Multiethnicity in Kosovo is one of the great challenges which the entire population of this area faces. The multicultural population in Kosovo consists, in addition to the Albanian community representing the majority, of Serbs and other non-majority communities, such as Roma, Egyptians, Ashkali, Turks, and others. In such a multiethnic society, it is important to regulate relations within communities and respect the rights of non-majority communities guaranteed by the Constitution of Kosovo and certain laws, so that based on the very democratic principle of this society, the rights of all citizens in Kosovo should be equally respected.
The biggest challenge in such a society is the functioning of the Albanian and Serbian communities, as two completely different peoples, with relations destroyed during the previous war and other political conflicts, which share the same territory and live, cooperate, often depend on each other. Their diversity is reflected, first of all in language, then in culture, customs, and history. At first glance, they do not seem to have any similarities, but there is something connecting such two different peoples that makes their lives and existence itself, and that is the same territory in which they live, the same goals related to the future in the places where they live, striving for progress, and calmer and better life. These two peoples also share what their existence depends on the most, and that is work because they want to work or are already working on the same jobs, in the same institutions, and they probably spend most of the day together. In this everyday life, the lack of knowledge of the language of these peoples is one of the biggest problems and the most important conditions for successful communication and cooperation. Younger populations almost do not feel the need to know the languages of communities, but also the culture of different peoples. Moreover, they are often hostile to the customs, culture, and language of different peoples. However, what has been a source of hope for the improvement of this situation in Kosovo in the last few years is precisely the sharing of the same jobs and the improvement of the economic aspect of the citizens. Members of different communities who work in the same jobs have only one goal, and that is to do their job the best they can to keep it and get paid, on which the quality of their lives depends the most. In order to achieve that, it is necessary for their communication and cooperation to be at the highest possible level, and that also means knowing each other better. Joint cooperation and work make them get closer to each other and get to know the culture and history of different people better. WIthout their mutual interaction, they would not be able to achieve any of that and it would be difficult to overcome the barriers and prejudices that have existed for years. Mutual respect and esteem are necessary for normal functioning, but it is necessary to create enough space to accept diversity. Therefore, influence from all levels of government is important, in order to create a pleasant environment for all communities in Kosovo.
The integration, which took place in certain institutions in Kosovo, the most important of which is the judiciary, contributed to all this. Many young people from the Serbian community, including myself, were given the opportunity to work or do internships in these institutions, together with colleagues who are of Albanian nationality. In the beginning, there were a lot of problems with language skills and mutual communication, it was not possible to talk without the presence of a translator or other colleagues who know the language of another nationality, but the desire to work and personal development was stronger than all barriers. Considering that the workers in these institutions are mostly older people, the knowledge of the Serbian or Albanian language by certain workers who have been there before, made it much easier for young people to get to know each other and has enabled mutual communication. This is exactly what motivated young people to learn the language of another nation better at work and to get to know their culture better. In the beginning, there was writing down the words necessary to read and communicate, and later merging those words into sentences. As a worker in the judicial system of Kosovo, I needed to master the Albanian language as well as possible in order to do my job more efficiently, and I also wanted to “absorb” the experience of all my colleagues as much as possible. Working in a pleasant environment is necessary in order to achieve the best results at work, and that means better personal contact, bringing the cultures and customs of both nations closer. Mutual help at work is also of great importance and allows us to better cooperate and achieve the desired goals. During the previous years of working together, as long as the integration lasts, the experiences of many are positive, progress has been made on the issue of language, so many of my colleagues have learned the language and no longer need assistance in communicating with workers of other nationalities; work in certain segments is done faster and more efficiently, even the parties have more confidence in the integrated institutions in Kosovo.
Aware of the fact that we share space, work, and spend time together, we become more interested in the customs and culture of another nation, for better mutual acquaintance and respect. I have witnessed positive examples also when it comes to religious holidays and their mutual respect, culture is now better known and differences are accepted. Through doing business together, we managed to find a way to better accept each other and give a chance to our relationships. We have the confidence to turn to each other for help beyond business life, but work is the basis of our relationship, which has helped us build it better.
Because of all this, I think that work gave us a good chance to meet and if there are more such opportunities, most will go in the same direction, so in addition to improving the quality of life, there will be a more pleasant environment for mutual functioning and socializing in the future. It is a society to strive for because only in such conditions is it possible to better organize our lives, get to know the people who live next to us, and work together to help each other build better lives. I see just such a future – through creating more opportunities for employment in a multiethnic society, among which is the integration of certain institutions that took place in Kosovo and which resulted in good opportunities for many, especially young but also older citizens of this society.
Milena Petković, lawyer
Milena Petković was born on June 1, 1992. in Gjilan. She enrolled in the Law School in 2011 at the University of Pristina with temporary headquarters in Mitrovica and graduated in 2016 with a high average. She has been active in the integrated judiciary in Kosovo since 2017 and passed the bar exam in Pristina in 2019. She is now actively involved in the fight against domestic violence and cooperates with the non-governmental sector.