2018’s top read stories

In the last 12 months, Prishtina Insight has covered stories of life in Kosovo and beyond, spanning its art, music, sport, politics and more. Below is a list of our top ten most-read features and opinions from 2018.

From three opinions on the Kosovo ‘border correction’ craze that engulfed the national political discourse this year, to four features celebrating the country’s vibrant cultural scene, our top ten dive into the highs and lows of a tumultuous 10th year of Kosovo’s independence.

10. The sounds of tallava

Tallava, a genre that is both ubiquitous and looked down upon in Kosovo, entered the Balkan music scene in the 1980s and has since evolved into the ultimate pop.

Ardit Kika’s article explores the significance of tallava in Kosovar society, which goes far beyond the music.

The word tallava has taken on a colloquial, pejorative meaning in Albanian language that goes beyond describing a music style. For example, ‘tallava talk’ might be used to mean incoherent conversation, and a ‘tallava government’ is often used to describe messy politics; the phrase ‘big tallava’ is simply used to signify a ‘big mess.”

9. Telling Kosovo’s tales of the broken hearted

Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

In April this year, a team of young people from Kosovo campaigned to bring the Croatian-born traveling art exhibition, ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships,’ to Prishtina.

The museum, which tells stories of past loved ones and relationships by collecting objects and memories from people in Kosovo and around the world, strove to encourage open-minded artistic expression and storytelling, as well as a therapeutic way of moving on from painful relationships, or memorializing fond ones.

8. Albania and Greece seek to solve long standing dispute

Kalami, Corfu looking towards Albania. | (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Ostaleri.

Greece and Albania are “de jure” in a state of war. The piece depicts the long standing border dispute between the two neighbors that continually struggle with troubles concerning maritime borders in the Ionian sea.

The south of Albania often has seen tensions heighten between the neighbors, while the expulsion of the Albanian Chams is another issue that brings up controversies of the past.

Fatjona Mejdini’s piece brings to the readers a history of political grudges between the two NATO members combined with a human perspective of those that had been personally affected by the unresolved issues of the past of the two neighbouring countries.

7. Should I register my temporary residence in Kosovo?

Gif: Jeta Dobranja/Trembelat for PI.

Faith Bailey’s article concentrates in the lack of investments in the department of citizenship, asylum and migration in Kosovo that creates bureaucratic obstacles and discrimination for citizens.

Beyond Kosovo citizens, the piece explores the asymmetrical treatment of different nationals when obtaining documents in Kosovo. “Your experience may be shaped by your nationality or ethnicity. For example, a Turkish student in Prizren that I spoke to, who had travelled to Prishtina to pick up her permit, left in tears after standing in line for hours, feeling berated and disrespected by the staff when telling them she had forgotten her passport; American friends with me on that same day were not even asked.”

6. Border changes reveal Kosovo’s true worth

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Kosovar President Hashm Thaci and
the European Commissioner for enlargement Johannes Hahn meeting at the European Forum Alpbach. | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Serbian President via Beta.

The 6th most read article is another one pertaining to border changes. This time, it’s between two other Balkan neighbors – Kosovo and Serbia. Aidan Hehir reacts to the idea of land swaps or “border correction” that was initially coined by Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci.

Hehir writes on the growing support to the idea of land swaps by the international community and the perils behind it. In the piece Hehir gives a short historical background of the Western influence on domestic political life in Kosovo, and the push for agendas that found little support from the local community but benefitted western interests.

The proposed border changes – or whatever particular euphemism  is employed – exposes Kosovo’s status as a pawn whose very contours can be carved up to serve external interests.”

5. ‘Shaci’ as another product of Albanian orientalism

Illustration: Trembelat

Adem Ferizaj’s article treats issues pertaining to Albanian identity among those  living in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Additionally, through the lens of Albanian orientalism, Ferizaj analyzes the discourse surrounding the word ‘shaci’ as an import of the stereotypical representation of Albanians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to Kosovo, and a method of self-humiliation.

Ferizaj blames the Albanian political elites for having pushed a discriminatory poltiicy towards members of the diaspora.

“By keeping alive a Western orientalist discourse directed against Albanian migrants and Albanians in general, the Albanian elites are humiliating their people and themselves. The import of this discourse, which has no emancipatory value for society, has one result: the complicity of Kosovar elites in sustaining the current misery of their people by pushing forward the old principle of rule and divide, stabilizing this rule by driving a wedge between diaspora Albanians and homeland Albanians.”

4. Now it’s time for Serbia to recognize Kosovo as a reality

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic during a trip to Kosovo in January after Oliver Ivanovic was shot in Mitrovica. | Photo: BETA, AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic.

Florian Bieber’s opinion explores the final solution that would end the long chapter in the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Bieber vocalises dissent against the ideas for border changes or solutions that would make partition territory across ethnic lines. Bieber calls Serbia to recognize and “embrace” Kosovo as a new reality.

“Now it is time for Serbia to embrace the reality of Kosovo. At the end of the day, the lives of Serbs in Kosovo will improve most if Kosovo and Serbia co-exist as two friendly states, unforced to choose loyalty or hedge their bets.”

3. The panic Serbia and Kosovo leave in the wake

Marko Djuric gives a thumbs up locked in Kosovo Police van. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Nevena Radosavljevic’s article concentrates on the harm that both Albanian and Serbian citizens experience due to irresponsible politics of both countries.

The arrest of Marko Djuric and the show created by Kosovo Police bringing him to Prishtina only heightened the tension and panic between the Albanian and Serbian communities. Radosavljevic, a contributor from the north of Mitrovica, outlines the hypocrisy and carelessness of politicians that citizens have dealt with.

“At the end of the day, Marko Djuric went back to Belgrade with a rehabilitated image; the Kosovo police special units withdrew from the north, and Vucic and Thaci are asking everyone to calm down the situation. Where are the regular people in all of this?” asked Radosavljevic.

2. Kosovo gets into rugby with its first all female-team

Qikat’s Aubrey Lea during practice. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Founded in November 2017, Kosovo’s first women’s rugby club has blossomed over the past year into a fully fledged team, undertaking its first international tournament this summer.

In an interview with the team, members of the newly-renamed Balkan Lynx Rugby Club explained why rugby has become such an important sport for them.

“Here, rugby really stops being a men’s sport. It becomes ours, kind of like playing soccer in the United States,” said founder of the Balkan Lynx Rugby Club, Jones. “Women like the idea of a sport with values, you have to support each other, show respect, treat everyone equally no matter who they are.”

  1. Flying blind: negligence, nepotism and graft at Kosovo Airport

Ejupi and Shileku have spent the last two years trying to raise the alarm about contractual and security breaches at the Prishtina airport. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Our most read article for 2018 features details of an investigation at Kosovo’s international airport “Adem Jashari,” and the unsafe logistic conditions to fly. Jeta Xharra’s investigation exposes the direct risks to the lives of passengers due to irregularities and corruption that characterizes the management of the airport of Prishtina ‘Adem Jashari’.

Xharra’s investigation includes a timeline of the safety and security issues, contractual breaches and airport malfunctions since the airport went through the concession process in 2010 and its name changed to “Prishtina International Airport Adem Jashari.”

I started getting complaints from air traffic controllers that the tower was cold in the evenings and at nights when they had to operate flights,” said Ejupi. “This prompted me to check what was wrong with our heating system, only to find out it was never built by the Turkish company.”

The investigation brings voices of whistleblowers who openly spoke about irregularities and nepotism in the employment scheme of the airport, hiring close family members of politicians and family members of managers.

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