Copyright 1981 The Economist Newspaper Ltd. The Economist April 11, 1981 SECTION: World politics and current affairs; EUROPE; Pg. 67 (U.S. Edition Pg. 49) LENGTH: 690 words HEADLINE: Jugoslavia; Home-grown bother BODY:Kosovo, Jugoslavia's poorest region, is behaving in an un-communist fashion. Trouble began with student demonstrations on March 11th in Pristina, the capital of the mainly Albanian-inhabited province. They were put down by the police with relative ease but two subsequent bouts of rioting, on March 26th and April 1st and 2nd, were more serious, and spread to a number of Kosovo towns besides Pristina.
Mr Stane Dolanc, a member of the Jugoslav Communist party's top body, on Monday said that 11 people had been killed in the riots so far, two of them policemen, and 57 wounded. Unofficial estimates put the numbers higher. Whatever the figures, nobody denies that the Kosovo riots were a serious affair. Overnight curfews were imposed in a number of Kosovo towns, and foreign journalists were not allowed into the province. Those who managed to get there before the ban were told to leave because the authorities said they ''could not guarantee their safety''. A ban on all public gatherings remains in force.
Mr Fadil Hoxha, a member of Jugoslavia's collective state presidency and a Kosovo Albanian (not to be confused with Albania's leader across the border, Enver Hoxha), spoke the day after the last and most serious of the riots of a ''counter-revolution'' in Kosovo aimed at creating a rift between the province's Albanians on the one hand and its Serbs and Montenegrins on the other. Montenegrins and Serbs are Orthodox Christians and Slavs; most of the Kosovo Albanians are Moslems and non-Slavs. Mr Hoxha called the organisers of the riots ''the darkest servants and agents of various intelligence centres and agencies''. Mr Dolanc was more circumspect on Monday, saying that the authorities would have to be deaf and blind to blame the trouble entirely on ''outside factors''.
Indeed Albania, one potential ''outside factor'', has remained reserved throughout. Frontier posts between Albania and Jugoslavia have remained closed. Official announcements from Tirana have merely noted the outbreak of disturbances in Kosovo. Clearly the Jugoslav policy of keeping on good-neighbourly terms with Albania has paid off.
Could the Russians have been stirring it? Mr Hoxha did speak of Marxist-Leninist slogans used in the Kosovo demonstrations that were strongly reminiscent of ''Cominformism'', which is a Jugoslav term for pro-Sovietism. But it seems unlikely that the Soviet Union would choose this moment to kindle a crisis in Jugoslavia to add to the other crises on its hands. The west, for its part, is doing nothing more inflammatory than praying for post-Tito Jugoslavia to stay stable and united. Clearly the trouble in Kosovo is home-grown.
What the Kosovo Albanians appear to want is not necessarily secession from Jugoslavia but concessions within Jugoslavia: more economic aid and, more awkwardly for the authorities, the upgrading of Kosovo's status. At the moment Kosovo is an autonomous province of the Serbian republic. Kosovo nationalists want it to become a fully-fledged republic on a par with Serbia, Croatia and the other four. Albanian nationalists in Kosovo have argued for years that it is a nonsense for Montenegro, with only a third of Kosovo's population, to be a republic while Kosovo is not. But this demand has been resisted by Serbs unhappy that in Kosovo, once the heartland of the medieval Serbian kingdom, the Serbs are now a minority (18% at the time of the 1971 census and almost certainly less now).
So rather than yield on the demand for republic status, the Jugoslav government will try to offer more economic aid, especially more investment for the development of its lignite and other mineral riches. The university of Pristina, which now has 35,000 students, has been promised more facilities. But all this will cost money, and Jugoslavia will not find it easily in the present tight financial squeeze. Besides, Kosovo already gets nearly half of all internal Jugoslav development aid. If it were to get more still, there would be grumbles from elsewhere, not least from Serbia, which has poor areas bordering on Kosovo which would not be eligible for aid.
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