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Site Profiles: Interviewee Areas of Kosovo

Southwestern Pristina Municipality- Gracanica, Preoce, Livadje, Laplje Selo & Caglavica
Site Profiles: Gracanica | Preoce | Livadje

Southwestern Pristina Municipality- Gracanica

Gracanica (pop. 5076*) is the largest Serbian & Roma enclave within Pristina municipality. The village lies 13 KM south of Pristina on the Pristina- Gnjilane ‘highway,’ and is approximately 40 KM from Gnjilane/ Gjilan. Gracanica is the most survivable and sustainable Serb/ Roma area within the municipality due to its established population and its status as a minority-busing transit point. However, the town’s population has dwindled significantly since the events following the June 1999 cessation of hostilities between FRY and NATO.  

Security & Transportation

The security situation inside Gracanica is stable, but there have been grenade attacks carried out against Serbs within Gracanica in recent years. Mortar shells have been fired from the nearby Albanian community of Ajvalja. The February, 2001 ‘Niš express’ bus bombing in Medare (Podujevo municipality) was destined for Gracanica; many of the killed and wounded were from the village. 

The Serbs targeted in the April 18th, 2001 car bombing in Pristina all resided in Gracanica.  Random assaults and attempted kidnappings have occurred; Albanians transiting through the town have been assaulted and have had their vehicles defaced, especially after security incidents and attacks against Serbs in other areas of Kosovo.  

Gracanica, along with North Mitrovica , acts as a protest focal point for the remnants of Kosovo’s Serb community. They cut off one of Kosovo’s main roads- the Pristina-Gnjilane/ Gjilan road- on a regular basis, to protest either specific attacks or their general situation.

KFOR provides escorts for monthly convoys from Gracanica to Brezovica (Štrpce municipality) and Velika Hoća (Orahovac/ Rahovec municipality). KFOR also provides biweekly escorts from Gracanica to the Serbian border- Gate 3/ Medare ( Podujevo Municipality ). KFOR and UNMIK police provide medical escorts from Gracanica and outlying areas to the Gracanica ambulanta, Gracanica’s Simonieda hospital, the Russian hospital in Kosovo Polje, and primary facilities in North Mitrovica . Serbs and Roma do not have access to majority community health facilities in Pristina.

Economy & Infrastructure

View of the Mahala

Gracanica’s single main road is lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and car washes. A minimal amount of the population- almost all of them Serbs- benefit from this trade. Gracanica’s position as a minority-busing ‘hub’ has made it the focal point of commerce for communities in harsher circumstances throughout Kosovo. Serbs and Roma come to the village to sell what they’ve produced and buy what they cannot find in their own areas. Clothing stores are found in abundance; these clothes are purchased from Slavic Muslims in the textile town of Novi Pazar and re-sold.

The one successful bakery in Gracanica is owned by Albanians. They have no security problems; one can hear them speak Albanian to one another while they wait on Serbs.

Economic connections between Gracanica and Pristina are slowly being re-established. Bulk distributors from Pristina do business with Gracanica stores. Albanian products are slowly finding a niche in the community. Not so for Serbian products in the Albanian community, although Gracanica, for some reason, is famed for the eggs its chickens produce.


Gracanica has an electro-technical secondary school, a medical secondary school and a pedagogic secondary school. Serbs from the YU complex in Pristina are transported, with an armed escort, to schools in Gracanica every weekday. In addition, Gracanica has a primary school and a Serb kindergarten.


Gracanica’s Roma live in two separate Mahalas, on opposite sides of the village. The first Mahala- a side-street about 500 meters north of the Gracanica Cultural Center- is populated entirely by ‘Srpski Cigani’- Serbian Roma. They are Orthodox Christians, speak Serbian as a first language, and many have lost the use of Romanes. Many of these Roma intermarry with Serbs; many of them deny that they are Roma. Srpski Cigani are almost all educated, and are in a higher economic stratum than Gracanica’s other Roma.

The main Mahala lies a few KM southeast of the Serbian Roma Mahala, on the main road. The Mahala extends south on one main dirt track that branches into sub-roads. The Mahala also extends north from the main road for a kilometer or so. The main Mahala is almost entirely Muslim; the Roma there speak Romanes as a first language, and the children do not begin to learn Serbian until the age of 6 or so. A few mixed Roma-Ashkalija families speak Albanian as a first language.  

Almost the entire Mahala is unemployed. Many Roma engage in manual labor for Serbs in the fields, while others chop wood or recycle. A few blacksmiths ply their trade in Gracanica, while some other Roma work for UNMIK.

The Roma community leader is Hamit Šerifović.

Gracanica's Monastery

Most Roma children attend primary school; very few go on to secondary school, and none of Gracanica’s Muslim Roma have completed university.  

The OSCE funds a Roma community center in Gracanica; the center acts as an information dissemination center for Roma, and is also the site of an informal kindergarten where Serbian and English are taught. Balkan Sunflowers acts as consultants and advisers to the center as subcontractors to the OSCE. BSF has been active in the Roma community since early 2001, and has organized remedial education programs, summer camps, and computer classes. Business seminars for the community have taken place in the center. In addition, there are two active Roma NGOs in the community: Po Lacho Drom (On the good path) and Eyes of the Future.

Gracanica’s population is 98% Serb and 2% Roma.  

Gracanica’s Roma Population:
















Returns 2000-1



Returns 2002



*UNHCR figures differ, and state that 61 Roma families live in Gracanica.

Roma under 18 (2001): ~89

Roma under 18 (2002): ~120

Roma 18-60: ~200

Roma over 60: ~80

Figures provided by Sebastjan Šerifović ( OSCE Roma Center Manager) and Hamit Šerifović (Roma Community Leader).

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Who We Were, Who We Are: Kosovo Roma Oral Histories
©Bobby Anderson 2003-2009. All rights reserved.

This project was made possible by the generous financial support of the Open Society Institute Roma Culture Initiative.

Additional thanks to all other
donors & implementers

This study may be freely distributed, in whole or part, so long as the source is cited:
Who We Were, Who We Are: Kosovo Roma Oral Histories © Bobby Anderson 2003-2009
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