Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Whole Kosovo Mess : America , Please Stop Sword Rattling

Let me state for the record that I'm not remotely political. I also have never been to Kosovo, nor do I have any firsthand information about Kosovo, nor do I frankly have an opinion about what should happen with Kosovo. I'm not qualified to. I just read the news from a wide variety of sources thanks totally to Google's free Alerts service that scrapes English-language stories, from a possible tens of thousands of sources, with the word 'Serbia" in them and emails them to me once a day.

Many of these Kosovo stories from around the world, but mainly from the US, sound alike. Generally the US is being a bully, saying they'll recognize Kosovo statehood if nobody solves this mess in a manner they like soon. And then Belgrade authorities are quoted, sounding staunching in favor of keeping the country in one peice. The more the US sword rattling that day, the more macho the posturing becomes in Belgrade in reaction.

Then the reporter invariably says that Kosovo is 90% ethnic Albanian although it hold a special place in Serb hearts, history and religion. This is supposed to give "both sides of the story" plus that background US readers need to understand the story "in context."

I find several things very annoying with this:

1. Although the whole Kosovo heroin/drug trade thing was all over the legitimate press in the late 1990s, the last time the US got involved, nobody mentions it now at all. Does that mean some of the Albanians interested in Statehood are no longer major heroin traffickers who would find this very convenient? Is the US in favor of making the world a better place for heroin dealers?

2. Although Kosovo is currently 90% Albanian, it wasn't always. Populations shift here more than Americans expect (we think we are the only immigrant-decedents in the world and everyone in the old country has stayed in the same spot since the dawn of time.) As recently as 100 years ago, Albanians were not the overwhelming majority in Kosovo, and some somewhat significant population shifts have happened just in the last 10 years. Having said that, you should also know neither Albanians nor Serbs were the original inhabitants. In Roman times it was entirely different people.

Anyway, if having an ethnic majority meant you should start your own country, I can think of plenty of areas of the US that would have had the right to bail on the whole "united" part of the States thing. I'm not saying it's not a good idea, just that the US position is a bit hypocritical.

3. I'm pretty darn sure that the pushier the US gets, the more the guys in Belgrade have this machismo need to start battling. It's a face thing - by rattling our swords at the Serbs on the world stage we nearly force them to rattle their swords back or lose face in front of the school yard bully. And they've got eons of history getting in trouble with bullies from Hitler to the Ottoman Empire. It never did them much good (although it certainly saved the Western World's bacon a few times.) Serbs are not guys who back down when you force them to fight even when they know damn well they will lose.

So anyway, this whole thing is not remotely as clearcut as all those well meaning, fairminded, showing both sides of the story, US journalists make out.

Why do I care? Well because if the worst should come to happen, I could end up getting kicked out of Serbia because I'm an American and we might have ceased diplomatic relations. I'm married to a Serb and we plan to spend much of the rest of our lives here. This is a pretty great place. Please George Bush, don't screw it up for me.


Igor said...

Try to find story from Radoje Domanović "Marko Kraljević po drugi put među Srbima" (something like Marko Kraljevic second time beetwen Serbs) and other books from the same writer in english, or ask husband to translate it... You will see that Serbs has problem with identity and Kosovo more then 150 years, and it is not true that there were more Serbs... Also try to find historical data for Marko Kraljevic and epic poems... Then maybe you will get the right view of Kosovo problems... Maybe, just one more book for you Danko Popović: Knjiga o Milutinu...
I do not think that you have the right view... But, I think that peace is more important then this is our land, etc, etc, etc what ever is price for Serbia....

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog and enjoyed reading about your life in Serbia. As an American who has lived in Kosovo, Bosnia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Middle East, I couldn't help but comment about your opinions on Kosovo. Since your husband is Serbian, of course you'll share his views and Serbian nationalist pride which has been bruised by the fall of Yugoslavia. But, if you spent any time in Kosovo (i've traveled alot in Serbia & lived in Pristina for 3 yrs but never saw drug smuggling as you state) and learned how the Yugoslav/Serbian government forced the Albanian population in an apartheid situation for decades, your views would change. My friends were forced to attend sub-par Albanian only schools (in private homes) under law enforced by Belgrade. All local government jobs were issued to Serb nationals despite they represented 10% of the population. The house we rented from an Albanian family, a doctor and his wife, was destroyed during the 'war' by Serbian troops who 'kicked' out the rightful homeowners, stole all of their belongings and raped their teenage daughters. Why, because the house was on the same street as the Kosovo president... This family became our friends and attended our wedding in the US. The population is NOT going to ever change in favor of Serbs in a few years or decades in Kosovo as you wishfully but naively state. Serbs haven't been a majority in Kosovo for a century or more. The main reasons the economy is in shambles is that the Belgrade government never invested in infrastructure, schools, nothing for centuries. The place has been falling apart for decades. Belgrade had a chance to govern Kosovo for centuries and they treated the place like the bottom of their shoe while profiting from its natural resources (the REAL reason Belgrade wants control, it's not about some nationalist identity- my husband toured Kosovar mining extensively). Belgrade doesn't deserve nor will ever govern Kosovo again. It's all wishful thinking the Belgrade government is feeding to the Serbian population. You should get your facts straight before you make such naive comments.

Anonymous said...

You are very well informed about that region Mr. anonymous. I know American people and you sound to me a real one. I can not say the same for the lady that lives in Belgrade who is afraid to live there. I assume she was born somewhere in English spoken countries and has serbian ancestry and serbian diplomacy. Whole Wolrd knows now which one is serbian diplomacy. That's why they got military bombarded and are being bombarded every single day in other ways now. Lady from Belgrade said serbian people are stuburn (they don't give up even if they lose). That's true. They lost, are loosing and will lose forever so long they think they are smarter than the rest of the world.