Friday, November 28, 2008

UN Security Council Approves EULEX

The UN Security Council has given their support and approval of the six-point proposal for the deployment of EULEX under the umbrella of UNMIK.  It’s is unclear at this time how the two missions will work together but EULEX expects to begin working next week on 2 December.  EULEX is expected to gradually work up to full deployment in all of Kosovo.

The three German “spies” suspected of being responsible for the bomb attack on the EU ICO office in Pristina are due to be released due to a lack of evidence and flown back to Germany.  The German government has admitted that the three men are intelligence officers.  While the debate rages over suspected German spy involvement in the blast, a previously unknown group calling themselves “Army of the Republic of Kosovo” has claimed responsibility for the attack.  In an interesting article, reporters state how the blast is said to have chafed the bond with Germany.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Snow

Shortly after the new day began, it started snowing for the first time this winter in Pristina. By morning, the city was covered with a thick sheet of about six inches of snow and it seems to be staying. Of course I had to revert to childhood and romp around in the snow with Smokey as well as build a snowman on my terrace :) You’ll find pictures in my Kosovo Photo Album.

Three German nationals have been arrested in conjunction to the explosion at the EU ICO building in Dragodan last week.  There has been speculation in German media that the trio might be spies working for the German Intelligence Service however the German embassy has stated that they were in Kosovo under personal capacity and did not have diplomatic immunity.  However little information is available in regards to a motive and KPS is remaining tight-lipped on the details of the case.

The EU continues to deploy people to Kosovo and is anticipated to officially take over police and justice duties from UNMIK on 2 December.  Still there are questions of whether or not EULEX will be fully operational by the 2 December deadline and whether or not the UN Security Council will agree in their meeting on Monday for deployment of the EU mission under the umbrella of the UN.  Rumor has it EULEX is pushing to be fully deployed by the end of December in order to utilize their budget for 2008.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recommendations from the Cowgirl

It has been a little while since I talked about restaurants in Pristina and I have a couple new favorites such as Basilico and New York Bagel Restaurant. Both are located downtown by OSCE on Fehmi Again Street (going towards Dragodan) so very convenient for lunch and dinner. Basilico has delicious Italian-inspired dishes in a crowded but comfortable setting. New York Bagels offers real NY-style bagels in all the favorite flavors as well as bagel sandwiches.  Plus if you order more than 10€ worth of bagels you can get free delivery!

Also traveling around different parts of Kosovo, I’ve noticed a few nice restaurants outside Pristina.  The coolest one I’ve visited so far has been Restaurant Illyricum in Gjakove.  Decorated with traditional garb and flags from the tribes of Illyria, the restaurant also serves authentic dishes from days of old.  Also with interesting decor was Art Design Restaurant in Pec/Peja.  The food was very nice and I liked the artwork depicting families and life in Kosovo that hangs in various locations around the restaurant.
It’s also a little late to share this information now that the summer is gone and BBQ season is officially over, but next summer when you decide to grill with friends and need ice, call the Ice Man for free delivery of bags of ice.  The Ice Man’s English isn’t great but you can usually get the message through.  The ice is sold by the kilo and I think the minimum order for delivery is five kilos.

Oh, and I nearly forgot but if you are looking for a place to spend Thanksgiving and want some traditional food head to Pacific Rim Restaurant & Wine Bar in Dragodan.  Tom and Lali will be cooking up a special meal for Turkey Day for any homesick Americans!

I’ve updated my Restaurant Guide to include the contact information for all these restaurants so go out and give them a try!

I also have to recommend going to Peja/Pec to Skender Imami for a custom tailored leather jacket.  I’ve heard of the leather tailor for quite some time and finally just got around to purchasing my own tailored and custom designed jacket.  Based on the prices I’ve paid for leather coats elsewhere, I got the jacket tailored to fit me for basically nothing!  And it only took a week from when I ordered to get the jacket!  I would be completely useless in giving directions to Mr. Imami’s shop but they have a clothing store near the KPS HQ in downtown.  Give them a call (044 255 149 / 039 422 621) for directions.
Oh, and being a girl, I can’t help but also recommend a jewelry shop in the old part of Prizren!  If you are shopping for silver or gold, I would suggest popping your head into Kaqinari (044 644 390) which is near the fountain square.  Prices are based on the weight of the item and out of the various shops I visited, Kaqinari seemed to have a good selection of modern and traditional designs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day of Protests

The Kosovo government has put forth a four-point proposal to counter the UN-EU six-point proposal for the continuation of UNMIK and the deployment of EULEX in Kosovo. However Vetevendosje does not agree with the Kosovo government proposal and has called for a demonstration today. In addition to the Vetevendosje protest, 15 different NGOs and local organizations will protest everything from money for widows to recognition as a political party (War Veterans). Plus there will be a demonstration in Mitrovica over the continued tension over the reconstruction of an Albanian house in the village of Brdjani.  The demonstrations are scheduled to begin at 1200 CET and are due to be peaceful. 

MTCowgirl’s Interesting Articles/Commentary

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Explosion at EU ICO

Yesterday around 1740 hours an explosive device was thrown over the wall and exploded at the EU International Civilian Office in Dragodan.  There were no injuries and minor material damages.  Disagreement over the six-point proposal and doubts over the EU mission in Kosovo has increased tensions in Kosovo and rumored to be a reason for this first attack on EU premise in Kosovo.  Both EU and Kosovo leaders have condemned the attack as well as the US ambassador in Kosovo warned leaders to be cautious of the rhetoric they use.  The Kosovo Liberation Army has threatened war over EULEX if the territorial integrity of Kosovo is threatened.

Kosovo authorities have shut down another health clinic in connection to the illegal kidney transplant clinic in Pristina.  The second clinic was reportedly offering artificial insemination and one person may have died after receiving inadequate treatment.  An Israeli man has been arrested in connection with the case and police are searching for a Macedonian worker who is alleged to have worked at the clinic.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Six Point Proposal

So it’s all over the news and people are probably wondering, what the heck is this six-point proposal thing?!  With Belgade and Pristina bickering of the extent of the EULEX mission, the six point proposal was presented by the UN and EU as a sort of compromise. The six-point proposal is the plan for EULEX to deploy under the umbrella of UNMIK with a neutral status towards Kosovo’s independence.  It also outlines administrative divisions between the North of Kosovo and other Serbian enclaves.  It is said that now the EU and UN are pressuring Kosovo to accept the new plan for EULEX deployment.

Naturally with most politics there are conspiracy theories and lots of opinions.  Today’s I’ll focus on what the news is saying and what opinions are being offered on the six-point proposal.

MTCowgirl’s Six Points Articles & Opinions

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

UN Security Council Delays Kosovo Debate

The planned debate on Kosovo in the UN Security Council due to take place today has been postponed by the request of two unnamed members. Meanwhile the Kosovo government has rejected the possibility of a “status neutral” in a press conference yesterday.  However former UNMIK SRSG Bernard Kouchner has called on the Kosovo government to accept the plans for the administrative division of Kosovo between EULEX and UNMIK.  It is still expected that EULEX will be operational in December although there are many questions as if the estimate is realistic.

MTCowgirl’s Interesting Articles/Commentary

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kosovo Hostel – Illegal Organ Transplants

Okay, it’s not as freaky as the movie hostel where rich Eastern Europeans pay to kill poor unsuspecting American backpackers but an illegal organ transplanting facility has been discovered near the Pristina airport. Over the past week following the discovery of the clinic, several arrests have been made in conjunction with the private clinic from the doctors to the Secretary of the Ministry of Health. Donors reportedly were flying in from all over the world as well as patients.  The investigation was started after a Turkish man was stopped at the airport with no money arousing suspicions.

The conflict in Northern Kosovo over the reconstruction of a house belonging to Ai Kadriu, an Albanian, in the village of Suvi Do between Mitrovica and Zvecan continues into its second week with reports of stone throwing on Sunday.  Last week following violent clashes between Serbs and Albanians, police prevented reconstruction of the house and the Kosovo Police detained Kadriu.  Questions in regards to Kadriu needing a permit for the reconstruction have been raised.

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News
Articles here are more political in nature in regards to the UN/EU Missions or Kosovo Government
MTCowgirl’s Interesting Articles/Commentary
Disclaimer (as always!): These articles do not necessarily reflect my personal opinion regarding Kosovo and/or independence. These are cultural articles or opinion pieces printed in regards to Kosovo and the region which are of interest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

EULEX to be operational by December (?!?!?!)

Could Kosovo be on the UN Security Council agenda this Friday? If it is, EULEX just might possibly have a fighting chance to be operational by early December.  With less than half of it's expected force deployed, EULEX will likely need to deploy at least a couple hundred people per week, send them through a week-long induction session, get them to their jobs, and perform a "hand-over" of the work from UNMIK to EU (or maybe it will just be a handing over of the files and a "good luck" handshake?!)  For some time EULEX has been struggling not only with deploying staff but also filling positions...only two weeks ago it was reported that EULEX still needs to fill four of five posts! 

Meanwhile the European Parliament might move to block funding for EULEX if it is not fully deployed through all of Kosovo.  There have been talk of a "watered down" version of EULEX in the north of Kosovo as part of an agreement between EU and Serbia.  Serbia has stated that EULEX would be acceptable under certain conditions such as being "status neutral" and dropping the implementation of the Ahtisaari package.

Today's recommended article is called Tourism in Kosovo? Ha ha ha?  I have to put in my two cents on the article...the author is pretty much right on the money!  After a nice day in Gjakove this past weekend, I find it a shame that Kosovars are letting go of traditions like the traditional "Plisa" (Smurf hats, I know that will get some hate mail but hey, that's what outsiders call them folks!) makers in the old city.  The architecture of Gjakove's old town could easily be compared to that in Sarajevo's Ba�ar�ija but the Plisa makers have gone and been replaced by shop after shop of modern clothing...or worse gaudy formal dress peddlers who take high fashion to an extreme and beyond to a place where it no longer looks nice but just like someone has simply become a "serial fashion victim" (but I digress!  Back to the wiping out of cool old culture!).  Honestly Kosovars, there's nothing interesting about seeing those modern shops or having a coffee in some hip, smoke-filled cafe in the old city but bring back the traditional Plisa makers or women selling hand-knit table linens and you just might bring in people from outside who would enjoy Kosovo's culture!  But alas, it's a lament that probably will never come to fruit as the younger generations don't seem to give a flying rat's buttocks about their slowly disappearing cheers, enjoy your macchiato in the cool new cafe, and did you see that fantastic dress down the street (yeah, the leopard print one with all the ruffles and sequins?!  To die for...literally!) :P

Monday, November 3, 2008

Been Saying It For Awhile!

Nah, nah, nah! :P I've been saying it for a while and finally one of the local new sources has caught on to the fact that "Rich Foreigners Keep Kosovo Rental Prices Soaring" and talks about the difference between the "local" rate and "international" rate for apartments particularly in Pristina.  Since the arrival of people from EULEX, it actually has only gotten worse because it seems that some locals believe that EULEX people were just born yesterday and will pay whatever they ask (and as it seems, some will!)  But thankfully some of you have read the information and experiences here and know the three important questions to ask and the approximate reasonable prices for Pristina :o)  So remember to negotiate and don't get suckered in by unscrupulous landlords looking to make a quick profit off your ignorance!

MTCowgirl's Interesting Articles/Commentary
Note: These articles do not necessarily reflect personal opinion but are relevant to Kosovo and the current situation and/or cultural information.