Colonisation of Kosovo

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Division of Kosovo vilayet between the Kingdom of Serbia (green) and the Kingdom of Montenegro (purple) following the Balkan Wars 1913. See also Albania during the Balkan Wars

The colonisation of Kosovo was a programme implemented by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during the interwar period (1918–1941) with the aim of altering the ethnic population balance in the region where Albanians formed an ethnic majority.[1] During the colonisation period, between 60,000 and 65,000 colonists, of whom over 90% were Serbs, settled on the territory of the former Kosovo Vilayet captured from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.[2][3] Along with the Serb colonisation, a policy of forced migration of ethnic Albanians was attempted, enlisting the participation of the Muslim nation of Turkey.[4] During World War II, after the annexation of Kosovo to Albania, many Serbs in the region were murdered or expelled to Serbia and Montenegro. The programme was abolished after World War II.

Colonisation process[edit]

Some Serb colonisation of Kosovo took place during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913).[5] Government sponsored colonisation was initiated in 1920 when the assembly of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia passed the Decree on the Colonisation of the Southern Provinces of Yugoslavia, while the second began in 1931, when the Decree on the Colonisation of the Southern Regions was issued.[6] Former soldiers and chetniks were offered incentives to settle in Kosovo, although this phase of the colonisation is considered unsuccessful because only 60 to 70 thousand people showed a willingness to become settlers, of whom many failed to follow through.[7]

From 1918 to 1921, expulsions of the Albanian population reduced its numbers from around one million to about 439,500.[8] In the 1930s, Yugoslavia signed treaties with Turkey (which were never implemented) providing that Turkey, a Muslim nation, would accept expellees; Albanians are overwhelmingly Muslim. One treaty signed in 1935 undertook the transfer of about 200,000 Muslim Albanians while a second treaty signed in 1938 undertook the transfer of 40,000 Muslim Albanian families.[9]

Ethnic composition of Kosovo in 1911, with the modern border of Kosovo superimposed.[10]

The table shows the total number of registered settlers in each Kosovo county:[2]

COLONISATION OF KOSOVO
Regional Centre Number of Colonists
Uroševac 15,381
Đakovica 15,824
Prizren 3,084
Peć 13,376
Kosovska Mitrovica 429
Vučitrn 10,169
Total 58,263

In 1937, a Serbian nationalist intellectual, Vaso Čubrilović, who had been one of the plotters of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, proposed the expulsion of all Albanians:

"In our examination of colonisation in the south, we hold the view that the only effective means of solving this problem is the mass expulsion of the Albanians. Gradual colonisation has had no success in our country, nor in other countries for that matter. If the state wishes to intervene in favour of its own people in the struggle for land, it can only be successful by acting brutally".

—Vaso Čubrilović, Memorandum[11]

Aftermath and legacy[edit]

During the Second World War, Kosovo was annexed into an Albania under fascist rule. There ensued mass killings of Serbs and an exodus of tens of thousands of Serbs.[12] Carlo Umiltà, an aide to the leader of the Italian military forces in Kosovo, recounted that Albanians were out to exterminate all Slavs and told of several events where horrified Italian troops were forced to fire on their Albanian allies to halt massacres of Serbs.[13][14]

Kosovo in 1941

After World War II, Josip Broz Tito abolished the colonisation programme in order to avoid ethnic and religious conflict. Initially, Serbs who had departed were not allowed to return.[15] After protests by ethnic Serbs, this ban was revoked and a minority of the departed returned to Kosovo.[16] Eventually the ethnic balance of the population increased from 75 percent Albanian to 90 percent.

During the rise of Serbian nationalism in Yugoslavia in the 1980s and 1990s, revisionist books were published promoting the opinion that Serbs had been the sole victimised ethnicity in Kosovo during the existence of Yugoslavia.[17] Among these works, Knjiga o Kosovu [“A book on Kosovo”] by an eminent professor, Dimitrije Bogdanović, in 1985 would be especially influential one that would be influential on resurgent Serb nationalism among the Serb intelligentsia. During Operation Storm of August 1995 the total number of Serb refugees is reported to be up to 200,000 by international media,[18] and organisations.[19] In the late 1995, the Serbian government took the decision to settle up to 20,000 Serbian refugees from Krajina in Kosovo in an attempt to trip the ethnic balance there. Around 10,000 Serb refugees from Krajina were already settled in Kosovo before. Many countries reacted to this plans and urged Serbian government to cease forced resettlement of Krajina Serbs to Kosovo.[20]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Leurdijk & Zandee 2001, p. 13.
  2. ^ a b Pavlović 2008.
  3. ^ Jovanović 2006.
  4. ^ Pribićević 1953, p. 15.
  5. ^ Hadri 1967, p. 59-60.
  6. ^ Bucur, Wingfield & Meriwether 2001, p. 254.
  7. ^ Clark 2000, p. 10.
  8. ^ Ramet 1995, p. 198.
  9. ^ Buckley & Cummings 2001, p. 32.
  10. ^ Shepherd 1911.
  11. ^ Elsie 2002.
  12. ^ Murray 1999, p. 15.
  13. ^ Umiltà & 1947 116.
  14. ^ Neubacher 1957, p. 116.
  15. ^ Sells 1998, p. 54.
  16. ^ Lampe 2000, p. 228.
  17. ^ Dragović-Soso 2002, p. 127.
  18. ^ Prodger, Matt (5 August 2005). "Evicted Serbs remember Storm". BBC News. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Croatia". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 20 June 2001. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "Chronology for Kosovo Albanians in Serbia". University of Mariland. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bogdanović, Dimitrije; Samardžić, Radovan (1990). Knjiga o Kosovu: razgovori o Kosovu. NIRO "Jedinstvo".  Originally published 1985.
  • Cohen, Lenard J; Dragović-Soso, Jasna, eds. (2008). State collapse in South-Eastern Europe: new perspectives on Yugoslavia's disintegration. Purdue University Press. 
  • OSCE. 1999. Kosovo/Kosova, As Seen, As Told, An analysis of the human rights findings of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, October 1998 to June 1999, Warsaw, 1999.
  • Gowan, Peter (1999). "Kosovo; the war and its aftermath.". Labour Focus on Eastern Europe 64: 26. 
  • Stein, Stuart D. 1999. Expulsions of Albanians and Colonisation of Kosova. (1997 version)
  • "missing". Time. May 17, 1999. pp. 25–26. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]