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Kosovo struggles with the bloody past 20 years after the first NATO war
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From Alexander Smith and Vladimir Banich
MITROVITSA, Kosovo – When Ibrahim Delia walks in the streets of her hometown, he will ask for light.
Here in Mitrovica, an ethnically divided city in northern Kosovo, even this innocent issue can bear an ominous motive. Delia, 21, does not worry about unprepared cigarette smokers, but rather nationalistic agitators who want to provoke ethnic violence. and you will be in serious trouble, "he said, sitting in a foggy, sunny coffee one afternoon away from his university English studies. "It's like going to jail, living here."
This is the daily life of many people living in this country, with a sea-front of 1.8 million – less than Connecticut and less populated by Nebraska.
we showed that we can not be a multiethnic society and we can never be, because of the strong national feelings here, "says Rakich, 30, "I wish it was possible, you know, but I have to be realistic."
Rakić sees land exchange as the only escape from a toxic status quo.
"Is it problematic? Yes, that's true I am terrible like someone who lives here Yes, I am terrified If there are shots they will go through my head," he says. "What is happening with Serbs living in Kosovo but outside the zones given to Serbia?" Many of them fear that they will become even worse, a minority settled in an ethnic Albanian state with decreasing rights, defending their language, parliamentary representation and security
The picture is not quite dark After crossing the bridge for the first time, the Albanian adolescent Sadikou joined the Mitrovica rock school, an internationally funded initiative that helped young people form ethnic groups, and its group, Electraheart, played a dreamlike, complicated pop music and included Serbian and Albanian among its members
"I personally am not going to meet a Serbian community until I join the rock school, because my family and friends said it was not very nice to is doing, she says, surrounded by a wall of guitars and amplifiers in one of the cold, underground practices of the school. spaces. "But now music connects everything, and music is our primary language."
Many of the younger generation have the same spirit. In Pristina, three students talk about a cigarette and beer policy at the local pub.
"Albanians and Serbs have no problems with each other, that's the politicians they are doing," says one Kosovo Albanian engineering student who asked not to be baptized because he feared repression by nationalists. "I have a Serbian friend and work together in a call center." I never thought I would make a Serbian friend, but I learned that it does not matter who you are. "
His wish for Serbia's recognized independence from Kosovo is no less strong. "This region is like a family," he says, "you are all together, but everyone needs their own room, their own space."
Alexander Smith is a London-based senior reporter at NBC News Digital.
Vladimir Banich is a freelance journalist based in Belgrade, Serbia.