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August 2, 1997
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 304
Research: Anatomy of the Kosovo Crisis

Nothing New — Chaos Continues

by Aleksandar Ciric

Poverty and an uncertain future are the only things still shared by Kosovo Albanians and Serbs. Economic disintegration and anxiety for the future were also recorded in 1990, the year of the last significant research in SFRY, allowing for the latest research to be called, in the opinion of Srecko Mihajlovic, "Yugoslavia at a Crisis Turning Point". After what already happened, doors are open to the armed disintegration of the country: fear of a similar development in the Kosovo crisis are that much less inadvertent and accidental.

WHO, WHAT AND WHERE: The research undertaken noted opinions of 816 Albanians and 405 Serbs; variations in the samples concern a smaller number of women (in the sample of Serbs) and a slightly higher number of educated people (in both sub-samples). The research content and the characteristics of the population of Kosovo make for inadequate data analysis; comparative analysis is the only alternative, observe the research authors (beside those mentioned, they are Djerdj Rapi, Ramus Mavrici, and Srdjan Bogosavljevic). Through answers to around 200 questions, ethnic distance between the two communities of Kosovo, the legitimacy of the political system of SR Yugoslavia in the eyes of Serbs and Albanians, nationalism and attitudes to the resolution of the Kosovo crisis were all examined.

VIEWS OF THE SELF AND THE OTHER: Albanians see themselves as hospitable (77%), peaceful (41%), brave (39%), conscious of hygiene (29%), intelligent and sincere (25%), unified (11%), industrious (8%)... In the opinion of Albanians, Serbs hate other ethnic groups (81%), they are deceitful (52%), pushy (39%), selfish (27%), inconsiderate (26%), braggarts and bullies (16%), and even unified (9%)... Each person questioned could choose from among three characteristic traits, resulting in a total greater than 100%.

On the oposite side, Serbs see themselves as hospitable (53%), brave (51%), peaceful (34%), conscious of hygiene (31%), intelligent (23%), cheerful (20%), braggarts (14%), etc., while they think that Albanians are unified (62%), that they hate other ethnic groups (55%), that they are deceitful (46%), backward (37%), inconsiderate (20%), industrious (18%), reserved (15%), selfish (12%)...

Along with these stereotypes about themselves and others, both Albanians and Serbs, probably quite sincerely, think that every nation should be tolerant of other nations and cultural influences (Albanians 85%, Serbs 74%), and, moreover, that different cultures can coexist peacefully in the same land (Albanians 51%, Serbs 65%). There is an inadvertent assumption made here: yes, they can coexist, so long as they are neither Serbs, nor Albanians, and so long as the land in question is not Kosovo. Observing that in their opinion of Albanians, Serbs point to their unity (a "positive" characteristic), Srecko Mihajlovic asks himself whether this is not because of the "historical Serbian" frustration with discord among themselves. Otherwise, in their view of themselves, both peoples favor positive characteristics over negative ones ( Albanians 88:12, Serbs 87:13), while in their opinions of others, negative characteristics predominate over positive ones (Albanians on Serbs 93:7, Serbs on Albanians 67:33; the more "positive" opinion of Serbs on Albanians is a function of their individual valuation of "unity").

TWO WORLDS: In the sub sample of Kosovo Serbs there is not a single one with either an Albanian father or mother, while with Albanians, 0.5% have a Serb mother, and 1.1% a father who is either Serb of Montenegrin; mixed marriages with Serb man or women among Albanians questioned amount to barely 0.7%. In both populations questioned, an unusually low percentage of mixed marriages (5.3% with Albanians, and 4% with Serbs) generally testifies to "ethnic" mistrust of everyone, not just "hated" peoples. The possibility of even the simplest verbal communication is considerably smaller among Serbs (5% of them know enough Albanian to lead a simple conversation; 54% of Albanians speak Serbian).

Despite that, as far as attitudes are concerned, both populations agree that Albanians should speak Serbian (93% of Serbs, and 77% of Albanians); a startlingly smaller number of Serbs thinks that they should speak Albanian (50% compared to 79% of Albanians).

CONFLICTS AND "UNPLEASANT INCIDENTS": As far as interpersonal communication is concerned, research shows that the population of Kosovo is divided into two parallel worlds which only meet where conflicts are concerned. From responses given, 13% of Serbs had some conflict with Albanians, while in 22% of cases Albanians cite conflicts with Serbs. Of the types of conflicts, Serbs indicate (from a total of 51) material damages (17), hatred of Serbs (16), property damage (5), while Albanians (from a total of 177 cited cases) indicate most frequently conflicts with the police (17%), property damages (15%) and problems in daily social contact (15%).

Along with this data, it should be pointed out that Albanians include among conflicts with Serbs or with Serb authorities, where conflicts with neighbors "minimize" the fact according to which 14% of Serbs questioned were in some sort of conflict with their non-Albanian neighbors, which translates into 11% of Albanians which came into conflict with their non-Serb neighbors.

GAPING HOLE: Albanians express the profoundest disdain for marriage with a Serb man or woman (95%), for establishing friendly relations (82%), for working under a Serb boss (76%), or in partnership (55%), for living in the same area (40%) or as neighbors with Serbs (23%). Serbs also express reservations about marriage with an Albanian man or woman (74%, considerably less than Albanians), about Albanian neighbors (72%), about living in the same area as Albanians (64%), about having an Albanian for a boss (61%), about friendships (44%) and working in partnership (42%).

If it at all makes sense to make comparisons between such profound rifts, Serbs are less tolerant toward having Albanian neighbors (72% Serbs, by comparison with 23% Albanians), toward living in the same area (64%:40%), while Albanians do not accept friendships (82% Albanians vs. 4% Serbs), marriages (95%:74%), having a Serb boss (76%:61%) or working in partnership (55%:42%). Researchers conclude that Serbs refuse low intensity relationships (living in the same area, or as neighbors), while Albanians more strongly refuse high intensity relationships (friendships, marriages, subordination on the job, or working in partnership).

ALBANIAN BOYCOTT: The briefest conclusion on the research conducted on attitudes toward the political system of SR Yugoslavia indicates that Albanians deny it, while Kosov Serbs question the legitimacy of the state and the system. 99% of Albanians have absolutely no trust in the President of Serbia (at that time, Slobodan Milosevic). The political crisscross Lilic - Milosevic will have no significant effect on Albanians trust, because 96% of Albanians have no trust in the President of SRY. The same level of mistrust among Albanians is enjoyed by the Serbian Parliament, the Yugoslav Army, the Police (98%) and jurisprudence (96%). Srecko Mihajlovic emphasizes his (professional) disbelief at such high levels of mistrust, which is indicated solely by the statement of 99% of Albanians that they will not vote in the coming presidential and parliamentary elections in Serbia, while 98% have no intention of voting in future local and federal elections. Hence, adds Dusan Janjic, it is sensible to discount all media driven propaganda which states that someone outside the country is exerting pressure on Albanians to vote in the elections which have since been agreed upon.

Mistrust of Serbian media is equally unanimous, where "privileged" status among Albanians is enjoyed by the daily "Nasa Borba", with only 42% total mistrust, and 17% moderate trust in what they publish. Albanians express profound and moderate trust for the President of Kosovo (86%), the Government of Kosovo (66%), and the President of the Government of Kosovo (58%), and for their parties (Democratic League of Kosovo - 76%, Christian Democratic Party - 49%, Parliamentary Party - 43%). The high degree of trust Albanians have for their politicians and political parties extends also to the media in their language. All together, researchers point to the conclusion that Albanian public opinion associates evident trust with the personalities and institutions of their independent, parallel political life.

SERBIAN ELECTIONS: The trust Serbs in Kosovo have for "Serb" media is considerably smaller than that which Albanians have for theirs, which is the same case with opinion on local political leaders. They give legitimacy to the political system with their participation in the elections (only 4 to 7% of Serbs questioned announced abstention). According to research, of those who would vote now in local elections, 43% would vote for SPS, 38% for SRS, and 6% for SPO. The research was published before the presidential and parliamentary elections in Serbia were set. It is still interesting that according to the general response, 44% of Kosovo Serbs will vote for SPS, 36% for SRS, and 7% for SPO. As far as the presidential elections are concerned, 49% of Kosovo Serbs will vote for the SRS candidate (Vojislav Seselj), while 44% will vote for the SPS candidate (in the meantime, Zoran Lilic became that candidate).

GRIM FUTURE: Within the research, those questioned were offered 11 models for the resolution of the Kosovo problem, solutions most frequently mentioned in public or ones that were the topic of discussions (most often within ethnic communities).

The only acceptable solution for Serbs — given that this option has more than half of the support of those questioned — is the cessation of any autonomy of Kosovo. All other solutions offered were refused, while the largest remainder of opinions, 15%, was for entering into a Balkan Federation. On the other side, Albanians for the greater part support the independence of Kosovo (98%), international protectorate as a transitional solution toward something more permanent (68%), unification with Albania (60%) and a special status for Kosovo with international guarantees (51%). It is interesting that Albanians are most strongly against any idea of territorial divvying up of Kosovo with exchanges of populations (92%), against any regionalization of SRJ (86%), against autonomy according to the 1974 Constitution (71%), and even against the idea of Kosovo as a Republic within Yugoslavia (69%), in spite of what Serbian "analysts" and "specialist" on the Kosovo question claim.

DUSK WITHOUT HOPE: There will certainly be a lot more discussion of the research results of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, which, according to Dusan Janjic, "is not an institution for public opinion research, but is stepping in, and will step in to do that job when no one is available, or no one else simply wants to do it". Publication of the complete research results is expected in October of this year — that is, if the present leaders of our people, a people which is conceived of and led like a flock of sheep, do not present us with a "done deal". In June of 1992, the Institute of Social Sciences published a lucid book ("Bosnia Between War and Peace") with clear warnings, and even road signs for avoiding the war. But the war began two months before that.

Hence, we should heed the warning from the researchers of the project "Anatomy of the Kosovo Crisis" when they say that "for normal people, extrication from personal, familial and social poverty, just as all looking forward to a more certain future, are sufficient motives for unified action. However, nearly nothing in Kosovo can be defined as normal. There is an absence of communication. There is mutual silence. Messages are passed along through third parties. Sometimes, there are mutual exchanges of fire, and probably only because of vestiges of reason, those exchanges are not taking root and becoming more frequent". A thin ray of hope, in the opinion of the researchers, lies in the consciousness of the persistent poverty and in the "inability" to see a brighter road ahead. However, that road could be paved by "the imposed consciousness that poverty is conditioned by actions of the opposing ethnic group. And only when citizens become more conscious that the sources of poverty are not ethnic, but political, and that poverty is in large part the result of a specific system of political relations, only then will the hope for something different, a hope that the light at the end of the tunnel will soon become visible, become more certain".


Trustworthy Politicians

The highest popularity among Albanians is enjoyed by Ibrahim Rugova (highly trusted by 68%, and moderately by 18% of those questioned), then Fehmi Agani (43%, 32%), Mahmut Bakali (36%, 25%), Mark Krasnici (32%, 35%), Redzep Cosja (29%, 36%), and Veton Suroi (16%, 33%).

Kosovo Serbs have the highest confidence in Bishop Artemije (58%), while everyone else is mainly "below grade", with Momcilo Trajkovic in the lead (with 37% high confidence, and 56% little or no confidence), and Miroslav Solevic (31%, 58%) and Vojislav Zivkovic (26%, 58%) trailing.

The results of centralization according to which all decisions are made in Belgrade, and mostly by one person, are indicated by the public opinion research into the confidence given to local politicians by the Serb sub-sample, states Dusan Sanjic. There is no local political elite among Kosovo Serbs, which considerably limits the possibilities and means of eventually resolving the problem.

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