KOSOVO & YUGOSLAVIA: LAW IN CRISIS

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A Contribution to the Muenzel-Antic Debate

Recently and accidentally I came across the Muenzel--Antic dispute [1] on the Law Professors' Network JURIST. One small but probably important detail riveted my attention and prompted me to contribute belatedly to the polemic although Dr. Antic already approached the issue more closely in his second reply.[2]

Dr. Muenzel's first article [3] opens with the word "Kosova" (explaining in a footnote that "Kosova is an Albanian name"). This is a false statement from the linguistic point of view. The etymology of the name "Kosovo" ("Kosova" is genitive, so it is used incorrectly by Dr. Muenzel) tells us that it originates from the Slavic word "kos" which is a name for the blackbird (lat. Turdus Merula; order Passeriformes). The German name is "Amsel" (or "Schwarzdrossel"). From many sources easily accessible to him Dr. Muenzel could have learned that "Kosovo" stems from "Kosovo Polje" = Blackbird Field (in English) or Amselfeld (in German). For example, in the Welt--Atlas der deutschen Buch--Gemeinshaft the region is indeed called "Amselfeld" and "Kossowo". The true meaning of the term "Kosovar" (or "Kosovac" as it is often read) is, therefore, "A Person from Kosovo" ("Amselfelder" in German) --- again, contrary to Dr. Muenzel's usage, a name devoid of any ethnic connotation.

Italic, Germanic, and sometimes Hellenic versions of the Slavic names and toponyms pertaining to the Kosovo region, used for centuries, corroborate their usage as "official" or "legally recognized" as defined by Dr. Antic.[4]

Unfortunately "Kosova" is only one of Dr. Muenzel's many solecisms of language. Another example of language corruption could be found in Dr. Muenzel's second paper [5] where he says that "...Metohija [is] not at all 'historically approved' [name], as Antic claims, but [was] made up only in this century to bolster Serbian claims...". Dr. Muenzel obviously did not bother to look for the etymology of the ancient name "Metohija" (of Hellenic origin) meaning "The Land of the Monastery". The "age" of many of these monasteries (and the name Metohija) is certainly beyond dispute.

Now, the bottom line of this short passage is that I am truly surprised that a learned person could demonstrate such a carelessness with respect to the basic terminology of his discourse (after all "Kosovo" is THE keyword of Dr. Muenzel's articles!). As a natural scientist I am not used to read and appreciate a scholarly article in which the key terms are misrepresented. In the cited article [3] Dr. Muenzel has discredited himself at the very beginning and thus obviated the audience from the need to read it through. It is regrettable that such a gesture comes from a professor of the Goettingen University --- a place which gave us such intelectual giants as [6] Carl Friedrich Gauss, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, or Manfred Eigen.

S.R. Niketic, Ph.D.
Professor [7] of Chemistry
Faculty of Science
University of Belgrade

References and Notes

[1] http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/academic.htm

[2] O. Antic, "[Second] Reply to Professor Muenzel", http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/antic1.htm

[3] F. Muenzel, "What Does Public International Law Have to Say About Kosovar Independence?", http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/simop.htm

[4] O. Antic, "[First] Reply to Professor Muenzel", http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/antic.htm

[5] F. Muenzel, "Reply to Professor Antic", http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/simop1.htm

[6] I am referring only to some of the names from the areas of my expertise.

[7] "Ordinarius" according to Dr. Antic's taxonomy.


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