Thursday, April 19, 2007

Commemoration Ceremonies

It seems that I am updating this blog on a regular basis now!  There is so much going on lately on in politics and in Pristina that my fingers are keeping busy!  In addition to trying to keep up with all the news, I've been running around with my camera trying to get photos of the sights around Kosovo since the dismal grey of winter skies appears to have passed.
Yesterday many of us were trying to figure out why the streets were lined with Albanian flags.  It almost looked like Flag Day with all the street lights and poles decorated with a duo of the flags.  None of our Albanian friends knew what was happening or why the flags were hung up...but today I figured it out.  Yesterday there were several commemoration ceremonies around Kosovo for the victims of the fighting in 1999.  Around 600 Albanians in two different villages participated in the ceremonies organized by the KLA War Veterans Association.

The BBC focuses on Kosovo peacekeeping in the forth of their series on peacekeepers.  The article goes with French KFOR patrol enclaves in northern Kosovo, their area of responsibility.

Next week, the fact-finding mission will visit Kosovo next week.  Kosovo Serb representatives are unhappy that the mission will not be visiting minority enclaves and have labeled the visit "tourist" in nature.  The spokesman, Oliver Ivanovic, has questioned the nature of the visit and stated "our conclusion is that their intention is not to determine the facts" and goes on to say that the mission is just trying to reach the same conclusion as Ahtisaari, ignoring the concerns of the minority population.  Serbs from around Kosovo have stated that they travel to meet the mission in Mitrovica as it visits and refugees who were expelled from their homes following 1999 have said that they will attempt to return to their homes as the mission is visiting to demonstrate the problems they face.

Meanwhile, the EU has removed the topic of Kosovo from the next meeting of foreign ministers as disunity continues over support for Ahtisaari's proposal.  The topic of "Western Balkans" is expected to be put back on the agenda in May after the UN fact-finding mission visits.  Slovakia, Romania, and Greece expressed serious concerns over independence in Kosovo while Spain, Italy, and Cyprus have indicated reservations about independence based on the Ahtisaari proposal.