By BRANISLAV NESOVIC
After a couple of meetings with NGOs and civil society projects, we had a positive feeling about the young generation in Kosovo. However, to understand the Balkan you need a lot more time… and expert views. Branislav Nesovic (28) shares insights about the situation in his current town Mitrovica.
The two communities, Serbs and Kosovar-Albanians, in Mitrovica basically do not communicate except in some multi-ethnic parts of the city . In Kosovo 70% of all Serbians and Albanians according to UNDP study haven’t seen a person from the other side in the last three months Serbs in larger numbers simply do not go to urban centres in the rest of Kosovo, fearing for security and due to freedom of movement issues. A big problem for the youth is the language. In former times most people here knew Serbian, but nowadays the youth from the two communities can at best only communicate in English.
The narrative of the hatred between two communities is constantly reproduced, through media, education, family and socialization in general. What is striking is that young people are even more radical than older people. In former times the communities lived together in Kosovo, there is lack of it now, as Serbs and Albanians live one beside each other, not by each other.
It is a about group behaviour. As part of a group you just accept it. Of course, on an individual level you can get a long and understand each other. But when you get back to the group most of the times all success is eliminated, because you are re-introduced to the same discourse. And that is how it starts over and over again. It is all about identityIt is hard to break out of this mind-set. But is it possible to solve at all? It has been a long process to put inter-ethnic tensions to this level. And it will take probably that time to change it. The economic situation around here has a lot to do with the ethnical tensions. People here have too much time to think about irrelevant things.
For years, Kosovar-Albanians blamed the Serbs in the north that they are not willing to integrate and to hinder their sovereign state, which would have led to instability. How can 70.000 Serbs from the North can be guilty for corruption, lack of development, misuse of funds? Likewise, it is the other way round when Serbia is blaming Kosovo for the current situation. Ethnic politics just try to overshadow the real problems, and political ethnic entrepreneurs are using such situation to gather votes.
This hatred between the ethnical groups does not come out of nowhere. There is clearly a knowledge of hatred among the elites who drive this process for years. I am sceptical if one single generation is able to change that narrative.
Even if you do something in the civil society sector, like establishing joined dance groups or playing music together – honestly, really good projects. There are issues about sustainability. However, you are happy if you create long lasting relationships between the two groups.
Branislav Nesovic studied Political Science in Belgrade, Washington D.C. and Cambridge. He works as program director for AKTIV, a NGO which is based in the northern part of Mitrovica and initiates programs for the Kosovo Serb community in the Kosovo.