The respondent, a Serbian man from Kamenica, points out that one’s nationality was never important to him. It is class affiliation that he believes is more important, which is why he feels close to working-class Albanians. This respondent claims that neighbors helped each other out during the war. The conversation, arranged by the Center for Historical Studies and Dialogue, was led by Alban Maliqi from the Network of Peace Movement NGO from Kamenica.


Q: Can you tell me your name?

A: [for the time being the editorial board decided not to disclose interviewees’ identities]

Q: And your last name?

A: [for the time being the editorial board decided not to disclose interviewees’ identities]

Q: Place and date of your birth?

A: November 22, 1958.

Q: Place of residence?

A: Kamenica.

Q: Have you got friends among the ethnic Albanian community in Kosovo, how close are you to them and can you understand Albanian?

A: I have a lot of Albanian friends, we were friends before the war and after the war.

Q: How close are you, are you close?

A: We are friends, if we were friends before, we still are.

Q: Do you understand Albanian?

A: Perfectly.

Q: Have you socialized regularly, go on family visits, especially on Muslim religious holidays, with your Albanian neighbors and coworkers, before, during and after the war?

A: Those who were friends before the war remained so after the war. If you used to visit them before, you still do.

Q: Did you work together regularly? For festivities, holidays, Eid al-Adha…
Has anything changed in your relationship with your Albanian neighbors and coworkers when Slobodan Milosevic came to power in 1987, and then in 1999, and the current period?

A: It all remained the same, whoever was your friend, remained a friend. Those who weren’t… But you can’t, these young people, these young people aren’t… Older people, my generation, who worked together, neighbors, we are friends.

Q: How important was ethnic background, being a Serb or a Muslim and socializing before, during, and after the war?

A: It wasn’t an issue that much. It wasn’t an issue, politics introduced divisions. To us from the working class, it didn’t matter. I had Albanian co-workers. I was interested in work, I was not interested in politics, politics was something… While you worked in a factory, for example, you look after your work, that’s was your bread and butter.

Q: Do you know of any cases of interethnic marriages between Serbs and Albanians before, during and after the war?

A: There were those before the war, now there aren’t. Not that I know of.

Q: What do you think, are there instances of young Albanians and Serbs socializing, dating, going out together?

A: I don’t know, I don’t go to bars. Ask someone younger…

Q: Can you give us an example of mutual support or assistance provided to you by members of the Albanian community?

A: There were, during 1999, when you needed something.

Q: An example?

A: For example, food, whatever you needed, people came and brought it. That was it, now I can’t name names…
Was it the same on the opposite side?

A: It was the same. Our house would have been burned to the ground if it weren’t for others.

Q: What do you think was the attitude of the Serbian authorities, the police, the civilian authorities, the army, towards the Albanian population during the 1999 war? In your opinion, as you saw it.

A: Well, people are people, no one… whatever they did done – it’s done. They themselves… politics is like that. I’m telling you, I have nothing to do with politics, I’ve never been interested in politics.

Q: Did your neighbors try to protect you or provide you with food or supplies during the war?

A: They offered to help, they did.

Q: Did you experience any violence or property damage during the war? How did your neighbors react?

A: A bomb was thrown, when was it… I can’t remember.

Q: How did the neighbors react?

A: Good, these are our neighbors. Luckily, none of the neighbors were there. A neighbor come later, when my father died. My father died, the man came out, and the woman came out, it doesn’t matter now, we won’t mention names. She really went at them, she started yelling, why are you bothering that man…

Q: Did you try to protect them when Serb forces gained control after the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army? Did you protect people from the Albanian community?

A: We protected them, we protected them a lot. We saved a child from the police then. Those are our children. We must respect each other.

Q: What are your memories of the socialist period?

A: Things will never be as good as in socialism. There, you see for yourself. You had everything, education, healthcare, you had everything. Whatever school you wanted to go to, you had everything for free. If you didn’t want to study, that’s something else. That was good.

Q: Do you consider the socialist era to be positive and favorable in terms of Kosovo’s development?

A: You mean under Tito?

Q: Under Tito, yes, in the socialist period.

A: It was… Money was spent left and right… It was then when money was given out. Money, factories, construction. On payday, Kamenica was full. You were only a child, ask your father. On payday, Kamenica was bristling with people, all the shops, the lot…



Image courtesy of skyscrapercity

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