Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Visiting Kosovo Foreign Minister Says Ignatieff Writings Influenced Him

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Visiting Kosovo Foreign Minister Says Ignatieff Writings Influenced Him

Article excerpt

Kosovo minister cites Ignatieff influence


OTTAWA - The Conservative party may have successfully branded Michael Ignatieff a "just visiting" dilettante before trouncing the former Liberal leader in the last election.

But Kosovo's foreign minister says Ignatieff's writings taught him a crucial lesson: how different ethnic groups can live peacefully together.

"Canada is a good example of building multi-ethnic institutions in society," Enver Hoxhaj said in an interview while visiting Ottawa.

"As a former academic, I was influenced by Michael Ignatieff."

As he prepared for a meeting Wednesday with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Hoxhaj said he wanted to open a new chapter in Kosovo's relations with Canada.

And that goal is influenced by the books and articles Ignatieff wrote in his career before politics, particularly his rumination on nationalism, Blood and Belonging, that took him through the Balkans, Iraq and drew upon his own family roots in Russia.

Ignatieff was not able to connect with Canadian voters, leading his party to its worst-ever defeat in the 2011 election. But his earlier writing helped Hoxhaj understand how Canada's many ethnic groups have managed to live together peacefully.

Kosovars are struggling with that lesson when it comes to their historical foes in Serbia.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, a status Canada and about 100 other countries have formally recognized but that Serbia does not.

The two acrimonious neighbours, whose grievances date back centuries, signed a historic agreement in the spring that works toward normalizing relations.

Canada found itself in the middle of the conflict in 1999 when it sent warplanes, as part of the NATO alliance, to bomb Serbia to end its violence toward the ethnic Albanian Kosovars.

The ethnic violence continued for years, with the Serbian minority in Kosovo -- once a province in former Yugoslavia -- subject to bitter reprisals.

Ethnic Serbs fled Kosovo in droves and those that remained became reliant on NATO peacekeepers to protect them. …

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