Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leaks Allege that Kosovo PM Thaci is "big fish" in organized crime

It seems that the US government isn't the only body troubled with cable leaks lately.  Leaked NATO cables from Kosovo allege that outgoing (and probably incoming) Kosovo Prime Minister Haschim Thaci and the person described as the power behind him, Xhavit Haliti, have close ties with the Albanian mafia.  The leaked cables, referenced in an article by the UK's Guardian, come as the Council of Europe Parliament has begun its debates into the Dick Marty report regarding some of the same allegations of Thaci's involvement in organized crime and organ trafficking.  NATO/KFOR will reportedly look into how the cables were leaked to the newspaper.

In other NATO news, KFOR is expected to reduce its troop size by half by 1 March 2011 as security and stability in Kosovo has warranted a drawdown according to the NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen.

The election re-runs have finished and Thaci's PDK party has won the largest percentage of votes at 32.4% followed by Mustafa's LDK at 24.67%.  The re-election in Mitrovica resulted in an 11% lower voter turnout than in the December elections and only 10 Serbs voted in the mobile polling stations.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kosovo Teen Captures Hearts on American Idol

Melinda Ademi, whose parents immigrated to the US as war refugees using the Green Card Lottery, captured hearts on the first night of auditions of American Idol, Season 10.  Belting out "If I Ain't Got You", Melinda was given three yes-es to move on to Hollywood week.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back in the Saddle

It has been a while since I updated...so here is the latest and greatest from Kosovo.

EULEX & The North - After deploying to the north of Kosovo at the beginning of January, EULEX has now declared the north of Kosovo a danger zone for their staff following the beating of some of its staff.  Outgoing Kosovo Interior Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, has in turn requested EULEX to withdraw from the north and allow KFOR and KPS to provide security if the EU mission cannot.

The "Marty" Report - Issued by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, the report digs into the accusations of human organ trafficking by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during and immediately after the war in Kosovo.  Outgoing Kosovo PM Haschim Thaci, who reportedly was named in the report, has called the report "monstrous slander" and threatened to sue.  According to local media, Thaci also stated that he would publish the names of so-called collaborators who provided evidence to the Council of Europe.  The Council of Europe Parliament is scheduled to debate the report on 24-25 January.  According to UNMIK SRSG Lamberto Zannier, ICTY had previously investigated the matter but was unable to come up with enough evidence to open the case.  Now the matter falls to EULEX to investigate the matter but so far requests for evidence from the Council of Europe and Marty have not produced any results.

Elections - Problems with fraud and corruption marred the Kosovo elections on 12 December resulting the re-voting in several different places.  The re-voting will wrap up this weekend in Mitrovica where Vetevendosje made a complaint of fraud.  Currently the vote tallies place the political parties in the following order:  Thaci's PDK, Mustafa's LDK, Kurti's Vetevendosje, and Haradinaj's AAK.  Talks about a coalition government continue as no political party has secured a majority vote alone.  The most talk has been about a PDK-AAK coalition although initial reports following the elections were that none of the other political parties except Pacolli's AKR were interested in forming any kind of coalition with PDK.