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    Bridging a divide in Kosovo

    Bridging a divide in Kosovo

    Photo By Nadine Wiley De Moura | STREZOVCE/STREZOFC, Kosovo--- KFOR Regional Command East Soldiers follow a local...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    STREZOVCE/STREZOFC, Kosovo--- KFOR Regional Command East Soldiers follow a local subsistence farmer on a half-mile trek to the village water source and brace themselves as they cross a narrow rickety foot bridge made of wooden planks and clutch the makeshift-tree branch banister, Sept. 18 in a small village in Kamenica/Kamenice, Kosovo.

    The divide that Liaison Monitoring Team “K18” are helping to resolve in Strezovce/Stretzofc isn’t typical of their day to day missions where they are tasked with monitoring the pulse of communities in their area of operations to include tensions among Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian communities.

    On the contrary, they are helping two senior leaders, a Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian, who are next door neighbors and lifelong friends advocate for an actual bridge that would enable easier access to their shared water source.

    “When I first visited the village, I was taken by surprise because I thought it was two Kosovo Serbian and Kosovo Albanian communities living side by side, but in this case they are actual neighbors,” said 1st Lt. Parker Mooney, Liaison Monitoring Team commander for “K18”.

    “Their only water source right now, depending on where they live is a 10 minute walk over a rickety wood plank bridge. Men, women and children have to cross it two to three times a day all throughout the year just to get their water.”

    For that village it would be a huge quality of life booster, Mooney added.
    Mooney noted that Yugoslav Jevtic, a subsistence farmer and Remzi Shillova, a traffic cop, their families and village members would benefit from the improvement as it takes a lot of time out of their day just to acquire something as simple as water.

    The two neighbors have been working together to communicate with the deputy mayor for communities and liaison monitoring team to resolve their water source issue.

    The project was first identified by the 26th rotation of Kosovo Forces who then passed the information on to KFOR 27 for continuity.
    “Mr. Yugoslov Jevtic introduced himself to K18 in May when we were checking out the foot bridge as a civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) project,” said Sgt. David Wilburn, K18 liaison monitoring team member.

    “He was the point of contact for prior LMTs when they submitted the foot bridge to CIMIC. He is always outspoken about his neighborhood with both Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian houses.”

    Jevtic owns two hectares and tends to three hectares that belong to Kosovo Albanian neighbors who gave him permission to farm their land and allow Jevtic to keep whatever money he earns from it.

    “There are two Kosovo Serbian and two Kosovo Albanian houses on my street,” said Jevtic. “You could not ask for better neighbors.”

    Jevtic’s adult sons and wife help him farm his land. He grows corn, wheat, and vegetables and raises pigs and chicken. The food he grows is for his own family's use and to sell at the Friday market in Kamenica/Kamenice.

    After the war of 1999, the farmer's market in Kamenica/Kamenice was the first market in Kosovo to have both Kosovo Serbian and Kosovo Albanian vendors.

    Prior to the war, he worked for 10 years in a tile factory of 950 employees where both Kosovo Serbian and Kosovo Albanian workers were integrated.

    Jevtic said that both Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian residents are petitioning for infrastructure improvements in the municipality.

    As the LMTs assist the two village leaders in communicating their needs to the municipality and KFOR civil-military co-operation officers they were most impressed with the friendship the two shared.

    The project has garnered the attention of KFOR Soldiers as it aligns with their mission of promoting a safe and secure environment and supporting communities that work together irrespective of their ethnicities in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

    “Mr. JEVTIC and I grew up together, we went to school together and he is still my neighbor,” said Remzi Shillova, as he hugs Jevtic.

    "Even during the war of 1999, we were friends and we helped each other. He can borrow my farm equipment any time, there is no need to ask".

    The two posed together side by side, with their arms over each other’s shoulders, standing on the very bridge they are working together to replace for their shared community.

    “When I see them together I don’t see a Kosovo Serbian and Kosovo Albanian, I see just two neighbors living together,” said Mooney.

    “It shows that it is possible to have that kind of relationship. Every little bit counts and whatever action that we take today to promote that-- we may not see the results today-- but in the end that is how you build lasting relationships like the one they have.”



    Date Taken: 10.27.2020
    Date Posted: 10.27.2020 11:28
    Story ID: 381803

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