“It was not their war, but the Kosovo conflict in the 1990s forced tens of thousands of Roma — the Balkans’ eternal scapegoats — into exile.

So for those living in a Roma camp in the capital of neighbouring Montenegro, the 10th anniversary of Kosovo’s independence on Saturday is little cause for celebration.

They fled Kosovo almost 20 years ago for fear of being accused by pro-independence ethnic Albanian rebels of collaborating with Serb forces in the 1998-1999 war that claimed 13,000 lives.

Many Kosovo Roma who stayed were accused, most of them falsely, of such collaboration or other crimes.

Serdjan Baftijari, now 25, says his family paid for ‘not taking sides’ in the war.

He was a child when he left the central ethnic Serb enclave of Gracanica in the summer of 1999, as the tide of the conflict was turning.

A NATO bombing campaign was forcing Serb troops out of the breakaway territory. The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was taking control.” (Yahoo Australia)