A year after unilaterally declaring its independence from Belgrade, tension remains high in Kosovo and experts are warning that the risk of an outbreak of serious violence still exists.
The former Serbian province now has its own flag, national anthem and constitution. But the 120 thousand-strong Serb minority have vowed never to submit to the authority of Pristina. Kosovo’s situation is precarious. Recognised by more than 50 countries it is shunned by others, including Serbia, Russia and China. The divided northern town of Mitrovica has seen some of the worst clashes in recent times, between Serbs and ethnic Albanians living in close proximity either side of the Ibar River. The two communities have lived separate lives throughout the country since 1999, when NATO bombed Serbia to force its troops out of the province. Pristina has expressed hope for better relations with Belgrade. But that does not seem likely in the near future. The UN has approved Serbia’s request to ask the International Court of Justice whether Kosovo’s secession is legal.