Monday, November 14, 2005

Serbs in enclaves waiting for resolution of Kosovo’s final status

Prishtina-Kosovo[Koha Ditore]
One of the leading stories in today’s Koha Ditore is an article on the expectations of
Kosovo Serbs from the settlement of Kosovo’s status. “Kosovo Serbs have two stories
about Kosovo. A large part of them cannot imagine life in an independent Kosovo.
Another part, which lives in good economic conditions, says that they will wait for the
end of negotiations ‘and then we’ll see what we’ll do’,” the paper elaborates.

Koha describes the lives of Serbs living in Gracanica, northern Mitrovica and
Shtërpce, and even starts the article by saying that a soccer bet is the first thing that a
27 year-old Serb in Gracanica, Jovica Stevic, hopes will improve his life in Kosovo
before the status resolution. The paper says that to make matters worse the Serb thinks
that things will get even worse if Kosovo gets independence in the near future. “For us
it will be bad even if Kosovo gets independence. There is no security, no work and no
money,” he was quoted as saying.

At the same time, Koha portrays the other side of the story by describing the life of a
Kosovo Serb woman, Vesna Arsic, who works as head of the branch of an
international bank in Gracanica. “Let us wait and see the conclusion of negotiations
and see what happens. I think the most important thing is the financial wellbeing,
because it has a huge impact on people’s perception of life,” she was quoted as saying.

Stevic told the paper that the day Kosovo gets independence all Serbs would pack up
and leave, whereas Arsic spoke positively about the situation in the enclave of
Gracanica. “Most of the people here have jobs and even receive two salaries, one from
the Kosovo Budget and one from the Serbian Government. Therefore, it is quite
normal that most of them would like this to continue as long as possible,” she added.

Koha also describes the situation in the divided town of Mitrovica. After the war, the
paper says, the northern part turned into a haven for Serbs that came from other parts
and who mainly inhabited the houses and apartments of Albanians that fled to the
southern part. Jasminka Scekic, a student and journalist for Radio Free Europe, said
she felt happy to live in northern Mitrovica. “Belgrade is so close, we are safer here
and we have everything here. I don’t know if I could live in any other part of
Kosovo,” said Scekic. Asked about her perception of the future, she mentioned
conditional independence for Kosovo and a municipality of northern Mitrovica. “In
this way, people would live in peace”. Jasminka however added that once she finishes
her studies she would leave for Serbia.

Petar Miletic, editor of Radio Contact Plus in northern Mitrovica, told the paper he
doesn’t believe the final status would resolve the problems of any party in Kosovo.
According to Miletic, the Kosovo Government uses the issue of status as cover up for
its problems and weaknesses. The paper notes that Miletic made an assessment “that is
rarely heard among Mitrovica Serbs,” by saying that it is unrealistic to expect
Kosovo’s return under Serbia. “I think that Serbia should not interfere in affairs here,
after all we are a minority,” said Miletic, “But the Kosovo Government must try to
ensure our basic rights.”

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