Kosovo: Trapped in its Own Maze

Two beaten-up coaches rumble down the dusty streets of Kosovo on a spring morning. Swedish KFOR tanks – one in front, the other behind – provide some protection. The coaches, filled to capacity with members of the Serb and Roma population of Gracanica, a village near Pristina, are bound for isolated areas in Kosovo. This ‘minority shuttle system’, run by the Danish Refugee Council in cooperation with UNMIK, offers a lifeline for Serbs living in the south of Kosovo. There are few better illustrations of the Serb minority’s difficult position in the UN-run protectorate.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 July 2002 6 minute READ

Anna Matveeva

Wolf-Christian Paes

Senior Researcher, Boon International Center for Conversion (BICC)

The international force deployed in the summer of 1999 to protect the Albanian population from Serbian armed forces now finds itself protecting Serb villages from Albanian extremists. Protection is still necessary, but even KFOR’s impressive looking tanks cannot guarantee it. On more than one occasion Albanian villagers have tried to push buses off the road when the tanks were too slow to react.

Restrictions on freedom of movement are painful: a young Serb on the bus complains that to see his girlfriend in the next village, he has to notify KFOR two days in advance to provide an armed escort. The myth that a multi-ethnic society can be recreated falls foul of harsh realities.

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