Monday, February 25, 2008

Chicago, February 24, 2008

February 24, 2008
"Kosovo is Serbia"
Chicago Federal Building
230 S Dearborn Street
Chicago IL
Fr. Milos is professor of Serbian chant at the St. Sava School of Theology

Chicago Tribune:
Chicago-area Serbs rally at Federal Plaza to protest Kosovo's independence
Last week's declaration assailed as breach of international law.
A week after Kosovo declared independence, Chicago-area Serbs flooded Federal Plaza on Sunday to protest the political divide centered around the ancestral heart of Serbia.
Distance did little to diminish the emotion.
Hundreds of Serbian immigrants converged downtown in objection to Kosovo's secession and the U.S. recognition of it.
In a blend of Serbian and English, priests, lawyers and community leaders blasted the independence declaration as a breach of international law and a troubling precedent for any country that confronts separatist demands.
Ethnic Albanians account for nine of every 10 Kosovo residents, and leaders there have long hoped for an independent state.
The breakaway province cuts across the southern swath of Serbia, fueling concerns that independence could broaden divisions between the mostly Albanian south and the Serbian north. The region represents about 15 percent of Serbian territory.
Both Albanians and Serbs have suffered in the past.
The struggles culminated in the region's violent conflicts a decade ago.
Still, many Serbs said Kosovo's monasteries and centuries of tradition represent the essence of Serbia's history and culture.
„Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. It will stay that way. This is where our identity comes from,” said Tena Andric, 26, a graduate student at DePaul University who left Serbia when she was 2.
The area's entangled past offers a lesson for its future, said Mike Davidovac of Niles, who lived in the northern part of the country as a child. „We don't want a separation,” said Davidovac, 49, who settled in the U.S. 33 years ago.
The Chicago region is home to more than 200,000 residents of Serbian descent, along with ethnic Albanians who number more than 20,000, community leaders said.
Reactions among Balkan ethnic groups have been as divided locally as those expressed in what once was Yugoslavia.
Albanians drove through Chicago waving flags and toasted U.S. recognition of Kosovo's independence during a cocktail party in Elmhurst last week.
Serbs, meanwhile, organized the protest Sunday, and another one is planned for Saturday at noon in Daley Plaza.
Many ethnic Serbs born in the U.S. said they feel torn between allegiances to the two countries. U.S. officials reiterated support for a free Kosovo after independence was declared.
The stance triggered an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade when a protest turned violent last week.
„The way I look at it is, would the U.S. allow part of South Florida to become part of Cuba?” said Nancy Beric, 46, of Hickory Hills, whose parents are Serbian immigrants. „Everyone around the world is watching.”

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