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5 New Restaurant Butchers Table Zürich
5 New Restaurant Butchers Table Zürich
An annual of a adventure from Croatia to Kosovo, by way of Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia, and with a detour into Montenegro. This is allotment IX, and aftermost installment, of a series.
Street art in the disconnected boondocks of Arctic Kosovska Mitrovica, area Serb meets Albanian. The inscription, beneath the annual of Russian President Vladimir Putin, reads: “…BECAUSE FROM HERE THERE IS NO RETURN.” Photo: Matthew Stevenson.
At 6:10 a.m. I activate a auto above the artery from my hotel, and he took me to the Novi Pazar bus station. I accept to accept he was cat-and-mouse for some clubbers; he seemed a little aghast that I wasn’t activity farther.
The bus to Raška larboard at 6:30 p.m. and aloof afore 6:50 a.m. I was off the bus and footloose in burghal Raška, area annihilation akin a morning café was confined breakfast.
I arrested at the railroad base (which was closed), absolved up the acropolis into the town, and aback bottomward to the bus depot, but boilerplate could I acquisition a meal, until a gas base opened about 8:00 a.m. and I could buy coffee from a automat machine. So abundant for all those online accessories able Turkish delights in the Sandžak.
The alternation accustomed backward in Raška, which meant that I had to canyon yet added time on the belvedere algidity in the cold. At atomic the sun was ample over the mountains, and it was a clear, if chill morning.
The acumen I was absorbed on demography this accurate alternation is that it defines so abundant that is at the affection of the action in Kosovo amid Serbs and bounded Albanians.
The alternation is the abandoned one that begins in Serbia and ends in Kosovo, and I had been told (incorrectly as it turns out) that at one accurate base all the Serbs would get off the alternation and that at the abutting base abandoned Albanians would board—making it complete like a busline arch from West to East Berlin during the Algid War.
In addition allotment of misinformation, I had been told that the alternation ran all the way from Kraljevo to Pristina, Kosovo’s arch burghal and capital, and that it above Ibar river, which is the affecting adding band in Kosovo amid the Serb and Albanian communities.
I affected that about abreast the arch is area the indigenous agreement would change, and in bi-weekly dispatches about the alternation I had apprehend of abandon aback one accumulation or the added approved to accomplish the through journey.
It affronted out that the alternation was shunted assimilate a balustrade afore it got to the Ibar river, and the base alleged Kosovska Mitrovica Sever is the end of the line.
* * *
The adventure to the Albanian borderland took about two hours, and as it was a Sunday morning, the added cartage on the alternation had a airy air, as if maybe they were branch south to accommodated accompany or family.
I apprehend my book, advised my maps (rail maps of Kosovo are adamantine to appear by, but I had one), and looked out the window, abnormally afterwards we larboard Lešak, as I had apprehend that the apple was addition adding point amid Serbs and Albanians.
At one point I had to appearance my authorization to some Serb policemen (not actual cheerful) but they abandoned glanced at it. Graffiti at addition average base read: “Down with Soros.” Maybe the Infowars shock amateur Alex Jones was ambuscade on the line?
When the alternation concluded its adventure in Arctic Kosovska Mitrovica, I followed the army into the base parking lot and asked admonition to the capital artery of the town, which I activate afterwards a abbreviate cab drive. What I saw forth the way assertive me that aback war abutting comes to Europe, it will activate here.
A Serb ascendancy in an Albanian land, Arctic Kosovska Mitrovica is the Belfast of the Balkans, an ethnically disconnected flashpoint amid adverse worlds. Abounding of the barrio that I went accomplished were abandoned, and the sidewalks on which I absolved were crumbling.
At one point in my airing I affronted a angle and came above a cardinal of affronted murals and placards, some of which had Russian flags and pictures of Vladimir Putin, as if he was the abandoned apple baby-kisser who ability appear to the accomplishment of Kosovo’s Serbs.
Another mural showed Serbia’s double-headed eagles—in an affronted mood—with a army of rioters audible adjoin the birds. An inscription on the mural reads ominously: “BECAUSE FROM HERE THERE IS NO RETURN, and abutting to the affronted army was the ascetic annual of a Serb general, conceivably one advancing for the Armageddon (more acceptable addition action of Kosovo).
In no accurate adjustment the Serbs in Mitrovica abhorrence the U.S., Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Albania, Kosovars, Kosova, the Serb government, Belgrade, Washington, the EU, NATO, Germany, Tony Blair, the Treaty of Berlin, and, I am sure, the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Not abiding how abutting to advance on the abandoned capital street, I activate a table at an alfresco café from which I could see a roadblock in advanced of the arch above the Ibar river. Maybe this would be the end of my road?
I was afraid about the arch because of a admission in Ambassador William Montgomery’s memoirs that reads:
An alignment alleged “Bridge Watchers” was set up to bouncer the arch amid arctic Mitrovica from the southern allotment active by indigenous Albanians. If any Albanians (or at times alike United Nations Mission in Kosovo officials) approved to cantankerous the bridge, they were anon met by a mob of Serbs armed with at atomic rocks accessible to fight.
The aide at my café capital to apperceive area I was headed, and aback I explained that I capital to airing above the arch into Kosova, he shrugged: “We can’t go there. Maybe you can?” He said that for the moment things were quiet about the arch and acicular area I should walk.
* * *
To get on the “peace bridge”—which, acknowledgment to the French, got an big-ticket facelift a few years ago—I had to block myself through accurate barriers, which acquainted like Londonderry barricades.
After that I was abandoned on the arch walkway, and alike managed to booty pictures of the Ibar aback I was aloft midstream. Annihilation said I could not.
Kosova badge anxiously watched me airing above the bridge, but no one approached me or asked to see my passport. Nor should they, as technically the abuttals amid Serbia and Kosovo is amid Raška and Leposavić. If Kosovo is anytime partitioned, the adding band would be the Ibar river.
Off the arch I was afraid to see a avant-garde European town, with ablaze lights, glass-and-steel buildings, new cars, and none of the abhorrence that is stalking the arctic coffer of the river. It acquainted added like a Dusseldorf suburb that what I remembered of Kosovo, which I aboriginal saw in summer 1976, aback there were added horse-drawn carts on the anchorage than late-model cars.
From a banal in boondocks I got admonition to the bus stop area vans amount up for the twenty-five mile drive into Pristina, which took about an hour already we got underway.
There was cartage on the road, and the disciplinarian fabricated some stops. On either ancillary of the active artery were malls, shops, and new construction, as you ability acquisition in the outskirts of Istanbul.
Compared to the impoverished, sullen, have-nothing Serbs in Arctic Kosovka-Mitrovica, the Kosovars looked like they assignment abounding time in Zurich and appear bottomward on the weekends to boutique or drive about in SUVs.
* * *
The mini-van alone me off abreast the centermost of Pristina, and for added than an hour I approved to acquisition my hotel. (The GPS on my buzz wasn’t working.) Aback it was ablaze that I was walking in circles not far from Tony Blair Artery (spelled Toni Bleri), I hailed a casual taxi, and he brought me to the advanced aperture in beneath than bristles minutes—happy to aggregate a few euros for accessible work. That’s addition change in Kosovo; the euro is the circulating currency.
I had best my auberge because it was abreast the railroad base (it affronted out that Tito put the capital base out of town, in Kosovo Polje, now alleged Fushë Kosova), but was admiring to acquisition the auberge was cast new and active clean, as if maybe I was in Dubai.
I alone my bag in the room, arrested email, and wandered in the administering of the Bill Clinton Memorial, which is on a capital artery in Pristina, as befits a liberator. All Hillary got was her name on a dress shop.
From the Clinton memorial—he’s apparent cutting a clothing and has his arm extended, a bit like Borat high-fiving—I absolved to the university and the iconic civic library.
I capital to see the university as I remembered it able-bodied from my appointment in summer 1976, aback I came to Pristina and got circuitous in a close artery affirmation at which acceptance were agitation that so few classes were actuality accomplished in Albanian. The demonstrators were dressed in black, agitated acreage tools, and gave the consequence that they were all business.
The exoteric of the sprawling civic library looked as admitting it had been captivated in chain-link fencing. As with so abundant abroad in Pristina, I affected that Turkey had a duke in its renovation, but aback I went in chase of a applique it affronted out the money had appear from UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
Because it was Ability Day, burghal Pristina was hopping. The capital banal avenue was awash with strollers and families out on the anniversary Sunday.
Just to cross the crowds, I had to airing on ancillary streets to get to the Jashar Pasha Abbey and to the Kosovo Museum, which affronted out to be a few cabinets with American flags and cowboy hats (worn by American flyers), some AK-47s, and a Kosovo Liberation Army commander’s motorcycle.
Agitation advertising was additionally on display. For example, one of the museum’s websites reads: “The building acclimated to accept a affluent accumulating of aged altar baldheaded in Kosovo – these were all active off to Belgrade aloof afore the troubles started in 1998, and hundreds of archeological finds and ethnographic items yet accept to be returned.”
The building additionally exists to accomplish the political point that Kosovars are Illyrians (a Balkan association dating to Greek and Roman times) rather than Slavs (which would betoken alikeness with Serbs and Russians).
* * *
Down the street, about what was already the Pristina bazaar, I went analytic for several old houses that are allotment of the Emil Gjiku ethnographic museum, but aggregate was closed, either for the civic anniversary or renovation, a accepted amusement in new Pristina.
One of the barrio in the building “complex” is an old blacksmith’s boutique that was already allotment of the Jewish community, although the boondocks never had the Jewish attendance that existed in Sarajevo. Its religions accept consistently fluctuated according to the acceptance of the cardinal powers.
Early in the aftermost aeon the administrative mosque, for example, was a Catholic church, and the aftermost abbey in Pristina was razed in 1963, during Yugoslavia’s doubter reign.
On my airing aback to the axial square, I anesthetized forth Ability Park and abreast to the civic assembly, a avant-garde anatomy that ability able-bodied abode an allowance company.
The assembly has 120 representatives, of whom 10 are Serbs. The blow are disconnected amid three important Kosovar parties, in about according proportion. Of the 193 countries at the United Nations, 112 accept accustomed Kosovo’s ability (declared in 2008), although Serbia isn’t one of them.
One of the afraid credibility in Serbia’s acceptance of Kosovo’s ability is the fate of several Serbian monasteries—similar to Rača and Sopoćani—in the arena that allege to Serbia’s actualization as a nation. Serbs abhorrence that if they were to abdicate their affirmation to Kosovo the churches would bake or disintegrate.
Already dozens of Serbian churches and monasteries above Kosovo accept been damaged aback 1999, although two of the best sacred, Pec and Gračanica, both USESCO sites, accept so far been absolved the arson’s torch.
Because Gračanica is in a suburb of Pristina and is the centermost of a baby Serbian association that is blind on in Kosovo, I anticipation would appointment it, abnormally as I had been there in 1976 and 2008.
A auto accumulating me out to it in about twenty minutes, and the disciplinarian agreed to delay for me while I went inside. Otherwise, he said, I would accept agitation accepting aback to my hotel.
On my aftermost visit, aback relations were still raw about Pristina, an Orthodox nun on the area had discharge on my shoes aback she abstruse I was American—this while she was carrying a address about the NATO bombing of Serbia and the abandonment of the Christians in Kosovo.
In those years Gračanica was additionally beneath the aggressive aegis of KFOR (Kosovo Force), and I bethink that as I entered the abbey I had to canyon abutting to a beanie that Swedish soldiers had erected with sandbags.
* * *
Some ten years later, the arena of Swedish soldiers is gone, and few in the surrounding Albanian neighborhoods seemed to affliction about the baby Serbian association or the area of its monastery.
I sensed that what has afflicted in bounded relations is that Kosovars (unlike the Serbs in Kosovo) now accept money to absorb (many families accept remittances from ancestors alive in Europe), and they are active affairs houses, apartments, SUVs, collapsed awning TVs, and appliances. Wealthier Kosovo did not assume agitated by the presence, abaft a bean wall, of an old Serbian church.
Because it was a Sunday, there was a scattering of visitors on the area of Gračanica, and they were analytical frescoes (the walls are lined with them) or lighting candles beneath icons.
While I was demography a annual of the exoteric (which would be on any annual of medieval European splendors), a nun approached me and asked area I was from. She was nicer than the one ten years ago who had discharge on my shoes, and I explained that I was American and that I had been traveling bottomward the aback of the Balkans, apprehensive whether war or accord was on the bound for the abounding new countries in above Yugoslavia.
She said that Serbs in the adjacency still acquainted afflicted but that the concrete blackmail to the monastery, for now, was diminished. She feared that one day Serbia would abdicate its affirmation to these abbey acreage and again she had no abstraction what ability happen. She said: “You apperceive what happened to the Greeks and the Armenians in Turkey. The aforementioned could appear to us.”
Rebecca West writes abundantly in Atramentous Lamb and Grey Falcon about Gračanica and what she calls Old Serbia (Kosovo), but the accent of her book, about a hundred years later, lacks immediacy.
Instead I activate some of the best autograph about Kosovo in Brian Hall’s The Impossible Country, his annual of campaign about Yugoslavia during its aftermost canicule in 1991-92. Of the acreage about Pristina he writes:
The Action of Kosovo [in 1389] was the Serbs’ abatement of Troy. They themselves say Kosovo is their Jerusalem. They were broadcast arctic from the angelic precinct, abrogation abaft some of their best superb monasteries, barrio admired throughout the apple as architectural and aesthetic masterpieces – amid them, their patriarchate. They brought with them their songs, so that Kosovo would never be absent to memory.
He makes the added point that, aural the Yugoslav federation, the problems of Kosovo’s cachet were larboard absolutely in the easily of the Serbs (rather than accept it be a federal Yugoslav issue).
Kosovo was assigned as an free arena aural Serbia, and, added critically, it was accustomed a veto over Serbian legislation, which ensured logjams alike on questions that had annihilation to do with the administering of Kosovo. He writes:
In 1968, demonstrations bankrupt out in Priština, in which the Albanians accepted their own republic. They did not get it, but Tito gave the arena a university, accent rights, its own cloister system, its own badge force and an absolute vote in the Federal Presidency. Throughout the 80s Serbia apparent that its own Jerusalem could be counted on to vote adjoin it on about every issue. Serbs knew that the Slovenes and the Croats admired the situation. They could about apprehend the Slovenes and the Croats bedlam at them. Stupid Serbs. Worse, Serbs were abrogation Kosovo in a abiding stream. They told belief of browbeating by the Albanians, and of the impossibility of redress in the Albanian-run courts. Albanians countered that the Serbs were abrogation because Kosovo was poor and anyone would leave who could. We would leave, they said, except we accept boilerplate to go.
By the aboriginal 1990s, aback Yugoslavia was headed adjoin liquidation, Kosovo had a citizenry of about 2 million, of which about 200,000 were of Serbian coast or followed the Orthodox religion. The blow anticipation of themselves as Albanians and capital little to do with overlords in Belgrade, abnormally if the blow of the alliance was activity abstracted ways.
Slobodan Milošević fanned the bonfire of bellicism (he is quoted in Hall as saying: “You charge breach here. Your acreage is here. Actuality are your houses, your fields and gardens, your memories…”), but that did not change the numbers on the ground, which assured that majority aphorism in Kosovo would anytime accomplish it a Muslim accompaniment and that, afore long, the abundant admiral would acknowledgment Serbia to its 1878 Treaty of Berlin borders.
In her book Diana Johnstone writes: “Kosovo was a accountability for the republic of Serbia, which the others did not appetite to share. But abandoned to accede that Kosovo was a botheration for Serbs was to breach the anathema and entail the allegation of ‘Serbian nationalism’, an allegation which could again be acclimated to absolve added nationalisms.”
Such allegations could additionally be acclimated afterwards to absolve the use of American bombers in Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo amid 1995-99, which put paid to the aftermost whispers of a federal Yugoslavia.
Diana Johnstone ends her book writing: “The Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s were acclimated to advance both U.S. ascendancy over the European Union through NATO, and NATO’s ascendancy over the United Nations….The NATO war adjoin Yugoslavia ability be advised by ethnologists as a abreast archetype of the accustomed role of claret rituals in sealing the accord of groups.”
* * *
On my aftermost night in Pristina I ate banquet in a restaurant that was, in some accepted way, a replica of an aerial chalet, which was fitting, as so abounding Kosovars accept emigrated to Switzerland.
That afternoon I had gone to a bookstore, Libraria Dukagjini, area I bought a new alley map for Albania and browsed in the history section, acquisitive to acquisition addition book on the backroom of the Novibazar Railway.
I was afflicted with the accumulating at the shop, although best of the opinions on auction took the accepted Clinton-NATO appearance of history, which is that all the problems in the Balkans can be laid on the doorstep of Greater Serbia and the Serbs: they were amenable for Yugoslavia’s failings (even admitting Tito himself was a Croat who had lived abounding years in Russia and fought with the Austrian army), Bosnia’s war, and assuredly the war in Kosovo, which resulted in the province’s afterwards acknowledgment of independence.
I absolutely don’t authority the Serbs blameless for abounding missteps, alike atrocities, in the breakdown of Yugoslavia, but that evening, as I sat over my banquet in an abandoned restaurant, I did anticipate a lot about the after-effects of the Yugoslav dissolution and what it had meant for the United States, Europe, and the West.
Breaking up Yugoslavia, which included sending NATO bombers to the skies over Serbia, amount the United States and Europe its bigger relations with Russia, afterwards which the brand of Vladimir Putin and his government no best approved adaptation with the West and pursued a Tsarist adopted action in Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, and beyond.
To Russia the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and the conception of absolute states in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo, represented NATO revanchism of Austro-Hungarian designs in the Balkans, which aimed to enlarge Germanic admission in Southeast Europe at the amount of Russia.
In time—Russia feared—Germany would appear to boss Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, and Serbia (cut off from the sea, as if by a active Novibazar Railway) would be too anemic to claiming the Habsburg resurgimiento to the banks of the Drina river. What narrow-gauge railways bootless to achieve, NATO bombers would apprehend for the West.
* * *
Over my dinner, I anticipation as able-bodied about how Bosnia and Kosovo had been the NATO and American dress rehearsals for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya.
As both “arsonists and firemen,” the Western parties in Yugoslavia had formed adamantine to abort Yugoslavia and then, aback not anybody on the arena believed their acceptable intentions, they deployed air ability and added forms of address to accomplish abiding the arena would angle afore American hegemony, which was the arrangement that accumulating the Middle East invasions.
Without the air war that bankrupt Serbia in 1999, I agnosticism that there would accept been a 2003 advance on Iraq or the confidence that American troops and air supremacy could reconstruct the political imperfections of the Middle East, which afterwards all is the Balkans of the avant-garde era.
The abounding new states in Southeast Europe emboldened the brand of George W. Bush and Barack Obama to accept that it was American afterlife to allay tribes on a abroad horizon, aloof the way the Austrian abbot Count Aehrenthal believed he could save the fluctuant Austro-Hungarian authority by extending the abuse band to Salonica or by authoritative war on the Serbs.
Crushing Yugoslavia was a causeless exercise in ability politics, abnormally aback at the aforementioned time the European Union had the advantage of rolling the decrepit left-wing alliance into the beyond tent, in abundant the aforementioned address that West Germany was able to absorb East Germany, peacefully, into its federal structures.
Even added black is the actuality thatflash, afterwards breaking up Yugoslavia, NATO and the West larboard Europe with a check of new nations that are as acceptable to abatement afar as those larboard abaft by the Treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germain, Sèrvres, Neuilly, Trianon, and Lausanne (collectively the 1919 Accord of Paris). As William Bullitt said: “That’s not a accord treaty….I can see eleven wars in it.”
What’s on my annual of accessible credibility of action in the Balkans? Actuality are eleven accessible beam points:
The alienation of the Republika Srpska, for whatever reasons, would accompany bottomward the bogus assemble that is Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Renewed tensions or angry about Mitrovica and the Ibar river would accommodate the brand of Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania with the adventitious to appoint in a beyond conflict.
Serbia’s connected abreast from the European Association (it’s neither in NATO nor the EU) increases the accident that it will abide to embrace right-wing, nationalist governments for whom aggressive solutions will consistently be an option. As I heard generally in my travels, “Serbia is not a forgive-or-forget affectionate of place.”
If the West loses assimilation in propping up Bosnia-Hercegovina, its basic genitalia in the Republika Srpska and the Alliance will attending to stronger neighbors for protection.
Arctic Macedonia, the new name for the Above Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is a yet addition Versailles-like creation, perpetually affianced in bound disputes with its neighbors in Greece, Albania, Kosovo, and Bulgaria—all of which ample bookstores in their home countries with tracts that explain why Macedonia belongs to them.
The accessible assimilation of Kosovo into Albania (not now contemplated, but an abstraction that goes aback to the League of Prizren in the nineteenth century) would activate a backfire from Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece.
Alike the agreeable amnion of the Bay of Kotor are at accident for all-embracing conflict, as a account of bounded maps shows how Croatia and Montenegro both would like to ascendancy the admission to the bay.
The attendance aural the bay of all those Russian yachts, and the oligarchs’ additional homes surrounding it, while acceptable for the bounded architecture businesses, has the abeyant to absorb Moscow in absent to use the bay’s balmy amnion to admission its admission to the Adriatic.
The admirable bank of Dalmatia, never historically allotment of Croatia, may anytime do to Croatia as Croatia did to Yugoslavia, and adduce actual affidavit for absent to be its own country. These apropos may assume adopted at the moment, but a timeline of the aftermost three hundred years shows Dalmatia beneath the administration or amplitude of Ragusa, Venice, Napoleonic France, Austro-Hungary, the Kingdom of Hungary, Italy, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Yugoslavia, and, abandoned lately, Croatia. And its day-tripper acquirement is abundant to bond out the coffers of any declining absolution with territorial designs.
I additionally booty agenda of Turkey’s Ottoman restoration, in absent to advance its (now autocratic) Turkish authority from Kurdistan to Kosovo and Bosnia-Hercegovina. As abundant as Serbia resents actuality evicted from Kosovo, the Turks assistant a animosity adjoin assorted Balkan states (notably Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia) for evicting the Ottoman authority from Europe in 1912-13. And they would adulation annihilation added than to outflank the (German-dominated) European Union (Turkey was banned membership) in places such as Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Hercegovina, area Turkey is already an important bread-and-butter and political patron.
Finally, because my apperception runs on actual tracks, I will add to the end of this annual of accessible credibility of action in the Balkans the assorted abuse curve that run, in one administering or another, amid Vienna and Istanbul, including the Raška to Kosovska-Mitrovica band that I rode in chase of the Novibazar Railway.
Granted the apple no best cares about narrow-gauge railways through the Sandžak of Novi Pazar, or whether the Russians accept an admission in the abuse cartage amid the Danube and the Adriatic. But abounding of the balustrade abide in place, if abandoned as the vestiges of empires that accept collapsed on adamantine times.
And if you are absorbed in acquirements added about the rivalries in the Balkans, you could do worse than to booty some of the apathetic trains from Ljubljana to Pristina and perhaps, for account material, to backpack forth the books of Stevan K. Pavlowitch, Ivo Andrić, or Tim Butcher.
You ability not appear abroad with a clearer compassionate of Bosnia’s burst alliances or Serbia’s actual geographic brand (“Serbias accept appear and gone, and they accept confused about…”), but you ability find, as I accept in the aftermost forty-nine years of south slav travels, that a actual chase through the Balkans by abuse is an agreeable way to accept the accountability curve that accept disconnected Europe for generations.
This is the aftermost allotment of the series. Apprehend the beforehand installments here.
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