Friday, August 10, 2007

Controvery Rages

There is a bit of controversy brewing in Kosovo over the arrest of a minority minister in Gracanica over the alleged assault of a police officer following the issuance of a speeding ticket to the minister's daughter. Whew, that was kind of a mouthful! Branislav Grbic was arrested on the 7th for verbally and physically assaulting an Albanian KPS officer working in Gracanica. Three other officers of Serbian ethnicity were reported to have assisted in the arrest and recorded Grbic, the Minister of Community and Return, making threats towards the officer in question. Following the incident, the Kosovo government called for the suspension of the commander of the Gracanica police station and a government spokesperson stated that procedure was not followed and that the minister had some sort of immunity. There are also allegations of excessive force and there is a possibility that Grbic was intoxicated when the incident took place. Overall, it will be interesting to see if there are any follow-ups in the news!
The three representatives from the Contact Group, have arrived in the Balkans to begin the new 120-days of negotiations. It still is not clear whether or not there will be face to face talks between Belgrade and Pristina. Frank Wisner from the US is again involved in the talks along with German envoy Wolfgang Ischinger, representing the EU, and Russia's Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko. In a meeting with Serbian officials today, the troika was presented with a proposal that offers Kosovo wide autonomy and representation in world organizations. The Contact Group troika is due to meet with Kosovo officials on Saturday who have already threatened to pull out of the talks if independence is threatened. Some deadlines have been tossed out such as 10 December but as before, it is difficult to predict when exactly the status will be resolved.

Meanwhile, in other news, OSCE has issued a statement condemning a Kosovo newspaper of irresponsible and unprofessional reporting. If you recall my blog a few months ago about a newspaper printing names of Serbians living in minority areas and accusing them of crimes during the fighting. A series of articles appeared in Infopress newspaper and gave names and other details about Serbs who allegedly served in reserve units. Even after receiving warnings about the articles, the newspaper published more and more names and articles of the same fashion between 30 May and 4 August.

And finally, KPS has reported an increase in the number of attacks on religious and spiritual sites in Kosovo but states that the attacks are criminally, not ethnically, motivated. There have been 52 attacks on religious/spiritual sites since the beginning of the year and KPS has managed to solve 18 of the reported cases.