Geert Lovink on Thu, 27 May 1999 17:11:13 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> (fwd) AIM: Collapse of the Kosovo Albanian political scene

From: Alternative Information Network (AIM)
Subject: Collapse of the Kosovo Albanian Political Scene

        AIM Podgorica, 21 May, 1999
        (By AIM correspondent from Pristina)

	Internationalization of the war in Kosovo had an unexpected
consequence: the Kosovo Albanian political scene has experienced total
collapse. On the one hand, this collapse was caused by brutal reaction of
Serbian military troops. Total repression, liquidation of prominent
intellectuals and political activists, as well as mass deportation of
ethnic Albanians into neighbouring countries destroyed communication among
people and prevented operation of all "parallel" institutions and
organizations. On the other hand, it became evident that Kosovar "parallel
institutions" were not at all prepared for war. The self-organized society
of Kosovo Albanians fell apart as a house built on sand under the
vindictive aggression of the Serbian state force.

        The ten-year civil, non-violent resistance movement in Kosovo had
not prepared any paramilitary structures, any committees for the case of
war. The split in the ethnic Albanian movement that occurred in the
beginning of 1998, when the moderate political faction separated from the
militant groups which had decided to foment an armed uprising (Kosovo
Liberation Army - UCK) was not patched up in the meantime. Although the
Kosovo delegation was complete at the peace conference in Rambouillet and
Paris, in the field the influence of the politicians and the rebels
remained strictly divided: a part of the rural territory of Kosovo was
controlled by UCK, the remaining part was controlled by "politicians" who
neither wished nor were capable of introducing any measures of
self-defence in the civil structures of resistance in case of war.

        After 24 March, when bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
by NATO air-forces began, the political scene of Kosovo Albanians was in
the state of coma. Negotiators from Kosovo returned from Paris to Kosovo
with a wrong estimate of the situation or believed that they "should be
with their people". It turned out that they were mostly isolated or left
with no possibility to communicate with the people and the world. Rugova
remained in Pristina where Serbian police put him under house arrest.
Agani, Surroi and a few others decided to go into hiding. Hyseni, Kosumi
and Hajrizi joined the UCK. Qosja, Tahiri and Shala managed somehow to get
out of the trap by joining columns of deported people. A few days before
the mass exodus began, Qosja appealed to the people to remain in Kosovo at
all costs. When the pogrom began, he was among the first who crossed the
Kosovo-Macedonian border, with his head shaved and humiliated. Since then,
Qosja has remained silent. Other leaders were either prevented from
speaking out or they are silent of their own free will. While under
control of the police, Rugova was manipulated by Milosevic's regime. His
pictures were taken with Serbian officials, certain papers allegedly
signed by him were presented to the public, it was claimed that he
declared himself against NATO bombing.

        Political anaesthesia lasted for more than a month. Only UCK and
LBD impatiently and according to certain opinions prematurely decided to
proclaim a new government of Kosovo. The government was self-elected based
on an agreement of all political factions represented at the conference in
Rambouillet, but there were no representatives of LDK. The seat of a
deputy prime minister and a few unimportant ministerial posts were
reserved for the Democratic League of Kosovo. The new government has
fine-sounding titles but almost no political experience or influence in
foreign governments. It was supported only by Tirana. The attempts to
reach an agreement on a coalition or establish close cooperation with the
already existing Kosovo government in exile headed by Bukoshi, were not

        Bukoshi, whose government was also politically very feeble,
maintained control thanks to the fact that he controlled significant funds
of Kosovo emigration collected in the past nine years. Nobody but Bukoshi
and the German authorities which occasionally check financial operation of
the fund, knows what is the sum ofmoney on this account. It is assumed
that it is enormous. That is why the UCK is so envious of that vault and
constantly threatens Bukoshi. He is, on the other hand, opposed to the
revolutionary methods of UCK and LBD, to the self-proclaimed Kosovo
government without consultations with his government and the legal
administration of Kosovo elected in the elections.

        The two governments, the bad situation in the field, endless
columns of refugees, collapse of political structures. It seemend that
Kosovo Albanian political scene was under blockade or a deep anaesthetic.
Since the society of Kosovo is the patient NATO intervention is supposed
to save of the malignant Serb aggression, to some people it seemed that
such anaesthesia of the patient was normal. He will politically coherently
speak up only after the operation is over.

        Things somewhat changed when Belgrade decided to let Rugova go. At
the moment when on May 5 Rugova arrived in Rome with his family, it was
uncertain whether the propagandist circus with him would continue, whether
Belgrade was still holding him in its hand, or whether some significant
shift had occurred in Milosevic's policy. Two days later, Milosevic's
regime once again demonstrated its criminal unpredictability. Fehmi Agani,
ideologist of the Democratic League of Kosovo and the main Kosovo
negotiator was liquidated by Serbian police when he attempted to leave
Kosovo. He was recognised on the train which plied between Pristina and
the border crossing towards Macedonia, arrested and taken to Lipljan.
After 24 hours, his family was informed that he had been killed.

        These two events started an avalanche of political speculations:
why was Rugova let go and why was Agani killed? What exactly was Milosevic
driving at? Is he getting ready to sign a political agreement with the
West and for that purpose preparing a political partner among Kosovo
Albanians who suits him best? Or does he wish just to create new confusion
and a new split among the Albanians in order to weaken the credibility of
the NATO intervention?

        From the beginning of the negotiating process Milosevic has
constantly invested into and relied greatly on the split among Kosovo
Albanian leaders. In a way Rugova was an apple of discord in the Albanian
movement. On the other hand, Agani played a very important role in
rapprochement and cooperation among factions. Belgrade probably did not
like it that Agani would return into the political process. He was
considered to be the key person who could have reunited the negotiating
team of Kosovo Albanians. The regime in Belgrade knew what it was doing
when most probably directly from the very top it ordered liquidation of
Agani. Although Agani enjoyed the reputation of a man who was in favour of
dialogue and a moderate politician ready for a compromise, he was
nevertheless a very experienced and skilful negotiator who never missed a
single detail or formulation in draft peace plans, and therefore caused
great problems to the Serb negotiating team. For three decades, Agani
worked on the project of independence of Kosovo in a very sophisticated
manner, using mostly legal channels of influence, but working also on
secret mobilization of people for this cause. He was constantly under
surveillance of Serbian secret police as a master of disguise who had a
clear aim but also a realistic approach in the assessment of relation of
forces and what was possible and what not in the given circumstances.

        Agani's liquidation, from the point of view of criminal police
logic, could have also been squaring old accounts with somebody who had
been more or less elusive for them, who was too sophisticated in his
political activities. As concerning the political scene of Kosovo and the
relation of forces that existed on that scene, Agani was probably the only
full-fledged institutionalist on it. Inside the Democratic League of
Kosovo, he kept defending the thesis on the advantages of the status
Kosovo had in the former Yugoslav federation pursuant the 1974
constitution, along with the significance of continuity of institutions
created after 1990 on the basis of the declaration on independence,
proclamation of the republic of Kosovo, 1991 referendum and free elections
in 1992, with institutions which existed in the previous system, since in
the former Yugoslavia Kosovo had the status of a federal unit with the
right to veto decisions, and therefrom it was entitled to division of
sovereignty, that is proclamation of the republic. Agani believed that the
so-called parallel institutions in Kosovo which operated in the nineties
were in fact institutions from the previous system, while Serbian
institutions installed in the meantime were illegitimate and illegal,
founded on violence and violation of the sovereign will of the citizens of

        Agani's critics, among other factions within his own party,
preferred to advocate the idea of discontinuity of institutions. Some of
them, like the radical groups outside the DSK, denied the parallel system
in Kosovo in general, believing it to be the result of Titoism. This
system enables only high autonomy of Kosovo within Serbia and Yugoslavia
and no more. That is the reason why a radical cut should be made and
completely new institutions created based on the principle of ethnic
self-determination, or, as it later became the guiding principle of the
most militant organizations, primarily the National Movement of the
Albanians (LPK), based on the revolutionary National Liberation War.

        After liquidation of Agani, the only serious forces left on the
scene are UCK and Ibrahim Rugova. While he was under home arrest in
Pristina, Rugova was in a tragi-comical situation. He resembled a puppet
and a rag used by the Serbian regime for purposes of propaganda, to show
him to the public as a bear dancing to music from Belgrade and showing
documents that he had allegedly signed. It seemed that he was in any case
politically dead. Although he continued to act strangely after his
release, Rugova gradually managed to "recover" politically and now he is
already advocating the same things as before. Although it is still not
quite clear whether he will manage to regain his previous position, there
should be no doubt that he still enjoys the trust of a portion of the
Kosovars. How big that portion is, it is impossible to establish without
polls, but according to rough estimates it is almost certain that he will
win between 25 and 50 per cent of the votes, approximately the same or
even slightly more than his main opponent, Hashim Tachi.

        In any case, this competition may revive the Albanian political
scene. Whether the processes will move towards a search for a compromise,
as it happened in Rambouillet, or whether the split will remain, it is
difficult to predict. However, it is assessed that this split will not be
so tragic or have any tragic consequences. The main job about the status
of Kosovo is being taken care of by NATO and diplomatic officials of the
great powers. Ethnic Albanians have already adopted the principles of
resolving the issue of Kosovo and nobody will ever ask them whether they
would want to have the document which will be adopted revised. The
conflict between the two factions may in this context be considered only
as taking strategic positions in the struggle to control the local scene
of Kosovo. A protectorate will be established in Kosovo anyway.

AIM Pristina

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