Kosovo's declaration of independence dominated news in the Balkans this week. In the first of a two-part series, we look at reactions among Kosovar bloggers.
By Balkanblogs for Southeast European Times - 22/02/08
Bloggers across the Balkans had much to say about Kosovo's declaration of independence and the future of the self-proclaimed state. Among Kosovo bloggers -- as well as many in Albania and the international diaspora -- the mood was largely one of exultation.
Some kept tabs on the list of countries around the world that have offered recognition. Others described the mass celebrations that took place before and after Prime Minister Hashim Thaci read aloud the independence proclamation.
Kushtrim Xhakli, who writes about internet media and technology, is one of Kosovo's best known bloggers. "We had a great party last night," he recounts in a comment originally posted on France 24 Observers. "People never stopped singing. Many were crying with joy, thinking about all we lost in the war. We have fought hard for this independence and we deserve it."
"Of course, Kosovo's economy is not brilliant at the moment. But I'm confident about the future because we have many young people; more than 50% of the country is under 35," Xhakli writes. "They generally speak English, because we've lived eight years under the mandate of the UN, and they're well trained in the domain of new technologies and the internet -- 23% of Albanians have internet access and development is quick. So Albania is an ideal place for industries to use some of their activities. That's what happened in Estonia, which became quite powerful in the new-technology domain after its independence. We can do that too. "
"The foreign media worries a lot about the Serbs in Kosovo being persecuted, but there's no chance that will happen," he continues. "Firstly, because we're not naive. We haven't waited all this time for our independence to throw it all away now, especially when the Serb minority doesn't even pose a problem. Secondly, we signed the Ahtisaari agreement."
In the short term, the new republic faces problems both small and large, from issuing passports to gaining international recognition.
"Good luck in trying to get everyone in the world to write 'Kosova'. It will take time," comments GK. While the independence declaration refers to "Kosova", news agencies and international leaders -- including those who have extended recognition -- continue to use the more widespread form of the name.
Next week: the view from Belgrade.