Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Global Economic Crisis Starts Hitting Kosovo

When, not if, the effects of the global economic meltdown would hit Kosovo has been a topic for discussion since headlining across the rest of Europe and the US.  Many believed that the summertime was when the real effects would show when migrant workers started returned from abroad and possibly fail to secure visas to return abroad for work due to demand for jobs.  However, it seems that already Kosovo is beginning to feel the economic pinch with remittances from abroad starting to drop.

When first arriving in Kosovo some eight years ago I joined the group that wondered why there were so many Western Union offices in such a poor place.  The answer was found in that the mass exodus from Kosovo during the fighting left many people in Western Europe who were able to secure work and support their non-working families in Kosovo.  Just like migrant workers from Mexico in the US, Kosovars go abroad in Europe and send a good portion of their wages back to Kosovo to their families accounting for a substantial portion of Kosovo’s income.  With unemployment still at approximately 40-50%, hard times are likely to soon fall upon Kosovo unless the government finds a way to pull a white rabbit out of its hat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alive & Kicking :)

Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to update that much lately, I am still alive and kicking in Kosovo :)   Life has been hectic and coupled with recent events in UNMIK, work is a bit crazy.

Last week, UNMIK send letters of termination to some 450 staff members, mostly national.  The sudden termination, letters issued on Thursday with a last working day of Friday, was due to a deadline set by NY for the last payment of termination indemnity which the national staff previously went on strike about last month.  Despite calls for the withdrawal of UNMIK from Kosovo, the mission is currently just scaling back to approximately 500 staff members by the end of June 2009 as per UN Security Resolution 1244, the UN is required to maintain a presence in Kosovo until such time that the resolution is changed or discharged by the Security Council.

Last week EULEX announced that it had achieved 100% operational capacity.  What operational capacity exactly means is still up for debate with a few letters of criticism over logistics and other difficulties faced by police officers coming out and circulated to the international EULEX staff.  In other EU news, a delegation from the European Parliament has told Kosovo that they no longer need UNMIK as EULEX is now operational.