Five things to know about Kosovo as it celebrates 10 years of independence

Kosovo Albanians dressed in traditional costumes play drums and pipes as they march in the main square of Pristina during celebrations for the 10th anniversary of Kosovo Independence. Independence celebrations are a matter of pride for Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, although sovereignty remains fiercely contested by Serbia. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Five things to know about Kosovo as it celebrates 10 years of independence

PRISTINA: Kosovo, which celebrates 10 years of independence on Saturday, has a flag that few people care about, four international telephone codes and a judoka hero.
Here are five things to know about the youngest European country.
1. Kosovo’s flag bears the shape of its territory and six yellow stars, for its six main ethnic groups, on a blue background. It is mockingly called a towel by members of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, who believe it was adopted largely to please Western patrons. The flag flown all over Kosovo is that of neighboring Albania — a black double-headed eagle on a red background. The American stars and stripes are also prevalent, owing to Washington’s strong support in Kosovo’s struggle for independence from Serbia. In the areas that are home to Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority, the “towel” is rarely seen and instead, the Serbian flag dominates.
2. Owing to Serbia’s opposition to independence, three other countries’ dialling codes are in use in Kosovo: Serbia’s +381 for landlines plus Monaco’s +377 and Slovenia’s +386 for mobile phones. Kosovo was allocated +383 as its own code after striking a deal with Belgrade. This is already being used on the popular messaging app Viber and is due to be fully operational later this year.
3. Kosovo beat its big brother Albania to an Olympic medal during the country’s first appearance at the Games in Rio in 2016, when national heroine Majlinda Kelmendi took gold in judo. Kosovo uses sport as a diplomatic tool and gained admission to the International Olympic Committee in 2014 to the great displeasure of Serbia. It proudly celebrated skier Albin Tahiri, Kosovo’s lone athlete in last week’s opening parade in Pyeongchang and its first sportsman in a Winter Olympics.
4. Kosovo is home to around 1.8 million people but another 700,000 Kosovo Albanians are estimated to live abroad, mostly in Germany and Switzerland. The diaspora, which has its own ministry, sent some 620 million euros ($760 million) to Kosovo in the first 10 months of 2017, making it a major contributor to the functioning of the country, alongside international aid.
5. Some 95 percent of Kosovo Albanians are Muslims, but one of the Balkan region’s largest Roman Catholic cathedrals sits in the center of Pristina. Dedicated to Saint Mother Teresa, of ethnic Albanian heritage, the church is a symbol of gratitude to the West for supporting independence.


Interfaith coexistence on agenda at Moscow meeting

Updated 32 sec ago
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Interfaith coexistence on agenda at Moscow meeting

  • The meeting between Zuhair bin Ali Azhar, the chairman and CEO of DLT, and Sergei Stepashin, the chairman of IOPS, developed grounds for a joint agreement to renounce extremism
  • The DLT CEO told Arab News that during his visit to IOPS the two groups discussed the Qaweem initiative, which aims to combat intellectual extremism and promote moderate thought

JEDDAH: A joint agreement to counter extremism was discussed at a meeting between the Distance Learning and Training Company (DLT) and the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) on Tuesday in Moscow.

The meeting between Zuhair bin Ali Azhar, the chairman and CEO of DLT, and Sergei Stepashin, the chairman of IOPS, at its headquarters in the capital, developed grounds for a joint agreement to renounce extremism, promote peaceful coexistence among people of different religions, and to support cooperation in training and education.

The DLT CEO told Arab News that during his visit to IOPS the two groups discussed the “Qaweem” initiative, which aims to combat intellectual extremism and promote moderate thought.

He highlighted that “the initiative is being finalized to launch during the coming period across the world.”

Azhar added: “The Qaweem initiative has a clear, effective and purposeful message for the whole world and aims to counter extremism, renounce terrorism, and promote moderate thought, intellectual security and coexistence values for people to communicate with each other without discrimination.

“The initiative also contributes to supporting education, development and training in countries that need it.”

The chief of IOPS called for a strategic partnership that aims to reject extremist ideas and promote peaceful coexistence between religions without religious, lingual or gender discrimination.

The meeting was concluded by the signing of a strategic cooperation and partnership agreement covering the initiative.

The meeting was attended by Elena Agapova, the vice chairman of IOPS, Albir-hazrat Krganov, the mufti of Moscow and head of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, and Stanislav Kudryashov, the president of the Center for International Partnership and Business Cooperation (CIBPC).