Friday, September 21, 2012

West Nile Virus Strikes Kosovo - Local News from Kosovo

The mosquito-born West Nile Virus has claimed its first victim this past week and another two suspected deaths are being investigated as being related to the virus in Kosovo.  The disease which is making a debut for the first time in the Balkans claimed three victims in Serbia last month where there were at least 35 confirmed cases.  While up to 80% of infected persons will not suffer any symptoms, extreme cases of the virus can lead the swelling of the brain tissue, coma, and eventual death.  For those that do contract the virus, common symptoms mirror that of the regular flu.

Now to the local news, this week there has been a large focus on the proposed travel of a large delegation from the Kosovo Government to the US for the UN Assembly meeting which would require 200-300,000 Euros from the limited Kosovo budget.  The proposal and cost of sending such a large delegation (20-30 people) to the UN has been met with large skepticism by the opposition parties in the press.

Announced in the news today after reports earlier in the week of being spotted in Kosovo, Naser Kelmendi, who is on the US blacklist, was arrested by Kosovo Police on Thursday (20 September).  Kelmendi, who is a Bosnian citizen, is reported to be one of the biggest drug bosses in the Balkans.

The results of the Kosovo census have been revealed.  Excluding municipalities in the north of Kosovo who refused to take part in the census, the population of Kosovo has been declared to be 1,739,825 inhabitants.  The last known official count of the population of Kosovo was held in 1981 with 1.5 million persons.  In 1991, Albanians boycotted the census and the population was estimated to be 1.9 million.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kosovo Granted Full Sovereignty

Last Friday, the Kosovo Parliament passed legislation officially ending supervised independence.  Members of the International Steering Group on Monday declared Kosovo fully independent.  Even with the end of supervised independence, the Kosovo parliament officially approved the extension of the mandate of EULEX through 2014 and the Deputy KFOR commander stated that NATO troops would remain in Kosovo for another 5-7 years.

With the end of supervised independence, many have been asking "what's next" or "what does it mean" and perhaps most importantly, Is Kosovo ready and what are the remaining challenges

In other news, Serbian war crimes prosecutors say that they have a witness to the alleged organ trafficking by the KLA.  In an interview on Serbian TV on Monday, the witness described removing the heart of a Serbian captive and how he was trained in organ harvesting.