Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Welcome to Freedom Kosovo!!!

Welcome to Freedom Kosovo. Only 2 days into your freedom and those Serbs are acting up again and torching villages and U.N checkpoints, oh how things have not changed even when they are suppose to have changed. For those who are not in the know about things, the area of the former Yugoslavia Kosovo which is made up 90% of Muslim Albanians, and a few violent Serbs. Its been a long dispute since the end of the Balkan war and breakup of Yugoslavia and Kosovo was governed by the UN for a while.

On my 2006 trip I never went to Kosovo and in fact never thought of even going there. I went to 4 other former Yugoslavia countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia/Herzgovinia).. I met a few other backpackers who went to Albanian and one even who wanted to head for Kosovo. I must say I was totally ignorant about the political and religious issues that surrounded the breakup in the Balkans, and still would not consider myself an expert by any means. Yet I had a sense of the tensions and where america stood in that region.

On my worst ever 12hr train ride from Sofia, Bulgaria to Belgrade,Serbia a ride that was suppose to take gosh like 7hrs. I was in a 6 person cabin with 2 cool girls from Spain and a few people from "the area", as I cant understand spoken or written Serbian I had no idea where they were going. All I remember is in the middle of the night at one of the checkpoints when I handed over my American passport, the man in the group of "others" saw the Eagle on the front of the passport and for the next 10 minutes I assume cursed me out in Serbian, the only thing I understood was Bah American Bill Clinton.. Now I thought Bill Clinton was universally loved, but I've since learned in this current election cycle has a bad temper and not quite the way with words, heck as dirty he has played I'm not liking him anymore.

Anyway during the war in 1999, the USA planes bombed Belgrade on a nightly basis, the buildings still have the scars from 500lbs dropped from F-117A Stealth Fighters.
The Serbs were seen by the Western countries as the enemies as Slobodan Milosevic(you might have heard from him) was doing genocide and killing as many Albanians as he could get his hands on. Anyway some of the crimes committed against the people in Bosnia specifically in Sarajevo were what he was on trial for crimes against humanity for when his heart stopped.

My time in Belgrade was amazing yet. I was there for 4 days, 4 of the hottest days of my trip with temps easily approaching 95 degrees in the middle of the day. The people were incredibly friendly, I went to one of the best museums during my trip the Nicolas Tesla Museum, Tesla being the father of modern electricity. Also some wicked party nights on the Barges.
Belgrade Barge Party
Along with lazy days spent at the fake lake drinking Jelen Pivo(deer beer) and reading the Day of the Jackel.
Belgrade Beach Party

So overall I was happy being in Serbia. When I left for Bosnia, people were like WHY are you going to Bosnia, so there is still some hatred/dislike between the countries, something I would learn later while in Croatia and the family of a Bosnian young women would disown her as her boyfriend was Croatian.

Anyway what is going on today in Kosovo is no different than years ago, the small but yet powerful/violent Serb minority refuses to recognize Kosovo, yet the USA, Europe, and the UN have recognized its status as a sovereign country, so what do the Serbs do, yep what they do best resort to Violence and burn shit down. This situation could easily escalate to all out war in the Balkans and as the Nicolas Cage character said in the movie Lord of War something to the like of "I’ll reroute the shipment to the Balkans. When they say they’re gonna have a war, they keep their word.” Anyway i hope before shit gets out of hand we can re-draw the borders, find a way to placate the Serbs, or something.. this world already has one Palestine-Israel situation we dont need another.

As for visiting Kosovo, sure next time i'm in the area why not. I mean a city that already has a street named after a living American President is impressive (Boul. Bill Clinton), usually here in the USA we have to wait till they are dead to name anything after them. I've been told Americans are well loved in both Albanian and Kosovo, this image from the night of freedom celebrations should suffice.. Now i just hope they can brew their own beer.. I dont think this will be a problem as Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Serbia all managed to do so just swell..

Kosovo independance

1 comment:

JHo said...

As an American who's visited Serbia and its relating countries, its important to know that Kosovo is Serbia's heartland. All of the religious significance within Serbia can be traced to the monasterys in Kosovo's cities. I often find the best way for me to understand the situation between Serbs and the Albanians that inhabit Kosovo is to think what it would be like here in America...I live in Florida, so its easy to think about what it would be like if the Cubans in Little Havana Miami decided that because they were the majority, they would now call it the Republic of Little Havana. Other than being in utter disbelief, I'm not sure how the US government would react, especially if the people in Little Havana used illicit money to buy guns and the like for protection (i.e. both Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo). I'm sure the US would become violent to a degree, not near Slobodan's vicoucness, but a defect of that nature would certainly cause our citizens to be in outrage. So my example isn't exactly what happened in Kosovo, but its pretty similar except Milosevic was so irresponisble and acted too late. Most Serbs know this, and wish they could've gotten him out of office much sooner (many years were spent trying to prove he rigged elections). I guess I feel that media only covers the issues of violence with Serbia, rather than exposing the other side as well. Anyways, sorry for the diatribe. I love reading your writings and experiences, they are very entertaining and exciting. Cheers, John