Friday, March 31, 2006

Relating US Immigration to Kosovo

There was an interesting article in the American Daily today about how the US' issue with illegal immigration from Mexico can be correlated to immigration from Albania to Kosovo in the 1990's and the onset of the war that led to the NATO bombings in 1999.
In final status news, Serbia's hopes for a division of Serb entities have been dashed by the international community.  The international community is adamantly against any partition of Kosovo into ethnic entities or autonomy for any group.  The next round of status talks are schedule to start on the 3rd of April.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mitrovica Bridge Closes After Protests

The main bridge connecting the Albanian and Serbian communities of Mitrovica has closed to civilian traffic after angry Serbs protested the stabbing of a youth on the bridge.  A 19-year-old youth, identified as Milosav Ilinicic, was reportedly stabbed three times while standing with his girlfriend on the northern side of the bridge.  Reports are that two KPS officers were nearby when the stabbing occurred and later news is that two KPS officers were dismissed for not doing their duty.  The attackers are currently identified as being from the prominently Albanian south-side of Mitrovica and supposedly ran back across the bridge. 
Politicians are condemning the attack but the closure and protests come at a bad time for Kosovo as the Albanians have just been warned that they need to protect minority rights and are refusing the partition of Mitrovica as suggested by Serbia.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

International Pressure

With independence seeming inevitable for Kosovo, the international leaders of the EU and contact group are putting pressure on the Albanian leadership to stop giving lip service about minority rights and start acting.  Javier Solano, the EU's foreign policy chief, says that it is time "to talk less, and act more".  The EU is stressing that guaranting minority rights in Kosovo is a fundamental issue that must be resolved during the status talks.  So far minority rights have not been discussed during the negotiations but rather the focus has been on local government issues.  The next round of talks are scheduled to begin on the 3rd of April in Vienna.

Elsewhere in the news, a report from the Council for Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms shows similarities between the manner that the Albanians lived in the 1990's under Milosevic's reign and the manner that the Serbians are living in Kosovo today. There is alsol a large community of Roma, Ashkalia, Egyptian (RAE communities) living in North Mitrovica in extreme poverty.  Flooding and fires this winter has left many families with nothing more than the clothing they were wearing at the time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Welcome Back!

Well, it must have been a welcome back present from KEK but as of this morning I had gone 24 hours straight without any electricity after basking in the Egyptian sun in 32�C heat for a week :-P  This occurs after KEK made an agreement with Serbia for the import of power so that C-areas will have a minimum of four hours on and two hours off.  C-areas are considered the most venerable and is designated by the payment of less than 25% of the bills for the area.  So, after going shopping for food, I ended up bringing all my frozen items into work with me this morning and will probably have a healthy meal of buffalo wings, french fries, and maybe corn on the cob (all the items I purchased this weekend!) 

Friday, March 17, 2006

Second Round of Status Talks Begin

The second round of status talks began today, marred by objections by Serbia over the participation of former KLA commander and Albanian politician Hashim Thaci.  After voicing their objections, both parties got down to business and jumped into discussing minority issues such as integrating the Serbs in Kosovo into the current Albanian-run government.  For the most part, the Serb community has boycotted and refused to participate in the Kosovo government leaving it to the Albanians to run everything...and then crying foul over their participation in government.  A certain number of seats are reserved for each of the minorities so active participation is possible but perhaps can be improved if minorities feel that their opinions really matter to the Albanian majority.
The Serbian government is proposing the creation of a Serbian entity in Kosovo with links to Belgrade but the Albanian party objects this protesting ethnic division.  No matter what the outcome, the Serbian community is likely to be ethnically divided in my opinion as hatred based on past events seem to be unforgivable even if the people didn't participate in the conflict.  It is difficult to wrap one's head around hatred for the sake of hatred, hating a person just because they are from the wrong ethnic group, even if they are four years old but it does happen here.  But that's not an everyday occurrence but there are fanatical groups that pledge the downfall of Serbs or Albanians in Kosovo.  It mostly boils down to politics.  The area I live in is a mix of all the different ethnic groups in Kosovo: Serb, Albanian, Bosniac, and Roma.  Their children all grew up together, the Albanians and Bosniacs celebrate Bajram together, and they go over to each others homes for coffee...there is no hatred between these ordinary people.  They see past the politics and into the heart of the real person.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Passing of Milosevic

Today, one of the most revered and hated figures in the Balkans passed away in his cell in the Netherlands while he awaited trial in the Hague for war crimes committed in the Balkans.  Slobodan Milosevic died Saturday, 11 March 2006, of an apparant heart attack.  He had been appealing to the court to go to Russia where his family is in self-imposed exile for treatment and accused the Hague in letters to Russia of poisioning him.  Autopsy reports show that this was untrue but two weeks before his death, there were traces of medicine that would have prevented his blood pressure medicine from effectively working.  It is thought that Milosevic may have been taking a secondary drug to counter medicine Dutch doctors were giving him for his blood pressure in order to strengthen his argument that they were not treating him properly.  Milosevic first refused to take any medication and later was forced to take the medicine under supervison. 

Feelings in the Balkans are divided over Milosevic's passing.  Tens of thousands are said to have marched in Serbia in his funeral procession while other anti-Slobo Serbian youths threw water balloons during the procession.  His son and wife were not in attendance as they are wanted for abuse of power in Serbia and the government planned on seizing their passports upon entry into the country from Russia.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Surprise Reshuffle of Kosovo Government

Surprising developments occurred yesterday in the local Albanian Kosovo government.  The President of the Assembly (Parliament) was sacked from his position by his own party (LDK - Democratic League of Kosovo).  Then late last night, the Prime Minister, Bajram Kosumi, caved into pressure by his party (Alliance for the Future of Kosovo - AAK) and resigned.  These two parties are part of the ruling coalition and Kosumi is said to have stepped down amid threats that unless he did, the coalition would lose its small majority in the parliament. 
The New Prime Minister:  Agim Ceku is a former KLA commander and General in Croatia during that 1990's and will be acting as the PM until elections take place.  Ceku is an unusual choice to serve as PM as he is the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK) and has been accused of war crimes by Serbia for his actions in the Croatian conflict.  Approximately three years ago, he was detained in Slovenia by authorities and that lead to a temporary boycott of Slovenian products by many Albanians as Ceku is viewed as one of the KLA "war heroes".