19. March. 2021. | 03:08

For the amendments to the Law on the Use of Languages, it is necessary to mobilize the community, but also all those who are on the side of the rule of law

There is a certain amount of cynicism in the Law on the Use of Languages. Generally, all Kosovo legislation sets out the high level of guarantees and rights that communities can have. The problem is that these guarantees and rights have not been implemented in practice, said Ognjen Gogić, manager of the project “Creating Bilingual Kosovo” implemented by the NGO AKTIV, in the second episode of the podcast “My language, my right”.

“The law on the use of language was passed in 2006 and there is a dose of cynicism, I must say, because the law that should protect language rights contains a lot of language omissions. There are ambiguities, spelling mistakes, from the fact that some words are written with an initial capital letter, which are not written in that way in the Serbian language, to the alternating use of expressions official and formal. There are errors in matching gender and number, for example. If were to read that law, we would find a lot of mistakes, and it should protect language rights. This brings us to the often-heard comment that the rights and guarantees given to members of the Serb community are generous, profuse, and excessive. The point is that all of Kosovo's legislation at the surface level does establish a high level of protection for the rights that communities can have. However, there is another problem, that these guarantees and rights have not been implemented in practice. I would even go a step further, so I would say that it was officially proclaimed as very generous, very extensive. However, when you study this law in detail, then you see that it is trivialized and made meaningless in the way that is operationalized and elaborated. That law initially says that Serbian and Albanian are equal, but when you go into depth, it contains provisions that make that equality meaningless”, says Gogić.

He says that he does not expect too much from the new government in Kosovo regarding the protection of the rights of non-majority communities, especially the language ones, because in the past, Vetëvendosje advocated for the abolition of the Serbian language as the official language.

“We have heard from the party that we expect to form the government that it will deal with the issue of employment in the public sector and that work will be done to ensure sufficient representation of members of communities in the public sector, and we will hold them accountable. We expect them to implement that because it is not a pre-election promise, but their legal obligation. This is very clear from the legislation and they must respect it. Until now, there was not enough will to do that, but now they have promised it themselves”, said Ognjen Gogić from AKTIV.

Gogić says that, when it comes to Vetëvendosje, there is a dose of concern because, in the previous years of their activities, they challenged the existing level of rights given to Serbs in Kosovo.

“We will come before them too with such demands. However, I am afraid that when it comes to them, we will have to defend what already exists, because they want to question that as well. For example, for years Mr. Kurti has been saying that Albanian should be the only official language in Kosovo and that Serbian should be the language in official use. That is a big difference and it means that Serbian is to be used sporadically. We now want that bilingualism to be consistently implemented. So, I expect that, not only we as AKTIV, but all of us as members of the Serbian and non-majority communities will have a problem with Vetëvendosje regarding the protection of existing rights”, said the project manager of “Creating Bilingual Kosovo”.

Gogić believes that not only the community should be mobilized, but also all those who are on the side of the rule of law and on the side of human and minority rights, when it comes to supporting the amendments to the Law on the Use of Languages.

“You asked me if we had support. I can say that we have the support of members of the Serbian community, young people who want to get a job in the public sector. We know that throughout Kosovo there are young people who have graduated from college and cannot find employment. One way to solve their problem, and the problem of all of us, that there are not enough staff, is to implement the obligation to ensure sufficient employment of people in the public sector. So, that is a question for all of us, it is not just a question of this initiative and AKTIV, but a question for the entire Serbian community in Kosovo”, Gogić concluded.

The podcast in which Ognjen Gogić spoke was dedicated to the proposal for amendments to the Law on the Use of Languages prepared by the NGO AKTIV.

The podcast “My language, my right” was recorded in cooperation with Radio Goraždevac within the project “Creating a bilingual Kosovo”, implemented by the NGO AKTIV with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pristina.

The views expressed during the podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pristina.