Wanted: Lyricist to pen unifying national anthem for Kosovo

Kosovo still has not found someone able to write words of unity for Europe's newest country without causing offence to one of its ethnic groups. Picture: AP
Kosovo still has not found someone able to write words of unity for Europe's newest country without causing offence to one of its ethnic groups. Picture: AP
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Every country has a national anthem, a musical compilation that aims to stir patriotic emotion, and Kosovo is no exception – except its anthem has no lyrics.

Ten years after the former Serb territory declared independence and nearly two decades after it was engulfed in war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Yugoslav government forces, it still has not found someone able to write words of unity for Europe’s newest country without causing offence to one of its ethnic groups.

Mendi Mengjiqi, who composed the anthem in June 2008, after Kosovo’s February 17 declaration of independence, said: “The text should be written in a way that does not leave the impression to the minorities they are threatened or offended” . So far, no attempts have been successful.

A decade after independence, Kosovo seems to have all the trappings of a modern, if poor, Balkan country.

The bombed-out buildings and tank tread-destroyed streets of the 1998-99 war have been replaced by highways and shopping malls, bustling cafes and shiny office buildings.

Construction cranes can be seen on the drive into Pristina, the capital, as workers build homes and businesses.

President Hashim Thaci, a former commander of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, declared: “Kosovo is a joint success story, of the international community and the Kosovars.”

It was he who declared Kosovo’s independence in 2008, nearly nine years after Nato conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo is recognised by 115 countries, including the United States and most Western powers, and has joined about 200 international organisations.

But Serbia, which for centuries has considered Kosovo the cradle of its civilisation, still sees it as part of its own territory and has the support of Russia and China.

Five European Union members also do not recognise Kosovo’s independence.

A close look reveals a young country still struggling with nationhood.

The Serb minority, which was the territory’s politically dominant ethnicity before the war, lives in enclaves.

Although people generally are no longer attacked for entering a different ethnic area, tension can be easily sparked.

Kosovo Serbs, who live mostly in northern Kosovo neighbouring Serbia, are 
adamant that they do not come under direct rule from Pristina.