PRISTINA (Kosovo), Nov 27 — Pristina-born British pop star Rita Ora arrived in Kosovo on Sunday to celebrate her birthday, paying respect to her homeland from where the 33-year-old fled as a baby.

Immediately after getting off from a plane, Ora touched the ground and moved her hand towards her heart while wearing a big smile, a video published by Pristina mayor Perparim Rama showed.

The singer’s family — who are ethnic Albanian — left Kosovo in 1991 to escape the repression imposed by Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic after he stripped the former province of its autonomy.

In 1998, war broke out between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian troops that left 13,000 people dead, most of them Albanians. Belgrade withdrew its forces the following year after a Nato bombing campaign against Serbia, and Kosovo declared independence in 2008.

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After arriving in Pristina, Ora also met with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and said that the “trip and this meeting made me so excited about the future”.

“This is an incredible way to spend my birthday. I’m 33 today and I think we have done such inspiring work so far,” Ora said in a video Kurti posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The prime minister thanked Ora for making Kosovars “so proud as people, as country”.

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“This has been an incredible Sunday for me. I have to watch the video afterwards to make sure it was real ... (that it) actually did happen,” Kurti said jokingly.

Rita Ora is one of Kosovo’s most famous ambassadors, which include also UK-raised singer Dua Lipa. The pair both speak proudly of their Kosovo roots and do not miss a chance to promote its independence.

In 2018, Ora headlined a concert to celebrate 10 years since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, when thousands of Kosovars packed the main square of the capital covered in the blue and yellow colours of the flag.

Kosovo is still struggling to achieve international recognition as Belgrade — along with key allies China and Russia — still refuse to recognise the move, effectively blocking Pristina from a seat at the United Nations. — AFP