BELGRADE – The initiative of Ramush Haradinaj is essentially a political statement. There are no arguments for it in the medieval historical events in Kosovo and Metohija and it should be separated from the history in which there is no evidence that the Albanians in any substantial numbers participated in the Battle of Kosovo. If, however, Albanians have credible scientific sources for this claim, let them disclose them and offer to the public.

This is how the historian Dr. Miomir Gatalovic from the Institute for Contemporary History described to Serbian daily “Vecernje Novosti” Ramush Haradinaj’s initiative to erect a monument at Gazimestan to “Albanians killed in the Battle of Kosovo” for which he stated was “one of the most important in the history of Kosovo and the Balkans”.

“What Haradinaj wrote on his Facebook profile for Vidovdan is pointless as it is absurd to interpret events of the Middle Ages in the light of contemporary events, and not from the perspective of that time and opportunities,” said dr. Gatalovic.

“And in that time the ruler, in the case of war, called the nobles and they were required to send a certain number of soldiers for the battle. It is possible that Prince Lazar called an Arbanas lord to send an army to the Battle of Kosovo, but even if it is so, this is not a significant number of people who deserve to have a monument at Gazimestan.

That the number of Arbanas who may have fought in the Battle of Kosovo was small, the historian backs with Defter, Turkish census from 1455.

“In this Turkish Defter (records) are written very precise data,” says Gatalovic. “They say that in the Brankovic Region, which accounts for 80 percent of the territory of today’s Kosovo and Metohija, lives 12,985 Serbs in 480 villages, and that there are 46 Arnaut houses in 23 villages. In addition, the list shows that in Brankovic Region there are 75 Wallachian houses in 34 villages, 17 Bulgarian and 5 Greek houses, as well as one Jewish and one Croatian house. So, even six decades after the Battle of Kosovo Serbs are the most populous population of Kosovo and Metohija, which indicates that it was the same at the time of the Battle of Kosovo and that the number of other nations that participated in it, much smaller.

The number of Arbanas in Kosovo and Metohija, according to Gatalovic, has gradually increased only after the great migration of Serbs in 1690.

“Until that time, or until the beginning of the 17th century, they mostly lived in mountains and were engaged in animal husbandry,” explains the historian. “Only after the great migration they gradually settled the areas where Serbs lived. Moreover, since the beginning of the 19th century, the Turks had often used them as its reliable rampart toward Europe.”

Explaining that Ramus Haradinaj’s initiative is historically unfounded, the historian adds that in the Middle Ages, at the time of the Battle of Kosovo, national identity did not have the form it has today.

“The notion of national identity as we know it today, nations generally accepted long after the Middle Ages,” said Gatalovic. “And the national identity of Albanians was formed after the Prizren League, in 1878”.

Archaeologist dr. Marko Popovic agrees with dr. Miomir Gatalovic. He says that Haradinaj’s initiative is not substained with facts.

“It is known that Christian army was in the Battle of Kosovo,” said Popovic. “This was army of Prince Lazar, Vuk Brankovic and Bosnian ruler Tvrtko, who sent help. There is information that there were Albanians in the ranks of Vuk Brankovic, but very little. At that time they were few in Kosovo and Metohija, but cannot be completely excluded for certain. None of Albanian nobles participated in the battle, there was no organized Albanian army, such as, for example, Bosnian. If there were some Albanians, they participated as part of the Christian army.”

Haradinaj’s initiative caused an outrage in Serbian public. Social networks and Serbian news and agency portals were hot with comments at the Vidovdan Facebook post by the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, in which he “explains” that one “must not forget the role of Albanians in the Battle of Kosovo, which was a battle for the participation of the values of European civilization”. He urged citizens to support the initiative and demand that Kosovo institutions erect a monument at Gazimestan in the honor of the Battle of Kosovo and Albanian heroes.

“Our state should officially react to this initiative of Ramush Haradinaj,” said Gatalovic. “With historical arguments it has, Serbia needs to address all European institutions and the United Nations. It can use established historical facts of our and foreign experts on the Battle of Kosovo.”

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