Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Thankful Kosovo is not one of those places where radical Muslim groups attack shops promoting the holiday (such as in Mumbai).  Love is in the air and I'm sure the restaurants will be packed tonight with ladies toting bouquets of flowers (and maybe even a box of chocolates)!  It's a nice sunny day too, even though a bit windy, but the weather is almost perfect for the holiday!
The UN is facing criticism for the deaths of the two protestors over the weekend.  Official autopsy reports showed that the two men died of rubber bullet wounds to the head.  Information has been released that it was Romanian SPU (Special Police Units) that fired rubber coated bullets into the crowd.  PM Agim Ceku is continuing to say that police used excessive force during the protest but given the previous violent demonstrations and destruction of property that Vetevendosje has brought about, it may be hard to say that police should have acted differently.

It has been a pretty big surprise for most of us in the UN but the SRSG has formally asked the police commissioner, Stephen Curtis, to resign.  However, from what I know, it was more told than asked.  The SRSG, Joahim Ruecker, was not in Kosovo during the protests and says that he assessed the situation yesterday and that asking the commissioner to resign follows the principles of political accountability.  Interestingly though, the SRSG (Harri Holkeri) did not resign following the March 2004 riots when many were calling for such action.  Instead he remained in mission until May 2004 and then resigned due to "personal issues".  In fact, I think this is the first time that someone has had to step down due to "political accountability".

The trial of Albin Kurti has begun.  His detention time has been extended to 30-days by an international judge.  Kurti is facing approximately six charges ranging from inciting violence to endangering UN personnel.  The International Herald Tribune carries an article that describes why Kurti may be so popular with Albanians who face high unemployment and frustrations over the slow progress towards independence.  However, what is interesting is that analysts believe that Kurti would never be satisfied unless society itself was "crashing down around his ears".

Meanwhile, a political war of words is waging between AAK (Haradinaj) and PDK (Thaci) over the possibility that AAK may have supported Vetevendosje by arranging buses of protestors to come from neighboring countries (Macedonia and Preshevo Valley).  AAK officials rigorously deny the accusations that have supposedly been leveled by PDK leader Thaci.   Thaci has so far refused to comment on the accusations of AAK members that he made statements eluding to the fact that AAK had organized foreign protestors to come to Pristina over the weekend.