Mitrovica, The Powder House For Peace In Kosovo

2021-02-21   |   by CusiGO

When Agron Berisha started working as a waiter at the URA restaurant, they crossed the new bridge in Mitrovica with more dogs than people. He remembers it because it opened shortly after 2012, and because it’s the only one on the bridge (which means its name in Arabic), It has a glass terrace with a clear view of the paradox around Kosovo’s most controversial City: a building designed to unite – almost instinctively inviting humans across – functions as an invisible border between the North (mainly Serbia) and south banks of ibar, Only the people of Albania live there. First of all, 12000 people live in the city, speak Serb and pay in dinars. The car has a license plate in Serbia. A huge stone reminds the victims of NATO bombing and “terrorism” of Kosovo’s ethnic minority guerrillas. A painted painting emphasizes that “Kosovo is Serbia and Crimea is Russia”. In the second tens of meters, the language of 72000 residents is Albanian, and the currency is euro; the license plate is Kosovar; the number of residents is 100; Leaders like isa boletini, who promised at the beginning of this century to “fill the valley of Kosovo with the bones of the Serbs” in retaliation for the suffering of the Albanians, have been praised on the streets and statues, and the flags of Kosovo and Albania adorn the streets marking the 13th anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Today, only more than half of the 193 United Nations countries recognize this. The two cities are one.

“It used to be barbed wire. Now people are taking pictures of themselves on the bridge. “It’s a smell of eyes,” said Belisha, 57, today. He said he came from a bourgeois family, and Haman had been standing in the south of the city during the Ottoman Empire until he was expropriated in the days of Titus. In socialist Yugoslavia, he shares a yard with a family in Serbia. When the war broke out (1998-1999), he paid a huge price for his escape and returned after NATO bombing forced the withdrawal of troops from Serbia. He clearly remembers – because the cafe where he was working was near the bridge – how the discovery of a drowning child in the river in 2004 triggered an anti Serb rebellion that spread to other parts of Kosovo, including Prizren and other cities with special multicultural traditions. “It looks like war again. I hope we can forget all this. No one wants to go back to this situation, we have to live as we did before the war, even if it’s difficult, “he said, possibly idealizing the relationship between the two communities in the past.

When the former Serb Province, which has 90% of the population of Albania, began to move towards independence, 10% of the people’s Congress of the people’s Republic of Serbia thundered: they refused to accept this and placed all the territory north of the Ibar river outside the control of the Kosovo authorities, directly in contact with Belgrade. The bridge has changed the roadblocks: gravel, stone, big flowerpots, charred cars… Now, according to the agreement, these are blocks of cement that will only prevent vehicles from passing through, while vehicles can pass through other bridges.

It’s snowing these days and the water in the Ibar river is calm. In a rather gray city, the white beauty and the enthusiasm of parents and children for sledding and snowball fights seem to be the same on both sides of the city for some time. Young Serbs cross the bridge from north to South and shop in a large shopping mall, while the elderly Albanians, on the contrary, buy medicines in cheaper northern pharmacies. NATO armed police loiter on the bridge. One of them admitted, “our situation is mainly boring now,” and then stressed that the situation has been calm for several months.

Although there are no Serbs south of the river, hundreds of ethnic Albanian families live in the north, and claims and property purchases are part of a silent real estate war. Besiana, a 33 year old Kosovar ethnic minority, holds hands with her two sons, nine and eight. He took them to school in the south, from the apartment he rented on the famous three towers, which were higher than other houses in the north. “I live in the South and moved to the North five years ago. Here, we don’t pay for water and electricity (the Serb majority municipal government doesn’t pay for water and electricity to the Kosovo authorities), and my husband and I are unemployed. I can’t work for rheumatism. My husband has done everything: electrician, painter… But now with the pandemic… ”

Ednora kastrati, an Albanian economist, refuses to sell houses destroyed in the war that grew up in northern Mitrovica. “I’ve been in the North all my life. The war started, and we finally got into Montenegrin by pretending to be Serbs. We said it very well. From there we arrive in Albania. It was then that we heard that the house had been burned down. Castrati was afraid to rebuild his house and settle there because he said, “it’s not safe,” but he refused to sell the land because he would sometimes be “nostalgic” because he wanted his surname on the register. Where he grew up. “There’s always a small part of us there,” he concluded

At the end of the bridge in Albania, someone drew a picture of uck, short for the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought for independence in the 1990s against the repression of Serbia. The other is in Serb, Latin and Cyrillic. There’s a small roundabout from there, and behind it is a busy pedestrian street. There are shops and cafes everywhere. There are no extra empty tables. Anna looks at her children. The 35 year old Serb teacher, from Montenegro, prefers to serve food on one side of the city. “I have no problem with the Albanians, I just don’t want to cross the border. I have no friends there, and my friends are not there. Sometimes I go to the supermarket, I really speak English, even the Serb language, nothing happens. But my husband refused. He’s from vucitrn, “he said, forgetting the 2004 anti Semitic massacre in a town in northern Kosovo.

Nina is also a Serb, 24, studying education at University, and she thinks how many people – the Albanians and the Serbs – will leave. Between 2015 and 2019, about 170000 Kosovos, mainly young people, migrated to Germany and Switzerland. “I was born here and I love life here. We have universities, all these bars (pointing to the front of the street), but I don’t want my children to grow up in the trauma of war. My house is across the bridge. Of course, I don’t remember anything, I only remember flash, because it’s too small, so I think I’ll go to live in Belgrade at some time. I occasionally go to the other side because there’s a good vet there, but when I do, I don’t feel well. “I feel like I’m in another city, just like I’m in Madrid,” he says with a smile next to a statue of the prince of Serbia, Stefan Lazar, who led the Christian army against the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century. Lazar’s finger points to the battle site, which is the key to the identity of the Serbs, who see Kosovo as the cradle of their nation and spirit. On the same square, a mural mourns the soldiers of kosare, a form of Numancia, Serbia, which was bombed by the Albanian army and the Atlantic Alliance in 1999. It says “it’s worthwhile to die for this country.”.

Muslim cemeteries are the religion of the majority of the people of Albania, in the north and the Orthodox Church of Serbia in the south. In the courts in the north, people of both races are working. Ognjen gogic from Belgrade is the director of the aktiv project. Aktiv is a non-governmental organization dedicated to involving the Mitrovica Serbs in life in Kosovo. He encourages himself not to be confused by appearances and emphasizes that under radar, there is more interaction between the two communities than on the surface. “Contracts, for example. Or Serb farmers sell sheep to the Albanians. Some Albanians prefer to go to the northern hospital because it’s better there, even if they have to pay. Almost all the Serbs have Kosovo identity cards. Before, the people who accepted it were considered traitors. They are at peace with a reality that they cannot avoid. ” Like 34 year old Ivana, she rented a car because the next day she had to approach Pristina to make some arrangements. “With our license plate, we can’t get through,” she said, pointing to her husband.

The turning point was an agreement reached in 2013, in which Belgrade accepted Pristina’s power over the entire territory of Kosovo, but did not recognize Kosovo as a state, and dismantled “parallel institutions” in exchange for a high degree of autonomy in most parts of Serbia. Today, the most likely next prime minister of Kosovo defeated his party, Albin Kurti, in the legislative election on the 14th, when he threw tear gas in the parliament to protest the agreement which he considered too generous. Since then, a duality has emerged, and the Kosovo government – which the Serbs now acknowledge – and its dependence on education and health care in Belgrade.

For example, Nicholas, who works for the Kosovo assembly, shrugs when asked if that means recognizing the sovereignty of the young Balkan state. “I prefer to work there,” he concluded. The same thing happened to Slobodan, 37, although he was happy to do it in Serbia. “I want to, but I get better pay here! “He sighed.

Do you know how to write my name?

“Yes, of course, there is a very famous Slobodan: Milosevic.

“A great man… But the United States and Germany say for purely political reasons that he committed the Holocaust. Now it seems that the Serbs, who fought the Austro Hungarian Empire in the first World War and the Nazis in the Second World War, are genocides. Kosovo slipped out of our hands…

Organized crime – another issue of cooperation between the Serbs and the Albanians – takes advantage of Mitrovica’s divided insurgency, corruption (one of the main problems), connections with politicians, and an unemployment rate of about 60%. So is jihadism. More than 300 Kosovar Arabs went to Syria or Iraq to fight the Islamic state or Al Qaeda branches in the region, the country with the highest proportion of population in Europe (1.8 million). Just two years ago, six people were sentenced for plotting attacks on soldiers of the NATO mission, the Orthodox Church and the football club of Serbia.

The problem with Mitrovica is that the situation is calm until one day it may no longer be. “(calm) is also an illusion. No problem between Kosovo and Serbia has been solved, and Serbia’s influence in Kosovo is still strong. “Of course, daily tensions have eased, but there is still a lot of room for escalation,” Florian Bieber, a Balkan expert and professor of Southeast European Studies at Graz University, Austria, said in an email. Bieber acknowledged that inter ethnic tensions have recently been “more symbolic than they are,” but warned that the one-time occurrence of violence was driven by “the government and local authorities’ efforts to achieve political goals” and “the risk of events always getting out of control.”.

The most serious murder in recent years occurred in 2018, when Oliver Ivanovic, a local leader of Serbia jailed for war crimes, finally harshly criticized the influence of President Aleksandar Vucic in Kosovo. This incident led the delegation of Serbia to hold a dialogue with Kosovo under the mediation of the European Union and stand up from the negotiation table in Brussels. Three years later, when Ivanovic left his office in northern Mitrovica, it was not known who fired six shots at him. It conducts its own investigations; their investigations are primitive, and everyone is free to assume that the suspects or suggest that the perpetrators are from another nation.

In 2019, many people in Mitrovica also held their breath. The Kosovo police arrested more than 20 people in the north to fight against organized crime and smuggling, which the Serbs regarded as a provocation to emphasize that the Kosovo authorities are in power there. Two years ago, Pristina stopped at the border after discovering that the first train connecting Belgrade and Mitrovica was painted with the color of the national flag of Serbia and the slogan “Kosovo is Serbia” in various languages.

Kosovars not only associate the name of Mitrovica with the division, but also with the rocks and mines of trepka. The latter is almost a metaphor for the history of the region, under which a British company began operating in the 1920s when it acquired a franchise in the kingdoms of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. After occupying the area during World War II, the Nazis used trepka as a lead source for their war machines. Shaip blakkoori, a geologist and small museum, explains that in the Yugoslavian period of Titus, it became a symbol of the union of workers in Albania and Serbia with more than 20000 workers and an average annual output of 600000 tons. In 1989, when Milosevic abolished the autonomy of the then Yugoslavia’s Kosovo province, a group of workers began a hunger strike. Ten years later, in the chaos of the war, he was ransacked by the Kosovo guerrillas. Ibrahim Rugova, the father of Kosovo’s independence, who served almost continuously as president from 1992 to 2006, likes to use the ore mined there as a gift during his visit. In 2000, the United Nations Mission forcibly took over Milosevic’s facilities. Today, nationalized by the Kosovo government is a decadent dinosaur whose ownership is disputed between Belgrade and Pristina, with a white painted ticket congratulating the independent workers’ party.

The mining industry marks the face of Mitrovica: the sports hall next to the bridge is called minatori. It’s also a local rock band with social information from the time of Yugoslavia. Its most symbolic monument – overlooking the city from a high point in the North – pays homage to the “Albanian and Serb guerrillas”, mostly miners, who lost their lives in World War II. Today, it almost sounds ironic, but in any case, everyone calls it the miner’s monument, emphasizing that the top represents the trolley that carries the ore. This is the work of Bogdan Bogdanovic, the main author of the Yugoslavian Memorial, who died recently. From there you can see the ibar River, passing through the city in the sunshine. On one side is the dome of the church, on the other side is the spire, and on both sides are a chaotic mixture of buildings of different ages and colors. Only a few red bricks survived, a model of the era of Yugoslavia.