A French magazine published a couple of photos from the Lion airport on April 18, 1999, at thetime when NATO bombers were pouring their lethal burden over Serbia (and partly over Montenegro), in the course of their “preventing humanitarian catastrophe” at Kosovo. One pictureshowed the French weaponry ready to be transported to Kosovo, the other presented an ethnic-Albanian family from Kosovo, refugees just arrived to France. The photo deserves well our attention, for it speaks very much indeed; it exposes vividly the very crux of the matter. Let usanalyze this picture, presenting the unfortunate family of Kosovars (as the ethnic Albanians callthemselves).First of all, it is a single family, consisting of three generations. On the left we see grandmother (with scarf), on the right father and mother of the children posing around. Evidently, it is the peasant family. Tough the children appear well dressed (probably by a humanitarian agency), theadults reveal their modest wellbeing. We notice first three daughters, the eldest (somewhat hidden behind the boy in the centre) and two twin girls next to her. Then we see two daughters in the frontand two boys beside as well.The central figure appears the young girl, of about 8, who shows the V sign in a Churchill-likegesture. What is she trying to tell us? The family is hardly in a “victorious position”. Who is goingto defeat whom? Who instructed her to pose before the cameras in that manner? These are thequestions which come to mind when looking at this scene at the Lion airport. We shall come back to this photo many times later on, but here we need just to bear it in mind.
Kosovo in Serbia
Kosovo is a part of the region on the south-west of Serbia, called Kosovo and Metohija, which wasan autonomous region of Serbia from 1945 to 1989, designated by the postwar Serbian state-republic by
, as the short name for Kosovo and Metohija. The very name Kosovo is a shortname of Kosovo Polje, meaning in Serb language Field of blackbirds (
– blackbird in the Serblanguage).
To avoid confusion we adopt the standard rule for the terms we are going to use hereand in the following: Serb(s) will designate the ethnicity and adverb Serb too, like Serb language.Serbians will mean citizens of Serbia (regardless of their ethnicity), and adverb Serbian also, likeSerbian state etc.Albanianswill designate ethnicity (regardless of their citizenship), and Albanianthe adverb, like Albanian language. Ethnic Albanians who are citizens of Serbia will be designated by Shqiptars (Shqiptare, “sons of eagles”),
as they call themselves and were called in Yugoslaviauntil recently. Another interpretation of the term has been as stemming from
. This interpretation appears in accordance with similar case of
– “one whospeaks (slovi)”, as different from
(German), “one who is mute (nem)”. We must mention,however, that most Serbian Albanians consider now the term pejorative, if used by Serbs, for historical reasons.
The principal reason is that many designations of the present-day Albaniansthroughout the history were, to many Balkan people eponymous to wild people, including Turks. In particular the name Arnaut, widely used during the Turkish occupation of Balkan, was synonymousto robber, highwayman, belligerent savage etc.
The name Shqiptar was in many respect similarlyused by Slavic population. Modern equivalent to Shqiptar in our usage, Kosovo ethnic Albanians,is Kosovars, used by Albanians and some foreigners alike. The term appears misleading, however,for it implies “inhabitants of Kosovo”, what includes other ethnicities in the region, at least in
Amselfeld as Germans call it, after Amsel for blackbird...
Derived from shqipojnë, which designates eagle, possibly totem of a tribe.
We note that Shiptar political leaders at the federal level, used to use this term freely, during Tito’s era...
By contemporary Balkan population Arnauts used to be experienced in a similar sense as North-American Indians byEuropean population in 19-th century.