ISTANBUL — When the office of Hurriyet, a major Turkish newspaper, was attacked by a crowd of around 200 stone-throwing supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sept. 6, Emre Kizilkaya was not surprised. Kizilkaya, managing editor of Hurriyet’s English edition, says that press freedom in Turkey “has declined dramatically” since the long ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to win an overall majority in June elections and the country lurched toward civil war. After the vote, fighting resumed between the Turkish military and the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), breaking a two-year ceasefire. In the worst violence in the region since the 1990s, more than 100 soldiers and police have been killed since June in Turkey’s southeast, where many of the country’s estimated 15 million Kurds live. Kurdish militias in Iraq and Syria have led the fight against the self-described Islamic State, earning admiration in the West but prompting concerns in Ankara that Kurdish gains elsewhere are emboldening Kurds in Turkey, where they make up around 18% of the population. “In this climate of war, media has been affected, with many critical columnists forced out of newspapers and pro-government media accusing independent media, such as ours, of ‘terrorism’,” Kizilkaya told the Nikkei Asian Review.
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.
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.