A first introduction from one of the students in the Kosovo group. I am Lia den Daas, the only science major (physics) on board, half American half Dutch. It has been an amazing blessing to join all of you on this trip - thank you! I've just been soaking up as much information as I can the last days: such a joy for me :) I have learned so much by seeing so many different organisations, people, perspectives, opinions.
Some quick ideas from my side as a reflection on the trip so far..
As we progress and speak to more people + organisations, my understanding for Kosova, the conflict, the solutions, has really grown. I start to link different ideas together from different groups, see how they work together or really oppose. What has really struck me in this process of getting a better feel for Kosova, is the spirit and energy of the Kosovar (Albanians) we meet: the people who truly want to invest in this country. My own host mother - Buqe, Bardha's aunt - is an inspiring example of that. She works at a judicial office in Kosova (not sure exactly what it is) as a translator for Serbian - Albanian. She has experienced so much, but is still fighting and looking forward to a better future. To me she represents the strength of the Kosovars themselves, the drive they have for their own state. This same energy and drive I saw today in Vetevendosja. Especially fascinating I find the intertwining of this Kosovar strength with the UN/EU interventions.
From the few Albanian Kosovar perspectives I have heard,
I see a common theme: they think the UN/EU have failed/are failing, in at least some aspects. Although the Kosovars I have met acknowledge the fact that they needed the UN/EU, they strongly believe that these organisations should have done better. Personally, I cannot help but sympathize.. UNMIK did not seem to listen to the voices of the Kosovars who were fighting for their country for many years, as Kosovar Women's Network's (KWN) Igballe argued. According to her, the UN neglected the women's organisations that had been doing work inside the region of Kosova since before the war, arrogant in thinking that they know it all themselves. They simply did not think about women's organizations for example, on the assumptions that a Muslim, patriarch state could not possibly have established women's organisations. It has been extremely valuable for me to see the other side of the UN/EU missions: the reaction on the ground. The strength of the people seems to have been underestimated - which is a sad and crucial mistake. The people have not been listened to as they should have - and perhaps we have made the same mistake in our trip.. Vetevendosja is imagining a future with a functioning Kosova state: independent from UN/EU. Are the UN/EU focusing on that move forward enough? How could it improve? Are they corrupt, working together with the corrupted government - with Hashim Thaci as the master of thieves - simply for their own interests, as Buqe believes?
So much food for thought...
-- credits to Thao for the picture, and I really really liked your post on facebook. It showed exactly the contrast I am reflecting on above. --
Again many many many thanks to the great organizers of this trip - Anne, Monika, Bardha, Enver - for helping me experience this. As I said, truly a blessing.
All the best, Lia
In response to some message I received on facebook I removed a line from the photo above. All opinions and perspectives discussed on this blog do not reflect the opinion of AUC as an institution, or necessarily of the writer or the group. Although I believe showing multiple perspectives is very important, I do not wish to offend anyone. I hope our posts can encourage us to have productive and open discussions together about Kosovo.