Thursday, October 20, 2011

KFOR Begins Removing Roadblocks

KFOR has confronted angry groups of Serbs in the North of Kosovo as they begin to remove barricades.  Using pepper spray, tear gas, and loudspeakers requesting the groups to disperse, KFOR has acted on the Serb's refusal to agree on removing the roadblocks which have been impeding movement of EULEX and KFOR in the North of Kosovo for the past three months.  Stating that the protestors were in a KFOR protected zone, people were warned to go home or else force could be used.

What's Important in Kosovo - Local News

Often there is a disparity between what the local newspapers write about and what appears in the international media.  Of course, the situation in the North of Kosovo is a hot topic but there is a lot of other issues of importance being discussed in Kosovo that don't even appear or only appear as a brief blip on the international radar.

Take for instance, news today about 27 different request for Kosovo PM Haschim Thaci to travel to Europe have been refused due to allegations of corruption (blip) or Fatmir Limaj's war crimes trial is scheduled to begin on 9 November (not reported).  Or maybe even more interesting, there are new allegations of corruption in the tendering process with a completely new Ministry of Transportation for road construction .

Another item appearing only as a blip in the international media has been the cancellation of planned privatization of PTK, Kosovo's Post and Telecomms, due to allegations of corruption.  The cancellation of the privatization has a very big impact on the economic situation of Kosovo as the proceeds from the sale were expected to fill budgetary gaps in the Kosovo government.  Now without the funds from the sale going into the government budget, it will be interesting to see how Kosovo will finance the planned budget which relied heavily on the sale of PTK. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

KFOR Warms Serbs to Remove Roadblocks

Two days ago on Monday KFOR reportedly was going to forcibly remove the roadblocks impeding movement in the North of Kosovo.  It was then announced that the mayor of the North had reached an agreement to remove the roadblocks themselves and KFOR extended the deadline until Tuesday but convoys were still stopped.  Yesterday it is reported that the schools in the North were closed and women/children were sent to reinforce the roadblocks to prevent their removal.  Today, Wednesday, KFOR has warned that the roadblocks should be removed or else KFOR will start removing them tomorrow. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kosovo Serbs Dig In

Little it seems has changed in the north of Kosovo since the bloody protests that left 10 people injured last week.  Reports are that Kosovo Serbs are digging in, NATO will not investigate the actions of KFOR personnel, and EULEX is investigating the local population for allegedly trying to ram a vehicle through the KFOR barriers and other incidents.  The protestors continue to man barricades and reinforce roadblocks with a total of 18 barricades in the north.  The New York Times runs an interesting look at the situation of the Kosovo Serbs to join Kosovo and end their push for autonomy as international pressure strengthens and support from Belgrade has weakened.

Tuesday evening, the vehicle of a Serb interpreter working for EULEX was blown up outside the EU office in Mitrovica.  EULEX has condemned the attack and called it a "clear attempt at intimidation".

Yesterday, EULEX raided the Ministry of Internal Affairs whose head has been at odds with EULEX recently saying "God save us from EULEX" over allegations of corruption into tenders for supplying the Kosovo Police Service with equipment.  One ministry official, three businessmen, and two officials from the Kosovo Police Service.

Meanwhile, the death of Witness X, Agim Zogaj, was confirmed as a suicide by the German authorities.  The Zogaj family received the body on Saturday and was expected to hold a funeral in Prizren on the same day.  The family continues to blame EULEX, stating that they kidnapped him, and still questions if his death was actually suicide.  It is expected that the trial will proceed without the key witness and debate has ensued over whether or not EULEX will be able to use recorded testimony in the trial as the defense will not be afforded the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.  Another potential witness is reported to have informed EULEX that he is not willing to testify now due to safety reasons.  There have been calls for EULEX to review its witness protection although details of the protection afforded Zogaj has not been released by EULEX.