Hope on the Balkans Kosov@ Crisis 2000
It's impossible to accomplish extremist goals by democratic means
Interview with Momcilo Trajkovic, president of Serb Resistance Movement from Kosovo.
Momcilo Trajkovic was born on November 5, 1950, in Caglavica near Pristina. He completed his secondary economic school in Pristina and subsequently graduated from the Law School, Pristina University. Afterwards he was employed at the Kosovo and Metohija Department of Labour and was in charge of legal matters related to labour issues. In 1986 he engaged in politics and gathered round himself a group of people opposed to the policy of the League of Communists. Trajkovic participated in establishing the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) as he believed that at issue was a social democrat option. In 1991 he left SPS and set out to establish the Social Democrat Party. As the situation in Kosovo and Metohija became more complicated, he gave up on his work within the ideological and political party structures and created together with Arch Bishop Artemije a national political option - Serb Resistance Movement (Trajkovic is the President of SRM) with an ultimate objective to resolve the Kosovo problem in a democratic way. He is the member of the Serb National Council of Kosovo Metohija and the President of its Executive Board. Trajkovic is married and has three children.
FS: How would you appraise the KFOR mission in Kosovo and Metohija during the mandates of Michael Jackson and Klaus Reinhardt?
Momcilo Trajkovic: I have to express my discontent with what the international community and KFOR have done for the last ten months because the situation hasn't changed for the better - only victims are of different nationality now. During the reign of the Milosevic's regime in Kosovo there were Albanian victims and now the Serbs and other non-Albanian ethnic groups are being victimised. All three factors which should contribute to resolving the ongoing crisis have proved that they're unable to do so. The international community is attempting to solve the crisis by implementing an erroneous and one-sided strategy based on the premise that the Albanians were the only victims, based on ethnic principle even though it is allegedly trying to establish a multiethnic society. Such policy was bound to experience ultimate failure and the international community is the most responsible for this.
Milosevic has dropped his mask and shown his true colours. He used Kosovo to come to power and maintain his grip on Serbia and even now he takes advantage of the Serb victims in an attempt to manipulate the people. Albanian separatists couldn't care less about either human or civil rights. They seek to establish an independent Kosovo and a Greater Albania so that today this undisguised ambition of theirs is the key problem. The international community has failed to respond to challenges put forth by two principal culprits for the crisis - the Milosevic's regime and the Albanian terrorist and separatist movement. Albanian separatism originated from the policy of the Milosevic's regime which presented no political solution to this problem, while the international community in its approach to the problem has only further promoted the growth of separatism. To resolve this problem democratic changes must take place in Serbia and the international community must change both its strategy and the people who have implemented its policy for the last nine months.
FS: Given the current state of affairs, is there anyone among the Albanians and from the international community with whom you could co-operate?
We have to collaborate with the international community as it is. Even though it should be instrumental in resolving the problems, it's actually only an inefficient agent in moving things forward for the time being. There are two options now: the Albanian one, personified by Mr. Kouchner who seems to be giving up on that option, and a democratic one which enjoys more popular support, but hasn't the power to implement it in the field. All Albanian options are united now within a bloc whose ultimate goal is an independent Kosovo and a Greater Albania which they want to achieve as soon as possible with the help of the international community. Therefore, no one among them, even those democratic-oriented Albanians, isn't allowed to leave this unified bloc. Veton Surroi has warned of catastrophic consequences resulting from Albanian revanchism which has assumed the characteristics of fascism. For a longer time he's been isolated, and he's being attacked by those Albanian leaders who've forged partnership with Bernard Kouchner. Therefore, no one is even trying to think any differently from Hashim Taqi.
FS: It seems that a change of roles between Hashim Taqi and Ibrahim Rugova took place which was particularly conspicuous at the most recent meeting in Budapest?
Mr. Rugova was at the head of a group with rigid and extremist demands which wasn't a surprise for me, but I was indeed disappointed because I considered him to have an image of a man who wanted to resolve the problem by peaceful means. However, it's impossible to accomplish extremist goals by democratic means and in this case at issue is an independent Kosovo. The Serbs will not accept it so that this demand of theirs is the source of all misfortunes taking place right now. Until the Albanians give up on achieving this goal, I'm willing to engage in political discussion on that matter. We all know what independence would mean for Kosovo itself, Serbia and Yugoslavia, and I shouldn't even speak of the fact, we're all well aware of, that the Albanians think they're the only ones with an exclusive right to independence and some new state. Both the Americans and the Europeans have told the Albanians loud and clear that an independent Kosovo is out of the question.
Nevertheless, Mr. Rugova keeps insisting on independence. It's taken a long time for KFOR to realise that there's a Serbian state in Kosovo. Now they're trying to hold on to their pro-Albanian position and to resolve the Serbs' issue at the same time. We don't need the solution to either Serb or Albanian problem, but we need a solution to Kosovo and Metohija issue (Metohija lies in the western part of the province along the border with Albania - trans. rem.). I've been offering a dialogue to Mr. Rugova for the past four months, but not in the form of a Serb-Albanian dialogue. It should be a dialogue of different political options so that we could see if there are any issues we might agree on. Well, we probably won't agree on the status of Kosovo, but we could reach an agreement on other issues. There's no an ultimate solution to the Kosovo problem. There's only a long-lasting process of bilateral talks of various political options intended to bring about some sort of solution. I'm willing to negotiate with anyone because time and current events determine with whom we are to hold talks. Had Milosevic allowed earlier for advocates of different political options to talk about the Kosovo problem, our position would have been certainly much stronger. In my view, the people who live in Kosovo should actively participate in the process of making decisions vital for their own fate, and again, this is a contentious issue for our own state, the Balkan region and the whole of Europe.
FS: How would you comment on the statement of Klaus Reinhardt that it would be dangerous if the Serbs began to return to Kosovo in larger numbers, while at the same time the Albanians, who had fled to the western countries, were being forced to return to Kosovo?
As I've already said, the international community has based its strategy on the concept of the Albanian victims. Many refugees, who had fled to the western countries, became a burden to host countries, while the Serb refugees are mostly in central Serbia. Such unfair policy is actually strengthening the Milosevic's position and weakening the Serbian opposition so that the international community is losing more than it could possibly gain. One of the reasons for such a state of affairs is also a powerful Albanian lobby abroad. Without the return of the Serbs there can be no multiethnic Kosovo and democratisation.
Mr. Reinhardt knows very well what's the current situation in Kosovo when it comes to security, and it's catastrophic. For the time being the Serbs cannot return to Pristina and the cities and towns were the only multiethnic places in the province. The refugees should return to Serb enclaves in Kosovo where KFOR is capable of granting security, creating conditions for a relatively normal living, providing humanitarian aid and construction material so that the people could rebuild and reconstruct their houses. A serious strategy is needed to accomplish this, and we're working on it. We must exert certain pressure on the international community because the key precondition for everything else is security, while the international community gives precedence to organising the elections and conducting a census in the province. How on earth could we talk about conducting a census when more than 250,000 Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanian people have been forced out of Kosovo? How could we speak of holding the elections when freedom of movement and security are virtually non-existent? Therefore, we should create preconditions first so that we could hold the elections and conduct the census, so that democratic institutions could be established as well as the conditions for a normal life with the help of the international community.
FS: Bearing this in mind, do you justify Rada Trajkovic's joining the Kosovo Interim Administrative Council?
She has neither joined the administration on her own nor has she made that decision by herself. I'm the only one who has been opposed to our entering the Kosovo Interim Administrative Council at this moment because the international community hasn't done its job the way it should have been done. If the things don't change for the better, we'll reconsider our decision to take part in the work of the Kosovo Interim Administrative Council even though it might seem irresponsible to make some decisions and then reverse them, but we should draw attention to our problems. I think that this is a more important test for the international community than ourselves. It has to respond to our demands which are very serious. If they do that, then there's no reason for us not to join the Kosovo Interim Administrative Council and particularly so given that the future of Kosovo is not being decided there. Only temporary international authorities for Kosovo are being established within that body. Besides, Mr. Milosevic must admit that he's the one who's responsible for everything going on in Kosovo. Taking into account that he hasn't made public what he's previously signed, Milosevic is trying to manipulate the public opinion, above all, the Serbian people, into believing that he's the one protecting the Serb interests and that everyone else is a traitor. Treason is actually his failure to find a political solution and his provoking a war which subsequently ensued. And then when he signed the surrender papers in Kumanovo after we had so many victims it was a high treason. That's why the claims according to which we are traitors and foreign mercenaries are actually insane.
FS: Despite its having signed surrender papers in Kumanovo, the regime has no intention to hand over Kosovo just like that. There are several Serb radio stations under the regime's control, then we've heard rumours about some police and army forces and we have Zivorad Igic, Zoran Andjelkovic and Oliver Ivanovic operating in the field. What is your view of their role in Kosovo?
Every state, even when it leaves a part of its territory, manages to preserve some strength and forces by means of which it will control or at least interfere with the events taking place in that area. Well, you see, Milosevic couldn't care less whether the mission will be successful. He will be able to score a victory only if the efforts of the international community are crushed and defeated. Is it possible that this mission might fail, that the foreign troops leave Kosovo and say to Milosevic: "Sorry, we've made a mistake; we give you your Kosovo back". There is no a single Albanian who would stay and wait for the Serbs to come to Kosovo. A million people would once again flood into impoverished Albania and Macedonia. Those are all insane ideas... If only the regime were a bit more sensible... But they're well aware of that. However, the manipulated people still put their faith in the regime's promises.
Hence, certainly there are some forces on the ground, but it's nothing serious. They can only make the things more complicated and more difficult - they cannot win and gain desired control over the situation. Igic and Andjelkovic "are fishing in troubled waters" and keep simulating as if they were in power and keep promising that Milosevic will come back one day to liberate Kosovo. Those are the people who will have to bear the consequences for their manipulation. Since the arrival of KFOR to this very day Milosevic has set up no less than seven radio stations. Beware, the occupier let him set up radio stations in Kosovo while he poses as a democrat and closes down radio and TV stations throughout Serbia. Mr. Ivanovic is useful for Kosovo and Serbian people despite his having some ambitions which are unrealistic and harmful. Regardless of whom he belongs to, everything will come to light and I don't want to say anything bad about him. Kosovo needs new people and new forces.
However, the thing I can't understand, i.e. I can, but I can't accept it, is that he sees his chance and new perspective for Kosovo in eliminating our policy. Who is the man interested our being removed from the public scene? Milosevic, of course. That's why I think that a compromise is the best solution. We should make an agreement among ourselves and create a joint strategy. He can't do anything on his own and neither can we. And we certainly can't achieve anything without the international community regardless of what it's truly like. If we can't make friends with the international community than at least we should maintain fair relations with them.
FS: Where is the most difficult situation in Kosovo and Metohija?
It's the worst in Orahovac and Velika Hoca. In those places for almost a year by now our people is restricted to living on a few square kilometres. It's very difficult to leave those places. Almost all them have been accused of alleged war crimes. The international community is unfair in its treatment our people in those two towns because it places our people under arrest at random instead of first presenting the evidence as regards those who've been charged. The people there feel as if everyone's a war criminal and that no one's a criminal.. We've got very difficult situation in Vitina and Gorazdevac as well, but I have to say that the people living in enclaves are also suffering hardships as they've been living in ghettoes for almost a year without any perspectives or hope that things might get better. Those who ruled this people in Kosovo, who robbed them and ran away are well-off now. Thus, they've become heroes and we've become traitors. They don't even care about the people anymore.
FS: Do you believe that the opposition might resolve the Kosovo and Metohija problem following its election victory? Are there any signs from the international community that its policy might change if that were the case?
If the opposition came to power, then the main reason of the international community and the Albanians for further delaying the resolution of the Kosovo issue would be gone, i.e. undemocratic Serbia and the Milosevic's regime. No one in Serbia has succeeded so far in articulating this positive process. Therefore, it is my view that Milosevic's departure is our chance to articulate new relations and to see what the international community actually wants from us. If the international community continues with this process of disintegrating Serbia, then it will become our occupier and we'll have to turn this province into Vietnam. I keep telling people: one cannot have both a democratic Serbia and an independent Kosovo. I know that the things won't ever be as they used to be, but let's launch a process of democratisation, decentralisation and integration because only in this way could we hold on to the minimum of our interests. And the minimum of our interests, in my view, is a democratic Serbia within which Kosovo could exist as a province with extensive autonomy for all the people living there. Such a Kosovo and such a Serbia will be integration factors in Yugoslavia and the Balkans.
Source: Free Serbia
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