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Kosovo – a country or not?

Kosovo became a kind of magic word, after the war in former Yugoslavia. It was constantly on the news, but very few people understood what the complex issues really were. 2015 I met the first “real” people from Kosovo, MEPs from Vetëvendosje during a meeting Vienna. It was then that my interest in this tiny country grew more intense. When Ulrike Lunacek, presented her book „Frieden bauen, heißt weit bauen“ (Building peace, means building wider) in 2018, I simply knew I had to travel there. It took three more years until I set foot on Kosovo’s soil on a hot summer day in July 2021. Twenty years after  Kosovo declared itself independant from Serbia it is not even recognized by all EU-memeber states, mainly those who have issues with minorities in their own countries, like Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Cyprus and Greece. The main problem: Serbia still sees Kosovo as a part of Serbia, especially in the north of the country the population is predominantly Serbian.

The first sentence I heard and never forgot was when I checked into my hotel in Pristina. “You can pay here with Euro, but we cannot travel to the EU without a visa” Prior to my trip I had contacted a MEP from Vetëvendosje , the party had previously won a land-slide victory in the national elections. Albin Kurti had become president and I could not wait to hear about their work. During my stay I met with many Vetëvendosje people from local and national levels.

I was also received by the Austrian Ambassador to Kosovo and we had a very interesting chat about the upcoming local election in Pristina and other cities in Kosovo.

MEP Fitore Pacolli and Ministerpräsident of Health Albin


Prishtinë, the capital is chocked with traffic, except the very center with its super long, tree-lined pedestrian mall. The restaurants and teahouses are busy all day. My favorite became the one next to the small theater and across the government building.

Tea-house in the center of Pristina


Bulevardi Nënë Tereza | Mother Teresa Boulevard


Cars chock the streets and park on the sidewalks

I did not expect an lot of attractions, but there are quite a few: some old mosques, a museum exhibiting mostly objects reminding the war and the Monument of Heroinat. it consists of 20,145 metal knows, one for each woman, who became a victim of rate during the war. Newborn stands for itself, it was inaugurated on the 17th of February 2008, the day Kosovo claimed independance from Serbia.


Old Mosque in the center of Pristina


Monument of Heroinat. Each of the 20,145 metal knobs reminds of woman, who became a victim of rape during the war

Museum of Pristina exhibiting items reminding of the war

Museum of Pristina exhibiting items reminding of the war

And of course the Bill Clinton Statue, off the Bill Clinton Avendia. The USA is highly regarded in Kosovo, due to the role of the US in the Kosovo conflict in the nineties.

Showcase in Museum of Pristina, hat of Madeleine Albright

Road in Pristina named after Madeleine Albright

Newborn Monument – inaugurated on the 17th of February 2008, the day Kosovo claimed independance from Serbia

Cathedral of Mother Teresa in Pristina

Mosaic of Mother Teresa in Museum of Pristina

Also Austrians and Germans are highly regarded, many people have family there and the former Vice president of the European Parliament, Ulrike Lunacek, is highly respected for her devoted effort for this country.

The presence of flags, especially the Albanian flag, I found rather irritating, because the nationalism that goes along with such symbols. Giving the history of the country, not even accepted by half of the countries  it developed a strong sense of belonging to Albania.

Albanian flags are omnipräsent in Kosovo-a symbol of Kosovo’s ethnic dies with Albania

The architecture in Pristina is a wild mix, anything is possible, for example the library

The library of Pristina

Grand Hotel Pristina – once the place to stay, no run down and its entree occupied by illegally parked cars

Reception of Grand Hotel Pristina -has seen better days

It was super hot when I was in Pristina, so one day I was so desperate moved to the most expensive hotel, the Hotel Garden for €106 a room because it has a huge pool. The place was packed with Diaspora-Kosovarians visiting relatives. You could hear all kinds of languages. The car park is full of Mercedes and BMWs and even fancier stuff. Somebody told me many of these are rentals to brag with when back home.

Hotel Garden – packed with expats from all over Europe

Pool at Hotel Garden packed with expats

Pool at Garden Hotel packt with expats

Expats visting in the summer months

One day Fitore took me to Prizren, the old capital of Kosovo.The lovely riverbank lined with tea-houses and restaurants is a great place to spend the evening. The rest of the city is a traffic jam, maybe this was due to the many expats visiting with their huge cars. I was baffled constantly by the size of the cars that were parked everywhere, especially on sidewalks considering that Kosovo is poor country.


Prizren – the old capital, lovely riverfront

Prizren – the old capital

Prizren – riverfront

In Prizren we met another MEP, a colleague of Fitore and the Vice Mayor and the head of city planning.

Vice Mayor of Prizren, head of city planning, MEP Fitore Pacolli

Prizren- MEP Fitore Pacolli and an MEP of Prizren

On my last day in Pristina I met a whole bunch of Vetëvendosje people, members of Pristina’s city council in a café. Right there the idea was born that I return in October and help with the race for Mayor of Pristina. And this what I did in October I returned.

Members of City Council of Pristina

The wonderful Arben Vitia, Minister of Health when I visited in July, ran for Mayor in Pristina, against many other candidates. A second election was necessary and he ended up with 49,8% of the votes, all the other parties had joined forces against Vetëvendosje and the missing 0,3% was very painful.

the wonderful Arben Vitia, run for Mayor of Pristina in October 2021 and was defeated by 0,3%

Vetëvendosje women’s meeting

When I returned in October I also spend a couple of days in Skopje/Northern Macedonia where Ana Petrovska, then the director of the inspectorate for the environment, was also running for Mayor of Skopje. I had met her in July and was fascinated by her stamina, expertise and strong anti-corruption stand

I certainly need to return since I only got to see the cities- Prizren and Pristina and saw nothing of Kosovo’s beautiful country-side

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