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Koha Digest # 152

Date: 11 June 1997

The weekly Koha (The Times) was published in Prishtina (Kosovo) between 1994 and 1997. Edited by Veton
Surroi, a young Kosovar journalist and one of the pioneers of democratisation in former Yugoslavia, Koha
soon became a symbol of quality among the region's media. In 1997 it started to be published daily under the
name of Koha Ditorë. W ith the kind permission of Mr. Surroi, Koha digests were originally posted on
http://koha.estudiosbalcanicos.org.
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of a special commission for the revision of all private real estate
contracts among members of different nationalities”. This is
exactly why the “old laws” approved following the “ruin of Kosova’s
autonomy” were again reactivated these days.

According to attorney Nekibe Kelmendi, “Serbia came up with two
laws on regulating the issue of the purchase of real-estate. The
first one is the "Law on the Turnover of Real-Estate", which has
been published with all its supplements in Serbia's "Official
Herald", # 40/89". But, she adds, “precisely because Kosova is
under siege, Serbia adopted another act regulating the same matter,
a special law on the purchase and sale of real estate, called the
“Law on the Special Conditions for the Turnover of Real-Estate”,
which was published with all it's supplements in Serbia's "Official
Herald", # 22/91". According to this law, “the purchase-sale
procedures in Kosova’s territory should be done based on special
conditions during ten years, starting from the day the law entered
in force. So, this law is valid until the year 2001. The special
thing about this law, says Kelmendi, is that even though 90 percent
of Kosova’s population is Albanian, “the sale or purchase
procedures, the rental of properties, giving away of the properties
of exchanging them, are all limited and they depend on Serbia’s
Financial Ministry’s approval”.

In case of approval’s absence, then the verification of contracts
can’t be done by any courts, on the other hand the absence of the
permit makes the contract juridically non-valid. This is exactly
why this law has foreseen that “the citizen that owns different
properties bought without Serbia’s Financial Ministry’s approval,
will be punished with 60 days imprisonment or will be forced to pay
a fine up to 1000 dinars”. This punishment is applicable in the
case of private persons, meanwhile juridical persons undergo other,
different, forms of punishments. This law has been evaluated as
“discriminatory”, says Kelmendi, adding that “this discrimination
is certainly very transparent in Art. 6, which foresees that the
person who possesses the property without Finance Ministry’s
approval is guilty”. And the “guilty” are always the buyers,
meanwhile on the other hand the sellers are not guilty at all. In
this region, as usual, “the buyers are always Albanians, and the
sellers are always Serbs or Montenegrins”. Nekibe Kelmendi says
that “this law has ten articles and it's purpose is to keep Serbs
and Montenegrins on Albanian territories of Kosova by all means.
This means that this law only defends their interests and doesn’t
consider them as guilty when they sell to Albanians their
properties without Serbia’s Finance Ministry’s approval”.

Since there are a lot of Albanians who have bought flats from Serbs
and Montenegrins without the ministry’s approval in the past years,
and they live in those flats, now a broad campaign against
Albanians has started. According to some sources, only in

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Prishtinë, 24 persons are waiting to serve their 60 days in prison.
Some 96 similar cases are known to have taken place in Prizren, and
for example in Klinë, tens of stores have been closed because “Serb
owners of this shops have rented them to Albanians, without the
ministry’s approval”. But, the issue stands on the fact that
“ministry doesn’t decide at all, or at least never decides
positively on Albanians' claims for giving the approval for the
pruchase or sale of properties”.

The strictness in the application of this law is seen even from the
fact that “Serbia’s Parliament has formed a special commission that
deals with the rigorous application of this law”.

Likewise, even from Serb administrators of different municipalities
strict control measures have been put, as is the case, for example,
of the Municipal Assembly in Prizren, where “a box has been placed
where anonymous citizens can put their denunciations on the
purchase or sale of real-estate properties”.

But this law goes even further. According to Kelmendi "Albanians
are denied the right to buy the societal flats that they have the
right to use, because the Ministry doesn't give them the consent to
buy them, regardless of the fact that these apartments are not in
the domain of this law".

Anyhow, the reactivation of the law is considered to be made in
accordance with the “pre-electoral marketing in Serbia”. It’s
reactivation takes place in different periods when Belgrade
“wants to convince Serbs from Kosova that someone up there always
takes care of them”, especially when the votes are needed to keep
the existing government alive.

MACEDONIA

ONLY GOD CAN HELP US

by ISO RUSI / Shkup

The Constitutional Court of Macedonia rejected the appeal of the
Municipality of Gostivar, following the provisional decision on the
use of the flags, asking the Government to assist in the
application of this decision and have the flags removed. Thus
practically, the Constitutional Court confirmed its previous
decision and transferred the responsibility to the Government which
should apply the decision and find the way to remove the flags from
the building of the Municipality. It is more than clear that the
use of the Albanian flag, that at the same time is the flag of a
neighboring country, is disputable. But, it is not clear at all how

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will the Government act, because it is well known that removing the
flag from Gostivar can't be done without problems.

On the other hand, the disputable flags are also found in other 23
municipalities in which Albanians hold the power. It is clear that
the whole problem appeared after the local elections and the
establishment of the local governments that didn't hesitate to
practice what was guaranteed by law even in the past system - the
use of their national flags. In the justification of the
Constitutional Court which has a political dimension, the Court
considers that the Government is obliged to enforce this decision.
This incited the reaction of the Prefect of Gostivar, Rufi Osmani,
who considers that this further deteriorates the anyways bad
relations between the nations.

Naturally, the whole case is the manifestation of what is happening
in the political life of Macedonia and the every day life.
Polarization on national grounds also occurred in Macedonia, and
the relations between the two largest nations, Macedonians and
Albanians have deteriorated. This has, first of all, happened
because of the unwillingness of the Government to find a solution
for the determined problems and because of the strange practice to
"put the problems under the carpet". Although there is an opinion
that Macedonia has evaded war, the quality of the inter-ethnic
relations has deteriorated. The national groups have hegemonized.
Political structures on both sides, if they wish to remain
important political factors, they must be accepted by the masses
and give promises to their communities. On the other hand, the
victory on local elections and the legality given to them by the
local voters have opened the chances for municipal integrations on
national levels, although all of this is anti-constitutional and
illegal.

When it comes to national interests, there are no differences in
the Macedonian political scene between rightist, leftist and
centrist viewpoints, regardless if we are referring to Albanian or
Macedonian parties. The paradoxes are bigger, because in the past
years there has been an approximation of different parties around
the national interest.

A stalemate has been created in the inter-ethnic relations. An
atmosphere has been created in which the only solution seems to be
the determination for some steps towards a narrow solution. The
proclaimed civic concept is nothing but a written wish. The bad
inter-ethnic relations have reached the point of absolute lack of
mutual trust. The only organ that interprets the Constitution, has
made a politically motivated decision and which must become
concrete by the Government. The fact that the deadline for its
realization has not been set, will lead to the situation in which
the Government will stall with the removing of the national flags

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from the Gostivar Municipality as much as it can. If force is
applied, the losses will be big. And, the removing of the flags
that would later be guarded by the police, is not a good solution.
And, the police could spend all it's time doing precisely this.
The threat of "close encounters" is big. If the SDLM plays the role
of the "defender of the Macedonian nation and state", aiming at
saving it's own skin in the coming elections next year, it will
only accelerate the process of the events in the unwanted
direction.

The situation seems not to be controlled by anyone and maybe it
will be very hard to control it, anyway. Everything depends on a
million unpredicted things that could happen among the masses and
their leaders. Finally, the flags are not that important - this can
only be an introduction to a deja vu.

The "wise" Macedonian politics has proven so far that it has
learned nothing from the ex-Yugoslav experience. Not everything
depended on the international factor, many things could have been
done in the common domestic ambient, on time and in peace. Thus, we
have come to a situation in which only God can help us.

INTERVIEW

ALEKSANDAR TIJANIC, Editor in Chief of "Gradjanin"

"KOSOVA'S PROBLEM IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SOLVE!

Interviewed by DUKAGJIN GORANI / Belgrade

Before we started the interview with Aleksandar Tijanic, ex-
information minister born i Gjakovë, journalist and columnist for
at least twenty ex-Yugoslav newspapers and now founder and editor
in chief of the daily "Gradjanin", the protests of doctors, social
workers and God knows who else were starting on Belgrade's
Terazije... The one that deeply knew Serbia's era of socialist-
communist media, as well as the best interpreter of the Serbian
version of the plot that followed Milosevic's famous "Eighth
Session" - a person that Belgrade considers as the only man who got
rich from journalism - despite the fact that he walked
alternatively across the ledge of social disobedience and the
beneficial flirts with the regime, seems to (still) achieve success
through the publishing of a daily with an exclusive urban profile,
and who, after everything was over, was able to take a look at the
Serbian common protests taking place in extreme heat, from the
coolness of his office on the fourth floor...

KOHA: You are now leading Belgrade's newest daily, "Gradjanin". You

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switched a large number of newspapers, you were at the head of a TV
station, and you gave up the post of information minister of
Serbia... How would you portray the media situation at this present
time?

TIJANIC: I am known for thinking that Serbian journalism is in a
deep crisis, since at least 15 years now. I think that Serbia's
journalism was adequate only during the last years of communist
rule and that it has drowned in a terrible crisis, from which it
hasn't been able to escape in the post communist era - or neo-
communist, if you wish. I think that this crisis happened for two
main reasons: the first of which is that the press in Serbia was
used in order to homogenise the people, i.e. Serbs, since it was
created only for the intentions and functions of that people. The
second reason was the truth that this was an era in which Serbia's
middle class was completely destroyed, that I perceive as the
dramatic result of Yugoslavia's destruction, as far as Serbia is
concerned. The conflicts or the destruction in Yugoslavia wouldn't
be as bloody as they are, were it not for the ruin of the social
middle classes of nearly all of former Yugoslav republics, and the
way it reacted towards the social unrest. The middle class
destruction ended with the low cultural level of the people and
with the reduction of knowledge. Today, we, the Serbs, are a
population that manipulates with a very low level of knowledge,
that's why the Serbian press reflects such a bad intellectual,
mental and social rating, of the country that it belongs to.

KOHA: Do you think that the middle class existed while Tito was
alive? There is an explanation according to which, it was generated
in order to provide a synthetic social balance...

TIJANIC: I think that all of the Yugoslav peoples had a very strong
middle class. I think that of all south and eastern European
countries - including Greece, and up to a point Turkey - Tito's
Yugoslavia had the strongest middle class, created with that
brilliant method, through which Tito was capable to keep the social
peace. All those foreign credits were split in two parts: half of
it was given to the state and was spent for the military plus other
huge representative objects - and the other half was given to the
people. In that time there were workers that owned cars, villas,
passports, that travelled worldwide; they were able to provide
education for their children in nearly any faculty. Workers'
children became doctors or engineers in short time and with ease.
That class, I think, could have turned into an embryo for
Yugoslavia's democratisation. But it dissolved easily into the
lowest possible level during the homogenising process of the
people, adapting to the everyday political standards and tasks, in
the struggle for the national question within the proper nation. It
was used and left aside through a "social counterrevolution" after
which, not the best, but the most able and unscrupulous became the

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social and material elite, while everybody else dropped to the
lowest level of social ranking.

KOHA: It seems as if you think that this is the ideal time for
another Tito...

TIJANIC: I'm going to say something that Serbs aren't going to like
that much, and that is the fact that they had a good life with
Tito. His whole personal guard was made up of Serb officers; his
assistants lived in Belgrade, he lived in Belgrade... Whether we
like it or not, we had a nice life during his reign.

I think that all of Yugoslavia's peoples needs a charismatic leader
and that democracy is not suitable for Balkan's peoples and that it
won't function until the half of the next century. In the Balkans,
it expresses only the bad sides and that is one of the dramas of
the people on the peninsula.

KOHA: You mean the constant siding towards anarchy?

TIJANIC: Not only towards anarchy, but also based on the "for
everything and everyone permit", it is the unscrupulous always
triumph, the ones that spread racism, that favor their nation
proclaiming it's historical or biological importance. And all this
always ends up with the defeat of all those that proclaim
tolerance, peace and real values of democracy. So, I think that
nowadays, Serbs think of Milosevic as a multi-party Tito, as a
national Tito.

KOHA: How far does such an understanding go?

TIJANIC: Milosevic has many advantages when compared to the
opposition. The Serbian opposition is not united. I think that
Serbs do not have lists of national interests and aims, on which
the regime and the people could agree. And which in some way the
Albanians achieved. They only differ when it comes to the
arrangement - if their aim is to be accomplished at a slower or
faster pace. On the contrary, Serbs don't have that. One of the
Serbian dramas is that they don't have a perception of the time
passing. We've wasted ten years and I think we're going to waste
another ten, until we catch the tail of Europe's development. Serbs
will wait for the solutions to Kosova's issue, to relations with
Vojvodina and Montenegro, as well as for relations with NATO (that
would put Serbia in the same position as Bulgaria, Rumania,
Macedonia and Albania)... Not to mention Bosnia, Croatia,
Slovenia... So, as a nation, we have many problems and I regret to
say that - hiding them under the carpet - isn't a solution.

KOHA: Particularly, Kosova's problem...

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TIJANIC: Since we're talking about it, I don't think there many
problems that can't be solved. And I also think that there is no
acceptable solution (for both sides) of Kosova's issue. I
personally think that Kosova's issue began as an ideological issue
and not a national one - but having human rights in mind, the new
Albanian intelligentsia turned the ideological issue into a
national one, and in the end - with great skill turned the human
and national rights into aspirations and political aims! That was
done with great skill and Serbs were not able to oppose them
because of two reasons: first, because they underestimated the
international public's influence towards the events in Kosova, and,
secondly, because they underestimated the contacts that Albanian
youths set up in Europe and other parts of the world. So Serbs
didn't have a solution for that. They still don't have one. That's
how Albanians managed to make an issue of their question in front
of the whole world, without the solving of which, Serbia is bound
to have a very difficult time recommencing it's position in the
international community.

I don't see a way in which Serbia could solve Kosova's issue, since
it has already turned it into a territorial issue. Serbia couldn't
make the Albanians split into pro-Yugoslavs and nationalists; the
Albanian nation is one of the most compact nations in the Balkans,
never mind the small differences which they have between
themselves, they always seem to stick together...

KOHA: From this point of view, the difficult situation in Albania
must still be analyzed...

TIJANIC: I think that the events in Albania have somehow built a
wall between Kosova and Albania, but any common Albanian would say
that the situation in Kosova is a lot easier to bear. In Albania
the whole state is destroyed. Not only the national rights, one
can't even guarantee people's elementary security.

KOHA: Kosova Albanians consider that such things, for decades now,
aren't guaranteed even in Kosova.

TIJANIC: ...Of course, one shouldn't think that the chaos in
Albania is going to last forever - what can easily happen with
Kosova. I also think that Kosova's Albanians are beginning to
realise that they have to reach some agreement about living
together. I'm not pleased with the situation in Albania at all,
because I think that it could cause serious problems to Serbia,
Montenegro, Macedonia, etc., but I think that the turmoil will
cease with time. In the meantime, us Serbs and you Albanians could
try and find a formula that I wouldn't call solution, but cease-
fire. I think that one of the solutions would be postponing the
territorial conflict for at least ten years. A temporary solution
should be found - where the Albanians should accept living within

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Serbia, but also where they would be able to enjoy all human rights
guaranteed by the world... Even though if it comes to that point -
that I think would be very difficult - Serbs wouldn't be happy at
all with the Albanians' return to the Serbian state system, since
such a thing would change the very roots of the relation of forces
within Serbia, because Albanians would be there with one fourth of
the potential votes.

KOHA: Today they wouldn't even accept the status of an equal
republic within some Yugoslav federation...

TIJANIC: ...Well, on the other side, I personally think that for a
relatively long time, at least for the twenty years to come, there
won't be any Serb leadership that would be willing to sign the
agreement on establishing the Republic of Kosova. That leadership
would go bankrupt immediately.

KOHA: What's your opinion of the Serb opposition?

TIJANIC: It doesn't exist as a common denominator. It is divided in
the progovernment group, which consists of one big party, maybe
two; it is divided in the radical right, that is known to negotiate
with the regime - and, it is separated in a centre block, that
normally can't survive. To be more precise it will never be united
- not even when it comes to thwarting Milosevic! Even though you're
not going to like it, they might share the same views only when it
comes to refusing to grant Kosova the status of a republic. So, put
in other words, the only point in which the Serbian government and
opposition will agree, is rejecting the status of a republic for
Kosova, because it's departure from the rest of Serbia, would mean
national castration.

KOHA: How long could life be preserved by myths?

TIJANIC: I was born in Kosova and have special relations to the
place. But I have begun to get the impression that for Serbs,
Kosova is a heavenly place. It doesn't exist in a realistic form,
one can't grasp it. On the other hand, if it exists as a realistic
myth (!), if it is holy land, it would be predictable that, after
a number of attempts, tens of thousands of Serbs would return. But
there are only one thousand, five hundred or sixty that would be
willing to return. Which means that Serbs don't like living in
Kosova. Not even under the tough regime that Serbia is known to
offer. Even under the secure umbrella that Serbia would offer,
there wouldn't be ten thousand Serbs willing to live there - let
alone hundreds of thousands or a million.

KOHA: Would Serbs start war with Albanians for Kosova?

TIJANIC: Yes.

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KOHA: For a territory in which they wouldn't be willing to live in?

TIJANIC: At this present time, it's not a question of ratio, reason
- it is something completely irrational. Serbs came out of war,
after the destruction of Yugoslavia, with complexes of the
defeated. In other words, "from the war in which they didn't even
take part." The refugees, the disability to attach Republika
Srpska, the complete loss of Krajina, Slavonia... All of this, is
a form of an irrational dream, that's why I think that Serbia would
be willing to fight for Kosova in Kosova. That would mean that they
are not willing to give up a territory no matter who lives in it.
This is an issue of symbolism, an issue on how it would look "on
the world map"... Of course, according to me, they have already
lost this territory, because they are not willing to live in it.
Regardless of many departures, the unreasonable politics, high
birth rate when it comes to Albanians... for what I consider to be
true. But, I also think that it is true that Serbs, within their
national state, wouldn't want to live there. That in itself
represents a problem. The actual situation is unbearable for both
sides. There is no real solution. I personally have started
thinking more and more about the option of splitting Kosova.

KOHA: You are thinking about Despic's presentation at the Serbian
Academy of Sciences and Arts?

TIJANIC: Yes. He has been repudiated by all Serbian politicians,
but this is also a realistic variant of a possible solution.

KOHA: Don't you think, among others, that such a thing is a deep
disrespect of the Dayton principles?

TIJANIC: Yes, but according to Dayton's criterions, there is no
place even for establishing a republic of Kosova. The Dayton
agreement guarantees even Serbia's territorial order. Dayton
guaranteed the territorial integrity of all those that participated
in it... Some political circles in the USA speculate that, in case
Bosnia is destroyed, Serbia's unification with Republika Srpska
would be allowed, in which case, Serbia would give Kosova up - in
other words, it would give Kosova the right to form a republic,
that would be within a federation made up of four units. Even
though, such a thing would be very, very difficult.

KOHA: Do you think that the long lasting winter protests in Serbia
boosted it's political viewpoints, in the aspect of understanding
the needs and the pragmatic Serbian inabilities, faced when with
the mythic geo-political differences?

TIJANIC: They didn't make any changes in Serbia's political map.
That form of energy ran through the streets, was washed up and in
the end ceased to exist...

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KOHA: Except maybe, the new capital city's mayor...

TIJANIC: They're all senseless, since they only prove that no
political coalition, that doesn't feel the same about political
interests and aims, can't exist in Serbia. I think that Djindjic
and Draskovic lost a large amount of political capital because of
their conduct, and I also think they one of them must sooner or
later withdraw from the coalition. The one that whilst withdrawing
says "I don't need to irritate Serbs or Belgrade with such
conduct", will immediately get a political lead.

Anyway, I think that what makes the street protests significant is
that it put a new middle class on the street to protest: students,
dissatisfied state workers, that can't make a living from their
wages - so I think that Milosevic, will have much trouble with them
in the future, since they are ready to protest in public whenever
they think it fit. On the other hand, the left wing owns 33 per
cent of the votes, the maximum that can be achieved. In the 33 per
cent, I include Milosevic's vote, since without him they would have
only 20 per cent of votes left. But, there is a chance of someone
like Djindjic or Kostunica, who might be able to merge (the
scattered) opposition. Even though I don't think that there is much
the opposition can do. I think it's clear that Milosevic and
his socialists will remain in power up to the turn of the century.

KOHA: Like a person who has worked for the media, what do you think
of the trials taking place in Kosova, and of people being sentenced
to ten years imprisonment for publishing a newspaper?

TIJANIC: I still think that there are written words that are
dangerous. Still, it's different if such a word brings punishment.
I'm not familiar with the trial, but I strongly oppose any
imprisonment of journalists, no matter whether they are Albanians
or Serbs. Even though, like I said before, there are some things
that, when written, can cause a real explosion, especially in a
place such as Kosova.

On the other hand, I think that Belgrade medias and other Serbian
associations keep an eye on the way that the events develop in
Kosova, I might add, that they are very objective too. Especially
when it comes to those that oppose war, on which I don't think
Albanians should object.

KOHA: How would you evaluate Albright's visit?

TIJANIC: Futile. I think that her aim was to make Milosevic hear
the American administration's tone, but she didn't accomplish
anything politically. She met Milosevic in his uttermost aggressive
mood, after the 99 days' protests when his position strengthened.
He has put Vucelic and his people back in their ranks, and is

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preparing for the elections which he will win, and he's also going
to get at least 1 billion dollars from the privatisation of the
post offices, he isn't interested in the foreign factor...

Milosevic speaks softly with the Americans only when the domestic
situation isn't good. He met Albright quietly, he didn't promise
anything, and walked her out - that was all. That was just a simple
visit that was not fruitful in a political or diplomatic sense, for
Americans or anybody else.

In the end. I think that all of ex-Yugoslav nations, other than
Serbs and Albanians, have settled their national issues. So it's
only you and us left in the battle. And, in a direct territorial
conflict. Frankly, I would prefer to see Kosova split, rather than
having my son live in a state with an Albanian majority within
fifty years. Which state would allow such a thing?

If Kosova's question is not solved, nationalism will explode up to
an unforeseen level; Seselj will grow at a very fast pace - even
now he controls up to 20 % of the votes. But the radical solution
of the problem shouldn't be hastened. We shouldn't be nervous. I
think we should postpone it until the situation is calmer, since
today, every incident could lead to real fire.

The solution should be postponed at least ten years, during which
time agreements about living together should be reached, what
Serbia should give up on - within international guarantees - and
consequently, what Albanians should accept.

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