September 25, 2006

Kosova: Turkish Becomes Official Language

Turkish has become one of the official languages in Kosovo following the approval of a proposal in Kosovo’s parliament on Thursday.

Turkish has become one of the official languages in Kosovo following the approval of a proposal in Kosovo’s parliament on Thursday. The parliament adopted the proposal by a majority, allowing Turkish to be the third official language in the region, along with Albanian and Serbo-Croatian.

The Kosovo parliament had rejected the same proposal twice before, the second rejection being on Sept. 14, which prompted Ankara to express their disappointment earlier this week. Around 15,000 ethnic Turks live in Kosovo. They have had a long-standing desire for their language to be used in official documents.

Following the rejection of the proposal last week, the Turkish foreign ministry on Tuesday urged the Kosovo parliament to discuss the issue again and stressed the importance that Turkey attributed to the issue. 

Turkish was declared official in Kosovo in 1974, but the U.N. administration in Kosovo removed it from the official languages in 1999. Kosovo has been under the NATO-led multinational Kosovo Force (KFOR) since 1999 following a NATO bombing campaign that drove out Serbian forces, who were accused of ethnic cleansing. Albanians constitute almost 90 percent of Kosovo's two million people. Turkey has had 350 peacekeepers deployed in Kosovo as part of the 17,500-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force since 1999. The force is responsible for establishing and maintaining security in Kosovo.

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