Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Long, Hard Winter

This winter has been heralded as the worst winter in more than 60 years.  With record snowfalls, sub-zero temperatures, and avalanches it has been a long, hard winter for those in Kosovo.  A few weeks ago it was said that some 150 villages had basically been cut off from the rest of the world as roads were impassible.  Southeast European Times has a neat little photo essay highlighting the difficulty of winter in Kosovo villages.

On 10 February, an avalanche buried the village of Restelica.  Amazingly a 5-year-old girl was pulled out from under 10 meters (33 feet) of snow that killed nine other members of her family including her parents.

MTCowgirl's Kosovo News

It has been a while so here is MTCowgirl's Interesting News/Commentary...
As usual, these articles do not reflect personal opinion but were found to be "interesting"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kosovo Celebrates 4th Anniversary of Declaration of Independence

The daily wonders of life with a baby often get in the way and I have been slightly remiss in my postings lately.  I missed blogging about the 4th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Kosovo when it was ongoing.  Most of my local friends lament about why the Kosovo politicians and their Western backers couldn't have waited a few more months until the weather was better but that didn't stop the indoor celebrations!

As usual, the day of celebration was met with articles about the challenges that remain ahead.  Another major focus was the results of the Serb-led referendum in the North (where the result was pretty much predicted before voting even began) where Serbs rejected the Kosovo government.  Even Vetevendosje's leader, Albin Kurti, did not seem to be in a festive mood this Independence Day stating that the only people that would be celebrating would be the government officials who became rich by "working as politicians during the day and as businessmen at night". 

The really big news however is the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on two "key" issues: border management and Kosovo representation in international conferences.  And with the agreement has come an increased chance that Serbia will begin European Union accession discussions as they have now been recommended for candidate status.  Despite the proclamation by Kosovo PM, Haschim Thaci, that Serbia had recognized Kosovo's independence, the Head of the Serbian delegation for negotiations has declared that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Klecka Trial Resumes

After a break for the holidays, the Klecka war crimes trial started again this past Monday with much of the focus on former Transport Minister, Fatmir Limaj.  His defense team has raised issues about former judge, now lead prosecutor in the case, Maurizio Salustro, who is accused of threatening the prosecution's star witness known as "Witness X" who committed suicide last September in Germany.  The defense has also requested that Salustro be removed from the case.  EULEX today denied both requests stating that there was no legal basis for Salustro's removal and backing Salustro's statement that his status as an international staff member gives him immunity against prosecution (I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that prosecution and being called as a witness are two different things! As Limaj's lawyer points out, yes immunity from prosecution but not from questioning)
In an article on the progress of EULEX, which claims to be doing just fine, the EUobserver notes that the problem of organized crime continues to dog EULEX with no major "players" ever being indicted four years after the mission announced operational capacity.

The International Civilian Office (ICO) has appointed a new head of office, Samuel Zbogar, to replace Peter Feith.  Zbogar will continue to act as the Slovenian Foreign Minister as well as being the EU High Representative in Kosovo.  In an interview, Zbogar sees the greatest challenge to be the relations between Albanian and Serbian communities and states that the tensions in the north are of the highest priority.

It has been a while but here are some of MTCowgirl's Interesting News Articles/Commentary on Kosovo!  As usual, the disclaimer is that these articles do not necessarily reflect personal opinion but pose an interesting viewpoint on Kosovo.

KEK in State of Emergency

With a week of below 0 temperatures (both C and F!) and last week's heavy snow, KEK has declared a state of emergency and put their crews on 24 hour standby as electricity supplies wane.  In addition to problems producing enough electricity due to the weather, KEK is struggling against restrictions on imports imposed by Serbia.

Last night, with one phase of power to the house completely off, we had two hours of power and then two-three hours without power.  Thankfully with well insulated walls, the temperature didn't dip too far but there was a chill to the air in our house.  This morning KEK has been out with a crane truck in our neighborhood, hopefully to fix the problem with the one phase that is out (if I remember correctly, there are three different phases of power.  How the house is built depends on which phases the house uses, one, two, or all three).