Our interlocutor, a Kosovar Albanian from the village of Građenik near Kamenica, mentions inns as places where Serbs and Albanians in that town socialise the most today. He personally prefers Žuća’s inn, which is located a little above the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in the part of Kamenica where Serbs still live. The interlocutor says that, during the war, Serbs and Albanians in his village mostly tried to protect each other. However, all the Serbs left his village in 2009, which is a sad epilogue to their long stay in this part of Kosovo.

Q: Let’s start with the interview. Name?

A: [The editors of the portal decided to hide the identities of the interlocutors]

Q: Place and date of birth?

A: Građenik, dd. mm. 1962.

Q: Your place of residence is Kamenica?

Q: Yes, Kamenica. The village centre.

Q: Do you have and have you had friends from the Serbian ethnic community in Kosovo?

A: Yes, in the village of Građenik.

Q: Okay. How close are you?

A: In the village of Građenik, we lived about 500m from each other.

Q: Okay, but how close are you…meaning — do you talk, do you socialise?

A: Of course, we socialised during the war as well as after the war. While there were members of the Serbian community, we socialised. There are currently none.

Q: Do you understand the Serbian language?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you speak Serbian?

A: Yes. I speak it well.

Q: Good. Next question. Did you socialise regularly, for example, did you use to make family and holiday visits?

Q: Yes, yes. Especially before the war.

A: Before the war, right?

Q: Yes, but also after the war, when there were still a few families in Građenik.

Q: Excellent. Do you still cooperate with them, I mean, do you regularly cooperate, help each other in farming, repairs in the house, in factories?

A: While the members of the Serbian community were there, we helped them as much as they needed and as much as we were able to…we cooperated.

Q: Always?

A: Yes, until 2009, when they moved out of the village.

Q: Good. Has anything changed in the relations that you had with the Serbs until 2009, that is, in your relations with your neighbours, after Milošević came to power? Did your relations change during that time? Do you remember?

A: You see, we always discussed the matter and, after all, we had to live together.

Q: So the relations have not changed?

A: No. Maybe a little, but the agreement was always that we had to protect each other, regardless of the politics that was going on.

Q: How important was ethnicity during that time, that is, the fact that someone was a Serb or an Albanian in the society before the war, during the war and after the war? That is, how important was it whether you were a Serb or an Albanian? What do you think it was like back then?

A: There were differences, but, how should I put it, until the war we always had a peaceful agreement as far as our village was concerned. So, we had no ethnic problems before the war. During the war we did. They were setting fires, but that didn’t have any effect either.

Q: Do you know roughly how many houses were set on fire?

A: They burnt…one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…somewhere around eleven houses in the village were set on fire.

Q: Were those Albanian houses?

A: Yes, Albanian.

Q: How many Serbian houses were set on fire after the war?

A: None were set on fire.

Q: None?

A: None. There was no revenge.

Q: Do you remember any case or do you know of any case where a marriage was concluded between a Serb and an Albanian?

A: No.

Q: No?

A: No. It did not happen in our village.

Q: Do you remember any case or do you know if there are cases of Albanians and Serbs socialising today?

A: Of course. They socialise all the time in cafes and restaurants. In our municipality, these gatherings were never interrupted.

Q: In which inn do they usually socialise?

A: “Žuća’s”. I go there as well.

Q: In which inns do you usually socialise?

A: We usually socialise … hang out and have lunch…

Q: Yes, that’s right. And what’s the name of that inn up there? There at the top?

A: “Kašmir’s”.

Q: “Kašmir’s”. That’s right!

A: I go everywhere.

Q: Can you give me an example of when you helped a Serb?

A: Yes, I usually, since 2000…

Q: Or maybe an example when someone else helped a Serb?

A: Since 2000, I have been a representative of the village of Građenik, and a very nice family lived there, the family of Trajan Maksimović.

Q: Trajan Maksimović?

A: He passed away, but he left behind children. We cooperated often and I, as a representative, helped him with whatever he needed. In 2004, we paved the road with gravel…from UNDP, and in cooperation with him, while we were in the government when Slaviša Petković was the minister…we went to Slaviša Petković, and I helped him as much as I could.

Q: What was the attitude of the Serbian authorities (police, army) towards the Albanian population during the 1999 war?

A: You see, there was aggression. Some of them were aggressive. No control. Fortunately, we personally had no casualties.

Q: What was the attitude of your neighbours who were members of the Serbian community?

A: Their attitude was…Different…depending on the political orientation of the people. Some had a positive, some had a negative attitude. Which means, there were different views, as there are today.

Q: That’s right. They didn’t do anything bad to you?

A: In those houses in the village…one victim was killed there, but they did not harm us personally, my family.

Q: Good. Did they make an effort to protect you, to provide you with food or other supplies during the war period?

A: You see, there were differences in the Serbian community. Some wanted to protect us, while others…

Q: Were there any among them who helped you and protected you?

A: Yes, there were. There was one teacher who demanded that they protect us and not harm us, but in the end they harmed him. The Serbs killed him. Ljubiša…

Q: How did the Serbs kill him? Ljubiša, is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: You don’t remember his last name?

A: I don’t remember. Ljubiša…was a teacher.

Q: Okay.

A: He tried to preserve that spirit of communal life.

Q: What was the treatment of local Serbs like in the post-war period, in the summer of 1999?

A: There were no Serbs in my village.

Q: There weren’t?

A: Even after all those problems and the burning of houses, the situation was still peaceful.

Q: How did you see the violence against Serbs in 2004? How did you see that time when the protests started? How did all that seem to you?

A: I considered it orchestrated, staged. It was a scenario. A prepared scenario.

Q: Did you try to help the Serbs when there was danger at that time?

A: I wasn’t able to because I lived in an apartment…

Q: Did you experience violence or property damage during the war?

A: Yes.

Q: Yes?

A: Yes. Both my houses were burnt down. Plus my uncle’s house, so three. However, as far as violence during the war is concerned, we did not experience that.

Q: You did not experience physical violence?

A: No physical violence. They didn’t abuse us.

Q: How did your neighbours react? Did they try to protect you or not?

A: You see, some of them tried, while others didn’t. There were individual differences. So they were filtered.

Q: Okay…next question. What do you remember from the time of socialism? Was that period good or not?

A: As for socialism, in general, for example, it existed in our village. It was good, but it was not socialism. In a way, it was a kind of democracy…

Q: I’m talking about an earlier time.

A: Yes, yes, I know, earlier. Here, there was a… in the former Yugoslavia, there was a kind of broader democracy than communism, but the conditions, life, work, were better. Health insurance, security, everything was much better.

Q: That made it better.

A: That was positive.

Q: Since we are already talking about the positive side, the next question is: Do you consider the socialist period positive and affirmative as far as the development of Kosovo is concerned? So, did Kosovo and Kamenica, but mostly Kosovo, develop more during that time than now?

A: The difference is huge. In 20 years…

Q: No, no. We are talking about the socialist period. Was Kosovo more developed…

A: Yes. Kosovo was more developed than it is today because today over a million people left Kosovo. That’s the reality. One million people emigrated from Kosovo.

Q: Thank you for the interview.

Image courtesy of aleksandarmiletic | MALI VELIKI LJUDI

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