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Media in Serbia claim a star-studded line-up of A-list actors back its struggle over Kosovo.
Serbia may feel it's short of friends in the world - not counting Russia - but, according to the Serbia media, it has no shortage of allies among Hollywood celebrities not otherwise known for their knowledge of the Balkans.
Actor and producer Tom Hanks is only the latest to weigh on Belgrade's behalf, reportedly telling a television interview recently that Kosovo has always been Serbian and that the Serbs will one day claim back their land.
In an interview with E!, an American cable and satellite television, in which he talked about a new film by Steven Spielberg about the history of the state of Israel, Hanks compared the suffering of the Jews to that of the Kosovo Serbs, the Belgrade daily Politika reported on Monday.
"Despite everything, they [Jews] have never lost faith in their roots and their hope that they will claim back their lands. We have the same thing happening with Kosovo today," Hanks was reported to have said.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which Serbia bitterly opposes. So far, Kosovo has been recognised by 97 out of 198 UN member states, including the US and 22 of the 27 EU memeber states.
Serbian daily newspaper have linked Hanks' support for Serbia to his conversion to the Orthodox Christian faith. He joined the Greek Orthodox Church when he married his wife Rita Wilson in 1988.
According to another newspaper, Vecernje Novosti, James Bond star Sean Connery also opposes the independence of Kosovo, apparently because Kosovo should not enjoy what Scotland still lacks.
“During its history, Scotland has had far more grounds to be granted independence [than Kosovo], but it was not allowed to secede,” the actor reportedly said.
In the past couple of years, other prominent supporters of the Serbian cause in Hollywood included Robert De Niro, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Richard Gere.
As a student, De Niro travelled to Serbia and, according to his own words, spent memorable days among the Serbian farmers in a small village in the central region of Sumadija.
According to reports, he named his daughter Drena, after the novel “Bridge on Drina River” by the Serbian writer and Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric, Vecernje Novosti reported.
De Niro is also known as a big fan of Novak Djokovic, Serbian World No. 1 tennis player.
According to Vecernje Novosti, Clooney said that even though he avidly follows world events, he was given no opportunity to hear the Serbian side when it comes to the Kosovo issue.
“The Serbian lobby is very weak in United States and all one can hear or read comes from the Albanian lobby and lobbyists,” Clooney was reported to have said.
The reports have caused considerable annoyance in Kosovo, prompting counter-claims that comments attributed to Hanks and other US stars have either been taken out of context or are untrue.
The Kosovo daily, Koha ditore, on Wednesday said that the Hanks statement had been denied by his publicist, Leslee Dart.
"Mr Hanks will not comment on this. This is completely untrue. Tom Hanks never said such a thing. And neither he nor Mr Spielberg is doing any film or documentary about the history of Israel," the Kosovo daily reported Dart as having said.
"This is entirely a fabrication," she repeated.
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