The Kamenica town market in eastern Kosovo is popular with people of many ethnicities. Safet Kabashaj reports for Southeast European Times in Pristina.
Every Friday, the open market in eastern Kosovo town of Kamenica brings together Albanians and Serbs, selling produce and sharing daily concerns in an atmosphere without ethnic division. People at this market show a tolerance that can easily be an example of inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo.
Sabit Mavriqi, a Kosovo Albanian, and Grade Nikolic, Kosovo Serb, both in their fifties, both try to speak one another's language, showing mutual friendship.
"We are talking together, Albanians and Serbs. Speak out, you speak out. That's right. He speaks in Serbian, I speak in Albanian. We are also neighbours and everything, thank God. In Kamenica there is no problem at all."
The market, at the town centre, works on Fridays only with residents, mainly from nearby villages. They bring all sorts of domestic produce to sell: beans, poultry, eggs, milk, flour, cheese and even brandy. Most lack permanent and sustainable employment -- clearly, making money is on their minds, rather than their ethnic or language differences.
Vesel Abdullahu comes to trade at the Kamenica market every Friday in the last six years, selling farmers onions, flour, beans and spinach. Each year it becomes harder to make money.
"It's not good. People have no money. The problem is that I can't do something else, otherwise it's not useful at all. It's not a job if you should encourage people to buy two kilos of flour or bean. There is too much of goods, but people have no money."
Abdullahu sees no tension in the ethnic differences at the market.
"No, there are no problems with that. Everything's OK, peaceful, you can see Serbs buying from Albanians, Albanians buying from Serbs. There are no problems regarding that."
Selman Ahmeti is another farmer at the market. He offers seedlings that he cultivates at his farm, but complains about government policies favouring exports compared to domestic products, which, he says, harms the farmers' products.
"I show up at six in the morning every Friday and stay until 4 or 5 p.m. I earn between 20 and 30 euros. I sell fruit seedlings, flowers, pines, a little bit of everything. They're all domestic produce."
In contrast, Miroslava Petkovic sells milk products. Unlike many farmers and produce sellers, she said she is pleased with the earnings at the market.
"What can I say? We're making a living somehow, as one would say. So far we have been regular here. Sometimes there is good work sometimes not, depends. We sell mostly milk and cheese, and they are our produce. We are content, what else?"
Radovan Djordjevic has a similar experience showing up in the market each Friday. A Serbian farmer from the village of Firiqeva, to his customers he offers fresh milk for a lower price than at the regular market shops.
"I sell a litre of milk for 50 cents, eight to ten eggs for one euro. So far, I've had no problems; there are good relations here, friendships, and my clients are Serbs, Albanians, and all possible buyers."
Sylejman Morina is spokesperson at the Kamenica municipality. He says Kamenica has less ethnic tension because there were few losses in the armed conflict there, compared to other regions. He commends different ethnicities for their determination to start rebuilding a common future immediately after the conflict, but is disappointed that Kamenica example serves only for political purposes, lacking in investments and funding from the government and other local and international institutions.
"What can be seen in the market is a fact, an establish reality. We could not improvise it and make it appear in the way someone would like in a particular moment. Everything there is natural. That's why it represents the best picture of a consolidated reality, preserved in Kamenica municipality."