H.R.H. CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER
Having consulted members of his Crown and Privy Councils, HRH Crown Prince Alexander issued today the following statement on the situation in Kosovo:
At this dramatic moment for the destiny and existence of the Serbian nation, the Crown cannot and will not remain silent.
The time of readiness and openness for talks and negotiations is long overdue. The time has not yet passed for firmness and determination to persist in the fight for a democratic society, for the rule of law and justice, for the defence of the fundamental rights of the Serbian people and of other peoples who live together with them and who are creating a common vision of a better future.
The problem of Kosovo and Metohija is not the problem of oppression of one people by another, but it is the problem of a regime which ensures its existence in Serbia and Yugoslavia by threatening the existence of all others. Today's dispute over Kosovo and Metohija is between the ideological and political heirs of the Yugoslav and Albanian Communists who in 1945 endorsed the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Kosovo - Metohija region by banning these exiles from returning to their land they were forced to leave from 1941 onwards. The decree ordering the ban is still in force. Thus, the Serbs of Kosovo became the first post-war refugees banned from returning home in their own country.
By delaying for years any serious discussion with the Albanians of Kosovo and Metohija, using the Serbs in that region only as an object of political manipulation, treating the Serbian national interest as a commodity, holding up for ridicule the principles of democracy and the rule of law, the current regime threatens the vital interests of all citizens of Serbia and all the Serbs wherever they may live. By adopting an uncompromising attitude today, the regime does not defend either Kosovo or Serbia, but only itself.
Being itself in exile, the Crown understands and feels for the misfortune of the exiles and for the concerns and troubles of people whose civic and national dignity has become a pawn in the game played by those who could not care less about it. Neither the Serbs are the enemies of the Albanians, nor the Albanians are the enemies of the Serbs. Terrorism is the enemy of all of them, be it State terrorism or nationalist or chauvinist terrorism.
The Crown condemns most strongly both the brutality of the regime's police and the killing of innocent civilians, as well as the terrorist actions by Albanian extremists against the police and Kosovo Serbs. Terror and brutality must give way to talks, to a dialogue between the Serbs and the Albanians. Participants in the talks must include the representatives of Kosovo Serbs, the natives of the region who are resolved never to abandon their centuries-old homes. Likewise, it is important not to overlook the problem of several thousands Serbs, the victims of ethnic cleansing in Croatia, who had found refuge in Kosovo and whose existence is now again being threatened. The international community should not be indifferent to the fate of Kosovo Serbs in the way it was indifferent to the forced exodus of several hundreds of thousands of Serbs from Krajina!
The key issue of Serbia's and Montenegro's existence - which is being deliberately avoided today both within the country and by the international community - is neither Kosovo and Metohija nor the plight of the Albanian national minority, but the question of existence or non-existence of democratic institutions, the existence of the rule of law and security of all citizens within the framework of the Constitution and before Law. Today the Serbs do not have an internationally recognised State, and a State that is not recognised cannot protect anybody; especially, it cannot offer any protection from those who negotiate with it without recognising it. Such a State is a dead loss and the international factors treat its interests as non-existent. The Serbs have today an arrogant regime and a humiliated people. This regime is recognised by the international community only when it has to give in or give up something. This is why the regime is trusted only in relation to its readiness to trade the interests of its own people.
The Kosovo problem threatens to cause a new armed conflict in the Balkans, and it is our sacred duty to prevent that conflict. Under the present regime, the Serbs have suffered one defeat after another, and if there is a new war it is the Serbs who are going to be its chief victims. Policy must be conducted wisely while the protection and defence of the Serbian interests and of human rights of all citizens irrespective of their ethnic origin, religious and political affiliation must be its motivation and its aim.
Europe and the world should understand something which is clear to us: Serbian culture and Serbian spirituality, which we have contributed to the European and world cultural heritage, were born in Kosovo, had their flowering in Kosovo, and must not disappear from Kosovo. For six centuries now Kosovo has been the symbol of the Serbian nation and of its destiny. Kosovo has been following us for six centuries both as a warning and as a promise. Let us be resolute in the fight for our rights while respecting the rights of others, and a just solution will then be found. Let us fight for our country with wisdom and democracy. The alternative is tyranny, decline and despair.
London, 12 March 1998
Copyright © 1997 HRHCP Aleksandar II