With the world’s eyes elsewhere, the still-unresolved status of Kosova is a major crisis just waiting to erupt. Kostunica delivered this speech outside a 14th-century monastery in the town of Gracanica rather than at the Plain of Blackbirds, the site of the famous Battle of Kosovo. But the allusions are obvious to Slobodan Milosevic’s notorious June 28, 1989 speech at the Plain of Blackbirds which signaled the start of his long camapign against the province’s Alabanian majority and also marked the beginning of Yugoslavia’s self-destruction. It is amazing that the media accounts are not picking up on this. From AP, June 29:
Gracanica — Serbs will never give up Kosovo, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said yesterday after arriving in this disputed province to mark the anniversary of an epic battle against Ottoman forces.
Security measures were high for the visit of Kostunica, who was attending ceremonies marking Vidovdan, or St Vitus Day the anniversary of the 1389 battle in which an army led by Serbian Prince Lazar was defeated in Kosovo by invading Ottoman forces. The battle came to symbolise Serbs’ historic resolve not to give up Kosovo.
“There is no better place … to repeat what every Serbian has to know: Kosovo has been and will always remain part of Serbia,” said Kostunica, triggering applause and chanting from hundreds strong crowds in the grounds of a 14th century monastery in Gracanica, a Serb enclave in Kosovo heavily protected by Nato peacekeepers.
Under intense heat and surrounded by armed guards and Serb clergy, Kostunica urged the dwindling Serb community to remain determined and unified at a time when Serbs and ethnic Albanians are conducting UN-sponsored talks on Kosovo’s future.
Kosovo, which officially remains part of Serbia, has been administered by the UN and patrolled by international peacekeepers since mid-1999, when a Nato air war halted a crackdown by former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s forces on Albanians. The province’s ethnic Albanian majority wants full independence, but Belgrade insists it retain control.
See our last post on the Balkans.