Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

It's hard to believe that we are ringing in another new year in Kosovo. While I'm not actually in mission, I've marked five and a half years of my adult life there which is no small feat. But I do have to admit that in the time I have spent in Kosovo, I have seen many changes...and many for the better. I remember when I first arrived back in the summer of 2000, the water and power was almost constantly off with no regular schedule. But that has changed now and people are rewarded with power when they pay their bills. But things in Kosovo have also changed a bit for the worse, at least from an outsider's perspective. While trying to be European, the politics of Kosovo are strife with corruption and politicians in Pristina seem to ignore the plight of those outside the capital.

Also for several years now, certain groups of the Albanian population have been losing their patience with the pace of UNMIK in resolving the status issue. Those from democratic countries know that democracy does not come cheaply nor does it come quickly. In the US we are still perfecting our democracy with each election...and people in Kosovo can't expect that they can just *snap* and have an instantly working independent country. However, the impatience of the Albanian groups, especially Self-Determination, has created a feeling of unwelcome for many that makes some internationals unwilling to stay the course and continue working in Kosovo. I myself will stay in Kosovo at least until the end of June but I know many people who are leaving. Whether or not I stay past June does partly depend on the attitude of the local population in addition to the fate of UNMIK.

The SRC holds an annual party every year, usually to benefit charity.  This year the SRC held the annual party in conjunction with fundraising for HIV/AIDS education through the UN Health Clinic and other NGOs.  The SRSG Joachim Ruecker attended the event and posed for pictures with the fundraising group and members of the SRC.  From the pictures, you can see that SRSG Ruecker doesn't mind having a Peja beer every once in awhile.  It was a great honor for him to attend the event organized by the SRC and he was generous in making a contribution to our fundraising event along with the members of his staff :)

The fundraisers, a group of volunteers from the Health Clinic and around the UN, with the SRSG