Kosovo Bakery Succeeds in Tough Economic Climate
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Eleanor Beardsley has more.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Casby Shahar(ph), one of the Odyssea's three Israeli owners, says Kosovo's relatively undeveloped market in the heart of Europe offers great opportunity.
CASBY SHAHAR: I think it's a good place for business, especially because the big jump is still ahead. There is the difference between Western Europe and this area. And I think that in 15 to 20 years, distance will be decreased or finished
BEARDSLEY: Shahar said he doesn't find Pristina a particularly tense place, at least no more so than Tel Aviv. And, Shahar says, Kosovo has some business advantages over its Balkan neighbors, like using the euro as its currency. Still, he admits there are plenty of risks here. Not only is Kosovo already in one of the poorest regions in Europe, but ethnic conflict and war in the last two decades have further destroyed its economy.
OFLI KIMRON: This is - basically, It's found this morning - chocolate croissant, butter croissant and (unintelligible) Israeli.
BEARDSLEY: 29-year-old Ofli Kimron runs the kitchen at the Cafe Odyssea. Kimron describes Pristina, the first place she has ever lived outside her kabutz, as a big city. She says the cafe's biggest problem is electricity. Since 1999, Kosovo's decrepit power company, known as KEC has never been able to cope with the swelling demand for electricity here, and power cuts are part of daily life.
KIMRON: We had days that why we didn't have lights in the morning. But we call KEC every night - and checking which hours will have or which hours not. And then we counting how much time we need for bread to grow in the - so when I need to put it in the oven. So I'd say it's tricky, but we're managing.
BEARDSLEY: Even though most Albanians are Muslim, the Israelis say they feel no tension over religion. And the Israelis and Albanians in the cafe say they share a mutual trust and affinity. The Albanians here will never forget that Israel was one of the first countries to help after they were driven from their homes in 1999, while the Israelis still remember that Albanians saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
KIMRON: (Albanian spoken).
BEARDSLEY: Back in the kitchen, Kimron is showing off her Albanian. Kosovo baker Yuli Buryupi(ph) is embarrassed when it's his turn to try out his Hebrew.
YULI BURYUPI: (Hebrew spoken). It's hard. (Hebrew spoken) is like hello.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Pristina, Kosovo.
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