Political Violence in Kosovo: Know Before You Go

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What you need to know about political tensions, and how it may affect your trip.

Sofi Sinan Pasha Mosque in Prizren, Kosovo Photo © Getty Images/Harri Jarvelainen Photography

Not everyone recognizes Kosovo's unilateral declaration of freedom, none less than Serbia, which still sees itself as the territorial sovereign. Tensions run high between the two countries, and they share the only real "hot" border in the Balkans.

Political violence

Since Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008, Serbia has consistently challenged this, and travellers are advised to keep an ear to the political situation in case the situation turns ugly.

In July 2011 Serbian nationalists whom the BBC said were "rejecting Kosovo independence" attacked the border post at Jarinja, in the far north of Kosovo, setting fire to buildings. It's feared it's the first move in a wider campaign to re-ignite the issue.

Nonetheless it illustrates how deep-seated tension can spill over into violence. Luckily no tourists attempting to cross the border at the time were hurt.

Kosovo is largely a safe country and visitors report mostly positive experiences in travel forums. Americans are regularly surprised at the warm reception they receive, and quickly learn that the US was one of the first countries to recognize its independence.

The touchy parts of the country are mostly up north, near the Serbian border. You should probably avoid the towns of Mitrovica, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan. This is where internal ethic tensions sometimes boils over into violent conflict. You don't want to get caught in the middle of one.

Obviously, you should stay away from public gatherings, protests, political rallies, and roadblocks, as there is always the chance they could turn violent. There have been nasty skirmishes as recent as late 2010: we're talking car bombs, stoning of buses and riots that left several people injured and at least one dead. These can happen anywhere, even in the capital Pristina.

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  • elizabeth said

    Is there still alot of tension between serbians and albanians in kosovo<br>Is religion a tension still in kosovo<br>How are most women treated in kosovo from the men

  • Phil said

    Hi Elizabeth, there's a great service we offer for asking questions like yours, go to: answers.worldnomads.com and post your question there, you'll get lots of great answers from other travellers.

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