Giving a Voice to the Albanian Minority in Serbia
Talks Have Resumed Between the Serbian Government and its Albanian MinorityJune 13th, 2016
Riza Halimi, president of Albanian minority Party for Democratic Action, told BIRN that he feels optimistic after his last meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
During the meeting, Halimi and Vucic discussed structural and personal changes that need to be addressed to the Coordination Body, the state body that deals with issues of the Albanian minority in the south of Serbia. The Coordination Body, which was founded in 2000, aims to take a new approach focusing on soft power as well as dialogue and security to resolution of ethnic conflicts. The Albanian minority in Serbia and the Serbian government have clashed in recent years over contested issues such as employment, education and discrimination.
When questioned about the agenda of the meeting, Halimi responded, “The atmosphere of meeting was very good, which gives me a hope that we have a chance to improve cooperation between the Albanian minority and the Serbian government.”
According to Serbian 2002 census, 61,467 Albanians reside in Serbia. However, the survey does not provide an accurate depiction of the total number of Albanian minorities in Serbia. Most Albanians boycotted the 2001 census and as a result the number of residents remains unknown. As well, a significant number have emigrated to Kosovo or to Western Europe in recent years. Nevertheless, Albanians make up the overwhelming majority of the population of Presevo and are the largest community in Bujanovac.
Halimi concluded his interview with media by stating, this is the “first time that the Prime minister has had talks with minorities, and we see it as a chance to start solving the problems of the Albanian minority in Serbia. We are willing to cooperate.” Discussions between representatives of the two ethnic groups are in progress.
Cultural Diplomacy News
Cristina Stoica, CD News