Monday, January 26, 2009

Kosovo Security Forces Off to Rocky Start

Last Thursday, the new Kosovo Army called the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) launched but things did not get off without a hitch. A grenade was reportedly thrown on the roof of the KSF barracks in Peja/Pec and so far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack in which no injuries occurred. Then former members of the KPC/TMK, predecessor of KSF that incorporated a large number of former KLA fighters, protested the fact that they were not offered positions in the new army but other civilians were being given jobs. With the economy suffering, many former fighters fear they will not find work. A small side-note can be added that when the process for selecting people for KSF began, it was found that little to no background check was done previously and many were disqualified for ties to criminal groups or criminal records.

The smack-down between Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaci is continuing.  The two former KLA-commanders and political rivals have been pitted against each other since Haradinaj’s acquittal by the Hague last year.  The latest in the news is Haradinaj accusing the government of Thaci of losing Kosovo day-by-day.  Haradinaj is also strongly opposing the decision not to hold general elections in Kosovo this year.  It will be interesting to see just how this fight will get or how ugly it might become.  Of course, Haradinaj might just be a little peeved that he lost out on being Kosovo’s Man of the Year to both Thaci and Albin Kurti (see below).

MTCowgirl’s Interesting Articles/Commentary

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kosovo Army Begins Operations

The Kosovo Security Force became operational today bringing an end to the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK/KPC). The KSF will be lightly armed and will be comprised of 2500 members of the various ethnic groups of Kosovo. It is expected that the new army will be under the supervision of NATO. Serbia has vowed to fight against the formation of KSF diplomatically and is expected to take the verbal battle to the United Nations.  NATO is additionally ready to consider suspending the security zone between Serbia and Kosovo should it be requested.

Two damning reports on Kosovo have emerged this week.  The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee has condemned the Kosovo Police Service for police brutality and Human Rights Watch stated that there have been no improvements in human rights since independence.

Meanwhile, it has been decided that only local elections will be held this year in Kosovo but general elections will not take place for two years.  The Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo’s independence called for elections within nine months but the constitution which came into effect in July 2008 states that elections cannot be held for two years.  Disagreements between the Kosovo political parties forced the decision into the hands of the European Union’s International Civilian Office which supports holding local elections and the decision that parliamentary elections could be held off until 2011.  However the two largest opposition parties in Kosovo have joined forces in rejecting the postponement of elections calling the decision totalitarian.

MTCowgirl’s Interesting Articles/Commentary

Monday, January 12, 2009

It’s Freaking Cold!!!

There’s nothing better than beyond freezing temperatures to make you wish that you were back home in a nice warm toasty house or perhaps even better would be to be sitting on a warm sunny tropical beach somewhere.  But alas I am back in Kosovo and therefore freezing my nether-regions with sub-zero temperatures and several inches of snow on the ground.  In fact the weather was so-o-o-o crappy on the return trip to Kosovo that I ended up loitering in the Vienna airport for a total of 10 hours as the afternoon flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on the later evening flight.  But I made it and boy am I happy (please note the sarcasm attached to that statement!) :o )

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Trouble Brews in North Kosovo

It’s unfortunate that instead of writing about the coming of a new year for Kosovo, I find myself writing instead that ethnic tensions in North Mitrovica are high after the stabbing of a Serbian teenager by two Albanians and then the subsequent property destruction of Albanian owned shops. And it doesn’t end there either. Two explosions rocked the north with both vehicles being damaged and six people injured. It seems that Kosovo is getting off to a rocky start in 2009.

At the beginning of the week, ten former members of the KLA were arrested by Serbian police in Presevo Valley in southeastern Serbia. The Albanians from Kosovo are accused of war crimes of murder, rape, and torture of Serb civilians in the Gnjilane region following the end of the fighting. The ten were transferred to Belgrade and have been given 30-day detention due to the seriousness of the accusations and flight risk. Kosovo parliamentary speaker Jakup Isufi has lashed out at Serbia and demanded that the international community act and the suspects be released.

So will the cowgirl be packing up her bags and leaving Kosovo in 2009? Only time will tell! There still is no real good indication of how long UNMIK will remain in Kosovo and how things will work out with EULEX being deployed under the umbrella of the UN Resolution 1244. There has been rumor and speculation that slowly over time all the UN people will disappear and no one will notice but on the flipside a lot of people have told me that I might as well apply for my Kosovo citizenship (eight years is a good residency period don’t you think?!) and the UN won’t be leaving anytime in the near future. So basically the best thing to say is “Who Knows?!” and until the day comes when I’m told to pack up, you can bet that I’ll continue bringing you stories of living in Kosovo and sharing the news articles I come across :)

MTCowgirl’s Interesting Articles/Commentary