U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

8. Miscellaneous: What else can be found about languages and minorities?


According to an article written by David Pryce-Jones and published in the National Review on April 19, 1999 the situation in Kosovo is comparable with that in Germany during the Second World War. In 1993 the population of Kosovo was 2,100,000 with 90% of Albanians, 8% of Serbs and Montenegrins and 2% of others.

Kosovo is de facto an autonomous province of Serbia. Its Parliament and Government has been illegally suspended. Once an autonomous federal unit of Yugoslavia, in 1989 it was stripped of its autonomy by the government of Slobodan Milosevic.

After the revocation of Kosovo’s autonomy, the Serbian authorities closed schools in the Albanian language, massively dismissed Albanians from state-owned enterprises, and suspended Kosovo’s legal Parliament and Government. Serbia instituted a regime of systematic oppression of the Albanian population in Kosovo, and flagrant violations of basic rights of Albanians occurred frequently.

Initially the Albanians responded to the repression with peaceful and passive resistance. In 1992 the people of Kosovo held free elections in which they chose their leadership and expressed their determination for the independence (1991 referendum). In the same year the Kosovo Parliament declared Independence. They formed a parallel government, found means of continuing Albanian-language education outside of occupied premises and providing health care (most Albanian doctors had been dismissed from state-owned hospitals by Serb installed authorities).

In early 1998 the Serbian government began a crackdown against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), creating an exodus of over 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons, and committed horrific atrocities against unarmed civilians, including women and children. The NATO bombing campaign, which began in March 1999 after Serbia’s refusal to sign a peace accord for the settlement of the conflict, lasted until June 1999, when the Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic capitulated and agreed to withdraw all Serbian security forces from Kosovo.

The war in Kosovo created over 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons, left over 300,000 people without shelter, an estimated 10,000 dead, and mass graves containing bodies of up to 100 civilians, including women and children, who had been summarily executed.

The other side of the argument is presented in the article called “Why a new Albanian State?” According to this article, Albanians achieved an enviable standard of living and a demographic explosion (the highest birth rate in Europe) in the FR of Yugoslavia. However, the Albanian separatists did not want the normalization of life in Kosovo and rejected every dialogue. The high degree of autonomy and of national rights did not satisfy the Albanian nationalists. They organized a separatists’ rebellion in 1981, with “Kosovo Republic” as their main slogan. They demanded a change of the Autonomous Province of Kosmet into the Republic of Kosovo.

The Albanian separatist leaders organized elections in 1991, and established institutions of “parallel authority” which represent an “alternative state” of the FRY.

The fact that they did not respect the state in which they lived and worked was reflected in their refusal to serve in the army, their non-participation in elections, non-payment of all state taxes and duties, (though they regularly paid to the parallel authorities 3% of their income), and in their establishment of “parallel schools” exclusively for the members of the Albanian national minority. Teaching in these is according to nationalist and separatist programs, in inadequate premises. The level of knowledge acquired is best shown by the fact that their diplomas are not recognized anywhere in the world.

Generations of Albanian youth were handicapped educationally at the very start. The parallel schools resulted in the final ethnic division among the young, in the attraction of the young members of the Albanian national minority to the dogmas of extreme nationalism and separatism and in the creation of the concept that common life with Serbs is impossible.

The boycott of the educational system of the Republic of Serbia, which guaranteed and assured conditions for teaching in Albanian, prevented the application of the Declaration on the Rights of National, Ethnic, Religious and Language minorities, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1992.

On the other hand the Albanian minority used all the benefits, which were suitable for them (health insurance, employment in the public and private sectors, all rights of information, passports, vaccination of the population, etc.) given by the State and the system they did not recognize. The Albanian national minority had the Albanian Drama, a Section of the Academy of Science, an Authors’ Association, a Musicians’ Association and over 100 cultural and artistic associations. The Republic of Serbia finances all of these institutions.

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