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.
PRISTINA — The birth pangs from the emergence of the world’s newest nation reverberated yesterday from New York to Moscow as Serbia and its ally Russia rejected a unilateral declaration of independence by the self-proclaimed “Republic of Kosova.” But the Serb-Russian gambit did little to dampen the jubilation in the streets of Pristina, where red-and-black-clad celebrants waved U.S. and Kosovar flags, exploded firecrackers and ate from an enormous cake intended to feed 30,000 people. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci issued his proclamation at mid afternoon, using the Albanian-language spelling for the longtime Serbian province. The parliament followed quickly with a unanimous vote of approval as tens of thousands gathered outside. Serbia, however, rejected the loss of a province it considers its historic heartland, and its ally Russia asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.
PRISTINA — In the capital, cars and buildings were covered with U.S. flags alongside the new Kosovar ensign, a far cry from the “Death to America” chants heard in some other Muslim countries. “The U.S. — and the Western countries — were like an extra arm for us,” said Bardha Ajvazi, a student working part-time at the Hotel Pllaza. “Americans helped us get our freedom, and since then have helped the poor people here with financial assistance.”
PRISTINA — Dick Roche, Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs, told The Sunday Business Post that ‘‘this would not be a precedent for other ethnic groups. There are specifics to each case’’. At a news conference last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin rubbished claims that Kosovo had special status, and EU member states such as Spain and Cyprus, with separatist movements of their own, have expressed their concerns about the Kosovo example. But the fact that Kosovo’s independence will be internationally-supervised, not to mention controversial, did little to curtail the jubilation around Pristina over the weekend. The new state will apparently be called Kosova, closer to the Albanian language version, and last minute efforts are being made to get the trappings of sovereignty ready, even if real sovereignty will be curtailed. ‘‘We want to get all the symbols and names correct, to show we are a separate country and heritage,” said Berat Jashari, a student at the University of Pristina.