Sunday, January 22, 2006

Press mulls Rugova death

Newspapers in Kosovo, Serbia and neighbouring Albania reveal markedly different attitudes towards the death of Kosovo Pesident Ibrahim Rugova.

In Kosovo itself, newspapers carry large front-page pictures of their 61-year-old leader who died from lung cancer on Saturday, and headlines reflect their deep sorrow.

The close affinity of Albania with the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo is reflected in the press there, with headlines echoing their Kosovo counterparts and eulogising the dead president.

In Serbia, which eventually lost control over Kosovo after years of conflict with the ethnic Albanians, newspapers are either critical of Rugova and his people or are more concerned with pragmatic issues like who will be his successor and the move towards independence.

Kosovo's Bota Sot carries a headline: "President Rugova is no more, the Albanian nation is orphaned."

Koha Ditore hails "Ibrahim Rugova - an icon of independence". Another headline proclaims "Kosovo lost its President in the final run-up to Independence".

Express believes the past years have proved to be "Rugova's Epoch". It bids farewell with the headline, "Goodbye Marathon-runner". Lajm calls him simply "The statesman".

In Albania, Ballkan hails Rugova as the "Albanian icon who created an independent Kosovo".
A commentator in the same paper calls him "the last of the Renaissance figures".

Another independent Albanian daily, Gazeta 55, carries the headline: "Rugova was God's gift for Albanians."

Other headlines include: "Rugova, embodiment of noble aspirations for independence" and "Death of a symbol".

The renowned Albanian writer Ismail Kadare is quoted as designating Rugova "one of the leaders of the entire Albanian people".

Two other papers lament that he failed to live to see Kosovo's full independence. "Death separates President of Kosovo Rugova from independence," says Sunday's Albania .

"Independence without Rugova," runs a headline in Gazeta Shqiptare.

In Serbia, the Belgrade daily Glas javnosti carries the headline: "War starts between Albanians".
"The last representative of the moderate Albanian wing has gone. His party has been torn apart by a war involving three factions," says a commentary in the paper.

"The Balkan Ghandi or Kosovo Havel, as he was called by the foreign media, had not been prominent in the attempts to protect the Serbs after the arrival of the UN administration," it concludes.

Vecernje novosti asks "Who will Succeed Rugova". "The richest Albanian, Bexhet Pacoli who is based in Switzerland, has already said that he wants to take over at the helm and take the Kosovo ship to the port of independence."

The Belgrade daily Politika notes that the "Kosovo talks, scheduled to start on 25 January, could be postponed because of the death of Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova".

Story from BBC NEWS:

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