|Over the weekend I have reconsidered my strong rejection
of partition as an aid to solving the Kosmet situation.
This is partly due to looking at maps of the West Bank
and the crazy quilt of zones of control there and the
likely outcome of any "final" negotiation between the
Palestinians and the Israelis that might arise there, not
to mention the bizarreness of the nevertheless reasonably
stable zones in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Here is how a possible partition might work that might
allow for at least some return of Albanian refugees into
zones of de facto Albanian control from which Serbian
troops could be removed (I see no likelihood of any
Albanians returning to any place where there are any
Serbian troops or police).
First let us review what a map of Kosmet looks like more
or less. It is shaped approximately like a diamond, with
points north, east, south, and west. Bordering on the
southwest is Albania, on the southeast is Macedonia, on
the northeast, north, and part of the northwest is Serbia
proper, and on the west is Montenegro.
About 80% of the prewar Albanian population was in a
swath running across the middle of the country from the
southwest to the northeast. An obvious base for an
Albanian safe zone would be in the middle of this and
including most of it, with the center to the west of the
provincial center in the Drenica area which has long been
a major base of the UCK/KLA and apparently still is under
their control to some extent.
The obvious zones for Serb control would include the city
of Pec in the west with the Serbian Orthodox
patriarchate, a strip running along the border to the
northeast of that and including the far north with
Mitrovica and the mines in it. Then most of the east
would be in their zone, extending far enough west to
include the capital of Pristina with its suburban
historical site of the battlefield of Kosovo Polje. The
far south would also be in, heavily populated by Serbs,
with this zone also including Prizren with various
historical sites. More problematic, but probably
necessary would a be zone in the southeast to connect
these southern and eastern zones. This would bring in the
important monastery of Glaganica, but has been heavily
populated by Albanians. However, it appears that a lot of
them, possibly most of them, have been "cleansed" and
expelled, but this zone is a possible bone of contention.
The most difficult to resolve area would be in the
southwest, the source of most of my past rejections of
such an idea. It contains many Orthodox monasteries, the
most important probably Decani on the Albanian border.
The zone around Pec could perhaps extend far enough south
to get it at least. But this zone also is the obvious
link to Albania and the issue arises as to whether the
Serbs would allow such a link. Clearly this area has been
heavily cleansed and so for both strategic and historical
reasons they might not want to let the Albanians have any
of it. Where to draw the lines there and whether or not
there would be a corridor between the Albanian zone in
the center of Kosmet and Albania proper would be very
serious matters for a final negotiation on all this.
Two other difficult spots stick out in my mind. One is
near Pec in the west. Just north of Pec is a major area
of local UCK/KLA control with a large displaced Albanian
population. Clearly the Serbs would demand Pec, but would
this patch be Albanian controlled ?(it is at least partly
on the ground right now apparently, an important fact in
such negotiations). If that patch were granted to the
Albanians, would it have a corridor to the main Albanian
zone or not? If it did then would mean that the Pec patch
of Serb control would be isolated from the rest of the
Serb zones of control, which I am sure they would resist?
There is a potential parallel here to the situation in
Bosnia-Herzegovina where the western part of the Srpska
Republika is connected with the rest of it by a disputed
corridor through the city of Brcko, taken away from them
after this war started. The same city is the corridor
between the northern and southern zones of Muslim control
as well. Something like this might happen in western
The other problem area, although probably not as
difficult, is in the northeast where the Albanians are
very populous and have not been expelled as much. There
is also a major pocket of UCK/KLA control up there near
the city of Podujevic. Perhaps the Serbs would let this
go to the Albanians as they would have a link through
Serbia proper between their two main zones of control.
A final issue is that of whether or not the Albanians
would get any cities. It is clear that a lot of
"cleansing" activity has been focused on the main cities
such as Pristina, Pec, and Prizren. The two candidates
for cities for the Albanian zone look like Podujevic in
the northeast and Djakovica in the southwest, a very
heavily contested zone. I suspect that the disposition of
the latter would be one of the most hotly disputed issues
and would also be linked to the existence or nonexistence
of a corridor between Albania proper and an Albanian
zone, Djakovica being located in an obvious spot for such
a corridor, halfway between Pec and Prizren.
Does anybody know where the fascists drew the line when
they partitioned the province in WW II?
BTW, for Serbian Orthodox monasteries or religious sites
ending up in the Albanian zone, there might be an
exception made for some kind of Serbian police
protection. Even Albright has now declared this as an
exception to the demand for removal of all Serb forces
from the province. (Another btw is that I have seen a
claim in the Wash. Post that Serb claims of bomb damage
of religious sites are fabricated for propaganda
And a final btw, propanda without truth is an empty
vessel that leads where the former Soviet Union went, the
ashcan of history.
The bottom line is that partition is not necessarily as
unreasonable as I have made out, and although
problematical, may eventually play a role in whatever the
final outcome of this tragic mess is.