Tuesday, July 24, 2012

UN Secretary-General Visits Kosovo - Vetevendosje Strikes

Today the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon of South Korea, will visit Kosovo.  This is the first high-level visit from the United Nations since Kofi Annan visited in 1999.  As preparations were underway for the visit, Vetevendosje paid a visit to the UNMIK Mission HQ to spray-paint the word "Fair" after the word UN near the main entrance of the compound.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Worrying Kosovo Infant Mortality Rate

International and Kosovo health officials are concerned about the rate of infant mortality in Kosovo despite it dropping over the past 10 years.  The rate is still higher than it should be with 17.1 deaths in 1000 births.

The lack of a true proper healthcare system and other factors such as poverty and education all contribute to the higher infant mortality rate in Kosovo.  

We recently witnessed how frustrating dealing with the public hospital in Pristina can be when a friend of ours gave birth to a baby boy with a serious congenial heart defect that should have been detected by the gynecologist during pregnancy, a mistake that has infuriated the neonatologist at the Pristina Hospital.  Because of the failure of the prenatal doctor identifying the heart defect, we have been struggling for two weeks to find a charity to assist sending the baby to another country and pay for the 150,000 Euro operation that will help to save the little boy's life as the medical treatment cannot be found in Kosovo.  Luckily an Italian charity has come through and our friend's baby had surgery this morning in Tirana, Albania where an Italian doctor traveled to perform the operation.

Update - 12 July 2012 - I am saddened to report that despite receiving the much needed surgery in Tirana, our friend's baby passed away in the early hours of the morning.  It is extremely frustrating to think that had the prenatal doctor identified the heart defect as it should have been and the medical care he needed been available in Kosovo he may still be with us today.  It took more than two weeks to be able to get the baby into the desperately needed surgery because of funding and travel considerations and I can't help but keep thinking that it was two weeks too long.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Supervised Independence of Kosovo to End in September 2012

Yesterday, the International Steering Group for Kosovo agreed to end the supervised independence of Kosovo in September.  The steering group is made up of 23 European countries, the United States, and Turkey.  The Steering Group said that Kosovo had made significant steps to implementing the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal (CSP) which included laws for cultural and religion heritage protections and community rights. 

What does the end of Supervised Independence mean for Kosovo?  Well, the International Civilian Office (ICO), headed by Peter Feith, which hold executive authority to oversee independence will be closed down in September.  The European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), KFOR (NATO's Kosovo Force) and UNMIK will still remain in Kosovo. 

In other news, Italian Member of Parliament Pino Arlacchi has sent a series of questions to the European Commission on the progress of EULEX investigations who stated that UNMIK and EULEX "has something to hide".  Arlacchi has been requesting status reports on 11 cases handed over to EULEX from UNMIK which cited criminal conduct involving more than 60 million Euros related to the privatization of Kosovo's electricity. 

Also, the sale of Post & Telcomm Kosovo (PTK) has restarted after it was stopped last year amid allegations of corruption and harmful contracts.  The sale is in the pre-qualification stage where companies can express interest in purchasing the company.  The Kosovo budget greatly relies on the sale of PTK which is expected to bring in between 300-600 million Euros.