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.