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The Expulsion of the Albanians

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The Expulsion of the Albanians (Serbian: Исељавање Арнаута/Iseljavanje Arnauta) was a lecture presented by the Yugoslav historian Vaso Čubrilović (1897–1990) on 7 March 1937. The text elaborates on the ethnic composition dynamics of Kosovo and other Albanian populated areas within Yugoslavia from medieval times to present. While explaining why any previous methods put in place by the Yugoslav authorities to overturn the ethnic majority of the Albanians in those areas, such as slow colonization or agrarian reforms, had failed so far, it suggested in details a radical solution, the mass expulsion of Albanians. The expulsion was seen by Čubrilović as a geopolitical measure, as to prevent potential Albanian irredentism.

Contents

Background

In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Albanians were concentrated in the Kosovo region.

In 1923, Greece and Turkey made a successful population exchange. In early 1936, Turkey was interested in signing an agreement for the resettlement of 200,000 Muslims from Yugoslavia.

Čubrilović, a historian at the University of Belgrade, and former member of the Young Bosnia organization, originally presented it as a lecture on 7 March 1937 at the Serbian Cultural Club in Belgrade. It suggested a radical solution, expulsion, of Albanians from Kosovo as a geopolitical measure, a means to prevent Albanian irredentism and to secure a Yugoslav Kosovo.

Points

The paper details a radical solution, the mass expulsion of Albanians. Čubrilović proposed that the Albanians be forced to emigrate free willingly through harassment and settling of Serbs, calling the state for help to make the "Arnaut suffer as much as he can". This would be done through fines, arrests, ruthless application of all police regulations, punishment, smuggling, deforestation and violence. A ruthless collection of taxes would be used and all public schools be closed. Albanian homes and villages could be burnt down, referring to the 1877–78 expulsions of Albanians in Niš and Kuršumlija. Čubrilović described that the Chetniks and paramilitaries could be of good use where they would pressure the Albanians to leave, making it "the most effective means". Their land was to be confiscated and given to Montenegrin and Serb settlers and thus change the ethnic structure. These methods would result in ethnic cleansing.

"At a time when Germany can expel tens of thousands of Jews and Russia can shift millions of people from one part of the continent to another, the expulsion of a few hundred thousand Albanians will not lead to the outbreak of a world war. However, those who decide should know what they want and persist in achieving this, regardless of the possible international obstacles."

Čubrilović believed that the Albanians were fanatic, superstitious and that previous expulsion plans, like those enacted within the wider Niš region during 1878 in areas such as the Toplica and the Morava Valleys, was the only effective way. He proposed that Albanians be called Turks and that their lives should be made as miserable as possible forcing them to leave. Arrangements eventually led to the relocation of tens of thousands of Kosovo Albanians to Turkey.

Aftermath and legacy

The programme was hard to put into practice because of the economical and political situation at the time. The April War and the collapse of Yugoslavia stopped it and the document remained hidden in archives for years. Čubrilović's paper was "erased" by the Communist authorities because they believed that "all non-Slavic" people should be incorporated into Yugoslavia. The International community found the document in the 1960s which was then given to Albanian President Enver Hoxha who used it to criticize the Yugoslav authorities, who denied that such a document even existed.

The document was mentioned and published in January 1988 in the Belgrade newspaper Borba, and later in Zagreb-based magazine Start. Čubrilović's document was not supported by Yugoslav historians and professors except for Ivo Andrić. The text was later often quoted and cited as one of the fundamental documents of the Greater Serbia ideology in the 20th century; that is the basis for methods that were used during the breakup of Yugoslavia by the Serbian authorities for the purpose of ethnic cleansing of Albanians, Muslims, and Croats. Some authors believe that Čubrilović's plan to expel Albanians from Kosovo actualized in 1999 by Slobodan Milošević's government under the name "Operation Horseshoe". The report is deemed chauvinistic and nationalistic and was used as a reference to the Serbian atrocities in Kosovo in 1999 by Joe DioGuardi as he spoke to the US parliament demanding that the United States should be launching NATO-attacks against Yugoslavia. During the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, over 850,000 Albanians left Kosovo, but soon returned after the withdrawal of Serbian troops.

References

The Expulsion of the Albanians Wikipedia


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