news 16 Feb 17

Kosovo Independence Monument Sends ‘No Walls’ Message

Pristina’s NEWBORN independence monument is being redesigned with a ‘No Walls’ message that appears to be addressed to US President Donald Trump as well as Serbs in Kosovo’s north.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
A mock-up of the monument's new design by Fisnik Ismajli.

The well-known NEWBORN monument in Pristina will change its design on February 17, Kosovo’s Independence Day, as it does every year – this time to incorporate the slogan “No Walls”.

The message comes after a controversy sparked by the building of a wall by Serbs in the north of the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica, as well as President Donald Trump’s insistence that he will build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

The Serbs demolished the Mitrovica wall this month after coming to an agreement with the Pristina authorities.

“In a world where walls are being built every day, and freedom of movement is becoming ever more limited by narrow minds, while a wall here continuously harms Kosovo’s sovereignty, NEWBORN wants to bring those walls down, for the sake of humanity,” said the creator of NEWBORN, Fisnik Ismajli, who is also an MP with the opposition Vetevendosje party.

“The Institute for Protection of Monuments and Cultural Heritage approved our idea. But we still did not get an answer from the Ministry of Culture if they will cover the expenses,” Ismajli added.

Friday will be the ninth anniversary of the installation of the monument that was created to mark Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia.

It was painted yellow until the fifth independence anniversary, when Ismajli decided to change it every year to send different messages.

In 2013, the monument was painted with the flags of each country that had recognised Kosovo as an independent state.

In 2014, it was painted with the colours of NATO and Kosovo Liberation Army uniforms.

In 2015, after a massive amount of people from Kosovo emigrated to Europe, seeking a better life, Ismajli let people themselves paint on the letters, except for the letter ‘E’, which he painted black, symbolising the word ‘emigration’.

As Kosovo citizens still cannot travel to EU states without a visa, in 2016 the NEWBORN monument was repainted as a sky with barbed wire.

Since the day it was installed next to the Palace of Youth and Sports in Pristina, NEWBORN became one of the first monuments of Kosovo’s modern history to become a tourist attraction.

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