Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kosovo Elects Assembly & President

Yesterday the Kosovo assembly elected Bexhet Pacolli to be President of Kosovo.  AKR announced that Pacolli had stepped down as party leader and from his party duties following the vote.  The voting took two rounds, plus a break requested by PDK, before Pacolli finally gathered enough votes to be elected president.  Both the Assembly speaker, Jakup Krasniqi, and Vetevendosje have criticized the PDK request for break to be unconstitutional however it was still allowed.  Leaders of AAK and Vetevendosje have vowed to do everything in their power to end the coalition before the four-year term is completed giving even more credence to the speculation that the new shaky coalition may not last through to the end of 2011.  There are rumors that another round of elections will be held in September but only time will tell if the PDK-AKR-Minority coalition is strong enough to weather the criticism and strong opposition.

In other Kosovo-related news, a massive brawl between rival Kosovo Albanian gangs broke out on 17 February in London's Trafalgar Square resulting in the stabbing of three persons and the arrest of 19.  Fights have been reportedly breaking out over the past three years since Kosovo declared independence. 

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kosovo Celebrates 3rd Anniversary of Independence Declaration

Amid the spectacular firework display at 10:30pm, most of the international media focused on the challenges that face Kosovo as it enters into it's fourth year of declaring independence from Serbia.  As mentioned the other day, economic problems still plague Europe's newest country with only one of five people under the age of 25 having employment and 14% of the population living below the extreme poverty line.

There were many articles about how cold reality is setting in or how Kosovo is a state of failed expectations, but still those of us on the ground can't help but hold on to the hope that over time problems with corruption, the economic hardship, lack of higher education, and life itself will improve.  After all, like a baby, you have to learn how to crawl before you walk and while many had hoped that Kosovo would take off running after declaring independence, it is not fair to expect that things would miraculously change overnight or in just a couple of years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Life in Kosovo

It has been a while since I've broken away from reporting on the boring old news in Kosovo and wrote simply about life in Kosovo.

The phrase "the more things change, the more they stay the same" truly applies to Kosovo.  It seems that the road construction will forever make our lives hell and we are condemned to wait in lines of traffic with KPS acting as human traffic signals or taking our lives in our own hands to dive out in the an intersection with no traffic signs/signals/common sense.  Despite the best intentions to make Kosovo a cleaner place by implementing environmental measures at Obilic, Kosovo is a dirty and dusty place with the smell of wood or the stench of coal in the air during the winter and tree-lined streets with bird-$hit covered cars underneath them.  But despite all this, I must confess that after 10 years in Kosovo, it is home and when (some friends say "if"!) I leave I will take away many happy memories and fantastic friendships!

There are a few places that I have to mention for those looking for a place to go for a nice meal.  The first is Taverna Toscana (044 890 678 located near the entrance to the US Embassy.  Serving up homemade pasta and some of the finest cuts of steak we have found in Pristina, the restaurant not only serves fantastic meals but very reasonably priced.  For those with a bottomless pit of a stomach, I can recommend taking the set dinner menu which consists of a soup, salad & appetizer, main course, and dessert!  You are guaranteed not to leave hungry or with an inch of space left in your stomach for more food!!!

The second place on my highly recommended list is Old Country House in the village of Benice e Eperme (044 656 054).  Serving traditional Kosovo dishes such as homemade bread with "long", a bread dipping mixture that is to die for, and tava, Old Country House is a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle of Pristina. 

PDK & AKR to form coalition

After weeks of wish-washing in the press about forming coalitions between PDK and other political parties, it appears that the coalition has finally been formed although the appointment of who will be president has still not been decided.  According to the latest news, PDK will form a coalition with Pacolli's AKR with the post of president going to Pacolli, although as leader of his party I can't help but wonder if he won't run into the same constitutional violation that Fatmir Sedijui had last year!  But I imagine that all that will be hashed out before he takes office...or at least you hope that they've paid attention and know that the constitution doesn't allow the leader of a political party to be the president.

The Marty report and political problems have cast a shadow over the third anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence which comes up tomorrow.  Some say that the situation in Kosovo is worse than it was when the declaration of independence was made as the political elite continue to get richer while the poor get poorer and little progress seems to have been made in the areas of education and economic growth.  In fact, two Vetevendosje activists were so unhappy with the state of the University of Pristina that they threw red paint on the director during a speech.  Consequently they were arrested and sentenced to 30 days in jail.