Summary of the East European Studies meeting with Isa Blumi, a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of History & Middle Eastern Studies at New York University, NY, and a Title VIII-sponsored JSTS Alumnus

Isa Blumi argued that the current conflict in Macedonia between Slavic and Albanian Macedonians is not one that stems from historic ethnic hatreds; rather it is a result of institutional flaws and rhetorical manipulation used by certain politicians to retain their hold on power. The government leaders, individuals from the old era who managed to secure important positions within the new government and are now deemed democrats, foster an atmosphere of ethnic hatred for their own advantage.

He also asserted that a primary cause for the institutionalization of ethnic discrimination rests on the fact that nothing has been done to combat the state's manipulation of key social, political and economic institutions. The media is one such instrument which is used to generate further tension, strife and animosity. It also taints how the rest of the world understands what is going on, and directly influences Western perceptions. In order to address these problems, it is important that the media be independent of official parties, state funding and state pressure. If the state can be taken out of the equation, the opportunity to conduct constructive talks will present itself.