17 February 2008

Kosovo Independence: the view from the blogosphere

I'll readily acknowledge the unleashing of my inner nerd again and say I'm really interested in the Kosovars' declaration of independence from Serbia. We're witnessing history. This is the corner of the world where entangling alliances and ancient hatred led to The Great War.

The American media's coverage has been depressingly lacking. They're only getting to the story in a meaningful way now. It's as if everyone here has forgotten the US-led NATO coalition that brought about Slobodan Milosovic's ouster. European media has covered this as a major story for weeks. I checked out BBC's coverage, and thought it was quite good, but frankly I think no one has provided the perspective that Global Voices Online has. (I follow GVO on Twitter.)

They introduced me to Viktor Markovic of Belgrade 2.0 with some amazing home video, pics on flickr, and commentary. For a time he was tweeting @belgrade. He writes:

There’s too much history per capita in Serbia.

Only during my lifetime, two dictators died (one of them had live coverage on the blog), one prime minister was assasinated, country lost four wars, changed it’s name three times, was bombed once, had about a million protests, demonstrations and revolutions, and today, a part of the country will become – another country.

Still, never a dull moment, right?

So, what exactly is going to happen today around 15:00 and how are events going to unfold the following days? Our prime minister says that European Union, together with the US will “kidnap” a part of Serbia. But the reality is, Kosovo is not going anywhere, Albanians are not really going to take the part of the land and carry it over to a whole different place, as the word “kidnap” suggests. The border will stay where it was, with probably the same crossing fluency. Monasteries will stay where they are, hopefully. The name will change, instead of “Kosovo province” it will become something completely different – are you ready? wait for it… (drumroll) – “Kosovo”.

But the biggest question remains as it has been for the last eight years – non-Albanians’ safety and the right to live and move freely in Kosovo. In the future, this issue will be the responsibility of Albanians only, since our prime minister and our politicians have done very little to show that they care about the people as much as they care about the territory, monasteries and the name.

This is just the latest example of how citizen journalists (egad, I hate that term, but there it is) use social media to share perspectives, expand and enhance their global reach and become part of our living history. It's the kind of thing I like to point to when otherwise respectable members of the political and cultural elite in our country dismiss bloggers as unfit to engage in "proper" global discourse.

You just can't get this anywhere else, and we're all better for it.

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