Albanians and Summer

* This article was originally published on the Kosovo 2.0

After living in Germany for two years, I’ve noticed how the summer heat can change human behavior. The ability to turn a cold person into someone warm-hearted is closely related to the tendency of being open to things that are usually considered unacceptable. However, in Kosovo things always have the tendency to escalate; people’s ability to change, as well as the extraordinary level of optimism present in the country, is something that can only be explained by an in-depth anthropological study.

Now that the summer is almost over, I, along with the rest of the country, reflected on the recent political happenings in Kosovo. The first thing that came to mind was a question: is it possible that perhaps, within the past decade, the international community has observed our behavior and concluded that, even if our country were to be sold during the height of summer, no one would notice? Someimes it seems that the Diaspora season of rented cars, weddings, and circumcision celebrations becomes the epicenter of everything, becomes our only concern.

The small country of two million residents — the size of an average European city — has faced more challenges and issues this summer than most European countries face over the course of a whole year. Enormous political problems have passed unnoticed, or when they were noticed, it took the form of a few tweets, or Facebook updates. And after that? Well,Kosovo turned their their attention back towards showbiz starlets and Turkish soup operas (which now take up over 50% of local media airtime).

Agreements with Serbia, the amnesty law, the logos of “bears and bunnies” on ballots, as well as the extraordinary emigration rate are just a few of the problems that Kosovars have glossed over without a care. The sacrifices being made to achieve independence have surpassed those that every real sovereign country has made. Our strange capacity to fight for a cause, only to drop it in the end is painful to behold. Phrases such as “only one more sacrifice and we’re off to the EU”, or “internationals know what they are doing, they have always had a plan for Kosovo”, or even “it’s not worth dealing with Mitrovica because it was sold a long time ago” have gotten really boring. Perhaps the time has come to quit blaming internationals, and become a truly democratic people — an active, engaged people.

Everyone needs to know and understand that, even if exceptions are made in every political way, and both big and petty criminals are given amnesty, Europe will not liberalize visas for Kosovars. No liberalization of visas can be granted to a country where there exists this enormous fear that everyone will leave and go to Europe. There are currently thousands of Kosovar refugees/asylum-seekers living in Europe’s camps; refugees that would rather stay in camps than to return to Kosovo. This is a place where every young person’s dream is to escape from Kosovo. We are living in a place where people are sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time, where people’s mindset makes one feel pity, where the first question anyone will ask you is “have you secured documents, can you find me someone [to marry] for documents?” It is a place where the level of education and unemployment scares the hell out of you.

Perhaps when September comes, when schools begin winter preparations, when challenges for survival increase – citizens will sober up from the frenzy and face reality, and not just accept it for what it is, with the common phrase “it was written for us to suffer.”

So, along with the flux of “Auslanders,” I too am going back to Germany; in contrast to most diaspora residents, though, I don’t have a luxurious car, nor do I have a lot of Francs and Euros on me. But I do have a bus ticket which will ensure I experience the lowness of being a Kosovo citizen at every border I cross, being treated like a criminal. Perhaps while travelling I will meet someone that has decided to send peppers, watermelons and sugar to the EU just so they can “save” some money. I am leaving in hopes that one day we will be tired flitting from one bar to another, and perhaps become at least aware enough to know that in order to join the EU,political “sacrifice” is not enough. We need societal development as well.

*This article was originally written in Albanian

**Cover Image ‘The Newborn Obelisk of Pristina, Kosovo” by Antti Nissinen

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