(This story is a week old. Somehow, inexcusably, I missed it until now.)
Anyway: the Miss Universe pageant was held last weekend. It was in Vietnam this time, and a nice young lady from Venezuela won, but what’s interesting to your hardcore Balkanologist is that
1) the pageant accepted Kosovo as a country, and
2) Miss Kosovo made it into the top ten. (To be precise, she placed sixth in swimsuit and eighth in evening gown.)
Putting aside (1) for the moment, (2) is a pretty huge deal. The Top Ten are always dominated by big countries, and this year is no exception: the USA, Russia, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Spain. It’s very rare for a Balkan country to get in. For a girl from Kosovo to come this far… well.
[For] the first time in history Miss Kosovo took her place amongst the 81 finalists of the Miss Universe pageant watched by a television audience of 1 billion. Now thatâ€™s international legitimacy if ever there was!
Miss Kosovo was an instant crowd favorite, and the judges agreed â€“ putting her through to the Top 10 finalists â€“ a fantastic feat for a first-time participating country and visibly nervous contestant. If further proof was required that Kosovo had indeed come out from behind Serbiaâ€™s shadow, Miss Kosovo easily trounced all her cross-Balkan rivals including Miss Serbia.
Ultimately, Miss Venezuela won the tiara, and Miss Kosovo did not. (A poor choice – but enough editorializing.) However, Kosovo found its first international ambassador â€“ and in an over the top pink-and-frills gown and an itsy-bitsy bikini â€“ she did a splendid job representing her new-born country.
Last night Kosovo took her place amongst the community of nations.
Okay, even I don’t think that doing well in the Miss Universe pageant means that Kosovo has “indeed come out from… Serbia’s shadow”. In fact, I don’t think it will make much difference at all. But it is pretty cool.
Well, and there may be one practical aspect to it. You remember how, as recently as February, there were still a few idiots yapping about how Kosovar independence was going to provide a foothold in Europe for Islamist extremists who were going to surge relentlessly across the continent and wrap all our women in burqas? Well, if you run into one of those guys, you can just print out this picture — or maybe this one or this one — or, upon consideration, perhaps a still from this video — and maybe he (it’s always a he) will just go away and be quiet for a little while.