After the Molotov cocktails on the NATO forces, the Serbs in the streets are waiting for “reinforcements” from Belgrade. The Alliance sends another 700 men
FROM OUR REPORTER
FOR CAN –
«We do not make any war, because il Kosovo it is ours, and no one wages war in his home. Could Italy ever get into a fight with Sardinia or Piedmont?»
On the outside wall of the clubhouse, a Vladimir Putin indeed bearing little resemblance to the original raises his glass toasting the people sitting at the tables, who in turn celebrate Monday’s clashes and perhaps prepare a sequel. Among them is also Jovan, a former Yugoslav army officer, who asks questions with such an authoritarian tone as to advise against any answer.
On the opposite side of the crossing, a group of young men in black T-shirts like almost everyone else waits to receive orders under the mural celebrating General Ratko Mladic, otherwise known as the executioner of Srebrenica. At the end of the central road, dozens of agents of the Kosovar military police are deployed to protect the town hall. There barbed wire fence that separates them from the Serbian demonstrators does not hide the feeling of a siege against them. On the pavement there are still traces left by the Molotov cocktails, while cars with smashed windows were covered with black Z paint and are exhibited as trophies.
Deep inside North Kosovobeyond Mitrovica and in the shadow of the mountain called Dragon’s Tooth on which there are the remains of an ancient Serbian medieval fortress, Zvecan truly feels like an upside down world. On the avenue that leads to the center almost every cottage displays the Serbian and Russian flags. There are countless Zs on the walls, with many variations praising the Wagner Brigade, in case the concept is not clear to passers-by. At the Camel bar you enter after rubbing your feet up a doormat that depicts the American flag and the face of Bill Clinton. We walked around for hours without finding an ethnic Albanian inhabitant, at least one of the six hundred daredevils who presented themselves to vote for the new mayor Ilir Peci, while the other sixteen thousand of their fellow citizens, mostly Serbs, deserted the election, as in three other municipalities in the area, later contesting its legitimacy.
“It would be more effective to lock them all inside,” says the Norwegian soldier of the NATO contingent which instead supervises the entrances to the city with great discretion. “They’ll never change their minds anyway.” Despite the announcement of the sending of another seven hundred soldiers who will join the other four thousand already present, the balance of forces seems to be unequal. In Zvecan, which was once the mining capital of Yugoslavia, history is a detail. «This place is Serbia, no matter what the international community decides» Jovan cuts short, making his friends raise their glasses. From a photo placed on the mirror behind the counter, Slobodan Milosevic smiles pleased.
The day after the attack he has wounded 34 soldiers, including fourteen Italian soldiers, two still hospitalized, the others are fine, the atmosphere remains steeped in violence. The gazes of Serbian nationalists are filled with resentment and expectation. “We will never have an Albanian mayor,” he says Lazlo Gajovic, a thirty year old with huge biceps who however has just arrived from Belgradeand of these places knows nothing and nobody.
At 2 pm a Jeep with the European Union flag on the door ends up by mistake in the center of the intersection and is overwhelmed first by screams, then by stones and rubble thrown from all directions. Half an hour later, some “old people” who manage the crowd from the recreational club, get impatient. Four Kosovar journalists guilty of asking unwelcome questions are kicked and punched. Their cameras fall apart. Under the eyes of the Military Police, who pretend not to see.
Suddenly, the crowd gathers around a man. Srdjan Milosavljevic should be the voice of reason. He was mayor of Zvecan and president of the municipality. His message aimed at calming spirits is full of ambiguity. We are right about everything and alwaysdice. “But it’s still up to us to save the peace”. However, to the beautiful purpose just stated, he followed up with the order of a continuous mobilization, from seven in the morning to 4 pm, to which today will be added many supporters arriving from the Serbian capital. “To prevent the umpteenth scarring of our history.”
Nobody talks about request for greater autonomy with respect to the central State, the bone of contention that led to the boycott of the vote, according to an official version that is convenient for everyone. Maybe that was really the case. In this extreme Serbian enclave of Kosovo, politics has no right of asylum. Everyone fills their mouths with reasons of blood, of race, of hatred towards others. “Thanks to Russia, the only country that understands our reasons, we are finally about to take our revenge with the Albanians and with you Europeans,” explains the young Milan, who claims to be studying law.
The only two honorary citizens of Zvecan are Vladimir Putin and tennis player Novak Djokovic, that in terms of nationalism is no joke. On many T-shirts the inscription Z3 is printed, or vice versa, which combines the symbol of the invasion of Ukraine with the greeting of Serbian nationalists. Just outside Zvecan, we find a dozen destroyed or burned cars with Kosovar Republic license plates. On the blackened side of an Opel Astra someone wrote that “Kosovo does not exist”.
May 30, 2023 (change May 30, 2023 | 22:40)
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