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26 Feb, 2008 20:18

Serbs in Kosovo reject call to integrate

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci marked Kosovo's first full week of independence by urging Serbs to integrate with Albanians but Serbia's minister for Kosovo ignored the invitation.

On the same day Serbia's minister for Kosovo visited the region to show Serbs living there they have not been abandoned.

Slobodan Samardzic visited a Serb village in Kosovo after giving guarantees to the United Nations that he wouldn't incite violence but that did not keep him from putting across his message loudly.

“These are people who do not accept Kosovo's independence. These people do not accept this 100 percent. And in order to have a life in Kosovo, they should be able to have a life similar to people in Serbia. The government will do all in its power to make that happen in this chaotic time and the state will do it,” stated Serbia's Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardzic.

The ethnic Albanian leadership called the visit a provocation.

Kosovo Serbs are taking his words seriously. For the second week running some 2 000 demonstrators took to the streets of the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Their protests are peaceful but now they're becoming more creative, sending a message that the world needs to wake up and understand Kosovo is a problem for the international community.

“We survive on fifty euros a month. Life is too difficult. I am afraid there will be more trouble. I am too old, I cannot go anywhere. I cannot be a refugee again,” said Serbian Refugee in Kosovo Dostana Jovanovic.

“I believe our demonstrations will stop the independence. Russia is our last hope. It's great that Medvedev came to Belgrade. We are watching all the time the Russian and Serbian politicians. The smile of Medvedev means a lot to us,” said another Serbian Refugee in Kosovo Jovanovic Zagorka.

But the politicians in Kosovo are in a confident mood. They're certain more and more countries will recognize their declaration of independence in time.

There are many flags in Pristina but none of them are of the new state of Kosovo – instead they are all the Albanian flag which suggests something about how people there view the borders of this new country.