By: TONIN GJURAJ
AmbassadorEmbassy of the Republic of Albania in Israel
54/26 Pinkas Street
Tel Aviv 62261
Tel. +972 35465866
Fax.+97 23 5444545
cel: +972 054 806601
Nov 26, 2007
As a regular Post reader, I was disappointed by Caroline B. Glick's recent column "Islam and the nation-state" (November 13). It promulgated numerous misconceptions about Kosovo and the Kosovo Albanians.
Glick writes: "Today the US and the EU are leading the charge toward the establishment of a Palestinian state and the creation of an independent state of Kosovo" - as if the two issues were related. There is no connection between being for the establishing of a state of Kosovo and the establishment of a Palestinian state. It is wrong to compare Kosovo with the Palestinian case simply because they have one thing in common - the Muslim religion. Analogy, goes the saying, is no substitute for analysis.
Israel opposes an imposed solution on Kosovo, but the Israeli government has given its full support to the Contact Group principles - one of them being the non-return of Kosovo to the situation before 1999. Kosovo is not a minority-dominated enclave within some other nation-state, as Glick claims. Serbia's power is not being eroded as there is no longer any Yugoslavia. Kosovo, under the UN's mandate since 1999, has already established its state institutions, independent of Serbia.
FOR READERS to better understand why Glick is mistaken in her analogy, it is necessary to know some basic truths about Kosovo: The area was annexed by Yugoslavia, against Kosovar resistance in 1918. This annexation violated the right of the Kosovars to self-determination and, therefore, violated international law.
Although Kosovo Albanians constitute 92% of the population of Kosovo, the autonomy it enjoyed was unconstitutionally removed by Serbia in 1989. After Tito's death in 1980, the situation deteriorated, reaching its nadir in the 1998 genocide.
It is precisely this genocide which explains the uniqueness of Kosovo case. For more than a century, genocide and mass expulsions of Kosovo Albanians transformed Kosovo into a unique case. Albanians suffered extreme repression under the Milosevic regime. Some 12,000 civilians were killed, and 1.5 million Albanian civilians were displaced as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign of the Serbian Army in 1999. Around 3,000 are still missing.
Serbia has lost all legal and moral claim over Kosovo. When a state so discriminates against a national group under its rule, the right of that group to self-determination includes the right to secession. This idea is internationally recognized. The right of Kosovo to self-determination is not restricted to the right of internal, substantial autonomy inside Serbia. It is a right to secede from Serbia, a right to independence, as envisaged by the Ahtisaari Package. Kosovars cannot be forced to go back under the sovereignty of Serbia.
I deliberately use the term "Kosovo Albanians" because "Kosovo Muslims," as Glick calls them, has an underlying propaganda purpose. Why doesn't she refer to "The Serbia Orthodox"?
LET'S BE clear: There is no Islamist trend in the Albanian cause. It is a fundamental mistake to equate religion with ethnicity.
While referencing Milosevic, Glick writes: "He stood accused of ethnically cleansing Kosovo of its Muslim population, which was perceived as innocent." Thus the genocide against Kosovo Albanians - the most documented event of its kind since WWII - is, for Glick, just a perception. This is beyond belief.
Regarding her claim that "Kosovo Muslims" are financed by Saudis, and their alleged connections to "global jihadists," this is false. No one in the democratic West will swallow this distorted version of the reality in Kosovo.
"Jihadist" and "irredentist" are simply loaded Serbian code-words. Kosovo is strongly supported by Washington, London, Paris and Rome. As Albania's prime minister, Dr. Sali Berisha, has stated: "Kosovo and Kosovars have chosen Brussels."
It is no coincidence that Kosovo was liberated by NATO, a powerful and democratic structure of states with an overwhelming Christian population.
THERE IS social cohesion and religious harmony in Kosovo. Today, the Speaker of the House, Kolë Berisha, is a Catholic. There is also a Christian Democratic Party now in the forefront of the struggle for independence in Kosovo. Kosovo Albanians are more European than any other neighboring country in the Balkans. All surveys make clear that an overwhelming majority of the population supports NATO membership and EU integration.
Any discussion on the independent state of Kosovo should concentrate on the democratic nature of that state. Glick is mistaken when she urges the Olmert government to "immediately and loudly restate its opposition to the imposition of Kosovar independence on Serbia." Her logic of opposing the establishment of Muslim-only states should not apply in the case of Kosovo, because Kosovo is not and will not be a Muslim state.
Attempts to differentiate between the Albanians in Albania and the Albanians in Kosovo are wrong. There is, of course, sub-cultural diversity, as with all nations in the world, but Albanians on both sides of the border share the same culture, ethnicity, history, language, tradition, myths and legends.
The best answer, however, to all the speculations about Albania and the Albanians was given by your reporter Greer Fay Cashman in her Post report, "Sheltered from the Nazis in Albania" (November 4), which noted that Albania saved every one of its Jews during the Holocaust. And most of the Albanians who gave shelter to Jews during WWII were Muslims. Within the context of excellent relations existing between Albanians and Jews, there is no cause for inflammatory statements based on our religious heritage alone.