12 months of 2022 not to be forgotten in the chronicle of the world. A cauldron filled with episode after episode.
In a year full of events, from protests to celebrations, Kosovo is presented in pictures over twelve months.
2022 brought a little bit of everything, from pressure of the energy crisis, solidarity and empathy with the war in Ukraine, the rise of the revolt for human rights, constant calls for justice, sorrow for abandonment of the homeland, political tension between Kosovo and Serbia, the concern at the destruction of the environment, fear of identity crisis, exaltation from victories in culture and sports to spiritual fulfillment with contemporary art and more…
Kosovo faced an energy crisis and as a result, frequent power outages. In the first month of the year, parallel to this new situation for the citizens of Kosovo was the increase in the price of electricity. For this reason, hundreds of citizens at the beginning of January 2022 protested in front of the Government. “No more cents”, “We want electricity, no excuses” and “Block the tariff” were some of the calls made by protesters.
Photo: Arian Mavriqi
Kosovo is facing an exodus of young people to foreign countries with work visas. In the first two months of the year, over 105,000 citizens of Kosovo applied for a work visa at the German embassy in Kosovo. In the period 2018-2020, 71,799 residents emigrated from Kosovo. The projection of the Statistics Agency of Kosovo for the years 2011-2061 shows that 2034 is expected to be the year when Kosovo will begin to face depopulation as a demographic problem, which will continue to deepen from decade to decade.
Immediately after the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Kosovo made clear its support of Ukraine. In February, the building of the Government of Kosovo was covered by blue and yellow colors, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. In addition, a resolution was later approved that provided for the shelter of 20 Ukrainian journalists and about 5,000 refugees if necessary, and imposed sanctions on Russia.
In February, controversy arose over the renovation of Xhafer Deva’s House in Mitrovica. For several weeks, there was opposition to the Ministry of Culture renovating this facility because Deva is known to have been a collaborator with the Nazis. Deva was the interior minister of Axis-occupied Albania as part of a Nazi collaborationist government in 1944, and recruited Kosovo Albanians into the Waffen-SS, the Nazi armed force.
On the 14th anniversary of Kosovo’s Independence, the “NEWBORN” monument was dedicated to the women of Kosovo. For a year with this image, the obelisk’s theme is “Winged Women”, dedicated to all successful women and to those who are still abused. While all the letters are painted with women’s silhouettes, the letter “W” is black with white stripes. The monument is a symbol of the birth of the new state of Kosovo, on February 17, 2008.
Women’s Day, March 8, in Kosovo was marked with a massive march personified in red. The revolt against the murder of women was manifested with a mass march of citizens and activists. They protested and threw blood-red paint as a symbol of women’s blood in front of Kosovo institutions. At the end, red shoes of different ages of girls and women were placed in front of the Government building.
In the villages of Selac and Bajgora in Mitrovica the new “Selac Windpark” was inaugurated on March 11 – the first big strategic investment in Kosovo in renewable energy. The wind energy park was given Strategic Investor status in February 2018. The investment is a joint project, funded by German, Israeli and Kosovar investors.
Dozens of Kosovo human rights activists protested in the capital Prishtina on March 17, after parliamentarians failed to adopt a draft civil code. With 28 votes for, 28 against and four abstentions, parliament failed to approve the draft civil code. The draft civil code maintained the traditional definition of marriage as “a legally registered union of two spouses of different sexes,” but proposed to allow separate legislation on same-sex civil unions.
On March 25, Kosovo Serbs protested in North Mitrovica and in Graçanica near Prishtina, against the decision of the Government not to allow the holding of Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections in Kosovo on April 3.
‘Bad News Eagles’ in April became the first Kosovar team to qualify for the most prestigious competition of the video game which takes place in Belgium. In November, the Albanian team beat the number one team in the world – FaZe Clan, in the Major tournament in Brazil. This team raised the public profile of a kind of game which Albanians excel in in the world.
The personal experiences and belongings of Kosovar children from the 1998-1999 war, which are part of the collection of the War Childhood Museum, were presented to the public in Kosovo for the first time in April. This exhibition was in the Kosovo National Gallery. The first permanent exhibition of the Museum of War Childhood opened in Sarajevo in 2017 and was initially dedicated to the experiences of children from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kosovo took part for the fifth time in the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – with a major solo exhibition of Jakup Ferri, opening on 23 April 2022 and running to 27 November 2022. Ferri presented paintings, embroideries and carpets at the Biennale in an exhibition entitled The Monumentality of the Everyday. Ferri’s drawings mostly depict everyday scenes involving animals, children, acrobats, musicians, and sports activities.
In Ferizaj, MuralFest Kosova painted on a large wall a photo of the photographer Arian Mavriqi, in which a small child is seen holding a lamb in his hands. Ferizaj, known as the city of murals, throughout the year has enriched the city with various murals on large walls and small corners done by the artists of MuralFest Kosova.
Even though Ukraine does not recognise Kosovo’s Independence from Serbia, Kosovo hosts some Ukrainian journalists who were granted 1,000 euros to assist their relocation, as well as a 500 euros monthly stipend and 300 euros for rent. Ukrainian journalists Serhii Shevchenko and Liudmyla Mekh arrived in Kosovo in May as part of the “Journalists in Kosovo Residence” program. The first Ukrainian journalist, Lyudmila Makey, arrived in Kosovo on April 17.
For the first time in Kosovo this year, a contemporary international festival was held that brought tourists from all over the world for 100 days. Through the Biennial Manifesta, 25 spaces of Prishtina, preserved in the collective memory but neglected, were returned to tourist spots or to museums that contain contemporary art installations. Alcoves and other neglected spaces were vitalized as installations that connect history with art and activism. 706 articles in the world media and about 100 journalists visited the capital.
Hundreds of ex-fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, gathered outside parliament on June 16, as inside the legislature, opposition MPs blocked a vote on the bill that includes a proposed increase in the minimum wage, but not for veterans. On June 6, police used pepper spray against veterans who tried to get inside the parliament during a previous protest over the minimum wage issue.
For eight months, Prishtina Airport broke the record for the number of passengers, reaching 2 million for the first time.
Just a few days after NASA revealed the first five full-colour images and spectrographic data from the James Webb Space Telescope, the astronomical observatory for celestial observations in the Kosovo capital was reopened in the Palace of Youth and Sports in July. This observatory was first set up in 1977 but functioned only for 10 years until 1987. During that time, it served as an important scientific and educational centre and as a hub for cooperation between East and West during the Cold War.
At the “Adem Jashari” barracks in Prishtina on July 1, 17 cadets of the 2022 generation of the Defense Academy-Center for University Studies of the Kosovo Security Force “Wesley Clark” graduated. This event was accompanied with emotion by the family members who took part in the graduation ceremony of their children, nephews and nieces.
On July 21, the Assembly of Kosovo approved the Law on population, household and housing registration. The census will start on September 1, 2023. The last population census in Kosovo was done in 2011.
Rivers and lakes dried up in different parts of Kosovo as a result of the drop in the water level. The drought included Lake Batllava, Përlepnicë and Badofc. During 2022, especially in August, Lake Fierze, located on the border between Kosovo and Albania, a space that was once covered with water, was captured by drought. The lake was turned from blue to green and was used for cattle grazing.
Ramë Lahaj International Opera Festival, a classical music festival in August, brings internationally renowned opera singers to the capital for 10 days. The festival brought to Kosovo several internationally recognised artists and musicians, including South Africa’s Pretty Yende, Italy’s Franco Vassallo, France’s Erza Muqolli and Jean-Bernard Thomas, and Ukraine’s Anna Bondarenko, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Kosovo Philarmony and later by the Okarina Children’s Choir.
Destruction of nature, air pollution and the risk of extinction of biodiversity remains one of the big problems worrying the world, including Kosovo. The biggest local air polluters are considered the Energy Corporation of Kosovo, road transport, wood and coal burning, industry, agriculture and waste. The living world in Kosovo is endangered by deforestation, loss and degradation of habitats, fires and fighting them, illegal hunting and fishing, and the use of various chemicals in agriculture.
25,000 people queued to enter Gërmia Park to watch internationally famous Albanian star Dua Lipa and other singers perform on the Sunny Hill Festival stage on 4-7 August. Other stars of world music in the line-up included J Balvin, Mahmood, Diplo and Skepta. On the first night, the number of fans was so massive that even though the gate was supposed to close at 10pm, the long queues of people waiting to get in delayed it.
A project for a joint primer for 1st grade pupils in both Kosovo and Albania, which dates back to 2012, finally reached fruition in September. The initiative to create a joint primer for Kosovo and Albania was started by then prime ministers Sali Berisha and Hashim Thaçi. Under the agreed initiative, the unified book is to be used in all schools where Albanian is taught.
However, in September Kosovo pupils found their classrooms empty of teachers on the first day of new school year, after the teachers’ union acted on warnings to strike to force the government to increase their salaries. Lessons in Kosovo’s schools restarted after a month of strikes.
For the third time in a week, protests were held about the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Prishtina, listing demands for the better protection of girls and women. Dozens of people rallied in Prishtina’s main square to express anger about the rape of the girl in a city park. Protesters demanded the resignation of the judges and prosecutors involved in this case; legalization of the use of pepper spray; the dismissal of the police officers handling the case and the creation of a specialized unit for sexual violence within the police.
Prishtina has continued creating a new identity. The capital has taken off in terms of tall buildings that are giving it a new look. In addition, the Underground Parking lot was built in the central part of Prishtina near the Cathedral of Mother Teresa; the Great Mosque is in is construction phase; solitaires have been renovated; the number of buildings over 25 floors has increased significantly; three times a year one-way testing for vehicles has been done in the central ring road blocking some of the most frequented roads in Prishtina.
Since October 3, the Sahat Kulla building in Prishtina has been illuminated, after undergoing several months of restoration. Now, the lights in this facility will be colourful. Sahat Kulla, which is one of the cultural heritage monuments of the capital of Kosovo.,was built in the 19th century and the last interventions were made with the help of the European Union and UNDP.
In November, Kosovo Serbs resigned from their positions as MPs, mayors, judicial officials and police officers in a coordinated protest against alleged breaches of agreements made between Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels. Those resignations came after the Kosovo government decided to postpone implementation of a decision to make drivers with vehicle licence plates issued by Serbia change them for Kosovo-issued plates from November 1.
The high-rises in the Ulpiana neighborhood, which are considered architectural heritage of the capital, are dressed in the cloak of modernism. In November, the renovation of these buildings was completed, which are preserved in the collective memory as special objects. The buildings, located about 1.5 km from the centre of Prishtina, belong to the era of Yugoslavia. Although the facades have been changed, they have not lost their identity.
On the evening of November 30, a pregnant woman was killed by her husband in the courtyard of the University Clinical Center of Kosovo. After many other cases of murders of women, a call was raised once again for protests in front of institutions for the establishment of justice in the country. A few days after the murder of Hamide Magashi, on the day of the victim’s burial, the killer, Sokol Halili, committed suicide at his home in Shtime. On December 1, a protest was held in Prishtina against the killing of women, where a fire was lit by the protesters on the walls of the Government building.
During the Swiss-Serbia match in the World Cup, QATAR 2022, Kosovo-origin Swiss captain Granit Xhaka was the centre of attention twice over on-field incidents with Serbian players and staff. It is not the first time Xhaka made headlines for gestures during Swiss matches against Serbia.
Since December 10, Serbs have erected barricades and blocked roads leading to the border points with Serbia at Jarinje and Bërnjak. The barricades were erected after the Police arrested former policeman Dejan Pantic on suspicion of being involved in an attack against the Central Election Commission in North.
On December 14, the signing ceremony of Kosovo’s application for membership in the European Union was held. The signature of the application was made by the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, Speaker of Parliament Glauk Konjufca and the Prime Minister, Albin Kurti.