Kosovo 1389

The Serbian enclaves,
an open trench in Europe

In Kos Polje, not far from Pristina, there’s a place that has a great importance in the troubled history of this area of the Balkans, the Plain of Blackbirds. Here, in 1389 the prince Lazaar, chief of the Christian Serbian army, was defeated by the Ottoman Sultan Murad I. It was an epic battle and a tremendous defeat for Serbia, giving off the Turkish rule in the territory. Thus began the conflict that has dragged on even today between the populations of the Serbian Orthodox and Muslim Albanians that has peaked in the history during the Kosovo war. Today, in the middle of the plain of Blackbirds, stands the Gazimestan monument, symbol of the pride of Serbia, guarded by a patrol of the UN to protect it from Albanians attacks.

Fifteen years after the end of the conflict in the Balkans and six from the independence declaration, the situation is still difficult. During the war, died about 13 thousand people and about 1800, mostly Serbs, are still missing, victims of the fightings or kidnappings for organ trade in Albanian territory. The country is the Balkan’s poorest with an unemployement rate over 35%.

After the end of the war, the UN intervention has favored a gradual return of the Albanians in the territory who, by victims turned into executioners, started to implement furious revenges against Serbs. in 10 years about 200,000 Serbs were forced to leave the territory of Kosovo and Metohija seeking shelter in safe areas, hundreds of Orthodox churches and monasteries were burned or desecrated. Among the remaining few, the most important is the monaster of Decani, where a group of priests live under siege with the fear of being attacked. Outside the monastery, in addition to the written praising the Albanian independence, recently there are some praising ISIS, inside, candlesticks are forged  with medieval Serbian swords and the rare image of Christ with the sword engraving "peace must be won not suffered." The same goes for the Nuns of Pec Patriarchate or the Monastery of Przen, the only one left of 365 churches. In Przen lived about 17,000 Serbs, now they remain in 30. Serbs are today about 15% of the population, because of this escalation of violence. Confined to small enclaves, poor villages built on the outskirts of the cities or hidden in the mountains, often without clinics, water or electricity. The only school that brings together 380 students divided into a headquarters and two branches, the Sharski Odred, is located in the small village of Sevce. Freedom of movement is limited: to venture outside of their areas puts them at great risk of retaliation, and at night the danger increases. Kosovska Mitrovica is the symbol of the ethnic conflict in Kosovo. A city divided by the river Ibar in a Serbian part on north and an Albanian, on south. There are four bridges, two of which are traversable only on foot, which are the only passage that connects the two parts of the city. To check the bridges there are now the Italian Carabinieri Regiment MSU (Multinational Specialized Unit), part of the military mission KFOR since 1999 and EULEX (European union rule of law mission in Kosovo), who in 2008 took control of the police services. In the north there are institutions recognized from Belgrade but not by the breakaway government of Pristina. A solution to this conflict is difficult to obtain. 
Kosovka Mitrovica can be fairly described as a trench in Europe.

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