THE QUESTION OF KOSOVA
AND ENVER HOXHA
Go on, run, run,
Marathon man, run.
Bishop Fan S. Noli
I do not intend to do the history of the annexation of the Albanian territories of Kosova and Western Macedonia by Yugoslavia. Nor will I examine the internal and external political forces which determined the final decision of the Great Powers to give Kosova to Serbia. It is not a novel idea to say that the Great Powers were playing their games for their own long-term interests and not in the interest of the small and the weak - remember the Treaty of St. Stephano, the Treaty of Versailles, the Conference of Ambassadors in London, not to go any further in history.
Without deviating from the issue of the Albanian national interests, it is worthwhile to recapitulate some key events in our recent history and place them against the background of the stance taken by the CPA, later renamed the Party of Labour of Albania.
The period is conspicuous for these intriguing moments:
The return of the territories of Kosova and Metohija to Albania;
The Mukje Meeting and the Declaration on Kosova;
Albanian divisions cross into Kosova, Metohija and Sandjak;
Enver Hoxha's visit in Bled, Yugoslavia, on 30 June 1946, complete silence is observed about the Kosova question.
These landmark events have their beginning in the Italian invasion of Albania, which was followed by the inclusion of Kosova in the territories occupied by Mussolini's troops and which he preferred to declare as part of the Savoy Crown.
Documents of the Party of Labour of Albania (doctored or not, that is not my concern for the moment) show that the communist leadership immediately condemned the fascist invasion of Kosova as an act of aggression and did not make the slightest move to explain to the Albanian people the new situation that was thus created by the changing fortunes of the war. This stance of the Albanian communists cannot be explained fully if we fail to bear in mind the full dependence of Enver Hoxha on his Serbian friends, which indirectly speaks of the influence of the Great-Serb policy in the Balkans.
The Mukje Meeting and Agreement, 1-2 August 1942
The question of Kosova was raised as a major issue of national importance by the participants in the Mukje Meeting. Whether the credit for this step should go to the nationalists or the communists, this has to wait until full light is shed on the proceedings of the meeting, until everyone who participated in it and those who made the arrangements have had their say.
At this point I feel I must point out the contribution of the Toptani family who convinced the communists, the nationalists, the Ballists and the Legalists to meet at the home of Ihsan Toptani's father in Tapizė.
The platform which this meeting proposed to the whole nation can be summed up in the following:
"The creation of the National Salvation Committee and the creation of Ethnic Albania"
When one reads the History of the Party of Labour of Albania, one finds that the CC of the CPA immediately denounced and condemned the Mukje Agreement as a betrayal by the capitulationist Ymer Dishnica and the National Front (Balli Kombėtar).
Dedijer however has a different story. He points out that Enver Hoxha and a few members of the CC of the CPA hesitated for nearly two days before they condemned the Agreement. The reason given by Enver Hoxha, he adds, was that he was waiting for the non-communist forces to split over the issue after the meeting.
But then, Svetozar Vukmanovich-Tempo and other Yugoslav comrades, who had the support of Koi Xoxe, finally prevailed over Enver Hoxha. The Mukje Agreement was then unequivocally condemned by the CPA as a betrayal.
This is how Dedijer explains the moments of Enver Hoxha's hesitation:
"... this attitude of some members of the CC of the CPA, Enver Hoxha included, was conditioned by the fact that these members of the CC of the CPA, who lacked theoretical preparation and political maturity, were not clear about the future development of events after the expulsion of the invaders and were not determined in their struggle against the internal reactionaries." (p. 78).
Whereas various forces in the national movement rejoiced over the Agreement reached at Mukje, especially over the "programme of Ethnic Albania", Dushan Mugosha and Miladin Popovich put their feelings in the following manner:
"This union of the Albanian forces is unacceptable. Now we are growing stronger by the day and will soon turn on them mercilessly. We will never allow them to unite and will never join these dogs. And then, what is this Ethnic Albania! Let them try and do it if they have the guts." (p. 96).
The Proclamation of the Mukje Meeting remained only a short-lived ray of hope for the aspirations of the Albanians. Immediately after hearing the decision made by this forum of all the forces of the country committed to the war effort against the invader, the envoys of Tito ordered Enver Hoxha to denounce it as a betrayal (of what?). And he surrendered without a resistance. From that moment on, the communist fighting units declared war without quarter to the nationalists. The Serbian envoys were lording it over Albania. The history books of Albania, written after the war under the dictate of the communists, describe the Mukje Agreement as a betrayal.
The question is: Betrayal of what?
It is clear what the Albanian communists meant: Betrayal of the interests of Serbia in Albania.
In his report to the CC of the CPY on 19 October 1943, Miladin Popovich writes:
"The comrade delegates in Mukje slipped into the positions of the nationalists. Steeped in opportunism, they demanded that a part of the programme should be altered. Comrade Tempo was here then. We discussed the question with the members of the CC and studied all options, the situation and the rest, and finally decided to refute the Proclamation and not to recognise the creation of the Committee of the Salvation of Albania, or its role as the highest stage in the liberation war. We decided to call the conference without delay and to enlarge the Central Committee..." (p. 80).
The Second Conference of Labinot was held in October 1943 on direct instructions from Miladin Popovich. Its proceedings were dominated completely by the Serbian line. All issues related to the attitude towards the nationalist forces, to the organisation of the armed forces and the work of the party were affected by the Serb interests.
Under these circumstances, the leadership of the National Front published its Manifesto with the title THE RIGHT ROAD AND THE WRONG ROAD, in which among other things it says:
"... It is clear to the people that this party, which is guided by Salė (Dushan) and Miladin and their friends, is preparing to give us a dictatorship and terror instead of the promised freedom... is going to give us destruction instead of progress..."
It is obvious that many Albanians had no doubts about the role of the Serbian envoys in Albania. But the roots of Dushan' and Miladin's work were so deep that neither Enver Hoxha nor any other members of the CC of the CPA could stop the worst. The Albanian communists were caught in the cobweb of the Serbs, who were past-masters in bending Enver Hoxha whichever way they liked and had succeeded in tying his hands with the secret threads that had their beginnings on 8th of November 1941, in a humble Tirana house.
Enver Hoxha was fully aware that without his Serbian brothers he could not have climbed the party ladder and clinched the post of General Secretary of the CC of the CPA. That is the reason why the Albanian communist leadership had no say in its own domestic matters when the destinies of the country were shaped and could not oppose the Serbian plans for the future settlement of the Albanian territories in Yugoslavia.
The Albanian Army Divisions in the territories of Kosova and Metohija and in Sandjak
Towards the end of the war, the Yugoslav Army HQ invited a number of Albanian National Liberation Army units "to go the assistance of the Yugoslav partisans in Kosova, Metohija and Sandjak, to give the chase to the German divisions". It is a fact that a number of ethnic Albanians in those regions had joined the German forces whom they saw as their saviours from the Serbian yoke.
Let us stop for a moment to consider this unusual step. How is it possible that the Yugoslav leadership should take this bold and delicate step? How could it encourage the presence of thousands of armed Albanians in the territories of Kosova, Metohija and Sandjak?
There is no doubt that the instructions and the invitation for this large-scale movement of Albanian troops into Yugoslavia came from Belgrade, which is an unprecedented move on the part of the Serbs who for centuries had cultivated the myth of Kosova the cradle of Serbian civilisation. Had the CPY put all safeties in place for any unforeseen development? It appears that it had. Had the CPY received from the CPA all guarantees that everything would go as planned? Apparently, it had.
I think there is every reason to make me believe that Tito knew very well what he was doing and that the Albanian National Liberation Army units would be "co-operating in full and fraternise with the Yugoslav partisan units in the region". I am not convinced that Tito took this risky step simply for strategic reasons of co-ordinating the war operations in Western Balkans. Tito had set his sights high for the future of Yugoslavia as the primary player in post-war Balkans.
The logical conclusion is that the Yugoslav leadership was calculating everything carefully. Firstly, I am convinced that it had every assurance from the Albanian communist leadership that the presence of the Albanian army units in the Yugoslav territory would not upset the situation and would not create problems for the future. Secondly, Tito was calculating on using the presence of the Albanian forces in Kosova in order to create a confrontational situation between the Kosovars who had joined the German forces and the Albanian partisans, which would eventually work to his own advantage.
Here again is further ground to suspect that there was a silent agreement on the future of Kosova and Metohija between the Yugoslav and the Albanian communists.
Enver Hoxha's Visit to Yugoslavia, Bled, on 30th June 1946
In the post-war period, from 1944 till 1948, before the Communist brothers fell out with each other, the dependence of the CC of the CPA on the communist leadership in Belgrade increased steadily and found expression in statements of slavish humility coated in words which no head of state of a sovereign country has ever utter to another head of state ( see the Yugoslav press which covered Enver Hoxha's visit).
It is up to the historians to shed light into the implications of Enver Hoxha's statements during his visit in Yugoslavia. It is up to the political analysts to draw their conclusions from those statements.
Every Albanian with a sense of duty towards his homeland would justly have expected that the head of the CPA should take advantage of his meeting with Tito to raise at least a few fundamental questions connected with the future status of the territories inhabited by Albanians in Yugoslavia (in their own lands in Kosova, Metohija and Western Macedonia and elsewhere).
In his quality as head of state Enver Hoxha should have asked Tito what he thought about the future of the Albanians who had contributed so much to the creation of the Albanian State in 1912 and had been unjustly left out of the State which they helped to make.
Despite my earnest and persistent search to find a single reference to the Kosovars in Dedijer's book, I failed. If I ask the reader to turn to the publications made by the Party of Labour of Albania in this period and to Enver Hoxha's book "The Titoites", the only thing that can be said with certainty is that Enver Hoxha claims to have raised the issue of the future of Kosova and that Tito had responded that the problem of Kosova could not be raised for the moment "because the Serbs would be upset".
We should not forget that Tito, as a Croat in charge of Yugoslavia had to exercise all his skills of a political juggler in order to keep the Serbs happy. He did not have the will or a plan to discuss Kosova with Enver Hoxha. Hence, the only official opportunity for Enver Hoxha to raise the Kosova issue in an "internationalist fraternal spirit" with the Yugoslav leader was not taken.
That was what Belgrade dictated and Enver Hoxha had to obey. After all he was their brain-child. The Albanian communist leader knew that the future of his position at the helm of the CC of the CPA and of the new Albanian State was decided in Belgrade. Enver Hoxha then had not yet made friends and connections who could allow him to challenge Belgrade, as he did later, after 1948. He waited for the opportunity to present itself.
Honest Albanians would ask the legitimate question:
What did Enver and Tito talk about?
What agreements were signed between Albania and Yugoslavia?
What decisions were made on Kosova?
These basic questions are not answered either by Dedijer in this book, or even by Enver Hoxha in "The Titoites", or in his other complete works.
Since Enver Hoxha fails to answer a question of cardinal importance for our nation and for the stability of the Balkans, the ordinary reader would wonder at the value of Hoxha's legacy. The only ones who will never wonder are those who have served the Serbian interests in Kosova and in Albania.
The following are a couple of lines quoted from Enver Hoxha's statement before Yugoslav journalists on the occasion of his visit to Yugoslavia on 30 June 1946.
"It is impossible to imaging the resistance of the small Albanian people against the enemy without the war of the Yugoslav peoples."
Enver Hoxha could not humiliate his own people more than that in front of the person who had helped him to stay afloat in the leadership of the CPA. There is no greater humiliation for a small people who had made a long and colossal effort for the liberation of their own territories nearly without direct assistance (provided we describe all the support Miladin and Dushan gave Enver Hoxha in order to put him in charge of the CPA and the Albanian State for their own ends).
Enver Hoxha surrendered unconditionally to Tito and evil tongues spread the rumour that he fell on his knees before Tito. At least so said to me a friend of mine who had known the official photographer who accompanied Enver Hoxha in his visit to Bled.
Statements of the same substance like the ones Enver Hoxha made in Bled are found in great numbers in the Albanian press (see the newspaper BASHKIMI, Year 1947-1948, the Albanian government ordinances of the years 1945-1948, and the numerous reports from the Yugoslav Mission in Tirana).
One cannot expect a different attitude from a set of leaders who placed their own political career above the interests of the whole nation, who sacrificed Kosova and the rest to the safety of their communist continuity in Albania, who reduced Albania literally to a feudal feoff in the hands of a ruthless caste of rulers assisted by a pack of jackals. Nothing more can be said about a head of state who fawned on this country and that for the sake of his own individual safety.
The principal thesis I have put forward in the previous few pages is based rather unusually on silence observed by the Albanian leaders who determined the destiny of Kosova. The historic sources on this chapter of the history of the Albanian nation are still few and scarce and the mysterious silence cannot be unravelled yet until both sides, Albanians and Yugoslavs open their archives. The Albanian politicians will not be able to extricate themselves from the tangle in which they have been caught because of Enver Hoxha's betrayal of the national cause.
Why all this blanket of silence over an issue of major importance for the Albanians? Why Enver Hoxha gives only a few lines to his visit in Yugoslavia and his long-awaited meeting with Tito. Why Albanian historiography is silent about the agreement that was singed in Belgrade in 1948?
Those who are eager to understand the reasons for this ominous silence the way is to use their logic. It is not impossible to trace a consistency in everything Enver Hoxha did. He was concerned only about his own personal safety and preserving his position. The cost at which he achieved it did not matter to him. His overriding concern was the preservation of power which he gained by betraying his closest collaborators beginning with Qemal Stafa, his first victim, Nako Spiru, Tuk Jakova and ending with Sejfulla Mal'shova only in the few years after the war.
What does the logic of Enver Hoxha's actions in his unhappy love affair with Tito add up to?
Without dwelling on the secret ties between Enver Hoxha and the Serb envoys in Albania, because the documents relating to that period were in the hands or in the memory of the persons concerned, I will consider a number of critical moments in the career of the "legendary leader" of Albania in the short period of Yugoslav influence, when he was a puppet in the hands of Serbian communists.
The most conspicuous moment in this period of Albania's history is connected directly with his attitude to the Mukje Agreement (August 1943). Vladimir Dedijer, on the basis of Mugosha' and Popovich's reports, claims that Enver Hoxha apparently hesitated three days before he made the decision to condemn the Agreement as a betrayal.
Why did he hesitate? And why him of all people, him who in all his impressive collection of seventy-two volumes of writings, speeches and articles sang his own praises.
The answer is to be found in his close friends from Serbia and Montenegro. Dedijer, among others, has an answer. So have the numerous Serbian authors who have written the history of our nation as they see it and have served it to the world as Gospel truth.
The victims of Serbian-Hoxhian indoctrination are many. Some of them offer their disservice to Albania voluntarily, like Sir Reginald Hibbert, who, in his un-called for comments, denies the Albanians the right to call themselves a people with national awareness (see his speech at the British Association for Central and Eastern Europe, on 17th July 1997). Next, there are those who follow the Greek and Serbian track simultaneously, and distort Albanian realities, like Miranda Vickers and James Pettifer.
The more numerous victims are to be found amongst the Albanian Diaspora, who dreamed of a strong Albanian State, albeit under a cruel dictator, for the sake of the fulfilment of a utopian idea in pursuit of a happy future for Kosova, which existed only in their own distorted minds.
"The History of the Party of Labour of Albania" (conveniently published only thirty years after its founding on 8 November 1941) gives ample space to the notorious Plenum of Berat. It is a fact that the Serbian envoys were present in and stage-managed this important event. They apparently were in possession of the short-hand notes of the proceedings of the Plenum and Dedijer takes special pleasure in reproducing some of the most "spicy" paragraphs. Here is a very intriguing admission by Enver Hoxha:
"Not only have I never had any advantage by associating with Alija (Miladin Popovich), but I've suffered because ot him, because he kept me away from my work with the grass root organisations." (p. 95)
As to his weaknesses in carrying out his Party duties as Secretary of the CC of the CPA, Enver Hoxha admits:
"I was not capable of organising meetings, because the important position I had (as Secretary of the CC) required special skills and special preparation. I was not a simple party comrade." (p. 95).
Interesting raving and half-confirmation of his own incapacity. And further, his old friends put in his mouth the following words:
"Therefore I was forced to postpone the meetings... I do not remember having ever proposed to hold a theoretical meeting, because it was difficult for me to do such a thing. Even now I am not up to a similar task. I did not call such meetings not because I avoided my duties, but because I am not capable for such a duty." (p. 95).
Dedijer thus shows that Enver Hoxha admitted three times over and over that he was not capable of leading the CPA. An individual made of this stuff said repeatedly during his honeymoon with Tito that without glorious Yugoslavia and without great Tito the struggle of the Albanian people would have been nothing.
After his break with Tito in 1948 which followed immediately after the public letter of the Informbureau, Enver Hoxha, like the demagogue he was, denied the role and contribution of Dushan and Miladin three hundred times over. He denied Tito in 1948, Khrushchev in 1961, and Mao Zedong in 1977 and exposed them as enemies of communism with the same vehemence and ardour as he defended Stalin throughout his life. He denied everything about his "communist brothers", but he forgot that in the world there is such a thing which is called archives, that people remember.
Today we are faced with a decisive choice for their destinies and it is for the good of the whole nation that we should refresh our memory and discard the trash.
I took this wide digression into the past in order to emphasise the burden of Enver Hoxha's legacy and to make the reader aware of the difficulties that the communist capitulationist policy created for the democratic government's handling of the national question.