Friday, March 19, 2004

Odds and Ends

The Passion of the Christ

My comments about Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, can be found at the "Rotten Tomatoes" web site. Here's a link to take you there.

More about Kosovo and the Balkans

Why is it we don't remember? Kosovo, still part of Serbia, despite the efforts of the Albanian population there to become independent, is but one part of a larger, tragic puzzle. (I still can't understand why the American people can't grasp what is going on there. What if there was an attempt here in Arizona by people of Hispanic background to seize control of the state and declare their independence? Or in Texas? Or California, the world's seventh-largest economy? Would "we" as a nation intervene to allow the separatists to take control? Or would we act to retain these parts of our nation? Of course, we'd do the latter. The problem is that this is what the Serbian government did in Kosovo...) Because of our amazing ability to forget, we have actually contributed to causing the tragedy.

Before Kosovo, the "hot button" in the Balkans was Bosnia. (It's actually "Bosnia-Herzegovina," but who can spell or pronounce that?) Underlying all the problems was the Christian-Muslim tension that has wracked this region for centuries; pitting "Serbs" against "Bosnians." [Again, a bit of history may be helpful. Originally, the Bosnians were Serbs, and Orthodox. The defeat of the Serbian army at the Battle of Kosovo (hmmm...) by Muslim invaders from Ottoman Turkey led to the subjugation of the Serbs. Many opted to adopt the religion of those in power, becoming Muslims. Thus, the battles today are, in a way, brother against brother; a nation divided since 1389 A.D.] There were also ethnic-based clashes in Croatia and Slovenia in the same time-frame.

"Once upon a time," there was a kingdom, Yugoslavia, formed at the end of World War I, as a union of the "Southern Slavs" (yugo-, southern). It was originally called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; the name was changed to "Yugoslavia" in 1929. The core was Serbia, which had only become independent from Ottoman rule in the late 19th century, with the recognition of the Principality of Serbia in 1879, and the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882. The growing power of Serbia, seen in the First and Second Balkan Wars (1911-1912) helped end Turkish rule in the Balkans; and undoubtedly contributed to fears about Serbia on the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which seized control (in violation of treaties) of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908; and which led to the disastrous conditions which the Austrians attempted to force upon Serbia following the assassination of the Grand Duke Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the empire, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1914. [The Serbs, by the way, in an effort to keep peace, accepted every condition except the one that would have replaced the teaching of the Serbian language with Austrian in Serbian schools.] The failure of negotiations led to the mobilization of troops by Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Germany (in support of Austria), Russia (in support of Serbia), and other nations; and World War I followed.

Yugoslavia fell under Communist control after World War II; and it was under her ruler, Josip Broz, known as "Tito," that many Serbs were forcibly relocated from Kosovo, the "Cradle of Serbia." Tito allowed the ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia to move into the province in their place. This, of course, set the stage for the problems of today. The break-up of the Eastern European Communist states in the early 1990's led to votes in Croatia and Slovenia which would radically affect the makeup of Yugoslavia. Initially, the American government did not recognize the "independent" status of Coratia and Slovenia. However, once we did officially recognize these as "independent" states, the division of Yugoslavia began. These two states broke away, as did Macedonia, in 1991; leaving a rump Yugoslavia of Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro; and Bosnia-Herzegovina, control of which was contested between Croatia and "Yugoslavia" (Serbia).

Sorry; this was meant to be brief. But's it hard to stop, when there is information that we need to know, and it isn't being presented anywhere that's immediately easy to find. By the way, here are some links that can help you find more: about the history of Serbia and Yugoslavia; and about the current Yugoslavia.

This Just In...
KFOR has decided it will defend the Sokolnika Monastery, and return the evacuated sister to their monastery; as well as to the monastery at Devic, which has been destroyed. KFOR has announced it will protect the monk and monastery of Visoki Decani. Italian forces under KFOR tried to defend the Church of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple in Djakovica; but the church was later set on fire, and its icons, books, and 19th-century iconostasis were destroyed.