Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kosovo prisoners go on hunger strike

Approximately 560 prisoners in Kosovo are continuing on their second day of a hunger strike in protest over the Kosovo government's failure to pass a "promised" amnesty law that was due to go into force following independence as well as difficult conditions (thought that was what prison was supposed to be!).

A powerful explosion ripped apart a vehicle belonging to a Serbian KPS officer in northern Kosovo in the early hours of the morning.  An investigation is on-going and no injuries were reported.  On Saturday, a bullet-ridden vehicle and body of a Serbian KPS officer was found in northern Kosovo.  This was the second deadly shooting case in a matter of days in the north.

A Montenegrin was reportedly arrested and insulted by Pristina KPS after being removed from Gebo Club for wearing a hat with his national symbols.  The Albanian KPS officers allegedly questioned the chairman of a Kosovo association for Montenegrins if he supported Ramush or Thaci.  A case is due to be filed against KPS and the club for discrimination and intolerance.

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Little Competition

Many years of not having a decent English language newspaper there are now two papers being published!  The first I mentioned last week and the other one came out on the 14th called Pristina (Prishtine?) Insight.  It appears that Pristina Insight is backed by BIRN which I have always liked for their investigative pieces and balanced reporting.  As we say, a little competition is never a bad thing and it's great to have some quality reporting in English, not just a rehash of translated text from local papers!

It was pointed out to me that while I mentioned Tokyo Restaurant in the blog I didn't have the information in the Restaurant listing so I've updated with some of my favorite menu items and will work on expanding the information next week for both Tokyo and a new restaurant I've recently discovered (I've been driving by for some time but never actually went in!)  There also is an excellent wine bar and Bistro (Pacific Rim Bistro & Wine Bar, 47 Ismail Qemali Street) in Dragodan just down the street from me (I'm thinking just as dangerous as Pinocchio but at least a little more of a walk!)  The menu is diverse with a mixture of Asian, Mexican, and American favorites.  The wine menu is huge and they have many good selections.  They also seem to have a large selection of different beers from local to imports.  I can quickly see Pacific Rim jumping to the top of my favorites!

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News

Monday, June 16, 2008

Special Price for you, my friend!

With the gradual deployment of EU personnel to Kosovo and the local population aware of the generous living allowance rates, the rental prices in Kosovo has started to increase bring about the old saying "special price for you, my friend" when people are searching for flats.  In the last months, one international found that some landlords have jacked the prices in Dragodan from 500Euros/month to nearly 900E/month which is literally insane.  And many landlords in Kosovo would rather chew on their shoe that negotiate for a lower rent for those expecting long-term assignments opting to keep their flats empty and forgoing a lower rental payment in hopes that that one sucker born every minute will come along and rent the place for the exorbitant amount they are asking.  Luckily not every landlord is out to make a quick dime and with so many people leaving the mission it really is a renter's market so when looking for a flat, remember that there are plenty of places available and if the landlord isn't willing to negotiate it's probably best to move on and look for a better deal (one of the greatest criticisms of Americans is that we often don't negotiate the rents and we tend to spoil the landlords into thinking that everyone is a sucker and will pay more than necessary!  The other big criticism is that we tip too much...but I still leave at least 10% when I get really good service.)

With a relative lack of excitement, the Kosovo constitution came into effect yesterday, two days short of four months after the unilateral declaration of independence.  In what was supposed to mark a handover from the UN to the EU there are still doubts as to when the UN will leave as the EU has failed to establish their mission north of the Ibar river due to strong opposition by the Kosovo Serbians in the area.

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News

Friday, June 13, 2008

Border Backs Up after Closure

The Blace border on the Macedonian side has backed up with truck traffic after the seizure of hazardous dimethyldisulfide.  The border is reported to have a sweet, pungent scent and authorities are trying to figure out what to do with the trucks.  Kosovo wants to send it back but Macedonia will not let the truck pass through until the materials are stored correctly. Several police officers came down sick after exposure to the toxic chemical but according to the KPS spokesperson it was due to food poisoning (somewhat difficult to believe!)  When driving down to Greece, there must have been at least 100-150 trucks on the Macedonian side of the border and none-too-happy to be stuck there.
MTCowgirl's Kosovo News - Related to Toxic Shipment

Thursday, June 12, 2008

1st English Language Newspaper in Independent Kosovo

The new Kosov@ Press went to print this past weekend with its first issue boasting to be the 1st English language newspaper in independent Kosovo.  The 16-page tabloid-print paper features everything from serious politics to culture in both black/white and color.  The weekly paper will cost 1� and appears it will be available on Mondays. You can pick up a free copy at the reception desk of the Grand Hotel downtown :)
In what could only be described as pure criminal stupidity, a junkie attempted a robbery at the Kosovo PM Thaci's home on Saturday morning and was shot.  The known 19 year-old was turned in by his father after being injured and reportedly didn't realize that he was breaking into the Prime Minister's home.  Initial reports of the break-in were that there had been an assassination attempt on Thaci, who wasn't even home at the time, and even that the PM's house had been mortared...that shows you just how accurate Kosovo rumors can be!

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