Monday, May 21, 2012

Nationalist Wins Serbian Elections - Former KLA Trains Syrian Rebels?

The Nationalist candidate, Tomislav Nikolic,  for Serbian President won the second round of elections on Sunday, beating out pro-European Boris Tadic.  While Nikolic has re-invented himself as being more pro-European lately, he has stated that Serbia would not join the European Union if recognition of Kosovo was made a condition of membership.

In other news, Serbia and Russia have greatly criticized recent reports that Syrian rebels have been receiving training and assistance from former Kosovo Liberation Army officials in Kosovo.  Kosovo's Foreign Minister has denied that any training had been planned and that only diplomatic contacts had been established with the Syrian resistance.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Local News from Kosovo

A quick summary of some of the hot topics in local Kosovo news for the past week...

Serbia Holds General Elections in Kosovo
Probably the biggest story in the local news has been the upcoming Serbian general elections that OSCE has agreed to help facilitate.  The US Ambassador, Christopher Dell, has stated that the elections are a good example of how neighboring countries can cooperate but warned that any local Serbian elections would be illegitimate.  Tensions remain high over the elections and the Minister of Serbian Secret Services has warned of the potential for violence against Serbs.

Kosovo Press Boycotts Government on Law on Press Freedom
Many of the local newspapers left the spot normally reserved for government politics blank in protest on a law passed by the Kosovo parliament that is heavily criticized as restricting the freedom of the press.  

Citizens urged to conserve water
People are being urged to begin conserving water as the weather begins to heat up.   The water authority warns that if people do not begin conserving water that the shortage will become more pronounced and there will be more cuts during the hot summer months.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NATO Deploys More Troops Ahead of Serbian Elections

Last week, NATO deployed an additional 700 soldiers to KFOR ahead of Serbian parliamentary elections.  In addition to the increase in the number of soldiers, NATO has expressed concern over the operational capabilities of EULEX due to logistical problems in the North which has required NATO to take on duties not normally assigned to the peacekeeping force.  Tensions remain high in the North of Kosovo after the bombing by alleged Serbian extremists and the beating of an elderly Serbian man

OSCE has announced that it will assist with the disputed Serbian general and parliamentary elections scheduled for 6 May.  Recently Kosovo authorities have been seizing election materials and arresting those in possession of the materials.  OSCE will now escort the materials along with EULEX and help facilitate the elections with mobile voting stations.

Trial Panel Acquits Defendants in Klecka Case

The four remaining defendants in the Klecka trial, including former Transport Minister Fatmir Limaj, were acquitted this morning by a trial panel in the Pristina District Court.  It is expected that the EULEX prosecutor, Salustro, will file an appeal to the acquittal.

In other news, the Hague is holding a status conference today on the retrial of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.  Last week the prosecution completed their portion of the trial and it was not expected that the defense would call any witnesses.  Haradinaj and two other defendants were called back to the first retrial in the history of the Hague tribunals on 6 of 37 counts of war crimes due to the difficulty of the prosecution to secure witness statements in the first trial.