TRANSCRIPT – Languages matter
Languages play a vital role in promoting intercultural dialogue. Speaking different languages strengthens cooperation among groups. And when languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity.
In Kosovo, one can hear Albanian, Serbian, Turkish, Bosnian and Romani. And there are some 225 indigenous languages across Europe. September 26th is European Languages Day. To mark the occasion, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – or OSCE – organized an event in Pristina.
Ambassador Jean-Claude Schlumberger, the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, had this to say:
The linguistic diversity in Europe is very important and naturally Kosovo is at the heart of Europe. It’s a way naturally to better understand, it’s a way also to open perspectives for the future especially for the young generations. The more languages you speak the more you will be able to deal with future life.
Tim Cartwright heads the Council of Europe’s office in Pristina.
Language is the portal. It’s the gateway to culture. Language is the gateway to mutual understanding. Multilingualism, in a context such as Kosovo is the very key to successful and cohesive society.
Annamaria Mecinaj is the director of a center in Pristina that teaches German. She is half German and half Hungarian, and said the following in Albanian:
I know the importance of language because I have experienced it myself. I came to Kosovo eight years ago, and I learned the language very fast. The language was the key to integrating into Kosovo’s society, and finding a job. Kosovars are very hospitable but they are even more so if you speak the language. Then, the doors really open.
In the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “Let us all join forces to promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism as a key element in our efforts to build a better world and a life of dignity for all.”