Friday, June 26, 2009

Mitrovica, "The Curse of Kosovo," & Photos

Yesterday we went to Mitrovica, a divided city separated by the Ibar River. It is one of the most volatile areas of Kosovo and has been the site of numerous violent incidents. I actually don't have any photos from my visit their because quite frankly I didn't feel comfortable having my camera vi sable. The Southern (Albanian) part of the city was fairly normal and we met a cool NGO called "CBM" (Community Building Mitrovica) that runs a rock-and-roll school that brings together both Albanian and Serbian youth. We decided to cross the bridge into Northern (Serbian) Mitrovica. Immediately you are transported to the 1970's in Yugoslavia. Everything is only in Cyrillic and only Dinars are accepted. There was a sense that people were looking for just the smallest excuse to beat the living daylight out of us. We sat at a cafe and within 10 minutes the two tables nearest to us were packed with intimidating and thuggish Serbian men. It was no coincidence and I must say I felt far more tension than I've felt in even the worst of New York's neighborhoods.

On the way back to Prishtina we stopped at the site of "The Battle of Kosovo" where the Serbians defeated the Ottomans and also Milosevic made a famous speech that ignited the current situation in Kosovo. There is a (heavily guarded) monument to the Serbian soldiers which bares the following inscription:

Whoever is a Serb and of Serb birth,
And of Serb blood and heritage, And comes not to fight at Kosovo, May he never have the progeny his heart desires, Neither son nor daughter! May nothing grow that his hand sows, Neither dark wine nor white wheat!

Here are some photos from Kosovo. . .

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