TROLL OF THE MONTH: Professor Biljana Vankovska

February 26, 2024

The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or other diversity categories. The Balkan Troll is selected based on hate speech incidents identified across the Western Balkans region.

Early this year, a group of people broke into the air traffic control centre (M-NAV) at Skopje airport in North Macedonia and verbally and physically attacked the controllers on duty. Following this incident, NATO, the EU, and foreign embassies in the country reacted, and the leadership of the centre was soon replaced.

President of the Trade Union of Air Traffic Controllers, Aleksandar Tasevski, stated that the employees were attacked because they supported the union’s protest against employing people based on party affiliation.

Four men are suspected of the attack, including the coordinator of the Albanian party DUI, Bekim Neziri, who is an adviser to the director of air traffic control and a former minister of economy.

University professor and author Biljana Vankovska commented on this case on her Facebook profile. She stated “Someone needs to fly away from here – on kicks! And not to celebrate his birthday in a government ministry!” She continued by saying that this is a glove thrown especially in the face of our fellow Albanians! Let’s see if they are willing to put up with such a threat to public safety and common sense!”

Even though it is her right to criticise such acts of violence, Vankovska insinuated that Albanians should react and be held accountable for the actions of individuals and party representatives. Blaming an entire ethnic group for the actions of individual persons is unfair and can be quite dangerous, especially in a multiethnic country such as North Macedonia. Diverting the responsibility from perpetrators and institutions to the Albanian minority is extremely harmful for the democratic values and relations between different ethnic groups in the country. Furthermore, the rhetoric perpetuated by Biljana Vankovska can be harmful to already fragile interethnic relations in North Macedonia, which hampers peaceful co-existence.

This is not the first time Professor Vankovska used such inflammatory rhetoric. A university professor spreading ethnic hate on social media undermines academic values, erodes trust, and fosters a divisive atmosphere contrary to the principles of higher education. Furthermore, this only serves to spread ethnic hate amongst members of society.