AIM: start

SUN, 08 JUL 2001 01:33:36 GMT

Is Montenegro Threatened by the Albanians?

Who Wants an Albanian-Montenegrin War?

Certain media outlets in Belgrade and Podgorica recently launched an anti-Albanian campaign claiming ethnic Albanians will start a war against Montenegro this summer. Their goal, to achieve their dream of a Greater Albania

AIM Podgorica, June 22, 2001

Sixty percent of Montenegro's ethnic Albanians are in favor of resorting to armed insurrection to resolve status, just like in Kosovo and Macedonia! This shocking discovery appeared on the Yugoslav army Web site at the beginning of June. No sources were given, and Internet users are expected to take the Yugoslav army's word for that.

However, anybody with the slightest knowledge of conditions in Montenegro knows very well that such a claim is nonsense, made with a single goal in mind -- to fuel anti-Albanian sentiments in Montenegro, as part of a systematic campaign that has been pursued for quite some time by certain Belgrade and Podgorica media outlets.

A few days ago, the Podgorica newspaper Dan, close to the People's Socialist Party of Momir Bulatovic, the former Montenegrin president, announced that in the town of Plav, northern Montenegro, an ethnic Albanian uprising could commence, as part of the ethnic Albanians' aspirations to creating a Greater Albania! The paper added that Plav municipality, which has a rather high percentage of ethnic Albanian residents, is the most suitable for "armed operations" also because "a number of leaders of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which has two factions in the republic -- the Liberation Army of Plav and Gusinje and the Liberation Army of Montenegro -- are originally from Plav."

According to the paper, the uprising will not be organized by the local population but by special units that will arrive in Plav from Albania and Kosovo with exactly that purpose in mind. Their goal is to join the Montenegrin towns of Podgorica, Bar, Ulcinj, Petrovac, Rozaje, Plav, Andrijevica, Berane, Mojkovac and a part of Bijelo Polje to Albania.

The paper also said that in that town "private detectives are investigating which citizens of Plav, Gusinje, Berane, Andrijevica, and Rozaje participated in military operations in Kosovo," saying that those who did will be the first to be attacked not only as revenge, but because they have fighting experience.

As part of its extensive coverage of the topic, the Dan published yet another startling discovery. The KLA was initially organized in Plav, and only later did it spread to Kosovo! Such articles are only a continuation of a series of similar texts published over the past several months in some Belgrade newspapers. They claimed that up to 20,000 ethnic Albanians were trained for the operations in Macedonia and organizing a rebellion in Greece and in "Montenegro's municipalities with ethnic Albanian and Muslim residents." The plans for Greece and Montenegro, however, according to a recent issue of the Belgrade Nedeljni Telegraf weekly, were delayed because of general elections in Albania scheduled for June 24.

The paper explains this catastrophic vision of pending disaster in the Balkans, which will redraw the borders of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania as part of a U.S. multi-phase plan of dismembering the southern Balkans, will begin with fighting in Greece and Montenegro this summer! The paper supports the story by quoting top Yugoslav army sources and what it calls well-informed Kosovo Albanian circles.

On the even of April elections for the Montenegrin Legislature a disturbing rumors began circulating that the abbreviations "KLA" and "UCK" (which is the Albanian acronym for KLA) were spray-painted on walls in Gusinje and Plav. It was followed by reports that three Albanian training centers existed in Montenegro, where fighters were only waiting for orders to start down the war path.

All these allegations were denied by Montenegro's authorities, but now, after a short intermezzo, the Dan and Nedeljni Telegraf are again claiming that ethnic clashes in Montenegro and its vicinity are about to begin.

"The persistence of certain forces and their exponents in Montenegro to see evil where there is good, to forecast instability where stability reigns, is amazing," says Ferhat Dinosha, the whip of the Albanian parties in the Montenegrin Legislature. Dismissing such allegations as "fabrications and hallucinations," Dinosha adds that, unfortunately, a part of the Montenegrin public "took this information at face value and was disturbed by it, which is what these forces wanted to achieve." "By disturbing the public and stirring up anti-Albanian sentiment, they are attempting to undermine efforts to define a new status of Montenegro and the political activities of ethnic Albanian parties and their representatives," says Dinosha.

Srdjan Darmanovic, a Podgorica-based political analyst, recalls numerous plans and conspiracies over the past decade, all of which were allegedly financed by certain foreign countries and sought to redraw borders and create new states in the Balkans. So far, says Darmanovic, none of them have materialized. Darmanovic believes that this is yet another fabrication, but that some of its details deserve greater attention.

"The ethnic Albanian parties are headed by moderate leaders, who, albeit insisting on changes and coming forth with demands that do not always seem justified, do that in a moderate manner, avoiding conflict. Therefore it seems to me that in such circumstances, given the past and current state of inter-ethnic relations, assaults on Montenegro's territorial integrity are highly unlikely. I believe that Montenegro will not be affected by the current violence in the Balkans," says Darmanovic.

The fact that many ethnic groups peacefully coexisted in Montenegro during the 20th century could serve as role model to all Montenegro's neighbors. Montenegrins lived in peace and harmony with ethnic Albanians, Muslims and Croats. Owing to this, no fascist Albanian organizations were former in Montenegro during World War Two, which cannot be said for other neighboring countries. Montenegro's King Nikola strengthened the trust of ethnic Albanians by appointing their people to high military positions and in other ways. In the Socialist Federal Republic of Montenegro ethnic relations were successfully harmonized. Today's multi-party Montenegro strives to adopt international standards of positive discrimination against ethnic minorities. Simultaneously, ethnic Albanians, together with other minority groups, responded by being loyal citizens of Montenegro.

Ferhat Dinosha claims ethnic Albanians will not endanger Montenegro's stability. "Albanians will not do anything to undermine a democratic Montenegro. Our message is clear: the horsemen of the Apocalypse are free to make a detour around Montenegro. Albanians will do nothing to endanger it," says Dinosha.

It is obvious, however, that the instigators of anti-Albanian feelings could not care less about reality. They prefer the reliable method -- disturb the public and create new enemies.

Veseljko Koprivica