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Somewhere Back In Time
February 2009

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Prizren Municipality: Kosovo thanks the countries that have recognize its independance

I got to Prizren early in the morning. I came on a night bus from Belgrade and didn't sleep much. I was quite tired, but also very excited to discover Kosovo.

I went to the bus station café and waited there until sunrise.
There were buses leaving to Austria and Germany.

I could have a first contact with some locals while having some coffee.
People at the station café are used to see foreigners, as many international organizations have offices in Prizren.

But a tourist in Kosovo is a less common sight.
So I seated in a table with 5 people, including the owners of the place, and had a nice talk for about an hour.

The bus station is maybe 2 kilometers away from the center so I decided to go walking.
On my way I found the building of the Municipality of Prizren, where Kosovo thanks all the countries that have recognized it as an idependent country.

Thanksgiving party

Kosovo declared independence on February 17 2008. I was visiting the country less than a year after that.
The USA and the NATO played a big role on this and Kosovo is very thankful towards them. Of course Serbia isn’t.

There were a lot of posters on the street thanking the USA in a way or another. The one you see on the left is just an example.
It uses the Thanksgiving celebrations to thank the USA.

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Ismet Jashari monument in Prizren, Kosovo

When building a new country, new heroes arise, and others disappear.
You'll have trouble finding a Tito statue in Kosovo. Instead you have other monuments, like this sculpture of Ismet Jashari in Prizren, Kosovo.

Note that on the back there's the Albanian and not the Kosovar flag.

Ismet Jashari was also known as Komandant Kumanova. This Albanian man left Switzerland to join the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or UÇK in Albanian) and fight against Yugoslav forces for Kosovo's independence. He died in 1998.

OK, he was Albanian. But if he fought for Kosovo, why keep the flag of Foreign Country?

The strange thing about Kosovo being independent is their lack of national symbols.

When Kosovo declared independence they didn’t even have a flag! People of the streets were waving the Albanian flag.

Bridge over the Bistrica River in Prizren, Kosovo

Isn’t that a lack of identity on its own?

OK, everything has a start and it's normal that Albanians wave an Albanian flag.

But the troubling thing is that even today (When I visited, a year later), when wandering in Kosovo, there are Albanian flags in every corner…But you’ll have a hard time looking for a Kosovo flag…

There are very few Kosovo flags around, and most of the time they’re side by side with an Albanian one...

Bridge over the Bistrica River in Prizren, Kosovo

Albanians are today the main ethnic group of Kosovo and of course a lot of people would like their country to be part of Albania.
But this is not likely to happen, as it would create very serious problems between Albania, Serbia... and even the rest of Europe.

So, Kosovo chose independence, because they didn't want to be part of Serbia and could't be part of Albania.

But it’s hard to create a country without any symbols of its own. It's hard to create a country where there's never been one before...

Prizren in Kosovo with the old Castle Ruins

When Kosovo declared independence, they didn’t have a national anthem either. Now they do: the government organized a contest to compose one.
Guess what! Kosovo's National Anthem's name is Europa, and it has no lyrics.

The name is supposed to represent the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo.
Well, I find a bit pretentious that a partially recognized country names his national anthem after his continent.
I mean... Your national anthem is supposed to represent your country, not the country of everyone around you...

Houses in Prizren, Kosovo But I think their goal is clear: to integrate the European Union as soon as possible.
Or at least fo find some kind of long-term agreement with the EU.
Well let's put it this way. Kosovo receives huge economic aids from Europe and the US. But it's still has one of the lowest GDPs in the world. According to the CIA World Factbook, Kosovo has the lowest GDP per capita in Europe (and one of the lowest in the world).
This means it's one of the poorest regions on this planet.

Destroyed Serbian houses in Prizren, Kosovo But... They don't use Albanian Leks nor Serbian Dinars. The official currency in Kosovo is the Euro. Adopting this currency makes them closer to Europe. And their economy needs it.

Oh, By the way. Take a look to look at Kosovo’s flag. Doesn't it remind you of the European Union flag. Coincidence?
It’s blue, with yellow stars and right in the middle you have…the map of Kosovo in the middle!
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