Photo posted by Rexhep Myftari on Flickr.

On November 1 the streets of the Kosovan capital Pristina were crowded with people waiting to see one of their favourite icons, former US president Bill Clinton. During his visit, a three-metre-tall bronze statue was unveiled on a corner of the same street that carries his name. The bronze Clinton clutches documents with the date 24 March 1999 stamped on them, marking the day NATO began its bombing of Serbian posts in Kosovo.

Photo posted by Rexhep Myftari on Flickr.

Photo posted by “BesnikS” on Flickr.

“Many children are named after him. Not just Bill, but Bill Clinton, followed by their own surname”

Rexhep Myftari runs a citizen journalism site called DardaMEDIA in Pristina. He was present at the ceremony and lives on Bill Clinton Blvd.

The whole boulevard, one of the biggest avenues in Pristina, was full of people who travelled from all over Kosovo. American flags and posters were waved from balconies. It was the first time Bill Clinton had paid a visit since Kosovo achieved independence almost two years ago.

Many people here, mostly Albanian Kosovars, see him as the country's saviour. We have enormous affection for Americans because they played the biggest role in the independence of the country.

At the ceremony Clinton wasn't speaking just to Albanian Kosovars though, but to everyone in Kosovo. [In fact organisers had asked people not to bring Albanian flags to the event.] He urged us to build a country for all Kosovars and encouraged ethnic communities to unite in shaping a better future for all of us: Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Gorani, Turks and Roma. Many of my Serbian friends are changing their minds and realising this is their country.

As for Clinton, there are reminders of him everywhere. Many children between the ages of eight and ten are named after him. Not just Bill, but ‘Bill Clinton' and then their surname.

It's not just him; there are many ‘Tony Blairs', as Kosovars are also grateful for the role the British played during those years. For girls, Madeleine Albright's became a very popular name, although in this case it's only ‘Madeleine'. A shop called ‘Hillary Clinton' sits on the boulevard named after her husband, and there is an initiative to name another street after George Bush.

However, there is a political undertone to the ceremony and the statue. Organised by a group of ‘Clinton' supporters, and funded by the prime minister's office, it comes just 15 days before the municipal elections here."

 

Bill Clinton Boulevard, Pristina. Photo posted by “A Taste of Kosova” on Flickr.

Bill Clinton Boulevard sign, Pristina. Photo posted by Nick Cady on Flickr.

Bill Clinton Tile & Countertop Supply, Pristina. Photo posted by “emanistan” on Flickr.