Voices from Kosovo

From Mitrovica to Pristina, Serbs and ethnic Albanians ponder independence.

Kosovo is widely expected to declare independence from Serbia within days.


Ethnic Albanians demonstrating for
an independent state [GALLO/GETTY]

But no official announcement of a date has been set yet and the international response to the declaration is likely to be divided.


In Pristina, the United Nations-administered province’s capital, excitement is in the air with cars and buildings draped with red and black-eagled Albanian flags.


For Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian-population, which comprises about 90 per cent of the region, the imminent declaration of independence will mark the end of nine years of uncertainty.


With no official date, though, the mood is more one of nervous anticipation than expectant joy.


The region’s Serbian population, however, is fearful what a declaration of independence will bring and many say they will never accept the administration of an independent Kosovo state.

The international response to Kosovo’s declaration is likely to be divided too. The United States and many European Union countries say they will recognize an independent Kosovo, but Serbia, backed by Russia, says any declaration by the province is illegal.


Al Jazeera travelled through the province asking the people of Kosovo about their aspirations, hopes and fears.


“Everything will be better”

Kadri Jetullahu, shop assistant, Pristina

They said it will happen this weekend and I believe it will happen.


Independence means we will be recognised by many countries and it will create new jobs.


Once independence happens, everything will be better. People will have higher salaries and so on.


Many countries have said they will recognise the independence of Kosovo and even those that don’t do it now, they will do so eventually.


On Sunday I’m going to be listening to the news and celebrating.


“We are grateful to the US”

Januz Rusinovci, taxi driver, Pristina


Even the Serbs living here, the approximately 50,000 of them, know that Kosovo is already independent.


We are grateful to the US and many European countries for supporting us, especially to the US. It will change my life for the better.


Serbia will probably try to make some economic blockade, but I don’t think so because it is not in their interest.


Anyways, we used to be economically blocked and robbed by Serbia, but we survived.


Once Kosovo is free, foreigners will freely invest here and also the Albanian diaspora will invest.


There is a difference between being independent and being uncertain.


“I hope my children will have a
better life than our generation

Xhevrije Berisha, shop teller, Pristina


The Albanian people will be free and will decide their fate on their own.


I don’t believe there will be problems. I hope there will be no problems.


If they [Serbs] agree with independence, we can live together peacefully.


When we have independence I think there will be more factories working and producing. I hope my children will have a better life than our generation.


No one is afraid. Before the war, in 1999, people used to stockpile things. But they had no chance to consume them and everything was wasted.


Now they are just buying as usual.


“It will be war again”

Mila Antonovic, shop owner, Mitrovica


They can decide whatever they want. This is not their country.


It will be war again, maybe after this weekend.


I want to say to the international community, leave us alone.


We just want peace. Don’t just be for Albanians. Serbians are just people. We are not criminals.


How would you feel if I can to your country and told you that I was going to take away part of it? It’s not normal to take away a country from someone. We are just waiting, waiting to see what will happen.


“The end of a very long, sad,
tiring story”

Fisnik Ismaili, creative director at advertising agency, Pristina


This weekend a huge crowd is going to go out and celebrate Kosovo’s independence for sure.


This is the end of a very long, sad, tiring story that this nation had to go through over the past 30, 40 years. A happy ending.


It’s definitely a feeling. In a practical way, I hope that it will help my business. I work with a lot of international clients and most of them don’t want to invest here unless the status is resolved.


There’s this stone that you have on your stomach that is going to be disappear. It’s a feeling more than anything else.


Declaring it is what matters. Being recognised by the main few is what matters.


The rest will come and change their minds as time goes by.

“I want freedom and peace”

Milijana Milic, 20, shop assistant, Mitrovica


I don’t know what will happen. Some people say there will be a problem, but other people think everything will be fine.


There are always some people who want to make trouble. Older people are more extreme.


I don’t follow that political stuff. I don’t want to know, because if I paid attention I would be afraid.


I want freedom. I want peace.


I would like it to be like it was before the 1990s Balkan war; everyone living together peacefully.  


I’m not scared of Albanian people from Mitrovica. I’m scared of Albanian people from other places.

Source: Al Jazeera

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