National heroes of one side are the national enemies of another

1 minute read


It is common to be true that the national heroes of one side are the national enemies of another. But nowhere can demonstrate the absurd behind so profoundly than in Mitrovica, Kosovo, where another side is just 50 meters away.

To provide a brief background, Kosovo eventually declared its independence after the breakup of Yugoslavia. However, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country and considers Kosovo as part of Serbia. To make matters worse, some Serbs live in Kosovo. Mitrovica is the border city of the two ethnic groups that are separated by a river: the north is dominated by Serbs, and the south is dominated by Albanians (the leading ethnic group of Kosovo).

Mitrovica, thus, is usually the center of the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. There are peacekeepers from NATO in Mitrovica all year round trying to separate them and calm any dispute. However, a tense atmosphere can happen from time to time. Three months ago, Kosovo Serbs blocked the road to the main border crossings towards Serbia in Mitrovica1.

Peacekeepers in Mitrovica by Italian Carabinieri.

When crossing the river in Mitrovica, everything changes. In North Mitrovica, people believe in Orthodox, speak Serbian, fly the flag of Serbia, and use Serbian Dinar as their currency. In contrast, in South Mitrovica, people believe in Islam, talk in Albanian, hang the flags of Kosovo and Albania, and spend Euro. Ridiculously, both sides would commemorate their national heroes, who happened to be the murderers of another side in the same conflict.

The national hero of the Serbs is the national enemy on the other side
The national hero of the Albanian is the national enemy on the other side

Different ethnic groups can live together peacefully, just like in Yugoslavia. But after so many deadly conflicts, how should they reconcile with their enemy? Stopping commemorating those national heroes can be the first step toward reconciliation. The national heroes rarely did something good for humanity; thus, from a broader human perspective, nothing is worth commemorating them.