Beyond Enmity: Changing Serbian-Albanian Perceptions (2017-2018)

Applicants: Qendra Multimedia, Prishtina/Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, Belgrade

Project duration: 2017-2018

Coordinators: Jeton Neziraj and Aleksandar Pavlović

Sponsors: Swiss Embassy in Prishtina and PERFORM initiative


The Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory and Qendra Multimedia from Prishtina as the main applicant, are implementing the project Beyond Enmity: Changing Serbian-Albanian Perceptions (2017-2018). The project aims at reducing hostility and conflicts between Serbs and Albanians by promoting true, positive stories about examples of Serbian-Albanian friendship and/or persons that acted as bridges among the two nations in the past and recent times. The project is implemented in cooperation with newspaper Koha ditore from Prishtina and Beton cultural supplement and portal from Belgrade.

The project’s wider aim is to maintain and strengthen a cooperative network of Albanian and Serbian researchers and civil society activists, and empower them to combat present hostility on a long-term basis. We seek to challenge currently entrenched hostile perceptions by presenting stories about persons and events excluded from the public discourse, which tell a different story about Serbian-Albanian relations. The goal of the project is to publish a dozen of articles by 10 authors from Belgrade, Prishtina and Tirana in the leading Albanian Kosovo newspaper Koha ditore and Mapo from Tirana, and then in Serbian and English in Danas/Beton, B92 portal or other outlets in the region.

So far, the following articles were published on this project:

Arian Leka, poet, translator and lecturer, the founder of literary magazine and NGO Poeteka from Tirana, published on November 11 in Koha ditore article Zhdukja e Tjetrit nga harta meteorologjike, about certain words from Serbian that are common for all South Slav languages, melodic and attractive, like Dušo (soul) and discusses its Albanian counterparts, therefore examining closeness and emotions of both languages:

This article will be published in Serbian as Nestanak drugog sa meteorološke karte on Beton portal on December 17.

On November 25, Arian Leka also published in Koha ditore the article Republikë apo Krahinë autonome letrare, a poetic essay about the absence of regional approach to literature and culture that would be beneficial for all Balkan countries. As Leka points out, in Albanian libraries and bookstores Serbian books are categorized oddly among distant literature such as Russian, instead of being perceived as close to Albanian in a number of ways.

On June 17, Aleksandar Pavlović, researcher from the IFDT, published in Koha Një libër i paanshëm rreth jetesës së përbashkët serbo-shqiptare a review of Petrit Imami’s seminal 3-volume book on Serbian-Albanian relations. As Pavlović argues, the comprehensive material in this book tacitly shows that our history is one of friendship and cooperation and living together, more than it is of violence and conflict.

This article has also been published in Serbian as Srbi i Albanci kroz vekove: istorija zajedničkog života, ne susedstva, and in English as Serbs and Albanians lived not as neighbours, but together on B92 portal.

Aleksandar Pavlović also published in Koha on October 21 Çka mund të mësojnë gjermanët dhe francezët prej serbëve dhe shqiptarëve? Pavlović argues that Serbs and Albanians did not have such violent past as is commonly believed, and briefly compares the conflicts in Western Europe and Balkans to show how Western Europe had far more bloody and violent past than Serbs and Albanians had. Thus, his argument is that we should not emphasize our hostilities but, on the contrary, positive sides of our past.

This article has also been published as Šta Nemci i Francuzi mogu da nauče od Srba i Albanaca? in Serbian newspaper Danas on  November 25 and online, on B92 website on November 26, and as Çfarë mund të mësojnë francezët dhe gjermanët nga serbët dhe shqiptarët on December 1 in Albanian newspaper Mapo.

Saša Ćirić, literary critic and Beton founder and editor, published in Koha on September 23 Braktisja e çerdhes së gjarprit, in which he analysed recent books by prominent Kosovo intellectual Veton Suroi and derives from it realities of current situation in Kosovo and beyond. The author advanced the view that these mutual readings of current literary production are important as a bridge between two cultures.

This article has also been published in Serbian in newspaper Danas (cultural supplement Beton) on November 21 as Napuštanje zmijskog legla.

On September 30, Koha published Na ndiqni: Takimet e grave të Serbisë dhe të Kosovës by Jelena Lončar, lectrice at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade. Lončar reports about the initiative of influential women, politicians and intellectuals from Serbia and Kosovo, who organize their meetings and discuss common issues, thereby creating a chance to change our politics and improve relations and bring peace and reconciliation

Duško Lopandić, former diplomat and publicist, published in Koha Lidhjet dinastike serbo-shqiptare në Mesjetë. The author shows how closely connected and related were Serbian and Albanian feudalists in the medieval times, and offers many examples of joint marriages and family alliances between Serbs and Albanians in those times.

Scholars Marija Mandić, Ana Sivački and Valdete Osmani published on October 14 in Koha Shqipja në Beograd: Katedra për Gjuhën Shqipe në kontekstin e konfliktit etno-politik in which they summarize the results of their research about the use of Albanian language in Belgrade and Serbia today.

On November 2, Kosovo playwright Jeton Neziraj published in Koha Artistët janë fëmijë të botës his article about Faruk Begolli, a well-known actor from Kosovo, who was one of the icons of the Yugoslav cinema of the 1970s and 80s. Begolli created his career in Belgrade, but then he returned to Prishtina where he founded the acting school. Alongside with another famous Kosovo actor Bekim Fehmiu, Faruk Begolli is one of the rare personalities who is respected and celebrated in both Serbia and Kosovo.

This article has been published as Umetnici su deca sveta on Beton portal on December 5.

Srđan Atanasovski, researcher from the Musicology Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, published on November 4 in Koha Religjioni i identitetit në Kosovë: praktikat historike dhe bashkëkohore të pelegrinazhit. Atanasovski points out the fluidity of religions and indetities in Kosovo in the past and shows that many sacred sites were places of pilgrimage for Serbs, Albanians and Turks alike. What is more, by refering to Per Duijzings’ book and his own field research, Atanasovski indicates that these phenonena perhaps still persist in Kosovo today. This articles has also been published as Religija i identitet na Kosovu: istorijske i savremene prakse hodočašća in Danas (cultural supplement Beton) and on Beton portal.

Anton Berishaj professor of literature at the Faculty of Philology in Prishtina published Etika diskursive e këngëve… të Radovan Zogoviqit in Koha December 2, where he analyzed the contribution of this great 20th century Serbo-Montenegrin writer and intellectual who promoted good relations among Serbs and Albanians and publicly wrote about the perils of Albanians.

Articles of Jelena Lončar, Saša Ćirić, Aleksandar Pavlović and Srđan Atanasovski will be published in English in early 2018 issues of Albanian magazine Poeteka.


Aleksandar Pavlović, Një libër i paanshëm rreth jetesës së përbashkët serbo-shqiptare

Saša Ćirić, Braktisja e çerdhes së gjarprit

Jelena Lončar, Na ndiqni: Takimet e grave të Serbisë dhe të Kosovës

Duško Lopandić, Lidhjet dinastike serbo-shqiptare në Mesjetë

Marija Mandić, Ana Sivački i Valdete Osmani, Shqipja në Beograd: Katedra për Gjuhën Shqipe në kontekstin e konfliktit etno-politik

Aleksandar Pavlović, Ana Sivački i Valdete Osmani, Shqipja në Beograd: Katedra për Gjuhën Shqipe në kontekstin e konfliktit etno-politik

Jeton Neziraj, Artistët janë fëmijë të botës

Srđan Atanasovski, Religjioni i identitetit në Kosovë: praktikat historike dhe bashkëkohore të pelegrinazhit

Arian Leka, Zhdukja e Tjetrit nga harta meteorologjike

Arian Leka, Republikë apo Krahinë autonome letrare

Saša Ćirić, Napuštanje zmijskog legla

Srđan Atanasovski, Religija i identitet na Kosovu