Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kosovo's Valley of Death

Map of Kosovo

Greetings from Pristina, Kosovo. Yesterday I visited nearby Gazimestan, which is Serbo-Croatian for "Place of Heros" (  In 1953 a monument was built at Gazimestan to commemorate the 1389 "Battle of Blackbird Field" also known as "the Battle of Kosovo" ( which was primarily waged between the Serbs and the Ottoman Turks.  In 1989 this monument served as the venue for a speech by Serbian President Slobodan Milošević to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the battle.  The speech preceded a violent surge in ethnic tension prior to the break up of Yugoslavia.

Gazimestan Monument
 The following inscription on the Monument is know as the Kosovo Curse and is attributed to Serbian Orthodox Saint and Martyr, Prince Lazar:

"Whoever is a Serb and of Serb birth
and of Serb blood and heritage
and comes not to the Battle of Kosovo,
may he never have the progeny his heart desires
neither son nor daughter.
May nothing grow that his hand sows,
neither dark wine nor white wheat.
And let him be cursed from all ages to all ages!"

Here is a bizarre video version of the curse followed by an analysis of the curse's meaning!

In a sense, the Kosovo Curse is real. The Kosovars, primarily ethnic Albanian Muslims, have had the historical misfortune of living among the repressive and oft-waring factions of Muslim Turkey, Orthodox Christian Serbia, the Catholic Hapsburg Empire and Stalinist Albania.  While Tito kept his thumb on the powder keg known as Yugoslavia for many years, the keg burst with his death and there has been almost continuous friction since. The most recent Kosovo War began in 1998 when Kosovars, who are 90 percent Muslim, declared themselves independent from the Serbian Government  in Belgrade and founded the Republic of Kosovo.

This 1998 Vanity Fair article describes the brutality of the Serbian response:

Due to NATO intervention, the Republic of Kosovo continues and is now recognized as an independent country by the US, NATO countries and a hand full of others.  Serbia, Russia and China do not recognize an independent Kosovo. The US has a provisional embassy in Pristina and will begin the construction of a new Embassy in 2014. The following links provide information on the NATO role in this war, on the new Republic of Kosovo and on the extent of its diplomatic recognition. 

Here is some information on Pristina, Kosovo's capital city.

And to end this, here is a photo I took of  the Bill Clinton statue on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina, which recognizes his role in Kosovo Independence.  He gave a speech at its unveiling in 2009.

Bill Clinton Statue in Pristina, Kosovo

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