In the international media, Mitrovica is repeatedly portrayed as the hottest flashpoint in Kosovo. The riots of March 2004 that subsequently spread all over Kosovo erupted in this town. But the story of Mitrovica is not only one of partition, with the river Ibar dividing the town into a predominantly Serb North and a nearly exclusively Albanian South. Mitrovica was once Kosovo's most "Yugoslav" city, with Albanians and Serbs working side by side for decades in the Trepca mining and metallurgy giant, one of the biggest companies of socialist Yugoslavia. In no other urban area in Kosovo did so many Serbs speak Albanian.
Trepca has since ceased operating and today Kosovo's former industrial centre is a town without production. Mitrovica is a dying town, where one of the most radical industrial collapses of Eastern Europe forms the background to the more visible story of ethnic partition.
At a conference in Wilton Park on 1 February 2004, ESI presented its analysis of Mitrovica's economic and social predicament to Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb leaders. ESI also presented a proposal for a way forward in 2004.
Following the conference ESI presented its proposal to all parties in Mitrovica, elsewhere in Kosovo, to the UN Secretariat in New York, to Javier Solana in Brussels, and to Foreign Ministries across Europe.
There were numerous reactions from all leading politicians in Kosovo and in the international press.
In March 2004, ESI and the King Baudouin Foundation invited policy-makers to Brussels where a concrete proposal was jointly presented by ESI, Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi and Kosovo Serb Member of Parliament Oliver Ivanovic.
ESI Chairman Gerald Knaus presenting ESI Mitrovica proposal to Heads of Mission, SRSG Hari Holkeri and KFOR at the house of UK Head of Mission in Pristina.
ESI also produced a documentary – CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD – which was shown at numerous presentations and on television in the region.