As Liz, who circulated this item, put it: Great. Another (Muslim) pilot trained in the U.S.

If all goes to plan, his mission will end in about six months and he will return to Kosovo to live permanently, where he hopes to open his own flying school.

From Kosovo with thanks

A free-as-a-bird Kosovar pilot on a round-the-world mission landed in Malta last week to thank the country for recognising the independence of his fledgling nation.

James Berisha, a commercial pilot trained in the US, is flying around the world to thank the nations which have already recognised Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and encourage those which haven’t to do so.

“The reason I’m here is to thank the people and the government of Malta for recognising our nation and hearing our voices,” Mr Berisha said.

Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, following a nine-year period under a transitional UN administration after the Kosovo War. To date, 71 out of 192 UN member states have formally recognised Kosovo’s independence and Serbia still claims it as part of its sovereign territory. Malta formally recognised Kosovo’s independence on August 21, 2008.

Mr Berisha set off from El Paso in the US in his own four-seater Cessna 172 in May 2008 and has so far visited 42 countries as part of the Flying for Kosovo campaign, which is his own brainchild and funded largely from donations from the people of Kosovo and the Kosovar diaspora.

Along the way he has given many media interviews and even met the foreign ministers of countries including St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada and Paraguay.

He says he has learnt a lot about the reality of global realpolitik, claiming that Paraguay, for example, was reluctant to formally recognise Kosovo’s independence because it did not want to jeopardise its trade relationship with Russia, which is adamantly opposed to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration.

His next stop is Tunisia today and from there he aims to visit every country in Africa, spreading a message “to help humanity”.

“All I want in life is peace. It’s now 2010, wars belong in the past. Why should we live in fear? Why should we die for no reason? Let’s have dialogue and peace.”

Although Mr Berisha was living in the US at the time of the Kosovo War, he said his family were in Kosovo and his father was killed by Serb forces along with 60 people from his village.

[So his father was KLA, like most of the rest who were killed.]

Does his message of peace extend to Serbs?

“I try not to have bad feelings towards Serbs. Even though they killed my father, I’m not looking for revenge. In a way, my revenge is this mission – spreading peace.

“We live with Serbians in Kosovo and I have nothing against them – the past is the past. I don’t think we will ever go back to where we were; we lost too much. The whole world lost too much in the former Yugoslavia.”

If all goes to plan, his mission will end in about six months and he will return to Kosovo to live permanently, where he hopes to open his own flying school.