Flekitza, Serbian ♥ Vegim, Albanian
„Love does not ask what you are“ – Does Kosovo?
by Nadine Kreuzahler, Emilie Sok, Dardan Zhegrova
„We can face everything that will happen to us. Vegim and I, we are very strong“, says Mirjana Radovanovic, also called Flekitza. She is Serbian, he is Albanian. Since they got together in 2004, Vegim Hashimi (30 year old Albanian radio and TV producer) and Flekitza (31 year old Serbian journalist) have been through difficult times. They had to move to Prishtina with no job, no money, without any contact with their families, just with the help of their friends. And start from scratch.
Do you have contact with your family now?
F: I didn´t see my family for two years. I tried to call them, I was crying on the phone, but my mother was really angry. Until now she still doesn´t want to see Vegim. Vegim´s father was also very angry with me. For three years, he didn´t want to speak to Vegim or hear anything about him. But Vegim´s mother tried to speak to us, she came to visit us and brought us some food. She was not so much against our relationship.
V: Now my father has no problem with Flekitza anymore. He lives with us in our flat in Prishtina because he is old and sick.
How can a relation between Albanians and Serbs work out?
F: In Prishtina, we don´t have problems. But for other Serbians it´s really hard because Belgrade forces them being this way. They isolate themselves. They don´t come to Prishtina. They are afraid they will be killed but they don´t even know why. They are sure that Albanians don´t like them. It is a prejudice coming from Serbian media.
V: I used to say: „A smile can break a demon“. I´m sure that with love and good will, things can change. Love doesn´t ask what you are or where you come from. It is not about politics because politics destroy the world. There are a lot of mixed couples here. But a lot of them just go abroad because they can´t handle the pressure. Flekitza and me decided to stand this pressure. Look! We are smiling all the time. Now the pressure has disappeared.
F: In 2007, we organized a music festival in Mitrovica with a friend, in the southern part of the city near the main bridge. We made sure that Serbians could have acces. It was a two-day festival where we mixed Albanians and Serbians. Artists could play together. Vegim and me are in love with music and I am sure that electronic music can connect people. A lot of people came to the party. One DJ from Belgrade came also and was surprised to cross the bridge so easily. This festival was our success. We didn´t face any threats. With music, with culture things can be changed. The year after, we tried to organize the same event but barricades of sand were put everywhere. The police forbid us to hold the festival. This year we tried again but we couldn´t find sponsors. They were afraid, Mitrovica is really thin-skinned. But we will continue! We are planning an event for coming 17th of february for independance day.
V: I took part in this festival too. Somehow I have been there and I have tried to overcome prejudice about Albanian people. I tried explaining them that we are all normal people. There has been a war but now it is over. Going to the Serbian part of Mitrovica, it was like going to a place where everything can happen. I spoke with Serbian people there but I was speaking in Serbian and I hid my identity, I told them that I was a Serb from London. I would never dare to speak with them in Albanian, it´s too dangerous. For them, it is a provocation.
When you look at the future, are you optimistic or pessimistic about Kosovo?
F: We have everything here. I love Kosovo. I was born here, I spent my childhood here. It is a really beautiful country. We don´t have money but we have beautiful places: mountains and lakes. I don´t like politics, nationality and religion. I believe in love and positive energy. I believe in that and I don´t believe in Albanians and Serbs and in their fights.
Where do you see your future?
F: For now, we live here. I don´t know what will happen, but what I do know it is that I need more space to be creative. Here, everybody wears the same uniform. In Kosovo you are restricted.
V: I will stay here because I am convinced you can build yourself a future everywhere so, why don´t you build your future here?
Facts on Serbian-Albanian relation
- Population: Since ages, Albanians and Serbs coexist in Kosovo. They have different language, religion and culture.Albanians are mostly muslims since the Ottoman Empire. Serbs are in large part from christian orthodox tradition.
- Languages : Albanian and Serbian are the two official ones in Kosovo.
- Ethnicities: Albanian population represents 88%, Serbian population 7%.
- Religions: There is approximatively 90% Muslim, 7% Orthodox in Kosovo.
- Mixed marriages: According to the Guardian and Refugees International, marriages between Serbs and Albanians are rare or virtually nonexistent in Kosovo.
- Mixed couples: They are victims of threats and exclusions, often from their own community. They often have problems to recognize their status or that of their children and face more difficulties to work in Kosovo.
- Mixity: Despite the presence of UN forces and the Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Kosovo’s two million Albanians located in the region and several hundred thousand Serbs continue to live a kind of „apartheid“.