Dissenters in Yugoslavia's Kosovo region are quiet - for now
''Brotherhood and unity,'' the late President Josip Broz Tito's formula for the integration of a Yugoslav multinational state, encountered its stiffest setback here in the Kosovo region in 1981 with an outburst of Albanian national feeling.
All is quiet now - at least on the surface. The local authorities claim, in the words of a leading Communist Party official, that the ''counterrevolution was broken and liquidated.''
Yet only recently no fewer than 80 ethnic Albanians received jail sentences of from six months to 15 years.
An official report has disclosed that a total of 759 Albanians have been imprisoned in the three years since the riots. These people were identified with the outcry for a Kosovo republic and - more serious - for ''union'' with adjacent Albania.
One of the great uncertainties of events in Kosovo is the extent - in character and degree - that Stalinist Albania is involved in these events. (Kosovo's 11/2 million population is predominantly Albanian.)
The Tirana government, an old ideological adversary of Belgrade, vehemently denies allegations from Belgrade of any actual complicity or territorial pretensions. Its only concern, it claims, is for its ethnic Albanian ''brothers'' in Kosovo.
In any event, Belgrade was clearly taken aback by the events of 1981. The deep, widespread reaction in Kosovo, above all among youth, clearly had been building up for some time.
The situation, it is said, is improving. It is claimed that young Kosovo Albanians induced by Tirana's propaganda to ''defect'' to Albania, are returning , disenchanted by living standards that are undoubtedly inferior to Kosovo's.
But it is acknowledged that the university of 40,000 students, while now working normally, is still a repository of strong and unsatisfied national unease.
''We are trying ... to establish better contact with young people to show them our perspective is best in living and working together,'' says Beqir Hoti, the Albanian party secretary in the presidency of the Kosovo party.
But other spokesmen warn that overtough, almost anti-Albanian reactions from the republics - Serbia, for example - can be counterproductive. They urge Belgrade to let Kosovo leaders handle affairs more themselves.
A Serbian ''emigration'' is said to have slowed. Under local pressures, some 15,000 to 20,000 Serbs and Montenegrins, long settled here, moved out. Some are now, in fact, trickling back.
The exodus included specialists and experts, of which Kosovo remains gravely short, and 27 top university teachers. Other Yugoslav universities are being asked to help fill the gaps.
The new federal ''Platform for Kosovo'' makes the province a Yugoslav responsibility rather than that of Serbia alone, of which it is historically a territorial part.
Belgrade's earlier priorities for the area levied direct financial aid from the developed northern republics. Understandably, they were always less than enthusiastic. The aim now is to induce them into joint Kosovo ventures, focused on obvious local needs and opportunities in processing industries, agriculture, and so on.
''Already more than 50 agreements have been completed,'' says Shefqet Jashari , a member of the local government's presidency. ''Some now ready for operation will mean 15,000 jobs.''
With 91,000 unemployed, mostly youth, the jobs are much needed.