Friday, March 31, 2006

The Icebrakers

Finally it looks like the project in Macedonia to bring cheap internet connection to 95% of its people and computer labs to all of its schools is becoming reality.

The project started with computers donated by China (diplomatic token to woo them away from Taiwan, I guess) and free software based on Ubuntu Linux. Since then Microsoft jumped in and donated 6,000 free licenses to keep Macedonia away from pesky free software.

Today, 300,000 children and students benefit from free internet access and USAid recently agreed to expand the project to bring 50 municipalities online in remote rural areas.

On another matter dear to my heart, apparently there are not many Albanians of Macedonia, if any, contributing to Wikipedia in Macedonian. There aren’t many of them in the one in Albanian either, but it’s a pity that such a great tool is not used for interethnic communication and agreement on key historical events for the country.

Hello, guys and girls, I would like to invite those of you who speak Macedonian to contribute to the [Macedonian language Wikipedia] and please feel free to insert your point of view or the appropriate data wherever you find it necessary. I would very kindly ask you to obey the Rules of Wikipedia and avoid conflict, and the same we will try to do too, although I cannot promise it will be easy for any side. We would gladly contribute to the Albanian version too, but unfortunately none of us speaks Albanian. My nick is Комита, I speek good English and I am willing to listen to your arguments. Please, feel invited.

Another dude breaks down and admits that he doesn’t speak any Albanian and doesn’t actually have any Albanian friend. I even sensed a feeling of embarrassment in his reflection that he is over 20 but doesn’t know a single Albanian from across the Vardar. These guys are supposed to be the educated and open-minded ones. You can always guess that with the rednecks away from Skopje the situation is much worse. Let’s hope that now that Macedonians and Albanians have cheap internet, they will use it to talk to each other more often.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What is the story?

In a time when once again incidents and accidents will be used as facts to justify whatever is simmering beneath the surface, the stabbing of a Serb youth at the divisive bridge in Mitrovica isn't good news.

Some 500 Serbs gathered to protest immediately at the scene with Oliver Ivanonic, a Serb leader from Mitrovica, painting a picture of an innocent Serb youth of only 19 years old being stabbed behind his back by two Albanians, who came from and run back to the Albanian side of town, while the victim was taking a walk with his girlfriend.

Today things are clearer as Albanian media report that the police have arrested two underage attackers (or self-defenders, as they claim to be) and have a surveillance video of the incident. Apparently there was a fight between the two parties when the Albanians were stopped, and it's not clear if it was ethnically motivated.

It is also clear that while two policemen watched the incident, one of them was luckily (excuse my morbidity) a Serb. They have both been suspended pending investigation.

B92 reports that the victim is recovering from the “extreme wounds.”

Here is something that makes me sad and happy at the same time. The good news is that bodies are finally coming home and families of the victims will hopefully find some closure by burying them close to home and in individual graves. The bad news is that many mothers, who have been living with hope the last seven years (delusional, I know), will find their children's remains to be among those brought back.
The question of course remains, what happened to the rest of the missing?

Albanian bodies from mass graves to be handed over by June
March 30, 2006 (BETA) - Gvozden Gagic, president of the Commission for Missing
Persons in the Serbia-Montenegro Council of Ministers, announced on March 29
that by the end of June all the bodies of Kosovo Albanians found in three mass
graves in central Serbia would be handed over to the U.N. administration in
Kosovo. The next handover of 60 bodies of Albanian civilians killed during the
war in 1999 and found in a mass grave in Batajnica would be made on March 31.
"After that the process of identifying the bodies that are not whole will begin.
This will represent the final stage, which is expected to be completed in the
second half of June," Gagic told BETA and added that on April 7 families would
receive the remains of at least ten bodies of killed Serbs, exhumed at various
locations in Kosovo. According to the commission, about 2,400 people in Kosovo
are still listed as missing and their bodies are yet to be found.

Cause celebre?

Surroi says that no minority can block the will of majority

PRISTINA, March 30 2006 (KosovaLive) –The Head of Kosovo’s
Consultative Council for Minorities (CCM) Veton Surroi said on Wednesday in
Durres that no minority can block the realization of the will of majority.

He made these comments at the end of a three-day meeting of the CCM,
which was focused on various aspects of minority rights and decentralization..

Surroi and all the participants welcomed the positive developments of
this meeting, evaluating it as a step forward, because of the participation of
Serb representatives in Durres.

“No minority can block the will of
majority in Kosovo. The meeting was positive and the language used in the
meeting was the language of tolerance,” said Surroi.

Surroi said that
Serb minority was absent in decision-making process in Kosovo, however the
participation of the Serb List for Kosovo and Metohija (SLKM) in this meeting
represents a step forward in the interethnic relations.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jasmina Tesanovic, a writer, filmmaker, and activist from Belgrade's Women in Black gives her account of the first day of trial of the Serb paramilitary Scorpions group in Belgrade. The witness was apparently sleeping during the time of the crimes and saw nothing.