Dating with the independence, then the marriage

2008. március 11., admin

“We have been dating with the independence since 1999. Now we are married.” Albanian intellectuelles spoke about the Kosovan reality like they saw it – thorough the words of Laura, Vjosa, Haki and Ardian we get another perspective about this multi-facial country.

Country? Territory? Region? There’s a debate of notions here, and I remember the definition of a twenty years old Albanian guy from Kosovo: “wannabe-country”.

We have always been independent – Haki said, when asked if there were any perceptible differences between Kosovo before 17 february and after. Logically, people living here are the same before and after the proclamation of independence. Nothing changed – said Vjosa, only that we have a new government here. According to Ardian, 1999 was the key date when everything changed in Kosovo – before that someone just couldn’t do things like drink a beer with friends in a pub. Now everybody can, they have the freedom to do that – of course, not in the sense of the word that anybody can do anything, break things or something, but now they can enjoy their lives. Of course, someone’s freedom is delimited by another person’s freedom.

The witnesses of this wedding guarantee that there won’t be a divorce – added Haki. Everybody laughs, but Ricardo started a long debate, suggesting that Kosovo can proclaim independence, but in reality the top-level decisions are brought by international organizations, not the government. He says that Kosovo is dependent on these organizations, the independence is not fulfilled. It’s not the real thing. Haki’s point of view is that since 1999 the Kosovan institutions have been established and gradually built up, pragmatically the dominancy of these institutions means independence. Only one more step remains to legalize that, and that depends on other countries to recognize or not the “de facto” independent state of Kosovo. This is a judiciary act and it would be coming soon – predicts Haki. What if EU, OSCE, UN, NATO goes home? – Richardo is asking. They can go tomorrow – replies Haki.

What about the Serbs? The question is pending until Ricardo raises it. The answer is: we need more time. Kosovo needs more time to consolidate its institutions, to build up good policies, and to convince the Serbs that they belong here, they have their place in the schools, in the institutions, in the universities, in the government. “We are doing our best to prove that we truly want them to be part of the system, to integrate, to develope.” Vjosa thinks that Belgrade is manipulating the Serbian minority, lies to them, pays them to stay in their enclaves, but she is still hoping that the situation will change and the Serbs recognize their interest and start to integrate.

Ricardo said his interviewees – both Serbs and Albanians – told him they could not live together, and Serbian people live in fear. In reply, Ardian speaks about the rule of law: no matter whether someone is Serb or Albanian, and no matter what he or she thinks about the other ethnic group, as a cityzen of Kosovo everybody has to keep the rules, and if they do, everything will be okay. “They can stay or they can go, it is up to them, I don’t have problems to live with them” – said Ardian. He admits that the situation of the Serbs is hard, but they have to distance themselves from the past, and not to keep themselves out of Kosovan initiatives, but work together to integrate the country in the international and European community. “It’s not complicated, it’s about what you have in your mind” – said Ardian, adding that negativist thinking is not helping anybody to solve the situation.

“It’s about beeing a free, democratic and rule-of-law state. We give equal opportunities to individuals to live their lives in the country like in every other country in Europe. And it’s up to individuals to decide to trust the government of Serbia, which is trying to keep it’s authority among these communities, or choose to live their own life in their country. If they are continuosly manipulated by the Serbian government, I don’t think anyone can help. But I know, because I work on daily basis with them, that they are very interested in being part of Kosovo’s society. It’s the question of how much power will Serbia have to manipulate and how much opportunity will Kosovo provide to them and for the other cityzens of Kosovo” – said Haki, who works for an international foundation in Pristina. If the borders will open, a lot of young people will leave Macedonia, Kosovo and even from Serbia because of the lack of opportunities, and according to Haki this is a very important problem which needs to be analized from a wider perspective.

These states have to find a solution for their young population, to provide them job and perspective in their own country – and I add that the same problem exists in Romania and Bulgaria, the “parias” of the EU, the difference is that Kosovo doesn’t have to fight with negative demographical tendencies, as we do.

Ardian said Albanians should not act the same way with Serbians as they did with them, but to integrate them, using positive discrimination, giving them advantage for jobs. “But it’s also about courage: if I had the courage to visit my grandparents 10 years back when the Serbian police stopped me twice, humiliated me, they have to have the same courage now.” He told us that from the 150.000 Serbs who live there around 100.000 were members of the Serbian military or police. Many of them were from the local Serb population and many came from Serbia. Even during the war in Croatia the Milosevic goverment tried to colonize Kosovo with Serb refugees from Croatia – added Ardian.

Everybody asks how would Kosovo manage the economical problems, but there were harder times, and we survived – concluded. Sipi and Ricardo tried to explain that a country which couldn’t guarantee the safety of their own cityzens, can hardly call itself independent, but Ardian replied: “Do you see any problems here? Yes, we have Mitrovica. We need to face it. But do you see any problems anywhere else? I doubt it. It’s about what Haki said: they should turn to Pristina, not to Belgrade. Okay, they need to be in connection with Belgrade, but they live here, in Kosovo. I’m living in Kosovo. If I don’t want to be integrated, and I put it in my mind, that’s a problem. But it’s their problem, not mine” – said Ardian. Ricardo asked if Ardian would think about a possible annexation of North-Kosovo by Serbia after the NATO forces leave, but he said, he’s not thinking much about these things, because his priority is to provide good living conditions to his family.

Haki lived in Afganistan for 2,5 years and in Iran for a certain period, in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and based on his experience he argues that following the logic that a country needs to have the capacity to ensure the safety of every individual, many UN-countries simply don’t fulfill this criteria. The most important thing in his wiew is that Kosovans have agreed in one solution: Kosovar institutions and international community with joined efforts can bring Kosovo to statehood and independence.

“We don’t have problems with sharing part of sovereignity with KFOR, UN and EU now. I think the principle of statehood of Kosovo that needs to be discussed is: will it be able to establish the rule of law in the entire teritory? That depends on the position of the Serbian government, but 70 percent of the people in Serbia are not happy with the way the Serbian government, especially Kostunica’s party leads the country. I think Kosovo has shown patience, has shown the ability to respect other ethnic groups, even that 10 percent of the population by whom we had been managed and ruled for ten years. All the Serbs here were either policeman, people of the Yugoslavian government or municipallity, directors of schools, who expelled Kosovar Albanians from their jobs in 1989. For ten years we had been living in our own parallel structure with no support from any state. If you talk with liberal Serbs, who are not linked to Belgrade, they would recognize that this is a different reality: Albanians didn’t revenge as it was expected to happen after the transition. Yes, there were cases, there was violence, that’s true, but it was the reaction of people who lost their beloved ones, lost their families, their properties, their houses were burnt, they lived in Macedonian and other Balkanian camps for months, while the Serbian state and regim was trying to ethnicly clean Kosovo. So, it is a balance what we have today, and our independence day was the most dignified celebration you could see anywhere in the world. Not a single person was hurt, not a single person got intimidated, not a single person was threatened by the celebration of Albanians. So, there are certain values that were built and need to be recognized” – said Haki.

His house was also burnt when he came back to Kosovo with his wife and his one year old son. “My neighbourhood was all Serbs, I was sorrounded by Serbs, and I just started to work with these guys in the same organization (ed. mention: in the WFP), and started to rebuild my house. I didn’t receive a single penny from anybody; I started to build my new life. Nobody said that it’s easy to build a democratic state. We have no illusions about the fact that it will take time, it will take efforts. Emotions and pragmatical approach about where you are going to live and your decision about your own family are two different things. I can feel emotional about my house being burnt down and my brother being lost, but I have to take the direction: I can pursue beeing angry and start to shoot every Serb who made my life miserable, or start to create a new life” – told Haki. The situation is the same for the Serbs: they have to choose to stay or to go, added Ardian. “I didn’t mean to say that Serbs should leave, far away from that. What I meant to say is that the Serbs have alternatives: to stay and integrate, and together with the rest of the polulation work for better living condition and towards EU, or to isolate themselves and dream for Milosevic-time to come again” – explained his point.

Haki believes that Albanians here in Kosovo built a state which doesn’t hurt anybody. They assume the responsability, unlike the Serbs, who respect Milosevic and Mladic like heroes – Haki continued. In his opinion building the state of Kosovo never meant to be built from the blood of Serbs, the idea was to build a state by the will of 90 percent of people living here. They declared that they wanted to live in an independent country. For 10 years they peacefully tried to solve the situation, they called the Serbs on every Friday to press conference, to discuss the problems together, but they didn’t want to hear about that, unfortunately neither did the international community to hear about it.
“It came to that point when our dignity was touched, we had to basicly protect our houses, so KLA came to the scene, open armed conflict had started, Serbia responded with uncontrolled force, killing kids and women, young and old, so the international community decided to intervene, which was in our favour, because it was supporting the Albanians to live in a peaceful state. So there are two completely different patterns of the history. Yet there is none of us who askes for the collective punishment of the Serbs. What we are asking from Serbian leaders: to stand up and change the course of their direction. Apologize to the nations they caused so much misery and trouble, and move with us to European integration and live in peace. That’s all we are asking for”. Asked about the bilateral responsibility for the atrocities and fights and for the human life loss on both sides, Haki asserted that Albanians and Serbs can’t be compared: the terror against the Albanians was caused by a state’s regular millitary forces.

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2 Megjegyzés: “Dating with the independence, then the marriage”

  1. Koszovói útinapló » Blog Archive » Randi a függetlenséggel, majd házasság

    [...] A bejegyzés szövege angolul: Dating with the independence, then the marriage [...]

  2. bganon

    This is a nice story but it is pretty incomplete.
    One gains the impression that the Kosovo Albanian demand for independence only occurred as a reaction to Milosevic. In this story nobody mentions Kosovo Albanian nationalist demonstrations of 1981.
    The fact is that in Kosovo today there is still little safety for minorities to move around, let alone job opportunities for minorities.

    The figure stating that out of 150,000 Serbs in kosovo that 100,000 were in the police is not only wrong but badly intentioned. By peddling such an argument the justification for arresting / threatening to arrest Serbs who were ethnically cleansed from Kosovo is given.