Our Observer from Pristina react to the declaration of independence of Kosovo. For Kushtrim Xhakli, this achievement after a long struggle means that the country can become an investment zone for foreign companies, especially in the new-technology sector.
UPADATE (22 February 2008) : We had originally published the comment of a Serbian blogger on the independance of Kosovo, but he has asked us to remove his post.
Of course, Kosovo's economy is not brilliant at the moment. But I'm confident about the future because we have many young people; more than 50% of the country is under 35. They generally speak English, because we've lived eight years under the mandate of the UN, and they're well trained in the domain of new technologies and the internet - 23% of Albanians have Internet access and development is quick. So Albania is an ideal place for industries to use for some of their activities. That's what happened in Estonia, which became quite powerful in the new-technology domain after its independence. We can do that too.
The foreign media worries a lot about the Serbs in Kosovo being persecuted, but there's no chance that will happen. Firstly because we're not naïve. We haven't waited all this time for our independence to throw it all away now, especially when the Serb minority doesn't even pose a problem. Secondly, we signed the Ahtisaari agreement, from the ex-president of Finland that was posted to Kosovo by the UN to protect the Serbian minority. Most of the Serbs over here are much better treated than the Kosovars over there. In fact, they're even privileged.
I'd say that more than 90% of the population is waiting for EU integration. I don't think our independence will start any new wars. Problems in Yugoslavia were started in Kosovo, and they'll end with Kosovo too."
Comment originally posted 17 February 2008.
As the independence was announced, a few hundred people, many of them fans of the local football team, gathered together outside the US embassy in Belgrade and a few scuffles broke out. One policemen suffered minor injuries. Shortly before, the group had protested in front of the Slovenian embassy, shouting "Kosovo is Serbia!"
Kosovo independence activists and nationalist Serbs are using propaganda videos on YouTube to advance their causes. Here, a Serbian video that condemns the independence of Kosovo, saying that "Kosovo will always be Serbia". The film starts with the famous battle between Serbs and Ottomans in 1389, mentioned with great importance by blogger "Balkan Anarchist".
A postcard in a tourist shop in the Serbian city of Mitrovica, Kosovo: "Kosovo-Serbia. Always". Photo taken in 2003 by Daniel Balan (see his Flickr page).