Milos Minic’s audacity of truth

14 janar 2022 11:51

The project “Other Serbia”, conceived by Admovere and supported by KFOS, collects the opinions of Serbian intellectuals that were opposed to gross violations of human rights of Kosovo Albanians by Serbian authorities, beginning from the abrogation of the autonomy of Kosovo on the 23rd of March 1989, until the entering of NATO troops on 12th of June 1999, and even later. Violations of this period culminated during 1998-1999 with war crimes and crimes against humanity, the killing of over 10 thousand Albanian civilians, raping of thousands of women and girls, displacement of nearly one million Albanians, the burning and destruction of nearly 100 thousand homes, and the perpetration of many other spiritual and material damages.

These intellectuals were inspired by Serbian social democrats like Dimitrije Tucovic, Kosta Novakovic, Dusan Popovic, Dragisa Lapcevic, Trisa Kaclerovic, and others, who during 1912-1913, when Serbia invaded Kosovo, opposed the horrific crimes of the Serbian state against the innocent Albanian civilians in Kosovo. Unfortunately, these crimes were repeated immediately after the First World War in 1918-1919, and then again between the two World Wars, at the end of the World War Two (1944-1945), during 1946-1966, and recently during the last decade of the previous century (1989-1999).

In this publication are collected the writings of Milos Minic (1914-2003). From the outset, Minic sequences with precision, clarity and correctly all the main historical events in the relations between Albanians and Serbs, starting from the Balkan Wars 1912-1913, continuing with the interwar period 1918-1941. Minic, who himself participated in the antifascist National Liberation War, says that after the World War Two, “the partisan units and the new regime installed in Kosovo committed numerous acts of violence, followed by a chauvinist attitude towards Kosovo Albanians”.

Being a functionary of the Serbian republican and federal bodies, Minic adds that “in the period 1955-1956 during the ‘action for the collection of guns” in Kosovo, carried out by the State Intelligence Service (UDB), thousands of Kosovo Albanians were persecuted”. There is no doubt that after the World War Two there was distrust towards Albanians, which according to Minic was fueled mainly by the UDB because of the entrenched Serbian nationalist and chauvinist attitude and was manifested through the domination of Serbian and Montenegrin officials all over Kosovo. Following the “Brioni Agreement” in 1966, some crucial changes were initiated in Kosovo, changes that during 1970 culminated with the full autonomy of Kosovo within Serbia and Yugoslavia. With the easing of the political tension, the Albanians managed to reach the highest offices in Kosovo, Serbia, and Yugoslavia.

Nevertheless, with the rise to power of Slobodan Milosevic at the end of 1980s, Serbia annulled Kosovo’s autonomy, killed tens of Albanian protesters, expelled thousands of Albanians from their jobs, and heavily punished Albanian intellectuals and political activists. Minic sees the Serbian state’s terror against Albanians in Kosovo as the main tenant of Milosevic’s regime and policy towards Kosovo. In addition to calling it out as a regime of repression, police persecution and state terror against Kosovo Albanians, Minic even compares it to the hegemonic policy of Pasic and the Karadjordjevic kingdom. On the other hand, he compares the national movement of Kosovo Albanians and their peaceful nonviolent resistance against the regime to Gandi’s nonviolent and anti-colonial movement for the liberation of India.

The majority of Minic’s writings deal with the 1998-1999 period in Kosovo. In letter that he would send to the then president of FYR Slobodan Milosevic early in 1998, he implored him to abandon the idea of a referendum against the interference of international community in resolving the problem of Kosovo, because no conflict that threatens peace and security of other countries cannot be exclusively an internal issue. In the letter he warned Milosevic about NATO intervention, telling him that he would be forced to comply with the fact that Kosovo would gain some form of “special status” within the federation, similar to the status of Serbia and Montenegro. Minic was convinced that Kosovo Albanians would accept nothing less, because the imposition of the unscrupulous decade-long police terror had caused heavy damage to their spiritual state and their attitude towards Serbia and Yugoslavia.

In almost all of his articles, Minic asks of Milosevic to undertake measures to stop the escalation of violence in Kosovo and to find political solutions by negotiating with Kosovo Albanian representatives. He considers Serbia’s plans to solve the Kosovo issue as irresponsible and unserious, simulations of ‘dialogue’ for the sake of persuading the international public that it is the Kosovo Albanian representatives those who do not want a solution through ‘dialogue’. For him it was laughable that Kosovo Albanians be considered national minority by referring to some dubious judicial theories; therefore, he proposes a special status for Kosovo, some type of third republic within Yugoslavia, or even a full-fledged independence.

Minic is disturbed by the fact that when it comes to Kosovo, Milosevic is joined by the entire spectrum of opposition parties, the Orthodox Church, The Academy of Arts and Sciences, Writers’ Association, and so on. Having this in mind, he insists that the democratic forces of Serbia solve the issue of Kosovo, because for the catastrophe that Serbia is experiencing the responsibility will be borne not only by the current regime, but also by the democratic forces if they decide not to join forces to offer a completely different solution for Kosovo, regardless of the potential accusations of ‘national treason’ that the regime would hurl towards them. Minic even goes as far as to say that if it decides to acquiesce with the Milosevic’s regime the moral and political responsibility would fall on the entire Serbian people.

The most extraordinary part of Minic’s writings consists of his opposition to the cruel acts of Serbian and Yugoslav police and military forces in Kosovo that targeted mostly women, children, and elderly, and generally the innocent Albanian civilian population. For Minic, Milosevic was and remained responsible for everything that was happening in Kosovo during the war: the brutal and massive killings, destructions, looting and deportations against the Albanian civilian population committed by the Serbian and Yugoslav police and military forces. Minic says that these were done with the aim of “ethnically cleansing all Albanians out of Kosovo and transforming Kosovo into an ethnically cleansed Serbian province. He even throws accusations towards the international community for intervening late in Kosovo, just as they had done in Bosnia, in order to stop the crimes.

Minic concludes that Milosevic’s politics had brought the Serbian people at the tragical situation of experiencing suffering like they had never experienced before in their modern history; whereas to the neighboring people with whom they had lived for almost a century in the same administrative union it has caused destruction, victims, and grave and unforgettable humiliation. With this in mind, he asks many questions: Why is this tragedy happening to us? Who put us into this mess? Who bears the political, historical, and criminal responsibility for the catastrophe that Serbia and Serbian people are experiencing? Why is the West against Serbia and the Serbian people? When will the Serbian people ever understand it has chosen a wrong and dangerous path and return to the democratic politics that is embraced only by a minority in Serbia, a politics that looks further ahead with the purpose of realizing and securing the vital interests of the Serbian people?

The peak of Minic’s opposition to crimes in Kosovo is found in an open letter to president Milosevic on June 23rd 1999 following the Nato bombing where he lays down some important issues regarding Serbian-Albanian relations: who gave the orders for the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanian through mass deportations and executions? Who were the people that expelled Albanian families from their homes, giving them 10 minutes to grab what they could, the ones who pillaged their belongings and their homes by burning their villages and towns, that destroyed and burned their livelihoods, that destroyed their personal documents so that they’d never return to Kosovo?

The “Other Serbia” project offers not only models of intellectuals who were opposed to injustices and crimes committed by their ‘compatriots’, regardless of their justifications, but also honors the type of intellectual who often risks their own life, showing an extraordinary audacity that should not pass without a deserved gratitude. Unfortunately, these personalities were seen by the Serbian people as traitors and were vilified, attacked and excommunicated, while by the Albanian people they were perceived with distrust and therefore were neglected.

This publication will serve journalists, political analysts and those activists from the civil society that deal with the Serbian-Albanian relations; the politicians who are involved in negotiations and are interested in the normalization of these relations; students, academics, and the wide public, including the future generations in Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, and the Balkans. And to those interested, this publication will be available online and in English, Albanian, and Serbian.

The Post-war Kosovo has no street named “Other Serbia”, the adjoining streets of which would bear the names of Serbian intellectuals that were opposed to the occupation of Kosovo, and even supported its independence. In this respect, these publications of “Other Serbia” project, published by Admovere with the support of KFOS serve as a modest gratitude for their contribution in protecting the human rights of Kosovo Albanians, and also the contribution towards peaceful and friendly relations between Albanians and Serbs, and their coexistence based on tolerance and mutual understanding.

Who was Milos Minic?

He was born in 1914 on the village of Prelina near Cacak where he finished elementary and secondary education. He finished his law studies at the University of Belgrade. From 1935 he as a member of the Youth Communist Party of Yugoslavia and then the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. During the antifascist National Liberation war he held worked for the party and the military. He led the negotiations with Draza Mihailovic and his cetnik fighters and reached the agreement of jointly fighting against the Nazi. Following the liberation of Belgrade, he was the chief of the Department for the Protection of the People in Belgrade. Afterwards, he served as a public prosecutor in Serbia and as a representative of the military in the People’s Army of Yugoslavia. The biggest legal case he led was the so-called “Belgrade Process”, held in 1946 whereby the leader of Chetniks Draza Mihailovic and his associates received the death penalty; this case is also known as “The Trial of Draza Mihailovic”. Minic held different offices within the Serbian and Yugoslav government. During 1970s he was the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia. During this time he signed the Osimo Agreement for the demarcation of borders between Italy and Yugoslavia. During 1990s he was among the few critics of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, especially of his criminal politics towards Kosovo Albanians. He died in Belgrade at the age of 89 in 2003. 

14 janar 2022

Shkëlzen Gashi