Ten years after NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign of Serbia, the country still has not given up on Kosovo. The capital Belgrade still bears the scars, along with the memories. Many residents feel it was deeply unfair, and this sense of injustice is clearly expressed.
One resident said: “I can’t understand how one country can bomb another because of its president. Those people have sick minds. That is unbelieveable.” Another said: “We should mark today, the tenth anniversary, so people can remember. However, we should look to the future for the sake of our children and our lives.” Many Serbs only want to turn the page and think of the future. Slobodan Milosevic is dead, and a new political generation has replaced the old guard, but the old battles, even if hopeless causes, live on. Despite Kosovan independence being recognised by 56 states, Serbia is still firercely opposed. Yesterday President Boris Tadic made that clear at the UN. He said: “Serbia will never recognise the independence of Kosovo, either directly or indirectly, and we will continue in the diplomatic, legal and peaceful defence of our integrity.” In diverse international diplomatic forums Kosovo is spoken of as the final piece in the Balkan jigsaw that, once sorted out, will end the bloody chapter of divisions and conflict. But a glance at Kosovo’s ethnic makeup and its neighbour’s territorial ambitions suggest problems might persist. Last year the streets of Belgrade were packed in a show of support for the former prime minister, and his rallying cry – a cry that has not died down in a decade. Former Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said: “Serbia! What is Kosovo? Where is Kosovo? Whose is Kosovo? Is there anyone among us who is not from Kosovo?” Serbia’s economy, bled dry since the 1990s, is today caught in the global financial crisis. EU membership is a distant dream, a dream that cannot shake the Serbs from their claims and convictions.