Friday, April 30, 2010

Tensions Rise as Serbs Left without Communications

Tensions are continuing to rise as Kosovo Serbs are left without their normal Serbia-provided telecommunications in enclaves around Kosovo following the destruction of sites by the Kosovo Regulatory Agency.  Four communication sites and a police station in the north of Kosovo have been attacked  following the actions of the Kosovo government in apparent retaliation.

The action has been interpreted as putting pressure or forcibly integrating Kosovo’s Serbian population into the Kosovo institutions.  After disabling the Serbian-providers, Kosovo reportedly was handing out free SIM cards to populations left without any telephone service.

In addition to the mobile phone service, it has been reported that Serbian TV and radio stations with licenses to operate in Kosovo has also had their equipment destroyed during the cut-off by the Kosovo Regulatory Agency.  The Serbian population in Gracanica has vowed to protest daily until their services are re-established and Serbia is calling the move a “violation of human rights” and reportedly has petitioned to EULEX to defend the rights of Serbs in Kosovo and is going to petition to UNMIK.

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

12 Injured During Kurti Arrest Attempt

12 people were injured during an attempt by Kosovo Police to arrest Albin Kurti following a funeral on Monday.  Kurti was spotted leaving the funeral in a vehicle which KPS attempted to stop but the driver accelerated and ran over three officers resulting in slight injuries to the officers.  The vehicle was later stopped and the driver was arrested following the incident.  Vetevendosje activists also pelted KPS with stones.  The hearing was postponed for the ninth time today after Kurti and his defense lawyer failed to appear in court.

Big in the news this weekend was a move by the Kosovo Regulation Authority on Communications against telecom services by Serbian companies in Kosovo.  The Kosovo authority announced that it was shutting down the Serbian services as they are not licensed and have been deemed to be operating illegally in Kosovo following independence.  The move has angered Serbian residents of which approximately 40,000 rely on the Serbian mobile phone systems for service.

The news continues on the difficulty of the Serbian families returned to the Zac village near Istog after several nights of harassment.  Both the Kosovo government and UN have condemned the incidents.

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

EULEX Police Raid Kosovo Ministry of Transporation

As part of an ongoing investigation of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, EULEX police in plain clothes reportedly searched the offices of the Ministry of Transport and escorted staff from the premises today.  The Ministry of Transport and its head, Fatmir Limaj, have been the focus of many corruption allegations in the media in the past months.  It has been reported that the head of ICO, Peter Feith, has on occassion presented a case for the removal of Limaj to Kosovo PM Haschim Thaci regarding the alleged corruption but Thaci was said to be “unconvinced” by the evidence presented.  So far, no official charges have been presented against Limaj or anyone in the Ministry of Transport.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

EULEX Struggles to Maintain Reputation

While the Albin Kurti Comedy Tour continues with it’s eighth postponement (or is the ninth?  I’m quickly losing track!) and complaints that the Kosovo judiciary is weak, EULEX now is scrambling to maintain it’s reputation and integrity after 16 Romanian police officers and their bus driver were caught smuggling alcohol and tobacco out of Kosovo.  Macedonian Customs officials found 314 cartons of cigarettes and 133 liters of alcohol hidden in the officer’s bags and the trunk of their bus.  EULEX has launched an internal investigation into the officers who were fined by the Macedonian authorities and released.

A group of Serb returnees the Zac village near Istog have been facing protests by Albanian villagers and reportedly were stoned upon their return to the village.  The Albanian villagers have alleged that the returned families participated in the 1999 war.  Fearful for their safety, the Serb families reportedly are considering returning back to Central Serbia which does not bode well for Kosovo’s establishment of tolerance and a multi-ethnic society or the soon-to-be forced repatriations from Western European countries of asylum seekers from the 1999 war.

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Albin Kurti Comedy Tour

Despite re-opening the case for the February 2007 riots against Vetevendosje leader, Albin Kurti, EULEX has failed to hold a court hearing due to the defense lawyers refusing to cooperate and the failure of the Kosovo Police to execute an arrest warrant for Kurti.  The announcement of the trial’s postponement have become more of a normal occurence rather than a surprise.  The trial against Albin Kurti looks more to be turning into a drawn out demonstration of a lack of willingness of Kosovo officials (both police and justice) for stepping outside their personal politicial beliefs and opinions and getting down to doing their job.
Yes, there is a petition with 175,000 signatures against the EULEX case against Albin Kurti but in refusing to cooperate or recognize the legitimacy of the court proceedings is quite like the stand taken by both Slobodan Milosevic and Karadic against ICTY.  So does that mean that because we don’t like the case being prosecuted we can just refuse to show up at court and throw eggs at the appointed defense lawyers who are just trying to do the job they’ve been given?  I somehow don’t think that this attitude would fly in a normal functioning society!  Albin Kurti is missing an opportunity to show the international community that as proclaimed by the masses he is innocent of wrong-doing but refusing to show up in court does not go far in conveying that message.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Joy of Being an International in Kosovo

The weather has quite sucked today with pouring rain.  Naturally traffic backed up because quite simply with all the pollution in Kosovo, the roads become quite slick when the water hits the fine coal dust from Obilic and the local population often fails to adjust their driving speed and skills to the changing weather conditions.  Even more interesting, there often is an attitude of “this is my world, you are just living in it”

A good example of this is the accident that my husband Troy had today while sitting at a red light.  Normally when you are third in line at a red light you don’t have to worry about any traffic hitting you but alas, someone managed today which probably should be recorded in some record book somewhere in the category “Seriously?  I mean seriously?!”

So sitting third back in a line of traffic, Troy got hit in the front passenger panel by a vehicle trying to cut in from the side.  With a median in the way and the huge blue EULEX patrol sitting in line, the man driving didn’t have anywhere to go and evidently was too impatient to wait for traffic to pull up so he proceeded to drive into the side of the EULEX car.  Now the story interestingly enough does not end there!
After proceeding to scratch the side of the Patrol, the offender made eye contact with Troy, backed up, and then left acceleration marks as he took off the opposite direction!  Probably the first time I’ve heard of a person leaving tire tracks away from the scene of the accident.  Oh yeah, and the story continues from there.  EULEX Security shows up and so does KPS.

KPS tells the three international police officers that they do not believe the accident happened the way that they have been told, oh yeah except the guy who caused the accident fled the scene.  Naturally telling a carful of police officers that they are lying went over well.  So continuing in the accident report, Troy and his colleagues managed to get the license plate of the vehicle that hit them.  But of course, KPS has an answer for that too and says that their vehicle registration database is inaccurate so they probably won’t be able to find out who caused the accident.  So basically, hit & run accident, KPS doesn’t feel like doing any work and there probably will be no outcome for the report.  In short, if you want to drive like a kamikazi and play bumper cars in traffic, do it in a KS-plated vehicle and flee the scene of the accident because KPS won’t believe the person reporting the accident and won’t investigate the license plate because their database is supposedly so outdated that all the information must be wrong :P

Friday, April 9, 2010

Kosovo Government Reshuffles

Rumored to be in response to recent criticisms over corruption, on 31 March six (6) Kosovo ministers were sacked and replaced within the Kosovo government by the Kosovo PM Haschim Thaci (the Kosovo President, Fatmir Sejdiu denies involvement in the reshuffle).  Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising, is that the minister alleged to be the most corrupt, Fatmir Limaj, remains in place with no changes.  The ministers of culture, health, justice, and the general director of the Kosovo Police Service were all fired with little official explanation although it is rumored to be for low performance.