Monday, July 16, 2007

Night of Yowling Cats & Dog Fights

Whew, is was a good prelude to a Monday morning as cats yowled and dogs fought outside on the street last night.  So far I have not heard any evidence of the extermination campaign by the local government.  It's possible that maybe they are not working on the problem in Pristina but out in other municipalities.  There seems to be a few new litters of each species running around the neighborhood.  The little puppies and kittens are adorable but one can't help wonder what will happen to them over time.  The neighborhood kids seem to like animals now and on the weekends I seem to gather a fan club of around 10 kids who like to pet Smokey while he's trying to mark his territory on all the poles and bushes on the street.  I think I've done good in training him that trash cans and car tires are off limits though :)
I am going to be leaving on Friday for a month long vacation.  With the possibility that the mission will be closing down, a lot of UN staff, myself included, are finally trying to use up the leave we've accumulated over the years.  I won't be resting on my laurels though as I bounce from state to state visiting family who all want to see me.  I will however take a week of me-time and join a good friend in Tobago for a week of scuba diving.  You can bet that I'll be taking lots of pictures under and above water!

There was a little bit of interesting news over the weekend.  One thing that happened that grabbed my attention is a shoot-out between unknown suspects and the local police near the north western boundary.  Villagers reported seeing men in Serbian-style uniforms with weapons.  When KPS showed up to investigate, they came under fire.  No injuries were reported and the suspects escaped.  As a response, KPS has stepped up patrols in the area.

The next tidbit of news really grabbed my attention because it stuck me as a bit silly.  Veton Surroi, an opposition party leader and member of the Unity Team, has urged the West to ignore Russia and allow Kosovo to become independent.  Part of the argument is that Russia should not have a say in European affairs...but then one could easily turn around as say, well neither does the US!  There are also reports that maybe the US will bypass the UN regarding Kosovo's independence but that's likely to cause major waves in the international swimming pool.

Kosovo PM Agim Ceku says that he is ready to declare independence and expects some sort of go-ahead during a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that is scheduled to take place next week.  One interesting quote that I came across from Ceku is "If you start to draw borders in the Balkans where do you stop?" but then I would ask, isn't declaring Kosovo an independent state basically drawing in a new border where one didn't exist before???

It's kind of amusing that as I read over the news about Kosovo and the frustrations of the Kosovo Albanians, I look to my daily desk calendar and see Dilbert's boss saying "You are not allowed to lie, but I expect plenty of omissions, misdirections, exaggerations, unjustified optimism, lost documents, unclear explanations, gray areas and tactical ignorance.  Oh, an say that we have other offers."

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