Twenty Years' Commemoration Of The "2004 March Pogrom“ In Kosovo

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

Introduction — This article deals with the question of political and human/minority rights in the region of Kosovo & Metohija twenty years after the „2004 March Pogrom“ and twenty-five years after NATO's military aggression on Serbia and Montenegro and occupation of the region. This research topic is important because this is the first time in European history, that a terrorist-style and mafia-ruled (quasi)independent state was created by a full diplomatic, political, economic, military, and financial sponsorship by the West under the umbrella of NATO's and the EU's protective administration. The precedence of Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence in February 2008 already had several negative „domino effect“ consequences elsewhere in Europe (the Caucasus, the Crimean Peninsula, the Donbas region...). The article aims to present the current situation in Kosovo & Metohija and the possible consequences of the Kosovo case for international relations and the post-Cold War 1.0 world order.

The NATO's intervention in 1999 and its consequences — Twenty years passed after the „2004 March Pogrom" in Kosovo & Metohija against the local Serbs was organized and perpetrated by Kosovo Albanians, led by the veterans from the Kosovo Liberation Army – the KLA and logistically supported by NATO's occupation troops in Kosovo & Metohija under the name of the Kosovo Forces – the KFOR. That was simply a continuation of the last stage (up till now) of the dismemberment of ex-Yugoslavia – the Kosovo War (1998-1999), and NATO's military intervention and aggression against Serbia and Montenegro. (At that time they composed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the FRY.) This represented a violation of international law. In this context, we can say that at the end of the 20th century, the fate of ex-Yugoslavia was determined by several international organizations, and not decisively by the Yugoslavs themselves.

NATO's military intervention against the FRY in March-June of 1999 (led by the USA) under the pretext of protecting human rights in Kosovo (Albania), marked a crucial step toward finishing the process of creation of the global „Pax Americana" in the form of NATO's World Order, the NWO. As NATO used force against the FRY without permission from the UN Security Council, and also without an official proclamation of the war, we can call this military intervention pure „aggression" against a sovereign state, according to international rules and law. In the Balkans in the 1990s, NATO acquired not only considerable military experience but also had the opportunity to get rid of old weapons and use some new ones. NATO also managed to enhance its activities, and thus developed into a global organization.

After the Kosovo War, the UN's Security Council Resolution 1244 (from June 1999) gave the mandate for the effective protection of the universal human and minority rights and values of all inhabitants on the territory of southern Serbia's Autonomous Region of Kosovo & Metohija (in the English language known only as Kosovo). In such a way, the responsibility for the protection of human lives, freedom, and security in Kosovo was transferred to the "international" public authorities, but, in fact, only to NATO: i.e. the administration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo the UNMIK, and the "international" military forces - (the KFOR, Kosovo Forces). Unfortunately, very soon this responsibility was challenged as around 200.000 ethnic Serbs and members of other non-Albanian communities were expelled from the region by the local ethnic Albanians led by the KLA's veterans. In any case, the ethnic Serbs suffered the most. Today only up to 3% of the non-Albanians in Kosovo (in comparison to the pre-war situation out of a total number of the non-Albanians in this province that was at least 12%. Only up to March 2004 around 120 Serb Orthodox Christian religious objects and cultural monuments were devastated or destroyed.

The ”2004 March Pogrom” — However, the most terrible of the series of Kosovo Albanian eruptions of violence against the Serbs living in this region was organized and carried out between March 17th and 19th, 2004, having all the features of the organized pogrom. During the tragic events of the “2004 March Pogrom”, a destructive assault of tens of thousands by Kosovo Albanians led by armed groups of uniformed KLA veterans (the Kosovo Protection Corpus the KPC, a future Kosovo Albanian regular army). This resulted in a systematic ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbs. They destroyed houses, other types of properties, cultural monuments, and Serbian Orthodox Christian religious sites. Nevertheless, the international civil and military forces in the region maintained that they were “stunned” and “surprised” by what went on.

The “2004 March Pogrom” revealed the real situation on the ground in Kosovo even 60 years after the Holocaust during WWII. It had resulted, according to the documentary sources, in the loss of several tens of lives, several hundreds of wounded (including the members of the KFOR as well), more than 4.000 exiled ethnic Serbs, more than 800 Serbian houses set on fire and 35 destroyed or severely damaged Serbian Orthodox Christian churches and cultural monuments. Unfortunately, the attempts of the Serbs especially by the government of Serbia at that time led by Dr. Vojislav Koštunica (a leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia) to call international attention to the human and minority rights violation situation in this region were unsuccessful.

Toward a Greater Albania — It is thus necessary to reiterate that the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs (and other non-Albanian populations), in the region of Kosovo by the local Albanians, and after mid-June 1999, means putting into practice the annihilation of a Serbian territory of exquisite historical, spiritual, political, and cultural top-level significance as a nation, state and the church. Day by day our territory was visibly transformed into yet another Albanian state in the Balkans. There was a very real wish to unify it with a neighboring motherland Albania (almost all Kosovo Albanians are originally from Albania). This had become a possibility now.

In this way, the main geopolitical goal of the First Albanian Prizren League from June 1878 was attained. This goal had implications for the Preševo Valley in Southeast Serbia, the western portion of North Macedonia up to the River of Vardar, a Greek portion of the Epirus province, and East Montenegro (Crna Gora). It is known that the Albanian political workers required within a framework of the First Albanian Prizren League (18781881) the creation of a Greater Albania, as an autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire composed of "all Albanian ethnic territories". More precisely, it was required that four Ottoman provinces (vilayets) of Scodra, Ioannina, Bitola, and Kosovo would be combined into a single Albanian national Ottoman province of Vilayet of Albania. However, in two out of four required "Albanian" provinces Bitola and Kosovo, the ethnic Albanians did not compose even a single majority at that time. Nevertheless, such a Greater Albania with a capital in Tirana existed during WWII under Mussolini's and Hitler's protectorate.

The Albanian national movement, established under the program of the First Albanian Prizren League in 1878, continues with its terrorist activities till today. It was particularly active in the period of Italian and German-supported Greater Albania from April 1941 to May 1945, when it undertook the organization of the Albanian Quisling network of agents. During this period around 100.000 Serbs from Kosovo & Metohija were expelled from their homes in addition to around 200.000 expelled Serbs during Socialist Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1980 led by Josip Broz Tito who was of Slovene and Croat ethnic origin born in Croatia and notorious anti-Serb. The process of articulation of the Albanian secessionist movement in Kosovo & Metohija continued during the post-WWII Yugoslavia and was carried out by Kosovo Albanian anti-Serb communist partocracy. The process became particularly intense and successful in the period between 19681989. For instance, only from 1981 to 1987 there were 22.307 Serbs and Montenegrins who were forced to leave Kosovo & Metohija. The entrance of NATO's troops in the region in June 1999 marks the beginning of the last stage of the Albanian-planned and carried out "Final Solution" of the Serbian Question on the territory of Kosovo & Metohija – a historical and cultural cradle of the Serbian nation, but in which only the ethnic Albanians have to live in the future.

In light of the main Albanian goal – to establish an ethnically pure state – it is “understandable” why it is so important to destroy any Serbian trace on the territory defined as Greater Albania. The Albanian terrorism has been developing for more than two centuries. It has the profile of ethnically, i.e. the ethno-racist style motivated terrorism (like the Croat one), marked by excessive animosity against the Serbs. Its principal features are the following:

  1. All kinds of repressive measures were directed against the Serbian population.
  2. Carrying practical actions to force the Serbs to leave their homes.
  3. The devastation of the Serbian Orthodox Christian religious objects and other cultural monuments belonging to the Serbian nation as they testify the ten centuries-long presence of the Serbs in Kosovo & Metohija.
  4. Destruction of the complete infrastructure used by the members of the Serbian community.
  5. Destruction of the Serbian cemeteries means de facto destruction of the historical roots of the Serbs in the region.

Experiment Kosovo: „Die Rückkehr des Kolonialismus" — A long-standing Muslim Albanian oppression and terror against the Christian Orthodox Serbian community in Kosovo & Metohija is a specific phenomenon with grave consequences not only for the local Serbs. It became, however, clear that sooner or later it would bring about severe problems for the rest of Europe as well.

Two decades have passed since the „2004 March Pogrom“ and a quarter of a century since NATO's military aggression against a sovereign European state of the FRY. At the moment, the crucial questions are:

  1. What goals did NATO pursue?
  2. Whether it manage to cope with its tasks in the following (25) years?
  3. What did these years bring to those who threw bombs and those who were attacked?

It has to be made clear that during the Kosovo War, NATO did not achieve a military victory as it failed to destroy the army of the FRY and the soldiers' morale. However, a campaign of bombing got the right political atmosphere for destroying Serbia (not Montenegro), and for imposing their conditions on the Serbian government, including the rules of cooperation with the EU, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (in the Hague) and, with NATO as well. After June 1999, Serbia lost almost all control of her state's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national security. She had become a Western political, financial, and economic colony. After several years of injustice and punishment by the West before 1999, the Serbs as a nation had lost the will to fight, to resist, as they were practically alone when they in March-June 1999 tried to repel the attack of the powerful Western military alliance. As a consequence, after June 1999 it became much easier for the West to continue the process of destruction of Yugoslavia and to carry out a policy of transforming the region into its colonial domain with occupied Kosovo & Metohija as the best example of „Die Rückkehr des Kolonialismus."

In October 2000 Slobodan Milosević who led Serbia for ten years, was ousted by the street revolution putsch-style, just like Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in Kyiv in February 2014 where at first sight, the events seemed spontaneous and unexpected. Things went smoothly and seemed to be legal, in other words - Yugoslavia all over again. However, the „Revolution of the Fifth October 2000" in Belgrade, had been very thoroughly prepared by special divisions („Otpor" or „Resistance") sponsored by the West, especially by the CIA. The method proved to be so successful that, according to one Western documentary movie based on the testimonies by the members of the Serbian "Otpor" movement, it was later used in Georgia (the „Rose Revolution" in November 2003) and Ukraine (the „Orange Revolution" from late November 2004 to January 2005 and finally in 2013/2014), but it failed in Moldova, and Iran in 2009. The same source claims that the Georgian opposition was taught in Serbia, while their Ukrainian colleagues of the „Orange Revolution" were drilled also in Serbia and Georgia.

From the time of the end of the Cold War 1.0 in 1989, Serbia remained a symbol of independence and disobedience to NATO's World Order in Europe. However, the new authorities in Serbia after October 2000 obeyed NATO's World Order and everything went smoothly. The dismemberment of the FRY started when Javier Solana arrived in Belgrade in February 2003. He was a top EU representative and official and suggested to a group of officials from Serbia and Montenegro that the FRY cease to exist, and adopt the constitution charter, written in Brussels. Its text was announced at the start of the appearance of a new country. Solana did not face any resistance. Consequently, the FRY was renamed to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and officially abolished the name ''Yugoslavia'' which was in official use from 1929. In 2006 Montenegro and Serbia declared independence, thereby ending the common South Slavic state. (The Bulgarians were the exception, and never had been considered part of the South Slavs.) What was later to become 'Yugoslavia' was first established in 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (this name was used till 1929). It was Javier Solana who dissolved Yugoslavia. He is today still a war criminal for the majority of the Serbs, as he bombed their country in 1999 as the General Secretary of NATO, killing 3.500 citizens of Serbia including children and women, and causing material damage to the country to the tune of 200.000 billion US Dollars.

After the year 2000, it was easier to implement NATO's plans, which seemed simply impossible under Slobodan Milošević as president of Serbia and later the FRY. Summing it up, Yugoslavia (Serbia & Montenegro) was undermined, its integration slowed down until its final dissolution in 2006, and Serbia's strength was exhausted. What NATO, USA, and EU failed to achieve however at the castle of Rambouillet (in France) in 1998/1999 (during the ultimatum negotiations with S. Milošević on the Kosovo crisis) and through 78 days of cruel bombing in MarchJune 1999, they now got on July 18th, 2005, when Serbia and Montenegro signed a deal with NATO "On the Lines of Communication". This was a technical agreement that allowed NATO's personnel and equipment to transit through the country. Under the deal, NATO could enjoy such opportunities for quite a long time - "until all peacekeeping operations in the Balkans are over". Thus NATO was given the green light to enlarge its presence in the region and control the army of both Serbia and Montenegro. On April 1st, 2009 Albania and Croatia completed the accession process which was followed by Montenegro on June 5th, 2017, and North Macedonia on March 27th, 2020 when all of these Balkan states joined NATO as full members and in such a way surrounding Serbia by NATO members from all sides except from Bosnian-Herzegovinian one. Today the Balkans are NATO's permanent military base. For instance, in October 2008 Serbia's defense minister and NATO officials signed the agreement on information security, which allows NATO to control everyone who deals with their documents or just cooperates with them. For this very reason, NATO insisted on the secrecy of the negotiations with the pro-Western government of Serbia.

In the aftermath of the 1999 aggression on Serbia and Montenegro, the events were treated favorably (from NATO's point of view) in the media and elsewhere. Nobody condemned NATO and everyone seemed to feel even more confident in the global perspective (Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003...). In recent years the world has witnessed a NATO that has been expanding. Currently, NATO's military bloc is occupying more positions in the Balkans, using old and building new military camps with an attempt to include into its organization after Montenegro and North Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (the latter one only after the cancellation of the Republic of Srpska as a political subject). The existence of a huge NATO military camp „Bondsteel" in Kosovo & Metohija is the best proof that the region is going to be under US/NATO's dominance for a long time unless the balance between the Great Powers (the US/Russia/China) changes drastically. However, the current crisis (war) over Ukraine is the first to herald such change, i.e. of the beginning of the new Cold War era or even WWIII.

Ethnic/cultural cleansing and the domino effect — The most disappointing fact in the present post-war Kosovo reality is for sure an ethnic and cultural cleansing of all non-Albanians and non-Albanian cultural heritage under the NATO/KFOR/EULEX/UNMIK's umbrella. The proofs are evident in every corner of Kosovo territory, but purposely not covered by the Western mass media and politicians. For instance, on the arrival of the KFOR (an international, but, in fact, NATO's „Kosovo Forces“) and the UNMIK (the „United Nations Mission in Kosovo“) to Kosovo & Metohija in 1999, all names of the towns and streets in this province were renamed to have the (Muslim) Albanian forms or new names. Monuments to Serbian heroes have been demolished, like the monument devoted to Duke Lazar (who led the Serbian Christian army during the Kosovo Battle on June 28th, 1389 against the Muslim Turks) in the town of Gnjilane. Serbs were, and still are getting killed, assassinated, wounded, and abducted, and their houses burned to the ground. As I mentioned earlier, the most infamous ethnic cleansing was done between March 17th and 19th, 2004 – the so-called „2004 March Pogrom“.

As of today, the number of the Serbs that were killed or went missing in Kosovo & Metohija from June 1999 onward (after the KFOR arrived), is measured in the thousands, and the number of demolished Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries is measured in the hundreds, and the number of burned down Serbian houses in tens of thousands. Even though the KFOR had as many as 50.000 soldiers at the beginning, and several thousand policemen and civilian mission members. None of the crimes mentioned above have been solved. Murdering a Serb in Kosovo is not considered a crime, on the contrary, the murderers of children and the elderly are being rewarded as heroes by their ethnic Albanian compatriots. The province is almost ethnically clean like Albania and Croatia. As a matter of fact, according to the last pre-war official Yugoslav census of 1991, there were 13% of non-Albanians in Kosovo & Metohija (in reality certainly more). However, it is estimated that today 97% of Kosovo & Metohija's population is only ethnic Albanian. In light of the main national goal of the Albanians – the establishment of another Albanian state in the Balkans and Europe, as the first step towards the pan-Albanian state unification – we can „understand" why it is important to destroy any Serbian trace in the „territory defined by their aspirations".

The final stage of cutting Kosovo & Metohija from their motherland of Serbia came on February 17th, 2008 when Kosovo Albanians received Washington's permission to proclaim its formal (quasi)independence which happened, in fact, later than expected by Russia and China. At the UN Security Council Moscow said „no" to Kosovo's independence as Russia respects the interests of Serbia and officially condemns all attempts to impose decisions on other members of the international community by breaking international law (in the Kosovo & Metohija's case it is the UN Resolution 1244). The fact is that the Serbs have not forgotten Kosovo, but have not done much about it either. Now there are some 80 states that recognize Kosovo's independence, including the majority of EU's and NATO's members (out of 192 UNO members). Almost all of them are the neighbors of Serbia and except Bosnia-Herzegovina, all the ex-Yugoslav republics have recognized Kosovo. Bosnia-Herzegovina did not recognize it for the very reason: the Republic of Srpska, still an autonomous political unit within Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside the Muslim-Croat Federation according to the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement in 1995, has and use the veto right. At the moment, in Kosovo, there is the EULEX (European Civil Mission), and the Kosovo issue is gradually being moved out of the UNO jurisdiction and out of reach of the Russian veto in the UN Security Council becoming more and more NATO's and EU's governed territory. There is the so-called Kosovo Security Forces (in fact the redressed members of the KLA), which was formed according to Martti Ahtisaari's plan with active support from NATO to be today transformed into the unofficial regular (Albanian) Army of the Republic of Kosovo to fulfill the task of the final ethnic cleansing of the province what is during the last years going on the agenda.

What is true about today's political reality in Kosovo & Metohija is the fact that this territory in the form of a quasi-client state is given to be administered by the members of the KLA – a military organization which was in 1998 proclaimed by the US administration as a terrorist one. Anyway, the KLA became both the first successful rebellious movement and terrorist organization in Europe after WWII. The movement was originally developed from a tiny Albanian diaspora in Switzerland in the second half of the 1980s to around 18.000 soldiers financed and supported in every way by the US administration. To realize its crucial political task – a separation of Kosovo & Metohija province from the rest of Serbia with a possibility to unite it with Albania, the KLA was allied with NATO between 19971999. The KLA's strategy of the war terror was based on a long tradition of the Albanians to oppose by arms any organized authority in the form of a state from the Ottoman time up to today. However, the military intervention by NATO in 1999 against Serbia and Montenegro over the Kosovo question was portrayed in the American and the West European media as a necessary step to prevent the Serbian armed forces from repeating the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the truth was that Serbia trained its military on Kosovo & Metohija because of an ongoing armed struggle by KLA's terrorist and separatist organization to wrest independence from Serbia for the sake of the creation of a Greater Albania with ethnically pure Kosovo & Metohija and later on the western parts of North Macedonia, East Montenegro, and the Greek Epirus.

Nevertheless, former US President Barrack Obama congratulated at the very beginning of his presidential mandate the leaders of the „multiethnic, independent and democratic Kosovo“ regardless of the facts that those leaders (especially Hashim Tachi – the „Snake“ and Ramush Haradinay) are proved to be notorious war criminals, that the region (state?) is not either multicultural or really independent and particularly not democratic one. However, there are several official EU declarations and unofficial political statements encouraging Belgrade and Priština to cooperate and „develop neighborly relations" that practically means for Serbia that Belgrade has firstly to recognize Albanian Kosovo independence to become the EU's member state after the years or even decades of negotiations. Another fact is that the process of international recognition of Kosovo's independence is much slower than Priština and Washington expected at the beginning. From the time of Kosovo's self-proclamation of independence, Serbia's greatest diplomatic „success“ is the majority of votes in 2008 of the UNO General Assembly supporting the decision that the case of Kosovo independence should be considered by the International Court of Justice in the Hague (established in 1899). On the one hand, the Court's decision on the issue in July 2010 was very favorable for Kosovo's Albanian (the KLA's) separatists and terrorists as it was concluded a verdict that a unilateral proclamation of Kosovo's independence in February 2008 was done within a framework of the international law (in this context, probably, the proclamation of the Republic of Serbian Krayina from Croatia or the Republic of Srpska from Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s were done according to international law!?). However, on the other hand, the Court's verdict in 2010 already became very favorable for separatism movements elsewhere like in March 2014 for the separatists in the Crimean Peninsula or maybe soon for their colleagues from Catalonia, Scotland, and Northern Italy (Lega Nord)... Kosovo's self-proclamation of independence had a direct domino effect only a few months later when in August 2008 South Ossetia and Abkhazia did the same from Georgia.

The (murky) reality in present-day Kosovo & Metohija, on the other side, is that there is not a single ethnic Albanian party in the deeply divided Kosovo's political scene that would be ready to accept a „peaceful reintegration“ of the region into Serbia's political sphere and there is no a single ethnic Albanian politician who is not concerned about the danger posed by the „division of Kosovo“ to the Albanian (major) part and Serbian (minor) part and does not oppose slightest suggestions of the Serbian autonomy for the northern portion of Kosovo & Metohija. However, what is more important: Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders and even the citizens of Albanian ethnic origin do not even consider national dilemmas like „Europe or independence!“ There is no doubt what their answer is going to be in that case. On the other side, what is going on in Serbia? The answer is that a nation unable to choose between territorial integrity on the one side, and membership in an international association (although an important but in many aspects anti-Serbian one) on the other, i.e. a nation who cannot choose between these two „priorities“ really deserves to lose both.

Final remarks — In the end, if the international law and fixed order are broken on one side of the globe (ex. Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq) it is nothing strange to expect that the same law and order are going to be broken somewhere else (ex. at the Caucasus, Ukraine, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, France...) following the logic of the so-called „domino effect“ reaction in the international relations. Finally, it has to be noted that if the Albanian extremism is not stopped, North Macedonia and Montenegro will have to give up parts of their territories populated by ethnic Albanians (West Macedonia and East Montenegro). In this case, Europe will have to decide how to discuss the issue of the borders' revision and how to recognize a new enlarged state of (the Greater) Albania.

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović
Ex-University Professor
Research Fellow at the Center for Geostrategic Studies
Belgrade, Serbia © Vladislav B. Sotirović 2023

Personal disclaimer: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity, which does not represent anyone or any organization. These are his personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. – VBS


Image: "Road to Mount Athos VII – Samodrež Church" © N/A; East To The Sun


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