Friday, June 29, 2012

House Hunting in Pristina

This past week has been extremely frustrating as we searched for a new house in Pristina.  Being a family in Kosovo, we had special considerations (extra bedroom for the kiddies, bathtub for bathtime, no neighbors uptairs/downstairs to bother if the kiddies are noisy) that proved to be rather difficult to fulfill in our price range according to the three different rental agencies we tried to work with this week. 

First the websites proved to be the old bait-and-switch tactic where houses were advertised that had already been rented many moons ago or the price changed due to ridiculous reason (well, the price listed is if you live upstairs in the three bedrooms and the landlord lives downstairs in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.  Huh?!)

Then when outlining our requirements for the number of rooms, bathtub, and maximum price, basically everything was ignored.  One rental agency showed us houses that were double to quadruple our price range but assured us that we should just go look at the houses and they were sure the landlords would negotiate down because the houses had been listed for a long time (some for more than two years empty!)  Basically that didn't happen.  The one house we viewed that was double our price, the guy was happy to negotiate down but certainly not to half his asking price (even if the house has been empty for 1.5 years). 

And lastly, in searching on our own and through the rental agencies, we found that almost none of the houses we looked at had "House for Rent" signs.  It was almost impossible to know that the houses were available for rent.  The exception to this is the Dragodan neighborhood where nearly every second or third house has a sign.

Some people swear by using a rental agency because it saves them time and effort.  We found that we wasted days of our time by using the agencies.  However, if you are searching for a house and would like to use an agency, here are a couple that I would suggest (if not only to get an idea of what's on the market).  We finally ended up finding a house through "a friend who knew someone who had a friend that was looking to rent" and found exactly what we were looking for :)

Rental Agencies in Pristina
  • Capital Ring (
  • Omega Real Estate (

Many Injuries as Serbs clash with Kosovo Police - Fist Fight in Kosovo Parliament

Yesterday marked St. Vitus (Vivodan) celebration for Serbians and it was estimated that more than 50 people were injured between clashes between Serbian celebrants and Kosovo Police.  The Kosovo Police reportedly deported several buses of young, drunk Serbians traveling to Gazimenstan for the celebrations.  After crossing the border, the youths began to throw stones at the Kosovo Police and reportedly also fired shots.  32 Kosovo Police were treated for injuries and 20 Serbs were seen for injuries.

In a separate incident, a bus carrying Serbians was stoned and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at it as it passed on the highway through Pristina.  I actually got to see the still smoking Molotov cocktail as it smoldered in the road near Hotel Victory on the Pristina-Skopje highway.  My inital reaction was "why is that beer bottle burning?" and the next thought was "holy crap, that's what a Molotov cocktail looks like!"

In a totally unrelated incident, Vetevendosje and PDK members of parliament engaged in two separate fistfights in the Kosovo Parliament Building yesterday over SHIK.  At this time no charges have been filed but if medical reports are provided, criminal charges can be filed according to the Pristina Municipal Prosecutor.

Yesterday, the Kosovo Police denied the entry of the Serbian Kosovo Minister, Bodganovic, due to his support for parallel structures in the North of Kosovo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Head of Kosovo Privatization Agency Commits Violent Suicide - UNMIK to close UAM Office in North

The head of the Kosovo Privatization Agency, Dino Asanaj, violently stabbed himself to death according to local and European Union officials.  Following the death of Asanaj, there was speculation of murder and then suicide after reports of a note being left accusing the Zeri newspaper and two Kosovo businessmen of ruining his and his families lives over allegations of corruption.  The autopsy reports confirming death by suicide were met with much disbelief and accusations of a cover-up due to the violent nature of the death, at least 11 different stab wounds. 

In other news, after the announcement that the Kosovo government would open an office in the North of Kosovo and subsequently requested UNMIK to close its office, UNMIK has agreed to close down the office but not in the two week time-frame suggested by the Kosovo government.  UNMIK will gradually close down the office over a three month period and work on turning over documents to the Kosovo government.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

KFOR Clashes with Serbs in North - EULEX Mandate Extended to 2014

On Friday, 1 June, KFOR clashed with Serb demonstrators in the North of Kosovo when KFOR attempted to remove a barricade.  Four Serbs and two German KFOR soldiers were injured in the clashes.  KFOR responded with live fire after coming under fire in addition to using tear gas and rubber bullets.  Following the clash, the Serbian Headquarters for Emergency Situations in the North stated that it would not allow EULEX members to travel in the North while the spokesperson for the outgoing Serbian government said that the decision to cooperate with EULEX will be taken by the incoming Serbian government. 

In other news, it was announced today that the mandate of EULEX will be extended until 14 June 2014.  The initial budget for 2012-2013 is Euro 111 Million.  The mission is currently undergoing a reconfiguration over the summer for an overall reduction of 25% of its staff with an increased focus on justice and customs.