Thursday, June 7, 2007

Over the Top

<soapbox>I started off on the soapbox today because I came across one article that really made me uncomfortable.  Of course in the news, you can always find articles that are very one-sided...but this one was a bit over the top with its accusations.
An author writing in FrontPageMag talks about how he saw many UN staff walking around in "full hijab Islamic head coverings" and that worried him because the "U.N. is suppose to protect the Christians who live there if they are attacked".  He even placed a picture of a UN staff member driving in her vehicle who happens to wear a head scarf and dress.  The implication that this UN staff member is unwilling to do her job in protecting minorities is quite undeserving.  And of the many UN staff this reporter says he saw, the staff member that he took a picture of is the ONLY staff member that I know who chooses to wear the head scarf.  In the course of my six years in Kosovo, I have only ever known two staff members who wore Islamic dress.  You'll find many more in African traditional clothing than Islamic!  How one person making a choice to wear the scarf boils down to many people running around in Islamic dress and the UN being unwilling to protect minorities because somehow our religion prevents our objectivity is quite an interesting jump from reality to fantasy.  Further incorrect facts in the authors article made me realize that he really has no earthly idea what he is talking about and probably needs to spend more time in the Balkans learning the facts...and not going around looking for information to support the conclusions he has already drawn up.
And on another point...there is a common misperception that all Albanians are Muslim.  The correct phrase is predominantly Muslim as there are several thousand Catholic Albanians.  In fact, around 4000 Catholic Albanians participated in a youth festival about a week ago held in Letnice, a cool little village near the Macedonian border.  If I remember the story correctly from my visit many moons ago, Mother Theresa, an ethnic Albanian, lived in the nunnery in the village for a time.</soapbox>

Anyways...on to the "real" news...
Albanians in Presevo and Bujanovac municipality have decided to form a joint body to negotiate with the Serbian government to join Kosovo.  Statistically, Presevo is around 85% Albanian but Bujanovac is more 50/50 Serb/Albanian.  The "National Council" will supposedly negotiate directly with Belgrade rather than become an issue in the Kosovo negotiations.

BIRN features an article on the economic viablity of an independent Kosovo.  The author argues that the UN and local government are to blame for the current economic problems because they failed to create good conditions for a stable economy.  The author then goes on to discuss some of the economic possibilities in Kosovo should it become independent.

Serbian authorities are looking into an apparent mass grave of Albanians in Serbia.  The grave may contain as many as 350-500 bodies and could be the victims of the 1998-1999 war.  Reports of four trucks unloading bodies was reported and the possibility of the grave first came to attention a few months ago.

And the new rumors...
So far there has been no progress during the G8 summit in the area of Kosovo.  The US and Russia still remain far apart in their ideas of the right solution.  Estimates are now that a vote could happen after the G8 summit and Russia will veto.  Or...the vote will be delay until after meeting between Bush and Putin at the beginning of July.  In speaking to an officer working on coming over with the EU, the earliest that the EU police mission could come to Kosovo would be around the beginning of August.

The following goes under the rumor corner because I cannot find any news in English...but to share what I've goes!  Russia has stated that there are three stipulations that must be met before they will agree to any resolution on Kosovo.  The first is that Russian troops will come back to Kosovo to protect the Serbian minority.  The second is that Kosovo will be called by its historical name of Kosovo-Metohija.  And the last is that Kosovo will not be allowed to join the UN for a set number of years.