A contraband state, built in blood

by I. K. Pretenderis

(“Vima”, March 18, 2001)

I’ve been here before. The atmosphere in Bosnia now is a repeat of what I experienced in 1991 or 1992— a country hurtling toward civil war, and no one doing a thing to stop it. Maybe no one can do anything to stop it.

“Whatever happens, things will never be the same as they were before”. This is what you hear on every street corner. FYROM broke away from Yugoslavia without a shot being fired. This time, the air is thick with gunfire. The Albanians want a “Greater Albania”? Rather a “Greater Kosovo” is what they’re after: the model is in Pristina, not in Tirana. Kosovo has been rebuilt amazingly fast, money continues to flood in. Schools, hospitals, medical centres, public works—and the legend “US AID” is everywhere. Nothing recalls the devastation I witnessed in 1999.

Centre of the smuggling trade, a state with an imported public authority, subsidised generously by the UN and just about any other international organisation you can think of, a region under the absolute protection of NATO forces and an international mercenary police force, a place without taxes and with few restrictions, Kosovo is the “American dream” of every Albanian in the area. A land of plenty, a land of liberty […]

Speak to anyone in Tetovo, Prechevo or Skopje, and they will tell you that what the Albanians of Serbia and the Albanians of FYROM are seeking is respect for their rights, which, to be fair, have often taken a beating in the past. They leave you in no doubt, however, about their underlying thinking. They feel strong. They want to cash in on their strength. In the name of its rights Kosovo is showing them the way, and they are building, in blood, a contraband state.


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