The last war in Europe took place in Kosovo in 1999. This was a story of blood, revenge and complicated reconciliation. Kosovo is also a powerful issue for the European Union that should assume this year from the UN the responsibility for the small territory.

Being a photographer I watch the story over a long period starting from war in 1999 until their independence in spring 2008. Kosovo is only 1000 kilometres away from Slovakia and I visited the area forty times. It became my second home.

I’m not a war photographer. What I’m interested in is the humanist ethos, the impact on ordinary people of difficult life circumstances and their ability to cope with the situation. My statement is mostly a resentment of the politicians and leaders, both Serbian and Albanian. It was due to their myopic nationalist policy and failure to reach an agreement that thousands of people perished in the area.

I don’t take sides with any party in the conflict. I’m on the side of the victims of the ethnic conflict, ordinary people in all the communities. To this day, the final violence toll remains unknown. The mass graves are still expected to be revealed, same as elsewhere in the Balkans.

— Andrej Ban was one of three photographers chosen to represent Slovakia in 2008 at the nightlong projection of photographs from 27 European countries at the Rencontres Festival in Arles.