So close, So foreign


Sanja and Elona, two journalists from Serbia and Albania, travelled together. You met many people in southern Serbia and Northern Kosovo and spoke with them about their daily lives, their Fears and hopes.

Sanja Kljajic (left, from Serbia), and Elona Elezi (Albania) on the common Reportage travel

A week the two DW were Correspondents Sanja Kljajic, a Serb, and Elona Elezi, an Albanian, on-the-go in a complicated Region in the border area between Serbia and Kosovo. There the Serbs and Albanians to live together, and yet separated.


Sanja Kljajic (Serbin): A limit, which there is not…and yet, here she is!

“Take care of yourself”, “be careful”, “careful”, they said to me all of you, my friends, my family, before my trip to the South. There is no reason to worry, I repeated constantly. My goal is only a few hundred kilometers far away from Vojvodina, in Northern Serbia, where I live – what can be actually “different”?

Everything – not only people, as it turned out. The culture is different, the upbringing is different, the languages are different. Only the people are the same as all the others in the Balkans – small, sad, miserable.

Already at the entrance it was clear to me that the Preševo has nothing to do with Serbia. The Serbian language does not exist on local signs and in betting offices, or on corporate boards of older craftsmen who have been labeled in the old Yugoslav times bilingual. In fashion shops only long dresses and head scarves are seen in the cafes listening to Albanian folk music.

In a bakery, I question whether the Pita cheese or meat filling. The seller looks confused. “Cheese!”, answers a from the queue, and I would like to thank you politely. Elona is helping me as an interpreter at the Numbers.

I realize how bad I know the life, if I have to tie in a Load of ladies in newspaper, Packed get, so no one can see what I’ve bought. Something I haven’t seen in Vojvodina for many years. I thought, at least this level of emancipation we had reached a long time ago. No, we do not have. The fact that in the cafes, only men are. And the fact that not a single woman would like to participate in our survey.

Greetings from Slavujevac in Serbia: Self-Fantasize is difficult

The society is divided on the basis of sex, Religion, language and history. In the Preševo valley, one says, the Albanian villages were in the West – in the direction of Kosovo and the Serb were in the East – in the direction of Serbia. A limit does not exist, but internal to the country were shown cards where this limit is to see anyway.

Even in Mitrovica, there is no limit, but the bridge on the Ibar stands there like a Phantom in front of the all run away. Why are we supposed to integrate us, ask the people, why should we bring ourselves in trouble if the politicians talk today of Integration and in the morning everything is back to doubt. And we – we need to set the time harmony, time to confrontation. As if we were dolls Wind-up.

And on both sides – tired faces. Tired from the battle, of the policy. All want a solution. In a euphoric mood because of the announcements that you can join Kosovo. In the case of the other: euphoric mood, because you could escape from Kosovo. What’s the point? Better life, they say. Good luck. Health. Even love, as an older lady says. All are very proud of their leaders.

On both sides of the tortured faces. Because of the misery. A woman in Slavujevac says she is happy, because they now own, after you’ve built a small room for the children everything that she wanted. Self-Fantasize is a difficult one, if life is a teaching that it can’t go better.


Elona Elezi (Albanian): Of smoke, the news is not solution

The entry of Kosovo into the neighbouring Presevo valley via a 140 km detour via Macedonia. That was the first rule I learned when I was planning my trip to the Serbian province in which 95 percent of the inhabitants are Albanians. The reason was simple. I was not allowed to enter the country through the border town of Gjilan to the Presevo valley, because Serbia recognizes the state of Kosovo and its borders as a non-legal view. And so my border would be crossing from there be considered illegal.

At the Serbian-Macedonian border, the first challenge of the policeman with his clouded Expression as he held in his hands my Albanian passport. First of all, he asked for wool where I was going, then more probing questions: Who would I meet there, followed by what I would do there. I said, I’m going to meet a colleague from Novi Sad. The fact that an Albanian citizen of the Preševo travels the valley to meet with a Serbian citizen, seemed to confuse him the most.

I went to report from there. It was the culmination of the debate over the land swap or Boundary adjustment between Kosovo and Serbia. In those days, was not at all clear what it is that governments are exchanging with each other. And today, it is still so…

The bridge in Mitrovica: the Transition between two different cultures, mentalities and languages

Between all the stops, and many miles, and visited my colleague Sanja Kljajic and I, and hundreds of people met and countless Interviews conducted, the town of Presevo, and the bridge of Mitrovica in Kosovo, the impressive.

Preševo, because it is a forgotten town, and still full of hope that one day Kosovo. Among the many idealists and dreamers I met also a different way of thinking. Valon Arifi, a human rights activist. He does not believe namely, that the States, which separate on the Basis of ethnic background, are successful. The various ethnicities of the state to be an enrichment for a country, even if they were estranged, he told me.

In Preševo, I met a lot of people wondered, because I ordered in Albanian and Sanja in Serbian. One day, it occurred to this daughter of a saleswoman in a supermarket. “Look Mama”, said the Little wonder, “the one Albanian, the other Serbian and they speak English.” Your Wonder has stayed with me.

In the North of Kosovo, I saw two worlds were separated by a bridge. If you go from Südmitrovica to North Mitrovica, you can see that the word boundary can be the largest and smallest importance at the same time.

Crossing the bridge of Transition between two totally different cultures, mentalities and languages. But they live here since years, even if the policy is pulling in two Extreme. The people, especially the younger generations, are tired of politics, of the bridge, from the barricades of this debate, which you call useless, and clouds of smoke announce never a solution.