Opinion piece by Nevena Radosavljevic.
The much talked about wall in Mitrovica is supposed to be taken down today, but what will be the next excuse for politicians to rattle their sabres and bring up war? The walls of separation in Europe were torn down a long time ago. Berlin became one city already in ‘89. And how many years has it been since then? Too many. Have we learned anything? Nothing, I’d say. Mitrovica has always been a special city. Once it pulsed with multi-ethnicity, but today it is in the headlines for completely different reasons. Today we talk about a city divided into two parts. North and South, one is called ‘Kosovska,’ the other just Mitrovica. The main bridge in this city has always been a problematic issue. From the separation of the city, through the conflict and until the ‘peace park.’ When it came time to deal with the park, new, even crazier ideas followed. And when it finally came to connecting both parts of the city, “according to the Brussels agreement,” Serbian politicians resolved in the northern part, just next to the bridge, to build the wall. No more and no less. For a long time there was no talk about that wall. I would say that the Serbs did not have a clue what it is. “The park is being removed and a promenade is being built,” and that was that. Until we got a wall higher than one meter. And then it all started. The constant bickering of both sides has become an everyday occurrence. But it goes like that with us, a little quarrel. It’ll stop, we thought. The wall became a less important issue the moment the Serbian side thought of a new “brilliant” idea. They would send a train full of icons and inscriptions “Kosovo is Serbia” to “Kosovska Mitrovica.” And they sent it. We all know how ingloriously it ended. Yet another argument. It will end. A new round of negotiations between Belgrade and Prishtina in Brussels followed. The media reported that it did not end well. The wall, of course, was one of the topics. We were greeted on February 2 with headlines announcing “Serbs in the north live in fear.” Fearing attacks from the Albanian side. In some part of the day we ourselves did not know that we are afraid, nor of what. And then the media did their thing. The Serbian Prime Minister urgently met with the mayors of the north followed by a press conference in which all tried to convince the Serbs not to panic and stay in their “hearths.” All the media started buzzing about the new potential chaos in Kosovo. Everybody was calming down people who actually did not know what they should be afraid of. Imagine a crazy situation in which we all say ‘do not be afraid’ and ‘stay calm.’ And no one was afraid of anything. No one reacted while we on all sides never said we are afraid. Media manipulation at its best! While you live normally, they say that you are afraid and that they (politicians) do everything to protect you. And then at some point the question arose: will we go to war again? And if we do, by God, are we going to fight about the wall? While the world is trying to live beyond borders and walls, we are building those very same walls and calling for war over them. Ridiculous! And above all dangerous! Often the northern Kosovo Serbs are accused of different things. The Albanian side blames us for everything done by the Serbian government and Serbs blame us because we are still their obstacle to European integration. But has anyone asked Kosovo Serbs anything? No. We remain in the buffer zone, accused of all sorts of things and used as cannon fodder by politicians who need a few more points for the upcoming elections. Did anyone ask us about the train? No. Did we like it? No. Did anyone ask us about the wall? Of course not! Politicians have built the wall themselves, said it had been agreed and now they have sacrificed citizens’ normal life for the sake of arbitrariness and bickering. We do not need a train, and we do not need a wall at the bridge. We need a normal life. Are you aware that we are talking about youth who have not had one year of peaceful life in this region? A year of certainty? Did you, gentlemen politicians, care about that at all? It doesn’t seem like it. But there are some of us who care to live and function normally. There are those of us who are willing to tell you that we do not fall for all your already predictable games. For a long time we have not cared for your barriers and labels of who is good and bad. You rattle your sabres talking about the war. And who will you send to a war? I would say, go and fight amongst yourselves. Young people do not need war. Not one more. Never again. If we grew up in the war, we do not need such a life. This I consider an appeal to all young people, on both sides. The future is ours alone and nobody else’s. If we allow our politicians, who brought us to this conflict, to lead to another, the fault is ours alone. We are the generation that needs to overcome barriers, walls and separation. The generation that must not fall for even one more political manipulation. Today we are waiting for the demolition of the wall. At least that’s how it has been announced. The question is, what was the point of all the fuss and war talk if it is could be solved like this? It is needless to mention the constant chase to score political points. And that will bring down the wall. But, what’s next? What will make you mention war again? What will you do next in spite of peace? What’s the next cause of panic? We’ll see. But hopefully, we will not fall for it.