Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nothing Has Changed

After 10 days away from Kosovo I came back to find that basically nothing has changed.  Well I take that back actually, the thing that has changed is that traffic seems to be even worse than it was before I left due to someone's brilliant planning skills.  As I often joke with my friends, "LA, Pristina, what's the difference, same traffic just less people here!" 
Let me elaborate a bit...last year in the fall just before the weather was due to turn to winter (which even I could have told the planners after spending some time in Kosovo!) the Kosovo Road Works or whatever they call themselves tore up the shoulders of Bill Clinton Boulevard going out of Pristina towards the airport.  They then placed little metal poles and wood barriers in an attempt to keep vehicles from plunging off the several meter drop-off but that hasn't helped much as I've seen some good accidents with vehicles skidding off onto the shoulder...oh wait, there's no shoulder anymore!

Moving on now to the present...the Kosovo Road Works has decided to take up work again on the road after leaving everything untouched for basically the last five months.  But someone decided that they should not just work on the shoulder area but they should work also in the median area in the middle of the road to replace the curbs with absurdly high blocks meaning that the traffic lanes are blocked on both sides.  In fact in one location near the UN Admin HQ you must move from the right lane into the left lane due to work on the shoulder and then immediately move back into the right lane because they are working on the median just 10 meters down the road!  Brilliant!!!

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary

Friday, April 18, 2008

Going Offline

I will be gone for about 1 1/2 weeks for vacation so don't worry that there aren't any updates from tomorrow to the end of the month...I'm still alive and constantly opinionated *hehe* I'm just going offline due to fulfill a dream of staying on a tropical island and sip drinks from coconuts :) 

But before I go, here is a bit of reading for everyone :)

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News
These articles are less opinionated than those that are found under my Interesting Articles/Commentary section...
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary
These articles tend to be either opinionated/oriented to one point of view or deal with some interesting aspect of life in Kosovo.  The information presented does not reflect my personal point of view but rather I found the articles interesting and wanted to share them for informational purposes only.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Human Organ Trafficking Debate Rages

The debate over allegations of human organ trafficking by top-KLA commanders during the Kosovo war is raging online.  In a new book by Carla del Ponte, Kosovo leaders such as PM Thaci and recently acquitted Haradinaj are accused of kidnapping Serbs just after the end of the war, transported them to Albania, and then forcibly removed organs.  So far, Serbia is pressuring for an investigation while a Kosovo NGO is considering filing a slander lawsuit against the former chief prosecutor for ICTY.

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News - Related to Human Trafficking

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who's Gonna Enforce the New Laws?

A couple weeks ago, the Kosovo parliament passed new legislation in regards to traffic laws which prohibited cell phone usage without hands-free headsets, required headlights at all times, requires seat-belt usage, prohibits stopping on pedestrian walkways or failing to stop for pedestrians, and finally prohibited heavy trucks from using the roads with muddy tires. But after a couple of weeks of being in effect, MTCowgirl is wondering what good is passing laws if there is no one around who is willing to enforce them?! I still see vehicles zipping by pedestrians (or nearly running them over) daily, kids bouncing around the backseats of vehicles with no car-seats or belts, and honestly it's hard to find a driver in Kosovo that doesn't have a mobile phone glued to their ear. In fact, a common sight is seeing a guy smoking with one hand and holding a cell phone with the other while driving down the road :o) If the Kosovo government is looking for a bit of pick-up in the budget, they should think about getting the police to start writing tickets for traffic offenses rather than drinking macchiato (or jaywalking in front of the police station...if the police can't obey the laws how can they except the ordinary citizens to have any respect for them or the police???)

The question still remains about what's going on with UNMIK. The EU has announced that it will close down Pillar IV of UNMIK by the end of June. UNMIK staff have been invited to attend a meeting with the SRSG on Wednesday to discuss the political developments (Nada!) and the "reconfiguration" of the mission. The UN Secretary-General has stated that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 is still in force in Kosovo. And there are also some rumors floating around that both SRSG Ruecker and PDSRSG Rossin have threatened to resign over NY's refusal of Mitrovica regional administrator Gerard Galluci.

Other Kosovo News
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ramush Haradinaj Acquitted

It has been over two years since Ramush Haradinaj was indicted on war crimes charges, resigned, and went to the Hague to face the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia but the long court case came to a close yesterday with an acquittal handed down by the panel of judges for both Haradinaj and co-defendant Balaj. A third defendant, Haradinaj's uncle Brahimaj, was sentenced to 6-years for two cases of torture and cruel treatment. Small celebrations broke out in Pristina with fireworks and reports of celebratory gunfire. Serb newspapers spat fire and politicians slammed the release calling it scandalous. Meanwhile Kosovo leaders welcomed the verdict saying that it showed the KLA war was just. Haradinaj is expected to arrive back in Pristina today and has said he will dedicate himself to building a multi-ethnic Kosovo where all rights are respected.
In other Kosovo news, the EU has accepted the Kosovo constitution and it is expected to go into effect on 15 June 2008. The document is said to guarantee the full respect of individual and community rights as it incorporates many points from the Ahtisaari package proposed to the UN last year.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kosovo to go Catholic?

The Vatican is eyeing Kosovo following independence and wondering how much evangelizing it can do in the region. The Kosovo archbishop has stated that Kosovo Muslims need a "cultural baptism" into Catholicism.
In other Kosovo news, the UN mission will remain in Kosovo for the time being according to a report by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon. The report leaves the question of the legality of the EULEX mission in question as well as the status of the transition between the two organizations.

Kosovo Serbs held a mass protest in N.Mitrovica and Gracanica yesterday promising to continue demonstrating until Kosovo's independence was nullified by the UN. Russia is already threatening to use its power to block Kosovo from joining the UN.

I think I actually forgot to mention that the US is planning on supplying weapons to Kosovo as part of an assistance package. There have been various articles on the topic from Serbia slamming & Kosovo welcoming, Russia's disapproval and US State Department justifications and a summary of different options from RIA Novosti.

Other Kosovo News
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kosovo Resolves Macedonian Name Dispute!

In a surprising discovery, Kosovo revealed an ancient document showing that it has territorial rights over Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. Greece and Macedonia will no longer need to fight over the name of FYROM/Macedonia as both will be incorporated into newly independent Kosovo as part of Greater Albania. Kosovo leaders are rejoicing and Western countries are reacting with delight. Read the full story at Sofia Echo :)
BTW...April Fools :)