"One of the greatest European writers, Ismail Kadare, expresses himself on extremely delicate subjects: the division between Serbs and Albanians, the perennial mutual resentment, anger and resentment, friendships and misunderstandings with Serbian writers, distortions in history - which far outweigh the Balkan drama - and also explains why Serbia should have been the first to recognize Kosova's independence ". With these words the most important Serbian magazine, NIN, introduces the interview of the journalist Branka Bogavac to Ismail Kadare.The journalist first of all dwells on the figure and the role of established writer that Kadare has now gained in the world, not to mention the comparisons with Homer, Dante, Kafka who over the years have been associated with him. The first question concerns precisely how much the aforementioned fame can contribute to increasing the writer's sense of responsibility in the country, in the Balkans and in the world at large.
Kadare, as a first point, highlights his position on the role of literature in the history of humanity: "Literature cannot solve the problems of this world; it could also happen, but in this case it would lose the role that is intrinsic to it ". Later the writer dwells on the comparisons made earlier, stating that in most cases they are incorrect, and sometimes they can be dangerous: Homer, for example, was the first literary colossus to speak of the war without reservation. Today they would have censored him everywhere. To actualize the speech, Kadare does not hesitate to recall one of the last UN initiatives, that of subjecting Dante Alighieri to censorship. Expressing all his disdain about it, the writer strongly advises reading the Tuscan writer as it should rather than fantasizing, in order to learn how to condemn crimes against humanity, which he did better than anyone else.In the second question, the Serbian journalist focuses on the famous essay by the writer "Disagreement" ("Mosmarreveshja"), considered the peak of Albanian thought, in which Kadare deals with the relations between the various Balkan states and those between the latter and Europe. He shows himself to be direct and hard in judgment both with the Albanians themselves and with the other Balkan peoples, in a sort of merciless mirror in front of everyone. Asked if the other Balkan writers would have ever followed the same example towards their peoples, Kadare replies that of course he would like this to happen, but he also points out that the Balkan political classes are struggling to get out of the old trap of exaggerated nationalism, still applying the theory of mors tua, mea life. This certainly does not facilitate Europe in its collaboration with its most problematic peninsula, also because the approach of the Balkan peoples towards it is not univocal; for example, the boundless love of the Albanians towards Europe and the USA is well known, this because their departure from the old continent in the course of history has been lived in a more tragic way than the Slavic peoples. If, in fact, they could still enjoy the support of other peoples of the same ethnic group, the Albanians had no one similar to them: that is why, as a famous Albanian poet said, "Love the West with a tragic love". The writer also clarifies the fact that often the Europeanization of the Balkans can create misunderstandings, for example denationalization to the detriment of nationalisms, which according to him does not derive from loving oneself too much, but from loving each other badly, this, also extensively treated in his latest works -.
He is then asked if he believes the Balkan region is somehow "accursed"In reference to the misunderstandings that have been created over time and considering the fact that Kadare has gained European and world renown starting precisely from the Balkan peninsula. The author's answer is brief and concise: he simply maintains that there is no cursed region or people. Being cursed has two facets; the positive one, which incites protest, and the negative one, which instead leads to resignation.
Answering the next question, Kadare explains why he does not consider himself a dissident: "Dissidence, the public opposition of an order, a doctrine or a state, communist Albania has never known them"- he claims. He does not want to ask questions about why this never happened, since it does not fall within the sphere of influence of literature. The latter, according to him, is in fact a parallel, independent world, whose laws differ from those of society; if this were not the case, a large part of medieval literature and other periods would be put aside, as it contrasted with the principles of contemporary society such as emancipation, freedom, etc.
In the next question the journalist, after recalling how Kadare enclosed the culture, history, literature, folklore, politics and misfortunes of the Balkan region as a whole in his works, asks the author for his opinion on the origin of all these conflicts.
Only a brilliant and far-sighted ingenuity like that of Kadare could give a satisfactory answer to this type of question: “These questions are asked everywhere by many people, many offices, in many languages. At first glance they seem very easy and clear, even impatient in trying to give you an answer. But immediately afterwards, suddenly, the clarity fades into the fog of doubt: when things are so outrageously, so miserably clear, then why can't the answer be found? What prevents us from doing so? At an international assembly of writers in Switzerland, after the fall of communism, I remember a writer who was eager to take the floor to talk about his ex-communist country. On the second day, when he had to speak, he suddenly had a blockade, a shock caused by the news of a student demonstration in his country with the slogan: "Down the people!"I am reminded of this case every time I hear pessimistic statements about the Balkans without a future. There are often claims of this kind, which resemble the slogan of the aforementioned students: "To hell with the Balkans, together with their European dream!" I've always been against this kind of cynicism. We are not here for this, but for anything else. Let us try to make accessible the idea of what human progress is, which also includes our Balkan progress.
We find it hard to abandon crazy dreams, funny missions. We fail to realize that there are no missionary peoples in the Balkans and I do not believe there are elsewhere. The Greek mission, which still clings to the liberation of Constantinople, is just as funny as the Serbian one, which aims at the distance "Belgrade - Tokyo", and with the same size, if not greater, it was also funny that the Albanian that aimed at the defense of "Marxism - Leninism" on a global scale. The situation in the Balkans today is as complicated as it is easy. In the Balkans, contracts of today, after the self-secession of Slovenia and Croatia and perhaps also of Romania, only three indispensable peoples seem to remain - perhaps they are - Greeks, Albanians, Slavs. There are not only three peoples in their territories, but three civilizations, three cultures with three different languages (even with three different alphabets: Latin, Greek and Cyrillic). The Balkans cannot be
imagine without one of these three components. Rooted in the region for centuries, the existence of one cannot be separated from that of the other. In case of conflicts or not, you are obliged to find an agreement, with or without good will. Does it look like a sad version? I believe that what we experienced a few years ago was not less horrible. To return to a more benevolent view, we must also say that historically there has been a sort of balance in the Balkans. Today this balance is even safer because it is under the protection of the European Union and under the conditions set by it. To return now to the Balkan trio, I believe you are of the same opinion as me that none of these three, in any way and under any circumstances, can be eradicated from the region "problems". It is all about understanding this. So you can ask a simple question: Is this understood? It is easy to say yes, while it is much more difficult to dare to go deep into the problem, to find the roots of evil, and this not to resurrect old grudges, but instead to cut them off.
There is a doctrine in the Balkans, a draft of the 1938, which openly requires the expulsion of one of these three peoples. The draft was written by a famous academic, Vasa Cubrillovic, with the title "The expulsion of the Albanians". According to this theory, given that the life of the Serbian nation could not be secure alongside the Albanians, the only solution was the expulsion of the latter from the Balkan region. This expulsion would start with the expulsion of the Kosovo Albanians. I have been aware of this draft for many years now, but I never heard that the idea was condemned in Yugoslavia or ex-Yugoslavia. A non-convicted criminal project is much more dangerous than a secret terrorist organization.
In the 1999, then 60 years later, the whole world could witness the implementation of this project.
The condemnation of harmful roots is mandatory for everyone. If such a project were discovered in my country, in Albania, I would publicly accept the disgrace of the non-condemnation of it, but also that of the delay in condemnation "Kadare is also called to express himself on relations with other Slavic writers (Serbs, Macedonians , Croats and others).
He makes it clear above all that writers are not angels, so they can also deviate, but this deviation is acceptable only if temporary. To be more concrete in his response, the writer recounts two extreme examples of friendship with Yugoslav writers: the first is Danilo Kish, with whom he creates a real friendly relationship after meeting him at a literary assembly abroad in the midst of enmity between the two countries. It is curious how, during a boat trip, one of their French colleagues was amazed to see an Albanian and a Yugoslavian talking for more than an hour, and moreover to smile at each other.
The other friend was Vuk Drashkovic, whom Kadare considers the opposite of the first. Their contrast arose from the fact that Drashkovic had repeatedly asked his Albanian colleague to retract his position on Kosova, which implied silence in front of pure cruelty, rebels, those who killed peace, destroyers of culture, to Pushkin's murders, etc. and completely unimaginable for the one who was representative of the voice of all the Albanian intellectuals. Finally he remembers a third case, that of Milorad Pavic, a perfect neutral, taciturn type by nature or by choice, of which he has never been able to fully understand the position. The journalist then asks how a solution could be found to the age-old problems between the two peoples and if, for this purpose, it could somehow benefit a "bridge"Between intellectuals and writers of both states. "Literature - Kadare answers - can be very useful, but it needs a basic understanding of things". It is well known that the earth is determined according to the people who live in it, and not for certain based on the trees, rivers or any other present object. Therefore, based on this simple equation, Kosova is above all Albanian, for the simple fact that that land is inhabited by a majority Albanian population. Serbia, on the other hand, claims that Kosova is Serbian, despite being inhabited by Albanians. Here is the unde malum. There is no remedy for such a misunderstanding, yes, there was a time, but it was the period of the colonies. That time is now dead. According to the typically Balkan mentality, we often try to establish who came first as the master of this land, and the 1389 Battle of the Blackbirds is a milestone. According to Kadare, the territory in which a battle takes place cannot in any way establish to which people that territory belongs, otherwise today Europe would be in total chaos, remembering that the most important battles, such as Waterloo, the battles of Julius Caesar, etc. all took place in different territories. Furthermore, the history of the battle of Kosova has been changed according to political conventions. Instead Kadare believes that this moment should have been the birth of a historic friendship between the two peoples, and not the opposite as it happened instead. "Mr. Kadare, were you in favor of inflicting a punishment on Serbia? " - asks Bogavac. The words with which he answers are incisive. He approved the bombing of Serbia, and perseveres in his opinion. The reason, although surprising for a man of culture of his level, is this: "In those tragic circumstances, this was the only way to end the evil. The history of humanity rarely, very rarely, has known an inevitable, necessary bombardment. But the history of humanity has never known a necessary massacre. Therefore, in the absence of alternative choices, even with much pain, it was necessary to consent to the use of bombs, which would have generated death and destruction, not only to the Serbian people, but also to the Albanian one. This was my motivation. "In an equally frank and spontaneous way, Kadare answers the question of whether the Balkan peoples have taken a valid lesson from these endless conflicts. "People may be, but political elites do not believe it. Their so-called emancipation is very slow, moreover superficial and false. Some of them can change the way they express themselves, but in no case the real core itself. For example, they avoid using the term "ethnic cleansing", but do not hesitate to say "we do not withdraw from Kosova". A further request from the journalist to clarify and clarify the difference between talking about "Expulsion of the Albanians" and say "We do not withdraw from Kosova", Kadare does not hesitate to argue that a sentence such as the latter primarily implies the need to implement ethnic cleansing to achieve this goal; secondly, then, these statements are made in the context of today's Europe, while the question of whether to accept Serbia in the EU is discussed. If, on the other hand, Serbia recognizes the independence of Kosova - now a fact - without claiming a Kosova that reality wants inhabited by Albanians, relations between the Balkan states would undoubtedly be far better. Furthermore, the writer specifies that the conflict was interrupted, not concluded, since the guilty conscience came out unscathed.
Subsequently, he must recognize the faults of the Albanians on the one hand and those of the Serbs on the other. The answer concerns a simple mathematical equation: in the case of Kosova, that is, it was a conflict between a state (Serbia), and a population (that of the
Kosova) which actually represents a quarter of the Albanians. If justice is a proportion, then this conflict was completely impartial. However, he makes it clear that he does not want in any way to side with the Albanians, but recognizes the crimes - absolutely clear in his works, in which the criticisms directed at the Albanians are, in fact, very recurrent -.
The Serbian journalist reminds the writer of how important cultural monuments in Kosova have been for Serbs and how much pain caused the burning of this cultural heritage.
In this regard, Kadare claims to have condemned this monstrous barbarity from day one, not least because it was not only an anti-Serbian, but also anti-Albanian act, which helped to reinforce the idea of those who believed that the Albanians fought for religion, not for freedom. However, it must be acknowledged that the government of Kosova has admitted this guilt in front of the entire international public opinion, remedying with the reconstruction of the monuments set on fire.
Explaining his impartiality of judgment, he also refers to another case, namely that of organ trafficking, and asks that the perpetrators of both of these crimes be condemned. But - the writer points out - this condemnation must take place in the general framework of the war, because surely barbarism like that of the 800 children, less than 5 years, must not be left unpunished, brutally massacred, not to mention rapes and other such crimes.
At the request for clarification on some accusations made by the Albanian press about his unreliable role towards the Serbian language, Kadare replies claiming to be aware of it, but, if these racist statements were true, they certainly could have affected his international image writer known all over the world. He also explains how his "affection" for the Albanian language is accentuated by the censorship that this idiom has suffered in most of history: for example, his was the only language banned by decree from the Ottoman Empire. But this, in any case, could in no way influence his judgment and consideration of other languages, such as the Serbian one, which he appreciates and considers particularly suited to literary expression.
In the penultimate question the Serbian journalist focuses instead on the relations Albania - Greece, in particular on how much they have influenced positively or negatively in her career, since in her texts ancient motifs and, moreover, her work recur very often. on Greek theater it has been translated into many languages.
As for the ancient motifs in his works, these are part of the constructive role of literature in general, indeed, they are an ally of the Balkan scholars against possible modern curvatures.
Finally, in the last question, the Albanian literate is asked if he still adheres to what he had said during a past interview about the naturally enthusiastic writing of a possible laudatory text of Serbian poetry, as he did with the Greek one, which he admires very much. "I still adhere fully to that statement," Kadare replies, "which could perhaps arouse a suspicious hilarity." However, I renew my statement at the time, and I hope that European culture and civilization will finally dominate in this area of Europe. In that case, neither his question nor my answer would sound surprising. "
Edited by Daniela Vathi e Elena Carcangiu
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