Joy, Anger After Kosovo Claims Independence

Straddling the winding Ibar River, Mitrovica embodies Kosovo's ancient divisions. Its population is made up of 50,000 Serbs, who live north of the river and use Serbian money, have Serbian license plates and read Serbian newspapers, and 80,000 ethnic Albanians, who stay south of the water.

After the declaration of independence Sunday, police closed the streets leading to the bridge linking the two halves of the town, with only journalists allowed into the north.

While the south celebrated, in northern Mitrovica the mood was calm but downtrodden. About 200 protesters gathered in the main square north of the river to oppose the province's declaration of independence.

"Kosovo is the heart of Serbia, and how can a man live without his heart," a Mitrovica Serb who declined to give his name told ABC News. "You will see that in five years Kosovo will be without any Serbs. Slowly everyone will leave."

Though official recognition from the EU is expected within two days, according to press reports, a newly independent Kosovo will likely lack formal recognition from the United Nations because of Russia's veto power on the Security Council.

And while their ethnic Albanian neighbors celebrated south of the river, in northern Mitrovica Serbs vowed loyalty to Belgrade.

Marko Jaksic, an orthopedic surgeon and Serb politician in Mitrovica, told ABC News on Saturday that Serbs' native "inat," meaning both stubbornness and spite, will ultimately return Kosovo to what he believes are its rightful rulers.

"This is the same 'inat' that had the Serbs reject the ultimatum of Austria-Hungary in July 1914, and the dictates of Hitler in April 1941," Jaksic said. "We have lived here for centuries. Why abandon our land, under the pretext that the Americans demand it?"

"The wind of history [will] eventually turn in our favor," he continued. "As always in the Balkans, whoever wins is the one who is able to show more patience. You see, one day we will return to Kosovo as a whole."

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