Ethnic Albanians are planning armed attacks on the Serb-Kosovo border today to mark the first anniversary of the beginning of NATO’s air war against Yugoslavia, according to a “Voice of Russia” World Service Short Wave Radio Broadcast, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.

American troops would be involved in such armed conflicts, since the attacks are to take place in the U.S.-patrolled sector of the Serb-Kosovo border region, said VOR.

NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia began on March 24th 1999.

Members of the formally disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army have joined with armed ethnic Albanian groups in southern Serbia. These forces seek to carry on an armed insurrection in the border area between Kosovo and Serbia, according to the Russian broadcasting agency.

The border region has been the scene of a series of armed attacks against Serb military and civilians since the beginning of the year.

A new ethnic Albanian guerrilla group, named after three villages in the southern Serb border area, has recently announced its existence: the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac. The new guerrilla band states it is fighting to protect ethnic Albanians living in southern Serbia against Serb attacks.

The hostilities in and around Kosovo could easily erupt into a much wider conflict. Macedonia and Montenegro, neighbors of Kosovo with sizable ethnic Albanian populations, are vulnerable to the same conflict as on the Kosovo-Serbia border.

Kosovo remains a site of East-West dispute. Russia and China have bitterly denounced NATO’s involvement in Kosovo, and support Yugoslavia’s stand against NATO. Moscow stated in the broadcast that under NATO control, Kosovo has become “one of the worst crime-infested zones in Europe.” NATO, according to Moscow, has established a protectorate in Kosovo “using local Albanians as puppets.”

Moscow and Beijing have both declared they will not tolerate any attempt to remove Kosovo from Yugoslav sovereignty.

The armed attacks of the past year, which have spilled over the Kosovo border into southern Serbia, reflect a struggle for a “Greater Albania,” the union of all Albanians in the Balkan region. Such a struggle has destabilized the entire region.

The idea of a “Greater Albania” is a reaction to events in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, the major powers of Europe re-drew the boundaries of the Balkans following the decline of the Moslem Ottoman Empire. Much of the ethnic Albanian population of the central Balkans remained outside of what became the nation of Albania. Resentment remains high over the perceived abandonment and isolation of the Albanian people almost a century ago.

In the end, the birthrate may determine more than present violence. According to demographers, if current population trends continue, by 2050 ethnic Albanians will be a majority throughout all of Serbia.

I. J. Toby Westerman, is a contributing editor to and WorldNet magazine.

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