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26. March 2018.

Bujanovac –  Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic said on Friday in Bujanovac that when it comes to the official use of the Albanian language and script "the state of affairs has, to some extent, improved." 

He said that the causes of the problem were systemic and specified that they included the lack of human and financial resources, insufficient training and inaccessible information.

Presentation of the report at the Faculty of Economics in Bujanovac was attended by Andrea Orizio, the Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Zoran Stankovic, the President of the Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, and Saip Kamberi, the Mayor of Bujanovac.

The report was drawn up for the purpose of determining the real state of affairs, said the Ombudsman.

“The lack of interpreters in the municipal administration and bilingual boards on the republican institutions were identified as problems, as well as the entry into civil registry books, or problems with the transcription, "Ombudsman Pasalic said.

He said that the solution for the entry into civil registry books would be in the form of the Catalog of Albanian names, which would be an auxiliary instrument for registrars.

"The Albanian language has a larger number of letters, which the Serbian alphabet and orthography do not have, so that the pronunciation of a personal name is not equal to the way it is written in the Albanian language. This results in the entry of the names in the Serbian language and in the Latin script, as the one who enters the name into the books hears and understands it, which is neither legal nor proper," it was said in the report.  

The OSCE Mission to Serbia supported the drafting of the report, and the fact that the presentation of the report was held in Bujanovac, as Ambassador Orizio said, demonstrated the intention of an independent institution, such as the Ombudsman, to reach out to the local community.

"The language and the script of national minorities are only the first half of the problem. The second half is the need for a greater integration of national minorities in Serbia’s diverse society, " Ambassador Orizio said.

He said that that was why the OSCE Mission to Serbia supported the learning of the Serbian language by persons belonging to national minorities, which facilitated integration and finding jobs.

Saip Kamberi, the Mayor of Bujanovac, said that laws of the state of Serbia protected minority rights to a great extent, but that problems emerged in practice.

"We cannot be satisfied with the issue, although the Albanian language has been the official language in this area since 2002. Communication with the governmental bodies and the work of the courts are controversial, and it is also necessary to enable the entry of the names of persons belonging to national minorities in their own language and script, " Mayor Kamberi said.

It was said in the report that representatives of the Bujanovac Municipal Administration had stated that "there is not a single officially employed interpreter at the Basic Court in Bujanovac and that they have no knowledge of how the official documents in the Albanian language and alphabet are compiled, while the Rulebook on the job classification at the said court does not anticipate the hiring of court interpreters."

Zoran Stankovic, the President of the Coordination Body of the Government of the Republic of Serbia for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, said that that body, in cooperation with the Albanian National Council and governmental and local bodies, was willing to immediately start implementing the Ombudsman’s recommendations for drafting the Catalog of Albanian names.

Source: “Danas” daily and Coordination Body