Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mortar Targets Monastery & Vetevendosje Protests Again

This morning around 0100 hours, an explosion occurred near the Visoki Monastery in Decane/Decani.  According to the abbot the explosion was caused by a mortar.  No one was injured and the buildings did not suffer any damage in the explosion.  However countering the abbot's statement, international peacekeepers have issued a statement that there is no evidence that the attack was targeting the monastery and according to the news, they are still trying to determine the location of the explosion.  The monastery dates back to the 14th century and has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 
Today Vetevendosje will protest at 1400 hours, calling for the release of their leader, Albin Kurti, who was arrested following the violent demonstration in February and of course against the Ahtisaari  proposal as it "gives concessions" to the Serbian population and continues with an international presence.  The group wants immediate and unsupervised independence, a dream at best.

<soapbox> In addressing the protestors, Konjufca asked "why won't they let us hold a referendum?" and then answered his own question "Because they know the outcome".  Konjufca, the international community does have an idea what the outcome would be if there was unsupervised independence in Kosovo.  Hence all the protection and rights from minorities in the Ahtisaari proposal!  Truth be told, the international community is not convinced that the Albanian population won't just turn around and start committing the same atrocities that they accuss the Serbians of doing to them during Milosevic's crackdown.  So, get ready to continue to be supervised by your new babysitter, EU.  Maybe when you can convince us that you are "grown-up" enough to behave yourself then you can be left at home alone :o) </soapbox>

There are rumors that Vetevendosje is paying people to come to Pristina to protest.  Supposedly those that show up are being paid 50 Euros a head...a good sum of money for a couple hours of standing around :)

Last night we tried a new restaurant on Fehmi Agani Street called Ex Restaurant (044 157 039/044 557 700).  The restaurant gets two big thumbs up from me and my friends.  The food and service were excellent...and the prices were absolutely rock-bottom for the quality (nothing was over 7 Euros!)  The restaurant is located about halfway up the street from Samurai or kind of kitty-corner from Panevino.  The menu is a mix of Thai, Mexican, and Chinese dishes with good traditional items like steaks or caprese salad.  I can recommend both the BBQ steak and the Chicken Mozzarella main dishes.  I'll be putting in a mention for the restaurant under my favorites in my Kosovo Restaurant Guide as I try more dishes!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Super Blast Happy & Upcoming Demonstration

Last night at approximately 2100 hours, a blast damaged a Serbian house and a vehicle in Northern Mitrovica.  This marks the third blast in a week in the area and tension is rising in the area.  The section of town where the blasts are occurring is an ethnically mixed area with both Serb and Albanian populations.  
Reliefweb carries a statement from Serbian PM Kostunica that real negotiations are the only way to determine the status of Kosovo.    Meanwhile, Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, gave a speech on the EU's future role in Kosovo.  In his speech, he estimates that the EU will have a civilian staff of approximately 1500-2000 people and that the EU will need to invest 1.3-1.5 billion Euros in the first three years of its Kosovo mission.

Vetevendosje has announced a new protest on 31 March, this coming Saturday.  On Tuesday, some of the group plastered Mission HQ with posters, covering the UN busstop and placed posters on each of the concrete barricades.  By Wednesday, all the posters have been removed so I'm disappointed to not get a photo (battery on the camera was dead)...however a friend said that the area by the Grand is still plastered with posters so we'll see what I can find tonight.  I did get a photo or two of a couple across from MHQ

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Really Blast Happy!

Last night at approximately 1940 hours in Northern Mitrovica a blast damaged three vehicles and blew out surrounding windows.  The device is reported to have been a hand-grenade.  The Serbian government offices for Kosovo as well as a Serbian cafe near the site of the explosion are also located in the neighborhood but it is not yet know what the specific target of the attack was.  This is the same area of North Mitrovica where a hand grenade exploded on Friday.
In the legal form Jurist, a professor of law argues about why it may be legally and morally correct to partition northern Kosovo to the Serbian population.  The article focuses on both legal and human rights concerns with the settlement of Kosovo's status.

Meanwhile, a long time member of Senate who worked mostly in foreign policy has drawn conclusions that frozen conflicts in the former Soviet republics have more cause for independence than Kosovo.  With all the recent talk about determining the status, discussions about how independence here sets a precedent (or doesn't as some argue) increases exponentially.  There are plenty of people who believe that allowing Kosovo to become independent through a vote in the Security Council or by the Albanians declaring unilaterally means that other areas where there are conflicts should be able to break away and declare independence.

Thanks to a friend in the mission, I have two new "Only in Kosovo" photos of a vehicle that plowed into a two-horse drawn cart.  Little explanation is needed, the pictures say it all.  Then, for International AIDS Day, a crew went out in Pristina and interviewed people on the street about what they thought was better being "HIV positive or HIV negative".  I was quite surprised by the answers and the lack of proper education about HIV/AIDS in the Kosovo population.  It is an eye-opening piece for those of us who are here in mission about the differences in culture/education...and how when you ask a person a question on the street, they will try to give you an answer even if they have no clue what you are talking about!
I've decided to update my Kosovo Restaurant Guide.  I have a ton of business cards from different restaurants and I know that it's hard to find the telephone numbers and sometimes you are asking I hope the information helps! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blast Happy

It seems that someone is getting a little blast happy in Kosovo in the past week.  Last night at around 2130 hours, an explosion rocked the area next to Hotel Baci in Pristina.  One civilian vehicle was destroyed and three others were damaged.  The vehicle that was targeted was supposedly the vehicle of the hotel's owner according to KPS spokesperson, Veton Elshani.  Windows of the hotel were also blown out.  The explosion could be heard all the way downtown at the Hotel Grand and UN Mission HQ...however it was more difficult to hear from the Kukri/Phoenix where I was celebrating my birthday *hehe*  For those of you who regularly read this blog, you might remember that a few weeks ago, there was an explosion in the same area near the hotel and KPS is now investigating to see if the two blasts are related.
The International Herald Tribune carries an article about Ramush Haradinaj and how he is viewed by different groups in Kosovo, gives some of the history of his case and the support that certain high-ranking UN officials have given in the past.

An Israeli news site published an article the views the Kosovo issue from Serbia, but not the normal refusal of independence but looks at those in Serbia that might actually support Kosovo's independence and the reasons why they may feel that way.

Energia, a Greek energy and environment site, released an article about how Kosovo's economic future looks bleak, citing the high levels of poverty and the thriving black market as two problems facing the economy.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Getting Old!

Wow, I'm starting to get old!  Today marks my 30th birthday and that means that I've spent exactly 1/5 of my life living in Kosovo! :o)  My new landlady was delighted to discover that I've been in Kosovo for nearly six years now.  Like me, she doesn't really believe that the UN will be able to withdraw at the end of the year.  The date for leaving just keeps getting pushed back further and further as the status decision continues to be postponed.
This is actually the first birthday I will physically celebrate in Kosovo.  Because of the vacation schedule in previous years, my after Christmas holiday always fell around the end of March or it was on a weekend so we opened up the Greek weekend season :)  I'm not sure what the plan is for celebrating but I'm sure somewhere in the plans is a stop at the Kukri/Phoenix for a few drinks with friends.

The status proposal was presented to the members of the Security Council.  The special envoy, Ahtisaari, will not yet be meeting with the members of the council until he receives an official invitation.  The date for his appearance in the council is speculated to be 3 April but nothing is set in stone yet.  Meanwhile, Serbia is preparing to launch a diplomatic offensive by lobbying members of the council to support the continuation of negotiations.

Thanks to a couple friends, we were able to complete my move to the new flat over the weekend and then have a BBQ yesterday to celebrate the clearing out of my old flat.  I'm quite happy with the new place although it is currently a disaster zone.  I envision myself working on straightening up for at least the next week (or two!)  I'll pick up Smokey from the kennel tonight so I'm interested to see what he thinks of the new place...I imagine that he'll be a little confused at first but he seemed to easily settle in after the move from Gracanica.  Fortunately we are in the same neighborhood so it won't be too shocking for him :)

Over the weekend, there was an explosion in Mitrovica.  A grenade was thrown into the yard of a Serbian home in a mixed area of northern Mitrovica.  Two Serbians, Branislav Iekic and Srecko Antic, share the yard where two grenades were thrown.  One exploded, nearly missing an international police patrol in the area, while the second device did not detonate and was destroyed by KFOR EOD teams.  Iekic believes that the attack is the result of issues stemming from the construction of a Serbian house in the neighborhood that Albanian neighbors had been protesting.  

A member of the Russian Academy of Sciences published a thought-provoking article about the recent political manuevering and some of the statements issued by politicians in the recent weeks over the status of Kosovo.  The writer explores the Serbian position as well as some of the politics behind the push towards independence.

Last week, the Institute for European Politics, a Berlin-based think tank, released a report that damned the international community and warned that Kosovo faces a violent and chaotic future after it gains independence.

There also has recently been a lot of mentioning about criminal gangs in Kosovo.  Groups are condemning what they see as a Kosovo government backed by criminal enterprises and wondering should Kosovo gain independence, what kind of country would it be with lawless criminals running the politics.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I woke up to a winter wonderland this morning.  Over the night, the light rain turned into snow and there is a steady stream of white stuff still falling through the morning.  After one and a half weeks of very nice weather since I got back, I was thinking that spring had arrived!  But today I had to dig my vehicle out from under the snow and the roads were slick with brown slush.  I guess winter is trying to stick around a little bit longer and I'll have to keep the sweaters out a bit longer :) 
The parking lot was flooded where my spot is so when I jumped out of the car this morning, the water rose above the rubber on my boots and the cold slush soaked in.  I guess it is time to waterproof the tops again!  I'm actually sitting at my desk right now without any shoes in the hopes that my socks will dry out before lunch *hehe*

The weather will make moving interesting.  I am supposed to move the furniture to the new place tomorrow.  I am paying some university students to help take apart, carry it to the new flat, and put it back together.  They'll also have to rearrange the existing furniture in the flat as I am kind of attached to my furniture (I do have good taste after all!)  Then on Sunday, I've bribed all my friends to come over to help carry the last of the boxes, promising BBQ ribs and beer (but I think we'll end up cooking inside!)  Anyways, I'm looking forward to being in the new place on Sunday and hope the weather will improve soon so I can use that nice new terrace for BBQs!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Samurai Hand Grenade

No, it's not some cool foreign flick but rather last night at around 2100 hours unknown persons threw a hand grenade into the courtyard of the Samurai sushi restaurant near OSCE.  The restaurant is very popular with internationals and one of my favorite places to eat downtown.  Friends joke that when asked what I want to eat downtown, 50% of the time I will reply "Samurai". 

Anyways, the road is closed this morning, probably for an ongoing investigation.  I will be interested to find out the story of what happened and whether or not they catch anyone...or anyone claims responsibility.  There were people dining inside the restaurant when the grenade exploded but no one was injured.  There were only minor material damages reported.

There been a series of protests over the past couple of days.  In Skenderaj, there have been protests for almost a week straight over socially-owned houses being distributed by the municipality.  Mini-bus drivers in Kacanik have been protesting a municipal decision to stop their services.  Every day seems to bring more people to the protest.  And today, 250 works from Ferizaj protested outside the KTA (Kosovo Trust Agency) about non-compliance with a court order concerning the steel tube factory where they work.

And 20 activists of the new local anti-corruption NGO (COHU) protested outside the government building citing corruption in the bidding for the 2nd mobile phone operator in Kosovo.  Over the past couple of years, five or so tenders have been held for a new mobile phone operator in the province but the decisions have either been overturned by UNMIK or the government due to discrepancies or misrepresentations.  Vala is operated by PTK and the power behind the company is rumored to be none other than Ramush Haradinaj.

Thinking about Ramush, I think I forgot to mention that his court case began at the beginning of the month so he has gone to the Hague to answer war crimes charges for his time as a commander in the KLA (UCK in Albanian).    Posters and billboards have popped up all over Pristina saying things like "We are with Ramush" and showing him with children.  It is quite an impressive PR campaign!  I'll have to try to get a photo on some of the posters...but being that most are in the middle of the road, it will be tricky :o)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Rhetoric Continues

Kosovo is all over the news lately with politicians exchanging barbs over Ahtisaari's plan and the push for independence.  Russian politicians are saying that negotiations need to continue and that the solution must be agreeable to Serbia.  The possibility that they will use the veto still exists but there is no guarantee that Russia will because there are still political gains to be made in former Soviet republics should Kosovo become independent. 
Beside the challenges from Serbia, the Turkish minority in Kosovo is also speaking up about Ahtisaari's plan stating that the plan borders on making Kosovo not multi-ethnic but bi-ethnic and that the rights of other minorities are being ignored in regards to language and education.

Western diplomats continue to stress the importance of quickly resolving the status question in Kosovo.  US Envoy for Kosovo, Frank Wisner, is quoted as saying that independence for Kosovo is advisable or else "Kosovo would burn and the victims will be the Serbs."  That doesn't really give much credence to the thought of an accepting multi-ethnic society.  Wisner continues to say that it is difficult to imagine Albanians returning to Serbian rule but actually no one has even suggested this.  Wisner should probably look up the definition of autonomy in the dictionary, for this is what Serbia has suggested.

Meanwhile, other countries are continuing to worry that independence for Kosovo would set a dangerous precedent for other conflicts around the world.  The EU has clearly stated that it would not use the Kosovo-model in frozen conflicts in former Soviet countries but that hasn't stopped officials in Azerbaijan from worrying about what will happen to their disputes.

Richard Holbrooke has been suggested by some that Russia will bear the responsibility should Kosovo return to violence because it blocks acceptance of the Ahtisaari plan in the Security Council and has suggested that if the Albanians do not gain independence, they will declare it unilaterally and countries such as the UN and other Muslim countries will recognize it as a state.  In a response to the editorial, Lev Dzugayev, goes through Holbrookes arguments and raises some new questions.

B92 takes a look at both arguments in an article titled "Moscow will be responsible".  One of the features that I quite like about B92 is that the allow users to post comments on the news stories...usually they slide quickly downhill into political discussions about the "illegal war" and "big bad Serbs" but sometimes there are insightful comments :)

Some fear that the conflicting views of Russia and the West will ignite a new European War so we have to wonder, just how important is Kosovo to the world and what does all this political maneuvering mean?  Ahtisaari is quoted as saying that if the EU cannot support a solution for Kosovo, as countries are split, that the EU "can forget about its role in international affairs".  Ahtisaari is also openly recommending Kosovo succession from Serbia stating that after "careful consideration" he has come to the conclusion that the only viable solution is for Kosovo to be independent.  Ahtisaari is reported to have made the comments in a four-page letter sent to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

The Toronto Star published an article on the problems facing Kosovo from unemployment to the status, touching on the issues that keep hostility simmering.  The best parts of the article are those that touch on the economic problems that face Kosovo with its young but uneducated and unskilled work-force.  The education system is overwhelmed with too many students and with more than half of the population under the age of 25, there are tough times ahead should Kosovo become independent and find that it must stand on its own two feet (of course, we all know that the EU will help but there is only so much money one can throw at a problem.  The real solution is to work at fixing the problem rather than covering it with cash!)

Monday, March 19, 2007


Rather than take up my landlord on his oh-so generous offer to move into his flat for the extra cost, we have decided to move a few doors down and give the rent monies to a new landlady who is very nice :)  Besides not having to greatly increase the rent paid, I will have exclusive use of all the rooms in our flat without having to worry about closets full of the landlord's clothing (which they occasionally interrupt to take from the closets)!  Sharing my living space with a stranger's clothing and having their laundry draped all over my stairwell railings has really been a test of my patience.  I lasted about three months with them using the washing machine before sitting down to have a discussion about privacy :o)  So, to all my friends, get ready for a moving/house-warming BBQ coming on Sunday!

Smokey has stayed at the kennel a bit longer until we complete the moving.  I think last time when I moved from Gracanica, he kind of started to freak out when he saw me leaving with all the clothes and furniture.  He normally has a good idea that I'm leaving for a vacation when he sees the suitcases going out but still willingly jumps in the car to go to the "doggy jail".  I do have to admit that I have missed him over the past half week that I've been back!  I'll be happy to bring him over to the new flat where he will have a nice big balcony to play on during the days and no way to get onto the roof!!!

I'm going to be updating my Tips for Newcomers today because over the weekend I was out house hunting.  I have some new inputs for the section on housing that I want to share.  It seems the magic number for a flat in Dragodan is 700 Euros a month, all inclusive (sometimes with central heating, sometimes without.  Often no water tank but they will always try to convince you that there are no problems with the suppy!)  Some people are trying to get even more rent but those places are staying empty longer.  The problem is that some internationals don't bother trying to negotiate and the locals see that there is always a sucker that will take the place for an extraordinary price.  It really has become a renter's market, something that the local population hasn't figured out very well yet but for some it is sinking in.

In Dragodan the reality is that the flats are worth about 500 Euros a month at most.  I did find a nice flat a couple blocks from where we are now where the building is brand-new and so is the furniture but some of the renters are less-than-desirable neighbors...but everything was just 500 Euros.  When I went down the hill a bit further and looked at some really hole-in-the-wall type flats with basic furniture and few features people were still trying to convince us that 700 Euros a month was a good deal (special price for you my friend!)

Anyways, after meeting with the new landlady, I think I won't have any problems.  She seems very good at respecting renter's privacy and the rent does not change when there are more/less people living in the house.  Her son is also working to find some friends of his to help move my furniture down from my current flat as the person that is my landlord when I leave the mission will be gifted with the refrigerator, stove, dryer, entertainment shelf & matching bookcase, king-sized bedroom set with vanity and wardrobe, pantry, and china cabinet!  If I had to do it all over again, I think I probably would have insisted on my landlord furnishing better furniture or purchasing more acceptable things and deducting from the rent.  It has been a pain to move my things from one flat to another...and this is only the second time in six years!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Paddy's Day Kosovo-style!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Kosovo!  Irish nationals and those of Irish heritage managed to celebrate St. Paddy's Day in style no matter our location.  My celebrating started off with attending the Irish KFOR medal parade at Camp Clarke.  The 73-Irish soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Group were awarded the non-article 5 (I believe that means no-combat) medal for participation in KFOR's peacekeeping mission.  After the medal parade, complete with the blessing and distribution of shamrocks and bagpipers, we were invited to light refreshments in the dining hall which turned out to be a feast of salads, cooked meat, seafood, and lots of cakes!  It was very nice to see the soldiers shown some appreciation for coming to Kosovo and working in peacekeeping as many have left their families for many months and when things get rough, they are the first to be called to help restore order.
After the medal parade, it was home to take a bit of a nap because everyone was planning on going out for drinks at the Phoenix to celebrate.  We kicked off the night around 9pm with everything from Guinness, Jameson, and Baileys.  A couple of us (pictured below are Billie V., Tom, and myself) even wore funny St. Paddy's Day hats.  I really got into it in my shirt that said "The leprechauns made me do it", the hat, and shamrock earrings :)  It only comes once a year so why not do a good job of partying it up?!  After a couple hours at the Phoenix (oh, yeah, the 10pm curfew has been lifted.  Now Americans can be there as long as they are not intoxicated...wonder how they will figure out who is and isn't!!!), it was time to head home....what a great night!!!
Oh, and before I forget, I want to say "Welcome" to Luna, author of the Kosovo2007 blogspot, who contacted me about using some photos of Kosovo life.  It's wonderful to know that someone else is posting information about Kosovo because the most common complaint I hear from people is that there is little to no information about what it is like to live here...and that's frustrating when you have thousands of internationals being asked to move away from home to come serve in the mission.

Also, amid the celebration, today marks the three year anniversary of the March 2004 riots that left 19 people dead, more than 800 homes, 35 churches destroyed, and all because of misinformation spread by the local Albanian media about events in Northern Mitrovica.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Back in Kosovo

After a wonderful two and half weeks of globetrotting (you can read about my Travels), I arrived back in Kosovo on the 14th. Not a whole lot happened while I was away on the political front.  There is still a lot of discussion about what the UN will do since the negotiators are incapable of negotiating anything in regards to the status of Kosovo.  Of course, no one was really holding their breath after about a year of wasted time trying to get two parties that are diametrically opposed to change their minds :o)
In life news, it looks like I will be moving again :(  My landlord wants 200 Euros more rent each month because I am supposedly using much more electricity by being a homebody and that he is going to up the rent to 700 Euros a month for a flat where I have the use of only one bedroom because the other two are full of his belongings!  Anyways, now because my landlord is being greedy, I have looked at renting another flat in Dragodan for around same price that I'm paying now.

The stories those of us who have been in Kosovo for a while will make the hairs on the back of some people's necks stand up :)  I know I've said it before, but sometimes the mentality of the people in Kosovo just takes you by surprise because they don't seem to consider the big picture, only the immediate here-and-now.  In fact now that I'm on a roll, I think that I'll share a couple of my favorite (or horrifying) Kosovo landlord stories...I'll leave out the ethnicity of the landlords but the stories are not limited to any one ethnic group!  These happenings occur all over Kosovo and elsewhere in the Balkans!

I had a friend that was living in one of the villages outside of Pristina.  His landlord was a very nice guy.  In fact, he brewed his own raki in a shed behind the house in big oil drums.  We always wondered what would happen if there was a fire...our belief is that the entire village would be wiped out.  After a while, my friend started noticing that his belongings were disappearing.  It turns out that a key to the house was left on the window-sill and pretty much everyone in the neighborhood was using the washing machine to do their laundry.  Basically, my friend made the unfortunate mistake of renting the community launder mat!  Additionally, when my friend went on vacation, the landlord's family moved into the flat and used up whatever food/drink that he may have left in the refrigerator without replacing them.

Another friend of mine had a similar experience with the landlord's family moving into the flat in his absence but also while he was away at work.  One day he returned a bit early to discover the landlord's son and the boy's girlfriend in his bed getting busy.  Needless to say, he slept on the couch that night and soon moved out to another house :o)

A girl-friend of mine had interesting experiences during a visit from her parents and then with her cleaning lady in one flat near the Grand Hotel.  When her parents came for a visit, her mother decided to help clean up the flat while she was away at work.  When the mother pulled the cushions out of the couch, she was shocked to discover a rather large collection of X-rated movies stashed underneath.  Evidently, the previous renter of the flat forgot to take the movies when moving out and the landlord didn't check under the cushions for left belongings (don't they know where to look for the spare change?!)  A couple weeks later, having forgotten something at home in the morning, my friend ran home at lunchtime and walked in on the cleaning lady trying on her bathing suits.  The cleaning lady was sacked and I doubt that the suits were wore before a really good washing :o)

Now you have to understand that the landlords aren't bad people...they just have a funny way of thinking about personal privacy and what it means to rent a home.  There are many, many more humorous stories (I could probably write a bestselling book!) but alas, I probably so be off to gather more interesting stories about living in Kosovo!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Vetevendosje's First Peaceful Protest!

Today Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) held its first-ever peaceful demonstration.  Several thousand Albanians (reported at 4000 by some news agencies) appeared at the rally chanting anti-UN slogans and waving Albanian flags.  The group continues to demand the right to hold a referendum for independence and criticizes the Kosovo government of negotiating with Serbia.
The leader of Vetevendosje, Albin Kurti, remains in jail following last month's riots were two protestors were killed after police fired rubber bullets into the crowd.  His second-in-command, Glauk Konjufca, says that they will fight any type of imposed "harmful project" where Albanians are denied the right to self-determination.

An interesting quote came out of the protest about how in touch UN employees are with the local population.  31-year-old protestor Perparim Rama said that "UN employees sit on different levels.  You can see that in the salary difference" and he goes on to say that "here the economy is going down and United Nations employees are traveling to Greece every weekend for breaks".

<soapbox>Now, these statements greatly amuse me.  Naturally if I am going to leave my home, friends, and family to go work in a place that lacks things like constant power, pretty much everyone that I know expects to be compensated!  I don't know anyone that would willingly maintain two homes (one in Kosovo and one in the home country) and that deal with less than ideal living conditions and not seek some sort of compensation.  But it's not just the internationals, the local UN employees receive very high wages compared to the others in the local economy as the jobs are considered temporary and those workers will be out of a job when the UN leaves.  As for the statements about the economy, well, the UN employees in Kosovo are a large part of the economy but you can't really expect everyone to want to stay in Kosovo on the weekends.  UN employees in Kosovo rent the flats to provide extra income at an inflated rate to the local population (yes, we know that the local population is taking us for a ride in regards to the inflated rent money.  We aren't fooled!)  We shop at the local markets, eat at the local restaurants, and patronize the local cafes.  Don't even attempt to feed me with some line of bull that the international community is not doing enough for the local economy!  Yes, the economy isn't that great but the locals can't honestly expect the international population to solve the problem for them.  We can only do so much to help you...tell your local politicians to start working less on independence and more on the social/economic problems!  As for spending weekends in Greece, heck yeah!  Judging by the fact that loads of Albanians are attempting to leave Kosovo for holidays or permanently (just check out the lines at the consular offices if you don't believe me) why on earth would anyone think that we would want to stay here if we didn't have to?!</soapbox>