After the war of 1998-1999 and NATO aggression in 1999, Mitrovica is geographically and ethnically divided into two parts: the Northern part, where majority of the population are Serbs, and they do not accept Kosovo “State” institutions and are claiming for their “authonomy”, living like a sort of “parallel life” for the administrative way; and the Southern part, which is also part of the institutional framework of Kosovo, where majority of the population are ethnically Albanians and also suffer for the division of the region.
In such a way, this division, being a geographical and social one and portrayed by the conflict and the power, is also a division in minds and perceptions, since each community, in the last years, has been developed inside and not outside. For this, they have been rather blocked and barricaded from outer impacts, without knowing what has been really happening fifty meters across the river or across the bridge, just outside the respective communities.
Virtually, the two communities are exchanging and sharing, for certain extents, ideas, thoughts, values, but not eventually in Mitrovica: they have sometimes to go to Rome, Vienna, Bruxelles, to discuss about themselves, but not in the city and in the place where they are living. That is more and more feeding the violent conflict rather than helping the pro-active peace resolution and positive non-violent reconciliation, following a constructive approach too.
The two communities are like the same, they want or desire, basically, the same, they want to live together in a peace environment and in a better way, than the one they actually live, with more opportunities in job, wealth and well-being, but the ranked politics and certain leaders want them to do the opposite. Talking with people, facing the question how to do, how to handle the situation, how to live together, the problem is to “get over”, to overcome – and find a way to do that – the actual real situation.
As brilliantly stated by Johan Galtung, talking about Balkans, Socialist Yugoslavia, and Kosovo: «Everybody must be represented; everybody must feel at home; the benefits must be reasonably mutual and equal. Educators can make the traumas and glories of all states and nations a shared property; for empathy, for harmony. Historians can bring perpetrators and victims closer to each other by producing histories acceptable to both. Politicians can become more creative and find new conflict solutions».
Recent researches have pointed out the cultural dimension is often at the heart of peace-building processes by being at once part of the problem and part of the solution. This is a task and a challenge for the “culture-oriented peace-building”. As Michelle LeBaron has put it: «Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives, giving us messages shaping perceptions … and ideas of self and the other». It’s like you really want to look for a better future and to live together and, in the same time, you are not allowed to do.