Albania’s Academy of Albanology, ASA, the country’s main body for cultural, anthropological and linguistic research, has condemned the government of the Prime Minister Edi Rama following a media leak that it aims to subordinate it to the Academy of Science.
The proposed decision states that the academy will be transferred to the control of the Academy of Science, a change that is being denounced as unlawful and wrong.
“The proposed decision is unlawful, has not been consulted with us and doesn’t have the support of the senate of ASA,” the academy stated on Saturday.
The board added: “If the rectors, lecturers and students allow the closure of this Academy of the Albanian Identity by an arbitrary decision of the Minister of Education, this will be a bleak day for academic freedom, political freedom and scientific research in the country.”
Over the weekend, citizens and academics from several countries voiced support for the ASA.
“This is an attempt to subordinate the country’s highest academics, who have contributed greatly to the preservation of history, archeology and the language, to a leadership made up of academicians who derived their credentials from politics and from the communist system,” Qendresa Qytetare, a local pressure group, said in a statement.
The Academy of Science is led by Skender Gjinushi, a politician who was Minister of Education during the last communist government and reinvented himself by creating the Social Democratic Party following the collapse of communism.
A few years ago, Gjinushi handed over his party to Tom Doshi, a US-sanctioned politician, informally allied to the Socialists of Prime Minister Rama.
Rama’s parliamentary majority meanwhile arranged legal changes that permitted Gjinushi to take over the Academy of Science.
As his mandate is close to expiring, two Socialist Party MPs have proposed further law changes to remove a clause that limits the holding of the leadership of the academy to one four-year mandate.
Two more former Socialist MPs have seats on its board.
Gjinushi doesn’t hide his admiration for some aspects of Albania’s communist past. Last November, he organized a conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the communist-era Congress of Language that established the country’s unified language, based on the Tosk dialect.
That process is now widely considered a form of Orwellian shrinking of the vocabulary that downgraded local dialects to forbidden forms of language.
In the conference, Gjinushi declared his support for the official language, claiming it had been an absolute necessity in the state-building process.
He quoted a Maltese linguist, called Manuel Zrinzo Caruana, who apparently proved scientifically the correlation between standardization of the language and the development of the state.
However, Caruana doesn’t actually exist. What Gjinushi quoted was a sarcastic blog written by Adrian Vehbiu, a linguist, as a review of a non-existent book.
Linguists at the Academy of Albanological Studies have used the episode to highlight Gjinushi’s lack of credentials as an academician and his apparent nostalgia for the communist era.
Experts are still debating on what to do with the country’s language, and how to move forward, with several saying that a greater tolerance of non-standard dialects is a must.
Source: Balkan Insight