Kosovo is the living reminder of the ferocious disintegration of post-communist Yugoslavia. Its peoples, Albanians and Serbs, have suffered from ethnic discrimination, war, expulsion, foreign intervention, international administration, outright ethnic division and polarization. In the midst of talks on the status of Kosovo, the two main communities, Albanians and Serbs, remain divided and polarized as ever with Albanians demanding their right to an independent state of Kosovo and Serbs resisting fiercely the idea of letting go of their (technically and according to international law) province. After six years of direct international administration, the international community sees the current arrangement in Kosovo as not sustainable, but wonders whether this ill-defined and ill-prepared territory could make it as an independent state. While a solution has to be, first and foremost, the result of an agreement between Serbs and Albanians, it is difficult to see how the two diametrically opposed views can be reconciled. In this tense regional context, Mitrovica, is a city missing a centre, cut into a Serbian north and an Albanian south by the natural frontier of the Ibar river. As the last multi-ethnic urban centre in Kosovo, Mitrovica has been the ground of violent clashes between Serbs and Albanians and has seen its Roma population expelled and displaced. It is there that the effects of the final status will be first visible: the Serbs see it as their last bastion against Albanian domination; the international community sees it as challenge for a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Kosovo; as for Kosovo Albanians, it would be a test on whether they could overcome their past resentment, they could respect and co-exist with their Serbian counterparts without resorting to violence or discrimination. In the meantime, everyone is terribly worried and prepares for the worst…

Dr Othon Anastasakis

Director

South East European Studies at Oxford

The video is available here.

Running time: 22 minutes