Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wheels Up Tomorrow

I’ll be departing Kosovo for the holidays tomorrow but never fear, I’ll update while I’m away!
Kosovars have again jumped into the holidays with a surprising vigor.  Lights, trees, and even Santa Claus-es sporting monkeys have popped up all over Pristina in the past week or two.  IPKO constructed a huge Ice Castle near the Grand Hotel and passed out free snacks last weekend which was supposedly a sight to see with people getting runover by crowds for ballons and other freebies.  As I coined the phrase last year…it’s Kommercial Kristmas time in Kosovo again!

On a more serious note, MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Super Frustrated!!!

Ga, I’m super frustrated today.  I was so excited that this weekend we were going to go out and distribute the clothing and toys we have gathered during the Dj Vegas Toy & Clothing Drive but the minister in the Ministry of Labor & Social Welfare fell through with the list of families this morning because he has been too busy preparing year-end reports!!!  DOH!  Anyways, we compromised on him preparing the list for mid to late January when I come back from holiday leave so we will still go out but I was really hoping to have everything to the families for the holidays :(

Plans to privatize the Brezovica ski resort have been announced this week.  EU Special Representative Peter Feith has stated that the privatization will be transparent with input from the EU, Serbia, and Kosovo.  With the lifts scheduled to open later this month it will be interesting to see what will happen with Serbia’s plans to invest more than 40 million Euros in the resort and what any company that may buy Brezovica ski resort will plan to do to update the infrastructure and hotels.

So, I will be going home to the US for the holidays but as always I will keep updating as I always do.  Reflecting back on my eight and half years in Kosovo, I have to say that because I have lived here so long it really has started to feel like home.  I’ve seen so many changes since I arrived in Kosovo back in 2000 for the first time and then again in 2001 to begin working but at the same time, the more things change here the more they stay the same!  Streets that were once congested because they were narrow have been widened and are now super-congested because there are more cars (and really, really nice ones at that!)  So, yes the power still goes out every once in a while, the streets are coated with brown slime, the air stinks of coal heating but when I think about it, it just wouldn’t be the Kosovo I have grown to love without those things!!!  I guess Kosovo is just one of those places you love to hate and like fungus, it grows on you :)
Happy Holidays to everyone and for those traveling to see your loved ones, have a safe trip!

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

EULEX Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Today EULEX celebrated its one year anniversary of its official deployment in Kosovo.  Head of Mission, Yves de Kermabon (affectionally known by staff as YDK) said that the mission has done well but challenges remain.  Serbia took the opportunity to make statements that say they will continue supporting EULEX as long as it stays “status neutral” as the mission was deployed under UN Security Council Resolution 1244.  EULEX has announced that it will open a temporary office in northern Kosovo while a permanent office will open later in the spring.

I didn’t have a chance last week to discuss something that’s been all over the Kosovo news.  About a week and half ago, a Kosovo politician stood up in parliament and announced that he had proof of corruption and organized crime in the Kosovo government, namely Thaci’s PDK party.  After that, a DVD was revealed with a man named Nazim Bllaca admitting to committing murders of Albanian and Serb citizens while working for the former Kosovo Intelligence Service (SHIK) under the direct order of Thaci.  Shortly after the statement in parliament, Bllaca alleged that an assasination attempt was made against him and after that EULEX arrested him for the crimes he had committed or was present.  Later, in order to preserve the judicial process from political interference, EULEX excluded the Kosovo police and local prosecutors from the case and forbid Bllaca from speaking with the media.

The hearing on the legality of Kosovo’s independence is underway in the International Court of Justice.  An advisory from the panel of 15 judges who have been hearing arguments for and against Kosovo’s independence from various countries is expected within a few months of the two weeks of arguments which are to wrap up at the end of this week.

Finally, one last notice about the Dj Vegas Toy & Clothing Drive.  It will wrap up tomorrow evening with drop-off points at UNMIK and Amelie Espresso Bar who kindly let us put a collection box in the restaurant.  Odyssea Bakery is also very generously baking cakes for the 30 families (10 from each ethnic group) who have been selected by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.  Next week I will have stories and pictures from the distribution that will be on Saturday.