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Kosovo : a young country looking for recognition

Bruno Fert

Having declared independence on 17th February 2008, and been recognised by the United States amongst others, Kosovo is now struggling to be considered a valid country by everyone. The euphoric period that followed independence is well and truly over : the economy hasn’t taken off, unemployment is among the highest in Europe and the young republic remains under international rule. For the moment only 64 countries have officially recognised Kosovo. The UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) is still present in the largely Serbian territories, while EULEX (The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) has taken over running the rest of the country. The latest blow is that Belgrade has seized the International Court of Justice over the validity of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. The 15 judges will give their verdict once they have heard representatives from 29 countries, five of whom are members of the UN Security Council. Russia says that if the international community recognises Kosovo, then North Ossetia will be next. This diplomatic stagnation has pushed the authorities in Pristina to take charge : the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi was commissioned to promote the image of the country abroad. The ad campaign, which cost around 6 million euros, is made up of short films shown on international channels such as CNN, and a poster campaign showing charming young Kosovars and stating : « Kosovo, the young Europeans ». Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe with the average age being just under 24 years old. But while the ad campaign is being shown around the world the European Commission has decided to lift the regime of visas imposed on Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro, but not Kosovo.


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268885

NEWBORN monument celebrates the independance in the center of Pristina. This sculpture reigns in the center of Pristina since February 17th 2008 . It has become a meeting point, a playground for children.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268883

The Bill Clinton statue seen from Clinton Avenue in Pristina. The American former president is seen as a great supporter of the country's independence.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268881

International administration or neocolonialism? Albin Kurti, 33 years old. Charismatic and tireless activist, Albin steers henceforth the movement "Vetevendosje" (self-determination) which denounces the seizure of the international administration on all the executive powers of the country.

Pristina, Kosovo - 19/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268880

The sentence “EULEX MADE IN SERBIA” has been painted on the wall of the UN building.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268879

International administration : Gëzim, 35 years old, police officer, is delighted by his cooperation with his Turkish, Indian and Chinese colleagues. Half-heartedly, he admits he is sometimes embarrassed by the Indians: "certain acts that we consider as criminal are not so for them". In 2001 more than 3000 policemen coming from 50 countries participated in the training of the the " Kosovo Police Force ". For 8 years 8 700 policemen were recruited and trained.

Pristina, Kosovo - 21/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268864

The dervishes. Abidin Shehu, 26 years is a dervish, as was his father. The mystic brotherhood of dervishes' orders is at the origin of the Islamization of the region, even before the arrival of the Ottomans in the XIVth century. This corresponds to a popular Islam, rich in numerous syncretic faiths like the worship of holy figures. In the South of the country, the dervishes have a certain political influence and an important social role. They could constitute a barrier to radical Islam.

Prizren, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0271205

Meeting room of the International Civilian Office. This administration coordinates the multiple international missions in the country.

Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268882

Trimi, 33, was a fighter of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army). He is now designer and won the contest for the new flag of Kosovo. The international administration had forbidden the red and black, Slavic colors, and the eagle as an ethnic symbol... " I had no choices left apart from the European colors! But it will remain the most beautiful work of my life ".

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268884

KFOR billboard in Pristina.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268878

View of the Pristina "Youth Palace" built during the Yugoslavian regime.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268872

Bridge construction in Pristina. Since 1999 the country has received a billion euros in international aide (of which 400 million comes from the EU).

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0271203

From hip-hop to politics. Memli, 28 years old, was the singer of the hip-hop band "Ritmi Rruges " (the rhythm of the street), Memli made the crowds vibrate with his political texts. But to change society, the young man chose a political career. No more songs but speeches: Memli is a Government Spokesman.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268868

43 % of the population is jobless. Shefzet, 36, began selling cigarettes in the street to the age of 17. In spite of his diploma of civil engineering, Shefzet has never found any work. In Kosovo, the unemployment rate is 43 % of the working population and 60 % of young people. Shefzet makes approximately 250 euros a month, which is roughly 100 euros more than the average wage.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268876

Daorsa and Tirané pose in front of a billboard of the campaign “Kosovo, the young Europeans”.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268874

“Kosovo, the young Europeans” campaign seen in Pristina.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0271206

Jeta Xharra, 31. In Albanian, her first name means " the life ". The talk show, which she produces and hosts, is called " Jeta e Kosova ", (Life in Kosovo). It is the terror of the politicians because Jeta reveals their lies in front of 350,000 viewers. During the 1999 war, Jeta worked as a translator for the BBC on the front line. " It was necessary to show the international community what was going on in Kosovo " Mission accomplished; NATO would not delay bombarding the Yugoslav army. Today Jeta takes up the fight again to open the eyes and ears of her fellow citizens on the carelessness of their leaders.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0271204

This Unfinished Orthodox church was built by Slobodan Milošević to assert the Serbian presence in Pristina.

Pristina, Kosovo - 21/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268866

Serbs. Zarko, 23, is among the 140,000 Serbs who still live in Kosovo. He lives with his parents in a small enclave, thirty kilometres from Prishtina. Zarko is resigned to becoming a citizen of Kosovo and even intends to work in the administration of his new country. But only one thing matters for him: keeping his Serbian identity and especially the Serbian number-plates of his car!.

Donje Stanovce, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268870

Getting inspired. With 34 % of the population living below the poverty line, Flutura and Gresa recognize that the Kosovars have bigger problems than keeping up with the latest fashion trends. Freshly graduated from a design school, Flutura and Gresa work on their first collection. " We are starting from zero and it is rather exciting. As we have no foreign fashion magazines, we draw our inspiration from everyday details of life and our feelings ".

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268865

Minority. Arianit, 8 years old, is an ethnic Rom. This community represents 1,7 % of the population. Seen as "collaborators" by the Albanians, numerous Roms had to leave the country after the end of the war. In spite of the new constitution, in which one of the fundamental principles is the respect of minorities, Roms of Kosovo still face numerous difficulties. According to a report by the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), only 10 % of Rom children over 12 finished primary school.

Obiliq, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268871

A young country. A group of students walking in front Pristina University library. The average age of the population is 24 years old and 50% of them are unemployed.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268857

A country to be built. Dardan and Arieta, 35, lived peacefully with their two children in London until the war started in Kosovo. Dardan left England to fight with the KLA. After the war he decided to stay in Kosovo to set up one of the most listened to radio stations, then joined a political party, and to make documentaries. Dardan is happy to belong to his generation, the one of independence. "Here, we are all newborn, we have to learn everything and everything is left to be built! "

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268858

View over Pristina city center. A portrait of Ibrahim Rugova, the first president of Kosovo, is seen at the bottom right of the photo.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/12/2009


Bruno Fert / Picturetank FEB0268860

Fisnik, 35, is an art director. In January 2008, as rumors announced the imminence of the proclamation of the independence, Fisnik imagined and built a monumental sculpture with the words "NEWBORN". At the request of the international administration, the red letters, the color of the KLA, were, hastily, repainted in yellow. Fisnik's sculpture reigns over the centre of Pristina since February 17th 2008*. It has become a meeting point, a playground for children and has even been awarded numerous international prizes. *the declaration of the independence of Kosovo.

Pristina, Kosovo - 00/11/2008