truth, or what really happened, and what is really the situation today in Albania and Kosovo.

If I knew Albanians/Kosovars to be the Jihaists/mobsters/slave-traders Limbic and his Serbian friends try to make them to be, I would have no problem repudiating them although they are my old-countrymen.

I won't give lectures in Balkans history here. There are a number of decent books out there for whoever is seriously interested in the topic.

However, I don't want others with obvious and odious agendas to spread their 'revised' versions of history without challenging their bullshit.

On the previous thread about Michael's trip to Serbia, we saw how Serbs on Wikipedia have insinuated their country as the motherland of quite a bunch of Roman emperors. I debunked how that is utter crap, since Serbia didn't exist at the time, no Slavs lived in the Balkans, and the region was populated by ancient Albanians/Illyrians, so those were in fact, proto-Illyrian emperors.

Limbic played the revised-Holocaust-history card, of how the Serbs saved their Jews, and how they were as victimized in Yugoslavia (only half true, as Croats killed Serbs as well as Jews in their death camps in great, however disputed, numbers). He used this as a means of dismissing charges of strong current anti-Semitism in Serbia.

I linked to an independently researched documentary, The Untold Holocaust of the Jews in Serbia, which explores the existing antisemitic culture of Serbia, and how it was conducive to the mass murder of at least 11K Jews.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7684673219903152776&q=jews+serbia&ei=RdlVSOTsDpP8rQKR3JzrDg

I am not trying to make today's Serbs look bad wholesale, or make Albanians sound like angels. But I don't want to sit by while people with agendas re-write history for the average mildly-interested American reading this blog.

What happened is what it is, and the first step toward progress and healing for the Serbs is to to acknowledge what really happened and sober up.

Limbic is strongly against this, or well, he claims to support this, only that the version of history he thinks Serbs ought to acknowledge is unacceptably twisted.

He minimized ethnic cleansing perpetuated by Serbs wherever and however he can, inflated purported Serbian suffering with absurd (and often changing) figures from tainted sources, refuses to admit error and retract his positions when his sources are debunked, and even more telling, loves to spread propagandistic dirt on Albanians, by citing disgusting rants by Serbian propagandists at Islam-Watch as "sources".

He has not addressed his own Albanophobia, like Michael pointed out, yet screeches about Serbophobia, an imaginary mental condition equivalent to knowing and drawing conclusions from the true history of the Balkans, which is not as flattering to Serbs as their own history they have re-written.

He accuses several commenters here of being inexistent (my fake accounts), and doesn't take a clue when many others tell him to take a chill pill.

I thought he could be a Serb because of his manipulative stance, but if he is not, if he is just a random Irishman who feels big in Belgrade, then that's even more telling. He has absorbed by osmosis the prevalent Serbian notions of their own history, role within it, victimization, Albanophobia, and taste for conspiracies.

Through studying his rants, readers can get a fair idea of the prevailing currents of thought in Belgrade. All in all it's very instructive.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 8:24 PM

I highly recommend watching Limbic's videos. While they are mildly amusing in their smug incoherence, they provide a neat insight into the mind of a true believer.

Creating such testaments to the belief structure temporarily satisfies an emotional need within the believer (and if you wonder why Limbic keeps holding out for the last word, there it is).

And as I wrote in a previous thread:

Often times, the person who adopts a new religion becomes overly fervent in practicing it (becoming a fundamentalist). This happens out of an emotional need to fit in with a group and/or gain acceptance from those around them. This is why many young misfits/converts to Islam today are so radical.

This is also what has happened to Limbic. He's adopted the religion of Serb nationalism so fervently he doesn't even know better (debunked stats be damned - and anyone who disagrees is a bigoted hater). Because of his western “objective” background, he feels superior to those around him even in Serbia (and of course he looks down his nose at those idiot “Serbophobes” outside who just don't get it).

It all eventually turns into a sad spectacle as the fundamentalist is presented with indisputable facts that debunk the faith — and the faith powers the soul into overdrive to shut up those painful voices from outside saying “you've made a mistake.” Such voices are absolutely unacceptable to a man of fundamentalist faith.

And as Ayn Rand once wrote:
"The only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim."

Of course, this is the goal of the propagandist (whatever their motives may be).

Posted by: popcontest Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 11:08 PM

Kejda singles out Serbs as anti-Semites using the evidence of a Croatian documentary about Serb collaborators in WW2.

I am sure the irony of this is not lost on those with even a passing knowledge of the history of the region.

Let me help put this into some sort of perspective.

Lets say that it is true that 11,000 Jews were killed by Serb collaborators in WW2, how does that crime stack up against the crimes in context of the time and region?

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum states that:

"The Croat authorities murdered between 330,000 and 390,000 ethnic Serb residents of Croatia and Bosnia during the period of Ustaša rule; more than 30,000 Croatian Jews were killed either in Croatia or at Auschwitz-Birkenau."

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005449

At the same site we read that Romania killed 270,000 Jews and Hungary killed 500,000 Jews.

The People of Albania, to their credit, were heroic in hiding and protecting Jews in Albania.

To their discredit, though, they had an Albanian SS Division and they too had collaborators who handed over Jews. The number of Jews handed over was tiny, but this is because there were only 2-300 Jews in the entire country.

The picture was different outside of Albania proper.

"Between 1941 and 1944, nearly 600 Jews from Greater Albania were sent to their deaths in various concentration camps around Europe. It is for this reason that many historians disagree over the role of Albanians in the Holocaust. While Albanians may have attempted to rescue the Jews in Albania proper, the government was aware of the round-up and deportation of Jews from the Kosovo region."

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/albania.html

So lets keep exploring this theme Kejda, it suits me.

You keep trying to libel the Serbs as anti-Semites based on their putative historical crimes and I will keep posting Jewish and Israeli holocaust sources to expose your blood libel.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 2:02 AM

My hydra-headed opponent Kejda/L/Popcontest/Medaura wrote recently:

"I highly recommend watching Limbic's videos."*

I rest my case!

Funny how he/she/it has dropped all talk of my "being a Serb".

I am now being smeared as a True Believer and Serb nationalist for merely defending Serbs from falsehoods and distortions.

Oddly enough my equally uncompromising videos, posts and comments defending Israel and America seems to be fine.

Things that make you go "Hmmmmmmm".

  • How is that for selective quotation and propaganda :-)
Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 2:24 AM

Julia Gorin is a solid read, here. It's 8,000 or 9,000 words or more, but solid stuff, some solid insight.

Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 5:36 AM

Oops, the corrected link.

Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 5:38 AM

I strongly recommend that anyone who wants to take Julia Gorin seriously as an analyst of the Balkans needs to read this thorough debunking by an American soldier who spent a year in Kosovo -- a place Gorin has never set foot in.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 11:38 AM

Michael,

I had read that soldier's blog independently a while back. She was e-stalked by Gorin, who seethed with vile personal attacks against her for debunking her writings.

Strongly recommend that blog.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 12:44 PM

Well, it's good to know Gorin is so utterly unreliable; that being the case, we can read her and know that the opposite of what she says, or nearly so, is the truth. That'll make things simple. Or if those who speak the truth concerning the Balkans and Kosovo specifically consist only in those who have spent time there, that too will yield some "interesting" results. If it were only that simple. (Though if Gorin actually did e-stalk someone, that would certainly speak very poorly of her indeed, I'd like to see the evidence, medaura. I look forward to the substantiation.)

In general terms, here's the way I view the Serbia, Kosovo and Albania situation and in large measure the Balkans in general, from the ground up, so to say. Firstly, there are historical and contemporary realities - i.e. the truth, then there are the various attempts to understand or apprehend that truth; the former is obvious enough, the latter has been, shall we say, problematic. I sometimes think of it, rightly or not, as the one area on the planet where the truth can be more difficult to apprehend than is the case in the Levant and the M.E.

Everyone seems to have an ax to grind, an agenda, a set of preconceptions and misconceptions, some naively, others possessing more conscious and more consciously beguiling designs, some politically and ideologically motivated, or yet otherwise motivated, etc., etc., etc. There's religious vs. areligious vs. anti-religious biases that variously creep into the mix. There are of course ethnically based interests and biases that subtend peoples' perceptions. Then there is general confusion caused by everything from apathy and neglect of the complexities involved on through to the interests of various activists (e.g., Gorin herself, perhaps) who evidence exaggerated and/or too narrow concerns and interests. It can all, it seems, be reminiscent of Churchill's description of Russia: "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" and even though that exaggerates the point, the point is worth making nonetheless.

Succinctly put, I'm exceedingly skeptical that any one account or authority exists, I'm skeptical of virtually everyone's motives and interests and projections when it comes to the Balkans, moreso than anywhere else around the globe perhaps.

That being the case, I even read Chomsky when it comes to the Balkans for while I particularly loathe most of what he represents, there is nonetheless the ability to treat such a writer and ideologically interested analyst at arms length, while also heeding some of his material for purposes of further research, verification, etc. Iow, I would never give a Chomsky the last word on the subject, but he might at least help to fill in one or two pieces of the puzzle on occasion.

Or differently still, take Nicki at "The Liberty Zone," someone who seems to be an exceedingly honest and forthright blogger, writing about what she viewed first-hand, apparently over the course of a year. But even assumming she's entirely absent any conscious guile (which seems to be the case), she tends to paint a too rosy picture from my pov. E.g., she treats 2004 as if it's ancient history and writes as if remnants of the KLA - simply because they've been (rather recently) coopted into authorized policing and civil forces (with NATO's presence and tutelage) - are now no longer of concern whatsoever, as if they've been transformed into Amish styled pacifists. She also very plainly states things are (or were, when she was writing) "far" from perfect. She also takes things a bit too personally at times; understandable from the standpoint of a soldier, less understandable from the viewpoint of an analyst.

Iow, I don't regard any single account or putative "authority" as truly authoritative. Many questions, asked from a variety of vantage points, are all warranted, sometimes because of the motives and other times despite less worthy motives. If it does turn out that Gorin is nothing but a liar, or someone so possessed of an agenda that she's blind to her own deeply held prejudices, I'm happy to find that out as well. But if that's the case, let's take up at least two or three things she forwards, simply as more or less random examles:

Firstly, from the left, the center and the right, shortly after the American campaign began, agreement that the charge of genocide itself was hugely exaggerated. I learned of a couple of those sources by reading Gorin. Likewise, Gorin states that as late as 2007 The Hague "exonerates" Serbia of genocide. Given the number of times I've seen "genocide" associated with Serbia and Balkan Muslims, is any of that true? I have not seen it refuted. (And of course in terms of "genocide," even the 1940's cannot be considered "ancient history" and that's a time when the ethnic cleansing and genocide were "otherwise" motivated.)

Do I read Gorin with a grain of salt? Yes, and perhaps it needs to be a still much larger grain of salt, I'm open to that as well. But the fact is, when it comes to the Balkans, I read everyone with a grain of salt and I seek out valid or more honest individual pieces of the puzzle, I don't seek and I don't expect to find a single authority or account which reflects "the truth". I even read Chomsky when it comes to the Balkans and I read Chomsky, excepting incidentally on occasion, on virtually no other occasion. I value your reportage, Michael, I do not believe you represent "The Truth". Since Kosovo seems close to being a "done deal" (though Spain and others have yet to sign on, I believe), I'm hoping it turns out as well as your and some others seem to be predicting, in the short and long run both, but I do remain more skeptical than yourself, which is not to say merely cynical.

(And again, medaura, I look forward to you substantiating your claim.)

Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 6:40 PM

Here is a guy who shares Limbic's views -- but is a bit more succinct and straight-forward. In short -- Kosovars are spearheading the rise of radical Islam in Europe, are Al Qaeda supporters, slave traders, turned a country full of churches into one full of mosques.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCAz6PW_h2k

Posted by: popcontest Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 8:13 PM

Michael_B,

I had read those posts a long time ago on LibertyZone. I am scanning through the blog now and I realize 'e-stalking' was probably not the best way to put it (I think I was confusing in my head her reactions to Nicki with the Protein-Wisdom guy versus Deborah Frisch.)

However, Gorin did do some pretty disgusting things to Nicki:

http://libertyzone.blogspot.com/2007/09/whorin-for-attention.html#links

of which, what particularly struck me, was that when frustrated by her inability to argue her way out of the lies she had been throwing around, she accused Nicki (a married woman with children) of sleeping with Brad, her best friend and also part of the Kosovo mission. Gorin seems to feel that anyone who disagrees with her is not only wrong, but a liar as well and even downright evil, and must be "dealt with" by any means necessary.

In any case, what are her qualifications as a Balkans analyst?

That 'big racist' Schwartz debunks some of her inaccuracies with facts in this dispassionate article:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=B7E86308-CEC1-4CCA-8D1A-655FF9563F2F

You accuse Nicki of taking things too personally? I would too if some hateful bitch accused me of adultery (among many other hideous things) simply because she is not getting anywhere with arguments.

As far as the rest of what you wrote, I think I understand your outlook: there are so many exaggerated half-truths floating around, people with the weirdest (sometimes obvious, other times veiled) agendas tainting any objective portrait of the situation which may have emerged by just reading about it from across the Atlantic.

There are many world conflicts I have some general sense for, but I admit to lack a satisfactory understanding of, and so I refrain from forming opinionated attitudes toward them. For most people, unfortunately, ignorance does not seem to be a deterrent from forming stubborn quasi-arbitrary opinions and from deliberating them with an utmost (alas, completely unjustified) sense of authority.

However, just because you or I may be unable to wrap our heads around certain world situations, it doesn't mean that there is no objective reality on the ground. Things may not be clear enough in our heads, but there is such a thing as truth out there.

Skepticism is healthy, but true skepticism is open minded. Yours sounds rather like cynicism with a (probably subconscious) subtle bias against Kosovars. You claim that there is no source of truth out there, yet you advise Gorin (whose hateful and biased attitudes shine through to the surface of her writings, and who has no experience or expertise in the Balkans) to readers?

It is possible to get to the bottom of even such a tangled maze as the Kosovo situation, but it's expensive in terms of time, attention, and resources. I know of many Western history buffs who have done their homework, learned the history of the region through independent sources and historians' accounts through the centuries, and it becomes evident to the well-educated observer, which of the current talking-heads/organizations deny or twist well-established historical facts, and what that says about their modern-day claims.

It is not that the situation in the Balkans is inherently more evasive than in the Middle East or other troubled regions of the world. It's that there are less independent voices covering it, and much fewer spotlights shining on it. Propaganda and misinformation spreads like fire in the dark.

In any case, I don't understand why you preemptively dismiss Michael's account: he has not yet published his piece on Kosovo, and about Bosnia and Serbia, he didn't make any wild allegations, but merely reported on what he saw, what he talked about, and a few interactions he had with the natives.

He has no axe to grind, and I think he has proven himself smart enough to not be duped by anyone's hateful bullshit. I am very grateful for his independent reporting (especially from Iraq/Lebanon, since those are regions I have no personal experience with or practical knowledge of, and I want to learn about and care for their issues). I wish there were more Michael Tottens especially with an interest in the Balkans, because I believe a pretty consistent image would emerge if enough objective independent observers visited the region first-hand and reported their experiences.

There is such a thing as objective reality, no matter how hard to get to the bottom of, and people would do better to either completely suspend judgment, or do their independent research and learn who to trust for sources.

Posted by: popcontest Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 9:34 PM

Errrr,

Michael_B and everyone else,

that was me on the last comment, again under my husband's account by mistake. The post before it was actually by him.

Sorry for the confusion (typekey automatically saves the last login account)

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 16, 2008 9:37 PM

No medaura, you misapprehend and/or misapply seemingly everything I said, even the more overt statements, for example I specifically stated there is an "objective reality" (I'm not an idealist, in formal philosophical terms), I specifically stated "there are historical and contemporary realities - i.e. the truth". Likewise, I in no way suggested I "preemptively dismiss" anyone, certainly not Michael, whom I specifically noted I appreciated - indeed I went so far to suggest I read a very diverse group when it comes to the Balkans, even reading Chomsky, albeit by no means as an authority, rather for the sake of gaining some clues. Likewise, I am not merely cynical, your charge and miscomprehension notwithstanding.

Effectively, it would seem, you've reduced virtually everything I forwarded to categories that you feel comfortable with. Then, the one of two challenges I do throw out, with supportive links, you avoid commenting upon entirely.

(And when I wrote of Gorin taking things too personally at times, I wasn't referring to any personal attacks she's sustained since I wasn't aware of those attacks, I was referring to taking things too personally as a soldier and from the pov of an analyst, as evidenced in the link Michael had provided only.)

Never mind ...

Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 4:36 AM

Michael -- I haven't posted for a long time, but thank you for your very informative posts. The extensive photography is a unique aspect of your blog, and really adds to the experience.

I must tell you, I understand your bias toward multiethnic states founded on tolerance and secularism (especially those with beautiful cosmopolitan cities populated by gorgeous women). But I don't think it is necessarily fair to impose such arrangements on peoples against their will. Thus, I'm afraid I don't see the value or wisdom of trying to enforce a multiethnic Bosnia when a third of the population, controlling almost half the territory, refuses to see themselves as Bosnian.

Perhaps I am wrong. Continue to give it a try for another decade or so. But -- especially as the years go by and memories of Serbian regional dominance fade -- don't expect Serbs not to despise other countries and world powers holding Serb nationalism to a different standard than Croatian, Slovenian, Montenegrean, Albanian and other nationalities.

All I am saying is -- don't be afraid to let the ethnic breakup of the Balkans continue in Bosnia if multiethnic conflict continues to persist. I predict that the best chance for long-term stability and peace in the region would be for the Republik of Srpska and northern Kosovo to rejoin Serbia. Yes, there will always little pockets of minority groups no matter how small you slice the pie. The difference is, these minority groups will not be large enough to threaten the majority, and thereby engender conflict.

Posted by: markus Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 7:41 AM

Medaura/Popcontest wrote: "Here is a guy who shares Limbic's views" - Spare the straw man.

My views are spelled out here, on my blog and on my videos. Please do not have allow the Albanian version of Julia Gorin put words in my mouth.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 8:06 AM

Funny how you guys quote that soldier - Nikki Fellenzer - as "debunking" Gorin. She did nothing of the sort and wishing it so will not make it so.

Did you not bother to read the comments? How about Gorin's answer to Ms Fellenzer?

Check it out in the name of fairness and right of response:

The Farce of Our Kosovo Mission

A US reservist press officer operating in one sector is supposed to be the answer to Gorin's hundreds of linked and referenced sources in her American Thinker article? Come on!

What is even more weird is that the soldier simply pumped out the message originally written by her commander (see here ) as the obedient press officer she is.

It is a triumph of hearsay evidence over real evidence, the sort Gorin provides in all her online articles in abundance.

The famed debunking is Nikki et al dispute one single paragraph out of 6 pages of article?

Gorin addresses all of the supposed rebuttals in her response above, but one claim by Gorin that was denounced as bunk I know for a fact to be true:

• Kosovo Serbs live inside barbed-wire, NATO-guarded perimeters, beyond which they “dare not venture.”

Check out these photos by my Swiss photographer friend who spent many months living with Serbian communities in Kosovo. [Flickr]

On a personal note, I would love to see the Julie Gorin and Kejda/Medaura slug it out in a debate.

Two right-wing Republican battleaxes, pro-Israeli, pro-Iraq war, but tragically on either side of the Serb/Albanian pseudo-divide over Kosovo.

One can but hope....

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 8:18 AM

Kosovo Serbs live inside barbed-wire, NATO-guarded perimeters, beyond which they “dare not venture.”

Complete and utter bullshit, Limbic. You have obviously never been down there. The Serb towns are just as open as the Albanian towns. I drove all over that country and sometimes could not even tell if I was in an Albanian town, a Serb town, or a mixed one.

You post a link to a huge photo gallery that has one picture of a fence in it, and you call that evidence? You have got to be kidding me. That is obviously someone's property fence. It's not a barbed-wire perimeter keeping anyone in or out.

Yes, KFOR protects Serbian enclaves from Albanians. KFOR also protects Albanians from Serbs. That is their job. They are peacekeepers. They also use force and the threat of force to preserve freedom of movement for everyone.

You are entitled to you own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. You're starting to piss me off now. I have work to do, and I don't have time to debunk such obviously fabricated disinformation.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 10:48 AM

Wow! It's been nearly a year, and people are still talking about the infamous Fellenzer/Gorin brawl?? Good gawd!

Please allow me to set the record straight on some things.

1 - I was not a press officer with the Army in Kosovo. My MOS happens to be public affairs, but my function, due to my certification as a Russian linguist, was working with the Serbian Armed Forces as part of the Joint Implementation Commission. I spent my entire time outside the wire working with the Serbian Soldiers, conducting, investigations, etc. I was not a public affairs officer, nor was I an analyst. Just someone who saw things from her own personal perspective.

2 - My blog entry, while vetted by the Army for OPSEC violations, was a personal account, viewed from my own perspective as someone who was out there every day, not someone who spent her days as a FOBBIT at Bondsteel.

3 - The reason 2004 seems like ancient history to many of the Soldiers over there is because Kosovo is such a dynamic environment. Gorin made some claims that were downright ridiculous, such as a Serb a day being killed in Kosovo, which would imply that on our watch, more than 200 Serbs were killed while we stood idly by and weren't allowed to defend them, and indeed, were instructed to run away from confrontations. Patent lies. While 2004 and 2005 aren't technically ancient history, they were outdated in that context, because the Germans' failure in '04 prompted KFOR to evaluate how things were being done.

4 - The barbed wire Serb enclaves... I believe I addressed this, but I will again for clarity. I've never seen those kinds of environments in our AO. I have heard of ONE such enclosure near Prizren, from our Orthodox Chaplain, who has traveled all over the region and said that the "vast majority" of Kosovo was not as she had described.

And finally...

5 - I don't disagree with everything Gorin says. I just think she's ridiculously biased to the point of losing credibility. There really isn't an innocent side in this portion of history. Yes, Alb organized criminals are stealing Serb property. Yes, there are Serbs who are involved in OC as well. Do I think Kosovo was ready to be an independent nation? Not so much. With as much as 40 percent of their GDP coming from the black market, and rampant corruption making legitimate investors hesitant to do business in Kosovo, and the profits that are made by corrupt officials vice what they make on a monthly "legitimate" salary, Kosovo will rely on foreigners for a long time. It will be the welfare child of eastern Europe.

From what I've seen, most people over there just want to live their lives, go to school, etc. I've accompanied priests to Decani, and sat down in an Albanian restaurant with him in Pec. We had lunch. Everyone around was perfectly pleasant. No one spit on his food, as far as I know. And yes, he was wearing the robes. And he was the same priest from Partes who was shot in the hand a few years ago - Father Dragan. Nice man.

It's the relatively few who cause the problems, and people like Gorin don't do the area any favors by fomenting hatred against one group or another.

Wow... talk about old memories!

Nicki

Posted by: Nicki Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 10:49 AM

Hi Nicki,

Thanks for showing up and helping to tip the balance against bullshit around here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 10:55 AM

Oh, and by the way, to the person who claims I just pumped out what was written by my commander... that was the other way around. I originally wrote the piece, and the public affairs officer got my permission to alter it to letter form to send to American Legion. Nice try, though...

Posted by: Nicki Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 10:58 AM

Michael - no problem. Nice site, by the way. I just saw an inordinate amount of hits from your site to my blog, so I decided to see what was up. I see some people still have seething hatred. I'm sorry to see that. I remember the craziness in the comments section of my blog. I also remember how much trouble I COULD have gotten into if anyone had taken Gorin's allegations of my sleeping with Brad seriously. Luckily, because we'd been best friends for so long, our command already knew better.

I don't consider myself right or left on this issue. To be honest with you, I've never liked the idea of a nation claiming "independence" while relying on foreigners for EVERYTHING.

I've met some fantastic people in Kosovo, both Serbian and Albanian. I have photos of the Serbian Soldiers providing first aid to some Albanians in a town close to the ABL. They delivered water there every day as well. Most of the time people got along OK. There were definitely tense moments, though.

My other problem with what Gorin wrote was her decision to publish letters from an emotionally unstable kid that had serious OPSEC issues. He claimed we were prohibited from wearing our IBA for fear of angering the Albanians when out on missions. That was a patent lie, by the way. I have photos of me in Gjilane in full battle rattle, ferpetessake! Uncomfortable as hell, especially in the summer heat. The bigger issue is that if the claim WAS true, her publishing it would have been the equivalent of that asshat publishing IBA weak spots in the New York Times a few years ago for all the terrorists to read and examine. Just because you have information, doesn't mean you don't examine if it's responsible to publish it.

Meh... anyway, my blog is old news.

Thanks for writing about the issues, though.

Nicki

Posted by: Nicki Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 11:07 AM

Michael_B,

Sorry if I misinterpreted your positions and/or attitudes, but please do not be so quick as to attribute me shady motivations.

I don't think I still understand where you stand, so I will not comment any further.

Effectively, it would seem, you've reduced virtually everything I forwarded to categories that you feel comfortable with. Then, the one of two challenges I do throw out, with supportive links, you avoid commenting upon entirely.

I don't really know what you are referring to here, but I will not go and analyze Gorin's 9000+ word 'report'. I think it was satisfactorily demonstrated that she is not a credible or objective 'analyst', has no expertise or personal experience in the Balkans, and I already sent you an article by Schwartz addressing many of her repeated absurdities and debunking them better than I could.

You recommended her as 'solid insight' and given what has been unearthed about her, the burden of proof is on you to convince readers of the 'solidity' of her insights.

I in no way suggested I “preemptively dismiss” anyone, certainly not Michael, whom I specifically noted I appreciated - indeed I went so far to suggest I read a very diverse group when it comes to the Balkans, even reading Chomsky, albeit by no means as an authority, rather for the sake of gaining some clues.

Sorry then, I was confused by this:

But the fact is, when it comes to the Balkans, I read everyone with a grain of salt and I seek out valid or more honest individual pieces of the puzzle, I don't seek and I don't expect to find a single authority or account which reflects “the truth”. I even read Chomsky when it comes to the Balkans and I read Chomsky, excepting incidentally on occasion, on virtually no other occasion. I value your reportage, Michael, I do not believe you represent “The Truth”

The more one reads, the more 'diverse' (often plain contradictory) opinions and representations of facts become. That doesn't mean that two pieces of perfectly contradictory accounts completely nullify one-another. One is largely accurate, and the other is probably largely inaccurate, or a downright fabrication.

One Gorin does not balance out one Totten. One of them has never been in the region, never seen anything for herself, never had any expertise in the region. The other is an independent journalist, who reports his personal accounts, visits the region, and doesn't make wild generalizations.

Everyone needs to be read with an open mind and a grain of salt, that is a given. However, common sense must dictate how big the grain of salt to be reserved for each author/correspondent should be.

Anyway, I don't want to argue with you if you don't believe in my honesty or my good will. All I wanted to say to begin with, is that Gorin is a very bad source, and I hope you have seen that for yourself by now.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 11:12 AM

Nicki,

I loved your reports from Kosovo (read them a long time ago).

I also happen to fully share your worries over Kosovo's future which you shared:

Yes, Alb organized criminals are stealing Serb property. Yes, there are Serbs who are involved in OC as well. Do I think Kosovo was ready to be an independent nation? Not so much. With as much as 40 percent of their GDP coming from the black market, and rampant corruption making legitimate investors hesitant to do business in Kosovo, and the profits that are made by corrupt officials vice what they make on a monthly “legitimate” salary, Kosovo will rely on foreigners for a long time. It will be the welfare child of eastern Europe.

I don't know that as much as 40% of Kosovo's economy is fueled by the black market, but the chunk of it is nevertheless big.

And I know that since 1999 the registration of property has been an utter mess, since a lot of Serbs left, and many many Albanian Kosovars got their documents burned by Milosevic's stooges during the exodus when they crossed the border.

The ensuing chaos is conducive to hostile take-overs of vacant Serbian property. I am sure there must be some Albanians taking advantage of the situation in this way. Part of the problem is also that there was a considerable number of recent Serbian settlers in Kosovo, who may have property legally registered under their name, but only got it after Albanians were expropriated of theirs, to make room for them, under Milosevic's regime. So I wouldn't be surprised if the original Albanian owners were raging to get back their houses. It is somewhat of a mess anyway, and it's not good, but it's not nearly the norm either.

Also, I don't think further rule by the UN would have made Kosovo any better prepared for independence. The UN is a crony bureaucratic organization, and it's largely because of collectivist centralized UN policies, that Kosovo's economy has been so paralyzed.

All I know about Kosovo's political leadership is that they are not Islamists, like try to make them to be. I don't know about their propensity toward corruption, but if they're anything like their counterparts in Albania proper, then God help us!

It's ultimately not so much about the moral character of those in political power, but about the organizational structure of political institutions. Kosovo needs limited government, checks and balanced, and a market economy.

Big centralized collectivist government breeds corruption all by itself. I don't think the international community should give alms to Kosovo at all! ZERO! And I don't know Kosovars to want independence contingent on international welfare.

However, I don't think staying under UN rule would have brought them any closer to self-reliance either, and Kosovo definitely cannot go back under Serbia's rule. Albania is a shitty country to merge with, so independence is the only option that makes sense.

Once the shackles of UN bureaucracy are shaken off, then perhaps we will see a new society emerge there. I would strongly be in favor of the US dictating Kosovo its constitution (modeled after its own) to make sure the country starts out right. I just hope Kosovo doesn't start looking up to Western European political structures as a template for its future.

It's all open ended at this point. The worst that I see happening, is for Kosovo to turn out at backward as Albania. In that case they will be poor and stressed out, but only they themselves would pay for their own backwardness.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 11:34 AM

Errrr, I made a bunch of typos on this last post. I ought to have double checked. Sorry.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 11:37 AM

Medaura: I don't know about their propensity toward corruption, but if they're anything like their counterparts in Albania proper, then God help us!

From what I heard while I was there, the Albanian political leadership in Kosovo is just as corrupt as the U.N. in Kosovo. I don't know how that compares to Albania proper, but it isn't good, I can say that much for sure.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 12:17 PM

From what I heard while I was there, the Albanian political leadership in Kosovo is just as corrupt as the U.N. in Kosovo. I don't know how that compares to Albania proper, but it isn't good, I can say that much for sure.

That doesn't surprise me at all. I could imagine that some of the corruption might have been transferred by induction from the U.N. administration, to the parallel Kosovar institutions which were erected with the support of the U.N.

It was easy for Kosovoar politicians to slip away when they didn't have a real budget or bottom line (foreign aid/ U.N. funds were always there for the taking), and when they didn't even bear full responsibility for their policies for the longest time during which they operated merely in the context of 'parallel institutions' (with no real authority and responsibility).

Such is the class of politicians that were inherited from the U.N. The above problems will be corrected now.

A big part of the corruption must just unfortunately be intrinsic though. I think there is a certain euphoric energy about finally being independent after centuries of subjugation, and now that Kosovars have no one to fight against or resist to, the fervor will quickly wear off and Kosovars will be forced to shift their attention inwards, toward the most mundane/political/administrative problems that plague their society from within.

These inner dilemmas had been largely played down for the sake of unity when they had to strongly affirm their identity to protect themselves from outside aggression. Now that's all over.

I think just about all Eastern European countries went through this phase, after having fought for so many centuries against occupying forces (Rome, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, etc), that their people largely forgot what they were fighting for.

Kosovo has to relive this identity crisis.

We can expect wide-spread corruption there for at least a decade. One good thing is that many Kosovars have relatives in Western countries, and I think this Westernized diaspora, if it ever finds it worthwhile to settle back to Kosovo now that the turmoil is likely over, can shape stronger modern institutions. I doubt that will happen before the old guard runs through its political life-cycle and fades into oblivion.

People like Hashim Thaci and the likes (the old KLA guard), they were only good in an 'us-vs-them' survivalist paradigm. They have no idea how to run a country, but they gained enough sympathy/popularity from Kosovars through their role in the KLA and now, in declaring independence, that it will probably be at least a few years before they fall out of favor.

Kosovo has many problems ahead, that's for sure. I just don't have any reason to believe that Islamism is going to be one of them.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 12:56 PM

Also, I see no point in addressing Limbic any further, but for the record, I never have never referred to myself, nor do I consider myself to be, 'a right-wing Republican battle-axe', or any linear combination of these words, with whatever notions they imply.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 1:27 PM

Medaura - thanks for the kind words about my blog. I think I've gotten quite a bit more contentious since I returned.

Couple of things...

"I don't know that as much as 40% of Kosovo's economy is fueled by the black market, but the chunk of it is nevertheless big."

Because there's no formal reporting on this for obvious reasons, the exact percentage is unknown, but economic reports do indicate that it is, in fact, that high.

"And I know that since 1999 the registration of property has been an utter mess, since a lot of Serbs left, and many many Albanian Kosovars got their documents burned by Milosevic's stooges during the exodus when they crossed the border."

Correct. Additionally, because there's a lot of corruption in the courts and the KTA, property is being "returned" to those with connections.

"The ensuing chaos is conducive to hostile take-overs of vacant Serbian property. I am sure there must be some Albanians taking advantage of the situation in this way. Part of the problem is also that there was a considerable number of recent Serbian settlers in Kosovo, who may have property legally registered under their name, but only got it after Albanians were expropriated of theirs, to make room for them, under Milosevic's regime. So I wouldn't be surprised if the original Albanian owners were raging to get back their houses. It is somewhat of a mess anyway, and it's not good, but it's not nearly the norm either."

It's a little of both, actually. But there's definitely a prevalence of theft of Serbian land. Recently, for example, Haradinaj and his cronies pitched a royal fit and refused to return property that belongs to the Decani Monastery. That place is incredible. It's been there since the 1300s. It's their land. The Albs in the area, however, feel themselves justified in shooting at it (I've seen the bubbles from bullets in the glass of the guard tower), firing RPGs, stealing their land, throwing garbage at the place, etc.

"Also, I don't think further rule by the UN would have made Kosovo any better prepared for independence. The UN is a crony bureaucratic organization, and it's largely because of collectivist centralized UN policies, that Kosovo's economy has been so paralyzed."

I would disagree with that. It's institutional corruption that leads to lack of investor confidence that leads to little money being poured into the region. And honestly, what smart business person would really invest in a "nation" whose status as a nation is in dispute? Not saying the UN socialist BS didn't contribute, but from what I can see, it's just an economic abyss, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

"All I know about Kosovo's political leadership is that they are not Islamists, like try to make them to be. I don't know about their propensity toward corruption, but if they're anything like their counterparts in Albania proper, then God help us!"

"It's ultimately not so much about the moral character of those in political power, but about the organizational structure of political institutions. Kosovo needs limited government, checks and balanced, and a market economy."

We know what it needs, but with the rampant institutional corruption, the vast majority of the government needs to be replaced. Seriously. I'm not even kidding. Nice people, but it's much more lucrative for them to participate in criminal activity than to subsist on $200 per month.

"Big centralized collectivist government breeds corruption all by itself. I don't think the international community should give alms to Kosovo at all! ZERO! And I don't know Kosovars to want independence contingent on international welfare."

I think, unfortunately, that's exactly what they want and expect. Without the alms, that country will fold like a cheap card table.

"However, I don't think staying under UN rule would have brought them any closer to self-reliance either, and Kosovo definitely cannot go back under Serbia's rule. Albania is a shitty country to merge with, so independence is the only option that makes sense."

Agreed.

"Once the shackles of UN bureaucracy are shaken off, then perhaps we will see a new society emerge there. I would strongly be in favor of the US dictating Kosovo its constitution (modeled after its own) to make sure the country starts out right. I just hope Kosovo doesn't start looking up to Western European political structures as a template for its future."

Unfortunately, knowing what I know about the place, it's going to take more than just booting the UN out. It's going to take a complete change of everyone in power and an attitude change, which can only come with time.

Nicki

Posted by: Nicki Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 5:38 PM

No medaura, I didn't suggest you had "shady" motives either, I suggested you did not apprehend what was said, even when it came to explicit, to overt statements. Those are two different things. In sum, I'll stick with my 6:40 pm comment in every particular. I'll read Gorin with a much larger grain of salt, beyond that I wouldn't change a thing.

Posted by: Michael_B Author Profile Page at June 17, 2008 6:02 PM

Michael,

The places in question are not towns, they are townships. They are fragments of depopulated villages. Have you been to them? No, because if you had you would have seen exactly what Gorin was talking about and what the photographer I linked to witnessed.

"Yes, KFOR protects Serbian enclaves from Albanians. KFOR also protects Albanians from Serbs."

Oh sure. It is a simple matter of two warning parties with KFOR in the middle.

It is funny then that KFORs own web page, describing its mission, says the following:

"Special attention continues to be paid to the protection of minorities; this includes regular patrols near minority enclaves, check points, escorts for minority groups, protection of heritage sites such as monasteries, and donations including food, clothes and school supplies.

Now ask yourself Michael, why are KFOR patrolling (and camped) near enclaves (not towns, enclaves like the ones photographed)?

Why are they escorting minority groups if those minority groups have such freedom of movement and are not threatened?

Why are they guarding heritage sites and monasteries if there is no threat to them?

Is this "fabricated disinformation"? Will Nikki Fellenzer saying it is not so also "debunk" this, Michael?

"You are entitled to you own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

I certainly am not, that is why I pay you and your readers the courtesy of links to my sources so they can make up their own minds.

Might I remind you that this whole thing kicked off because I called you out on your "facts" about Belgrade in Part 1 if this Series. Your "facts", by your own admission, told a dramatic story, but in my view not a fair one. We came to be having this rancorous discussion here because the discussion from that thread was ported here by your handmaid Medaura.

"You're starting to piss me off now."

Of course I am! I am openly disagreeing with you and calling into question your facts, interpretations and sources exactly as you do mine.

I have been a disruptive voice in this echo chamber and frankly I am surprised it has taken so long for you to come out and be explicit about your position.

The old adage about watching what people do not what they say applied beautifully here: Schwartz is presented as a solid source, but Gorin is is "thoroughly debunked" by Nikki's questioning of a paragraph.

This discussion has been a revelation for me.

"I have work to do, and I don't have time to debunk such obviously fabricated disinformation."

No-one here has managed to debunk anything that I have said. I have seen red herrings, people selecting a single phrase to quibble about or fiercely attacking a side point, an example or straw men. It just inspired me to take the time to really nail their arguments.

Look over this thread. We see it littered with the corpses of red herrings disguised as "arguments" raised against me - numbers of Serbian IDPS from Kosovo, my supposedly being a Serb, Serbian anti-Semitism in WW2 and now the reality of minority life in parts Kosovo.

I could waste a lifetime fighting with you and your claque over Kosovo, but I too have a life and a job and productive work to do elsewhere.

For many of your readers, my arguments above may be the first heterodoxy over Kosovo and Serbia they have come across. Their eyeball time and subsequent attention has made this whole nasty brawl well worth it. Job done.

As they say in the Balkans, "Malo po malo", so until next time, Hamba kahle.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 1:50 AM

Postscript:

What seems like a long time ago I wrote in Part 1 of this series that:

"I believe Kosovo an non-viable ethno-state. Its is economy based on organised crime (human slavery, drugs) and hand outs from the west. It is Europe's own little Somalia. " [Emphasis mine]

I was accused, by Michael Totten no less, of saying "Kosovo's economy is based on slavery, which is outrageous".

Enter Nikki Fellenzer, the soldier Michael linked to as having "debunked" Julie Gorin.

Nikki writes above:

Do I think Kosovo was ready to be an independent nation? Not so much. With as much as 40 percent of their GDP coming from the black market, and rampant corruption making legitimate investors hesitant to do business in Kosovo, and the profits that are made by corrupt officials vice what they make on a monthly “legitimate” salary, Kosovo will rely on foreigners for a long time. It will be the welfare child of eastern Europe. [Emphasis mine]

...To be honest with you, I've never liked the idea of a nation claiming “independence” while relying on foreigners for EVERYTHING.

Michael, the phrase "Hoist by your own petard" comes to mind.

The medium truly is the message around here.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:23 AM

Oops, Nikki's quote was supposed to read:

"Do I think Kosovo was ready to be an independent nation? Not so much. With as much as 40 percent of their GDP coming from the black market, and rampant corruption making legitimate investors hesitant to do business in Kosovo, and the profits that are made by corrupt officials vice what they make on a monthly “legitimate” salary, Kosovo will rely on foreigners for a long time. It will be the welfare child of eastern Europe.

…To be honest with you, I've never liked the idea of a nation claiming “independence” while relying on foreigners for EVERYTHING." [Emphasis mine]

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:26 AM

Oh, for God's sake, Limbic. If you're going to argue with me, try contradicting what I wrote. There is nothing in your last post to me that I disagree with or have even suggested isn't the case. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for that one. Everyone who knows anything about Kosovo knows that KFOR protects Serbs (as well as Albanians and non-Serb minorities), their churches, and their freedom of movement. Obviously I know that. Not only did I already say that, I fucking embedded with KFOR.

Instead of typing out non-controversial and pedestrian statements as though you're some kind of brave truth-teller, address my actual argument.

The following statement is bullshit on stilts: Kosovo Serbs live inside barbed-wire, NATO-guarded perimeters, beyond which they “dare not venture."

You can't defend Julia Gorin's hysterical nonsense, and I don't think I'm the only who has noticed that you did not even try.

You know why else I'm annoyed at you right now? I wrote an article about Bosnia and you're here pissing on Albanians like an obsessive. If "Limbic Nutrition" isn't a good place for you to take swings at your favorite regional punching bag, maybe you should just start a blog called kosovosucks.blogspot.com.

Also, I'd take your objections to my portrayal of Serbia a lot more seriously if you didn't turn around and direct 100 times as much animosity toward Kosovo. You think I'm biased? You have a serious defeciency in the self-awareness department.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:56 AM

Limbic: “I believe Kosovo an non-viable ethno-state. Its is economy based on organised crime (human slavery, drugs) and hand outs from the west. It is Europe's own little Somalia. “ [Emphasis mine]

I was accused, by Michael Totten no less, of saying “Kosovo's economy is based on slavery, which is outrageous”.

So it's okay to say Kosovo's economy is based on slavery and drugs and welfare? Are you kidding me? It's okay to throw slavery in there as long that isn't the only thing listed?

Kosovo isn't the frigging Confederacy of the Balkans.

Look. I'd love to have a knowledgeable person who lives in Belgrade around here who can let me know when I get something wrong. (Predrag Delibasic, whom I interviewed for this piece, would be excellent.) But your comments about how Kosovo's economy is based on slavery (and drugs and welfare) and how Serbs supposedly live inside barbed-wire perimeters are so abjectly ridiculous that there is no point in me reading any more of your comments except that I have to take time out of my day to argue with your crazier statements.

From here on out, I'm limited you to three comments per article. After that, you're done. I'm doing this as a favor to myself, to you, and to everyone else. You have other work to do, as do I, and readers deserve a comments thread that isn't hogged by one or two people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 3:09 AM

I just checked and both domain names are available, kosovosucks.blogspot.com or the more general albaniasucks.blogspot.com. There should be an audience because the phrases did turn up on several Serbian sites. Along with a bunch of others unsuitable for polite company. I am glad someone mentioned the rather ambiguous nature of the photos because they appeared to me rather pleasant pictures of rural Europe with fences to keep the cows from wandering off.

Posted by: Pat Patterson Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 5:30 AM

Michael,

A few points. I am not going to bother yet again covering the same old ground with you over the points and arguments here. This is beating the proverbial greasy stain where the proverbial dead horse died 60 posts ago.

I do, however, want to address this:

You know why else I'm annoyed at you right now? I wrote an article about Bosnia and you're here pissing on Albanians like an obsessive. If “Limbic Nutrition” isn't a good place for you to take swings at your favorite regional punching bag, maybe you should just start a blog called kosovosucks.blogspot.com.

Firstly, don't try and single me out as some sort of troll because we ended up scrapping over Kosovo in this post on Bosnia. The discussion was dragged off topic after young Kejda/Meduara who followed up your comment

"Nice to see some agreement here this time. Wonders never cease."

With...

"Limbic, I invite you to provide sources about your claims of “ethnic cleansing” of Serbs in Kosovo

And THAT is how we went of course.

As for my putative "pissing on Albanians like an obsessive" show me where.

Here are my only direct quotes about Albanians to help you spot my "pissing" and reveal which exact phrases you mean:

"Albanians were valiant in their defence of Jews during the war - hiding them, refusing to hand over lists of Jews etc. It is matter of national credit.

...Did some Albanians collaborate? Apparently so….

Did some Serbs collaborate? yes." [Emphasis in original].

My "pissing on Albanians" was nothing but me swatting lies and libels about Serbs.

Where is my animosity towards Kosovo or Kosovars? I mean quote me please. Lets see where you are getting this from.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 7:33 AM

Michael,

You also wrote...

So it's okay to say Kosovo's economy is based on slavery and drugs and welfare? Are you kidding me? It's okay to throw slavery in there as long that isn't the only thing listed?

Here is a good example of how it comes to appear that I am "pissing on Albanians". Here are my words:

“I believe Kosovo an non-viable ethno-state. Its is economy based on organised crime (human slavery, drugs) and hand outs from the west. It is Europe's own little Somalia."

To which you reply that "Kosovo isn't the frigging Confederacy of the Balkans."

What I wrote is absolutely true. Organised Crime in Kosovo is predominantly about Human Trafficking (which is modern slavery), drugs and weapons smuggling.

Of course I do not expect you to believe me, so one again I will refer you to sources (google them, URL posting limit):

Kosovo: Facts and figures on trafficking of women and girls for forced prostitution in Kosovo

Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in the EU: The Involvement of Western Balkans Organised Crime.

And finally, the brand new Crime and its Impact on the Balkans by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 7:35 AM

Finally Michael,

As for hand-outs form the West, it seems that your sources agree with me (see Nikki Fellenzer above).

Oh wait, its not just that crypto-Serb Limbic! The New York Times...

"For the foreseeable future, Western analysts say, Kosovo’s economy will remain dependent on generous aid, its security assured by 16,000 NATO troops and its political affairs overseen by a European Union mission that will shortly take over from the United Nations.

“It could take at least 10 years for Kosovo to stand on its own two feet,” said Joost Lagendijk, who oversees Kosovo policy in the European Parliament. “Kosovo is a poor agricultural country where the energy supply is chaotic, the rule of law needs to be upheld and the economy is almost starting from scratch.”

As for the barbed wire perimeters, suck this and see:

"Behind the razor wire that has protected Gracanica monastery and other Serbian holy sites since ethnic Albanians attacked them in 2004, Artemia, the Bishop of Kosovo, was in apocalyptic mood.

"The international community wants to create a new Islamic-Albanian state in the Balkans, a new jihad state that will threaten not just the Balkans but all of Europe," he exclaimed, standing in front of the church's ancient Christian frescoes. "Serbs here are under threat."

Gracanica monastery is surrounded by high walls and protected by Swedish troops, part of the 16,000-strong Nato force in the province.

The town itself is a Serb enclave, where ties to Serbia's capital, Belgrade, are far stronger than they are to the ethnic Albanian villages which surround it." Daily Telegraph 2007

And the village I mentioned, where Ms Haener took her pictures:

"This is the most modern prison in the world. There is nowhere else like this ," said Vidosav Cukaric, 52, principal at the village primary
school. "We cannot even go 500 metres outside of our village. Nato protects us, but only in the village. We have freedom but we cannot
do anything." They are trapped. Surrounded by Dutch troops, it is virtually impossible for them to leave the village without serious risk
of being attacked by Albanians. Even the 40 or so children who have passed primary school age can only go to secondary school in nearby
Rahovec in an armed Kfor convoy. A truck picks them up and then returns them each day."

From The Independent (UK), "After 1,000 years, terror forces Serbs out of their Kosovo village
By Andrew Buncombe in Velika Hoca"

I presume my 3 comments are up?

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 7:36 AM

Ummm - point of correction. Gracanica and similar areas are considered PRDSS or Properties Designated as Special Status. They are not Serbian enclaves, and there are ethnic extremists just itching to trash them. I consider those acts of terrorism, much like the targeting of the WTC. They're special sites that have meaning to the terrorists' "enemies," so yes, they need to be protected. That's a lot different than the claim that Kosovo Serbs live in barbed wire-protected enclaves. Don't confuse the two. Again, we can confirm that MOST Serbs in Kosovo do not live in said concentration camp-like conditions. The VAST MAJORITY of the area is safe for them to go. Like I said, an Orthodox priest walked into a restaurant in Pec in full black garb (sounds like the beginning of a joke of some sort), and no one batted an eyelash. We all had a very nice lunch.

If you go to genuine Serb enclaves like Shillovo, Novo Brdo, Partes, Pasjane, Kamenica and even Leposavic in the North, you will see nothing like what you and Gorin describe. The areas are open. School children play in the streets. There are no armed guards or barbed wire. Even in Vitina, even though the church in the center is under the watchful eye of KFOR, there is no such conditions. I know. I was there at Father Zvonko's house. I played with his children. I've had lunch in the home of a nice lady in a Serbian area of Kamenica. I've had drinks with Father Dragan at his home in Partes.

Sheesh! Can we just dispense with the hyperbole already?

Posted by: Nicki Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 9:27 AM

Limbic: “Behind the razor wire that has protected Gracanica monastery and other Serbian holy sites...

Yeah, no kidding. Some Serbian holy sites are protected by barbed wire so they don't get vandalized. I know that. I photographed that and will write about it. (This article was about Bosnia, not Kosovo.)

The Serb population does not live behind barbed wire perimeters like they're in concentration camps set up by American soldiers, which is what your favorite sentence by Julia Gorin says.

I mean, come on, change a few words around and look how it reads: German Jews live inside barbed-wire, Nazi-guarded perimeters, beyond which they “dare not venture.”

You come in here to defend Serbs and peddle crap like this to my audience?

I am not always right, but I try my best to accurately describe troubled parts of the world that most people never get to see. I welcome honest criticism and correction, but you are not helping. I'm spending way too much time correcting you when I have other things to do.

You're over your limit of three comments per article. I know you're capable of being reasonable, so I am not going to ban you, but this converstation is over for now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 10:17 AM

Jeepers,

I see the situation has precipitated in this thread.

Nicki,

Thank you for your detailed response. Here are my thoughts:

Additionally, because there's a lot of corruption in the courts and the KTA, property is being “returned” to those with connections.

Sounds a lot like what happened in Albania in the 90s. The communist regime had stripped everyone of their property, and after its collapse, the rightful owners were not always being returned their full property. Those with connections got a steal (literally) and the courts were (and to a considerable degree still are) a debacle.

An independent judiciary is essential to a country . I refuse to conclude that Albanians just have corruption ingrained in their blood, but the awful dysfunctional systems they have been under for centuries have bred a certain propensity toward political degeneration.

Recently, for example, Haradinaj and his cronies pitched a royal fit and refused to return property that belongs to the Decani Monastery. That place is incredible. It's been there since the 1300s. It's their land. The Albs in the area, however, feel themselves justified in shooting at it (I've seen the bubbles from bullets in the glass of the guard tower), firing RPGs, stealing their land, throwing garbage at the place, etc.

Absolutely inexcusable. I know that there must be varying levels of hostility toward Orthodox Christian symbols/edifices/personnel emanating from Kosovar Albanians, especially the Muslims. From what I know first hand about Kosovars attitudes, I have heard many who claim that the Orthodox church was largely either complicit or silent during the monstrosities on 1999, so many have a beef with it. It obviously doesn't justify (but perhaps explains) some of the vandalism.

In 1999 my family in Albania also hosted a Kosovar refugee family from the exodus. The old man/family patriarch (in his 60s) joked about being 500 years old. He told us a story of how he and other Kosovar Albanians had been put in semi-forced-labor camps/projects to build Orthodox churches a few decades ago in Kosovo, churches which he claimed Serbs tout as part of their ancient cultural heritage in Kosovo (hence the joke of him being 500 years old, since he had participated in the building of one of those churches).

This can also explain the animosity, although I have no idea whether this was a single church he was talking about, or whether several similar projects had been carried out to contribute to the anti-Orthodox-edifices animosity.

I do know sepcifically of the Decani Monastery, which is a legit heritage, and about attempts to vandalize it. What can I say? It's a shame that there are vandals behaving that way. Such attitude won't do those Albanians any favors. These Neanderthals need to learn respect for private property.

It's institutional corruption that leads to lack of investor confidence that leads to little money being poured into the region. And honestly, what smart business person would really invest in a “nation” whose status as a nation is in dispute? Not saying the UN socialist BS didn't contribute, but from what I can see, it's just an economic abyss, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

The institutional volatility of this new shaky country is partly inherent to its genesis and open-ended future, so obviously there is a considerable risk premium for investor confidence.

The inherent risk is however greatly exacerbated by Serbia's hostile reaction to independence, and even more greatly so, by the local Serbs' refusal to participate in the new institutions, to recognize the sovereignty of Kosovo's government, and to integrate in political and economic life. This largely deliberate sectarian behavior can turn the prospect of poor economic development into a self-sustaining prophecy.

To me it's a negative indicator of Kosovo's Serbs attitudes. I understand that the Albanians there are far from perfect and might tend to abuse Serbs politically, but what do they expect if they refuse to represent themselves in the government? It seems like many Kosovo Serbs were expecting Kosovo to remain part of Serbia, and after what happened in 1999, if I were a Kosovar Albanian, I would probably myself harbor rancor toward those Serbian neighbors with such attitudes.

A main step toward correcting Kosovo's governments' great deficiencies would be for local Serbs to participate in it. Their refusal to do so, or to recognize its authority, are greatly destabilizing forces.

It is my understanding that Kosovar and Macedon Albanians are somewhat more conservative than Albanians from Albania proper. I have never met an Islamist Kosovar in my life, but I can't claim that my encounters have been perfectly representative of the population there. I am certain that Islamists do exist there, as they exist in the UK, Italy, the Neatherlands, etc.

I do not know of this recent victory by Salafists in Pec and I didn't find anything to substantiate it when I looked it up (though I do take you on your word). But I can infer some things by the way Albanians (in Albania proper are portrayed), whom I know 100% to be as far as night from day from the portraits painted by the same propagandists who try to make Kosovar Albanians to be Talibans.

At the local level there may be conservative Islamists gaining power (still very alarming to me) but the head of the leadership (even the thugs like Hajradinaj) are not religious at all from what I know.

Another problem has been that, Serbian nationalists have tried to portray the Kosovo conflict as a religious war. This served their propaganda efforts, but in some circles it turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is a reason that the percentage of Muslims is much higher among Kosovar and Macedon Albanians, than Albanians in Albania proper, and that their brand of Islam is more conservative:

They have been pitted in an 'us-vs-them' religious paradigm by the Orthodox Slavs. There are virtually no Orthodox Christian Albanians in Kosovo or Macedonia, though there are plenty in Albania proper.

I think that a fervent rhetoric of religious contrasts/clashes advanced by Serbian nationalists has radicalized a portion of Kosovar Albanians to a degree, because it has contributed to their cornering of their identity as Muslims.

So their chickens are coming home to roost.

I think, unfortunately, that's exactly what they want and expect. Without the alms, that country will fold like a cheap card table.

With respect, I don't think you can make such a broad assessment regarding the bulk of Kosovar Albanians. I am sure Kosovar politicians would love to both have their cake and eat it, but the bulk of the population there has struggled and literally died for independence and self-reliance for centuries, before there ever was such thing as international-welfare, so to speak.

Kosovo declared 'independence' in 1990, when neither its leadership nor its people ever thought it would become the play-ground of internationals. I think it's a bit insulting of you to claim that 'Kosovars want independence only with international perks'

Unfortunately, knowing what I know about the place, it's going to take more than just booting the UN out. It's going to take a complete change of everyone in power and an attitude change, which can only come with time.

Agreed.... Italy was a mess at the turn of the 20th century and it's a civilized country today. The road ahead is very hard, but I don't think Kosovo is at all doomed.

Kejda

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:18 PM

errrr, I was multitasking when writing that comment above. More typos I am ashamed of.. self-fulfilling, not self-sustaining prophecy, for one.

Sorry everyone. I hate bad spelling just as everyone else, but I have been very busy and in a hyper-multitasking mode during my last comments.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:24 PM

I respect your wishes to end this row, and since it is your weblog and I will withdraw from the discussion. I feel my points are adequately made and require no additional comment. Your gasconade about "correcting" my "crap" is just that, meaningless vaunting, and can be safely ignored.

The record of our discussion is right here for anyone judge for themselves.

"What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?" - George Orwell

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:39 PM

Wow,

Limbic, I won't even get into this, but... I have to say that it is mighty disrespectful of you to call Michael a lunatic. You started your slimy propagandizing efforts here under the thin guise of sycophancy, but I could tell you were full of condescension and rancor toward Michael from reading even your very fist posts at your own blog.

You better hope no one reads all your rants, because I can assure you will not emerge in a good light. It seems that you have no healthy sense of the way you are perceived.

Whatever, aside from that...

I don't go to Gorin's blog, or any other Albanian-hating lunatics' to start seethe at their forum. However indignant I may be, I have enough respect to not trash their own back-yards. For you to hurl such virulent insults at the host of this site it's absolutely despicable, especially given the tolerance he has shown toward your craziness.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 3:51 PM

Country: Republica Srpska

Motto: Can I buy a vowel?

Posted by: Fat Man Author Profile Page at June 23, 2008 11:33 AM

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc2m8p62_108hcqzjqc3
http://pasta.cantbedone.org/pages/5bCSha.htm
ANTI-SEMITISM IN SERBIA DURING WORLD WAR II
Ljubica Stefan

There are still some significant historical facts about Serbia before and during the Second World War which remain suppressed or are even distorted with prejudice, not only in Serbia but also abroad. We believe this to be the consequence of ignorance due to the energetic, and unfortunately successful, propaganda of Yugoslavia and Serbia these past fifty years. Thus, these facts should always be pointed out in a precise and detailed manner whenever this dark period is mentioned, which is, in effect, only just one such period in a series of similar centuries-old ones in Serbian history.

Until today, Serbia has worn a hero’s halo in a land of martyrs as a member of the anti-Hitler coalition and an alleged contributor to the victory in the Second World War. This is completely untrue. Serbia was not an unfortunate occupied land subjected to German terror. During the entire war, Serbia was the most faithful ally to the Third Reich on European territory under its domination.
As opposed to all the other countries of the former Yugoslavia, there was no organized, and an even less massive, armed anti-Hitler movement. When England finally ceased supporting and exalting Draža Mihailović, even Radio London, according to the Serbian press, had Mr. Harrison direct the following warning:

"It is up to the Serbs to brighten their reputation and cleanse their blemishes. Serbs, remember! The Greater Serbian hegemony will never return. The other nations in Yugoslavia have been exploited enough by the Serbs. You are being given one more opportunity to save yourselves. There has been enough dawdling and enjoyment on the part of the Serbs while other nations have been fighting."

Serbia was a real state during World War II. It consisted of the following: a government, organized ministries, independent authorities in towns and villages, its own army which was armed by the Germans, and this Nedić’s Serbian State Guard, the Serbian Guard, the elite Ljotić’s Serbian Voluntary Corps, the Serbian Border Guard, the Serbian Country Guard, as well as numerous Četnik units. Within the Ministry of Internal affairs there was a large, well-organized and well-trained Serbian police force, with numerous prisons, customs services and special police schools.
Elementary and secondary schools were in function in the towns and villages. Many newspapers and magazines were being printed as well as a large number of books. New theaters and cinemas were being built. Museums were open. Art shows and concerts were organized. New laws and statutes passed by the Serbian government were published in the "Official Gazette". The Serbian National Bank, with a Serbian governor at its head, printed new Serbian money with an exchange rate in relation not only to the German mark but also to other significant European currency including the kuna. Ancient Serbian flags were hoisted everywhere and the national coat of arms was emphasized. Kosovo and the divine Knez Lazar were celebrated, St. Sava and the Karađorđević dynasty were exulted, etc. Until the very final moment, the Serbians believed that they would be rewarded with the creation of a Greater Serbia after Hitler’s victory!

Anti-Semitism was, along with the militant, conquering, genocidal Orthodoxy of St. Sava, one of the constant ideologies and politics of the Serbian Orthodox Church before, during and after the Second World War. This is in effect even today. That is to say, the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) is in fact a kind of political party. It is greater Serbian and even racist. Pastoral work has been completely neglected.
Anti-Semitism began to spread in Serbia before the Second World War. The Fascist Party "Zbor", Dimitrije Ljotić, prominent Church dignitaries, as well as the church press, were the main generators of the expansion of anti-Semitism. Ljotić roused the Serbian population with the following types of statements:

"The Jewish people use the explosives in their hearts to destroy Christian communities and lead them to their ruin";
"The destructive action of the Jewish spirit may be felt in all domains of human life";
"Judaism is appearing as a cultural and national danger, which we must be free of as soon as possible".

Ljotić’s model and idol was the leader of the Third Reich. He praised him in the following manner:

"Hitler is the instrument of God’s providence. He is an instrument which can no longer be stopped until his assigned mission has been fully completed."

A great number of Orthodox priests were very active members of "Zbor". The most prominent was the main ideologist of Orthodoxy and anti-Semitism in the Serbian church, episcopate Nikolaj Velimirović who had been decorated by Hitler already in 1934. It was probably in gratitude that he wrote the following in his book about St. Sava in 1935:

"We must regard with esteem the present German leader who, in the twentieth century, came up with the idea of St. Sava and as a layman took upon himself a task for his people as befits only a holy man, a genius and a hero."

Several years later, in 1939, he publicly preached racism:

"We are people of an Aryan race, to which fate has given an honorary role... so that tribes of weaker races and inferior faiths will not...".

In the Glasnik Srpske pravoslavne Patrijaršije (""Gazette of the Serb Orthodox Patriarchate), letters about Jewish people such as the following were common: "Jews are enemies, sly as snakes and dangerous". The same newspaper reported the following statement given by Patriarch Varnava to a German newspaper in 1937. "The Führer is leading a battle which will benefit mankind", "God has sent the German people, a Führer with foresight. We believe his truthful words".

Sometime before this, Varnava referred to the Soviet government as a "deceiving Jewish gang".

Germany attacked Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, and without battle on April 12 its army had already entered Belgrade which had been abandoned by the Yugoslav Army and by all authorities since the first day of the war. The unconditional surrender was signed by the generals of the King’s Army on April 17.
On the actual day of the German arrival, Miličević, the Governor of Belgrade, informed the citizens on a posted notice that the Serbian army was already organized and armed. Several days later, Dragi Jovanović became the Governor (he held this title until the end of the war), the Chief of the Serbian police, and later the Chief of Serbian Security. The following statement made by SS General Harald Turner, only a month after his arrival in Belgrade, proves the unlimited power of the Serbian police:

"I attempted to re-establish the activity of the police system with particular haste. Today, executive power in Serbia is carried out by the police and gendarmes who have been given weapons... internal relations are regulated by local organs without German interference."

Dragi Jovanović himself stated in a report to the Gestapo:

"The occupying forces were always able to rely on the Belgrade police. Special Police forces dealt with their assignments with great enthusiasm and success, unlike any other police in any city in all of occupied Europe".

In 1946, at his trial in Belgrade, he added: "These results were better and greater than the results of the Gestapo itself in Belgrade."
For the first four months, Milan Aćimović was at the head of Serbia with his Council of Commissars and then, General Milan Nedić, former Minister of the Yugoslavian Army, who had a pro-German and anti-Semitic orientation, took over the leadership in Serbia.
Owing to the wholehearted cooperation of all Serbian authorities and the police with the Germans, SS-man Harald Turner, stated the following in 1942:

"Serbia is a nation in which the problem of Jews and Gypsies has been solved."

Franz Rademacher of the Nazi Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported:

"The Jewish problem in Serbia is no longer acute. The only thing left is to solve the legal questions concerning property."

The chief of the German Security Service in Serbia, Emanuel Schäfer bragged:

"Belgrade - the only larger European city which is cleansed of Jews, has become ‘Judenfrei.’"

Let us be reminded of the historical fact that Serbia ingloriously took first place in the genocide against the Jews in Europe just three months after the meeting of Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the German Security Service, Heinrich Müller, chief of the Gestapo and Adolf Eichmann, chief of the Special Department for Jews, which was held on January 20, 1942, at Lake Wannsee by Berlin when the decision was made to approach the "final solution to the Jewish problem".
Specifically, at the end of April and the beginning of May of that year, the remaining Jews were killed in the Sajmište concentration camp...

Until now, the Holocaust in Serbia has been an unspoken topic, a taboo. Jewish and Serbian sources offer relatively little data, mostly fragmented. What really happened, nevertheless, may be seen. The following was noted:

"Only seven days after their arrival in Belgrade, the Germans announced that all Jews had to register themselves at Tašmajdan (Serbian Police Headquarters). Before then, they had already formed a special police force for Jewish people, with the help of the police, that is, the Civil Government of Belgrade. Every Jew received a yellow band."

Another source stated that "Jude" was written on the first bands and had the "stamp of Belgrade’s Governor". On one original preserved band (from a later time, it appears), "Jude" is written in German and "Jevrejin" is written in Cyrillic. The following data was found as well:

"The Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, who always endeavored to deal with all their responsibilities on time, dealt with the Jewish problem, as well".

Also:

"From among local traitors, the Gestapo trained the 'Special Police' to battle against Jewish-Communistic actions. The special police closely collaborated with the Gestapo and was often the initiator of joint actions. The employees of the police were paid from a fund in which Belgrade Jews were forced to pay 1,400,000 dinars. Rewards for captured or killed Jews were paid from this fund as well..."

By May 1941, German authorities had already announced the order by which "Jews were to register with Serbian police authorities", "they cannot be public servants, they must immediately be eliminated by Serbian authorities", so they were further forbidden to pursue a series of independent professions, to go to the theater or cinema, etc. Serbian authorities were declared "responsible for the carrying out of the order" which they immediately set out to do with in a conscientious and thorough manner, with the wholehearted approval of the press. Along with this, they rejoiced in the newspaper at the time:

"Jews will never again be doctors, pharmacists, lawyers or judges in Serbia. The Serbs have finally opened their eyes".

Dragi Jovanović, the Serbian Ministry of Justice, even the Musicians’ Associations and others, immediately proclaimed their own regulations that Jews turn in all radios and refrigerators even threatening citizens who might be hiding the property of their Jewish friends or providing them with unregistered shelter. They ordered the closing of all Jewish lawyers’ offices appointing Serbians in their places. They prohibited Jews to travel on Belgrade streetcars and refused work licenses to Jewish musicians and others. In keeping with the battle for a pure Aryan race, the newspapers started to publish employment offers which had as one of their first stipulations: "that they be of pure Aryan race, without Jewish or gypsy blood". Confirmation of this racial purity was issued by the local Serbian authorities. Nedić’s "Ministerial Council" published the following order:

"Property of the Jews who were citizens of the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia on April 15, 1941, belongs to Serbia if it is on Serbian territory, without any compensation".

The Serbian Council for the Management of Properties of Serbia of the National Mortgage Bank would then put the properties up for auction, placing an advertisement in the daily papers. The synagogue in Niš, which is now a part of the city museum, was among the properties listed. The Jews also had to pay a sum of 4,834,231 dinars to Belgrade’s Civil Government and a million dinars to the Belgrade municipality. According to a Jewish source, Serbians made up 33% of the buyers of Jewish properties! Some "deserving" Serbians, received, as a reward, a part of the looted Jewish money. The Gestapo Major Karl Krauss, ordered:

"commencing July 1, 1941, every month until further notice, a sum of 10,000 dinars will be paid, without receipts, to Belgrade’s Police Chief and a sum of 6,000 dinars to his assistant from money collected from Jews in Belgrade".

Other than this, the Gestapo rewarded approximately 30 members of the Special Police with 10 to 20,000 dinars.

The physical liquidation of Serbian Jews began immediately in the spring of 1941. Almost all the men were killed by the autumn and the women and children and the remaining men were liquidated at the end of April and the beginning of May, 1942. The exact number of people killed is not known even from Jewish sources. Historian Jasa Romano, however, has come to the conclusion that 88% of all Serbian Jews were killed. The Serbian historian Sretenije Zrokić says that of the 11,870 Belgrade Jews only 1,115 or 9% survived the war. It was not only the Germans who captured and killed the Jews in Serbia, rather it was the Serbian Police, Nedić’s volunteers and Četniks. Most were killed in the Sajmište and Banjica concentration camps. Not a single Jew managed to escape from the camps.

The Banjica camp in Belgrade was established in July 1941 and shut down at the end of September 1944, a month before the withdrawal of the Germans from Belgrade. At a meeting between the Serbian Police and members of the Gestapo in June 1941, it was decided that one of the barracks of the former Yugoslav Army in Belgrade’s suburbs be transformed into a concentration camp. Dragi Jovanovic signed the document to this effect and the first prisoners were brought in on May 9. Svetozar Vujković was appointed director of the Serbian part of the camp where there were only Serbian police. The smaller German part was directed by members of the Gestapo. The commander of the camp and along with his assistant were German. The German and Serbian parts of the camps were completely separate.
The prisoners were watched by heavily armed guards:

"Machine guns and reflectors were set up on the roofs. Day and night, double guards made up of one SS-man and a gendarme from the Special Police stood watch. Later when the police gained the trust of the occupier, the German guards were withdrawn".

The same Serbian source also said:

"The camp management apparatus was also made up of prison wardens, headed by their commander, who had been chosen from the ranks of former gendarmes, now members of the Serbian guard."

From partially preserved documents of the Serbian part of the camp we learn that 23,697 people were registered and 3,489 were executed by a firing squad. The German and Serbian police began, at the end of 1943, to destroy the documentation and to excavate and burn the executed bodies so that it is actually not known how many victims perished, nor how many were Jews, Serbs or others. The only thing that is known for certain is: not one Jew left Banjica alive... They were killed along with the other prisoners in the camp yard, shot down in the village of Jajinci at the foot of Avala, at the Jewish and the central cemetery in Belgrade. The Gestapo, the Special Police, and the Serbian National Guard performed the executions together. All the lists found were handwritten in Cyrillic. The prisoners were sent to the camps by the Belgrade Civil Government, the heads of the Serbian municipal police, the Serbian National Guard, Ljotić’s volunteer units, Serbian court-martials, and by regional and district leaders throughout Serbia. Execution lists were drawn up by the Special Police, the camp chief, Vujković, the Gestapo commander and his assistant. From the few preserved lists, it can be observed that even children were executed: 22 under the age of 7; 26 under the age of 14; 76 under the age of 17; even mothers with small children in their arms. Belgrade grave-diggers recall:

"Members of the Gestapo and Special Police agents would draw women out of armored cars, one by one. Two men would hold each one by the arms and the third would shoot her in the head and then push her into the grave."

A Jewish source stated:

"From 1942 up to September 1944, Jews, who had found refuge in some villages in Serbia, were brought to the Banjica camp after being caught by Ljotić’s and Nedić’s men, as well as by Četniks and handed over to the Germans for which they received financial rewards."

The only surviving Jews in Serbia were those who remained unexposed in remote Serbian villages where peasants were hiding them. In a written report after the war, one of the surviving Jews said the following

"Draža Mihailović’s Četniks mercilessly pursued Jews in that region, especially the Četnik units that came from Ravna Gora (Draža’s main headquarters), whom we were forced to hide from just as we had to hide from the Germans. I know that it was these Četniks who killed several families in that region in the most appalling manner."

The majority of Serbian Jews were killed in the Sajmište camp. There is no precise information and documentation is almost non-existent, yet it is estimated that the number of victims comes to at least 11,000. The camp was formed on the left bank of the Sava by the railway bridge at the entrance into Belgrade where the pre-war trade fair was located. This is where the name Sajmište originated. This territory which was, at that time, deserted, uninhabited and marshy, was several kilometers from Zemun and formed a part of NDH (Independent State of Croatia) territory, so the Germans asked for it to be given to them. It is, however, completely untrue that this was an Ustaša camp which Serbian propaganda claims even today. Not one Ustaša ever entered the camp.
The commander, Androfer, and his assistant, were SS-men. On Gestapo ruling, order and discipline were maintained by the Camp Council which was comprised exclusively of camp inmates who were at first solely Jews because there were no others and some agents of the Serbian police. Supplies were provided by the "Department of Social Care and Social Institutions of Belgrade’s Municipal Authorities". At the beginning of December 1941, Serbian gendarmes called upon Jews in Belgrade to report to the Special Police and to hand over their house keys. The transfer of Jews, primarily women and children, lasted from December 8 until 12. Conditions in the camp were extremely difficult - the damp and the cold, hunger and epidemics. A Jewish source says:

"The food was appalling and often not even the minimal amount of food was supplied. In Nedić’s units there were people who were no better than the Germans themselves."

What is almost unbelievable is that even the camp’s German commander protested against the quantity of supplies. The reply of Belgrade’s Municipal Authorities to the Germans was just as unbelievable if not insolent: "Provisions for the Jewish camp will be carried out once all other needs are met."

As camp inmates starved and froze to death, they were transferred over the frozen Sava to Belgrade where they were buried. Many (the number is unknown) were led away to be shot by firing squads in Belgrade. They were killed in the same manner, in the same place and by the same people as were the Banjica prisoners. Some were killed by the Germans in a special gas truck on their way to Belgrade and buried in Jajinci but their number is not known. A Serbian company "Obnova" purchased the clothes of those. Some were led away to camps in other countries (numbers and destination are unknown). When the number of imprisoned Jews began to decrease, Serbian prisoners and others began to arrive. One of these prisoners recalls: "The criminals were the same as those in Banjica. The commanders were also the same - Germans, Nedić’s men and other Serbian fascists".

According to some data, all Jews in that camp were liquidated before May 9, 1942. Belgrade had become "Judenfrei"....

Another surviving Serbian camp inmate, wrote in his book of memoirs:

"Several thousand Jews passed through the Sajmište camp... Long lines of sad histories were written on the walls of the pavilions and in many places artistic portraits were completed. For days we returned to these final traces of thousands of people. There were surviving Serbians who told us various details about the life of the Jews in Sajmište and who had allowed the Jews to write their final parting thoughts and vows ."

Today, there is not a trace of these words at Sajmište. Which of the "liberators" erased, destroyed and eradicated their every trace? Consequently, in the pavilions that remain today, consisting of offices and warehouses, there is not even a small plaque commemorating that this was the scene of a horrific concentration camp for Jews. On February 11, 1993, the European parliament adopted the Resolution on European and International Protection of Concentration Camps as Historical Monuments. But it seems this does not pertain to camp Sajmište. Sajmište, the largest Jewish execution camp in Serbia, is not even listed among the names of the 22 largest camps for Jews in Europe in the Memorial Center Yad Vashem in the Hall of Memoirs in Jerusalem. Of all the camps in the former Yugoslavia, Jasenovac is the only name listed! Does this intentionally imply that all Serbian Jews were apparently killed in the NDH in Jasenovac?

  • * *

Finally, how did the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) act during World War II? Not one word of condemnation of the genocide, the yellow bands, the concentration camps or the racism was ever heard from them. Immediately upon the arrival of the Germans, representatives of the Holy Synod paid homage to the German military commander and stated, first in print and then in person:

"The Holy Orthodox Synod will loyally carry out the laws and commands of the occupying and territorial authorities and will, through its organs, endeavour to effect the complete abidance of order, peace and obedience."

The synod remained loyal to their promise until the end and it never violated its promise given to the "father of Serbia" General Milan Nedić that "the Serbian Orthodox Church will, in the spirit of St. Sava’s Orthodox tradition, continue to fight on his side". There are no known cases of any Serbian Orthodox priest saving the life or attempting to save the life of one Jew, although some of them often openly expressed anti-Semitic attitudes in their sermons, instigating their congregation against Jews. Metropolitan Josif, as the head of the Serbian church during war time, signed orders that Jews be forbidden to convert to the Orthodox faith, even though this would have saved them. Three episcopates were the first to sign the "Appeal to the Serbian people" of August 1941, in which over 500 of the intellectual elite of Serbia publicly expressed their support of the occupiers and quislings, which was a unique case in war-affected Europe.

  • * *

One clear manifestation of Serbian anti-Semitism was the anti-Masonic, specifically the anti-Jewish exhibition which opened in Belgrade on October 22, 1941 and which was to support and justify the genocide against the Jews in Serbia and in Europe. Apart from the exhibits at the show, an overwhelming amount of propaganda material was prepared (over 200,000 various brochures, 60,000 posters, 100,000 leaflets, 108,000 copies of nine different post cards, 176 various cinema advertisements, four types of postal stamps, etc.). The organizers boasted:

"Such a conceived exhibition will be unique, not only in Serbia but in the Balkans as well, not only in south-eastern Europe and Europe, but in the world".

The press awakened the national pride of the people:

"The success of the Belgrade exhibition has surpassed Serbia’s borders and received deserved recognition by the press in entire Europe".

The pride of the organizers was directed to a truly unique occurrence in Europe during the war, this being the anti-Jewish stamps which showed abominable racist drawings, and which were to, according to requests by Serbian anti-Semites, "in the entire world, for all time, serve as the most convincing evidence of how one nation awakened when faced with the danger of disappearing(?)". Milan Nedić expressed

"his complete gratitude to the organizers and believes that the exhibition will have a great educational impact, because it systematically displays, in a clear manner, the work of the enemy of the nation and the people".

  • * *

Much time has passed since what has been described in Serbia, but anti-Semitism in Serbia, like the vampire, does not die. In 1985, the Serbian eparchy in Western Germany printed a book in Serbian and in Cyrillic written by the already deceased episcopate, Nikolaj Velimirović, supposedly in 1945 in the Dachau camp. The fact that this is completely untrue is another theme. The book preaches to the Serbian Orthodox people:

"Today, Europe is primarily the battlefield of the Jews and the father of the Jewish devil. Europe is not aware of this and in this lies the dark tragedy of its peoples. Europeans, Christians and the anointed, have completely surrendered themselves to the Jews. They think as the Jewish people do, they have adopted Jewish programs, accepted Jewish lies as the truth, they travel the same paths as Jews and they serve Jewish goals".

There was no reaction from either side. In 1991, the Serbian Orthodox Church organized the spectacular transfer to Serbia of the remains of this anti-Semitic ideologist. The newsletter of the Serbian patriarchy "Pravoslavlje" printed an article in January 1992 by their correspondent in Israel "Jews Crucify Christ Once More", with the following allegations:

"Many Israelis are sick with hatred for the Christians. The hatred is open among the ordinary people. Politicians are perfidious and work in secret.", etc. etc...

Two weeks later, the Holy Orthodox Synod announced that the text "sounds anti-Semitic, things are carelessly reported" and at the same time claimed:

"the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism is completely alien to the tradition and history of the Serbian Orthodox Church".

In February 1992, the Belgrade "Borba" wrote that at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery, someone had written: "Death to Jews and all Jewish p....", but the whole affair was covered up. The "Tanjug" news agency announced a few days later that "the Jewish lobby had arranged the diplomatic recognition of Croatia and Slovenia by Russia". One of Šešelj’s commanders stated in Subotica that the property of Jews (and Croats) should be confiscated. In August 1993, the president of the Jewish community in Belgrade, commenting on their relations with the Orthodox Church, stated in a conversation with Zagreb Jews that the Orthodox Church "still preaches deicide and is still streaked with anti-Semitism". Two months ago, in an Israeli newspaper, we learn that "a member of the Serbian parliament has accused the Jews of stabbing Serbia in the back".
It seems as if the "Borba" journalist was correct when he concludes his article with the following words:

"Propagandistic platitudes on the non-existence of anti-Semitism in Serbia do not correspond to reality: there has always been anti-Semitism in Serbia".

It is true, history does not repeat itself in Serbia, it merely continues in a uninterrupted series...
As do certain statements made by Serbian intellectuals, for instance:

"it is a propaganda lie that Serbians liquidated Jews during the Second World War and that anti-Semitism was present in Serbia before the war and is present now!"

This statement was made by Dr. Ljubo Tadić, a professor of the Faculty of Arts in Belgrade and a Serb, and Dr. Andrija Gams, professor at the Faculty of Law, sadly, a Serbian Jew.

Ljubica Stefan is a retired professor: a refugee from Belgrade where she lived for 30 years, researches genocide against Albanians, anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews, as well as the behavior of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church in World War II
Klaiceva 10, 10 000 Zagreb CROATIA

Posted by: Sebaneau Author Profile Page at July 28, 2008 2:38 AM
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