Pristina, July 25, 2000
Major Kahrs, soon to be civilian Kristian Kahrs getting my diploma for my service in KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
On Thursday I'm leaving for Skopje taking a plane back to Norway, and on Friday I'll walk out the gates of the military camp near Oslo as a civilian. The time in Kosovo has given me a lot, and I have been fortunate to see how beautiful Kosovo can be. As a press officer, I've had the ability to see Kosovo in a way a patrolling soldier would not be able to do. I feel very privileged about that. I've experienced the good and the bad sides of the Kosovar society, and I have seen the enormous challenges in this province. I have spoken to Oliver Ivanovic for 45 minutes, (Ivanovic is the leader of the Serb community in Mitrovica), I have interacted with local Kosovars, and I have seen massgraves, one of the reasons for our presence in Kosovo,
One reason that I want to come back to Kosovo is that the Kosovars will face the challenge of the first democratic elections in October. The Kosovars (all ethnic groups) do not have a tradition of solving their differences in a democratic way, but most Kosovars are enthused about the chance to determine their own future. Over 1,000.000 Kosovars have registered for the elections, and observers in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) believe in a very big turnout for the elections.
Many of the Kosovo Serbs are very radicalized and far away from reality. This Serb lady living in an enclave outside Pristina is an example of that. "The Albanians had a very good life under Milosevic. He gave them jobs, housing and food. Just wait a year, and they will cry to get Milosevic back," she said.
I've experienced the Serb hatred personally, and I have been called the worse things. I'm getting used to letters saying things like: "You Nazi bastard, get the hell out of my country." The Nazi rhetoric is very strong from the extremist Serbs, and even if what the Belgrade regime does is pure fascism, they accuse the rest of the world of being Nazis with a single goal to destroy the Serb Nation. To some Serbs my nickname is Vidkun Kahrs. (After Vidkun Quisling, the Nazi traitor in Norway during WWII). However, I do not believe these extremists are representative for the ordinary Serb who just want peace and security.
I'm looking forward to seeing my family again. You must promise not to tell my mum, but I plan to buy her and my dad a computer to get them online. My dad had a stroke some years ago, and I don't think he's going to be able to be an expert surfer, but I'll do as best as I can with my mum. I promise you; that is going to be a long term project, but I have to show them the possibilities of the Internet. I have a feeling I'm going to spend some years in missions abroad, and then it would be perfect to talk to my mum via e-mail and cheap phone calls through the Internet.
Anyway, when I've trained my mum, I'll head back for Kosovo. I've got a couple of options lined up, but if they fail me, I'll try to work as a freelance journalist working for Norwegian and international media. In the seven months I've spent in Kosovo, I have gathered much knowledge about the region, and I believe there is a market for me as a freelancer here.
PS: If anybody wish not to receive e-mail updates from me, please give me a note, and I'll take you out immediately.
Major Kristian Kahrs, Internet Coordinator, KFOR Online
KFOR Press and Information Center, Pristina, Kosovo
Phone: +389 91 68 2727 Sat phone: +871 382 060 323
Official KFOR homepage: http://kforonline.com
Private homepage: http://home.sol.no/~kkahrs
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