I am one of those Albanians who grew up abroad, but is still strongly connected to their origins. It is a life in a dilemma.The dilemma of being Albanian abroad, not knowing how to handle these origins – and how not to. Surrounded by a lot of smart, well-read students in Vienna, we often talk about Kosovo and why I am pro-independence.

by Ezra Araqaj

Thirteen years ago, the war in Kosovo ended. People died, on both sides. Women and girls were abused and raped. Children lost their parents. Families lost their homes. Insecurity, anger, fear – all that came together. Again, on both sides.

It is not easy to talk about it. A lot happened in the last century in the Balkans – and much will happen this century, too. The declaration of independence was a huge step for Kosovo – in 2008 the Serbian province became a republic. I was proud – on the day of independence, and I am proud today, too.

Some say the declaration was a nationalist act. Some say it was based on ethnic nationalism, and that the creation of such little countries will increase hate. Some even compare it to other historic happenings, like the creation of Palestine. But comparing histories in that way is not professional or fair. Although it is interesting to listen to such arguments, this is where the dilemma starts: I believe in the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo – but I am realistic enough to know that this little country is not even five years old! It is not fair to expect a sovereign country, stable in economics, politics, education, to materialize in five years…

There is such a long way to go until something basic is built – but there are already people building. Politicians, students, the working class, academics, etc. – people who believe in this little country. There are so many talented people from Kosovo – and with “people” I don’t only mean Albanians. Kosovo can, and will be a representation of a good patchwork based on diversity. Diversity is something important in today’s society – it shall be part of our daily life. Everybody is unique, and everybody deserves to be treated equally.

Sticking to a position without compromise will lead to problems. It would be much more productive to sit down and think about what Kosovo shall represent, how shall the life of EVERYONE living in this little country look like. Instead of being proud of diversity, of the multilingual and multicultural place we live in, we fight about “who’s the victim, who is better, who rules.” And in my eyes, this is nationalism.

To come to a conclusion: This topic is way too complex to be handled in a blog. It is even too complex to be handled in scientific work in a neutral way. But I think that is the essence of the dilemma. Furthermore, I even enjoy the dilemma somehow: I’ll enjoy my visits in Kosovo, and continue learning the language. Because I think one beautiful characteristic, and the future of the youngest country in the Balkans, lies in its diversity, which sometimes is based on a dilemma. Diversity shall unite, not separate.

The article was originally written in English.
Illustration credit: Daan Botlek


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