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“Independent Nation of Ethnic Albanians” Still Only a Dream

“Independent Nation of Ethnic Albanians” Still Only a Dream

Posted July. 07, 2005 02:29,   


Western Kosovo has been a UN protectorate for over 6 years. Majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs lived together in this region before it was ravaged by the civil war in 1998 and by NATO’s attack in 1999. Afterwards, this region was reconstructed with the help of the international community.

Serbs who had fled to nearby Serbia or Bosnia have returned to their homes one by one and started rebuilding their homes and farming under the protection of UN peacekeeping forces.

However, few have returned. Over 200,000 Serbs have not yet returned. The infamous ethnic cleansing of Serbs and the retaliation by Bosnians after the NATO attack caused a deep hatred between the two peoples that is still very much alive. UN administrator Anthony Thompson said, “Now it is safe enough for Serbs to freely walk by, but we do not know how long it lasts.”

Northern Kosovo is still ripe with clashes between the two peoples. Last year, a riot went on for three days all across Kosovo.

Mitrovica, a town near Serbia, is strictly divided by the river Ibar with the Serbs living in the north and ethnic Albanians in the South. Even UN vehicle drivers need to switch to someone “appropriate” for the region they drive to when they cross the river bridge.

“Kosovans say that they always dream the same dream every night of Serb forces marching into Kosovo. That’s a good dream for Serbs but for ethnic Albanians, it’s a nightmare,” says a UNHCR worker.

Pristina, the capital, is no exception. On July 2, a series of three bombings erupted in the middle of the city. Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) correspondent Veton Rugova (30) questioned, “[The explosions] took place two days prior to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s visit. What does this mean?” He was saying that it could have been a terror attack by the Serbs intended to hinder the work of American heavyweights who supported Kosovo.

Indeed, the U.S. is the only hope for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton became a hero of Kosovans for attacking Kosovo. The large road that leads to the center of Pristina was named “Bill Clinton Road” after the former president and a large picture of Clinton hangs on the outer wall of high-rise buildings.

Wherever you go in Kosovo, you will see stickers that say, “Independence of Kosovo, the only way toward peace in the Balkans.” For ethnic Albanians who were persecuted and discriminated against by Serbs, making such claims could seem well founded.

However, their neighbors hold different views. Above all, there is no way Serbia will give up the land so easily. A worker for THW, a German government organization, says, “They can’t even make a living without outside help. How can they run a government on their own?”

Kosovo has an unemployment rate of 62 percent and is plagued by human trafficking and organized crimes. Kosovo is now home to 2.2 million people, nearly half of which, or one million, are searching for a job in other countries. Is independence the answer to the problems of Kosovo? This is no easy task that the international community faces.