Projekat Rastko Gracanica-PecElektronska biblioteka kulture Kosova i Metohije
Projekat Rastko Gračanica - Peć: Istorija: The Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija


Figures from the 1981 population census indicate a rapid, profound change in the ethnic structure of Kosovo and Metohija, while the ongoing, unprecedented migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from the region highlights the dramatic conditions attending this process.

With a high birthrate that is showing hesitant signs of decreasing and with what is the highest natural increment in Europe, the Albanian population in Kosovo Province is rapidly growing in number, exerting heavy pressure not only on available resources, but also on other ethnic groups. In the case of the latter, the conditions in Kosovo and Metohija caused people to start leaving their native land, especially since the second half of the sixties. Of the 103,000 Serbs and Montenegrins who moved from the Province to Serbia Proper (i.e. outside the Republic of Serbia's two autonomous provinces), only 17% migrated prior to 1961, while the other 83% left during the two critical decades that followed. More than 20,000 migrated in the 1981-1987 period alone.

In the thirty-three years between the first and last postwar census, the number of Albanians rose more than 2.5-fold, while their share in the Province's population increased from 69 to 77%. At the same time, the Serbian and Montenegrin population, taken together, decreased appreciably, while its share dropped from 28 to 16 per cent and probably to less than 10% in 1987. The ethnic homogenization of Kosovo and Metohija, one of the main goals of Albanian chauvinists and secessionists, was in full swing.

At its April 29, 1984 meeting, the Inter-Departmental Committee for the Study of Kosovo, attached to the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, agreed on the need for thoroughly researching these trends and their relevant causes. The Committee asked Mr. Milos Macura, one of its members, to evaluate the feasibility of studying the migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija to Serbia Proper. After consulting the Republic of Serbia's Institute for Statistics and obtaining other relevant information, various possibilities were considered. The first draft was prepared for "a survey of problems related to the migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo to Serbia". The draft was reviewed and adopted by the working group formed for this purpose, consisting of: Academy members Antonije Isakovic, Radomir Lukic and Milos Macura, and Professor Ruza Petrovic.

At the beginning of 1985, the Survey was included in the Research Program of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences as a separate project. Professor Ruza Petrovic was appointed Program Manager.

In September 1986, a pilot survey was conducted in 20 households with a view to testing the validity of the questionnaire and method. It was concluded that data on the migrants and households were not properly recorded in the communes. In some cases the respondents were quite open and cooperative but there were instances of the opposite behavior. It was also agreed that certain questions required reworking.

The data processing was designed by Professor Ruza Petrovic after due consultation with exports at the Serbian Institute for Statistics. The editing and coding of the questionnaire was done centrally. The data were processed at the Serbian Institute for Statistics free-of-charge. The organizers of the survey would like to thank the director of the Institute, Mr. Milovan Zivkovic, for his generous assistance.

The Academy's Committee for Population Studies followed up and supervised all stages of the work. Ruza Petrovic, the Project Manager, submitted periodic reports to the Population Studies Committee and to the Inter-Departmental Committee for the Study of Kosovo. The reports were also forwarded to the Academy's Social Sciences Department which made its own relevant decisions regarding the survey. Due attention was paid to preparing and organizing the survey, given the complexity of the subject matter and the high standards required.


The 1981 population census offers abundant data regarding the migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo to Serbia Proper. There are also the data collected and processed since April 1981 by the Serbian Institute for Statistics, in cooperation with the Serbian Secretariat of Internal Affairs. In both instances the data provide insight into the scope and direction of these migrations as well as a picture of the persons involved. The same applies to the statistics produced by the authorities of Kosovo, although a considerably different method was used here.

One is right in saying, therefore, that the quantitative aspects of the Kosovo migrations treated here were not unknown, but their economic, social, political and ethnic aspects needed to be understood. Since available statistics offered no proper data, it was decided that they should be collected from those most capable of providing them – the migrants themselves. Another reason in favor of obtaining fresh data was that all available statistics described migration by individuals, but the migration we were interested in involved entire families. Consequently, it was decided that the survey should embrace not only the individual, but also the family and household as equally important units.

To be sure, there are various approaches to migration studies, and various methods and procedures, depending on the circumstances. The nature of the migrations under review here indicated two possibilities. One was detailed interviewing of a small number of emigrants, based on a broad, non structuralized informal discussion, with a view to obtaining a picture of a variety of migration situations. The other was a survey based on a sample of migrant households, aimed at generating numerical data for systematic, quantitative analysis. After due consideration it was decided to conduct a sample survey of households using a questionnaire that left ample room for various non structuralized questions.

The questionnaire was geared toward ten particular themes which, upon examination, could provide sufficient information about the migrations and the families and people involved. It contained questions regarding the main characteristics of the family and its individual members;

the past and present situation – economic, residential, social and familial; the circumstances under which the migration from Kosovo to Serbia Proper took place; the social, working and national milieu; the reasons for migrating and contributing factors; the reasons for choosing their present place of residence. The respondents were asked to assess the changes that had taken place as a result of the migrations and to comment on the entire situation. For understandable reasons, the questions dealt not only with facts and events from the real world, but also with the respondents own perceptions and assessments of them.

In preparing the survey, a control group was considered in order to provide deeper insight into the behavior of the primary group of migrant Serbs and Montenegrins. The survey organizers thought of having the control group consist of Serbs and Montenegrins who remained behind. The Committee also felt that a control group could be comprised of Albanians. Obviously, inclusion of a control group in the research would yield additional information. However, it was not determined which of the ten themes would be threatened without the control group. On the other hand, it was observed that an Albanian control group could not answer a number of questions from the survey and that the survey's questions could only reflect the Albanian perception of Serbian and Montenegrin migrations, which is a completely different subject. Finally, the situation in Kosovo at the time was anything but conducive to the field research of any ethnic group and so it was decided to do the project without a control group.

Neither the geographic origin of the emigrant population nor where they settled in Serbia suggested survey based on a strictly representative sample. It was decided, therefore, to use a variety of quota samples with 500 households selected at random from villages with high incidence of immigrants.


As for the nature of the migration, two entirely different interpretations emerged. The first said that these were normal migrations, motivated mainly by economic reasons, that not only Serbs and Montenegrins but Albanians as well were migrating from Kosovo, that intensified migration is an element of overall economic growth and, in particular, of the Province's relative lag in economic development. On the other hand, there were those who said that the migration of Serbs and Montenegrins was an abnormal, pathological phenomenon, since it was taking place under pressure from Albanian chauvinism, that it was contrary to the Yugoslav policy of brotherhood, unity and national equality and that it threatened the vital interests and future of all ethnic groups in Kosovo, Kosovo itself, Serbia and Yugoslavia.

Of course, the questionnaire and the instructions for implementing the survey had to be adapted to the nature and specific features of the migration. It was particularly important, therefore, to understand the characteristics of this process early on in the survey. Consequently, available information was studied in order to form a model of migration that would provide the groundwork for drafting the questionnaire.

Even at this early stage it was realized that the Kosovo migrations were not the kind of contemporary migrations prompted by the desire to improve one's economic and social position, to have access to better employment opportunities, a higher quality of education for one's children, etc. Such modern factors of attraction to new areas, studied by contemporary analyses, were barely represented in the migrations of Serbs and Montenegrins. The pull factors were hardly operative and were mostly of a non-economic nature. The push factors from the old areas were dominant. But these were not the usual factors that induce people to migrate from backward areas when the working and living conditions of different regions are defined by their level of economic growth.

It was realized that the Kosovo migrations were different from the traditional migrations that had marked Serbia and the Balkans for centuries and that had been studied by Jovan Cvijic. The general conditions that triggered off traditional migrations in the Ottoman Empire have nothing in common with the contemporary situation in Yugoslavia, and Oriental backwardness is quite different from modern economic development, even in its early stages. The factors, characteristics and consequences of the migrations are different. Moreover, Cvijic's warning seems relevant even today, i.e. that contemporary migrations from Kosovo could in part be due to the vestiges of a dark past and to societal organization that resorts to pressure and violence when unable to resolve democratic and economic problems.

Although lacking a strong footing in science and experience, the preparatory research indicated at least some of the characteristics regarding the Kosovo migrations. They seemed illogical because they appeared in Yugoslavia, where brotherhood and unity were exalted as one of the highest values. They were also absurd in that they were occurring at the end of the 20th century and were being generated by pressure from chauvinists and separatists, operating under bizarre conditions where the minority dominated over the majority. The migrations from Kosovo were tragic because there was only minor resistance to the pressure brought to bear on the Serbs and Montenegrins. Even non-chauvinist Albanians were unable to react. As for the Government of Kosovo, it seemed to be incompetent, indolent and even too corrupt to deal with the pressure. The same applied to the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities, which were legally and politically at a loss to control the situation.

What is unique about these migrations is their ultimate consequence. The resettlement and adaptation were perhaps less dramatic than the migration from home and earth. Adaptation by the migrants, a vast sphere of study for someone like Jovan Cvijic or contemporary science, does not seem to play an important role in these migrations. The culmination of this human drama is the actual departure, a point that also determines the evolution of relations under ethnic plurality. The abandonment of home and land and their reacquisition elsewhere are of immense importance to the ethnic process in Kosovo and Metohija, where ethnic diversity is dying out at the expense of ethnic homogeneity.


This book offers the main results and findings of the survey, obtained through statistical analysis, and discusses some of the answers given in the interviews. It hopes to provide readers with salient, insufficiently known facts and insight into the contemporary migration from Kosovo and Metohija. The book does not aim at discussing the scope and directions of the migrations, nor does it attempt to trace their historical and social context.

There are five chapters. The first explains the hypothetical framework of the research and the methods applied in the survey, which, along with the questionnaire, provide the necessary information regarding the adopted methodology.

The second chapter is a brief account of the changes that have taken place in the population structure of Kosovo Province, with special reference to natural increment, migrations and ethnic structures. This is the only chapter not based on information obtained by the survey, but rather on official statistics.

Chapter III deals with the situation in Kosovo immediately prior to the migrations. It offers data about the families and their individual members prior to migrating, about unhealthy ethnic relations in the settlements, about discrimination in general and against specific categories of people in particular. It also analyzes threats to property and discrimination at the workplace and explains the phenomenon of ideological and institutionalized discrimination.

The fourth chapter focuses on migration itself. It first elaborates the migration process, followed by the actual idea of migrating, when it takes place and how long the process lasts, with special reference to preparing for migration, settling down in the new place of residence and (this being especially important) the forms of early adjustment to such a dramatic change.

Chapter V discusses the relevant situation in Serbia, which begins with a change in environment and in the migrant's personality. It analyzes the new characteristics of individuals and families after they have settled in their new environment, how they adjust and adapt to it.

The text was prepared with love and devotion by Professor Ruza Petrovic and Marina Blagojevic (M. A.), in cooperation with Professor Andjelka Milic and sociologist Ljubica Rajkovic. The final text, which provided the basis for the Social Sciences Department to accept the book for publication, was reviewed by Radomir Lukic, member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and by Professor Alice- Verthajmer-Baletic of Zagreb University.

Mrs. Slobodanka Kazic, a senior staff member of the Department of Social Sciences, helped to prepare the manuscript for printing. The final text was forwarded to the Inter-Departmental Committee for the Study of Kosovo and to the Committee for Population Studies, both attached to the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences

September 10, 1988 Belgrade

Academician Milos Macura, Editor


The English edition of The Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija differs from the Serbo-Croatian original in the following particulars:

First, the preface has been abridged, the sections dealing with methods and procedures have been omitted, some tables have been abridged or left out; the respondents' answers have been abridged and these sections have been revised accordingly. The abridgement and revision was done by Professor Ruza Petrovic, one of the authors of the book.

Second, in order to give the English-language reader a picture of developments preceding the migrations discussed here, we have included a new chapter, "Kosovo and Metohija - A Historical Survey". It was written especially for this book by Dusan Batakovic, research fellow at the Institute for History.

Third, the English translation, reflecting all the pluses and minuses that come with relatively strict faithfulness to the original, was done by Christina Pribicevic and Patricia Robinson.

The reader will observe that the findings given in this book are from a poll conducted in 1985-1986, when the forced emigration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija was in full swing. Later, especially after the reform of the 1974 Constitution and adoption of the Republic of Serbia's new Constitution (1989 and 1990 respectively), the wave of emigration began to taper off because the Government of Serbia assumed responsibility for the safety of person and property in Kosovo Province. The latest figures from the Republic of Serbia's Institute for Statistics indicate that the migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo Province has slowed down to a trickle, and there are only occasional reports in the press about instances of ethnic pressure. There are also reports of some migrants returning to their native land These events are not, of course, mentioned in this book.

Belgrade, December 25, 1990

Academician Milos Macura, The Editor

I. Kosovo and Metohija: a Historical Survey >>

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