Kosovo is an amazing place but the difficulties of the war still exist. When my sister and I visited the Serbian enclave in Kosovo it was startling. As North Americans we were treated so well; the saviors of Kosovo.
The United States is admired by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians for its support of their struggle to separate from Serbia. A U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign halted a Serb offensive against ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999. Kosovo is the only predominantly Muslim territory where people are completely pro-American. American flags are everywhere and the main street of the capital Pristina is called Bill Clinton Boulevard.
But in the Serbian enclave of Mitovica it was different.
Surrounded by working-class and Tito-era skyscrapers, a triangular dirt area sits at the centre of northern Mitrovica, the main Serbian enclave in Kosovo. When we visited we felt the animosity and anger towards Americans. We were openly stared at and one group of Serbian youths approached us for money. When we ignored them and turned away, one of the young men struck my sister on the back of the head and ran away shouting “stupid American.”
While the Albanians – who make up 90 per cent of the province’s population and are supported by the United States – are preparing to proclaim a unilateral declaration of independence, Russia has informed the United Nations that it would veto recognition of the new state as long as Serbia does not agree.
The national elections here just keep on going. After the December 12th national elections followed by the January 9th re-votes, plus the recounting of the ballots in 30 polling stations, the Courts have now ordered that voting in Mitrovicia be redone on January 23rd. There is no doubt that whatever the outcome, this parliament will struggle with the issue of legitimacy. Some EU representatives have stated the entire election should be redone. The U.S. embassy is not keen on that option because there is no sense it would be dramatically cleaner or yield different results. Many feel a series of electoral reforms are required before any new elections.
Once the re-votes are complete, the leading party will then attempt to fashion a coalition which will yield a government that is likely to be difficult to sustain for the full mandate. Many feel elections will be held again within two years. If they do the necessary electoral reforms, that is probably a good thing.