On April 3-4, 1981, ethnic Albanian demonstrations in Kosovo turned into an armed rebellion to create a Greater Albania. The demonstrations were motivated by separatism and secession. The rioters wanted union with Albania and expressed support for Albanian Communist dictator Enver Hoxha. The slogans the Albanians displayed during the riots were: “We are Albanians and not Yugoslavs”, “We are the children of Skanderbeg and the army of Enver Hoxha”, “We Want a Unified Albania”, and “Kosovo-Republic”. This is what the Yugoslav media reported. In the US and Western media accounts, the Albanian majority was supposedly seeking greater rights and freedoms. The ultra-nationalist placards were dismissed and spin-doctored or “air brushed” out of the picture.
There was never any secret what the objective was. Beginning with the demonstrations in 1968, Kosovo Albanians wanted the right to secede from Yugoslavia. They wanted to create an ethnically pure “Kosovo”, an ethnic Albanian statelet. In a Radio Free Europe report from December 3, 1969, this creeping secessionism was noted in the article “Cooperation between Tirana University and the new University of Prishtina”:
“With the establishment of the new University of Prishtina, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo has chalked up another success in its quest for complete national equality. The founding of the university has been hailed in the province as a very important step for the future development of Kosovo. At the same time, Prishtina has announced that a substantial quantity of educational materials needed by the new university will be imported from Albania. Rilindja reports the signing of a 200 million dinar contract in Tirana for the supply of Albanian textbooks and other educational aids to Kosovo during 1970. This cooperation between Prishtina and Tirana could have a favorable effect on the development of relations between the two neighboring countries. In its quest for equality within the Yugoslav Federation, the predominantly-Albanian Autonomous Province of Kosovo has taken a new and important step with the founding of the University of Prishtina. This momentous event in the history of the province, an event which will have significant consequences for the future of the nationalities of Kosovo, took place on 19 November and was timed to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of ‘liberation’ of the provincial capital.”
The greater autonomy that was granted to Kosovo only resulted in greater aspirations for full independence from Serbia and Yugoslavia. The Communist Yugoslav regime created an atmosphere of rising expectations in Kosovo. The more the Serbs gave, the more the Albanians wanted, the more the Albanians took. It was an absurd and paradoxical cycle that was predictably going to lead to disaster.
The “Albanization” of Kosovo continued during the 1970s and 1980s as ethnic Albanians took control over the political, economic, educational, and cultural aspects of Kosovo. From 1971 to 1981, Albania sent to Kosovo 240 university teachers, together with textbooks written in the Albanian or Shqip language. Albanians had the right to their own Assembly, to their own Executive Council, to their Presidency, to their own Supreme Court, to their own Constitutional Court, to their Ministry of the Interior, and their own University in Pristina. The “Albanization” of the Kosovo police began after 1966.
Granting Kosovo greater autonomy only whetted the Albanian appetite to go for it all and create a Greater Albania, a “Kosova” statelet or “Republic”. The 1981 riots proved this and made it abundantly clear to all. As a result, Albanian Communist Party leader in Kosovo Mahmut Bakali resigned.