KOSOVO & YUGOSLAVIA: LAW IN CRISIS

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Reply to Professor Antic

Prof.dr. Frank Muenzel
University of Goettingen Law Faculty
Max-Plank-Institut fur Auslandisches und Internationales Privatrecht
Hamburg, Germany

In his paper "'Kosovar Independence': Muenzel's Pro-Greater Albania Approach" (responding to my article "What Does Public International Law Have to Say About Kosovar Independence?"), Prof. Oliver Antic blames me severely for using Albanian names of places in an area which is - was - predominantly Albanian; not to start squabbling about percentages: where about as large a part of the population spoke Albanian as are speaking French in Lorraine or Serbocroatian in Rijeka. Now why may I talk about Rijeka and Lorraine, but not about Kosova, Pejė and Skėnderaj? (Especially as some of the Serbian names, such as Metohija or Srbica, are not at all "historically approved", as Antic claims, but were made up only in this century to bolster Serbian claims.)

But even more than about my using Albanian names, Prof. Antic gets excited about my using Albanian sources. <1> Any normal lawyer would try to get information from both sides. Not Prof. Antic. He seems outraged by being exposed to Albanian authors. Am I wrong in concluding that he really believes that the Albanians are such barbarians as many Serbs, even Serb professors, make them out to be, and that he now is honestly horrified to see that some foreigner is taking these barbarians seriously - just as we, as children in Nazi Germany, really believed Jews to be slinking gangsters with enormous crooked noses, out to suck our blood?

In particular, Prof. Antic objects to my citing www.kosova.com (Kosova, not Kosovo!, he protests indignantly), the net site of QIK, the Kosova Information Center. He calls it an "extremely biased pro-Albanian site with no reliable information on it". Actually, QIK was so biased that radical Albanian factions often protested vehemently against its reports; that all foreign reporters in Prishtina soon learned to rely on it; and that, when, in January of this year, its founder and head, Enver Maloku, was killed by masked men, the Serbs immediately blamed this on the KLA (which denied the charge). Mr. Maloku paid himself a monthly salary of 300 DM (170 US$), on which he had to support his wife and his children - Heaven knows what has become of them now. He had built up this press service against great odds; vehemently opposed to all violence, he therefore came up against it again and again, being constantly harassed by both the Serbian police and by anonymous men who even threatened his children. Prof. Antic may call me anything he likes ("ludicrous", "biased", "twisting facts" etc.), but would he please have the decency not to slander QIK and thereby its founder, who can no longer defend himself? Prof. Antic might content himself with noting that QIK has stopped - been stopped - operating now. <2>

Under Nazi rule, Jews and Poles were considered subhuman and any Jewish or Polish contribution, valueless. Therefore you were not allowed to quote Jewish or Polish authors. Prof. Antic seems to have a similar attitude towards Albanian authors. Watching how Albanian intellectuals are presently being hunted down in Kosova, I admit I find it difficult to enter into a discussion with somebody who shows this kind of attitude towards them. Nevertheless, I shall try to answer Antic's legal arguments:

  1. He is right in stating that legally, there were no Albanian (or Greek or other ethnic) vilayets in the Ottoman empire. Nor did I want to imply this. Calling those four vilayets "Albanian" or their area "Albania" nevertheless was common practice at the time, as the population of any of these vilayets was more than two thirds Albanian and as Albania was traditionally considered a distinct entity, just as, for example, Armenia.

  2. On a number of points, Prof. Antic seems not to have read my paper very thoroughly:

    • My paper is not "pro Greater Albania". It discusses the independence of Kosova, not proposals for some Greater Albania.

    • Against my conclusions based on the right to self-determination, Prof. Antic cites the views of M.N.Shaw and others, as if I had overlooked them. Actually I discussed these views in extenso (II.2).

    • To refute my "ridiculous attempt", Antic (no.11) also cites the Friendly Relations Declaration. He overlooks that I base part of my argument on exactly the paragraph from that Declaration he quotes. Only my quotation (text to note 61; also cf. that note) is a bit more complete than his. The reader might amuse himself with comparing our texts and speculating on the reasons for the difference.

    • Under no.14, Prof. Antic claims that I consider war a duty under international law. As proof, he cites a subtitle (to II.4 of my text), including the question mark after that subtitle; but he seems to have understood neither the meaning of that question mark nor the text before and after that subtitle; I suggest he rereads it.

    • Prof.Antic's no.11 claims that the occupation of Kosova during WW I could not eliminate Serbia's and Montenegro's legal title to the area. Maybe - had these two countries continued to exist; I discussed this in the text to note 60 and in that note.

  3. Besides blasting me for using Albanian names and sources (nos. 1 and 3 of his answer), Prof. Antic (in his no.2) gets nearly as excited about my final remark that the civil and criminal liability of the Yugoslav aggressor should be pursued (as well as, I may add, the responsibility of the persons participating in that aggression or aiding it). Prof. Antic finds it "incredible" that I "could consider a sovereign state an 'aggressor' on its own territory". He seems to forget here that I consider Kosova not to be Yugoslav territory, that in fact my paper has been written to prove just this.

    But let us for the moment regard Kosova as a part of Yugoslavia. Does Prof. Antic believe it to be legally impossible that a "sovereign state" and those using its power attack its own subjects? In other words, is it his opinion that a state and its rulers may commit just any crime against their subjects without incurring any liability, as long as they do this "on its own territory"?<3> Would this view not be an argument for the dissolution by force of a state, such as Yugoslavia, which is repeatedly comitting genocide and other serious crimes against what it considers its own population, as under this kind of state immunity ą la Antic there would be no other way to stop such a gang of thugs committing such crimes with impunity?

  4. At the end, Prof. Antic suggests that the reason for Muenzel's approach is "traumas from the past", namely the "defeat of his country in both world wars". If we get that personal, I may perhaps be allowed to answer: Yes, I do have two "traumas" from that past:

    • 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 eighth 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.

    • In 1946 and 1947, reading about the Nuremberg trials, I learned of the horrible crimes Germans had committed. This was a terrible shock. I thought it particularly horrible that the victims, though suspecting what was going on, had for the most part docilely followed orders, until being stuffed into the gas chambers or shot into mass graves. 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.

      I still hold these views.

Notes

<1> In his excitement, Professor Antic seems to have overlooked that in some of the notes where he claims I committed the sin of quoting Albanians, I actually quoted mainly German and Austrian sources - such as in note 6 and pass., where my main source is a collection of newspaper reports edited by an Austrian (English translation: http://www.alb-net.com/juka1.htm#3) - and even the official gazettes of Yugoslavia and Serbia, as in notes 17 and 27.

<2> Enver Maloku's last report was on the Serbian raids in the Llap region - which we now know to have been an early stage of the execution of the infamous "horseshoe plan" for the ethnic "cleansing" of Kosova.

<3> This would also mean, of course, that Nazi victims who had been German citizens are not entitled to any damages, as the German Reich as a sovereign state had, on its own territory, every right to rob and kill its own citizens or to have them exploited as slave labourers. Would Prof. Antic be interested in being employed as legal counsel by some German company now being sued by such former slave labourers?


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