Kosovo’s Man in the Bronx




I figured something was up when Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) kept calling Kosovo “Kosova” (the Albanian pronunciation) at the most recent House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on the Balkans. Turns out Engel’s swapped the last “o” in Kosovo for a central boulevard in the heart of Pec, a majority Albanian city in western Kosovo that was once the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch (back in the 15th century, that is).

Sewell Chan, NYT:

“It felt a bit surreal on Sunday, during a visit to Pec … to encounter a main boulevard named for Representative Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester and Rockland Counties.”Engel has been a strong advocate for Kosovo and introduced the House Resolution supporting its unilateral declaration of independence last February. According to Chan:

‘The makeup of Mr. Engel’s constituency may help explain his advocacy for the province… The Albanian population in the Bronx took root in the 1970s, Mr. Engel remembered. “A lot of them were superintendents when they came,” he said. Groups of relatives or friends would save up money and buy a building, which they would manage. The population surged again in the 1990s fueled in large part by the Kosovo crisis and prompting efforts to organize Albanian-Americans.”‘

New York Albanians are quite the force to be reckoned with. According to Stacy Sullivan in her book Be Not Afraid, For You Have Sons in America, one Kosovar Albanian roofer in Brooklyn helped raise $30 million to fund and outfit the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) — and largely with American-made guns.