News / Europe

    Love for Clintons Lingers in Kosovo, as Country Awaits US Elections

    A statue of former US President Bill Clinton looking towards Bill Clinton Boulevard on a snowy January afternoon in Pristina, Kosovo, Jan. 18, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)
    A statue of former US President Bill Clinton looking towards Bill Clinton Boulevard on a snowy January afternoon in Pristina, Kosovo, Jan. 18, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)
    Phillip Walter Wellman

    In Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, the name Clinton is ubiquitous.

    Bill Clinton Boulevard bisects the city, on which a 10-foot effigy of the former U.S. president, and a giant billboard depicting his smiling face stand. Some Kosovars have even named their sons “Klinton.”

    But it is not just Bill who is beloved here. Hillary, too, has been honored with two clothing stores that bear her name.

    From outside the shops, several bald, expressionless mannequins wearing outfits inspired by the former first lady can be seen in the display windows. Step inside, and the desire for Hillary to succeed in the presidential primary elections and caucuses — which begin next week — and become the next leader of the United States in early 2017 is unquestionable.

    The Hillary Boutique on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina, Kosovo, Jan. 9, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)
    The Hillary Boutique on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina, Kosovo, Jan. 9, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)

    “That woman is an idol for us,” explained Elda Morina, manager of Hillary Boutique 2 as she proudly showed off photos she took with Clinton, who visited Pristina in 2012. Morina is convinced her compatriots would back Clinton if they could take part in the upcoming elections, “because of the name. The surname for us has very, very big meaning.”

    Elda Morina, manager of Hillary Boutique 2, met Hillary Clinton when the former US Secretary of State visited Pristina and the Hillary Boutique in 2012, Jan. 18, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)
    Elda Morina, manager of Hillary Boutique 2, met Hillary Clinton when the former US Secretary of State visited Pristina and the Hillary Boutique in 2012, Jan. 18, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)

    Bill Clinton's support

    Kosovo’s reverence largely stems from the support Bill Clinton provided the territory during its war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in 1999. At the time, the country consisted of present-day Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.

    US-led NATO bombing ended a campaign of killing by Serbian forces against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, which eventually led to Kosovo declaring its independence from Serbia in 2008.

    Belgrade still refuses to recognize the Kosovars’ sovereignty. But during her trip to Pristina five years ago as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said the issue was not debatable. “For me, my family and my fellow Americans this is more than a foreign policy issue,” she affirmed. “It is personal.”

    Moria said such statements are why many in Europe’s newest state would like to see Clinton in the White House. “Kosovo is not the priority for her but if there was instability here, we would need her,” she insisted. “Like always, Clintons provide good support.”

    Regional tensions remain

    While it is generally believed serious instability in Kosovo’s near future is unlikely, ongoing tensions in the region mean the possibility cannot be ruled out.

    Lura Limani, editor-in-chief of English language newspaper Prishtina Insight, agreed American support would be important in any future altercation, but believes it would be provided regardless of who is elected president later this year.

    “The US foreign policy towards Kosovo, or as we like to see it, towards Albanians, has been consistent throughout the twentieth century,” Limani highlighted, “so in that sense I don’t think any sort of election in the U.S. can really change much. And I don’t think that that has happened in the past. After Clinton, Bush as well was very popular here."

    George W. Bush was one of the first world leaders to recognize Kosovo’s independence. As a reward, he too had a Pristina street named after him.

    A street sign for Pristina’s George Bush Boulevard in Albanian, Jan. 19, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)
    A street sign for Pristina’s George Bush Boulevard in Albanian, Jan. 19, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)

    Interest in US presidential race

    Limani said Kosovars will be closely following this year’s presidential race.

    “They don’t follow because they think there’s going to be a foreign policy change,” she explained. “Like most other countries they follow it because the U.S. is a world power and it can change the world in general.”

    “We are among the most pro-American people all over the world,” proclaimed Afrim Hoti, Head of the Political Science Department at Pristina University. “Everyone here is interested in the American elections as they see America as the biggest ally and a partner. Everyone is looking at the US as a friendly country, but not as Republicans or Democrats.”

    A man carries an American flag during an anti-government protest in Pristina, Kosovo. Many Kosovars see America as an “ideal model” of democracy, Jan. 9, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)
    A man carries an American flag during an anti-government protest in Pristina, Kosovo. Many Kosovars see America as an “ideal model” of democracy, Jan. 9, 2016. (P.W. Wellman/VOA)

    'Ideal model' of democracy

    Hoti also said Kosovars look towards the United States — especially at election time — as an “ideal model” of democracy, as they try to build a strong democratic state of their own — a task proving to be difficult.

    Kosovo is experiencing its worst political crisis since declaring independence.

    Thousands took to the streets of Pristina earlier this month to denounce the country’s elected officials, eventually setting fire to the government’s headquarters. Since October, opposition members of parliament have attacked the chamber with tear gas nearly half a dozen times to protest an EU-brokered deal that provides Serbian-majority municipalities with more autonomy.

    “We’re at a very critical point,” admitted Hoti, “and I see no progress unless we organize new elections. The government has to go again to the citizens and gather legitimacy.”

    The opposition has vowed to continue protesting until the government resigns. However, as there are no signs the current administration will acquiesce, it appears the only elections Kosovars will be witnessing any time soon are those in the U.S.

    Back at Hillary Boutique 2, Morina finally admitted, “no matter who wins in the U.S., it’s okay. What’s best for America is best for us.” She then began to laugh. “But personally, those I know want Clinton. And I hope I will have the opportunity to visit her in the White House.”

     

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 27, 2016 10:05 AM
    If Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election in the US perhaps she should run for Mayor of Pristina. Most East European nations liberated from Soviet control remember that it was the US that fought and won the cold war destroying the USSR by bankrupting it in an arms race that was actually an economic war. Western Europeans have forgotten and never lived under the Soviet yoke thanks to the US military and US political will. The USSR referred to their supporters in the west as "useful idiots."

    Western Europeans, many of whom were sympathetic to the USSR do not acknowledge that the US was the reason the USSR was destroyed and will never forgive the US for having done it. I have yet to hear even one acknowledgment from an American or European leftist that they were wrong about the USSR and it was far worse than even its worst critics said it was.

    Was there a legitimate reason that it was in the US interest to bomb Serbia into submission? Yes, NATO allies like Greece and Turkey were headed to refight WWI over it using weapons the US had provided them to fight WWIII against the Warsaw Pact nations.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora