Mistrust fuels intolerance in divided Kosovo

Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:47am EST
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By Adam Tanner

GORAZDEVAC, Kosovo (Reuters) - Darko Dimitrijevic lives in a Serbian enclave of Kosovo that is protected by international troops and rarely interacts with ethnic Albanians in surrounding villages.

Better-stocked Albanian stores and cafes, as well as a cinema and other amenities, are minutes away by car from his village of 1,000 Serbs in western Kosovo.

But like almost all residents of Gorazdevac, he stays away, fearing intolerance and perhaps violence.

"We are Christians, they are Muslims. They have a different way of life," said Dimitrijevic, a 24-year-old radio station manager who like most young Serbs does not speak Albanian.

He said violence often seemed to set back hopes of better relations, referring to an incident in which two Serb youth in the village were shot dead in 2003.

Dimitrijevic says he could move to Serbia for a better life but wants to stay in the village where his grandfather and great grandfather lived and his family and friends are today.

He hopes politicians can bridge the differences between Serbs and Albanians.

"I'm too small to change anything by myself," he said. "It has to come from the leaders."   Continued...

<p>A boy rides his bike through a partially destroyed Serbian Orthodox cemetery is seen in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in this November 13, 2008. REUTERS/Adam Tanner</p>