The new nation - predominantly Muslim, a poor, landlocked territory of two million the size of Connecticut or Qatar - has been a UN. protectorate since 1999 and policed by 16,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops who keep a fragile peace between the 95-percent Albanian majority and the 125,000-strong Serbian minority.
For Albanians, independence marks a new beginning, and even the possibility of forgiveness, after decades of repression and war. " Independence is a catharsis," said Antoneta Kastrati, 26, an Albanian from Peja, whose mother and older sister were murdered by their Serbian neighbors in 1999. "Things won't change overnight and we cannot forget the past, but maybe I will feel safe now and my nightmares will finally go away."
The spirit of exaltation in Pristina was a sharp contrast to the despair, anger and disbelief that gripped Serbia and the Serbian enclaves of Northern Kosovo.
Invoking the nationalist mythology of loss and sacrifice that Kosovo represents for Serbs, Kostunica this week called for "Serbs to be as united as we were in 1389." Newspapers in Belgrade lamented that the Albanians "have stolen Kosovo." On Sunday evening, about 150 protesters in Belgrade marched to the U.S. Embassy, waving Serbian flags.
Source: IHT (English)