YUGOSLAVIA, SERBIA AND KOSOVO HISTORY – part II


Socialist Yugoslavia took special care about the educational and cultural emancipation of the Albanian population. The objective was clearly defined – a complete as possible achieving of equality and quick as possible cultural development of Kosovo and Metohija. In the days immediately after the liberation of Kosovo and Metohija, illiteracy ran as high as 84% of the population (over 90% of Albanians were illiterate) and in the educational process there were only 32% school children (age 7 – 11). In order to make a radical break with such a situation the Ministry of Education on July 1945 passed “Main Directives on Minorities’ Schooling” pursuant to which it was predicted that where there were at least 20 pupils, classes and schools were to be opened in the languages of the minorities. The Constitution of Serbia and the Bylaw of the Autonomous Kosovo-Metohija Region guaranteed language equality to the population of Albanian nationality. The needs of the administration, which started to be managed in Albanian as well, imposed urgent qualification of Albanian population for state service. In order to compensate the shortage of educated personnel, citizens of Albania were included in the teaching process (this was stopped after 1950). Part of textbook literature was also accepted from Albania. After taking courses for literacy, according to available data, around 150,000 Albanians were able to read and write by 1947. Instead of the former library with a total of 6,000 books in the Region, 88 libraries and bookstores with books in the Albanian language were founded. By engaging significant financial funds 243 new elementary schools were opened in Kosovo and Metohija. Starting from 1946 the elementary education was prolonged from 4 to 7 years and in 1950 the eighth grade was introduced. During the 1950s there were 544 elementary schools, 9 city libraries, 118 bookstores, 7 workers’ and 80 people’s universities, 38 cinemas, a regional theater, 10 museums in Kosovo and Metohija. The radio station in Priština broadcasted 70% of its program in the Albanian language. By active educational engagement, which was sometimes forceful, in the first decade the number of children attending school increased by seven times (there were 32,790 pupils in 1946 and 202,000 in 1956). In the mid 1970s, 97.2% children mature for school (age 7 – 10) enrolled at elementary schools in the Province. During the school year 1986/87 there were 1,064 elementary schools with 347,907 pupils in the Region.

Equally dynamic was the development of secondary schools. Immediately after liberation there were 11 secondary schools with 4,370 pupils in the Region. In the middle of the 1980s, 53 secondary school centers with 84,280 pupils were active in the Region. Data stated that over 50% of the pupil population (age 15 – 19) was included in secondary school, the number of secondary schools increased 12 times and the number of pupils around 20 times. Equally rapid was the growth of advanced and faculty-degree education. The first advanced training school was founded in the Province in 1958, and by the 1970s there were 9 faculties, the Academy of Art and 7 advanced training schools with 58 departments. The University in Priština, upon founding (1970) had 8,587 Albanian students. In the late 1980s, 37,369 secondary-school pupils enrolled the University, out of which nearly 80% were Albanians (29,046). Parallel with the development of the University, at which over 10,000 students graduated and around 120 candidates received doctorates, there were 22 scientific institutions in the Province (among which was the Institute for Albanology), where 213 PhD’s and 169 MA’s were employed. Some 29 newspapers and magazines were published (23 in Albanian) while two radio stations with all-day programs (73% in Albanian) and a TV station (about 80% in Albanian) were broadcast in Kosovo and Metohija in the mid-1980s. The development of education, science and culture convincingly speaks about the full national affirmation of the Albanian minority in socialist Yugoslavia. This however did not mean that it was satisfied with the position of the Serbs in Yugoslavia. Events from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s showed that the important improvement in political, economic and cultural status did not decrease the seductive power of the Greater Albania idea.

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The clash with Aleksandar Ranković and the Administration of State Security (Fourth Plenum of Central Committee of the Communist League of Yugoslavia, held on July 1, 1966 on the island of Brione), general democratization of social life, letting up of supervision, defeat of the powers opposed to breaking the federal state and determined to protect the interests of Yugoslavia as an entirety “opened” the room for discussions on the political position of Autonomous Provinces. Accusations that the UDBA (Yugoslav Secret Police) “placed itself above the state”, “took the power” in Kosovo and Metohija, formed 120,000 dossiers in Kosmet, made the Provinces into “branches” of the Republic (stated at the Sixth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist League of Yugoslavia, Second Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist League of Serbia, Third Plenum of the Regional Committee of the Central Committee of Kosovo and Metohija) influenced the rapid political emancipation of Albanians. The Brione Plenum was seen as “new liberation” of Kosovo and the Albanians. “Discrimination and lawlessness” which was carried out by parts of the UDBA against the Albanian population was marked as a “drastic aspect of chauvinist practice”. The Albanian personnel put special emphasis on disarming the population, the procedure of which was carried out by militia (police), marking arms as illegal. According to estimations of the UDBA, Kosovo and Metohija, in which “a coup was prepared”, was the most dangerous area in terms of security and considered extremely malicious. The conclusions of the party plenums were found by the Albanian personnel to be a “boundary marker” in the development of the Province. The reorganization of Serbia and change of the position of the region became a more and more frequently mentioned claim. Behind it were concrete separatist interests of local political elites. It had an aim that the Autonomous Regions gain constitutional-legal position of Republic, become a “constitutive element of the Federation” and become independent from Serbia.

Pressure on reexamining the constitutional position of the autonomous provinces strengthened during 1967 and 1968. In February 1967 at the Committee for Inter-ethnic and Republic relations of the Central Committee of the Communist League of Yugoslavia, the Albanian “personnel” came out with the position that the Constitution from 1963 should be changed and the transfer of rights and duties of the Federation to Republics followed by transferring “rights and duties of the Republic of Serbia to its Autonomous Provinces”.

The new phase in this process represented the discussions of the delegation of the Regional Committee of the Communist League of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija with Josip Broz and Edvard Kardelj (February 1967). “Skipping” their home republic, the regional politicians asked from the state leaders a more precise definition of constitutional frameworks of autonomies and their more direct inclusion into the Federation as “subjects” of federal structure. “Proclaiming” that nationalities also have the right to self-determination the political leaders of Kosovo “begged” that the Provinces be equalized “in rights and duties” with Republics as federal units. The existing autonomy was considered by Kosovo leadership as “rump” and “hybrid” and, consequently, it demanded persistently on transferring part of the functions of the Republic onto the Provinces. It was asked that the Republic keep only the stated common interests from the legislative functions and that all acts of specific purpose be passed by the Regional Parliament (education, culture, language use, justice, taxes and incomes, the implementation of laws and so forth).

Encouraged by talks with Tito and Kardelj the Shiptar politicians from Kosovo and Metohija increased their pressure on the Republic structures. They proceeded from the attitude that Yugoslavia represented a community of peoples and nationalities and hence they requested that the conception be consistently carried out in the new Constitution. By falsifying history they cited inexistent “decisions” of the Second Session of AVNOJ and requested respect for the “principle of self-determination of nationalities”.

The discussion at the meeting of the Regional Committee of the Communist League of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija (April 23, 1968) brought new elements into the process of the constitutional reshaping of the state. Fadilj Hodxa considered that the Province should enter the “category of federation”, he opposed the usage of the term Metohija and requested that in the official name of the Province only the word “Kosovo” remain, suggested that as official flag of the Province the “Shiptar Albanian flag” be used. Although the ideas stated under the slogan “Kosovo-Republic” matured among the highest political leaders of the Province, Fadilj Hodxa did not directly come out for the Republic but also did not hide that it was the dominant mood among Albanian communists.

The issue of solving the position of national minorities within the Republic caused a split in the party leadership of Serbia. The work of the 14th meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist League of Serbia (May 29, 1968) was marked by a declaration by Jovan Marjanović and Dobrica Ćosić and critics of their attitudes. Ćosić interceded in favor of a more intensive, more rational and more useful investment in Kosovo and Metohija, providing optimal conditions for the cultural development of national minorities and the integration of their creative work in the “cultural fund of Serbia and Yugoslavia”. At the same time, he pointed out to the phenomenon of “Albanocentrism”, the frightening and endangering of Serbs and Montenegrins, permanent emigration, systematic pressing out from work posts, inequality before courts and violations of legality. The blindness of the Serbian policy regarding “chauvinistic moods” and “national psychoses” in the Shiptar ethnicity, for the phenomenon of an irredentist and separatist idea, for the favoring of Albanian nationalism and national discrimination were targets of his criticism. In his opinion only two sovereignties were possible in that area: “Yugoslav and Albanian, i.e. one or the other”. The combination of both would lead to a tragic outcome. Ćosić considered that “yearning” for the unification of Albanians with their compatriots could be hindered only by the economic, democratic and social progress of Yugoslavia and its supremacy over Albanian reality.

The ideological exclusiveness of Ćosić’s critics was soon denied by events. The anti-Serb and anti-Yugoslav demonstrations of Albanians shook Kosovo and Metohija on November 27, 1968. The demonstrations were preceded by keen political activity on changing the constitutional position of the Province within which it was asked, among other things, that: Kosovo and Metohija be proclaimed Republic of “Albanian nationality”; the “Albanian nationality” gain the status of a constitutional people who had the right of self-determination; Kosovo instead of bylaw gain a constitution; the question of using the Albanian flag be adequately solved. These demands, which were first heard in Djakovica, were supported by party activists in Peć, Kosovska Mitrovica, Gnjilane, Priština. In essence it was the action of the same separatist requests stated at the Bujan Conference in 1944. When these ideas on changing the Constitution of party activists were not accepted by the Republic or Federal Regional Committees, instrumentalized masses of demonstrators appeared on stage.

Demonstrations broke out two days before the celebration of the twenty fifth anniversary of the Second Session of AVNOJ and one day before the celebration of the state holiday of Albania (“Flag Day”). The very choice of the timing already testified to the anti-Yugoslav nature of the demonstrations. The demonstrators glorified Enver Hodxa, cheered to the People’s Republic of Albania, requested violent change of Constitution, asked that Kosovo become a Republic, showed tendencies that Kosovo and Metohija, together with parts of Montenegro and Macedonia be annexed to Albania. The territorial integrity of Serbia and Yugoslavia was jeopardized. Demonstrations had a destructive character and were marked by the term “counterrevolution”. Tanks went out on the streets of Priština.

Essentially, the demonstrations only legalized and strengthened the policy which was led, through party and state structures, on the relation Province–federal leaders. After the demonstrations the term “Metohija” was “left out” from the name of the Province. The Shiptars officially started to call themselves Albanians. A “language consultation” which determined that Albanians should have “one language, one orthography as they are one nation” was held in Priština in April, 1969. The question of responsibility of the leading political personalities of Kosovo and Metohija was not set. The court processes against 9 persons were conducted and the organizers (mainly students) were sentenced to 3 to 5 years of prison. Negative consequences were not felt by the intellectual circle of the inspirers of the riot. Fixing the focus on Albania as being an ideological and national model was enlarged in a contrived manner. The negative attitude towards everything that Yugoslavia had economically, culturally, and in terms of civilization done for Kosovo was manifested at each step. Persecutions of the non Albanian population gained in intensity. Planned work on forming an Albanian national elite, educated in national ideology, gained megalomaniac dimensions.

The changes in the constitutional-legal structure of the federal state started with amendments from 1967 and 1968 and ended with the passing of the Constitution in 1974. The first six amendments (I-VI), passed on April 18, 1967, strengthened the autonomous rights of the Provinces and so, put Serbia into an unequal position towards the other Republics. The second group of amendments (VII-XIX), passed on December 26, 1968 additionally weakened the Federation, strengthened the Republics and enabled the independency and complete self-organization of Autonomous Provinces. Having become equalized in rights and duties with the Republic, the Provinces became special kinds of para-Republics. They gained the status of constitutive elements of the Federation. Together with the Republics they were liable for the functioning of the community. They took care of their total social development. The Federation was a guarantee of their autonomous position. The Provinces acquired their autonomous rights and duties and in accordance with this they carried out legislative authorizations independently and autonomously. Their autonomy was at the same time political, judiciary and financial. They cared about the organization of people’s defense and state security. The nationality not only obtained equal position in the state but were promoted into constituents of Yugoslav federalism. All principles regarding the peoples of Yugoslavia started to be implemented on nationalities. Serbia found itself in a situation in which it needed to ask for consent from its Provinces for each undertaken measure. The Republic did not have jurisdiction over the decisions of the regional organs but the Provinces had to be asked for everything when Serbia was in question. Immediately after passing the amendments the Constitution of Serbia changed (January 29, 1969). Twenty days later Kosovo obtained its Constitutional Law (February 24, 1969).

After several months of discussion, the third group of amendments to the Constitution of the SFRY (XX – XLII) was passed on June 30, 1971. The amendments gave the autonomous provinces the right to decide together with the Republics about the works of the Federation, agree to the change of the Constitution of the SFRY, and be equally represented in the Federation organs. Hence, their constitutional position was significantly strengthened. Essentially, by the acquired rights, the autonomous provinces obtained important elements of statehood (sovereignty). Included in the Socialist Republic of Serbia they, only formally, did not have the status of Republic.

The new Constitution of the SFRY was proclaimed on February 21, 1974. After that, the proclamation of the Constitution of the SR of Serbia followed (February 25, 1974) and the first Constitution of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo (February 27, 1974). The Constitutions treated the Republics and the Autonomous Provinces in compliance with the solutions the amendments brought. The Autonomous Provinces had the status of constitutive elements of federalism and they were equalized with the Republics in common affairs of the Federation. In that way the Provinces acquired important characteristics of statehood (independent constitutions, presidencies, constitutional courts and so forth). By rejecting the principle of political-territorial autonomy and by giving priority to the conception of provinces as constitutive elements of the federation, the status of Serbia, as a federal unit, was directly violated. The usage of the syntagm “Republic and Autonomous Provinces” upon confirming the jurisdictions of autonomous provinces, basically reduced the jurisdictions of organs and institutions of the Republic to the area of “Serbia proper”. In accordance to this Serbia as an entirety was deprived of the possibility that its’ organs could act more directly on the territory of the Autonomous Provinces. The status, rights and duties of the Provinces were regulated by the Federal Constitution so that Serbia was not able to determine their position although they were formally in its’ composition. The constitutional acts left the Republic the possibility to pass “complete” laws only in a small number of cases that would be implemented on the whole of its’ territory. In addition to this, the Republic did not have the corresponding authorizations and legal possibilities that would condition the abiding of its’ laws on the territory of the Provinces. The Republic organs did not have any jurisdiction in the administrative and court procedure when implementing the Republic laws. Having been left without sanctions the regional organs implemented the laws of the Republic only in cases when it suited them. In other words, Serbia did not have appropriate prerogatives over its regions and was forced to rely exclusively on their loyalty. With no influence, Serbia was, at the same time, dependent in many ways on the Provinces and their bureaucracies. All this offered the possibility for Albanian separatists, interpreting unfoundedly articles of the Constitution, to work unhampered on the political, economic, cultural and spiritual estrangement of the Provinces from Serbia.

The unbearable constitutional-legal position in which Serbia found itself influenced its Presidency to ask for revision of the Constitution on January 16, 1975. The objective was for the Republic to regain its power over the Provinces and so accomplish the right of “national state in Yugoslav Federation”. All of the material on the problems that originated in the Republic-Provinces relation was formulated in a top-secret work entitled “Blue Book”. Obsessed with fear about opening the “Serbian issue” the Republic and party elites, as well as Josip Broz himself, did not have the courage to take up the changes of the constitutional solutions of the Provinces. On the other side, the illegal movement based on the ideological positions of the Labor Party of Albania started to be protected intensively. Organizations such as the “National Front of Kosovo”, “Red People’s Front”, “Marxist-Leninist Party of Albanians” and “Groups of Marxists-Leninists from Kosovo” fanatically influenced the masses of young Albanians regarding the idea of annexing Kosovo and Metohija to Albania. The method of mass demonstrations represented the second phase in the struggle of these illegal groups. The succeeding “phase of struggle” meant organized armed resistance, terrorism and armed secession of Kosovo and Metohija from Yugoslavia.

In less than a year after Josip Broz’s death massive riots of the Albanian population broke out in Kosovo and Metohija (March 11, 1981). This was the third in a series of Albanian separatist strikes against the Yugoslav Federation. After the demonstrations in 1968, the Albanian political oligarchy had been working devotedly for thirteen years on changing the position of Kosovo and acquiring the status of Republic. The Constitutional solutions from 1974 enabled the Province to have almost complete isolation from Serbia. In the same period the state invested permanently into the economy and infrastructure of Kosovo. From the total amount of invested funds only 8% was gathered in the Province, 65% came from the funds of Serbia and the Federation and 27% were domestic and foreign credits. However, rapid economic development was missing and dissatisfaction grew.

Slogans with which the demonstrators came out (“Kosovo – Republic”, “Kosovo – for Kosovars”, “We are Albanians and not Yugoslavs”, “Unification with Albania”, “We are children of Skenderbeg, the army of Enver Hodxa”, “Unification of all Albanian areas”…) revealed an entire program, hostilely oriented towards Serbia and Yugoslavia. The status of the Republic asked for by demonstrators in 1981 brought Kosovo an important attribute it did not have as a Province – the right to self-determination until secession. The breaking of state-legal relations with Serbia and the connecting of Kosovo and Metohija to an almost inexistent federation opened a perspective of annexing with Albania. Several tens of thousands of Albanians demonstrated for weeks on the streets of Priština and other Kosovo cities (Podujevo, Glogovac, Vučitrn, Lipljan, Djakovica). The demonstrations were followed by the use of force by authorities on demonstrators which, over time, gained the form of armed rebellion (April 1 – 3, 1981), that forced the Presidency of SFRY to make a decision on “proclaiming a critical situation on the territory of Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo” on April 2, 1981 and then to “impose martial law on the territory of the municipality of Priština”. Demonstrations were condemned by the party and state leaderships of Serbia and Yugoslavia marking their character as “counter-revolutionary” and dangerous for the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. The actions taken to hinder emigration of the Serbian and Montenegrin population (in the period 1961 – 1981, 42.2% of all Serbs and 63.3% of all Montenegrins emigrated) did not produce expected results.

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