Kosovo: The Newborn Country Celebrates Its 2nd Birthday

Having declared its independence on February 17, 2008, Kosovo is the newest state in the world. Kosovo, the neighbor of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania; came under the interim...
Having declared its independence on February 17, 2008, Kosovo is the newest state in the world. Kosovo, the neighbor of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania; came under the interim administration of the United Nations in 1999. The country, having been under the protection of the United Nations until its declaration of independence, took the first steps toward a brand new future. Costa Rica is one of first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence, than U. S. A to continue with France, Afghanistan, Albania and Turkey ect.

by Vedat Xhymshiti for Foreign Policy Journal – February 22, 2010
The ‘NEWBORN’ monument in center of Pristina, Kosovo, is a monument
marking the Kosovo’s
Declaration of Independence Day, February 17th 2008. 
On this day, 2 years ago, Kosovo became a unilaterally declared independent state. Since the 1st anniversary of Kosovo independence, another 11 UN member states have recognized the youngest European country. Latest Kosovo have been recognized by Mauritania which is 65th UN member country to recognize Kosovo including 22 European Union (EU) member states.
Slavic and Albanian people have lived side by side in Kosovo since the 8th century. The region was the center of the Serbian Empire until it fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire as a result of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. It was not until 1913 that the Serbs regained control of Kosovo. The region then became a part of the Democratic Federal of Yugoslavia.
The issue of independence began gaining importance in Kosovo after the Cold War. As a result of the Serbs’ ethnic cleansing campaign, the region went under the interim administration of the United Nations until February 18, 2008.
The landlocked country of 2 million people, mostly ethnic Albanians, is among the poorest in Europe, swallowing 4 billion Euros in aid since the war with Belgrade ended in 1999. Despite its rich mineral resources, the main source of income is agriculture. In the region, there is an Albanian population of two million. Due to Serbs leaving the region after 1999, there are only 100 thousand Serbs left. The Serbian minority lives in closed regions under the administration of the NATO Peacekeeping forces.
Two years after Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, increasingly wary Western donors are keen to wean the country from foreign aid and take more resolute steps to fight poverty, crime and corruption.
Around 65 percent of the population is under 30 but many of them seek to leave Kosovo for Western Europe, mostly by paying 2,000-3,000 Euros to human traffickers.
No matter where you go in or around Kosovo, you will see an untouched nature. However, most of the cultural heritage of the region, especially in the urban areas, vanished due to the destruction of war. Choose big cities for touristic visits, for the infrastructure in big cities is more suitable for vacations.
Pristina is not only the largest city of Kosovo, but also the capital city. Following the destruction of the city during the war, Pristina was rebuilt and transformed into a bureaucratic center. Still, some important buildings are intact.
Independence Day Celebrations in Kosovo
(Photo/ Vedat Xhymshiti)

The mosque built in 1460 in the name of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror , Lap Mosque dating back to 1470, Yashar Pasha Mosque built in 1834, and the Great Hamam are the most important examples of Ottoman architecture. Gracanica Monastery is the most important Christian building in the city. One of the most important meeting places is Germia Park. Especially in summer months, the pools in the park are very crowded.

The Gora villages, which are built near Pristina, are the settlements that reflect the Balkan atmosphere the best. The local people have a unique culture. There are claims that the people of these villages are either the early Hun arrivals to Europe or Turkish-Bulgarians.
UNESCO has published a report on the cultural assets of Kosovo in 2003. In this report, the fact that especially the architectural and archaeological heritage of the country was under great danger was emphasized. Many of these buildings reflecting the history and culture of Kosovo are damaged.
Pristina is the center of entertainment and night life in Kosovo. Especially in the ‘Mother Teresa” square region, there are bars and night clubs. In summers, parties flow out of bars and clubs into the square and last all night. Aside from that, in special days folklore shows are presented to the public in the Pristina main square.

Vedat Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist and war correspondent. He has reported on a number of Middle Eastern conflicts from the Arab Spring in 2010 to the current Syrian civil war. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde ect. He is specialized in International Relations and Diplomacy. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic, a columnist for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, and founder of THEFrontliner.net

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