By Suzanne Broer
Although I thought that the first day (Tuesday 12 June) would be a tough one, it beat the expectations and actually was a really really good start of the journey.
We left early, for AUC standards, got on the train, got to the airport and got to Vienna without too many problems. After an inspiring but tiring meeting with your typical example of a diplomat, Wolfgang Petritsch, who convinced us that the NATO bombings were necessary, we had dinner and got back on the plane to Pristina. Unfortunately, we had to leave Merci behind because of a misunderstanding with her identity card. The next day (Wednesday 13 une), however, we were already reunited – but Ella’s suitcase was still to be found.
Now let me move on to something that stood out to me on Wednesday: the role of women in the Kosovo society. At both meetings this theme appeared. In general, we had learned before that Kosovo is quite the patriarchy and we have experienced some of that on our way from the airport to the host families on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday we met the vice dean of the University of Pristina, Ilyana Islami. This woman talked a lot about her study of international law and human rights law, but also her extensive experience with Kosovo politics. She was well dressed, as many women are here, but also very well educated. After this, we had a meeting with a representative of the Women’s Network in Kosovo, who was also a woman, and also named Ilyana (last name unknown). She was, as well, well spoken, well dressed, and well educated. Both these women who talked to us o Wednesday were very powerful, but it became clear that they had faced much adversity in their careers, and that the problem of women being given jobs less often is a huge problem.
This point also showed in the thing that happened next…
In the process of looking for a place to get an ice cream, we ran into a German Albanian visiting his family here and who would maybe like to be interviewed for our project. However, when he found out that the interview answers were meant to be pictures of him, he wasn’t as interested anymore. He quickly ‘summoned’ a girl that was sitting near us to take his place, but he would stay to be our translator. This girl seemed shy, but she was eventually happy to help and took the opportunity to show us some of her artworks. We got a tour of the art faculty of the University of Pristina, with the guy still proposing every time to do something else and flirting with the girl: they even exchanged phone numbers.
In this event it was clear that the guy took a very leading role upon him and was very demanding. The guy stayed in charge, even though it wasn’t about him anymore (but of course his help was very much appreciated). This showed the role of the man in society in Kosovo: very demanding and in charge.
Besides this, it stood out to me that the acceptance into the European Union seems to be seen as the solution to all the problems. This, while also the EUlex mission is not seen as a success by these women, also the girl who helped us with our project. I would expect Serbia and Kosovo to be in some kind of race as to which one will be part of the EU first, but it was mentioned that only Kosovo would probably be able to become a member after Serbia has become a member. Perhaps to join the EU, which is something that both states want, they have to work together.