Since January 2017, a number of events have shaken Kosovo’s fragile political equilibrium. The train decorated with words reading “Kosovo is Serbia” in 21 different languages that left Belgrade directed to Pristina early this year, the Kosovan government’s decision to create a permanent army, and the release of Kosovo’s former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj have all unsettled the coexistence between the different ethnic groups that live in Kosovo.
Despite the war in the country ended 20 years ago, tensions between Serbs and Albanians have been quietly increasing in recent years. On the surface, the situation in Kosovo appears calm today, but while the country’s different groups continue to live in peace, hostilities between them remain deep-rooted.
Embers is a photographic reportage that attempts to describe today’s Kosovo, a buffer state where Nato troops maintain harmony between groups that were in conflict two decades ago. The photographic account illustrates how the isolation of the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo lies not only on ethnic issues but also on ideological and psychological beliefs that affect Kosovo Serbs’ daily life and choices. On the other side, there is the renaissance of Kosovar Albanians, which, thanks to their urban, industrial and touristic growth, boast their often idle progresses and celebrate the identity of a country that is trying to resemble its European counterparts.
Peja/Peć, Kosovo. In a workshop of a blacksmith the fire is turned on for metalworking. Kosovo is a militarized country invaded by a NATO peacekeeping force that holds ethnic rivalries that continue to sneak under an apparent quiet.
Istok, Kosovo. A NATO armor patrols the territory where a Serb minority lives.
Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Nato Multinational Battle Group West base which holds the western part of the country.
Pristina, Cemitery of Uck members. The tomb of the officer Islam Berisha was killed in 2003 in the attack at the municipality of Zvečan.
Pristina, Kosovo. Residential district under construction.
Istok, Kosovo. After the war, many foreign investors financed the country’s economic development.
Rahovec Valley, Kosovo. “Stone Castle” winery.
Serb enclaves in Goraždevac, Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Milić Petrović, 28 year old journalist, during a live radio show. Radio Goraždevac is a Serbian media present in Kosovo. «In the days following the event of the train “Kosovo is Serbia” many Serbs in Kosovo removed the plates from their cars not to have any problems with the Albanian population».
Radio Television Station “Dukajini”, Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Renata Gafuri, presenter and editor of the “CineMania” program before the live show. The investors of the major Kosovar-Albanian media are former members of the UCK party.
Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Krista Kaçinari is a jeweler of 63 years. The goldsmithing in Kosovo is in the hands of the Albanian community that is able to exploit the weak tourist flow of the main cities in the country to sell handicraft products.
Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Sezair Belegu, 37 years old. During the war he was a member of the UCK. In this portrait he shows a photograph when he was a member of the battalion commanded by Gen. Zahir Pajaziti. «We are tired of the politicians of all parties that continue to provoke us to destabilize the country and make their own interests».
Deçan/Dečani, Kosovo. The use of military iconography aimed at the celebration of the political hero is very common in the country. In this photo, shot in the center of the city, a poster of General Ramush Haradinaj is installed on the face of a building.
Deçan/Dečani, Kosovo. Agimor Mezin, 46, is an Albanian firefighter. «[…] We do not have our operating stations. We use the bases and the former offices of the party».
Serb enclaves in Goraždevac, Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Tomo Dakik, 86, is blind. Although Serbs enjoy dual rights and privileges (both from Kosovo and Serbia), healthcare in the enclaves is non-existent. «It’s better not to get sick here, otherwise we have to go to Pristina Hospital».
Serbian enclave of Orahovac, Prizren, Kosovo. Tomic, 48, while carrying sheep to grazing.
Serb enclaves in Goraždevac, Peja/Peć, Kosovo. Arman Vuković, 15 years old, after school shift brings cows to pasture. The teaching system in Serbian enclaves is different from the education of Kosovar Albanians.
Serbian enclave of Orahovac, Prizren, Kosovo. Ružica Stojanovic, 26, with her son Sasa of 2.
The Serbian enclave of Goraždevac in Peja/Peć. Nadja and Neda are 4 years old. The teaching system in Serbian enclaves is different from the education of Kosovar Albanians.
Serbian enclaves of Orahovac, Prizren, Kosovo. Jovan, 3 years old, in the nest of the enclave.
Istok, Kosovo. Zorban Čembić, 48, caresses his cat Radmilo. «I came back to Kosovo in December 2016. It took several years for me to recognize the house from the Kosovar government. Nearby there are two other Serbian families. […] After the day in the fields I rest drinking apricot grappa with Radmilo».
Serbian enclave of Orahovac, Prizren, Kosovo. A military doctor of the KFOR mission provides medical assistance. The geographic and cultural isolation of the Serb minority lies the health care. During the winter, due to prohibitive meteorological conditions, the aid comes once a week.
Pristina, Kosovo. Serbian cemetery.
Civijen montain, near the border with Macedonia. During the war along the country’s borders, mines and cluster bombs were launched to block the underground passage of weapons. In this photo a Moldovan soldier is at work during a reclamation operation.
Monastery of Visoki Dečani, Dečani, Kosovo. Father Sava Janjic, Hegumen of the orthodox monastery of Visoki Dečani and the highest member of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He was a member of the transition government after the end of the war. «[…] Kosovo is more like a black hole than a country».
Monastery of Visoki Dečani, a place much loved by the Serbs. The train cars “Kosovo is Serbia” were covered with the religious iconography present in the monastery.
Small Orthodox churches have spontaneously arisen as one of the characteristics of the Kosovar landscape. This one is located in Prizren.
Patriarchate of Peć, Peja / Peć, Kosovo. Sister Katarina in the monastery.
Along the border between Serbia and Montenegro. A soldier from the NATO KFOR Mission are patrolling along the border.
Pristina, Kosovo. The Newborn Monument is a typographic sculpture unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day that Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.
Bombing along the border between Serbia and Montenegro has heavily damaged the Kosovar ecosystem. The Sitnica River, one of the main tributaries of the Ibar, is polluted by lead and heavy metals.
Along the border between Serbia and Montenegro. This red sign on a stone marks roughly the border between the states. One of the country’s major geopolitical problems is not to have official boundaries.
Istok, Kosovo. During a patrolling of a Serbian house in the Albanian territory.