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Kosovo’s love affair with the Clintons

By Guy Delauney
Bulevardi Bill Klinton in the Kosovo capital, Pristina
Image captionKosovan Albanians swear they will never forget the role of the “Klintons” in the Nato bombing campaign which brought an end to conflict in 1999

A smattering of Albanian comes in handy when deciphering certain Pristina street signs. Otherwise it may not immediately be apparent that “Bulevardi Xhorxh Bush” refers to the former US president who insisted that Kosovo should become independent.

But only consonant pedants would demand a translation of the name of the busy thoroughfare which runs perpendicular to George Bush Boulevard. “Bulevardi Bill Klinton” is a tribute to the man Kosovan Albanians hold in the highest possible esteem.

Pristina has not just named a street in his honour. It also erected a larger-than-life-size statue of a beaming Bill Clinton, his arm outstretched in welcome. The man himself unveiled this monument when he visited Pristina to a rapturous reception in 2009.

This adoration also extends to Mr Clinton’s family. Just a few yards from the statue, a women’s clothes shop called Hillary adds a fashion element to the affair.

“We rate the Clinton family so highly,” says Elda Morina, a member of the family which owns both Hillary and a second outlet, Hillary 2.

“They made the whole world know our problems. For the first time everyone knew who are Kosovans. Bill Clinton is the person who revealed our suffering – and from that point we all had big sympathy for the Clinton family.”

Kosovo country profile

Namesakes welcome Tony Blair during Kosovo visit

Balkans war: a brief guide

Ethnic Albanians give Mr Clinton credit for the Nato bombing campaign which brought an end to the Kosovo conflict in 1999. This allowed those who had fled to return to their homes, although the Morina family were among those who stayed in Pristina throughout.

“I suffered a lot of post-traumatic stress,” says Elda. “I was a teenager; it was a vulnerable time of my life.”

Opening the boutique was part of the process of getting back to normal – with Elda’s father suggesting it should be named in honour of Hillary Clinton. The shop stocks a range of outfits similar in style to those favoured by the former secretary of state.

“It’s a classic style,” says Elda, picking a trouser-suit from a rack of monochrome outfits. “Hillary Clinton is a woman with a big vision – it’s not her clothes which define her.”

Bill Clinton statue in Pristina, the Kosovo capital
Image captionHomages paid to the Clintons in Pristina range from a statue of a smiling Bill Clinton…
Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) smiles as she walks out of a store named in her honour in Pristina on 13 October 2010Image copyrightAFP
Image caption… to clothing boutiques honouring Mrs Clinton – who herself paid a visit in 2010
Elda Morina, owner of the Hillary boutique, shows off an outfit in her collection
Image caption“It’s a classic style,” says Elda Morina of her Hillary range

The Hillary range has attracted a loyal clientele – “women in business and politics,” says Elda – customers perhaps aiming to pick up on a little of the Clinton charisma.

Gratitude towards the Clinton family and respect for the United States is deep-rooted.

“This admiration has been there for many decades,” says Kosovo’s Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi.

“The Clintons embodied that link simply because at the moment of the grave injustices when hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing the Milosevic regime and ethnic cleansing was being conducted by the state apparatus, Bill Clinton was like a saint. It was a miracle that the world intervened for a speck of land like Kosovo that had no oil, no diamonds, no resources.”

Not just altruism?

But while Kosovo may feel it has a special relationship with the United States – and the Clinton family in particular – others suggest that this is, in fact, a very one-sided romance.

“The 1999 bombing was not, as the Kosovans appear to think, just an intervention intended to stop the violent repression of the Kosovan Albanians,” says Andrea Capussela, a former international official in Pristina and the author of a recent book, State-Building in Kosovo.

US former President Bill Clinton greets Kosovo Albanians as he stands in front of giant cake made for him during his visit to Pristina on 1 November 2009Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMore adulation of the Clintons – but some question whether the affection is warranted

“Western governments and especially Washington saw Kosovo as an occasion to establish the principle that where they could claim there was a genuine humanitarian crisis was occurring, they could take military action irrespective of Security Council authorisation.”

The Clintons’ subsequent involvement with Kosovo has been limited to brief visits.

But some of the US officials most closely associated with the 1999 bombing have sought to deepen their relationship – on a business basis.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and special envoy James Pardew were both involved with bids for the state-owned telecoms company. The former’s investment fund, Albright Capital Management, later withdrew to “pursue other opportunities”.

Mr Pardew had been lobbying on behalf of a consortium led by the investment firms Twelve Hornbeams and Avicenna Capital; he stopped after his involvement became public.

Nato’s former supreme allied commander, Wesley Clark, now chairs the Canadian energy company, Envidity. In August, Kosovo’s government proposed a deal to allow Envidity coal exploration rights across a third of the country.

Critics of this arrangement said it would allow Envidity near-exclusive rights to exploit Kosovo’s considerable coal reserves. The deal has yet to receive parliamentary approval, after opposition MPs asked for more information about the scheme.

‘Unhealthy relationship’

“It is a relationship that can be abused,” says Andrea Capussela. “Because corruption is so endemic in Kosovo, having a strong connection based on what the Clinton administration did for Kosovo could lay the basis for an unhealthy business relationship.”

And the enduring influence of the United States in Kosovo may not always be to the latter’s advantage. The former US ambassador to Pristina, Christopher Dell, lobbied for the contract to build a “Patriotic Highway” to Albania to go to a consortium led by the American firm Bechtel.

Mr Capussela calls the project “colossal and unnecessary”, costing 25% of Kosovo’s GDP. The year after leaving his diplomatic post in Kosovo, Mr Dell started a new job – with Bechtel.

“The US has enormous influence in Kosovo, but they lack the incentive to use it to favour long-term development. The tragedy is that the interests of Europe are in favour of the development of Kosovo, but it remains very difficult for Europe to advance this interest,” says Mr Capussela.

Back on Bill Clinton Boulevard, such ideas seem almost like heresy. In the Hillary boutique, pictures of its namesake’s 2012 visit hang proudly above the cash register – and Elda Morina is excited about next month’s presidential vote.

“Whoever wins, it’s OK,” she says, “but we have the idea that she is the one. If she wins, it’s better for us. Kosovans admire the Clintons, that’s why.”



The Beerfest Cancelled After Shooting and Stampede



Following a shooting and stampede at the annual Beerfest last night, in Zahir Pajaziti Square, the festival has been cancelled. The organisers have been told to find a different venue in the future, due to the large increase in crowds.

As many as 40 people were injured in the stampede which happened when an argument erupted between two of the patrons which resulted in someone shot in the leg. As soon as the shots were heard, everyone ran into cafes and bars nearby and many falling on glass that had fallen from the tables.
Once a new venue can be found for the Beerfest, the organisors will inform the public.

Kosovo Architecture Foundation, winner of the prestigious grant

9 grant recipients Getty Foundation’s prestigious “Keeping it Modern” Kosovo Architecture Foundation was selected for the project of the National Library of Kosovo designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic writes KultPlus.

Kosovo Architecture Foundation is one of nine recipients of the prestigious Getty Foundation grant “Keeping it Modern” for the project of the National Library konzervimti designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic. “This year he shared Getty total $ 1.3 million for 9 projects of special importance to modern architecture. Among the beneficiaries of this year’s grant is also home Vidro’s designed by Lina Bo Bardi, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Library for children and designed by Nickson and Borys in Ghana. The evaluation commission of the Getty-t, consisting of architects and conserved the known world has estimated the project Library as rare in combining the influences of the region and of particular importance for modern architecture European “, reads the statement of the Kosovo Foundation Architecture. for more on evaluation of Getty Foundation about the project Library, is the evaluation on this subject which among other things says:There are very few modern buildings that connect to kaluarënme present by combining numerous cultures as the National Library of Kosovo in Prishtina.Reflecting the many legacies of the region and local cultural special soul, Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic (born in 1929) tried to create an authentic expression, national, architectural when he designed this building in 1971. Built with in-situ concrete, Marble floors and white walls suvatuaratë, and covered by transparent acrylic domes 99, recalls ndërtesatBizantine library and the Ottoman Empire.Despite its unified elements of the historic structure pattern is typical of modern architecture. Mutnjakovic used new materials to evoke the spirit of ancient earkitekturës, in particular the structure of the outer wrapping of aluminum, which can be interpreted as a fishnet, or as a veil qëtregon two prevailing beliefs area.Although expectations when projektinë ended 1982 were mixed, the building is now regarded as an outstanding example of modernism vonshëmnë former Yugoslavia and a loving space for Kosovars.

While the internal structure of the building has been damaged during the war in Kosovo (1998-1999), the external structure escaped relatively unscathed. However, in recent years, construction has begun to show signs of aging. Among the most notable of them ështëdepërtimi water requires special repairs. With the help of the Getty Grant-t a team of specialists for protection and conservation will address the lack of knowledge about the building, studying and assessing its performance. They will analyze every aspect of the building, including consulting architect in historical documents and his personal knowledge about their objektit.Hulumtimi design will create a complete record of the building’s past and current conditions and will compile the necessary documentation library nomination for permanent protection at the national level. With complete project-konservimido serve as a model for documenting the buildings modernenë shfaqetpër region and the general public through an exhibition and publication. The project will also increase ndërgjegjësinë for maintaining the architecture of the 20th century through a series of workshops for students and young professionals in the field. / KultPlus.com

National Library of Kosovo to be Awarded a Getty Architecture Grant

Kosovo’s Architecture Foundation
National Library of Kosovo

National Library of Kosovo
Few modern buildings connect the past and present as flawlessly and span multiple cultures as expressively as Kosovo’s National Library in Prishtina. Reflecting on the region’s diverse heritage and distinct cultural spirit, Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic (b. 1929) sought to create an authentic national architectural expression when he designed the building in 1971. Constructed with in-situ cast concrete, marble floors, and white plastered walls, and topped with 99 translucent acrylic domes, the library is reminiscent of buildings from Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. Despite its unified historic forms, the structure is unmistakably modern. Mutnjakovic used new materials to evoke ancient architectural tropes, most notably the exterior aluminum lattice-wrapping, which can be interpreted either as a fishnet or a veil pointing to the area’s two predominant religions. Although reception of the design was mixed when the library opened in 1982, the building is now regarded as an extraordinary example of late Yugoslav modernism and a beloved space in the community.

While the building’s interiors suffered damage during the Kosovo War (1998–1999), its exterior escaped the conflict relatively unharmed. However, over the past several years, the building has begun to show signs of aging, most evidently though water ingress that required ad hoc repairs. Moving forward, a team of conservation specialists will address the lack of knowledge about the building, studying and assessing its performance with the support of a Getty grant. They will analyze every aspect of the building, including consulting with the architect on historic documents and his own personal knowledge of the design. Their research will create a comprehensive record of the building’s past and current conditions and result in the preparation of a nomination for the protection of the library at the national level. When completed, the project will serve as a model for modern building documentation in the region and will be shared with the public through an exhibition at the library. The project will also raise awareness for preserving 20th century architecture through a series of workshops for students and young professionals in the field.

Grant support: $89,000

Shell shock cinema: how a new wave of films from Kosovo is processing the pain of war

Kosovo’s nascent film industry has produced a string of films dealing with the bloody war that tore through the country less than 20 years ago. For many of the people involved in making them, they are a cathartic experience

  • Shell shock cinema: how a new wave of films from Kosovo is processing the pain of war

    Shok (2016) was an Oscar nominee this year

    “War happens at your doorstep,” is a line that is spoken in a virtual reality world called This War of Mine, created by 11 Bit Studios in 2014. Designed as an “empathy” game, the player moves through a war-torn landscape rendered from the siege of Sarajevo in which the player can hear, see, and feel what it might have been like. When I discovered it recently, it made me think of the small troupe of Kosovar actors who play characters like themselves (or their parents and grandparents) in films dealing with the 1998-99 Kosovo War. Those same actors also play the roles of their (mainly Serbian) oppressors in the Yugoslav National Army. I think about how painful that must be, but also how much catharsis that could provide.

    Most of the films produced in Kosovo are presented as fictional accounts, but many of their creators and portrayers really did go through the horrendous experiences played out on screen, or know many people who did. In his book Shell Shock Cinema, Anton Kaes reads Weimar film in the context of the First World War, arguing that it is best understood as a means of psychologically working through the emotional turmoil of witnessing constant death and “unspeakable events”. The same principle can be applied to Kosovar film today. In the ex-Yugoslav lands, the battles took place inside people’s homes and those of their neighbours where there was, more often than not, a mere hair’s breadth between victim and perpetrator.


Krasniqi is now preparing to shoot her first feature film, Vera e andrron detin (Vera Dreams of the Sea), which will begin principal photography at the beginning of 2017. Written by Doruntina Basha, an award-winning playwright and a childhood friend of Krasniqi’s, it is based on the story of a 60-year-old woman who, like most women of her generation, has lived within the suffocating space between a violent marriage and a society in continuous transition. “Kosovo is a small country with a very complex past and it isn’t just the war. … Everyone here has been affected differently depending where they’ve stood politically,” says Krasniqi. “I feel that internationally we have introduced just a small portion of stories that are ‘hidden’ here.”

  • Three Windows and a Hanging

    Still from Three Windows and a Hanging (2014)

    Trailer for Three Windows and a Hanging (2014)

    Urgent in its tone and timbre, the Albanian language can recount the most heinous things in hypnotising, poetic rhythms. This dichotomy can also be felt in the camerawork of certain films. Isa Qosja’s 2014 feature Tri dritare dhe një varja (Three Windows and a Hanging) is a story of several wartime rapes shamefully kept under wraps by the inhabitants of the small mountain town where they took place. When one of the victims talks to a visiting reporter and decides to reveal what happened to her and other women, she is humiliated and victimised all over again by the men in the village. The framing of cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki’s camera remains static in interior spaces, rendering them claustrophobic; there is no room to breathe. We are trapped, as are the people on the screen.

  • Trailer for The Return (2012)

  • The Return Kosovo

    Still from The Return (2012)

    But in films such as Blerta Zeqiri’s Kthimi (The Return) (2012), a 20-minute portrait of a couple reunified after the war or Visar Morina’s Babai (Daddy) (2015), which follows a young Kosovar boy on the trail of a father who has abandoned him to seek refuge in Germany, the camerawork is unsteady, always catching its breath. The cutting has a brutality and immediacy to it; everything is off-kilter, as reality and waking nightmares converge. Zeqiri, who is currently finishing her first feature, The Marriage, told me: “I feel that the only way to approach any sort of topic is with the utmost respect and humbleness, and then choose the appropriate actors and collaborators that can follow and work with that approach…When I started thinking about making [The Return], I was terrified of not being able to do justice to victims of sexual crime and families of the missing. I felt that if I didn’t do it right, I would only be adding insult to injury.”

  • Trailer for Babai (2015)

  • Babai

    Still from Babai (2015)

    Almost everything shot in Kosovo is funded, in part, by Qendra Kinematografike e Kosovës (QKK), the brand for the government-subsidised Kosovo Cinematography Centre. Acting as funder, producer, PR machine, and representative in major film markets such as Cannes and Berlin, QKK went into full swing in the past year to promote Jamie Donoughue’s Shok, which was nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) at the 2016 Oscars, a first for Kosovo. Donoughue, a British director, producer and writer, discovered the country in 2010 when after the eruption of the volcano in Iceland that year, he was unable to get a flight out again for five weeks, during which time he met the protagonist of his film. “It was personally very difficult to ask cast and crew to be involved in this production as many of them had experienced the war first hand,” Donoughue told me. “However, we felt this was something that could actually be embraced… This is no truer than with the role played by Eshref Durmishi, whose [childhood experience] the film is partly based on. Emotionally, it was difficult, but I believe no one else could play that role more effectively. Eshref also personally felt that it brought a degree of closure to his experience.”

  • Shok

    Still from Ferdonija (2016)

  • Shok

    Still from Shok (2016)

It is mostly the women who carry the heaviest burden since many were gang-raped as de facto casualties of war, and then forced to witness the deaths of their fathers, husbands, and sons. “In Kosovo, there’s a new war every 50 years,” says the main protagonist in Gazmend Bajri and Shkurte Dauti’s 30-minute black-and-white filmFerdonija (2016). Ferdonije Qerkezi, in a luminous performance, recounts the story of losing her husband and all four of their sons in the Kosovo War. Only two of the sons’ remains have been found and were given a proper burial in 2005. This film, more documentary than fiction, portrays the aural and visual testimony of someone recollecting and re-emerging through palimpsests of memory. This successful realisation of cinematic nonfiction is perhaps a sign that a corner has been turned.


“+18” For energy drinks

"+18" For energy drinks

Youth Initiative to ban the consumption of energy drinks by persons under the age of 18, was the topic of discussion on the initiative of young people “Grow shnetshëm” at today’s meeting of the Committee on Health, Labour and Social Welfare, headed by Flora Brovina, president, announces nag Assembly papers.

The speaker of the first meeting, the representative of Initiative “Grow shnetshëm” Afrim Berisha, presented the research conducted by this initiative, which included six regions, 1000 questionnaires with parents and children, to see how consumed energy drinks by children and how are they aware of the negative effects that cause them, Koha.net broadcasts.

In questionnaires with parents, according to Berisha, about 54 percent of the respondents claimed that their children consume these drinks, while children from questionnaires, showed that 74 percent of them consume energy drinks.

From this mutual research with parents and children, it turned out that the children were not informed about the negative effects that cause these drinks. Afrim Berisha said that awareness is necessary, since access to these drinks is very easy.

Based on the research findings, the commission was offered several recommendations, which are expected to be reviewed in the future.

According to the recommendations, requested the placement of signs notifying “+18” in all energy drinks; develop awareness campaigns about the negative effects that cause these drinks, ban their sale in and near schools, and to create a legal framework that regulates the limitation of caffeine in these drinks.

Representatives of the initiative stressed that the proposed recommendations are based on practices in other countries that have taken measures to limit these beverages as Lithuania, Hungary, Sweden etc.

In the end, President Brovina, thanked the representatives of the organization for this material and to raise issues of this nature, expressing at the same time, support for the proposed recommendations.

6 June 2016 – 14:22

Youth Initiative to ban the consumption of energy drinks by persons under the age of 18, was the topic of discussion on the initiative of young people “Grow shnetshëm” at today’s meeting of the Committee on Health, Labour and Social Welfare, headed by Flora Brovina, president, announces nag Assembly papers.

The speaker of the first meeting, the representative of Initiative “Grow shnetshëm” Afrim Berisha, presented the research conducted by this initiative, which included six regions, 1000 questionnaires with parents and children, to see how consumed energy drinks by children and how are they aware of the negative effects that cause them, Koha.net broadcasts.

In questionnaires with parents, according to Berisha, about 54 percent of the respondents claimed that their children consume these drinks, while children from questionnaires, showed that 74 percent of them consume energy drinks.

From this mutual research with parents and children, it turned out that the children were not informed about the negative effects that cause these drinks. Afrim Berisha said that awareness is necessary, since access to these drinks is very easy.

Based on the research findings, the commission was offered several recommendations, which are expected to be reviewed in the future.

According to the recommendations, requested the placement of signs notifying “+18” in all energy drinks; develop awareness campaigns about the negative effects that cause these drinks, ban their sale in and near schools, and to create a legal framework that regulates the limitation of caffeine in these drinks.

Representatives of the initiative stressed that the proposed recommendations are based on practices in other countries that have taken measures to limit these beverages as Lithuania, Hungary, Sweden etc.

In the end, President Brovina, thanked the representatives of the organisation for this material and to raise issues of this nature, expressing at the same time, support for the proposed recommendations.



by Rron Gjinovci

Not far from Prishtina at Hotel Gracanica,where green fields surround the white, minimalist, and very modern building, the first solo exhibition of the young Kosovo artist Milica Kostic is taking place.

Although her paintings are realist, one can also find some Manga influences and elements in the hairstyles of the painter’s subjects. In most cases, the garb is classical, but in the faces one can notice contemporary features.

Kostic’s powerful subjects reflect her own feelings at the moment she is painting an art piece.  “That’s how I experienced it, that’s how I see it, and there I go, I put it on canvas,” explains Kostic.

She is only 24. Born in 1991 in Prishtina, Kostic now lives in the suburbs of Kosovo’s capital, the village Laplje Selo. She finished her bachelor and master studies in Nis University of Arts in Serbia this year.

self portrait 170x100

Milica Kostic standing next to her “Self Portrait.”

Kostic decided to title her first solo exhibition “Parallel Worlds.”  The title might resonate with the parallel lives Serbs and Albanians lead in Kosovo, although the author is unwilling to provide that explanation. She does however admit that her own life in the village parallels how life in general works nowadays.

“I love Kosovo, our history, the land where I was born, the province in which I was born, but I don’t know what to say… Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong to this era,”  she says smiling, as we talk next to one of her many portraits that stand as contemporary homages to 19th century painting.  “But, when I’m here [in Laplje Selo] I somehow get detached from all of these issues.”

Lapjle Selo is a bucolic village in the municipality of Gracanica, one of the largest Serb municipalities in Kosovo. Being only a few kilometers from the capital, the area has become a trade hub for Serbs and Albanians alike, while Hotel Gracanica also attracts international patronage.

Kostic is critical of topics that most people are interested nowadays.

“Everyone is interested in this Third World War that is happening –  maybe not a physical war,  but it’s happening through media, internet… It affects human psychology, and I’m not sure if people understand that,” says Kostic, worryingly.

“I think that the most important war is the one with ourselves,” she adds.

When asked about her everyday life in Kosovo Kostic seems a bit confused. She would love to be treated normally in the city she was born, to be part of the artistic life of her birthplace, but she is not. Indeed, no artists from the capital’s usual art scene are attending her opening – in fact not even a single ethnic Albanian (with the exception of this author) is in attendance.


“I know that among our people [Albanian and Serb] there are differences but I would love to… my paintings say this: faith, love, and hope. I think there is hope that everything will be better,” says Kostic, doubtfully looking at her nails. “But yes, I would love to feel free to go every day in Prishtina, in the Art Gallery and to socialize with people there.” She does not have to add that she cannot.

This exhibition was taking place in a village, in a hotel and not where it should have happened, in any art gallery in Prishtina. Since the Kosovo war ended in 1999, most Kosovo Serbs live in municipalities with a Serb majority which do not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Very little cooperation exists between young Albanians and  Serbs, who have official representatives in the Kosovo parliament and government.

Unlike northern Mitrovica, which is physically separated by the river Iber,  Gracanica is next to Prishtina and serves as a hub for trade and other commercial activities. Unlike businessmen and politicians, artists such as Kostic who have few opportunities to exchanges and cooperation with their Albanian peers.

An connoisseur of painting can see the influences of titans such as Caravaggio (when it comes to the darkness that surrounds the subjects); Velasquez when it comes to their powerful positions, and Rembrandt when it comes to a vividly clear focus on the details, leaving the rest of the painting opaque.

Kostic confirms these influences from the masters and adds a list of her own contemporary favorites such as Alyssa Monks and Jeremy Lipking, who like her are influenced by realist figurative painting.

A self-portrait, 170×100 cm, portrays the painter in tears holding brushes in both hands. In the painting she seems dissatisfied, or rather devastated, desperate to make others understand her suffering.

Kostic says she’s not painting the motives of what she calls “The World War Three” but the small individual feelings that cause it: “Pride”, “Greed”, “Jealousy”, “Anger” are names of the paintings that stand opposite to “Faith”, “Hope” and “Love”.

Greed 193x89 - the model and her baby standing in front of the painting

Kostic’s sister and subject standing underneath the painting “Greed.”

Serbian Orthodox theology seems to have shaped her through years, but for Kostic the three theological virtues of Christianity come in a different way. There is no St. Sophia with her three daughters, there are no virgin ladies nor naked babies to represent the virtues in Kostic’s painting. Instead, there is a pregnant young woman telling a secret to a girl that might be her sister, and that represents “Faith.”

Another  shows an angel holding a candle who is telling the bride (a self-portrait of Kostic) the good news – representing “Hope”. And in another extraordinary depiction, a little girl kneeling in front of her grandmother while looking to the audience, which Kostic says represents pure love.

Detail "Insult Us."

Detail “Insult Us.”

One of her models, present at the exhibition, is her sister. She has been posing for a beautiful painting of a woman wearing a furry black coat with a hard gaze at the spectators.

“You’ve seen my sister, and look at this,” Kostic points me towards the painting. The difference is stark – Kostic’s sister looks meek in contrast.  “The topic is greed,” the painter adds, indicating the detail of the ring the woman is wearing.

The real-life model, in contrast, is a shy modest mother holding her baby while a photographer takes pictures of them.

“I modify my models. I give them my feelings, my idea on the characters and that’s how I create them. Some people come to me and say my characters don’t belong the 21st century. I think that’s my signature,” she says smiling.

Kostic’s maxim is not a contemporary one. She harkens back to ancient philosophy, to the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi. “Know thyself” – was the forecourt of the temple and one of the maxims Socrates used in his dialogues. Kostic has adopted this as her maxim as well.

“In order for the bad to be stopped we need to know ourselves,” she says.

Prishtina Insight

Kosovo Claims Brezovica Project Can go Ahead

Kosovo officials claim French investors in the Brezovica ski resort have met a deadline to submit bank guarantees for the project – however, the future of the 410-million-euro scheme still looks unclear.

Arben Qirezi
Brezovica Ski Resort. Photo: Wikimedia/ Bujar Imer Gashi.

The French consortium, MDP Consulting and Compagnie des Alpes, on Tuesday submitted the documentation required for the development of Brezovica Ski Resort, Kosovo’s Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Wednesday.

The deadline for submission of the documents was midnight May, 31.

The most important part of the documents is proof that the consortium has 164 million euros to finance the first stage of the project. So far, initiation of the project has been postponed twice because it was unable to collect the money.

In a vaguely worded press briefing, the trade ministry did not say whether the documents submitted include a guarantee that the funds were collected, as per the terms of the Public Private Partnership, PPP, signed between the government and MDP Consulting and Compagnie des Alpes on November 21, 2014.

The ultimate fate of the 410-million-euro project still looks uncertain.

“Considering the importance of this project for Kosovo’s economy, the Interministerial Managing Committee, IMC, will continue to carefully review the documents submitted. After … the IMC has finalized its dicussion, a decision about the documents… will be communicated to the wider public,” the ministry said.

Government spokesman Faton Abdullahu was also unable to confirm whether the documentation submitted includes a guarantee the 164 million euros were finally secured.

According to trade minister Hykmete Bajrami, the next stage of the process should take another ten days.

The process remains ambiguous, however, following conflicting statements given just before the deadline expired by Bajrami on Tuesday.

On November 21, 2014, the government signed a PPP deal with MDP Consulting and Compagnie des Alpes for a 99-year lease of 3,364 hectares of land in the Brezovica mountains against a payment of 9.9 million euros and a pledge of 410 million euros of investment.

The ambitious project, supported also by the so-called QUINT countries of France, Italy, Germany, the UK and the US, would have been the biggest investment in Kosovo since the war of independence in the late 1990s.

MDP Consulting, headed by Pascal Roux, has enagaged in mountain development since 1986. Compagnie des Alpes was created in 1989 and describes itself as the “leading European player in leisure industry and has operated the biggest ski resorts in the French Alps and Europe’s most distinctive leisure parks.”

Brezovica is one of the largest ski resorts in the Balkans. The deal for its expansion included three stages, each worth 164.3, 152.5 and 92.7 million euros respectively.

This included the expansion of slopes, infrastructure, land development and construction of hotels and would have made Brezovica the premier ski resort in the Balkans.

The French partners missed two deadlines to collect the capital for the first stage of investment. The first was in June 2015, which, according to the contract, could be extended for another six months.

However, the consortium asked the ministry for another extension after missing a second deadline on December 24, 2015.

On December 23, 2015, Bajrami said the government had agreed to another extension, adding that if MDP Consulting and Compagnie des Alpes failed to present evidence of the capital for the first stage by May 31, 2016, the ministry would immediately execute a 500,000 euros bank guarantee and restart the tender process.

– See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/french-deal-may-fail-for-kosovo-s-ski-resort-06-01-2016#sthash.6g26YhE2.Gqal99UH.dpuf

Kosovo — mon amour

Go to the profile of Anna Chashchyna

My whole family warned me about how unsafe it is (as if they knew), about criminality, war aftermath and all the terrible things that might happen to me if I dare to step the forbidden land of Kosovo. One of my Serbian acquaintances went further, when I asked about how she’d feel about going there, she answered something extraordinary — “If I were you, I wouldn’t ever do it. You realize can be sold into organs?”

Needless to say how shit-scared I was to go to Kosovo. And I still did.

Hands shaken, feet trembling (I exaggerate here, the real storm was inside of my mind) I sat into the plane and started to fantasize about what I would see in a couple of hours. How do those people look? What does their language sound like? How do they percieve foreigners? I would expect anything but what I actually experinced there made me feel super comfy and confident.

So let me just take you through Pristina. This is not a guide (and I am not Oprah), but rather a set of my observations and ‘unusualities’ I found interesting.

Feels suspiciously like home

That very first impression when you arrive, go through the customs, exit from the airport, ride the taxi through the night city, smell the air… You just feel you’re home. Every local corner echoes with nostalgia sitting somewhere deep inside of you, every move, sight, taste comes back as a flash — you have seen it before. The city is dynamic and somewhat chaotic, the country itself is at interesting point in its history. In terms of architecture there’s nothing refined, polished or over-manicured, it’s just the way it is — and this is probably why it looks so painfully familiar and native to me. Because it’s real.

The city offers intimacy, this cozy feeling ‘Pristina and me’

You will see brand new buildings along with complete ruins in some places, even in the central part of Pristina, but hey, no one is perfect. It’s has some certain charm after all, it definitely has style — the one I call ‘romantic decay’.

View from my window

Pristina leaves you speechless sometimes, sometimes fascinates, surprises and inspires, teaches and adds up to your mood. All you have to do is trust the place, unleash yourself, embrace and enjoy the city vibe. It won’t leave you upset.

Sunny day in Pristina

Young people burn with light and huge potential for change, older generation complains about politics and corruption, and doesn’t not really believe anything will change, but still struggling scramble fixing their life.

Warm hearts

They lived through war 16 years ago and I haven’t meet any ignorant, reserved or aggressive person in 10 days. Since I was there on a journalistic assignement, I talked to looooots of people, asked them a whole variety of questions and listened-listened-listened to their stories. I was truly overwhelmed by their hospitality — their doors we always open for us, complete strangers; willingness to help — whatever we might have need they would would find/do/provide us with and would offer a cup of tea as a bonus 🙂


Once we were in a cafe in the center of Pristina with a colleague, we took a coffee, set up to do some work for a couple of hours, then we ordered something small again and then the waiter appeared out of the blue and proposed us to choose whatever we want absolutely free of charge. We started to laugh and said something like “look, we have already ordered twice”, kinda what-else-do-you-want, but he insisted to offer it. That was a very surprising moment and I started going over it in my head, why would he do that, is it the secret massive weapon called red lipstick, or the fact we were speaking English, so clearly we were foreigners and maybe that was a step to show off? Whatever, when I am in doubt I ask, so next time he approached us, I asked why he was so generous, “Because why not” was his answer.

I didn’t know it at that time, but apparently there is a nice tradition in Kosovo and Albania, when the third piece/item/food/drink goes as a present. Love it!

Delicious foods

I should not even stop for long at this point as no words will ever describe the taste of that amazing traditional food anyway. Moreover, there is a high risk of making your mouth water — which is a useless stimulation if you are not actually in Kosovo right now!

But, well, couple of things:

  • Huge. Soft. Hot. Tandoori breads, which accompany almost every meal, and are brought to you directly from the oven. And believe me, you can not resist (hope my nutritionist doesn’t read to this part)
  • Coffee. You may say coffee is coffee everywhere: Colombian, Ethiopian, Brazilian, yes, but the way Kosovars make coffee is way beyond just good, it’s extraordinary. Macchiato is claimed to be the best outside of Italy, but hmmm…, how shall I even put it? Let’s say sometimes the student outstrips the teacher. The secret of Kosovan macchiato is locally produced milk, it’s just crème de la crème 🙂 Oh, and yet again — cup of coffee is served with a little cupcake. If you know what I mean 🙂
  • Meat and lots of it — in all variations, forms and sorts, super tasty.

I hate to say “it’s cheap”, because everything is relative and for locals the prices are normal or even high sometimes. So out of respect I’d say that it’s very affordable to western europeans. You can get a great meal (plus drink, plus dessert) for less than 5 euro, red price for coffee/tea is 1 euro (somewhere 80 cents).

All in all — it’s a gourmand’s heaven yet to be explored.


Albanian is an official and main language spoken in Kosovo, the other official language is Serbian. Some of the youngsters also speak English and — surprise — every 3rd person speaks German!

Albanian is a complicated language, very distinct from the rest of Indo-European group and it remains independent of its sub-group, the closest “relative” can be the ancient Illyrian language.

In 10 days my Albanian vocabulary has tremendously progressed to 10 words.

10 words was the edge of my learning capacity.

The only advice here — if your ears don’t capture the language, let your heart listen.


This is a bitter part, still makes my heart sink when I recall the experience of being a woman in Kosovo. Men simply don’t take you seriously, neither as a professional, nor as a human being in general. For the first time in my whole life (and extensive travel history) I have experienced something I call “a concept of transparent woman”. You are not there for them, neither you deserve a hand shake, nor being part of a conversation; leave alone other signs of attention. Many times I was left meditating aside while men where talking, joking, having fun or whatsoever. It felt weird the first day, then I got upset, on the third day I started counting the times I was actually addressed by name, then I angrily got used to it and commenced dreaming about getting home and finding myself in my husband’s embrace.

I’ve learnt an important lesson and got a totally new, richer and broader prospective on feminism. To me now, it’s not equality to men in attempt to pull the blanket on women’s side and overtake men’s business, but fairness and respect in all the spheres of life and work. I will expand this notion into separate discussion, when I get a bit more inspiration.


More than 10 years ago I have stumbled upon an article in a local newspaper about differences in perception of “home concept” between Ukrainians and Germans. While for Ukrainian, home space starts when the apartment door closes, the German understands he/she’s home when enters the block of apartments (so all common space, elevator, stair cases included). I remember, I reflected on this a lot and questioned my own boundaries yet then. This is when I decided I would expand ‘my’ territory to the streets of my city and then see how it goes. And it went further — all the way to understanding of public urban spaces, questions and answers about impacts I create as a consumer and a citizen, improvements in my social, professional and emotional spheres, and so on.

That’s why it’s shocking for me to see a man leaving his house with a huge plastic bag filled with garbage and then throwing it into the river right in front of his place. I simply don’t understand it. I don’t see any explanation and when I hear those impotent attempts to justify such a behavior, I just want to cry.

There is a lot of trash on the streets: plastic bags waltzing with the wind along Mother Theresa boulevard, papers flying all over the place, cigarette butts swimming in the fountains, plastic/glass bottles everywhere… It’s sad to see.

When in the supermarket you are given plastic bags and you kindly refuse it, you are looked at as if you were a black sheep. “It’s free”, they say, “I won’t take it even if you pay me to do so”, I answer.


Kosovo National and University Library is a result of outstanding and brave architectural design, as well as controversial creative decision. The architect, Andrija Mutnjakovic, has masterfully linked different geometrical forms: accurate cubes of various sizes, 99 white domes — as a tribute to Bysantine orthodox tradition, windows with vertical metal bars — to protect those sitting in the library from the street distraction; each part of the building is wrapped with metal fishing net, which also has some symbolic significance. This detail about Library’s exterior gives it a weirdo look.

Kosovo National and University Library

Kosovo National and University Library

It’s one of the most astonishing library buildings I have ever seen.

Ibrahim Rugova

Ibrahim Rugova was the first President of the partially recognized Republic of Kosova. His portrait in full growth decorates the main square. At first I thought it was a portrait of a writer or an artist — such a tender, intelligent, kind, weak and strong at the same time, sincere and strong-willed character was depicted. When I looked closer and identified the word “President”, I have rolled my eyes and nearly fainted — have never seen presidents depicted the way Ibrahim Rugova was.

President Ibrahim Rugova

Kosovars from old to young admire him and are still nostalgic and hurt by his sudden death in 2006. Before going into politics, Mr. Rugova taught Albanian language and Russian literature in a middle school, spoke fluent French and Russian. He was a truly outstanding figure, I wish I could meet him, but there was no chance — I was 10 years late. At least, I was lucky to get a friend, who knew Ibrahim Rugova in person and even worked with him on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find his biography in English, otherwise I could tell you more about this prominent figure, but I will definitely research more — I am more than interested in learning more.

Kosovo has something for presidents — there’s a statue of Bill Clinton on Bill Clinton boulevard

Bill Clinton on Bill Clinton’s boulevard in Pristina

and a poster of soon-president-to-be Hashim Thaci somewhere on the hidden streets of Pristina

Hashim Thaçi


To learn more about Kosovo, you might want to read the biographies of Ibrahim Rugova, Nena Theresa, Hasan Pristina, Nazim Gafurri and Anton Cetta for the start; watch ‘Two summers in Kosovo’ and recent Kosovo-Albanian Oscar-nominated movie ‘Shok’ (translates from Albanian as “friend”), check Alban Muja “Blue Wall Red Door” project and subscribe toKosovo 2.0 e-magazine.

Kosovo has a lot to offer, leave your fears at home and head for an adventure.

Going back to where I’ve started — both of my kidneys, liver, stomach are on their regular places — no one has dissected me or sold into organs. However, looks like I have voluntarily left a piece of my heart there.

P.S. Hopefully, my next visit will be devoted to DOCUFEST, summer film festival in Prizran, I am so looking forward to it!

Kosovo Philharmonic opens tomorrow Francophone Week in Kosovo



A concert with the Philharmonic of Kosovo, in Pristina tomorrow at 20:00 will start the Francophonie Week, which will run until March 20.

In connection with this concert that will dirigjohet by French conductor, Nathalie Marin, the Kosovo Philharmonic, today held the rehearsal on the eve of the presentation to the public. After these tests, at a press conference of the Francophonie Week organizers announced details about the organization of the program this week.

Kosovo Philharmonic director Baki Jashari said that this week has been organized with the support of some foreign embassies in Kosovo, with particular emphasis from that of France. He added that the works included in the program coincide with this week.
“Supported by the initiative of several embassies, mainly and primarily by the French Embassy in Kosovo, then by the Embassy of Luxembourg and several other partners. All this is related to the Francophonie week in Kosovo, which begins with the Philharmonic concert, which is tomorrow. Also in this program are matched with deeds incorporated Francophone Week in Kosovo and authors coming from francophone countries, “he said.

The representative of the French Embassy, ​​Florence Nikolic said that Kosovo is an observing member of the International Organization of La Francophonie since 2014, and for the Kosovo, as well as all other countries in this network every year celebrates the Week of the Francophonie, reports kp.

She added that the organization has four main goals, expressing hope that the universities of Kosovo as soon as possible to become a member of the Francophone University Agency.

“France is a major contributor to this organization of Francophonie, which has four key missions, the promotion of the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity, the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights, support of education – vocational training and higher education advocated by university Farnkofonisë Agency, which consists of 800 institutions and hope that Kosovo university soon will be part of this network. At the end of the organization’s contribution to further development. Thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, which has gathered us and has led us all Francophone present in Kosovo, in order to propose to a rich program during the week of Francophonie in Kosovo, “she said.

As conductor of the Philharmonic concert of Kosovo tomorrow, Nathalie Marin, he said the symbolism of this concert is the meeting between the community of artists.

“This concert opens the Francophonie has as symbolic meetings between young artists, between full orchestra and soloists. In an artist from Luxemburg, invited by the Embassy of Luxembourg in Kosovo, mainly because two embassies to support this concert, together with the Kosovo Philharmonic, but also soloists from Kosovo. So, it is important to have this kind of meetings because enable us to share among themselves but also with the public at the same time. We will also have a presentation on Monday, but for children, “she said.

Francophone Week in Kosovo, apart from the French Embassy and the Kosovo Philharmonic is supported by the Municipality of Pristina, the Embassy of Luxembourg, Canada, Czech, Swiss and Belgium in Kosovo.




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