Former Parliament Deputy Speaker Ilaz Ramajli recalls the fall of the Berlin Wall.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 23/11/09
Slobodan Milosevic cut off Kosovo's autonomy in 1989. [Getty Images]
Ilaz Ramajli was a young Kosovo politician when the Berlin Wall was torn down in November 1989. He watched the event on Radio Television of Pristina (RTP), the only TV channel at that time.
Ramajli, the former deputy speaker of Kosovo's parliament, recalls the memories of that night.
"It was so emotional, it was like the whole world was changing, it was like seeing something you did not expect would ever happen," Ramajli told SETimes.
The Berlin Wall fell at a very complex time for Kosovo. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic cut off the country's autonomy in 1989, and a considerable number of Kosovo Albanians were imprisoned for their political views.
"The first signals for the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia had been seen, there was massive expression of the dissatisfaction with the position of the Albanians in the former Yugoslavia ... and the fall of the Berlin Wall and not only the impact of the act as such, but the whole process, the changes in the former Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, had an extraordinary influence in all the processes in Kosovo in 1990 and later," said Ramajli.
"It was a general feeling that things were substantially changing for good, especially for the nations which considered themselves not free," he says.
The two main media outlets in Pristina at that time, RTP and Rilindja newspaper, informed readers about the wall's collapse, but there was "no freedom to comment".
"It was the daily news for a long time, putting it in the Kosovo context," Ramajli says.
"The fall of the wall was perceived by the Kosovo Albanians as an act of change and improvement of the injustices that took place in the entire Europe after the Second World War; it was a logical conclusion of the developments taking place in Southeast Europe," he says.
As the former Yugoslav republics started their paths towards independence, Milosevic began a campaign to take hold of Kosovo's autonomous status within Serbia. His actions prompted a decade of Albanians to work to secede from Serbia and attempts to thwart their independence.
By the end of 1989, as the sway of the Communist League of Yugoslavia weakened in Kosovo, the Democratic League of Kosovo was established, co-founded by Ibrahim Rugova.