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Kosovo debate: Serb and Albanian views

As Kosovo reacts to Sunday's declaration of independence, here an ethnic Albanian and Serb living in Kosovo's divided city of Mitrovica present different arguments on the declaration.

VLADICA LAZAREVIC, SERB, NORTH MITROVICA, 18 FEBRUARY

Vladica Lazarevic
I'm completely against Sunday's declaration of independence, which is in complete violation of UN Security Council resolution 1244.

Even though there are a majority of Albanians in the southern half of the province today, people should still remember that it used to belong to all the Serbians and non-Albanians who lived there before 1999.

I live in the northern part of Mitrovica, which is totally different from the south of the city.

So we won't see a big difference in our daily lives, because we remain strongly connected with Serbia.

It's a different situation for Serbs living in the south however, and I think we'll see more and more Serbs in those areas selling their houses and properties and moving out.

I have heard that many of them are sending their kids to their relatives in Serbia and applying to schools there.

I can't predict what's ahead but, for me, as a Serb born in Serbia and living in Mitrovica, Kosovo will remain part of the sovereign state of Serbia forever.

The Albanians can declare all they want, but we will defend our country in any peaceful way we can. War is not an option.

ALBAN DEVA, ETHNIC ALBANIAN, SOUTH MITROVICA, 18 FEBRUARY

Alban Deva
I support our newly independent Kosovo as it is obviously a dream come true for us.

However, I'm not so optimistic that it will be a perfect arrangement for all Albanians living here.

The plan in place since Sunday's declaration makes me sceptical for the future.

Too many compromises have been made with Serbia in order to achieve our independence.

It seems like the job hasn't been fully finished to ensure independence will succeed in the long-term, post-declaration.

Newly installed Kosovar institutions do not stretch throughout the country - a quarter of Kosovo's territory is still controlled by Serbian institutions.

I'm afraid that in the future these parallel institutions will only serve to destabilise the economy and life in general, limiting any room for progress.

We must simply wait and see.

FIKRET IBRAHIMI, ETHNIC ALBANIAN, MITROVICA, 15 FEBRUARY

Fikret Ibrahimi
As I passed Kosovo's parliament on Friday it was quite difficult to control my emotions ahead of the day when our democratically elected officials declare Kosovo as a sovereign independent state.

It is something that my people have fought for for 100 years, after suffering under Serbian control.

For some, the word freedom may not mean much. But for someone like me, and my fellow countrymen, this means our existence, our lives.

I still remember Serbian military tanks and police standing at the door of my school, not letting us Albanian students inside, just because we were learning in our own language.

We will always remember the thousands killed between 1989 and 1999 during what we call peaceful resistance.

We see a very bright future, prompted by the ingenuity and hard-working mentality of the Kosovar people
Fikret Ibrahimi
About one million Albanians were driven out of their homes and half a million fled from Kosovo altogether during the same period.

Independence will change everything. It will mean that now we are free to live our lives in our own country. We want nothing more than what other free nations have.

Gaining independence will also clearly present us with a chance to improve the economy, as today Kosovo is one of the poorest places in Europe.

We see a very bright future, prompted by the ingenuity and hard-working mentality of the Kosovar people.

We hope to create many opportunities for international investment in free Kosovo, and hopefully we can become the economic miracle of south-eastern Europe.

FILIP PEJOVIC, SERB, KOSOVO POLJE, 15 FEBRUARY

As Kosovo gets ready to declare independence, we can only wait with a sense of powerlessness and fear.

I am so confused. It's like my worst nightmare. People from the West simply cannot possibly understand it.

Map
Imagine, hypothetically, how people from California would feel if one day in front of the state capital building the American flag was taken down and the Mexican flag raised, and the American people living in the state couldn't do anything about it. That's how we feel.

Actually it's worse. I really don't know why the whole world is against Serbia.

The United States has been duped into supporting Europe - heavily influenced by Germany - as they back Kosovo's quest for independence.

The Serbs fought on the Allies' side in two World Wars, and Germany fought against us in both of those wars.

The West continues to support the taking of parts of Serbia. This time they are taking the soul of Serbia - Kosovo
Filip Pejovic
Since 1991, that alliance has been reversed, and the US has supported Germany and Europe as they helped bring about the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Did Serbia deserve all that shame and dishonour?

After Croatia and Slovenia, the civil war spread to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Serbs lost control of a large portion of this republic also. And now the West still continues to support the taking of parts of Serbia.

However, this time they are taking the soul of Serbia - Kosovo.

It is also illegal. If other countries recognise Kosovo as an independent state they are breaking resolution 1244, and simply that means that they don't care about the rule of law.





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