Photo Illustration: Granit Mavriqi.

Bahtiri’s ‘hips do lie’

Two months after promising to bring world-renowned singer Shakira to his city and name a bridge after her, South Mitrovica Mayor Agim Bahtiri takes back his words.

On October 17, 2018, Mayor of South Mitrovica Agim Bahtiri gave an interview for Kosovo’s national broadcaster, RTK, where he said that he would invite famous Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira to perform in the city for the opening of the bridge that links it to North Mitrovica across the Ibar river.

“I think that it is beneficial for the bridge over Ibar to open in a solemn manner, and nobody else would make it better than a world-famous singer that leaves politics aside and unites the youth at her concert. The bridge would also bear her name with pride. We have decided that she will be Shakira, we have negotiated with her and we are awaiting positive results,” Bahtiri told RTK.

The bridge has been a symbol of the city’s division ever since the war in Kosovo ceased in 1999, with the north having a Serb majority and the south an Albanian majority. It has remained closed-off for many years, and an EU-supported project to reopen it has not been finalized yet.

In another interview last Friday, Bahtiri went back on his words about Shakira, saying that “there will be a concert, but not at the level which I thought.”

“We [still] do not exclude her coming, but for the moment it is not planned for Shakira to come, you need to know that she needs full security and we cannot offer that at the moment, and such a singer needs full security,” he told KTV.

He said that this was not only his idea, but also an idea of “non-Kosovar departments.”

“We communicated with her, we spoke, but I don’t want to go into the details. I was not alone in this initiative and it belongs to that [an earlier] time, but if it were to happen there would be a very powerful result, because it would be an honor for the [Ibar] bridge to be named after Shakira, and it would be an honor for her too.”

There is still no set date for the opening of the bridge. Instead, Bahtiri said that he got another idea immediately after the resignation of North Mitrovica Mayor Goran Rakic: the unification of the southern and northern parts of the city.

He requested to change the Law on Administrative Municipal Boundaries in order to “reunify Mitrovica,” receiving the support of the municipal assembly but not of the Ministry of Local Government Administration. The Kosovo government called the initiative “of good intent,” but refused to back it.

He announced on Friday that he would start gathering signatures for a petition with the goal of integrating both municipalities.

“Along with the citizens, we have decided to gather signatures in order to nullify the decision that divided Mitrovica, and have a unified Mitrovica that belongs to its citizens without discrimination based on ethnicity,” he said.

24/12/2018 - 15:34

24 December 2018 - 15:34

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.