January 17, 2016

THE LAST INTRACTABLE CONFLICT:

The most striking aspect of Europe's newest nation: Its normalcy (Elizabeth Zach, 1/14/16, Washington Post)

Like many Americans, I had barely paid attention to the war; I also knew little about the peace accord in place since 1999 and still thought of the country as possibly dangerous. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, though Serbia still claims the land as its own. Of 193 U.N. member states, 110 (including the United States) have recognized Kosovo as a legitimate nation. It's also the first in the Balkans to have elected a female president.

Before my visit, I read a brief history of the territory and the war, but it wasn't until I got there that I felt simply impressed at how the peace has held.

I say this with reference to the country's demographics and structure: 92 percent Albanian, with Serbs, along with other ethnic minorities, accounting for the remaining 8 percent. I discovered that there's no wall like there used to be in Berlin, no demilitarized zone like what separates the Koreas. There are Serb towns, or enclaves, but there are also century-old mosques and churches alongside one another.

I found a normalcy I wasn't expecting, such as dozens of shops selling elaborate formalwear, and a thriving cafe culture. Some say the best macchiatos in Europe can be had in Pristina, at intimate cafes such as Soma Book Station, where I spent one pleasant afternoon admiring the handsome bookshelves (and baristas). I also saw scores of new homes, financed largely by remittances from families living abroad, and I met Albanians and Serbs who had fled Kosovo during the war but had since returned to rebuild their lives.

Posted by at January 17, 2016 8:57 AM

  

« YOUR NEXT CAR WILL BE A VOLT: | Main | THE FACE OF ISLAM: »