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23 April 2001
Cultural situation in Kosovo
Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Rapporteur: Ms Elena Poptodorova, Bulgaria, Socialist Group
In a context unique in the history of Europe, Kosovan society now has to come to terms with its turbulent past: a legacy of communist organisation, ethnic discrimination, severe human rights violations and warfare provides enormous obstacles to the future emergence of a peaceful and stable democracy. Its education system must be completely reformed, its heritage must be effectively protected, its cultural life must be reactivated, and its youth must be encouraged to participate in its reconstruction.
The Council of Europe has a long experience in co-ordination and in providing expertise both in terms of technical assistance and in mediating complex questions of educational and cultural rights and the Assembly calls on the Committee of Ministers to ensure that the Council of Europe has the means to make a substantial contribution.
I. Draft recommendation
1. Culture and education are amongst the first victims in any conflict: the war in Kosovo is no exception to this rule. At the same time, culture and education are a most efficient long-term means for the prevention of such conflicts as they help to eradicate the stereotypes, prejudices and intolerance, which lead to them.
2. The educational system in Kosovo needs urgent, massive support, not only because of the destruction of facilities and the lack of teachers but, above all, because of the ongoing segregation of children and students of different ethnic origins and because of the potential risk of developing educational policies based on nationalist rhetoric and hate speech.
3. Other major problems in the field of education are the high drop-out rate from primary to secondary education, in particular among girls and in the countryside, the lack of teacher training and the inadequacy of teaching methods, the very low level of pre-school attendance, the lack of parental involvement since the end of the conflict, the non-schooling of disabled children and corruption in the university.
4. Another area of great concern, where urgent action is needed, is the protection of the rich cultural heritage. The built heritage of Kosovo, Ottoman, Serbian and Albanian, has suffered the effects of years of neglect and war and is now suffering the effects of large scale, uncontrolled and unregulated reconstruction.
5. The situation is chaotic due to financial, administrative and logistical problems, lack of co-ordination between international and non-governmental organisations and because of the extent of illegal and unauthorised activities. There are a large number of dedicated professionals with great expertise, working in local institutions, which have been isolated, undermined and under-funded for many years.
6. The Council of Europe should also contribute to reactivating the cultural landscape, the enactment of efficient media legislation and provision for media self-regulation. Youth and sports programmes are also needed and could do a lot to ease the climate of tension.
7. The recent conflicts in the Balkans have clearly shown that the existing problems there cannot be tackled on the local level only. Thus the Assembly believes that the Council of Europe commitment to the revival and the democratisation of processes in the field of culture and education in Kosovo should go alongside efforts in the same direction in Serbia and in Montenegro even if it is not yet possible or advisable to try to link them.
8. The scope of the challenges that the international community has to face is unprecedented. The long experience of the Council of Europe in co-ordination and in providing expertise both in terms of technical assistance and in mediating complex questions of educational and cultural rights places it in a very strong position to make a substantial contribution.
9. In this respect, the Assembly welcomes the two agreements signed with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the World Bank on assistance to reform the education system from primary to higher education.
10. The Assembly also welcomes the publication, in cooperation with the European Commission, of the “Study on the State of the Cultural Heritage in Kosovo”, in the context of the Technical Co-operation and Consultancy Programme and the Action Plan for Cultural Heritage in Kosovo.
11. Accordingly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers ensure the means for the Council of Europe to maintain its decisive role in providing assistance and promoting co-operation in the field of educational and cultural matters in Kosovo.
12. The Assembly also recommends that the Committee of Ministers continue to assess thoroughly, in collaboration with the UNMIK, other international organisations and NGOs, the needs for assistance to culture, education, media, cultural heritage, youth and sport issues, in particular to:
i. assist in the process of drafting the legal framework for provisional self-government in Kosovo in its fields of competence;
ii. ensure efficient decentralisation of responsibilities in the fields of education and culture, as far as possible independent of local political pressures;
iii. support the on-going project for training the 26 000 teachers existing in Kosovo as a most urgent step to increase the quality of teaching;
iv. complete the revision of curricula and textbooks;
v. support exchange programmes and the mobility of teachers and students in general, inter alia by addressing visa restrictions in a constructive way;
vi. continue to encourage the reform of higher education with a view to raising academic standards, to ensuring the autonomy of the university, to eradicating corruption and to aligning the University of Pristina with the Bologna process;
vii. promote a policy of equity in the schooling of all Kosovar children with a view to bridging the gap between ethnic groups while taking into account the special educational needs of disabled children;
viii. ensure that local educational initiatives - in particular those designed to counteract segregationist thinking - are encouraged and developed with the aid of moral and material support, so that what have been isolated projects become the rule rather than the exception;
ix. support youth organisations and promote wherever possible the use of non-formal education as a way of overcoming division and discrimination;
II. Explanatory memorandum by Mrs Poptodorova
1. Kosovo is a territory of 10,887 square km (half the size of Slovenia) limited by Albania on the West, Montenegro on the Northwest, Serbia proper on the North and East and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia on the Southeast (see appended map). Its present population is estimated at just above 2 million, making it more than twice as densely populated as the rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Of these some 2 million are Albanians, 100,000 are Serbs (half of the pre-war population), 50,000 are Muslim Slavs, 10,000 are Roma (one quarter of the pre-war population) and some 20,000 belong to other minorities.
2. Since the end of the war in June 1999 Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) under Dr Kouchner, Special Representative of the Secretary General. He was be replaced by Mr Haekkerup in January 2001.
3. Culture and education are amongst the first victims in any conflict: the war in Kosovo is no exception to this rule. At the same time, culture and education can be a most efficient long-term means for the prevention of such conflicts as they help to eradicate the stereotypes, prejudices and intolerance, which lead to them. On the other hand education can equally be (and has been) used to create conflicts.
4. In order to prepare this report, I visited Kosovo from 4 to 7 October 2000 and again from 8 to 10 April 2001. I met the Co-Heads of Department of Education and Science, Culture and Youth, regional education and cultural officers and representatives of International Organisations, NGOs, the media and of the Albanian and Serb Communities in Pristina, Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice, Pec/Peje and Gracanica/Ulpiana. I also visited the camp at Plemetina/Plemetine, where I met with Roma and Ashkali minorities. Finally I met representatives of the two largest political parties in Kosovo, the LDK and the PDK.
5. The Office of the Council of Europe in Pristina helped me with local arrangements and I am most grateful to its Heads, Ms Isabelle Servoz-Gallucci (in October) and Ms Maggie Nicholson (in April), for their support.
6. A brief overview of the history of the region is indispensable to understand recent events and the present situation in Kosovo. For this I have used essentially the excellent work by Noel Malcolm “Kosovo: A Short History” (Macmillan, London 1998).
7. The region of Kosovo was settled by Slav tribes between the 7th and 10th centuries and, following the invasion by the Rascian ruler Nemanja, became a permanent part of the Serbian state by the beginning of the 13th century. By that time the Serb population might have outnumbered the Albanians and Vlachs who lived there before the arrival of the Slavs. It was not in this region that the Serbs first settled in the Balkans but in Rascia, to the north.
8. In 1389 the army of the Ottoman Sultan Murat fought that led by the Serbian Prince Lazar in the famous battle of Kosovo-Polje. It is well established that there were both Albanians and Serbs fighting in both armies. The outcome of the battle was not clear and the Serbian state lasted for another sixty years.
9. During the next five centuries of Ottoman rule, despite the fact that both the orthodox and catholic religions were tolerated and managed to survive, most of the Albanians (mainly catholic) and many Slavs (mainly orthodox) in Kosovo gradually converted into the religion of the rulers. There were migratory movements of Albanians and Serbs into and from Kosovo but no massive exodus or immigration. Records show Albanians assimilating into Serb communities and Serbs into Albanian communities.
10. In 1878 Serbia became again an independent kingdom but Kosovo stayed in the Ottoman Empire as an autonomous province. The Prizren League, set up by an Assembly of Albanians from different regions, called for the regrouping of all Albanians in one single province of the Empire. In 1880 the League requested the setting up of an autonomous state and declared itself and started to act as the provisional government of Albania (including Kosovo and western Macedonia).
11. In November 1912 the independence of Albania (including Kosovo) was declared in Vlora at a time, however, when Kosovo, most of the northern part of today’s Albania and large parts of the south had just been occupied by Serb and Montenegrin troops. In 1913 the Great Powers Ambassadors’ Conference in London recognised the independence of Albania but without Kosovo, part of Montenegro and part of Macedonia. After these territories had been occupied by Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria in World War I, the Treaty of Saint Germain en Laye (1919) included them in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was to become Yugoslavia in 1929.
12. Established under the 1946 Constitution of Yugoslavia, the autonomy of Kosovo was considerably extended by the 1963 Constitution. In the 1974 Constitution the federal status of Kosovo was legally sanctioned as a constitutive element of the Yugoslav state. The autonomous province of Kosovo was a political community with many elements of statehood: an Assembly, a Government and it was even granted the right to a Constitution.
13. The principle of ethnic representation was applied: job hiring and enrolment at higher education institutes and the University were done according to the size of the population: roughly 80% Albanians and 20% Serbs. Communications were easy with Albania, from where textbooks were sent and professors came to the University of Pristina, which was created in 1970 as a bi-ethnic institution.
14. During the 1980s, a crucial period of economic and political deterioration in Yugoslavia, relations between Albanians and Serbs worsened in Kosovo.
15. In February 1989 a general strike in Kosovo prompted Belgrade into declaring the region under status of exception. In March the curfew was imposed and the Constitution was changed to weaken the autonomy of the region. A year later the Federal Army was deployed in Kosovo, the political institutions were dissolved, the Serb police occupied the radio and television, schools were closed, Albanians were replaced by Serbs at all levels of administration and Albanian media outlets were closed.
16. What happened in the next decade, the build up for the Serb aggression of 1998/99 and the reaction of the international community, have been discussed by the Assembly time and again and there is no need to repeat what was then said.
17. Despite historical evidence the history of this particular region has been often distorted for nationalistic purposes. Serbs often consider Kosovo as the cradle of their civilisation and some of the best (but not the oldest) examples of orthodox churches and monasteries were to be found there. Yet it was not in Kosovo that the Serbs first settled and it was not in Kosovo that the Serb Orthodox Church had its first seat. Also the battle of Kosovo-Polje of 1389, which most Serbs view as the direct cause of the annexation of the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire and of the annihilation of their own kingdom, is far from having had such consequences. Claims of massive exodus of Serbs from Kosovo or massive immigration of Albanians into Kosovo during the Ottoman period are also not confirmed by historical evidence.
18. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) called for “substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo” while reaffirming “the commitment (…) to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”. The future status of Kosovo is yet to be discussed and agreed upon. It was pretty clear to anyone visiting the area last October that the Albanians would never accept to go back under Serb control. The Serbs I met did not feel concerned by the municipal elections in Kosovo and the Albanians were even less concerned with elections in Serbia. It should be noticed that all the political parties in Kosovo have independence as their top priority. Political changes in Belgrade have of course influenced the way in which the international community looks at the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia but have not changed the way in which Albanians and Serbs look at each other in Kosovo.
19. The two communities live completely separated, with KFOR armed forces in between them. The regional education officer in Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice said that it was “impossible to move an Albanian across the bridge (into the Serb area) as he would be killed in less than five minutes” and I was told that if the soldiers protecting the Serb enclave of Gracanica/Ulpiana were a little less vigilant, the Albanians “would come and kill the Serbs”. The Serbs can leave their enclaves only under heavy military protection. The situation of members of other minorities who stayed in Kosovo differs from one region to the other and from one community to the other - Bosniaks, other Slavs, Roma (of whom there are at least three distinct groups known as Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians), Turks and Hungarians. I regret to say that there has been no perceptible evolution between October 2000 and April 2001 in this respect.
20. The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which acts as the “de facto” government of Kosovo, is organised in three sectors called “pillars”. Pillar I, which was led by the UNHCR, deals with humanitarian assistance and is no longer part of the administration, pillar II, under UNMIK itself deals with civil administration, pillar III, led by the OSCE, deals with democratisation and institution-building and pillar IV, managed by the EU, deals with economic reconstruction. The Council of Europe is not mentioned and has no official status. The UNMIK Administration comprises 20 Departments, each one headed by a pair of co-heads and a pair of deputy co-heads. Each pair comprises an “international”, who is responsible for decision-making and a “local”, who acts as a consultant. Four of the 15 departments in pillar II deal with matters for which the Committee on Culture, Science and Education is competent: education and science, sports, youth and culture (including cultural heritage). There are plans to integrate culture and youth into education and science, a move that is not welcomed by some youth organisations.
21. Municipal elections were held in Kosovo last October leading to the constitution of municipal assemblies. There were however practically no changes in the administration further to the elections and political tensions are felt among those political parties that complain of being under-represented. A legal framework for provisional self-government in Kosovo is now being drafted and afterwards general elections will be held in order to elect an Assembly, the functions of which are not yet very clear. It is hoped that the general elections will be held before the end of the year. It is also hoped that they will lead to decentralisation and more power sharing with the local population, even if there is a tacit agreement on the need for UNMIK to stay in Kosovo for at least another five years.
22. Many international and non-governmental organisations are present in Kosovo (I was told that 99 NGOs were active in the area of Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice) and their relations are not always the best. Co-operation and co-ordination between them is not always as good as it should be.
23. During the times of former Yugoslavia Kosovo, which was an autonomous province in the republic of Serbia, had the same independence to organise its education as any of the republics of the federation. Albanian and Serb language education co-existed until 1989. After that education in Albanian went underground and for ten years there was a parallel (and illegal) education system in Albanian, which ranged from primary school to university and which functioned mainly in private homes and often in very difficult situations. Many teachers did not receive salaries and for ten years there was virtually no teacher training. School teaching is still very much about a teacher copying to the blackboard for half an hour and then pupils copying from the blackboard to their exercise books for another half hour.
24. Both systems were disrupted in 1999 and the parallel system served as the basis to re-construct the new education system in Kosovo. UNMIK’s Department of Education and Science was set up in March 2000 and is headed by Michael Daxner, Rector of the Oldenburg University and a former member of the Bureau of the CDCC’s Higher Education and Research Committee. Its medium-term aim of a “multi-ethnic education system based on one unified curriculum taught through different language streams” seems very far away and will certainly not be implemented in the foreseeable future. Its first priorities were the re-habilitation or reconstruction of school buildings, their equipment and a rapid and incomplete revision of Albanian, Bosniak and Serb textbooks. This allowed the school year 1999/2000 to go through without major problems. The role of UNICEF in coordinating the successful operation of getting so many schools opened and functioning in the aftermath of the conflict should be acknowledged, even if current provisions fall some way below “European Standards”. Reconstruction will continue this year.
25. The Albanian and Serb education systems are completely separated and independent. Some faculties of the University of Pristina seem to have moved to Serbia and some others function in a clandestine way in the north of Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice. Mr Daxner said that Albanians would never agree with the setting up of a Serb university and no Serb would survive in an Albanian university. When I was in Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice last October I was told that it was very difficult to work with the Serbs because Belgrade had threatened any Serb who would co-operate with UNMIK with loosing his job and any rights to social security and pension. The new situation in Belgrade has eased co-operation between the UNMIK and Serbs but certainly not between Serbs and Albanians. It was reported to me that the Serbs refused school certificates issued by UNMIK on the grounds that those certificates were printed on paper with a map of Kosovo.
26. As far as the other minorities are concerned (or what is left of them) situations vary from acceptance to intolerance, but the tensions are never as bad as between Albanians and Serbs.
27. In Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice there are Bosniaks on both sides attending Albanian schools in the South and Serbian schools in the North. In the region of Pec/Peje live important Bosniak and Roma minority groups. Roma children were victims of much violence caused by Albanians and parents were reluctant in sending their children to school. As a result it was estimated that less than half of Roma and Bosniak children attended school in 1999/2000. I was told that the situation has improved in the year 2000/2001.
28. In the region of Pec/Peje there are Bosniak schools which are attended also by Roma and Albanian children (in Bosniak language) but other Roma and Bosniak children are integrated in Albanian schools. There is a single Serb enclave of about 1000 inhabitants (protected by the KFOR) and its 150 children attend the village school in Serb. Local Albanian children however “attended school at home”. UNMIK education officers told me that education in the region of Pec/Peje was normal and the best in the whole Kosovo as far as non-segregation was concerned.
29. The Council of Europe has been active in the field of education in Kosovo ever since the end of the war. Co-operation with Civitas in primary education was envisaged but had to be halted due to differences in approach of the two organisations. In 2000 the Council of Europe signed a contract with UNMIK, sponsored by the World Bank, for technical assistance for the development of the University of Pristina. In April 2001 it signed a second agreement concerning the restructuration of primary and secondary education.
30. In general, more progress has been made in the higher education sector than in the school sector, and for a number of reasons. One is the role played by the Pristina working group of the Academic Task Force in coordinating action - uniting in particular the Council of Europe, the European Rectors Conference, the German Rectors Conference and a number of key governments. Another is the successful approval in October 2000 of an interim university statute, which is a concrete example of a tangible, achievement of the Council of Europe and provides an important basis for future development.
31. Nevertheless, the lack of certainty about the future status of Kosovo continues to be reflected in differing claims as to the legitimacy of the University of Pristina. The Kosovo Albanians maintain that they have recovered the institution (including property), which was legally theirs in the first place, while for the Serbs there is a view that they have been unlawfully driven out. UNMIK no longer pretends that a multi-ethnic university in Pristina can be (re)established in the foreseeable future.
32. The legal basis for the university is to be determined by an UNMIK regulation, drawn up in the course of the Council of Europe project, and currently in the process of being adopted through regular UN procedures. A law on higher education will also be developed in the next stage of the project. This should be passed by the authorities in place (presumably either through the existing UNMIK structure, or by a future "Ministry of Education" within a Kosovo level quasi-autonomous government). However, developments in Serbia will also undoubtedly affect the situation.
33. The educational system in Kosovo needs urgent, massive and continued support, not only because of the destruction of facilities and the lack of teachers but, above all, because of the ongoing segregation of children and students of different ethnic origin and because of the potential risk of developing educational policies based on nationalist rhetoric and hate speech. Other major problems are the high drop out rate from primary to secondary education, in particular among girls and in the countryside, the lack of teacher training and the inadequacy of teaching methods, the very low level of pre-school attendance, the lack of parental involvement since the end of the conflict, the non-schooling of disabled children and corruption in the university.
34. The new education system should be aimed at peacekeeping through the establishment of a civil society. Traditional pre-war arrangements can no longer serve as a basis for the new system and experience acquired in the old system should not be a criterion in the reform process. It is essential however that those concerned take part in the reform of the system. Three major reforms are needed: education (the curricula have to be changed in order to meet the criteria of the rest of Europe); organisation (the new administrative system for education should be effectively de-centralised) and social (with the cultural integration of all the communities and minorities).
35. The school reform includes the transition from a system of 8 years of primary school and 4 of secondary school into a system of 5 years of primary school, 4 of lower secondary school and 3 of upper secondary school. Curricula and textbooks are being developed in this sense.
36. But the major need is teacher training. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDE) is leading the implementation of a 3 year, 8 million dollars, teacher-training programme. To begin with a number of 600 “model teachers” will be trained with modern methods. Out of these 100 “master teachers” will be selected to train, after a 3 month traineeship abroad, the whole of Kosovo’s 26 000 teachers and also school administrators. This programme will be completed by pre-service and in-service teacher training provided respectively by the consolidated Faculty of Education of the University of Pristina and by the five regional centres for training.
Culture and cultural heritage
37. Another area of great concern, where urgent action is needed, is the protection of the rich cultural heritage. Some Orthodox churches and monasteries have been damaged or destroyed, not so much by the NATO bombing campaign (as claimed by the Serb Orthodox propaganda) but as a result of criminal acts by returning Albanians. I was told that these were aimed at modern orthodox churches rather than at the ancient (and more valuable from the heritage point of view). The Islamic religious architecture has also been damaged and is still at risk and not only from the Orthodox side. I was told that a Saudi NGO involved in the building of 30 new mosques had bulldozed a 17th Century mosque and Muslim cemetery (in Djakovica/Gjakove) and had white-painted ancient frescoes elsewhere. Precise figures are difficult to give, especially for the Islamic heritage for which there are few records, but any assessment of damage and destruction must cover both the Serbian and Albanian cultural heritage (religious buildings and historic architecture as well as libraries, archives and museums).
38. More than 100 000 Albanian books form the National Library in Pristina are said to have been destroyed between 1991 and 1995 and many other books, newspapers and magazines have been taken to unknown destinations and are unaccounted since. After the return of the Albanians in 1999 four Serb libraries were destroyed and a large amount of books was lost. Today there is no cooperation or even contact between Albanian and Serb professionals and the possibilities for reconciliation seem very limited, not for personal or professional reasons but as the result of the overall political climate
39. Cultural heritage is only one of the four areas of activity of the Cultural Department and is not seen as a priority either by the international community or by the local population (which is much more interested in reconstructing their own houses). As a result those responsible for the Cultural Department of UNMIK complain about their lack of means while the other actors in the field complain about the lack of policy from the part of the Cultural Department. During my visit I was informed about initiatives in the areas of performing arts (funded by the Soros Foundation), visual arts, cinema, radio, municipal libraries and also a project to make an assessment and then reconstruct the “kulas” in the region of Pec/Peje. It was quite clear however that these projects were isolated; there was no integrated cultural policy, no overall view and no agreement on how to change the situation. I also had the impression that the Cultural Department was only interested in Albanian, but not in Serb culture and heritage: the responsible for culture in the Serb enclave of Gracanica/Ulpiana (6 Km from Pristina) complained that the Head of the Cultural Department had not visited the enclave.
40. The Council of Europe started its activities in the field of cultural heritage in May 2000, as part of an agreement signed with the European Commission to assess the situation of the cultural heritage in Kosovo. This study should be regarded as a contribution to assist the authorities (international and local) in defining priorities and guidelines for a future heritage policy. The recommendations proposed are in the perspective of an improved co-ordination between international partners and aim at engaging rapid legal and administrative reforms through a middle term action plan of transition.
41. Several actions were carried out within this framework, namely three pilot actions in Pristina, Pec/Peje and Prizren with the view to initiating a survey of the built heritage in the perspective of reconstruction, rehabilitation and sustainable development. These actions mainly involved local experts. The Council of Europe, together with other partners, also supported an exhibition on the architectural heritage of Prizren to raise public awareness. The exhibition was presented in Prizren and Pristina and then it will travel across Europe.
42. In January 2001 the Council of Europe issued, in cooperation with the European Commission, a “Study on the State of the Cultural Heritage in Kosovo”, in the context of the Technical Co-operation and Consultancy Programme and the Action Plan for Cultural Heritage in Kosovo. It states, “at the present time the situation is chaotic due to financial, administrative and logistical problems and because of the extent of illegal and unauthorised activities. There is a large number of dedicated professionals with great expertise, working in institutions which have been isolated, undermined and under-funded for many years (…) The built heritage of Kosovo has suffered not only the effects of years of neglect and war but is now suffering the effects of large scale, uncontrolled and unregulated reconstruction.”
43. After having been suppressed for a decade, Albanian language media are again present in Kosovo. However, according to journalist Arber Aliu (AIM Pristina), who analysed how seven dailies, three television stations and five radio stations were covering the electoral campaign, “journalism in Kosovo is facing a very significant test of survival in conditions of transition”. In Kosovo, only the Bota Sot paper (printed in Switzerland, but sold in Kosovo) declares itself as Right-oriented. The other media outlets claim to be independent. All electronic media are considered independent but none is self-sustained: they all live on donations. The legal framework being drafted is supposed to include media regulations and a Board on Electronic Media, whose members will be proposed from civil society, is to be set up by the future Assembly.
44. Two types of donations are currently being given to the media in Kosovo. One segment of the media is definitely receiving party donations, the other foreign. The former defend their benefactors, while the latter pay little heed to the interests of political parties, their reporting being visibly freer. In general, the political differentiation of the media should be viewed as analogous to that of political parties. The Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (LDK), led by Ibrahim Rugova, enjoys the support of Bota Sot, whose circulation and market position are at the top. This paper has confrontations with politicians and public figures every week owing to its reports, often denied later. It is believed that exactly such articles were responsible for increasing the Democratic Alliance's electorate. The second largest party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), led by Hashim Thaci, is supported by two dailies: Dita and Epoka e Re. The Democratic Party is striving to equate its influence through the media via these papers, though their combined circulation is still less than that of the Bota Sot. Rilindija, which started by supporting the PDK, is now considered independent. The other papers that claim to be independent, but depend on foreign donations, such as the Koha Ditore of Veton Surroi, the Kosovo Sot, published by Ruzhdi Kadriu and the Zeri, published by Blerim Shale, have almost equal circulation. They try not to give prominence to any particular party and hold a moderate position.
45. On the other hand there are no local Serbian media in Kosovo and certainly no mixed media. On this respect I was told last October of a joint Albanian and Serb initiative for a joint radio in Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice, Radio Y, through which 12 young people broadcast in Serbian and in Albanian. Unfortunately this is the sole example of co-operation between the two communities and its impact was limited. Bosniaks, Roma or other minorities have no access to the media either.
46. The recent conflicts in the Balkans have clearly shown that the existing problems there cannot be tackled on the local level only. The Council of Europe commitment to the revival and the democratisation of processes in the field of culture and education in Kosovo should go alongside efforts in the same direction in Montenegro and Serbia even if it is not yet possible or advisable to link them.
47. The scope of the challenges that the international community has to face is unprecedented. The long experience of the Council of Europe in co-ordination and in providing expertise both in terms of technical assistance and in mediating complex questions of educational and cultural rights places it in a very strong position to make a substantial contribution. It could for instance help to improve coordination of governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations.
48. The successful work in higher education already accomplished in Kosovo through the World Bank funded project on higher education will now be complemented by work on primary and secondary education and the Committee of Ministers should ensure that adequate means are made available to ensure that such action continues to be effective.
49. A response to the dramatic educational needs in Kosovo - particularly in the school sector - is urgently required if the foundations of a democratic culture are to be laid. The wealth of experience of the Council of Europe in dealing with complex questions of educational rights - notably with regard to educational provision for minority populations, and inculcating respect for human rights throughout the education environment - should be fully utilised in developing and implementing a coordinated strategic plan involving the main International Community organisations (notably UNESCO, EU, UNICEF, World Bank).
50. The Council of Europe should pursue its activities in Kosovo as a priority, taking full account of the evolving political environment in the region. Opportunities for regional and wider European cooperation in the education field should be further promoted and developed. Such academic partnership and exchange offers not only educational and professional benefits for individuals and institutions, but can also play a vital role in reconciliation between peoples, and in generating hope in the region that the future will be constructed upon common European values. The Council of Europe, as the only truly pan-European organisation existing to promote and safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms, has a moral and political imperative to promote and lead such action.
51. A thorough assessment of the needs for assistance to culture, education, media, cultural heritage, youth and sport issues should continue to be made.
Appendix : Kosovo Administrative Divisions
Committee for report: Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Reference to committee: Doc. 8602 and Reference N° 2474 of 28 January 2000
Draft recommendation: Unanimously adopted by the committee on 23 April 2001
Members of the committee: MM. Rakhansky (Chairman), de Puig, Risari, Billing (Vice-Chairmen), Akhvlediani, Arzilli, Asciak, Bartumeu Cassany, Berceanu, Berzinš, Birraux (Alternate: Legendre), Mrs Castro (Alternate: Mr Diaz de Mera), MM. Cherribi, Cubreacov, Mrs Damanaki (Alternate: Mrs Zissi), MM. Dias, Dolazza (Alternate: Martelli), Duka-Zólyomi, Fayot, Mrs Fernández-Capel, MM. Galoyan, Goris, Hadjidemetriou, Haraldsson, Hegyi, Henry, Higgins, Irmer, Mrs Isohookana-Asunmaa, MM. Ivanov (Alterante: Mrs Poptodorova), Jakic, Kalkan, Mrs Katselli, MM. Kofod-Svendsen, Kramaric, Mrs Kutraité Giedraitiené, Mr Lachat, Mrs Laternser, MM. Lekberg, Lemoine, Lengagne, Libicki, Liiv, Mrs Lucyga, MM. Maass, Marmazov, Mateju, McNamara, Melnikov, Mignon, Minarolli, Nagy, Mrs Nemcova (Alternate: Mrs Stepova), MM. Nigmatulin (Alternate: Gostev), O’Hara (alternate: Hancock), Pavlov, Pingerra, Plattner, Prisǎcaru, MM. Rapson, Roseta, Mrs Saele, Mr Saglam, Mrs Schicker, MM. Schweitzer, Seyidov, Shaklein, Sudarenkov, Symonenko (Alternate: Khunov), Tanik, Tudor, Turini, Urbanczyk, Vakilov, Valk, Wilshire, Wittbrodt (Alterante: Smorawinski), Wodarg, Xhaferi (Alternate: Gligoroski).
N.B. The names of those present at the meeting are in italics.
Secretariat of the committee : Mr Grayson, Mr Ary, Mrs Theophilova-Permaul, Mr Torcătoriu