Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Common Courtesy? Not in Kosovo!

This morning as I drove to work I was reminded of how driving in Kosovo is something special.  Courtesy while driving is not something to be expected in Kosovo in fact it's a downright miracle (divine intervention, heavenly music, and angels playing harps!) if it does occur.  As I came out of a circle this morning and attempted to merge into traffic as my lane ended I found myself being forced into oncoming traffic by the anti-merging drivers in the other lane.  But employing one of the rules of the Kosovo Driver's Handbook I managed to merge.  When I looked in my rearview mirror I was happy to see that I forcefully merged myself into traffic as the truck that was attempting to run me off the road was half a football field behind me due to being overloaded and unable to travel at normal speed...yet for some reason he really wanted me to be stuck behind him and didn't want to allow me to merge in front of him :P
Additionally, there is no such thing as a courtesy wave when you allow someone to turn in front of you or yield when you have the right of way...the drivers here act like they own the road and of course you are going to stop for them so why should they thank you?  Oh, and if they are going down the street the wrong way, you should still pull over for them because hey, they own the road (God forbid that KPS do anything about traffic going the wrong way down the one-way street...they're too busy chatting and drinking coffee! Don't believe me???  Go spend two minutes on a street in Dragodan in the morning and see how many vehicles go the wrong way, including police vehicles.  Respect of law?  Ha, who is going to respect the traffic laws if even the police refuse to obey them???)

Also naturally if someone wants to talk to a friend on the side of the road, they have no qualms about stopping in the middle of traffic completely blocking access for all other drivers and chatting for several minutes.  A friend had a good story from a week or so ago when he was driving home from work and traffic started backing up and everyone was changing lanes.  When he got to the blockage, he pulled over in front of the female (of course!) driver who was stopped on a crosswalk and was chatting with a male friend.  When he showed his police ID and told her to move, he didn't get an embarrassed apologies but instead was basically told that telling them that they couldn't stop in the middle of the street was a violation of their human rights (Um, yeah, I'll have to try that line the next time I get pulled over.  "Oh no officer, you can't give me a ticket for speeding.  That's against my human rights!")

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Looking for an Apartment in Kosovo?

After fielding questions about housing prices in Pristina for years, this cowgirl is happy to announce that one of the property agencies has finally started advertising listings online!  If you are looking for an apartment, house, or office in Kosovo, you can now visit Prishtina Property online and view photos and see prices. 
The weather has heated up and it seems that summer has officially arrived.  And of course, there's no better way than to kick off the summer than beach volleyball and a BBQ.  Check your Lotus Notes for more information!

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Gearing Up for 15 June

Everyone seems to be gearing up for 15 June when the Kosovo constitution is due to take effect.  The International Steering Group has said that Kosovo is ready to take over full authority and cited progress made in the past three months by the government.  The US Under Secretary of State made a comment that the UN was beginning to downsize but that is inaccurate as the mission has orders from NY to continue at full-strength and at normal operation.  Any downsizing would be a natural attrition due to staff departing for better job security but we will see what happens. 
Meanwhile, the EU is still working on staffing for their police mission called EULEX and the US had confirmed that it negotiating its exact role in the mission and will most likely participate.  It is expected that the US contingent will reduce in number from 220 officers to 80 officers for Kosovo under EULEX.
There will essentially be three different EU components working in Kosovo:  EULEX, EU Special Rep Office, European Commission.  Peter Feith who is featured predominantly in the news is the Special Representative while the EULEX mission will be headed by Yves de Kermabon.  Kermabon was recently in the news stating that UNMIK will no longer be the "main player" in Kosovo soon.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Smokey Update

I know that it has been some time since I updated on Smokey and a few people are asking. I guess Smokey is fine but he has been having seizures lately and it seems that he has developed a form of dog epilepsy in the past year.  My poor puppy!  He is seizing more frequently than before but the seizures are not very long, probably 30 seconds to a minute.  Recently someone warned me about the dog kennel near the airport saying that after they left their dog there for an extended period of time that their dog had problems and had to be put down.  I was surprised to hear this as Smokey has spent several long stays while I've been away but there it is just in case the kennel does factor into the epilepsy (but he'll still be boarded there because they do take good care of him!)  However from reading there is still little known about what causes epilepsy in dogs.  I will take Smokey to the vet later today for a check-up and to buy him a collar to repel ticks as we have been walking in Germia lately and he appears to attract them like nothing else.  I've been pulling small tan/brown ticks out of his skin for the past 24 hours and every time I give him a pet I find another one :P  Yuck!!!
I finally got around to uploading a few of the photos from the Vetevendosje 9 May 2008 demonstration against the Serbian elections in Kosovo.  Interestingly in this demonstration it was Glauk who addressed the crowd and chanted "UCK" instead of normal Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti who quietly stood by and watched.  Perhaps it has something to do with his "house arrest" which strangely enough allows him to do basically whatever he wants to during the day with a curfew of 7pm.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

EU Looks To 15 June

The EU Mission (EULEX) is looking to deploy their mission across all of Kosovo from the 15th of June according to their Special Representative, Pieter Feith.  Officially, the UN still has not received permission to hand over responsibility to the EU mission and the future of the UN/EU missions are still unclear.  Staff working for UNMIK have had their contracts tentatively extended until 31 December.  It is expected that after the Kosovo constitution comes into effect, the Kosovo Government will invite the EU to take up a monitoring role however the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 will still be in effect for the UN which could make for an interesting situation to say the least!  Mostly, it is hurry-up-and-wait for those of us in Kosovo.
I meant to write over the weekend about the Vetevendosje protest on 9 May against the Serbian elections held in the enclaves but time got away from me.  I have lots of pictures but need to sit down and get them ready :)  In short, Vetevendosje was up to its usual antics.  This time they pulled up a truck to the UN Mission HQ gate and started throwing bags of garbage over the fence.  They also brought a water tank of liquid cow manure and sprayed it on the Government and Mission HQ buildings.  The interesting thing that I find about Vetevendosje is that basically all the group does is complain about things but they aren't a political group per se trying to run in the elections to actually try to change things themselves.  No, it seems that they would rather just whine and complain about the way things are than get their hands dirty in politics and try to change their future themselves :P

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News
MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary
  • Finding fun in the US presidential debates
  • Swedish politician cleared of hate speech charges regarding Kosovo Albanians
  • We shall overcome, communities works towards reconciliation
  • Kosovo aid the model to use to the question of helping Burma (references to Kosovo)
  • As Burma dies, our macho invaders sit on their hands (references to Kosovo)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Okay, so most people in Kosovo have no idea what Cinco de Mayo is but some of us will still be celebrating with margaritas and Mexican food later tonight! It's interesting when you think about it of all the different international selections we have in Kosovo due to the Expat community working for the UN and other organizations.  There actually is a decent Mexican restaurant in Sunny Hill that serves up tasty margaritas and has a roaming mariachi band to do table-side serenades while you enjoy your plate of sizzling fajitas :)  Pristina also boasts two sushi restaurants (this cowgirl ended up in Toyko this weekend doing karaoke until the lights came on...whew, what a night!)

But for my long night out this weekend it didn't start at Toyko...oh, no it started far before we ended up there!  A group of friends and I started off at Bo Bowling off of Skopje Highway for five games of great fun (and drinking!)  The games are reasonably priced and it really is great fun when you get a group of friends together.  For a bowling alley, the decor is quite nice and there is a nice seating area with comfy couches and chairs if you just want to chat :)

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News
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Friday, May 2, 2008


After a warm & sunny Labour Day holiday it is difficult to return back to work for one day but here I am on a beautiful, sunny Friday :~(  Germia Park and Baklava Lake were full of people relaxing and Mother Theresa was crowded with pedestrians yesterday as everyone kicked back and enjoyed the great spring weather.  It seems that spring is finally here as of last week and the sweaters are being packed away until next winter.
This weekend Dj Vegas & Friends are going out to do charity distribution in the Gnjilane Region to the different ethnicities (we always cover all the different ethnicities in Kosovo!)  I will no doubt have pictures and stories from the trip to share on Monday.  A great problem that I have noticed is perhaps due to a lack of education but the families that live in poverty in Kosovo seem to have more children than they can care for which is sad because the children really suffer a miserable existence.  I know that I will have fun tomorrow shopping for toys for the kids and there is great satisfaction in being able to make a child's day by giving them a brand-new toy that they normally wouldn't be able to have because they were born into unfortunate circumstances.

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News