Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Serbian PM visits Kosovo

The Serbian Prime Minister made a historic visit today to Serbian enclaves for the Vidovdan (St. Vitus) celebrations.  This is only the second visit by the PM since the end of the war in 1999.  Members of the "Self-Determination" activist group attempted to blockade the road during the visit so the route was tightly secured by KPS and KFOR soldiers.  Reports are that 116 activists were arrested near Mitrovica on the road leading to Merdare border crossing.
There was an article in the China Post about the US engagement in Kosovo and how the US should plan to be in it for the long-haul in order to ensure stability in the region.  Many recent events are concerning analysts ranging from the recent independence of Montenegro to talks of referendums in Bosnia and the status negotiations in Kosovo.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Kosovo Politicians Tell Albanians in Macedonia to Behave

Leaders in Kosovo have issued statements calling for ethnic Albanians in Macedonia to end the violence that has marred the pre-elections in the neighboring country.  Almost 30 incidents of violence have been reported since the campaigning began a little over a week ago.  Agim Ceku, the PM, has also called for Kosovo Albanians to stay away from the internal politics of Macedonia.  During the near civil war in 2000 in Macedonia, many Kosovo Albanians crossed the border to help Macedonia's Albanians in their struggle for equal rights. 

Friday, June 9, 2006

KPS Break-up Demonstrations - 81 Arrested

The "Self-Determination" group's demonstration in front of the UNMIK Mission HQ has ended today after KPS (Kosovo Police Service) riot police intervened, arresting 90 people.  Nine people were released after discovering that they were minors.  For the past two days, the group has blocked the entrances to MHQ with sheer number of people and concrete barricades.  The protesters set up tents along Police Avenue and camped overnight on the main street of downtown Pristina.  Protesters are complaining now that the police used excessive force and state that dozens were injured when the police started making arrests around 0300CET.
The SRSG, Soren Jessen-Petersen, had described those in the "Self-Determination" group as being "lost people" who are not contributing to the peaceful, positive progress of Kosovo.  The Albanian Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, said that the protests only serve the enemies of Kosovo's independence.  The "Self-Determination" group in turn accuses the Albanian government officials of being puppets of the UN and continue to demand an immediate vote for independence (referendum), the annulment of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, and that UN leave Kosovo.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Anti-UNMIK Demonstrations in Downtown Pristina

The "Self-Determination" group held a demonstration in front of UNMIK's Mission HQ today starting at 12:00pm.  Trouble was expected from this group; they are the ones that throw eggs, vandalize cars and property.  The group continued their demonstration for over eight hours, decreasing in number from 700 to 200.  Demonstrations are expected to continue over the weekend.  UNMIK staff are on alert and have been advised to stay clear of the area.  The "Self-Determination" group does not believe in negotiating with Serbia on the status and want to hold a referendum for independence.  Unfortunately for the group, this is against the guidelines of UN Resolution 1244 as it violates the international idea of sovereignty of nations.
In other news, SRSG Soren Jessen-Petersen is set to resign from his office later this week.  Mr. Jessen-Petersen had indicated a wish to leave the Balkans as far back as June 2005 however with the status talks approaching, Kofi Annan stated that it would not be a good idea for a new SRSG to take over during the transition time.  In my humble and sarcastic opinion, I guess it's much better to abandon a newcomer to the status talks in the middle of the process :P

On the topic of minority rights, the international contact group has given the Kosovo government six months to implement 13 steps to improving minority and human rights in Kosovo.  Some of the steps include legislation on language and religious freedoms, police stations in minority areas for security, and setting aside money for returning refugees.

Also, UNHCR has confirmed the report of the contingency plan for the evacuation of minorities from Kosovo should problems arise if granted independence.  A spokesperson for UNHCR said that the plan is an obligation of the organization.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Serbs End Cooperation with Kosovo Government

There was great confusion over the move of Serbs to cut first, the news came out that the Serbs were going to cut ties with the UN mission...but according to the Serbs in northern Kosovo, it is only with the Kosovo government.  The Serbs say that they are cutting ties with the local government due to recent ethnic violence that they blame on Albanians.  All teachers and municipal employees are to give up their wages from the Kosovo government, they still are receiving wages from Belgrade.  Further, a state of emergency has been declared in four municipalities in northern Kosovo where there have been several recent attacks against Serbs.  On the 2nd, a 22-year-old Serbian was gunned down in an ambush as he was returning home from a party.  International Herald Tribune carried an article about the split while Southeastern European Times carries information about the reasons behind the move.
The UNMIK police commissioner has deployed 500 international police officers to the area north of Mitrovica in response to the accusations of the population and the recent violence.  KPS has also increased their numbers in the area.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

6th Round Score Nil-Nil

The sixth round of negotiations between Albanians and Serbs ended yesterday with no progress on economic issues such as privatization and social ownership.  Albanian negotiators want Serbia to pay individual and collective compensation back to the early 1990's for those dismissed for not being loyal to the republic from social enterprises.  Serbia again tried to put forth a "more than autonomy, less than independence" plan that was immediately rejected by Albanians. 
Today NATO announced that they were going to reopen a base in northern Kosovo.  Also on 31 May reports came out that UNHCR has a plan for Kosovo independence that includes what to do with the mass exodus of Serbs and other minorities from the area.