Dr. Slavenko Terzić, scientific adviser of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) testifies as an expert defense witness called by Slobodan Milosevic about “recent history” of the Balkans, Serbia and the continuity of the Greater Albania idea and the constant violence Kosovo Serbs have been exposed to

A brief history course is being taught at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic – the history of the Balkans, Serbia and of Kosovo and Metohija in particular. Dr. Slavenko Terzic, the teacher, is a scientific adviser at the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU). In his capacity of a defense expert witness he has submitted to the Chamber a voluminous expert report on the “recent history” of the area.

Judge Patrick Robinson suggested to Milosevic that he should focus in his examination of the witness to the events that immediately preceded the most recent crisis in Kosovo, to constitutional issues and the development of the conflict which culminated in the first half of 1999. However, Terzic noted at the beginning of his testimony that three historical factors had substantially affected the “recent history” of the area. According to him, these were, first, the Turkish conquest in the 15th century which «introduced the conflict between the Islamic and Christian worlds in that area”; second, the policies pursued by the great powers in the past 200 years including the attempts by Austria-Hungary, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and others to “put the Balkans under their control”; and third, the policy pursued by the Communist International, the Yugoslav Communist party and Tito, which “encouraged inter-ethnic rivalry instead of Yugoslav integralism.”

After he used a series of maps dating from the 19th century to show that “the European science has always designated Kosovo and Metohija as part of the Old Serbia”, the former director of the SANU Institute of History tendered into evidence diplomatic documents and maps that speak to the plans to establish a Greater Albania which would include substantial parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Northern Greece. The support of certain great powers has resulted in the continuity of the “Greater Albania idea”: first Austria-Hungary, then the Fascist Italy and the Nazi Germany, he says and adds that t Today, the supporters are NATO and “other powers”.

Terzic noted, quoting Mussolini’s foreign minister Count Ciano, that the Fascist Italy gave its support to the creation of a Greater Albania in order to turn it into a “fortress which would rule the Balkans relentlessly.” It is Terzic’s “impression” that in the past ten years the efforts have been renewed “to create a new fortress which would be the center for the trafficking of people and drugs and the stronghold of the radical Islam in this part of Europe”. The SANU historian did not specify where or who has “renewed” those alleged efforts, but his previous answers led to the conclusion that he was primarily referring to NATO and its member-states.

In his opinion, the idea of the Greater Albania has two ideological foundations. The first is “pan-Islamism” which is “skillfully hidden”, he says adding that “it is not an accident” that the photograph of Ibrahim Rugova with Pope John Paul II is prominently displayed in the office of the Kosovo president. According to Terzic, this should be proof of Rugova’s “skill in hiding” his “panislamism”.

Milosevic’s expert witness states that the second foundation for the idea of the Greater Albania is “pan-Illyrism”. According to him, it is based on the fallacious premise that Albanians are the descendants of Illyrians and that they are entitled to the erstwhile Illyrian territories “occupied” by the Slavs - this being the basis for the “ethnic cleansing” of the other peoples from those territories.

Terzic then went on to discuss the “continuous violence perpetrated by Albanians against the Serbs”, noting that the first “great ethnic cleansing” of the Serbs in Kosovo was done between 1878 and 1912. The second great wave of ethnic cleansing happened in World War II, under the auspices of the fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. After the war, the communists failed to “denacify the Albanian community in Kosovo” and sanctioned the ethnic situation that was the result of the occupation, thus creating the conditions for a new wave of ethnic cleansing in the early sixties.

The brief course in the history of the Balkans as taught by the SANU is over for the day and will continue tomorrow.