Kosovo Serb policeman looks to future
'I feel nothing bad about Albanians,' he says. 'A man should be judged by his soul, not his nationality.'
In the wake of Kosovo's new Constitution, Serbs in central Kosovo enclaves spoke of distrust of Albanians, said their homes were for sale, and lamented a decent future for their children. For-sale signs were pasted up alongside posters of Serb nationalists like Tomislav Nikolic and Vojislav Seslj. Everything for these residents is tied to Belgrade, from license plates and cellphones to IDs and politics.
A young policeman on patrol in the Ugljare enclave near Pristina, who gave his name as Milos, defiantly asks, "What Kosovo?" when asked about the new state. Wearing the blue uniform of the all-Serb police, Milos says it is "not possible" for Serbs and Albanians to live together and asserts that all of the village's 300 homeowners want a buyer. "I want to go to a place where I don't have to rely on this," he says, patting his pistol.
Yet as he talks, a different person emerges from under the uniform. He says that younger Serbs lament a war that interrupted their dreams and left them trapped in enclaves. He says he could have been a sports champion if allowed to develop. But now he is stuck in a village where "no one from Belgrade pays us any attention."
"I feel nothing bad about Albanians," he says. "A man should be judged by his soul, not his nationality. The populations don't want to split. That's something the great powers have caused." Young Serbs here feel the "older politicians from Belgrade who supported the wars are out of touch with younger Serbs. We want someone fresh, someone who isn't full of prejudice.
"We want our children to play sports, to be part of a larger culture. People want the best for their kids. Doesn't that make sense? Isn't it what everyone wants?"
Milos brought up the Czech-Turkish game in the current, hugely popular European soccer championships â€“ and how, after the Czechs were beaten, "they shook hands with the Turksâ€¦. Maybe we can someday do that in Kosovo."