Wednesday, March 19, 2008

13 Injured in Pristina Shootout

13 people were injured in an apparent shootout between criminal gangs late last night on Bill Clinton Boulevard. It is possible that one of the injured persons later died of their injuries but that information is unconfirmed at this time. Most of the wounded were innocent bystanders, including an 8-year-old girl, who happened to be walking past at the time when one man reported opened fire with an AK47. Police have arrested four people in connection with the shooting.

Following Monday's events, NATO has imposed de facto military law in N.Mitrovica following the riots. The UN has accused Serbian officials of inciting the violence however Serbia denies that there were any members of its Ministry of Interior in the court building. The Kosovo press has also been busy writing about the violence and lack of authority in northern Kosovo. Ukraine is considering the possibility of pulling out their troops from Kosovo following the death of one of their international police officers.

I was sent a link to a very good collection of photos from the riots in N.Mitrovica. Thanks, ER, for passing on the info :) Photos from Italian La Republica

And finally, taking a break from politics for a moment as becoming a news & politics blog was never really my true intention, last night the rain turned to snow and this morning we were greeted with what is probably the last snowfall of the winter which was a total of about 1.5 inches over the course of the night. Kosovo is beautiful after a snowfall until later in the day when all the vehicles have turned the white streets into muddy messes. The temperatures are supposed to stay down in the mid-30├»¿½F range for the next week. The talk on the street these days is that MSN Weather is kicking butt in weather reporting for Kosovo and seems to be the most accurate weather reporting site the days.

I realized as well that I never updated my Restaurant Guide to include one of my favorite newer places to go, Odyssea Bistro Bar. I know that I talked about Odyssea Bakery which has heavenly desserts and breads but I never got around to mentioning that earlier this year they opened up a very nice restaurant in Pejton Place. The restaurant interior would make you forget you were in Kosovo with a large central bar, posh bathrooms, and excellent ventilation. Odyssea Bistro is a great place to head if you want a quick meal or just to hang out to talk to friends. The background music is relaxing and kept low enough so that you can have a normal conversation across the table on a Friday night but still loud enough so that you can enjoy listening to the lively collection. The bar's cocktail menu is extensive and includes Caipirinha when they have cacha├»¿½a and my personal favorite, the Appletini although you have to say Apple Martini to the waiters or I need to work on my English *hehe*

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Morning After Hang-over

It is with sadness that I write today that one Ukrainian peacekeeper with the UN was killed yesterday during violent clashes between Serbs, UN, and NATO in North Mitrovica. Around 40 UN peacekeepers and a handful of NATO troops were injured in the clashes which also left some 70 Serb civilians injured, one reported to be in critical condition. The situation appears to be calm and quiet this morning, perhaps there is a bit of a morning after hang-over from yesterday that has people wondering what exactly went wrong.

Kosovo News - (Related to yesterday's events)
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary
(And since it has been a while, my little disclaimer...these articles/commentary do not reflect my personal opinion but while reading, I found them interesting with possibly some valid points hence my reason for sharing them. Perhaps you agree, maybe you don't but at least by reading them you'll be better informed about the arguments people make for (it's harder to find those articles for some reason!) and against Kosovo's independence and the difficulties an independent Kosovo face :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

UN Retakes UN Court in N.Mitrovica

1400 CET: Reports from this morning are that approximately 30 UN Special Police, at least 22 Polish, and 8 French KFOR soldiers were injured in this mornings operation and violent riot. UN police were ordered to evacuate North Mitrovica as a result. One can only wonder who was the brain-child behind having the operation to storm the courthouse on the anniversary of the March 2004 riots...kind of makes you go "hmm" or "duh"! Police used tear gas & stun grenades to dispere the rioters and there are reports that they came under fire from automatic weapons in addition to facing grenades and Molotov cocktails. 20 Serb demonstrators are reported to have been injured in the mornings events and there is a rumor that one Serb was shot and killed while another is seriously injured. There is also information that one international officer was shot. There is a quite good picture of the UN vehicle set alight in the Telegraph.

1000 CET: UN Special Police backed by NATO peacekeepers stormed the UN Courthouse in N.Mitrovica arresting 53 Serbian demonstrators who had been holed up in the building since last Friday's demonstation. Three UN police and two NATO peacekeepers were reported to be injured during an apparent hand grenade explosion during the operation. Thousands of Serbs turned up to protest the retaking of the court, stopped a UN convoy transporting the courthouse detainees releasing approximately 20 people, and activated an air raid siren during the demonstration. There are rumors that the UN police were ordered to evacuate N.Mitrovica following the demonstration. There are some reports of a few UN vehicles attacked and at least one set on fire during the course of the operation and subsequent demonstration.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Serb Protestors Take Over UN Court in N.Mitrovica

1210 CET: A couple hundred of former court employees took over the UN Court Building in North Mitrovica this morning when Polish and Ukrainian UN Special Police Units (SPU) backed down. There were reports that some protestors were beating police with metal bars but overall the protest has been said to be peaceful. The group managed to break through the court's outer gate and enter the building. Details are still sketchy at this time but I'll post more as it comes out.
Meanwhile, Kosovo PM Thaci has asked the UN and NATO to restore order to northern Kosovo. Also, Kosovo has unveiled a new design for their national passports which will replace the ones issued by UNMIK . The government is additionally planning on opening some 20 embassies around the world in 2008.

MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Politics-Schmalitics :P

Blah is about the only thing I can think of to say about the situation in Kosovo these days. There is still no clarification from UNHQ in NY for UNMIK and EUPT is in transition to EULEX without us. It is expected that a wave of some 300 people will arrive on 1 April and most of us are scratching our heads trying to figure out where on earth they'll find space since UNMIK officially got its hand slapped for starting transitioning without authorization from NY. The bottom line is that UNMIK is still in full operation according to the UN. So for all this time that we have criticized parallel local institutions now we have created parallel international institutions!
Serbia has requested the Security Council to maintain UNMIK in Kosovo while the UN has told Serbia to respect its mandate. I think a quote from Eric Cartman can be properly inserted...the UN told Serbia "Respect my Authoritah!" :)

MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

As the Locals Say, What to Do?!

Serbs in North Mitrovica continue their daily protests at 12:44pm each day. There have been several incidents at the UNMIK HQ in the north of town with vehicles being damaged and some shootings. Additionally Serbian civil servants have been rejecting the authority of Kosovo instutions from KPS to the local government. And the UN has been fighting Serbia over control over the rail line in the north.
In other Kosovo-related news, Azerbaijan is planning on withdrawing its 34 peacekeepers from Kosovo due to the unilateral declaration. And singer Bjork was reportedly kicked out of the Exit Festival due to her Kosovo politics. Also, while it may not be a priority, one must wonder what about football in Kosovo?

MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary
Other Kosovo News

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Officially Sick of Politics!

MTCowgirl must declare that she is officially sick of politics...
The lack of clear direction from UNHQ in NY regarding Kosovo's independence has left most of the UN staff scratching their heads and wondering "what to do" (to borrow a phrase from the locals). The EU has started transitioning from EUPT (EU Planning Team) to EULEX (LEX meaning "law" in Latin...the mission name is not in fact an acronym) but logistics are proving to be challenging as EULEX was due to move into facilities vacated by downsizing UNMIK. Some on the ground even talk about tension between the two organizations due to the UN's non-commitment to let the EU take over under UNSC Resolution 1244. It is thought that the UN Security Council will meet to discuss Kosovo around the 17th of March, interesting that this is also the anniversary of the day that the 2004 March riots began. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is expected to submit a report in late March on Kosovo...until then, the UN will just continue to plan to hand things over to the EU whenever (as it seems there is no longer any ifs about it...) that will happen.