TIRANA — “It has been a long time coming, but Albania is ready to rejoin the West. In truth and in spirit, it never left,” Tirana’s Catholic Archbishop Rrok Krol Mirdita said in an interview. Muslims are the majority, but Albania is a country split four ways confessionally — between Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslim Bektashis, Catholics and Greek Orthodox. There’s two ways tribal split as well, with northern Ghegs and southern Tosks making up most of the country’s roughly 3 million population. But all Albanians now seem to be pulling one way politically after the recent declaration of independence by Kosovo, where the majority of the population is Albanian. A Kosovar delegation visited recently to discuss forming a common market between the two states. Despite Kosovo’s supervised independence precluding unification with Albania, the latter”s Minister for Economy and Energy, Genc Ruli, stated that a free Kosovo “paved the way for a common market […] and coordination of economic policies with Albania.”
PRISTINA — A recent survey discussed in the leftist Der Spiegel pointed out that a Saudi-funded mosque had boosted the appeal of a more traditional Islam in that secularized former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina which the opponents of Kosovo’s independence may look at with a jaundiced eye. For now, however, the denim-and-leather-clad Kosovars see things differently. As employment conditions become difficult in Kosovo, many job-seekers see their future with the EU. Amira Rama, 23, recently got engaged. She said, “We want it to be easier to travel to the West for jobs — now it is too difficult.”
PRISTINA — To a sea of Albanian and American flags, Prime Minister Hasim Thaci called the republic of Kosovo into being last Sunday week, setting off a diplomatic firestorm, raising Russian-backed Serbian ire and sparking fears that minority ethnic groups from Spain to China would have a new basis for resistance. Kosovo can draw from examples elsewhere, as well as set what Sri Lanka described as “an unmanageable precedent.”
MITROVICA — Supporters of Kosovar independence say Pristina’s is a standalone case, legitimate under international law. ‘‘Kosovo is not like anywhere else, and we deserve our independence,” Pristina pharmacy student Laura told The Sunday Business Post. At a Serb demonstration in Mitrovica last Wednesday, Mario Jovanovic, from Vranje in southern Serbia, said: ‘‘For us, Kosovo is holy land.” He said hundreds of Serbs had crossed into Kosovo’s majority-Serb municipalities, after mobs torched and bulldozed two border posts earlier that day. Even if Serb regular forces do not attempt to retake Kosovo, most experts expect partition of the new state. Belgrade controls the region north of Mitrovica, and Daniel Serwer, Balkan expert at the United States Institute for Peace, told this newspaper that ‘‘only with great difficulty’’ would Nato and the EU alter this status quo.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — A torched embassy building in Belgrade was the latest target of Serbian anger yesterday, as the United States faced growing consequences of its support for Kosovo’s independence. Despite billions of dollars spent on security upgrades in the decade since al Qaeda bombed two embassies in Africa — including $1 billion budgeted for 2008 — rioters managed to break into an outer embassy building in Belgrade and set it ablaze, to cheers from rioting mobs outside. Embassies have been either rebuilt or reinforced with multiple security barriers whenever possible.
MITROVICA — To booming loudspeakers blasting out Orthodox hymns, Serbian student leader Sergej Zaporozac told the cheering crowd that “we are here since ancient times, [and] Kosovo is holy land for Serbs,” in reference to Kosovo’ quasi-mythical status in Serb nationalist circles The newly-independent state is site of numerous Orthodox monasteries and, on the road linking Pristina and Mitrovica, the tomb of Prince Lazar, martyred in 1289. Demonstrators waved Spanish and Russian flags in acknowledgement of those countries’ opposition to the newly declared Republic of Kosovo, while speakers castigated Western powers for recognizing Pristina’s government, as Belgrade followed up the recall of its ambassador in Washington with the withdrawal of its representative in Canberra, to protest Australia’s backing of the Kosovo state.
PRISTINA – The United States yesterday coupled its formal recognition of newly independent Kosovo with an appeal for the European Union and the World Bank to help turn the impoverished territory into a prosperous Muslim-majority state. With unemployment at nearly 50 percent, an average monthly salary of about $220 and growing corruption, Europe’s youngest country has raised security concerns throughout the continent. Still, it was clear after an all-night party celebrating Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Sunday that most of the population — more than 90 percent Muslim — is looking west to America rather than east to Mecca. After a night of fireworks, heavy drinking and dancing in the streets to Tupac Shakur’s rap hit “California Love,” residents of the Kosovar capital, Pristina, resumed their celebration yesterday, waving U.S. and Kosovar flags at the news that their new nation had been formally recognized by the United States.
PRISTINA — Kosovo’s new capital awoke to a city-wide hangover after its delirious denizens marked independence with an all-night city-wide party. The muezzin’s dawn tannoy-call to prayer was a wake-up call reminder that Europe’s would-be newest state is a Muslim country. But to see the boisterous celebrations rocking the capital streets on Sunday, after a special session of parliament called the Republic of Kosovo into being, it seems that the population looks west to New York and Los Angeles, rather than east to Mecca.