May 9th is celebrated in Kosovo with quite a bit of gusto. The people take the opportunity to promote their European identity, as well as the aspirations of the newest state of the continent.
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Kosovo initially proclaimed its independence on February 17th from Serbia, and since then it has been recognised by the majority of the states in the EU. There are two primary states in the region – Cyprus and Romania – that have made it clear that the officials disapprove of the former provinces newly awarded statehood. Unfortunately, even the first steps of the process of joining the EU is impossible until all the states in the EU officially recognise Kosovo.
History of Europe Day
This is an annual celebration of unity and peace in Europe. There are two designations of Europe Day: The 5th of May, which is for the Council of Europe and the 9th of May, which is for the European Union and when Kosovo recognises and celebrates the occasion.
While the Council of Europe was originally founded on the 5th of May in 1949, the community leaders decided to hold Europe Day on May 9 in commemoration of the Schuman Declaration. This declaration proposed that the West German and French steel and coal industries pool and create the European Coal and Steel Community. This was the first European Community and considered an important founding moment. This is why in 1985, the Milan European Council adopted the 9th of May as the EU’s Flag Day, as well.
While the events may vary slightly from one year to the next, there are some annual activities anyone can expect to participate in and experience. One is the annual soccer tournament in Pristina. Other events include additional sports tournaments, fairs, and concerts, all organised throughout Kosovo in Pristina, Mitrovica, Gnjilane/Gjilan, Pec/Peja, and Prizren. Many promotional materials are handed out to the people on this day from local organisations since such large gatherings are typically present in the streets.
Some of the specific events that take place on Europe Day in Kosovo include:
- Chess and soccer tournaments
- Taste Europe events organised by Pristina authorities
- Gatherings in the streets for speeches from government officials
- Cultural events
- Concerts by children in the area
Visiting Kosovo on Europe Day
Even though Kosovo has not secured its membership in the EU, the people and public servants in the country still celebrate this day. Since Europe Day is a public holiday, all government offices, schools, and the majority of privately owned businesses remain closed. For those who plan on visiting Kosovo during Europe Day, make sure you have everything you need before arriving.
There are typically large crowds of people on the streets, celebrating the day in one way or another. There are also many organisations passing out information and free memorabilia for the day to children. It is a day of frivolity and fun for the people of Kosovo and one that is celebrated throughout the country, by everyone including citizens and government officials.