April 2, 2023

For Teuta Hadri, Kosovo’s declaration of independence on February 17, 2008 was “a century’s lengthy dream”.

Hailing from a household actively concerned within the nationwide motion of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, she believed it was “a dream of three generations” to attain this collective purpose, she instructed Al Jazeera from her house in Pristina, the nation’s capital.

A 66-year-old Albanian Kosovar political activist and doctor, Hadri is the granddaughter of Avdullah Hadri, one of many first intellectuals to open Albanian language faculties throughout the nation – the primary one in 1915 – at a time when Serbian was the language used ineducation.

Through the 1998-1999 struggle in Kosovo, Hadri as a doctor and a member of the Council for the Safety of Human Rights and Freedoms risked her life offering medical providers to these in want and serving to to shelter households.

She recalled breaking into tears as former Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci declared independence, himself trembling as he learn the declaration.

“It was such an incredible act, a dream of our fathers that this technology managed to declare independence with all that struggle and all these crimes and genocide – a declaration supported by Europe,” Hadri mentioned.

‘Demise or freedom’

Hadri was imprisoned by Serbian authorities for her political activism from 1983 to 1986 in Mitrovica, northern Kosovo.

Later, she was arrested twice once more in shorter stints within the 90s.

Kosovo’s independence granted private freedom for Albanians, she mentioned.

Albanian Kosovar physician, political rights activist Teuta Hadri speaks from Pristina, Kosovo [Uran Krasniqi/Al Jazeera]
‘There was nothing else – demise or freedom, as a result of [the people] gave an oath to take the method [of liberation] to the top,’ says Teuta Hadri [Uran Krasniqi/Al Jazeera]

The Nineteen Eighties in Kosovo had been marked by the heavy presence of secret police, which cracked down on nationalist manifestations.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions of ethnic Albanians escalated quickly all through 1998, in line with Human Rights Watch.

Security wasn’t assured overseas, both. Human rights activist Enver Hadri – not a detailed relative of Teuta – was shot lifeless in Brussels in 1990 by Serbian assassins, days earlier than he was to current a report detailing the deaths of dozens of ethnic Albanians killed by the Yugoslav police, to the United Nations Human Rights Council in New York.

Residing beneath Belgrade’s rule, there was a continuing “feeling of uncertainty”, Hadri mentioned.

“We had these constraints even in our houses … to at all times be prepared for any inspector or intelligence agent which may present up … we had fairly an unsafe life.”

If one was organizing a protest, for example, it was dangerous to inform even a member of the family, out of concern that they could slip up and disclose data, she mentioned.

“There was a concern and a conspiracy that Yugoslavia [officials] had positioned secret surveillance [devices] in our houses. So, our purpose was to succeed in victory, which led us to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Military) struggle and the liberation for a nationwide trigger.”

As head of the Municipal Council for Healthcare, Hadri visited the affected communities in Drenica in March 1998, after Serbian particular police forces killed households in abstract executionsat a time when few dared to enter the realm.

The Drenica area was a stronghold of the separatist guerrilla KLA, however girls and youngsters had been among the many civilians killed indiscriminately within the assaults.

Hadri mentioned that as a former political prisoner, it was an enormous threat to be interviewed by CNN from Drenica in regards to the scenario there. If Serbian authorities had pulled over her automobile, she may have been arrested and handed 15 years in jail, she mentioned.

“My life was in danger and I did not know the way I’d get out alive from Drenica after giving that interview.

“There was nothing else – demise or freedom, as a result of [the people] gave an oath to take the method [of liberation] to the top; no person amongst us knew whether or not we’d make it out alive,” Hadri mentioned.

INTERACTIVE - Where is Kosovo

‘A partial independence’

However 15 years after the declaration of independence, Hadri mentioned Kosovo nonetheless solely has “partial independence”, as its decision-making continues to be directed by the worldwide neighborhood, hindering progress.

As an illustration, adopting the Regulation on Maternity Go away is a painstaking and prolonged course of. A ready-made legislation on healthcare wasn’t accredited for 4 years. And the nation nonetheless has no legislation on medical insurance, she mentioned.

“We simply modified the invaders, from one to many,” Hadri mentioned. “And after I say many, I imply UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] forces, which got here with many businesses.

“We did not have a Germany or an England to information us, however we had many businesses coming right here and also you did not know whom to belief. Every one in all them got here with their insurance policies which had a unfavourable affect on our state constructing,” Hadri mentioned, including that members of parliament didn’t draft legal guidelines themselves, fairly they had been tailored based mostly on the legal guidelines of France.

“We’re being directed, instructed by the worldwide neighborhood … and that’s painful.”

Kosovo nationals are the one individuals in Europe – except for these in Russia and Belarus – who can not journey freely to Europe’s Schengen space and not using a visa, whether or not it is for work, schooling or leisure.

By November 2010, the remainder of the Western Balkans together with Serbia had already achieved visa-free standing to the European Union.

INTERACTIVE - Kosovo cover image

Getting the inexperienced mild requires unanimous approval from all 27 EU member states, and 5 of them – Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania, and Slovakia – nonetheless don’t acknowledge Kosovo’s independence.

It is a difficulty that impacts many, together with Erise Hajrizi, 23, a sociology pupil from Pristina who’s at the moment unemployed.

She has by no means traveled outdoors the Balkans, the place she doesn’t require a visa to enter, a stark distinction from the prewar days when her mother and father freely visited kinfolk in Sweden and Finland.

“I keep in mind on the age of 16, I felt the most important despair of my life, since you had it everywhere in the information that in all places you go within the nation, there’s corruption and nepotism,” Hajrizi instructed Al Jazeera from Pristina.

“You do not have an opportunity to get out of this nation and transfer freely inside Europe or make your goals come true, and this simply makes you so depressed. It is changing into darker and darker.”

She recalled watching the meeting session on TV when independence was declared.

She was 9 then, and watched as her mother and father embraced one another in tears, “celebrating victory and liberation”.

Kosovo Erisa Hajrizi [Uran Krasniqi/Al Jazeera]
‘It’s taking us so lengthy to construct the long run we have been dreaming of,’ says Erisa Hajrizi [Uran Krasniqi/Al Jazeera]

However her imaginative and prescient, that Kosovars would be capable of enhance their nation, was not realized.

“We could have achieved to construct some Hollywood-style buildings right here, however every part is so unorganized, it is such a chaos,” she mentioned.

Easy duties resembling making use of for a passport are difficult.

She misplaced the chance to use for a overseas scholarship as a result of the passport she sought final September nonetheless hasn’t arrived.

“We’re speaking about fundamental wants right here,” Hajrizi mentioned. “I’m very certain that not solely me, however each younger particular person on the first alternative will search a manner out of this nation … It’s taking us so lengthy to construct the long run we have been dreaming of.”

To deal with the issue of corruption and nepotism, Hadri mentioned one must look to the previous, when society selected “the most effective individuals, probably the most sincere individuals” to hold out political actions.

As older generations are dying and a “poorly established youth” is left, it turns into simpler for the worldwide neighborhood to play with appointed officers, “as a result of they lack mental energy, they lack resistance”, she mentioned.

“The federal government needs to be sincere with itself within the first place, after which it ought to appoint [the most competent and patriotic] individuals,” Hadri mentioned. “When your coronary heart is in the best place you additionally select good individuals, and in case you are corrupt, you’ll select the corrupt ones.”

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