The Economic Toll of Yugoslav Ethnic Tension

The opinion-page column ``Yugoslavia at a Crossroads,'' Oct. 17, reflects the sort of Serbian-centered, anti-Albanian attitude that is distracting Yugoslavs from facing their critical economic problems with a modicum of unity. This column tries to support the argument that the Albanians in Kosovo ``have engaged in brutal persecution of the Serbian minority ( 20 percent of the population) to force them to leave Kosovo.'' If Slobodan Milosevic, head of the Serbian communists, truly seeks economic reforms, why has the major force of his rhetoric and the demonstrations he called in Beograd and Titograd been so virulently anti-Albanian? Can the declining economic situation in Yugoslavia only be tolerated with a convenient scapegoat for the Serbs?

In the past the world looked to Yugoslavia for its novel socialism. But socialism without some sort of brotherly tolerance for its own people is deeply false. Apart from moral considerations, the exacerbation of ethnic animosity in Yugoslavia can only worsen the country's already grim economic situation. Frances Trix, Ann Arbor, Mich.

As a protest to the killing of an Albanian teenager by the Serbian police in Prishtina - the capital of Kosovo - during peaceful student demonstrations, I wrote in the New York Times, Jan. 18, 1969, that ``the Yugoslav government would profit by treating the demonstrators humanely, and could learn from the American experience, that orderly dissent helps bring to light inequities, which if corrected, would eventually strengthen the nation.'' Some 20 years later, after hundreds of demonstrators have been killed, and thousands more injured or imprisoned, I say that there is no other salvation for Yugoslavia than mutual respect and equal rights among its own peoples. This must include Albanians - numbering 3 million strong and representing the third largest nationality in Yugoslavia. Otherwise, the shift and rise of ``The Autonomous Province of Kosovo'' presently within Serbia into the status of ``The Republic of Kosovo'' within the Yugoslav federation appears the only solution. Agim Leke, M.D., Baldwin, N.Y.

In dealing with the constitutional and economic problems that currently face Yugoslavia, this column shows that even-handed treatment of all ethnic groups is a necessary prerequisite to any solutions. The writer's historic perspective of the long suffering of Serbians in Kosovo enables us to see the deep roots which underlie the conflict there. The Kosovo issues will not be resolved without assuring fairness, equal treatment, and safety to the Serbians who live there. Randolph J. Stayin, McLean, Va.

A right to be trusted In his opinion-page column ``Deutsch u"ber Alles?,'' Oct. 13, John Hughes argues that German reunification requires careful thought. He states that ``it is time to start figuring out how a reunited Germany can be guaranteed to be a constructive and positive force.'' Since when are there any guarantees of future behavior on the part of individuals or nations?

The US is asking impossible guarantees of the German people before some unspecified course of action is allowed. This seems a punitive consequence of the role Germany played in the history of this century. This history is indeed a tragedy for uncounted millions, but the right side did win the war, installed democratic institutions, and taught Europe that democracy works. That lesson has worked so well that even the students looking in the classroom from the schoolyard window - across the Berlin Wall - seem to be getting the message. After World War II, the US ultimately came to the conclusion that West Germany can be trusted as a sovereign nation. Shouldn't Germany have the right to exercise that trust now? Reiner Decher, Bellevue, Wash.

Educating and training Regarding the editorial ``What Should Undergrads Know?,'' Oct. 18: When I started teaching, more than 60 years ago, general education included mathematics, the sciences, civics (government, economics, and sociology), and a language. What the US really needs is a definition of education that sharply differentiates education from job training. Business, journalism, engineering, and law schools all turn out trained, rather than educated, graduates. The difference between a Master of Business Administration and a secretarial certificate is only that one claims managerial skills while the other claims stenographic skills. Richard E. Haswell, Springfield, Mo.

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