The response to the question, "Can this be the new Europe?" of the intriguing June 10 editorial "Albania -- at Last," is a resounding "no." Concern over mistreatment of ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia's Kosovo cannot degenerate into spasms of nationalistic revanchism.
By the same token, Albania must be brought face to face with its own abysmally negative record on minorities among its citizens. Ethnic Greeks in Albania numbering anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 people -- hard numbers are hard to come by in the benighted Illyrian fortress-state -- have been subjected to forced assimilation, terror and decimation constantly since the 1940s.
Over the past 16 years, successive governments in Greece have exhibited a remarkable conciliatory spirit and engaged in extensive cooperative efforts to help Albania extract itself from its totalitarian isolation and extend the most elementary human rights to Albanian citizens, including the long-suffering ethnic Greek minority. As the winds of freedom are reshaping the global landscape, when it comes to give-and-take with Albania we must all do as much, and demand no less. CONSTANTINE G. PANAGIDES Bethesda
I could not fail to notice a few lines at the end of the editorial on Albania.
Changes in Albania doubtlessly deserve wide attention. I would like to underscore that Yugoslavia, as its neighboring country, is particularly interested in seeing democratic changes in Albania, which might do away with some negative phenomena encumbering our relations for over 40 years.
A nationalist option for Albania, instead of a democratic one, as suggested in the article, would be the worst choice both for Albania and its neighbors. Here I arrive at the central point of this letter: the way in which the editorial refers to Serbia, one of Yugoslavia's constituent republics.
The Serbs do not deserve to be labeled, however indirectly, as repressors of ethnic Albanians living in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province, in the light of the fact that 40,000 Serbs fled their homes in Kosovo over the past 10 years alone under pressure from Albanian nationalists and separatists in Kosovo. Yugoslavia earmarks $1.2 million daily to Kosovo with Serbia, of which Kosovo is a part, contributing the bulk of it. Of all the Yugoslav republics, Serbia is still the loudest advocate of continuing aid to Kosovo. Albanians in Kosovo enjoy all rights of a minority population, including the right to use their mother tongue and to take part in running the country. Over the past few years, ethnic Albanians have held the posts of head of state and president of the federal assembly. The University of Pristina is today the second largest in Yugoslavia.
If we take into account only these few facts, the Serbs can in no way be described as oppressors.
MOMCILO KOPRIVICA Counselor, Press and Culture Embassy of Yugoslavia Washington