Reply to Professor Muenzel
Prof. Dr. Oliver Antic
Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade
Director, Institute of Comparative Law, Belgrade
Note to readers: the delay in preparing and presenting this text is due to frequent failures of the electricity supply system in Belgrade caused by NATO bombing.
"Reply to Professor Antic" by Prof. Dr. Frank Muenzel definitely convinced me that this author is unable to discuss Kosovo and Metohija general and legal issues without a strong pro-Albanian prejudice. However, while in his original paper Prof. Muenzel tried to hide his bias behind a (transparent) veil of an academic who endeavors to support his thesis by numerous quotations, this time, faced with a lack of facts favorable to his construction, he plays the role of John Le Carrι's "Naive and Sentimental Lover". The only substantive arguments in his "Reply" are actually confessions that I was right in my remarks on his original text: (a) he now admits that there were no Albanian vilayets in the Ottoman Empire (the "existence" of "Albanian vilayets" before 1912 was the only basis for his ridiculous conclusion that Serbia occupied Albania - including "Kosova" - in the Balkan War); and (b) when warned that prominent scholars such as M. N. Shaw and L. Henkin are of the opinion that self-determination does not include a right to secession for minorities from an existing state, Dr. Muenzel just answers that he did not overlook them, but discussed their views in extenso in his original paper. However, instead of checking profoundly his main idea against Shaw's attitude, the Goettingen professor simply labeled that author as a "conservative scholar" and went on. Deeply convinced that visitors to the JURIST site cannot be satisfied with such an academic procedure, I return to two basic, distinctive features of his "Reply".
Dr. Muenzel simply does not want to understand my clear warning concerning his exclusive use of Albanian names for places in Yugoslavia, instead of quoting official toponyms, or at least naming them bilingually. His excuse that it should be done his way because Albanians are a predominant population in this area is ridiculous. Had that become an academic standard, the scholars would have started naming many places in Romania exclusively in Hungarian (since Hungarian minority is predominant in Transilvania), no place in eastern Anatolia should be named in Turkish but only in the language of the Kurds (who are supposedly the predominant population in that region), etc. The readers of our exchange of views will easily understand that my opponent was trying to twist my argumentation in saying that Lorraine may be named in French and Rijeka in Croatian, since the predominant populations are French and Croatian, respectively. In my previous paper I just warned him that it would not be appropriate to name these places exclusively as Fiume or Lotharingen not because Italians and Germans are minorities there, but because Rijeka and Lorraine are official (legally recognized) toponyms in Croatia and France, respectively. To conclude: in an attempt to disguise the linguistic roots of the Serbian presence in Kosovo and Metohija, Prof. Muenzel has been deliberately using only Albanian names for toponyms, even forgetting that the very name of the Province ("Kosovo") comes from the South Slav (Serbian) word "kos" meaning "black bird" (for non-Serbian /US/ confirmation of this fact, see: Copley, G. R., "The New Rome & The New Religious Wars", Defense & Foreign Affairs, April 1999, http://www.strategicstudies.org/crisis/newrome.htm ).
Dr. Muenzel tries to defend himself by saying that his "paper is not 'pro Greater Albania'. It discusses the independence of Kosova, not proposals for some Greater Albania." I can not but ask myself whether he is underestimating the visitors of the JURIST site when playing the role of such a naive person. Two neighboring Albanian states as a sustainable solution!!! Did GDR survive a year as an independent state after the fall of the Berlin wall? This is a cheap, non-academic attempt to avoid the well deserved label of a pro Greater Albanian activist. Our readers do not deserve this kind of "naiveté".
Referring to Dr. Muenzel's statement that I understood neither the meaning of the question mark in the subtitle of his original paper ("War a Duty under International Law?") nor the text "before and after that subtitle", I take this opportunity kindly to remind my "naive" colleague from Goettingen Law Faculty that subtitles usually suggest the main idea of the author and the question mark just denotes a slight hesitation. But, Prof. Muenzel is very much explicit in giving an affirmative answer: Yes, "such a war, which may already have started, will be a war of national liberation, which means that in this war, in accordance with many resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the Kosovars will have to be supported by the international community".
While pretending naiveté when stating that my claim that the occupation of Kosovo and Metohija during WW I could not eliminate Serbia's and Montenegro's legal title to the area could have been acceptable had these two countries continued to exist (after 1918), Prof. Muenzel again discloses his deeply rooted animosity against the nation that had defeated his Fatherland in that war. Only emotions can explain that a professor of international law oversees the fact that Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians (later: Kingdom of Yugoslavia) continued to exist after 1918 as the internationally recognized legal successor of Serbia and Montenegro. However, visitors to the JURIST site should be protected from exposure to such emotions. It is understood that this web address is not dedicated to the readers of pulp-fiction ("Herz-Romane") aimed at re-writing the history of defeats and heeling the wounds of the nostalgic fans of such "liberator" as Keizer Wilhelm, but primarily to the members of international academia.
Finally, let me give Prof. Muenzel the privilege of being treated only as naivé when he asserts that I am to be blamed because I found incredible his statement that a sovereign state can be an aggressor on its own territory. Namely, my "naive" colleague has formulated a false premise that "Kosova" is not to be considered Yugoslav territory, and consequently deduces that Yugoslavia is the aggressor on an "alien" territory. Unfortunately, Kosovo and Metohija do represent a part of the Yugoslav territory, whether Dr. Muenzel likes it or not. Naturally, one can try to prove that a solution is not fair, that internationally recognized borders should be changed, etc. Lawyers, however, should know that everyone is obliged to obey the existing legal order (in this case the territorial integrity of the FR Yugoslavia) until the rules are redefined for the whole world.
Prof. Muenzel misinterprets my objection that he relies mostly on Albanian one-sided sources. He says: "Any normal lawyer would try to get information from both sides", but he himself does not obey audiatur et altera pars principle. Just a few poor notes where he quoted German, Austrian and Serbian sources (in this latter case, mostly unreliable "yellow magazines" "Nedeljni telegraf" and "Duga") in comparison with dozens of Albanian ones that definitely is not "altera pars"! In addition, while trying to augment the importance (and, consequently, reliability) of the net site http://www.kosova.com, Dr. Muenzel is delivering several "low blows". He interprets my doubts about the information obtained from that source as the lack of decency in respect of the killed founder of the Kosova Information Center (hereafter: KIC), Mr. Maloku. However, in describing circumstances under which Mr. Maloku worked and finally lost his life, Prof. Muenzel, in a vain attempt to show that KIC is a reliable source (and therefore exposed to frequent vehement protests of "radical Albanian factions"), unwillingly comes close to admitting that KLA (these "radical Albanian factions") represent a terrorist organization. In January 1999, when the tragic murder of Mr. Maloku occurred, one could hardly find "masked men" in the region elsewhere but within the KLA ranks. These "masked men" had killed, during 1998 and early 1999, hundreds of moderate Albanians, as well as Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija. The highly regretful assassination of Mr. Maloku by "radical Albanian factions" as Dr. Muenzel prefers to call the KLA terrorists does not, however, change anything in terms of the reliability of this particular source of information. In an academic paper the net site www.kosova.com as well as numerous other Albanian sites should be taken as the source of information which has to be weighed against other (non-Albanian) sources instead of having been taken at their face value. (This, of course, applies mutatis mutandis to Serbian sources, as well.) Let me again point out Prof. Muenzel's most notorious abuse of the principle of academic correctness in quoting a 1918 report of a French consul from Skopje, relying only on an Albanian hearsay mentioning of it (presumably faked) while at the same time disregarding the original source. Being sentimental ("Mr. Maloku paid himself a monthly salary of 300 DM" while the average salary in Serbia barely exceeded 130 DM; "would he (Antic) please have the decency not to slander QIK (i. e., KIC) and thereby its founder, who can no longer defend himself?", etc.), Dr. Muenzel is simply hiding his ignorance of facts, as well as his academic incorrectness.
Turning my criticism away from his almost exclusive use of Albanian sources to his personal claim that I have a similar attitude toward Albanian authors as Nazis did to Jewish or Polish authors (who at that time were banned from being quoted), Prof. Muenzel throws a low blow again. Regarding my attitude toward Albanian authors and scholars, I would like to point out that several post-graduate Kosovo Albanian students wrote very good master's and doctoral theses with me as their mentor: among them I will mention only well known and respected professor Dr. Hamdi Vranici, from the Faculty of Law, University of Pristina. He is still teaching Inheritance Law there along with several other professors of Albanian or Moslem descent none of whom have been "hunted down in Kosova", as Prof. Muenzel accuses. However, I must regretfully warn my Goettingen colleague that his parallels with Nazism are not only cheaply sentimental, but notoriously artificial and distasteful as well. Comparing Holocaust with other events (even if they imply atrocities, not to mention those where only bias in selecting of sources of information is at stake) insults the memories of millions of Nazi victims.
In attempting to disburden himself from the Nazi complex, while throwing inappropriate comparisons on others (including me), Dr. Muenzel raises his voice in favor of another "Nuremberg trial". Notwithstanding these parallels, I must admit that, at this point, I agree with the Goettingen professor. Whoever committed crimes has to be punished, in the due process of law: NATO aggressors, pilots who have so far killed over two thousand innocent civilians (both Serbs and Albanians), those who issued orders to them, Serbs who mistreated Albanian civilians, Albanians who mistreated Kosovo Serbs or their own compatriots, those who hold command responsibility. I do hope that Dr. Muenzel would share my concerns about the impartiality of the Hague Tribunal: the presiding judge is from the USA, the chief prosecutor is from Canada both these states are the belligerent ones. Let us form an independent committee of prominent lawyers from various countries (primarily from those not engaged in the aggression on FR Yugoslavia), and endow them with the task to establish facts on what is happening in and around Kosovo and Metohija. However, Dr. Muenzel's statement that a country, which uses "its power" to "attack its own subjects", should be "dissoluted by force", represents a clear sign that he does not belong to the academic community, which is per definitionem featured by impartiality: his claim that my country should be "dissoluted by force", since it is inhabited by "gang of thugs" belongs to some web sites other than JURIST. Even if the serious crimes against humanity with respect to Yugoslavia's own subjects have been committed by the state apparatus (which is yet to be proven in a proper way), my German colleague should ask himself about the reasons of his silence in cases of serious crimes against Serbs committed by Croatia in 1995, or against Kurds committed by Turkey throughout last two decades. Why had he not raised his voice in favor of "dissolution by force" of Croatia or Turkey? JURIST visitors really do not deserve such "hawkish" reasoning disguised behind a paper with pretensions to be regarded as academic, and the "avalanche" of cheap sentimentalism.
Confronted with an assumption that his bias has roots "in traumas from the past" (i. e., in his disability to reconcile his analyses of the present with the fact that his Fatherland was defeated twice in this century by the coalitions in which Serbs played significant roles), Dr. Muenzel plays yet another two "sentimental" cards. Namely, he admits the existence of his two traumas:
- "As a child I lived through some of the air raids on Berlin, passing every night in underground shelters, expecting the house above to fall apart. On my eight birthday, I got strafed by low flying allied planes. For decades afterwards, I began to tremble uncontrollably whenever I heard planes flying low or a siren like those used for air raid warnings."
Apart from the "sentimentalism" of the message it contains, this trauma of Dr. Muenzel does concern me personally. In a response to his call for "dissolution by force" of my country, NATO planes have been "flying low" over my home (as well as over the homes of other 10 million Yugoslavs) for more than two months. Our children are spending nights "in underground shelters, expecting the house above to fall apart". The voice of sirens is tearing our ears three-four times a day. Since the psychiatry suggests that the traumas from the past could be best treated if the patient is afterwards exposed to their causes and thus realizes their real nature, I take this opportunity to invite Dr. Muenzel to come to Belgrade as my personal guest. The visit could be used not only for the therapeutic purposes, but to discuss his "dissolution of FR Yugoslavia by force" approach in reality of the everyday life, once we have definitely established that it has no grounds in the law.
- "In 1946 and 1947, reading about the Nuremberg trials, I learned of the horrible crimes Germans had committed. This was a terrible shock. The ten year old kid I was then concluded: a) The defeat of our country was our great good luck. Better to get bombed or strafed than to grow up a Nazi murderer; and b) I would never walk docilely to any mass grave nor let others do so, where I could do something about it."
Thanking Dr. Muenzel for his advises, however cheaply sentimental they might sound, I conclude this text by expressing my feeling that the Goettingen professor should try harder next time with his introspection: perhaps there are other traumas deeper in the past (e. g., in WW I); perhaps the reasons for his bias and gross academic incorrectness may be found in the present. Anyhow, I leave him with his conscience and his colleagues to provide them the explanations. From my part, I consider this polemos with Prof. Muenzel closed.
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