Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK

Eyewitness: Kosovo's divided communities

A Serb family wait at a Nato checkpoint on a road near Pec

Robin Lustig, in Kosovo for BBC Radio 4's World Tonight, reflects on the differences in people and places across the region.

In some parts of Kosovo, ethnic Albanians have already come home, and towns are beginning to spring back to life. Others are still deserted.

Robin Lustig reports on a tale of two cities - Pec and Pristina
In some places, Nato troops are everywhere, and the fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army are nowhere to be seen. In other places, you do not see much of Nato, but the KLA are everywhere.

War and messy peace

The peace in Kosovo is, perhaps inevitably, a messy one.

Kosovo: Special Report
The Nato air campaign is officially ended, so is the state of war in Serbia. But here in Kosovo, it does not yet feel like a real peace. People are still being killed, mainly Serbs this time, and there are many who still fear for the future.

[ image: Ethnic Albanians remove debris from the remains of their home in Djakovica]
Ethnic Albanians remove debris from the remains of their home in Djakovica
In Djakovica, a local doctor, Burim Gojani, told me he would never forget the fear he felt during the eleven weeks of war. And he said he thought it might be a year before the anger of Kosovo's Albanians had subsided sufficiently for the Serbs who have fled to return in safety.

In the ancient Serb religious centre of Pec, the traditional seat of the Patriarch of the Serb Orthodox Church, some local Serbs have sought sanctuary in the monastery, while a Nato tank stands guard outside.

The war in Kosovo
One tough looking young man inside said that even if the Serbs do have to leave now, they will come back, perhaps not for a hundred years, but come back they will.

[ image: A Serb resident of Pec rides his bicycle past a column of heavily armed Nato troops]
A Serb resident of Pec rides his bicycle past a column of heavily armed Nato troops
Fatema Boshnyaku, a teacher in Jacovica, told me how she had survived during the Nato air attacks. She was known to the Serb authorities as an Albanian political activist, so when she did venture out of her home, she could do so only disguised as an old woman, wearing her mother's clothes.

She used to feel much safer when she could hear the Nato war planes overhead, she said, because on the nights when Nato were in the air, the Serb paramilitaries stayed off the streets. "Those planes were my only company," she told me with a smile.


Kosovo is now more divided than ever. Both communities have felt fear, everyone feels they are victims. One hundred thousand Kosovo Albanians have already returned to their homes, but 50,000 Serbs have moved in the opposite direction. There is an enormous reconstruction task ahead, and it is the international community which will have to pay for it.

[ image: An Albanian man watches his neighbour's house burning in Pec]
An Albanian man watches his neighbour's house burning in Pec
Roads and bridges have to be rebuilt, power and water supplies have to be re-established, but the most difficult task will be persuading the people of Kosovo that there is a future here for both Serbs and Albanians.

Some are already looking back fondly at the days when President Tito ruled Yugoslavia, and Kosovo enjoyed a large degree of autonomy within a federal republic.

Those days are now long gone and they will not return. But somehow or other, a way will have to be found for a stable Kosovo to be created in a region notorious for instability.

The betting here is that the multinational K-For peace keeping force is likely to be in business for a long time yet.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

22 Jun 99 | Kosovo
Eyewitness: Mass graves and more

22 Jun 99 | Europe
Refugees flooding back into Kosovo

22 Jun 99 | Europe
Serb refugees return to Kosovo

21 Jun 99 | Europe
'Widespread' use of landmines

21 Jun 99 | Europe
Running Kosovo: Key candidates

20 Jun 99 | Europe
The spoils of Kosovo's war

17 Jun 99 | Europe
UN resolution on Kosovo: Full text

Internet Links


Kosovo Crisis Centre

Serbian Ministry of Information

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Winter halts search for Kosovo victims

Prominent Serb shot in Kosovo

K-For 'lacks will' to protect Serbs

Nato chief: No single ethnic Kosovo

US general condemns French 'red card'

Losing Kosovo but keeping power: Sloba and Mira

Nato embassy attack 'not deliberate'

Serbian opposition settle differences

From Sci/Tech
Balkans environment 'seriously damaged'

UN chief makes first Kosovo visit

Kosovo mass grave uncovered

Aid linked to Milosevic removal

New K-For leader looks to rebuild

Freed Britons arrive home

Violence flares in Kosovo

Draskovic attends crash victim's funeral

Kosovo mass grave unearthed

Kosovo Gypsies stranded on border

Yugoslavia slams KLA deal

Nato assesses Kosovo lessons

Montenegro sues for 'coup'

From Health
Babies die in Kosovo aftermath

Pope calls for Balkan harmony

Kosovo Corps - an army for Kosovo?