Kosovo 11.08.2013 - 20.08.2013
What do you associate with Kosovo? If you are thinking of war, organized crime and the occasional talented footballer, think again. During this 10-day trip, you will discover the complex and fascinating reality of the latest addition to the European map.
Kosovo, five years since it declared independence, is not only the newest, but also the youngest country on Europe’s map. With half the population under 25 years old, it faces particular challenges of economic development, recognition within the international arena and reconciliation of a divided society.
This trip offers the unique opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people that make up this small country, including politicians, artists, journalists and activists from different ethnic groups. We will learn about the history of Kosovo, a place where empires and kingdoms met, which experienced Yugoslav socialism, NATO intervention and an almost decade-long rule under UN administration, until it finally declared itself independent in 2008. Participants will have the chance to learn first hand about the hopes and ambitions of Kosovars for a future within the European Union, while enjoying the country’s hospitality and diversity. Let yourself be surprised by the beautiful religious and cultural heritage, breath-taking nature and excellent cuisine!
In Switzerland Kosovo is mostly known for the war of the late 1990ies, which brought many Kosovars to Switzerland, but there is little understanding of its complex history, current achievements and challenges. During this trip, we will discover what makes Kosovo so special, its history and religious heritage, contemporary culture, nature, politics and economics, including what role Switzerland is playing in its development. On the one hand, we will see how Kosovo still struggles with the consequences of the conflict, by speaking to representatives of the Serb minority, walking through the divided city of Mitrovica and visiting development projects that are helping the Roma population out of poverty and displacement. On the other hand, by meeting entrepreneurs, artists, and journalists, we will learn about the ambitions of Kosovo’s youngsters, including their achievements in the cultural and business sphere.
Things we want to accomplish on this trip
- Gain a nuanced understanding of Kosovo’s complex and troubled past, its present challenges and its potential for the future
- Meet the people driving the country’s development in the fields of politics, business, media, and arts
- Learn about state building and development initiatives by international organizations and NGOs, and particularly the role Switzerland plays in Kosovo
- Meet members of different ethnic groups and hear their perspectives
- Discover how Kosovo is dealing with its violent past and learn about the prospects for reconciliation
- Visit the sites that made Kosovo and Balkan history – from the Battle of Kosovo to the divided city of Mitrovica
- Hike in the beautiful Rugova mountains
- Visit the international film festival Dokufest in the historic Ottoman city of Prizren
- Meet with government representatives and the opposition
- Meet a Swiss expert who advises the Kosovo authorities as part of the EU Rule of Law Mission, EULEX
- Visit beautiful Serbian Orthodox Monasteries that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Sleep in a traditional Albanian Kulla (fortified house) in the country side and enjoy a traditional Albanian meal