Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Declaration of Independence

Today, students were passing out declarations of colonial independence flyers in front of MHQ.  I briefly skimmed over the flyer which contains the text of a UN Resolution from 1960 before tossing it in a garbage dumpster down the road.  I wonder who exactly the students think is the colonial power?  Maybe the UN but passing out the text of a UN resolution will not bring any results.  I saw some UN vehicles driving around with the flyer still stuck under the wipers...I think the demonstrations gather more interest and attention (sans egg throwing because that's just wrong!)
I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago but the blast barrier and concrete blocks at the front of MHQ were defaced with "Jo Negociata.  Vetvendosje" which means "No Negotiation.  Referendum".  The blast barrier was repainted and that evening the graffiti "artists" struck again.  I think they sprayed the blast barrier three times.  Then when the Serbian PM visited, there was an egg-tossing protest.  I think some of the regular UN staff ended up with bits of egg in their hair and clothes...I would have been a bit upset.

Elsewhere in Kosovo, Serbs blockaded the Mitrovica-Zubin Potok highway this past week in protest of attacks on the village of Zupce from a neighboring Albanian village.  It was reported that shots were being fired from the Albanian village into Zupce and a hand grenade was thrown into the backyard of a house causing damages.  The blockade was lifted after ten hours when UNMIK and KFOR pledged to establish permanent checkpoints in the area.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

You know, there are times in your life that you just have to laugh...and in Kosovo, you do it loudly.  This past Saturday, Andriy and I headed south of the border (Macedonia, not Mexico!) to see about picking up some tickets for a Deep Purple concert in Skopje.  At the Kosovo-Macedonian border as we were entering Macedonia, we witnessed something that just made us smile, shake our heads in disbelief, and laugh out loud.  There was a KS-vehicle in front of us at the border.  Supposedly to save money on fuel, one of the popular things to do while waiting in line is to get out and push your vehicle.  Well, this strapping, healthy 20-30 year-old man had his 70 year-old grandfather get out and push the car across the border!  Truly unbelievable to see this old man pushing a car through the border (at least 20-30 minutes in the hot sun as well!)  Maybe the old man didn't know how to drive but his grandson could have at least sacrificed a pack of cigarettes as to not make the poor man push the car through the border on a hot summer day!
The weather has been going from hot to rain to hot to rain.  As I usually say, just wait five minutes and the weather will change.  As a strange turn of events, my power was off for eight hours last night.  There seem to be some problems at the power station and some speculate that unless the problems are fixed soon, we may be without any power from KEK (worst case scenario would be no power from KEK but importing from outside...probably paid for by the UN).

It's wedding season again!  Yup, this year it is my mission to capture the Kosovo wedding convoy in action on Skopje highway or elsewhere in Pristina.  Seeing is believing and before I leave the mission, I have to have it down on film.  The tradition is quite interesting and the people seem to be enjoying themselves so much that I really want to get a picture for the site.  I wished I had my camera on Sunday when I went to Bondsteel because there was a wedding convoy with several traditionally dressed musicians on the back of a flatbed truck playing on the side of the road.  Ah, se la vie...whenever you really need a camera you usually don't have one!

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Another Explosion

There is another explosion to add to last Saturday night's list.  On Monday, a bomb exploded in front of the building that houses the Ministry of Returns and one of the Serbian political parties.  As usual, there have been no claims of responsibility.  Luckily no one was injured but the building was damaged.  It seems that since the special advisor has arrived to check on the standards the factors that do not benefit from stability will try to make it difficult for Kosovo to proceed to what is looking like full-independence.  While I personally don't think that Kosovo can support a multi-ethnic and fair democratic independence, the political rhetoric seems to all point towards a break from Serbia instead of automony.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Happy 4th of July

Wow, four years in Kosovo without ending up in a mental institution!  It's hard to believe it but I've really been here that long and the time has flown by.  Previous 4ths have been on the weekend so I was able to throw a BBQ but this year, it was on a Monday so it ruled out a party at my place :(  But, I decided to take my friends out to dinner at Hani 2 Roberti, a very nice restaurant near the MHQ.  It was a grand night and lots of fun.  We not only celebrated the 4th but my four-year anniversary.  Strange to think that it has been that long!
In other news, there were three explosions in Pristina on Saturday night.  Two grenades were thrown: one into a travel agency next to Irish Pub and one into the parking area of the Government Building.  Then an explosive device was attached to a UN vehicle in the MHQ compound through the fence.  It's the second time that this has happened in the compound.  We joke about it being UN-Security but these kind of things make you think about it.  There are no claims for responsibility and the SRSG sent out a letter asking the staff not to speculate whodunit but to continue working towards the goals (like packing up and leaving!)  I find myself being cynical at best right now but for all the talk of progress, it's evident to me that many things are just lurking under the appearance of being calm.