A brief history course, as taught by SANU
Dr Slavenko Terzić, scientific adviser of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) testifies as an expert defence witness called by Slobodan Milošević about the ‘recent history’ of the Balkans, Serbia and the continuity of the Greater Albania idea, and the constant violence to which Kosovo Serbs have been exposed.
A brief history course is being taught at the trial of Slobodan Milošević - the history of the Balkans, Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija in particular. Dr Slavenko Terzić, the teacher, is a scientific adviser at the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU). In his capacity as an expert witness for the defence he has submitted to the Chamber a voluminous expert report on the ‘recent history’ of the area.
Judge Patrick Robinson suggests to Milošević that he should focus in his examination of the witness upon the events that immediately preceded the most recent crisis in Kosovo, upon constitutional issues and the development of the conflict that culminated in the first half of 1999. However, Terzić notes at the beginning of his testimony that three historical factors have substantially affected the ‘recent history’ of the area. According to him, these are first the Turkish conquest in the 15th century, which ‘introduced the conflict between the Islamic and Christian worlds in that area’; secondly the policies pursued by the great powers over the past 200 years, including the attempts by Austria-Hungary, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and others to ‘put the Balkans under their control’; and thirdly the policy pursued by the Comintern, the Yugoslav Communist Party and Tito, which ‘encouraged inter-ethnic rivalry instead of Yugoslav integralism’.
After he has deployed a series of maps dating from the 19th century to show that ‘European science has always designated Kosovo and Metohija as part of Old Serbia’, the former director of the SANU Institute of History places in evidence diplomatic documents and maps speaking of the plans to establish a Greater Albania that would include substantial parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and northern Greece. The support of certain great powers - first Austria-Hungary, then Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany - has resulted in continuity of the ‘Greater Albania idea’, he says, and adds that today its supporters are NATO and ‘other powers’.
Terzić notes, quoting Mussolini's foreign minister Count Ciano, that Fascist Italy gave its support to the creation of a Greater Albania in order to turn it into a ‘fortress which would rule the Balkans relentlessly’. It is Terzić's ‘impression’ that in the past ten years efforts have been renewed ‘to create a new fortress which would be a centre for the trafficking of people and drugs and a stronghold of radical Islam in this part of Europe’. The SANU historian does not specify who has ‘renewed’ those alleged efforts, or where, but his previous answers lead to the conclusion that he is primarily referring to NATO and its member states.
In his opinion, the idea of a Greater Albania has two ideological foundations. The first is ‘pan-Islamism’, which is ‘skilfully hidden’ he says, adding that ‘it is no accident’ that a photograph of Ibrahim Rugova with Pope John Paul II is prominently displayed in the office of the Kosovo president. According to Terzić, this should be proof enough of Rugova's ‘skill in hiding’ his ‘pan-Islamism’.
Milošević's expert witness states that the second foundation for the idea of a Greater Albania is ‘pan-Illyrism’. This, according to him, is based on the fallacious premise that Albanians are the descendants of Illyrians and that they are entitled to the erstwhile Illyrian territories ‘occupied’ by the Slavs - this being the basis for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of other peoples from those territories.
Terzić then goes on to discuss ‘the continuous violence perpetrated by Albanians against the Serbs’, noting that ‘the first great ethnic cleansing’ of the Serbs in Kosovo was carried out between 1878 and 1912, while the second great wave of ethnic cleansing happened in World War II under the auspices of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. After the war, the communists failed to ‘de-nazify the Albanian community in Kosovo’ and sanctioned the ethnic situation that had resulted from the occupation, thus creating the conditions for a new wave of ethnic cleansing in the early sixties.
This brief course in the history of the Balkans as taught by SANU is over for one day and will continue on the next.
SENSE News Agency, The Hague, 6 December 2004