We took Georg Simmel’s notion of “stranger,” who “comes today and stays tomorrow,” the potential wanderer, who, “although he has gone no further, has not quite got over the freedom of coming and going,” – to better identify those natives of other countries who came to Kosovo especially after 1999, and lived in Kosovo for an extended period of time, and/or currently live in Kosovo. They are officials of international institutions, staff of non-governmental organizations, business people, journalists, teachers, etc. They are commonly known as “the internationals.” They are not simply foreigners, they are part of Kosovo itself: they participate in local life in different fields and varying positions of power, and they are also co-creators, with Kosovars, of a transnational space which is cultural, social and political. In the words of Simmel, they are not unlike “inner enemies,” whose membership within the Kosovo society involves both being outside and confronting it. By collecting their life histories, we aim to shed light on the complicated status of outsiders/insiders and on what constructs this divide.

Seda Pumpyanskaya

Former UNMIK official for public information in Kosovo

The first very physical feeling in Kosovo, because of the way the conflict developed, was a wall. This is a wall, and the international community is not going to overcome it. And that was politically a different feeling, because you work in very difficult circumstances but you kind of try, or here you understand that’s a wall, and you can’t do anything, I am talking about the relationships of Albanians and Serbs, honestly. And that determined a lot of the political world, work. Anyway, safety, coming back to safety. I wasn’t quite sure how I am going to be seen as a Russian, because of all the biases. Well, I kind of thought, ok, the Albanians are going to say, ‘She is Russian, she is Russian.’ Am I safe? Am I going to be well taken? Am I going to be able to do my job? What? What? These are the questions, which are kind of in your head, which are normal human.

So, my reaction was a funny one, because standing, checking in, I don’t know, somewhere, I don’t know, there was like a short line, I think I turned my head and there was a guy standing behind me and asking, ‘Are you also coming?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Where are you going to stay in Pristina?’ And I told him, ‘Why don’t we live together?’ I don’t mean live together in any terms, but I guess it was my protective side, like, why not, I don’t know, couple with somebody. That was a very nice feeling, because it turned up in a very unexpected community, and I am going to talk about this international community in Kosovo. The guy, my friend Antonio, was from Brazil. He was working with IT and with the website, that was just developing. Well, I told you in Bosnia that was the first website that we created. Yes, actually I got to Kosovo because somebody whom I met in Bosnia, Simon Haselock, who was the spokesperson, the head of public information for the Office of the High Representative, moved there and he called me and that how the transfer happened.  […] I have Spanish background in the sense of language I speak six language, and I studied a lot of Spanish literature. We ended up in a nice company of these three Latin American guys and myself. Lots of fun, one was Peruvian, one Chilean, Antonio was from Brazil, and myself.

Jolyon Naegele

Journalist/UN official

What grabbed me by far and what, what haunts me to this day, was having been at Vërmica crossing, Morina on the Albanian side, but meters from, from the border, and seeing these masses of people come across. […] I had gone out first thing in the morning and the place was empty, there was one Albanian officer leaning on the border rail, sort of looking into Kosovo and it was no traffic in either direction of course, and I was there with a driver and an interpreter and I said, ‘So, where is everyone?’ […] We went back to Kukës after he told us, ‘Look, they don’t, the Serbs don’t let anyone out until after 10:00 in the morning, come back around 11:00 or so, you’ll see the scenes.’ And sure enough it was right out of the BBC, Sky or, or CNN. A line of cars back towards Prizren, sneaking to, up to the border and […] the cars were packed with people, the maximum number that could squeeze in, plus belongings and these people were completely traumatized, it was obvious at first sight. There was an older woman from the Swiss Red Cross in uniform, who reached into each car and stroked the arms of each person in the car and assured them in Albanian that they were safe, that they were no longer in Serbia, Yugoslavia, they were in Albania, they were safe.

[…] They were also traumatized, they had seen piles of bodies, dead people, outside, on the side of the road, where the Serb police had taken people, soldiers, paramilitary had taken people out of cars, off buses, young men and simply shot them. […] These people then came across and some somehow started, somehow expected that their relatives who had already left would be there waiting there for them. They were disoriented, I remember them, just, some women just putting their bags down the middle of the field and looking around and really not knowing where to go, what was next, there was no reception center, anything up there. Others came across on tractors, one told me that he had thought he could sit it out with the family in Gjakova but that morning, 3:00 in the morning, Serb forces showed up in the house next door, took the neighbor out into the garden, shot him and he said, ‘That’s it, I couldn’t take it any longer,’ packed bags, packed their bags, got in the car and left within minutes.

Antonella Giorgioni

Restaurateur

And in 2000 [2004], when they burned the church? I was here. That was another really dirty business. I am sorry, I must say this. At 7:30pm I hear some grenades, all the young people, nobody was at home, they were all outside. At 7:30pm I decide to close the restaurant, send all the kids home, until about midnight  I stayed here. At 2am a call arrives from the Italian Embassy, they say, ‘Antonella, run, run there is a big fire, there is a big fire next to your restaurant.’ Before going back home, before midnight, I saw the priest run away with his daughter, fortunately the police pick them up and took them away.  At 2am the Embassy calls, ‘Run run, there is a big fire.’ I come here alone, I take all the garbage cans, I fill them up with water because as the crow flies, this is an old house, as the crow flies it is two hundred meters from the church, and the bell tower was on fire, it was really a huge fire.