The Basic Guidelines Through the Kosovo Question

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The Kosovo Question recently once again became an important issue of global politics and international relations for two reasons: 1) The Albanian “government” of the “Republic of Kosovo” announced to officially proclaim the existence of the Kosovo Army (that is a violation of the 1244 UN Resolution in 1999), and 2) The “president” of the “Republic of Kosovo”, a war criminal Hashim Tachi, participated on November 11th (2018) in Paris to the world leaders’ celebration of a centenary anniversary of the end of the WWI (the signed armistice with Germany) as the official representative of an “independent” Kosovo. He was seating in the second line of the VIP lounge just behind Vladimir Putin (later shaking hands with him and making memo photos which can be found on Tachi’s official Twitter feed). Nevertheless, one could not find Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić in the same VIP lounge as, according to the official (French) protocol, it was no place for him to seat there (he was seating on the opposite side with the “small fishes”) regardless the historical fact that Serbia was recognized as an “allied” state of the victorious Entente and mostly suffered during the war in comparison to all participated nations (Serbia’s death toll was highest – 25% with 50% of destroyed industry).[1]

What concerns the first issue (Kosovo Army), Serbia’s minister of foreign affairs, Ivica Dačić, is going to launch a public international discussion on the first coming session of the UN General Assembly and thus to put once again the problem of the Kosovo Question on the international agenda. Therefore, we would like to offer the basic guidelines through the Kosovo Question in the following paragraphs.

“Disputed Land”?

Kosovo and Metochia (KosMet) is a south-western province of the Republic of Serbia – a central region of political, national, economic, cultural and religious life of Serbia in the Middle Ages. The region was occupied by the Ottoman authorities in 1455 and subsequently was under the Islamic-Ottoman yoke until the beginning of the 20th century. The consequences of the Ottoman administration for the further development of the region were quite tragic in several points:

  1. The Christian medieval feature of KosMet was to the great extent replaced by the Islamic characteristics.
  2. The ethnic breakdown of the region was drastically changed at the expense of the Christian Serbs and in the favor of Muslim Albanians who occupied KosMet as the migrants from neighboring North Albania.
  3. The European culture of the region was significantly changed into the favor of the Asiatic-Oriental cultural feature.
  4. KosMet became one of the fundamental sources of the Balkan Islamic radicalism up today.
  5. The region is during the last hundred years one of the principal points of the Balkan Powder Keg creating as such internationally recognized a problematic Kosovo Question.

Nevertheless, after the Balkan Wars of 1912−1913 a larger (eastern) part of KosMet became reincluded into the Kingdom of Serbia, after the Ottoman Empire was pushed out from the biggest part of the Balkans by the Balkan Alliance composed of Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian and Montenegrin forces (the First and Second Balkan Wars 1912−1913).[2] A minor (western) part of KosMet became at the same time for the first time in history included into the state of Montenegro due to Serbia’s generosity toward the Montenegrin “brothers”. In November 1918 Vojvodina, which was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, joined Serbia, which in her turn joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed in 1929 as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), the new state of all South Slavs except Bulgarians.[3] However, by the creation of the first South Slavic state on December 1st, 1918 KosMet brought into this political entity a sizeable trouble-making Muslim Albanian population (the Shqiptars in the following how they are calling themselves), whereas in Vojvodina lived an approximately equal number of peaceful ethnic Hungarians followed by the German Folksdeutschers. However, from the political viewpoint, a difference between KosMet’s Shqiptars on one hand and Vojvodina’s Hungarians and Germans on another was quite immense as the latter never caused any serious troubles in the new state for the next twenty years of its existence while the Shqiptars, in contrast, became from the very beginning of the Yugoslav unification in 1918 an extremely disturbing and disloyal element within both Serbia and Yugoslavia. Furthermore, for the last almost three decades, since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991, KosMet has become a hot spot on the globe attracting a huge international attention primarily due to the Albanian policy of secessionism and Islamic holy war (jihad) against the local Christian Serb population. On this place, one can ask a fundamental question: What makes the region of the size of Corsica and population of something 1.5 million so special that it forced first Serbia, and then half the globe, to engage in extinguishing the fire which threatens in 1999 to endanger the entire world order and global security? Nevertheless, a quasi-independent Republic of Kosovo is today a classical mafia state under the protection of the Western “democracies”.[4] Why?

KosMet region, the south-western part of Serbia, is considered by many Western authors as a “disputed land” for the last two centuries. A traditional Western image of the issue of the Kosovo Question is that two competing nations, the Serbs and the Albanians (Shqiptars) are fighting for the dominance over the region.[5] Nevertheless, it is finally created a wrong impression about the present-day political situation in concern to the Kosovo Question that it is that two sides are claiming their rights taking into consideration two different arguments: the Serbs are referring to their “historical rights” while the Shqiptars are relying on their actual numerical preponderance which is, in fact, a product of 300 years of ethnic cleansing of and terror against KosMet Serbs. However, for all real and non-partisan experts in the Kosovo Question it is clear that, in essence, there is no the issue of “disputed land” between Serbs and Shqiptars but rather the issue of a robbery the province by the latter.[6] In other words, the whole issue of the Kosovo Question is set up upside down by the Western corporate media, politicians, warmongers and academics based on misconceptions, fake news and even notorious lies about KosMet history and politics (one of the best examples is a British historian and “expert on Yugoslav history”, Noel Malcolm). Those misconceptions, fake news and lies are developed and maintained for a longer period of time up to the present and, therefore, they have to be publicly presented and decisively refuted before any serious discourse on this matter is going to be carried out.[7] Basically, it has to be exposed a real and based on the relevant sources historical, political, demographic, ethical, and religious background of the Kosovo Question. It has to be noticed in this respect that there are the authors who argue that the Kosovo Question is predominantly of the anthropological nature, rather than of political one. Anyway, in principle, it has to be examined a number of possible solutions of the “dispute”, from an ideal one to the realistic one, putting the whole issue in the broader historical and actual worldwide political perspective as otherwise the issue of the Kosovo Question is going to be blatantly taken out from its real context (what a majority of Western “experts” are exactly doing).

A leading research direction of the issue can be, for instance, to take into serious consideration the case of Kosovo Shqiptars’ natural birth-rate phenomena. Here it is going to be presented only one illustrative case of this politically motivated phenomena. A French magazine published a couple of photos from the Lion airport on April 18th, 1999, during the airborne aggression by the NATO on Serbia (and partly on Montenegro), in the course of their “preventing a humanitarian catastrophe” at KosMet. However, one picture showed the French weaponry ready to be transported to KosMet, the other presented an ethnic-Albanian family from KosMet, “refugees” just arrived in France. The latter photo deserves well one’s attention, for it speaks very much about the core of the Kosovo Question indeed as it exposes vividly the very crux of the matter. Let us analyze this picture, presenting the “unfortunate” family of Kosovars (as the Western “experts” call KosMet Shqiptars). First of all, it was a single family, consisting of three generations. On the left, we see grandmother (with scarf), on the right father and mother of the children posing around. Evidently, it is the peasant family. Tough the children appear well dressed (probably by a humanitarian agency), the adults reveal their modest well-being. One can notice first three daughters, the eldest and two twin girls next to her followed by two daughters in the front and two boys beside as well. The central figure appears the young girl, of about 8, who shows the V sign in a Churchill-like gesture. What is she trying to tell us? The family is hardly in a “victorious position”. Who is going to defeat whom? Who instructed her to pose before the cameras in that manner? These are the basic questions which come to mind when looking at this scene at the Lion airport.

Toponyms 

The authentic and original toponyms of some region probably tell the best about the genuine ownership of it from the ethnonational point of view. It is, however, the most problematic and hidden aspect of the Kosovo Question by the Western “experts” who never wanted to deal with this issue as it is clearly refuting their arguments about allegedly Albanian features of this region of South-West Serbia, called Kosovo and Metohia (but not only Kosovo), which is an autonomous province of Serbia since 1945 but enjoyed  till 1989 a significant political sovereignty especially from 1974 (according to the last Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).

To start from the very beginning, the very name Kosovo is a short-term of Kosovo Polje, meaning in the Serbian language Field of Blackbirds (kos – blackbird in the Serbian language).[8] In order to avoid confusion, it has to be adopted the standard rule for the terms used in, at least, scientific literature. Therefore, ethnic Albanians who are citizens of Serbia has to be designated by Shqiptars (Shqiptare, “sons of eagles”),[9] as they call themselves and were usually called in Yugoslavia until the mid-1970s. Nevertheless, another interpretation of the term is stemming from shqipoj, “one who understands. This interpretation appears in accordance with the similar case of Slav – “one who speaks (slovi)”, as different from Nemac (German), “one who is mute (nem)”. However, it is a fact that most of Serbia’s Shqiptars consider now the term pejorative but only if it is used by the Serbs, for several historical reasons.[10] The principal reason is that many designations of the present-day Shqiptars/Albanians throughout history were, to many Balkan people eponymous to wild people, including and the Ottoman administration. In particular, the name Arnaut, widely used during the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans, was synonymous to the robber, highwayman, belligerent savage etc.[11] The name Shqiptar was in many respects similarly used by the Slavic population. A modern equivalent to Shqiptar in the Western usage as the term for KosMet ethnic Albanians/Shiptars is an artificial ethnonym Kosovars which is used mainly for the purely political and propaganda purposes in order to show that a separate quasi-ethnic nation exists. Nevertheless, the term appears misleading for the very reason as it implies “inhabitants of Kosovo”, that includes all ethnicities of the province of KosMet. Shqipëria is the internal official name of present-day Albania how the Albanians (Shqiptars) by themselves are calling their own national state in which they are living. The spoken and national language of all Shqiptars no matter of which country they are inhabitants is called by themselves as Shqip. According to the Albanian historiography, it is the most probably that the ethnic name of Shqiptars is derived from the term shqipon (clearly to say).[12]

The official term for Serbia’s southern province of KosMet is Kosovo and Metochia but for the very political reasons, the Shiptars are all the time omitting its second part (Metochia) using only the first one (as Kosova or Kosovë). The toponym Kosovo/Kosova/Kosovë with its root Kos simply means nothing in the Ship (Albanian) language as it is borrowed from Slavic/Serbian. Subsequently, the Shqiptars even do not have their name for the land they claim to be allegedly their own even from an immemorial time (by propagating false claims to be the oldest Balkan and even European people as the descendants of ancient Balkan Illyrians)![13] The question is why they are purposely omitting to use toponym Metochia? For the very political reason as the toponym shows that the Shiptars has historically nothing to do with this province. To remind ourselves, Metochia is corrupt of Greek μετóχι, which designates a dependency of a monastery, usually allotted by the local ruler or the king. The name refers to the monasteries complex of the western part of the province, bordering both Montenegro and Albania. The essence is that Metochia is crowded by the medieval Serbian monasteries but not Albanian. The Serbian Orthodox Church in this matter even claims that around 70% of KosMet land legally belong to it. However, the same region of Metochia is called by Shiptars as Dukagjin – the land of a duke.[14] It has to be mentioned here that it designates generally a border region, which used to be under the military rule of a duke (like Frankish marka). The northern Serbia’s region, which is an autonomous province as KosMet, is called Vojvodina (the land of a duke), for the same reason, since it was situated on the border of the Habsburg/Austrian Monarchy (renamed as Austria-Hungary from 1867) with the Ottoman Empire after the Great Vienna War in 1683−1699 and big part of it was under the military rule as such. Here it has to be emphasized that kos is a purely Slavic/Serb name, as duka is corrupted Italian one.

However, these facts are not merely of linguistic nature, but bear a heavyweight when dealing with the essence of the Kosovo Question for the very reason that the authentic toponyms, in general, appear to be the most reliable identification of a region and at the same time a crucial evidence of the fact as to whom the region, in fact, historically belongs. Therefore, the basic clarifications of the KosMet toponym issue are necessary to be pointed in the next paragraphs.

Kosovo, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic name of the kind of birds, which has about 300 subspecies, from the family Turdidae, derived from the Greek kopsihos. The Kosovo Field, where historically a number of important battles were fought, is situated northwest from the regional capital Priština.[15] 

Metochia is derived from a Greek metohi as mentioned above, from meteho – to take part. It denotes a monastery estate (of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the KosMet case). 

Priština, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic term, derived from prysk, derived in its turn from the Indo-European (s)per, to become the verb prisnoti, meaning “to spurt”, “to gush”. In modern Serbian language, a term prisht designates decease, boil (anthrax). The town of Priština was an important trade and mine medieval center, with an important Dubrovnik colony. A Serbian King Stefan Dečanski (1321−1331)[16] used to stay at Priština, while Serbian Emperor Stephan Dušan (1331−1355) had his court here for some time.[17] After Stephan Dušan, Priština became the capital of Vuk Branković’s feud and retained that position even after the Kosovo Battle in 1389. His wife Mara lived there with her sons, Grgur (Gregorie) and Đurađ (Georgie), as well as Prince Lazar’s widow Eugenia (known in the folk songs as Empress Milica). The Ottomans took Priština in 1439, but Dubrovnik colony remains there as Dubrovnik had all the time very good political relations with the Ottoman authorities.[18] In 1660 a Roman-Catholic missionary mentions Priština as an important post between Novi Pazar and Istanbul (Constantinople). During the Austrian-Ottoman war in 1683−1699 (the Great Vienna War) the former had a small garrison there in 1689.[19] However, according to the Austrian records, there were about 360 villages around, some of which were set to fire by Muslim Turks and Tatars and (Serb Christian) inhabitants slaughtered. At the beginning of the 19th century, Priština appears to be an important trade town, with a famous fair, with some 12.000 inhabitants. France established her consulate there in 1812. According to some reports, Priština had at the time about 7.000−9.000 inhabitants, mainly Christian Orthodox Serbs, but some Muslim Arnauts and semi-Islamized Serbs too. However, in 1852 the reports count 12.000−15.000 inhabitants, one-third Serbs and Tsintsars (the Christian Orthodox Vlachs), the rest Muslim Arnauts.[20] After two big fires in 1859 and 1863, Priština suffered a considerable decline.

Prizren, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic name, from zreti, to see. Derived from the Indo-European gher, to flash, participle perfect zren. A prefix pri is the common pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic. Prizren (a main urban settlement in Metochia) was mentioned as the episcopate in 1019 as subordinated to the Byzantine Ohrid archiepiscopate. The first Serbian archiepiscop (archbishop) St. Sava (1219−1236) subordinated it to his new Serbian archiepiscopate.[21] Prizren was developed as a trade town in the 13th and 14th centuries, especially during Serbian King Milutin (1282−1321) and Serbian Emperors Stephan Dušan and Stephan Uroš (1355−1371), who had their courts there. Stephan Dušan built a monastery with the memorial church devoted to St. Archangels (Michael and Gavril). After falling into the Ottoman hands, the monastery was demolished and no trace of the grave of the Emperor Dušan has remained. It was an important colony of Dubrovnik in Prizren, with two Roman-Catholic churches. The Ottomans took Prizren in 1455 and after that, the town was becoming more and more Islamic but even in 1878 2/3 of its population have been Christian Orthodox Serbs (today only several Serbs left in the city). Nevertheless, during the Ottoman occupation, Prizren lost most of its trade role but there were some rich merchants like Turk Mehmed Hajredin Kukli-beg with his 117 shops, 6 watermills, and caravanserai (hotel). The Shqiptars appear there late, in the second half of 17th century only. In the 17th century, trade receives a new impetus at Prizren, with some 8.600 (1610) and 12.000 (1655) homes. The town was renowned for his fountains, watermills (600), nice houses and pleasant gardens. Craftsmanship was very developed, especially guns and sabers productions. Prizren was the largest Serb town in the region, second only to Skopje. Still, the overwhelming majority of the population was the Christian Orthodox Serbs. Though there was a Roman-Catholic episcope chair, there were 30−40 Roman-Catholic homes only. However, in both 16th and 17th centuries Prizren was a victim of ethnic-Shqiptar highlanders, mainly of the Mirdites tribe from North Albania. At the end of the 18th century, many towns were devastated by the Shqiptars, including Prizren, mainly by highwaymen. For instance, father Sava reports how in 1795 Mahmud-pasha Bushatli and his Shqiptars devastated Prizren that only 7.000−8.000 homes remained, much lesser than there were in the 17th century. According to one record in 1805, Prizren experienced a revival. Its inhabitants were partly Muslims and partly Christian Orthodox, but both the Serbs, as their (Slavic) language revealed. The 19th century witnessed the further development of Prizren. According to J. Miller (1844), the following statistics were offered; 6.000 homes, with 18.600 Orthodox citizens, 2.150 Roman-Catholics, 4.000 Muslims (4/5 Serbs), 600 Tsigans (Roma/Gypsies). A trade was mainly in the hands of the Serbs. Town had many mosques (12 big, 42 altogether), many clock towers, one Christian Orthodox and one Roman-Catholic church. Trade was done mainly with Thessaloniki since the trade road to Skadar (Scodra/Scutari) was insecure due to the Shqiptar highwaymen. 

Mitrovica, after the Greek St. Demetrios, Serb Dimitrije. Demetrios itself means son of Demetre, goddess of fertility and agriculture.[22] When Serbian King Milutin donated in the 14th century to the St. Stephan monastery at Banjska the church “St. Dimitrije under Zvečan”, the new town founded in the vicinity obtained the name D(i)mitrovica, or Mitrovica. Renown Turkish traveler Evlia Čelebija mentions Mitrovica “on the border of Bosnian vilayet”, with the castle (probably Zvečan) abandoned but the town flourishing. Father Jukić mentions (1852) 300 Muslim and 50 Orthodox houses. Unimpressive until 1871 Mitrovica experiences a fast development with a railway. 

Zvečan was a Serbian castle built up in the 11th century during Serbia’s fighting against the Byzantine Empire. The castle served as a prison (something like London Tower), where many noblemen finished their lives, including King Stephan Dečanski’s brother, Constantine, and the King himself. The Ottoman rule was imposed already at the end of the 14th century after the Kosovo Battle. Zvečan used to be left empty for many periods. It suffered the most in 1884 when the wall material of the castle was used by the Ottoman authorities for the building the bridge across the River Ibar in Mitrovica and some other objects.

As mentioned before, nearby Banjska was a village, which had a beautiful monastery, but was ruined after the Kosovo Battle.[23] Nevertheless, the place won it celebrity after the beautiful folk poem Strahinjić Bane, an epic Serb hero from Banjska. The Ottomans founded a small town over the ruins of Banjska, with a mosque and sahat-kula (clock tower). At the hill foot, there was a bath,[24] in use long time afterward. At the beginning of the 20th century, one could still see a remnant of the minaret on the ruins of the old Serbian Christian Orthodox church, converted into the mosque in the 15th century. 

Đakovica, from the Greek diakonos, servant, pupil. The earliest record about the place came from the 17th century but the town probably existed before. The Albanian used toponym Gjakova was given by the Ottomans and the Shqiptars while the Serbs are calling the town as Đakovica.[25] This is the only area in KosMet (very closed to Albania) in which, according to the first Ottoman population census (defter) in KosMet done in 1455, the Shqiptars lived in some big numbers.[26] It was a small town, which started to be massively populated by Shqiptars from neighboring North Albania after the First Great Serbian Migration from KosMet to the Habsburg Monarchy (i.e, to South Hungary) in 1689−1690.[27] It was probably on that account that the Serbs used to call it Arnaut-Pazar. According to some sources, in 1844 there were 1.900 houses, 11 mosques, 640−650 shops. In the same year there were 18.000 Muslims, 2.600 Orthodox, and 450 Roman-Catholic inhabitants in Đakovica. As for the ethnic partition, the same records provide 17.000 Arnauts, 3.800 Slavs (Serbs), 180 Turks, and finally some Tsintsars and Gypsies (Tsigans). However, statistics greatly differ from author to author and may be taken as a rough estimate only. The Christians were engaged mainly in craftsmanship, with the Roman-Catholics as goldsmiths and the Orthodox as saddle-makers and painters. 

Peć, a pan-Slavic, and pra-Slavic from pekti, to roast. Pekt/peć means furnace. It is a cult place of the Serbian people, the former seat of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in the nearby church (est. 1346), established by the Serbian King Milutin (1282−1321). However, besides its spiritual importance, Peć was the town with a lively trade, especially by Dubrovnik colony in the town. The Ottomans abolished the Patriarchate of Peć after 1459, to be re-established in 1557 and ultimately to be abolished in 1766 and subordinated to the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople.[28] In the 19th century, there were 2.000 houses with some 7.000−8.000 inhabitants, mainly the Christian Orthodox Serbs. Town had 900 shops. A principal occupation was the silk production and agriculture (fruit and tobacco). Despite its size, Peć (in Turkish Ipek) was not able to develop trade,  due to, according to the source, insecurity ”from (the local) Arnauts”, who were “public highwaymen”. 

Uroševac, a pra-Church-Slavonic from Uroš, derived from ur, master, from Hungarian ursu for a lord. In Turkish Ferizović, in Shqip Ferizaj. It was a small Gypsy village. The railway made it a town and a trade center of the region. 

Lipljan, an old-Serbian, probably from the Roman name for the nearby Roman-Byzantine castrum Ulpiana. 

Orahovac, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic name oreh for nut (orah in the contemporary Serb), derived from Indo-European ar and reks (to smash), something one eats skinned. 

Drenica, derived from a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic dren, dogwood, from the Indo-European root dher(e)ghno. 

Vučitrn, derived from Serb vuk, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic vlk, for wolf, the Indo-European ulkuos[29] and trn, the Teutonic-pra-Slavic term for thorn (the Indo-European (s)ter, for thorny plants). The town is built probably over the ancient Vicianum. It is mentioned for the first time in the 14th century as a place belonging to the Serbian feudal lord Vuk Branković, who had his palace there too. The town was renowned for his trade activities, especially by its Dubrovnik colony. A Serbian despot Đurađ Branković (1427−1456) used it as his seat too. In the vicinity, there was a well-known trade and mine town Trepča. Vučitrn fell to the Ottomans in 1439 (or 1440) for the first time, then definitely in 1455 when all KosMet became finally occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Some travelers mention it as an important trade center. The Ottoman historian a Turk Evlija Čelebija counts 2.000 houses, then tekija,[30] schools, a Christian Orthodox school, hammam (bath), vineyards, and orchards. In the 18th century, Vučitrn appears an insignificant place but becomes the seat of a sanjak.[31] In 1894 one counts about 7.000−8.000 inhabitants. The main occupation was blacksmith and leather craftsmanship. 

Glogovac, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic name from glog for hawthorn (from Greek glohiis – top of a blade). 

Istok, from tok, a pra-Slavic noun for flow (from the Indo-European teq – to run (away), and iz as the perfective prefix for the verb teći – to flow, from the Indo-European eghs. 

Gračanica, a pan-Slavic and pra-Slavic diminutive of gord, initially any fenced settlement, later town, and castle, from the Indo-European gherdh, to fence.[32] 

Kačanik, a Turkish name, from kaçak–highwayman. Kačanik (situated on the very border to the present-day Republic of North Macedonia) was notorious for its highwayman activities from the beginning of its history, which dates from the 16th century. Situated at the entrance of the gorge Kačanik, made by the river Lepenac, it controlled the passage through the gorge, the only possible between Macedonia and KosMet. A report from 1573 warns people to guard themselves well in passing the gorge, for the danger from the local Shqiptars. It was for this danger that Sinan-pasha built the small fortress at the gorge entrance, which was intended to protect travelers, mainly tradesmen, from the robbery and slaughter. The Austrian soldiers during the Great Vienna War under General Piccolomini took the fortress in 1689, but after their retreat in 1690 the Ottomans captured the fortress and slaughtered the Austrian garrison. It was not until 1807 when Reshid-pasha cleared Kačanik from highwaymen that the traffic through the gorge was resumed. Around the middle of the 19th century, the town consisted of, according to the source, about „hundred miserable Arnaut (Shqiptar) houses“, situated beside the ruined fortress. Before the Balkan Wars (1912−1913) town was renamed by the Ottomans as Orhanije and at that time had about 250 houses.

Names of the rivers, mountains and other geographical entities are likewise Slavic in entire KosMet. They are easily recognized by suffixes, like –va for river, -ica for rivers or settlements. We mention the Rivers Sitnica, Studenica, etc. The suffix -or for mountains is considered to be of the Celtic origin, but mountains with this ending are scattered all around the West Balkans. Some toponyms bear the Turkish names, as expected after centuries of the Ottoman rule of this part of the Balkans.[33] We emphasize here that since KosMet used to be separated from modern Serbia for two centuries, its development was considerably retarded concerning the language and folklore generally. It appears today as a sort of reservation in this respect, as a relict of the ancient times, from the medieval Serbian state and the Serbian nation in general. This is also the case with other mountainous regions of the Balkans, in particular, North Albania, Montenegro and Herzegovina, which were on the margin of the European civilization and culture for centuries.[34]

As for the toponyms in Albania, many appear corrupted from the original Greek or Roman, whereas some bear purely Slavic names. This applies particularly to the plane regions, which were settled by ethnic-Shqiptar (Albanian) highlanders only relatively recently.

As it was already pointed out above, these linguistic details are not merely of the linguistic nature but reveal the essence of the issue who is the genuine owner of the “disputed” land. It concerns the question of “negative designation” as well as. The ancient Greeks (and Romans as well) used to call other nations “barbarians”, meaning “non-Greeks” or “neither Romans nor Greeks”. It had somewhat pejorative overtones, which one could appreciate regarding their superiority over the surrounding nations, in particular, those much less civilized, like Skits.[35]  The same point appears with the Israelites, who designate non-Jews as goyim, meaning (other, non-Jewish) nations.[36] Though no Jew would admit it, it has a pejorative meaning whatsoever, and this overtone cannot be ignored.

The Shqiptar Question, in fact, involves all nationalities with whom the ethnic Shqiptars are in close contacts at the Balkan Peninsula. Subsequently, one faces the conflict of the Shqiptars versus non-Shqiptars, which places inevitably the ethnic Shqiptars at a privileged position. This will sound cynical when we compare civilization levels of both sides in the conflict over KosMet. Unfortunately, term “non-Albanian” has been widely accepted by the international community, that even an eventual neologism which would substitute the unfortunate term “non-Albanian” would not do. In a sense, this terminology would correspond to “non-sick” man (as compared to sick one), meaning “healthy man”. “Non-Albanian” implies inevitably the feeling of “something wrong” with those singled out so.

Unfortunately, the story does not end here. Serbia used to have, during her recent history (since 1945), two regions, which had privileged positions relative to the rest of the state. One was the autonomous province of Vojvodina, the other the autonomous region (later to become a province, too) of Kosovo and Metohia (KosMet). The problem is “rest of Serbia”. Some call it “Serbia proper”, some “Central Serbia”. The first designation appears particularly unsuitable, for it implies that KosMet is not ”proper Serbia”, thus concealing in the very name a political message.

 

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

sotirovic@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2018

 

Endnotes:

[1] About Serbia in the WWI, see: Mira Radojević, Ljubodrag Dimić, Serbia in the Great War 1914−1918, Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga−Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals, 2014.

[2] After both the First and Second Balkan Wars of 1912−1913 the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro agreed to divide the territory of Kosovo (i.e., western portion of this province known as Metohia and eastern portion known as Kosovo) at such a way that largest portion of Metohia became incorporated into Montenegro, while whole portion of Kosovo (with Priština and Kosovo Field where the Kosovo Battle occurred on June 28th, 1389 between the Serbs and the Ottomans) and smaller part of Metohia have been annexed by Serbia (Никола Ђоновић, Црна Гора пре и после уједињења, Београд: Политика А.Д., 1939, 76; Борислав Ратковић, Митар Ђуришић, Саво Скоко, Србија и Црна Гора у Балканским ратовима 1912−1913, Београд: БИГЗ, 1972, 323).

[3]  About the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes see: Branko Petranović, Istorija Jugoslavije, knjiga I, Beograd: NOLIT, 1988; Алекс Н. Драгнић, Србија, Никола Пашић и Југославија, Београд: Народна радикална странка, 1994; Vladislav B. Sotirović, Creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 1914−1918, Vilnius: Vilnius University Press, 2007.

[4] Pierre Pean, Sébastien Fontenelle, Kosovo une guerre juste” pour créer un etat mafieux, Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2013.

[5] See, for instance: Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History, New York: New York University Press, 1998.

[6] About Serbian-Shqiptars relations in KosMet, see: Душан Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија у српско-арбанашким односима, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2006.

[7] For instance, it was clearly done in my article: “Kosovo: What Everyone (Really) Needs to Know” (http://global-politics.eu/kosovo-really/).

[8] In the German language, it is Amselfeld after Amsel for the blackbird and feld for the field.

[9] The term is derived from shqipojnë, which designates the eagle, possibly totem of a tribe.

[10] Nevertheless, as a matter of historical fact, Yugoslavia’s Shqiptar political leaders at the federal level used to use this term absolutely freely, during Josip Broz Tito’s era (1945−1980).

[11] By contemporary Balkan population Arnauts used to be experienced in a similar sense as North-American Indians by European population in the 19-th century. However, the Arnauts are the Albanized KosMet Serbs while usual Ottoman term for ethnic Albanians was Arbanesh. It is estimated that today there are approximately 1/3 of the KosMet Shqiptar population to be of the ethnic Serb origin (the Arnauts). About this problem, see: Душан Т. Батаковић, Косово и Метохија: Историја и идеологија, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, 38−46.

[12] Peter Bartl, Albanien: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1995, 20.

[13] About the Illyrians, see: Aleksandar Stipčević, Iliri: Povijest, život, kultura, II dopunjeno izdanje, Zagreb: Školska knjiga, 1989. In the book by Albanian historian Peter Bartl about Albania and Albanians KosMet as Albanian (Shqiptar) land is very rarely mentioned (Peter Bartl, Albanien: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1995). Oppositely to the Albanian case, KosMet is very well presented in the national folk songs of the Serbs. About the Slavic and Indo-European roots of the Serbian epic including and KosMet case, see: Александар Лома, Пракосово: Словенски и индоевропски корени српске епике, Београд: САНУ, Балканолошки институт, 2002.

[14] There is a false Shiptar interpretation of this toponym as that it was a land of the medieval family Dukagjini of the Shiptar origin.

[15] Undoubtedly, the most important battle occurred in KosMet was that of 1389 (June 15/28th) between Serbian army led by Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović and Ottoman army led by Sultan Murad I. Both military leaders died during the battle. On the battle, see: Ратко Пековић (избор текстова), Косовска битка: Мит, легенда и стварност, Београд: Литера, 1987. About Prince Lazar, see: Раде Михаљчић, Лазар Хребељановић: Историја, култ, предање, Београд: БИГЗ, 1989.

[16] About Stephan Dečanski, see: Станоје Станојевић, Сви српски владари: Биографије српских (са црногорским и босанским) и преглед хрватских владара, Београд: Отворена књига, 2015, 49−50.

[17] About the Empire of Stephan Dušan, see: Миладин Стевановић, Душаново Царство, Београд: Књига-Комерц, 2001.

[18] On the golden age of the history of Dubrovnik, see: Radovan Samardžić, Zlatni vek Dubrovnika, Beograd: Prosveta, 1962.

[19]  About this war and KosMet, see: Радован Самарџић и други, Косово и Метохија у српској историји, Београд: Српска књижевна задруга, 1989, 127−141.

[20] The Ottoman census system for the very taxation purposes did not count ethnic nations but rather only the confessional groups (millets).

[21]  About St. Sava, see: Драган Антић, Љиљана Цвекић, Венац Светога Саве, Шабац: Глас цркве, 1988.

[22] According to Robert Graves, Demetre means mother of barley.

[23] Slobodan Milošević’s family claims to have the origin from Banjska.

[24] Banja in the Serbian language means bath or spa.

[25] There are indications that the original town-name was Jakova or Giacovo.

[26] Translated text of the original defter from 1455 to the Serbo-Croat language is published in 1972 by the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo: https://www.scribd.com/doc/98035320/Oblast-Brankovica-Opsirni-Katastarski-Popis-Iz-1455-Godine.

[27] About the First Great Serbian Migration, see: Стефан Чакић, Велика сеоба Срба 1689/90 и патријарх Арсеније III Црнојевић, Нови Сад: Добра вест, 1990.

[28] About a historical role of the Patriarchate of Peć in the preservation of the Serbian national and cultural identity, see: Vladislav B. Sotirović, “The Historical Role of the Patriarchate of Peć in Preservation of Serbian National and Cultural Identity”, Актуальнье проблемы науки в контексте православных традиций, Сборник материалов международной научно-практической конференции, 28−29 февраля 2008 года, Армавир, Россия, 2008, 22−25.

[29] Ulk has been preserved in contemporary Albanian, as a common name, with the same meaning – wolf. In modern Serb Vuk appears a common name, too, in particular among the people coming from poor regions (usually high mountains).

[30] Dervish house, after Turkish tekke (Arab täkyä).

[31] Sanjak was the Ottoman smaller administrative-territorial unit as a part of a bigger pashalik.

[32] Some toponyms Shiptars still call by Albanian names, like Ferizaj for Uroševac.

[33] About the Ottoman rule in the region, see: Peter F. Sugar, Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule, 1354−1804, Seattle−London: University of Washington Press, 1977.

[34] See the book by Maria Todorova: Imagining the Balkans, New York−Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

[35] The anecdote on the dispute between a bully Greek and philosopher Abaris, of the Scythian origin, who exclaimed “My homeland is a shame for me, but you are the shame of your homeland!”  illustrates well the issue.

[36] In modern parlance it renders gentiles.


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