Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and
FRY/KOSOVO: SERBIAN PLANS FOR ETHNIC CLEANSING
Plans for expelling ethnic Albanians from Kosovo
have some historic precedents in Serbian nationalism. One advocate
of such action was Vasa Cubrilovic (1898-1990). He was a follower
of the chief nineteenth century ideologist of Serb nationalism,
Ilija Garasanin (1812-74). Garasanin had, in 1846, produced a
document (Nacertanje), which outlined proposals for Serbia's
future political expansion. It proposed the resurrection of a
Greater Serbian empire to replace the Ottomans in the Balkans.
Cubrilovic was a member of the Mlada Bosnia
group of young terrorists who planned the assassination of
Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. By the 1930s he
had become a respected historian at Belgrade University. He was
critical of the government's programme of colonisation in Kosovo
for failing either significantly to shift the ethnic balance within
Kosovo or to improve security on the border with Albania.
In 1937 Cubrilovic proposed, in a lecture given
at the Serbian Culture Club and in papers submitted to the government,
the mass eviction of Albanians to Albania and Turkey. He suggested
that the only solution was to use force and, as a prerequisite,
to generate fear. He suggested a whole range of eviction methods
ranging from persecution for trivial offences and economic exclusion
to burning down Albanian villages and city quarters. He called
for this colonisation programme to be placed in the hands of the
Some of Cubrilovic's proposals were implemented
in the 1930s. Albanian land-holdings were restricted to below
the minimum level for subsistence, police harassment increased
and in 1938 an agreement was signed with Turkey on the deportation
of some 200,000 Muslim Albanians. It was not properly implemented
because of the onset of the Second World War and also because
of lack of money. Historians such as Noel Malcolm estimate that
during the period 1918-41 some 90,000 to 150,000 Albanians and
other Muslims emigrated from Kosovo.
Following World War II, Cubrilovic made a seamless
transition from Serb nationalist to Communist adviser. He became
one of the most influential figures in the Serb Academy of Arts
and Sciences. He renewed his pre-war thesis suggesting that expelling
Albanians (as well as Germans and Hungarians) was the only way
of dealing with the minority problem in the new Yugoslavia. In
1953 the agreement between Yugoslavia and Turkey designed to encourage
Albanian emigration to Turkey was reactivated. There are no detailed
figures relating to Kosovo. But Noel Malcolm estimates that in
the period 1945-66 some 100,000 Kosovo Albanians, Bosnian and
Sandjak Muslims emigrated to Turkey.
In the late 1960s the prominent Serbian writer
Dobrica Cosic began to criticise Belgrade's policy towards Kosovo.
He opposed the policy of devolution to Kosovo and Vojvodina, raised
concerns about Albanian nationalism and irredentism in Kosovo
and drew attention to Serb emigration from Kosovo. He was expelled
from the League of Communists in 1968.
In the 1980s a draft Memorandum of the Serbian
Academy of Sciences and Arts called for redressing the ethnic
balance in Kosovo in favour of the Serbs and Montenegrins. The
draft also listed Serb grievances in the other Yugoslav republics
and effectively revived the so-called "Serbian Question",
ie the position of Serbs in Yugoslavia. This helped trigger the
rise of Serb nationalism by providing an ideological platform.
From the late 1980s Cosic and other members
of his nationalist dissident clique were considering plans to
partition Kosovo, giving Serbia its holy sites and key mineral
resources. Some Serbs feared that, without partition of Kosovo,
Serbs would be a minority in Serbia within 25 years. In the late
1990s extreme Serb nationalists emerged, such as Seselj and Arkan,
who made frequent use of the Kosovo issue to whip up support.
During the Federal elections of December 1992 Seselj demanded
the expulsion of all Albanians from Kosovo. Arkan's assertion,
that 1.5 million Albanians had entered Kosovo from Albania during
the previous 50 years and should be regarded as "tourists",
had the same clear implication.