Unemployed Serbs leaving Kosovo for good?

Almost half of the Kosovo population is jobless and the economy is shrinking dramatically, which is forcing thousands of young Kosovan Serbs to go abroad to earn money.

Today’s Kosovo is far from being the best place to live. Over the last decade its economy has suffered from political uncertainty and continuing ethnic hostility between Serbs and Albanians. Official figures say that 40% to 50% of the population is jobless, but the real situation could be even worse.

In many villages in Kosovo there are problems with electricity, running water and sewerage. There are no regular buses, and hospitals and schools are few. Thousands have already fled, and many more are considering it.

“Imagine that in a Europe of the 21st century there is a state where the people are living so bad – for 10 years already. I think this is a shame for the whole of Europe, America and the rest of the world, which calls itself a democratic one,” says Obrad Shoshic, a veterinarian from the village of Pasjane.

Obrad is a Serb, which is a minority in the Albanian-dominated South of Kosovo. He says his native region is turning hostile for Serbs:

“There is no job for young Serbs here, no prospects. At the same time, Albanians are supported by the whole world, they give them credits. They granted them factories and jobs, they gave them a state.”

Dobrovoja Paunovic is the director of a school in the village of Pasjane. The summer holidays have come and the school yard is now empty, and Dobrovoja is afraid it’ll stay that way. He also sees it as part of an anti-Serb policy.

“The West easily provides young people and full families with children with visa and political asylum. But that’s not because they’d like to help us. This is nothing but another method to force us out. People are forced to leave,” Dobrovoja said.

Miroslava Dimitrievic, whose sons have moved to Belgrade and Luxemburg, believes that if there were jobs in Kosovo for them, both of her boys would return home immediately. Miroslava has lost all faith in Kosovo, a place she’s lived in all her life.

“I put my hand on my heart and I tell you that I miss them, but as a mother I don’t want to see my children starving to death and begging here. Better for them to stay far from Kosovo.”

Serbs leaving the region say western countries – by keeping the door opened for them – are encouraging them to leave. If the situation in Kosovo doesn’t change soon, the region that’s been home to Serbs for centuries will change forever.

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