Sunday, July 30, 2006

From NY Times:

Every five years, the inhabitants of the two villages, high up in Kosovo’s Shar mountain range, close to the boundary with Macedonia, come together for an extraordinary festival — its version of a Muslim rite of passage. For three days, upward of 3,000 people gather here to feast, sing and dance and take part in traditional Turkish sports, like wrestling.

...the distinguishing feature of this festival is the ceremony of Sunet, or circumcision, that takes place in one day for all of the host village’s boys age 5 or under — 111 of them this year in Gornje Lubinje.

Patrick Moore, a long-time Balkans analyst, inadvertently answers Carl Bildt's fears of general chaos in the Balkans after in independent Kosovo. I have nothing against Bildt - in fact I have large respect for his intellect and most of his ideas. But I bring him up as a showcase of European diplomacy of the previous decade: the go it slowly and carefully policy that ultimately created much more suffering and hatred and broken relations than if Europe had acted decisively from early on.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Smoking away katastrofa

My first shot - Part 4: Respect
Student made videos from Macedonia. YouTube has four more, including an explanation of the project.

The goal of this blog is to get behind the fog of news and to put things in perspective for somebody (Westerner, yes) who would otherwise dismiss events as a proof of whatever theory she holds on Kosovo. This news is just like one of those. An international prosecutor has dropped the case started after the stabbing of a Serb youth in Mitrovica by two Albanians. Serb victim and witnesses apparently have refused to cooperate. The camera recording is of poor quality.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Carl Bildt bets against Kosovo. Bet for and you get his money.

Massive new refuges waves will be a high probability, borders will be sealed again as hostility becomes the name of the game, Bosnia will become unpredictable and the entire European strategy of the past decade will be in tatters.

Albanians and Serbs are trading houses from their respective enclaves creating ethnicly pure territories. Security may not be a problem but then there is so much more to life than just security. Very good reporting by IWPR once again.
When "Special US envoy for Kosovo negotiations Frank Wisner says that the solution for Kosovo's future status may not be acceptable for both Belgrade and Pristina, adding that the protection of Serbs and other minorities was of key importance during this process," he surely means some kind of autonomy for northern Mitrovica in an independent Kosovo. This was the International Crisis Group suggestion in February. Yet it doesn't seem like even the experts have a clue on how Mitrovica will be handled.Fife-hundred extra policemen were deployed to the north from other areas of Kosovo supposedly for the safety of Serbs there, and 650 German soldiers are also being sent to the French, who are more pro-Serb, sector to "show readiness of NATO to ensure security and stability in the region." These are clearly preemptive measures against the partioning of Kosovo, but a plan for reintegration of northern Kosovo has yet to be seen.

After so much wait and promises, it's no surprise that people are taking their houses to the market.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Koen's "revelation"

We have been told that so far Vienna talks have been all about technical issues, issues that wouldn't make a difference no matter what the status of Kosovo will be. However, in an article subtitled "Blame the Albanian side," B92 writes:

Belgrade delegation member Leon Koen said that the Priština team and its stance that Kosovo independence is a “done deal” is the main reason for the lack of progress in the discussions so far.

Koen isn't just anybody. He along with Samardic are the brains behind the Serb delegation strategy. So if the two delegations were supposed to be talking and reaching an agreement only on technical issues, why does Koen blame the stance of the Albanians on what is supposed to be a future discussion topic?

I can undestand the Serb strategy to push through the status talks early on, as I already commented here. Though that is tricky since Serbia might be left with neither technical results nor status results. I hope that Serb delegation's Game Theory practices will reveal this possible outcome to them. Or maybe they've run the Game as promised but the value they have attached to the future of K-Serbs was just to low to matter as an alternative.


Another good article from B92. Among the revelations from Rohan:

I think it will be an important meeting. Both sides wanted it, they now have it and this leads us into the new phase of the negotiations”, Rohan told the BBC.

“We haven’t concluded the technical part of the negotiations. One of the issues – true community – has not even been addressed, because neither side showed any desire to discuss it. We only touched on the economic problems once, at the beginning. Therefore it is our proposal that we work on practical issues, with a new momentum, after the status talks”, Rohan concluded.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Repishti's open letter to Kostunica

Baldwin, New York, USA
Open Letter
July 14, 2006

H.E. Vojislav Kus’tunica
Prime Minister, the Government of Serbia
Belgrade, Serbia (Europe)

Your Excellency:

On Wednesday, July 13, 2006, I received a Serbian version of your speech before the UN Security Council, reproduced in Belgrade’s newspaper POLITIKA (SWET I MI).Because of the importance of the speech, and the forum where it was delivered, I read it with great interest. I admit my great disappointment.

The content of the speech could have had some converts, if it were delivered before the tragic massacres of 1998-99 in Kosova. However, since then, everything has changed. The mass graves of over 12.000 innocent victims – old men, women and children, the defenseless members of our society, - the over 3.000 Albanians wo have disappeared, unaccounted for or still held incommunicado in Serbian jails (as is the case of the university professor Ukshin Hoti), the forceful expulsion of nearly one million people, beaten, raped, robbed and humiliated, by the Serbian Army, Police and Serbian gangsters, instructed to act freely in Kosova with guaranteed impunity – have changed everything. After this ordeal, to claim Serbian sovereignty over the martyrized land of Kosova is more than unjust: it’s immoral, it’s illegal, it’s criminal! I am,therefore, convinced that there will be no converts to your thesis, now!.

Serbia in 2006, thanks to her policies engineered by the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, and the pro-fascist Serb Radical Party of the accused criminalVojislav.Seselj’s supporters – who maintains you in power, today – is resolved to live in the dark past, refuse today’s reality, and reject a promising future in post-war Europe. That’s deeply regrettable for Serbia, and her pro-Europe neighbors.

1) You refer to the region as “Kosovo i Metohija”, “Kosovo” and“Kosmet”. The law professor Kos’tunica is aware that the official name of the region is “Kosovo or Kosova”, recognized and enshrined in the 1969 Constitutional Law, and the following documents, mainly the 1974 Constitution of Kosova, The name was changed to “Kosovo i Metohija” in March 1989, by the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, then President of the FR of Yugoslavia, the man who stripped Kosova of her autonomy. By using the “Kosovo i Metohija” slogan, you approve Milosevic’s act, you follow in his ignominous steps. You didn’t have to do it, if you were thinking differently from the war criminal Milosevic.

2) You insist on “the respect for the territorial integrity of Serbia, as basic element of the international public law, and of the UN Charter”. Yet, you carefully neglect to mention that ALL authority in any democratic country resides with the will of the people (the American “We the People”), and that the cornerstone of every governmental responsibility is the protection of, and the safety, of its population/citizens. Serbia has cruelly violated both principles.
There is no moral basis for Serbia to rule over the martyrized Kosova; and, as a result, there is no obligation on the part of the aggrieved party, the Albanian victims, to obey the laws of the oppressive Serbian State. By using widespread terror, killing, maiming, raping and mass expulsion in Kosova, Serbia has forfeited its right to rule over Kosova. This is the opinion of the international commu-nity, that forced Serbia to leave Kosova and accept a UN Administration there until such time that Albanians in Kosova will be able to freely express their will.

Legally speaking,the question of sovereignty was litigated before the Permanent Court of International Justice (predecessor of today’s World Court). It was decided that “…self-determination could trump national sovereignty, and justify the break-up of a state, only during period of extreme chaos, “times of transition”, when the central government finds itself unable to do its job, and regular rules no longer apply.

The former Yugoslavia was, indeed, facing a “time of transition”…As for Kosova, it remains an extraordinary episode in modern history…Kosova is the rare case where the strict conditions set by the international law for secession were met. Even more remarkably, the Western community noticed and came to the aid of the separatists…. When Kosova erupted in full-fledged rebellion, Yugoslavia had largely ceased to exist.” (Jonathan Temperman,”No Dangerous Precedent”, The International Herald Tribune, June 23, 1999)

3) The UNSC Resolution 1244 (1999), on which you insist so much, does not pre-clude an eventual independent final status for Kosova. According to the authoritative Center for Strategic International Studies (Princeton,N.J.1993), Serb claims of sovereignty and territorial integrity for the FR of Yugoslavia do not rest on sufficient legal foundations. Therefore, it concludes that “ the UN Resolution 1244 is NOT a barrier to resolution of final status.” Serbia herself, by participating in the on-going negotiations held in Vienna, Austria, to resolve the problem of Kosova has, de facto, accepted these premises.

The Security Council has made it clear that the UN Administration was only “ an interim” entity, pending the settlement of the final status of Kosova.,”,,,organizing and overseeing the development of provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government pending a political settlement including the holding of elections.” (UNSC Res.1244(1999),par.ll) Consequently, a Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government was set up and approved.

The “interim” UN Administration in Kosova was also charged by the Security Council with the obligation to facilitate “a political process designed to determine Kosova’s future status, taking into account the Rambouillet Accords” (UNSC Res. 1244(1999), par.11) What was left for the Security Council is providing an express time table for resolving the question of the final status of Kosova, which according to the Rambouillet Accords “,,,set a three year time frame…” expiring in June 2003. Now, the transfer of sovereign functions to the Kosova institutions continues , to be completed with the institutions existing the day of the solution of the final status.

Serbian references to the UNSC Resolution 1244, and the Annex 2 of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, do not consider the fact, that the above documents provide for the equal recognition of state’s right to sovereignty and territorial integrity, AND OF A MINORITY’S RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION. Serb sovereignty and territorial integrity are expressly placed within the context of the “Interim” political framework agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosova and, “…the necessity of taking full account of the (1999) Rambouillet Accords.” UNSC Res. 1244(1999), Annex 2, par. 8)(Emphasis is mine.SR)

The Accords did provide for the near total expulsion of the FR of Yugoslavia’s sovereignty over Kosova, and for the creation of a mechanism to determine the final solution within three years (2003). To deny these facts is tantamount to deviate the truth.

4) You oppose the freely expressed will of the 90 percent plus of a population trying to break the shackles of a century-old Serbian yoke, and set up an independent country of their own, peacefully and in cooperation with the international community.Serbia became a state after throwing away the Ottoman yoke. The same holds true for all Balkan countries. The same should hold true for Kosova, too!

The 1776 American Declaration of Independence states:” When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the politcal bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinion of the mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…” I will limit myself to the following:

a) Paris Peace Conference,1919,vol.XII, PPC 184.018/3

The Secretary of State to Mr. A.J.Balfour, Paris, April 18, 1919

“…British Embassy at Washington has informed the Department of State as following regarding alleged massacres of Albanians in Montenegro:”Gusinje, Plava, Ipek(Peje), Djakova, Podjour, and Roshji (Rozhaje) have been scenes of terrorism and murder by Serbian troops and Serbian agents whose policy appears to be the extermination of the Albanian inhabitants of the region…”Very truly yours, Robert Lansing(Secret.of State)

b) What happened before 1919(since the 1913 occupation of Kosova) is seen in the Serb legislation aimed at depriving Albanians of their basic rights, and in the atmosphere of terror described in the Carnegie Endowment Report. The Balkan Wars (Washington, D.C.1913) and in the Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (Washington,D.C, 1914)

c) The subjugated Albanian population was not represented in the Parlament and

Government of the SHS Monarchy, and later of Yugoslavia.Serb officials and officers became their deputies. Land was confiscated and given to new Serb-Montenegrin settlers. Serb PM N.Pasic took 10.000 acres of fertile land for himself.Albanian language was prohibited in all government offices. No school was open from 1913 to 1941. No book, magazine, or newspaper was published. Teaching of Albanian language was punished by death, as is the 1929 case of the Franciscan Father, Stephen Gjecov. Illiteracy reached 95 percent. Impoverished and persecuted, wave after wave of Albanians emigrated, to end up in the deserted lands of Anatolia. Their properties sequestred, their ID documents taken away, leaving them with no chance for return. Three Albanian deputies who entered the Parliament in Belgrade were assassinated.

d) In l937, the Cubrilovic Memorandum appealed to the Yugoslav Government “to force” Albanians to emigration. A 1938 Convention with Turkey was concluded, for that purpose, providing for the emigration of 150-300.000 Albanians. In 1940, a second Memorandum by the Serbian diplomat/writer, Ivo Andric (1938 Nobel Prize for Litera-ture (sic!)recommanded to the Yugoslav Government the dismemberment of Albania among her neighbors, in order to secure the permanent Serbian rule over Kosova. In 1944, a second Cubrilovic Memorandum, of the same nature, was requested by the Serb A.Rankovic and the Montenegrin M.Djilas, but was rejected by the Slovenian E.Kardelj and finally by the Croatian J.B. Tito.

e)During WWII (1941-44)Kosova was occupied by the Axis powers, and dismem-<> bered. Many Serbs left to escape punishment. In 1945, they returned with a vengeance. As many as 36.000 Albanians are believed to have been killed by Tito’s partisans. Kosova was recognized an autonomus status, but under the rule of Serbia. Since 1945 to this day, the list of Serb oppressive policies is long, ending with the Milosevic’s abolition of autonomy (March 1989), and the devastating Serb aggression of 1998-99.

f)These racist policies found two solid allies: The Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb intellectual class.. In 1967, a Serb Blue Book accused Albanians of pressuring Serbs to emigrate. The leader of this infamous publication was the writer Dobrica Cosic, former President of the FR of Yugoslavia. In 1986, a Memorandum prepared by the Serb Academy of Science and Arts, and the Serb Literary Association (Francuska 7) accused Albanians in Kosova of committing crimes against the Serbs, and appealed to divest Kosova of her autonomy and punish Albanian leaders. Over 550.000 Albanians went through Police hands –arrested, beaten up, killed, jailed,- according to Yugoslav officials. The 1998-99 Serb military aggression on Kosova is the result of a wicked and abomi-nable propaganda led by Serb intellectuals.

g) On March 1999, explaining the reaon of the NATO intervention against Milosevi’c Yugoslavia, US President J.W. Clinton had this to say:” …We act to protect thousand of innocent people in Kosova from a mounting military offensive…Milosevic stripped Kosova of the constitutional autonomy its people enjoyed. Now, they (the Serbs) started moving from village to village, shelling civilians and torching their bodies. We have seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel in the dirt, and sprayed with bullets. Kosovar men dragged from their families, fathers and sons together, lined up and shot in cold blood. This is not war in the traditional sense. It is an attack by tanks and artillery on a largely defenseless people, whose leaders have already agreed to peace. Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative…”(Federal Document Clearing House)

5) You enumerate Serbian losses in Kosova in terms of human beings, as well as properties, mainly Church properties, without any reference to the victimized population of Kosova, or without any reference, directly or indirectly, to the “butcher of the Balkans” S. Milosevic, who ruled over Yugoslavia and Serbia. Thanks to a ruthless military power, Serbia inherited from the former Yugoslavia an army and a tyrant led by criminal instincts. Serbia’s political and military leaders are now before the UN War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia, for planning and executing atrocities against humanity, and war crimes, “…in a joint criminal enterprise…whose main object was to secure the continued Serb control over the province (of Kosova), to change the make-up of Kosova by expelling half of the population…Thousands were killed, men were beaten, women raped…” the prosecutor Thomas Hannis, told the UN War Crimes Tribunal. “Serb and Yugoslavs burned villages and towns as they went in order that those who were expelled had nothing to return to. Yugoslav and Serb forces forced refugees to hand over identifi-cation documents and took licence plates from cars and tractors before they (refugeess) crossed the border.

This is a clear manifestation of the plan to modify the ethnic balance of Kosova.

Once outside the country without legal documents how were they ever going to return to the country ?” he asked. For all this, a sinful silence reigns in Serbia!

How can Albanian Kosovars – and Serb aggressors- forget the savagery of the Serb criminal groups, such as “the Tigers” of Arkan and “the Franks” of Seselj whose prefered weapon was “the knife”, the glorified “noz’”, so dear to Serbian marauders since the inception of their state? Human Rights sources calculate that over 174 Albanian families have been burned alive in their houses, men, women and children…!

6) You refer to the ugly events of March 2004. They were ugly but nor planned. An unfortunate incident that caused the drowning of three Albanian teenagers was the sparkle for the outburst. We condemn it! However, you neglect to explain that out of the 19 victims, 11 were Albanians and 8 Serbs. You also neglect to indicate that the Government of Kosova has spent substantial amount of money to repair the damaged churches, houses, and other objects belonging to the Serbs. In Belgrade, the only mosque serving 300.000 Moslem Serbs, has not received the permission to rebuild and operate!

7) You speak about “accepting the compromise and reaching an agreement”. The essence of your compromise is the permanent Serbian sovereignty over Kosova. Albanians refuse it net. Which Black citizen of South Africa would accept the return to “the apartheid”, on a “democratic” South Africa? Which Russian Jew would accept the return to a society where the Russian policeman would be “the guarantor” for a free and prosperous life? None! Why should the Albanians feel and act otherwise? Albanians in Kosova ,too, are entitled to a life in freedom and dignity, and they intend to earn it for themselves and their descendants. One hundred years of Serbian rule over Kosova have been a century of Serb policies to dominate, expel, starve, and humiliate an entire people, the Albanian Kosovars! Never again! Never again!

8) You are concerned about the preservation of religious and cultural monuments in Kosova. We agree! They are universal patrimony, and they belong to the entire humanity.

Protection of Serbian monuments in Kosova has been a noble tradition cultivated by the local Catholic and Moslem populations for over four centuries of Ottoman rule. In l960, Serbian Patriarch, Gherman, awarded the Medal of Recognition of the Serb <>Orthodox Church to the Albanian family Nikci, of Peje, for having guarded the Patriarchate of Peje, generation after generation. These are the same monuments that you refer to, now. They survived – and continue to survive- thanks to the spirit of religious tolerance and traditional respect Albanian population has for all houses and objects of worship. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same for the Serbs. During the 1998-99 Serb aggression, over 190 Moslem mosques and Catholic churches were totally or partially destroy ed by the Serbs in Kosova, oftentimes by “Serbian neighbors”

9) You speak about “standards” and their fulfillment before the final status. Of course, no miracle has happened in Kosova. The UN Representatives in Kosova have frequently reported to the UN Security Council about the progress, or the lack of, in this field. A lot has been achieved, more remains to be done. However, no one can deny that the institu-tions of Kosova are democratic, motivated and intend to provide peace, bread and prosperity to all the citizens of Kosova.

10) “The decentralization”, as a democratic system of Government, is expected to protect ALL citizens, without exception. That’s why it has assumed great importance in the negotiating table. However, this democratic principle has been utterly distorted. You ask for a horizontal link between the predominantly Serb-inhabited communities as a divider of the territory of Kosova, and a direct vertical link with Belgrade, as an extended arm of the Serb presence in Kosova. Briefly stated, you are using a democratic solution for a political gain. I am certain that a similar Kosovar claim on the Albanian mnority in the Presheva Valley, would be rejected by the Serb Government.

11) Your insistence that 15 percent of the territory of a sovereign state ( in this case, Serbia) cannot be separated to satisfy the demands of “a threatening” Albanian popula-tion in Kosova. We respectfully disagree!

a) Kosova is a land inhabited by over 90 percent of Albanians, an autochthonous population, born and grown up there, who love it, till and preserve it, and are ready to defend it. Kosova was forcefully annexed by Serbia three times in the past century, For the first time, Albanians in Kosova are given the chance to expres themselves freely. They want independence. It’s the will of the overwhelming majority of Kosova, and we must respect it. It’s a reality on the ground which cannot be neglected, much less denied.

b) By her policies of expulson and extermination, Serbia has lost all her moral and legal rights to rule over Kosova. Now, the international community recognies this fact, and is on the verge of recognizing Kosova’s “legal” rights, and confirm them by a new UN Security Council Resolution.

Excellency: please, do not forget that a major war was fought in Kosova in 1998-99, and Serbia lost. An Agreement to withdraw all Serbia’s army and police forces from Kosova has been reached, and Serbia has signed it. A total withdrawal of Serbian forces was enforced (June 1999), and the vacuum left was replenished by the UN Mission in Kosova, and the NATO troops, according to the UNSC Resolution 1244 (1999) that ”…effectively said Kosova’s sovereignty will be determined at a later day.” (US Amb. Nicholas Burns), most probably by a popular Referendum, or a new UNSC Resolution.

In order to achieve that goal peacefully, talks are been held in Vienna,Austria,where Albanian and Serb negotiators intend to solve “the technical issues”. Some of the worst crimes in Europe, after Hitler, were perpetrated successively in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and finally in Kosova. A consensus has been reached that the sovereignty of Kosova needs to be determined, and agreed upon, by the international community. Afew basic principles have been set and approved, namely

a) No Serbian return to Kosova. b) No partititon of Kosova. c)No union of Kosova with another State, mainly with Albania. d)Kosova has to be a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic state. e) The will of the majority of the population in Kosova must be respected.
We know all too well that Serbia finds it difficult to accept the new proposals. Indeed, under your leadership, Serbia is mobilized to oppose it. It will be in vain! Your claims on Kosova are seen as being irrational and deviating from the truth.

What is left, according to you, is the language of threat.” The independence of Kosova will be a destabilizing element in the entire region.” This language of fear is unaccep-table in the year 2006 . The fascist Serb Radical Party threatens open war. Bishop Artemije threatens of a “holy war in Kosova”, “to liberate our lands and brothers”. This sounds ominously similar to the cries of 1878, 1913, 1918, and 1945. However, the world has changes, and Serbia must change “sous peine de mort!” ( or die). It is my sincere hope that the leadership of Serbia will do all it can to prevent the consequences of this threat. The Balkans, especially since 1991, are fed up with war, crimes, and atrocities and will not accept new deaths and destructions.

Excellency, I invite you to visit Kosova, this time without a machine gun in your hands. Come and see her mass graves, more than 200.000 households destroyed, mos-ques, churches and other objects of worship ruined or desecrated by Serbia, come and see the tens of thousands of widows and orphans without a roof over their heads, the destruction of the infrastructure brought by Serbian Army, Police, and gangster forces, the poverty that tortures that people, the pervasive fear that chokes them and cuts the enthusiasm for a new beginning. Please, come and see the rivers of blood and tears shed by the victimized Albanians on Kosova as a result of Serbian savage atrocities.

Then, I am confident that you, as the rest of the world did, will come to the conclusion that it’s time for Serbia to settle down, to meditate, to ask for forgiveness, to atone. And to let the people of Kosova enjoy their newlyfound freedom, and the forthcoming independence.

Please, Excellency, accept the assurances of my high consideration. Sincerely yours,
Sami Repishti Ph.D.
City University of New York
Former political prisoner (1946-56)
Human rights activist

Friday, July 21, 2006

it's good to know

Save the Children asks Serb, Albanian, and international negotiators on the status of Kosovo to include the issues of education and protection of children on their agenda.

Croatia makes government policy to develop and use open source. Among the advantages mentioned is cost reduction, independence from foreign suppliers, and development of local IT industry. It remains to be seen whether they will go all the way or whether Microsoft will make an unresistable offer.

First quarter of 2006 saw an increase in exports by 20%. Trade deficit is also slightly down. There are alarm bells going on about the exit of UNMIK early next year and its impact on the economy. A 1.6% slowdown is predicted. Jobless rate is also up and will most likely continue to stay on this level for a long time to come until productivity is brought up on par with wage levels demanded by the job seekers. Those of my countrypeople that expect more jobs with privatization and independence are bound for a big disapointmnet in the coming year, if that is possible at all after the last seven years.

One of the anomalies of the Kosovar economy is that despite the level of poverty its prices are some of the highest in the region. Kinda like Moscow being one of the most expensive cities in Europe. This effect is due to the impact that UNMIK expenditures of the international staff on local services and its local staffs wages. Remittances from emigrants, while lifesavers in some aspects, also skew the prices for the general consumer. Home prices in Kosovo with a 40% poverty rate are up to double of those in Serbia with a 9% poverty rate. This is one of the reasons why Serbs have been selling off so much after the war.

Economy-wise I'm ambivalent about UNMIK leaving. The economy that has developed to service UNMIK is one of house renting and restaurants. Yet Kosovo does not have a future on city tourism. What has resulted is a fake economy that is unsustainable, as we are bound to find out next year.
UNMIK stated that it has spend 2.6 billion on Kosovo, but I wonder how much of this actually went and stayed in the local economy. It is a common practice for EU to commission a study or project and have all the managers paid at incredibly high levels ($10,000/month) come from the countries commissioning the study. True, the residual effect of the experts' works is supposed to remain in Kosovo (with KEK, the poster child of EU expert work, an example of it), but at the same time is it fair to list these donations as contributions to the local economy? Another example is where KFOR could have helped but didn't. My father did some business with one of the countries' KFOR troop supplier (PX). The supplier had an explicit order to import everything possible from the mother country and the mere fact that the PX was doing business with a local business would have lost the contract to the PX if it was discovered. This is neat example of how mother countries expect the money of their "contributions" abroad to go back home instead of what potentially could have been a much more powerful and long term boost to the local food industry than spending money in rent and restaurants.

Similarly, a lot of the reconstruction was done at a time when Kosovo was still recovering resulting in everything being imported. Kosovo's neighbors, including lately the country that burnt those homes itself (Vetëvendosje likes to point out), were the big winners in the process of reconstruction with their industries ready to respond to the needs of Kosovo immediately after the war.

Not to be unthankful, but I'm all for figuring out how much money actually goes to feed the hungry African children, and how much to feed the Western bureaucracy that makes the aid possible.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hilariously smart stuff at the "Unencyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Here are some articles: Yugoslavia, Yugoslav wars, Serbia (my favorite; with quotes from Oscar Wilde), Albania. Kosovo doesn't have one yet.

From Belgrade Cleansers:

In 1996, the Cleansers played and defeated the Kosovo Kosovars in the playoff games of the season. This allowed the team to reach the World Series in over eighty years. However, despite high hopes, the Cleansers suffered a humiliating defeat against the Washington Generals.

This was the final event that utterly destroyed Miloševi�'s credibility as General Manager. In the following year, he was voted off his position by the Board of Directors and replaced by Vojislav Koštunica. After that, Milosevic spent some time in The Hague learning from the best players in the trade and hoping to improve "the Serbian style" that was slightly out-of-date. He died there among colleagues and was buried in Pozarevac. Thousands of loyal fans gathered to say last good-by to him, while at the same time thousand were celebrating the same event at their homes.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Veton Surroi of the Reformist Party ORA is hardly an extremist. Here's what he said to Voice of America in Albanian in an interview published on Saturday:

: Mr. Surroi, in July the meeting between leaders of Kosovo and those of Serbia will take place. What is expected from those talks when it is known that parties based on yesterday's stances at the UN have not backed off from their positions?

Veton Surroi: We don't know yet what it is about since Mr. Ahtissari hasn't sent the invitations yet, but nevertheless we see that from Belgrade we don't have the least signal of cooperation in this negotiation process so you ask the right question.

VOA: Since there hasn't been a compromise, how do you see the future of these talks, I'm talking about the political status?

Surroi: Political status shouldn't even be discussed with Belgrade. Belgrade has lost a long time ago the right to think, let alone to discuss about the political status of Kosovo. Negotiations develop in two main planes; the first plane is what the level of interference of international community in the independent Kosovo will be, and this due to the unfortunate fact that Kosovo in the last seven years of bad government hasn't shown enough ability to function as a functional democratic state. The second plane has to do with the minority rights, that is what is the level of minority rights to be assured in Kosovo.

VOA: […] would you accept to negotiate for a limited sovereignty of Kosovo's independence and for e delay of the independence process, for its stages?

Surroi: Sovereignty is already limited for the mere fact that we are not talking for sovereignty as the other countries have, but for sovereignty accompanied with internationals presence. Our red line in this direction would be Kosovo an international subject. Kosovo at the end of this process must be a UN member.

VOA: Mr. Surroi, I would like to stop a little bit to the idea you expressed a little earlier for the absence of a functional state in Kosovo. As it's known, those that argument today against Kosovo independence among other things say that independent Kosovo would be an unstable place because of the widespread organized crime. How wide is this phenomenon in your society?

I think the argument has to be seen differently. The fact that we have had here seven years of management from the UN hasn't created a functional democratic state is because it hasn't created a responsibility system. Only an independent state of Kosovo can be democratic and functional because it creates the relationship of responsibility with its citizens.

Mr. Surroi, Albanian leadership of Kosovo says that the situation of the Serb minority in Kosovo is secure and it has freedom of movement and adds that the idea that minorities are not safe is more a matter of image than reality. Representatives of Serb minority have different opinions. You have headed an attempt for the creation of a legal framework for minorities. What is you opinion for the situation of Serb minority? Will Kosovo fulfill this standard?

Surroi: Unfortunately we have a bad legacy with the Serb community in Kosovo. At the beginning due to the negative stance of Serb community, I say general responsibility with the Milosevic regime, meaning when Serb community was used for Milosevic's politics, but of course after the war there has been a punishment of Serb community in Kosovo. I can't say that Serb community is absolutely free, absolutely with all the rights. On the other hand it's not also true that this community has shown willingness to integrate in this society. So there still is a lot of work to be done in both directions.

Seven hot summers later and in Kosovo there is about as much power as in Baghdad.

From Saturday's Express:

Current Energy Situation
Production Unit                    Power (MW)
A1                                       0
A2                                       0
A3                                      120
A4                                        0
A5                                      110
B1                                       0
B2                                      255
Ujmani                                 0
Import                                  0
Total                                               485

should we shout should we scream
"what happened to the post war dream?"
oh maggie maggie what have we done?

Saturday, July 15, 2006


grafitti, originally uploaded by kore_luke.

One of the better ways to put the message across. Graffiti on the wall reads "NO NEGOTIATIONS/ SELFDETERMINATION," wich is the motto of Vetevendosje! Movement.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pupovac happens to be the man that led Serbs of Croatia towards integration. PM Ceku wanted to bring him as an advisor for minority issues before he rejected. Is Ivanovic thinking something along the same line? Ivanovic might still have to play tough for PR reasons but it's a good idea to start talking to Pupovac early on.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pathetic Don Quixote fights the windmills (authentic not)

I got shivers from this editorial on Washington Post by Kostunica:

In attempting to preserve the province of Kosovo within its borders, Serbia has acted in the most reasonable and constructive way possible. It is prepared to accept any form of compromise that does not entail independence, and it offers Albanians the greatest possible autonomy, including all legislative, executive and judicial powers, while expecting in return only the inviolability of borders and safety for the non-Albanian population of the province.

In its struggle for Kosovo, Serbia is also struggling for fundamental principles of international justice and order. And, by defending an inalienable part of its territory, Serbia may even be defending the future of democracy as a way of life and a view of the world.

If the only reason for keeping Kosovo is for the sake of keeping it, then why keep it? If Kosovo economy is not viable, why does Serbia want to take the burden of supporting it and how exactly it would do it and still fight the 9% poverty at home? If crime is blooming, why is only Serbia that is so concerned about it and not Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia? But I forget: Serbia is fighting for the heavenly kingdom once again.

The ownership of Kosova is not out there to serve as inspiration for Serbia on its road to democracy. Kosovo is more than a lucky charm for wannabe democratic Serbia; it is home to two million Kosovars.

While Mr. Kostunica chastises Albanians for threatening with violence, isn't he in the same article threatening the West with chaos if Kosovo goes its own way? In the Balkans, the area that should concern Mr. Kostunica, there are only Bosnian Serbs that could follow the Kosovo domino. If Mr. Kostunica is worried about border changes, I'm sure he can help keep Bosnia together.

I agree in one key point with Mr. Kostunica: we're both worried about the survivability of Kosovo economy. Therefore let's do all possible to get it going. Mr. Kostunica's Serbia can start by not threatening investors with lawsuits if they invest in the country we're both so concerned about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 is going out of business. If you happen to have money or friends that happen to have money, help them out. is the most linked to address on this blog.
Four-day-long world class Exit Music Festival in Novi Sad is over. Recap is here.
Politics works in misterious ways. Macedonia's right wingers came on top in last week's elections. The winning VMRO-DPMME is the party that led the fight against Albanian guerrillas in western Macedonia in 2001. The guerrillas after the war transformed themsleves into a political party called BDI and joined the leftist SDSM in creating the government that overtook VMRO-DPMNE. Another Albanian party, PDSH, when it found itself out of government with the ouster of VMRO-DPMN, turned into vocally nationalist accussing BDI of giving up interests of Albanians in Macedonia and even going so far as calling for border changes in the Balkans. PDSH became the chicken hawk when the fighters turned into BDI and won the Albanian vote. Now PDSH has cocluded a broad agreement with its former coaltion partner during the war in Macedonia, the natioanlistic VMRO-DPME, to enter government. BDI might switch sides and do the same, having this way most of Albanian votes in Macedonia part of government.

SDSM says that it is ready to make a deal with anybody, 1) as long as it's not VMRO-DPME and 2) it allows the reforms that SDSM hopes will transform the Macedonian economy. Good luck! Kosovo will be watching.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Jericho - Kur Do t'Pushoj Kjo Kangë

Jericho - When Will This Song End?

A Kosovar rap metal band performing in front of the portraits of the missing hanging on the fences of local and international institutions in Prishtina.

Sonja Biserko and Natasa Kandic, two of the Balkans's bravest women, have proven to be the only hope for the families of those whose portraits hang there. Now they may be in danger. If you live in Serbia, write to your government and ask for the public campaing of intimidation of these women to stop.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pulse of the nation: July issue of the Early Warning Report.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

From a commentary on IHT:

..the ambivalence about the status of Kosovo suits politicians: Serbian politicians evoke the Kosovo myth in order to postpone addressing their real problems; their Kosovo Albanian counterparts can always blame the lack of independence as the source of all evils, including unemployment, crime, corruption, crumbling infrastructure and the failing economy.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Should EU push Serbia to hold early elections and thus prevent democratic shift of Serbia towards the Radicals after the Kosovo solution? Should Serb Radicals ask for elections now or should they wait until Kosovo is gone in which case their victory is certain? Should Kostunica push for a delay to the elections and thus use the coming radicalization of Serb voters as a threat against EU? Should the G17 reformist party leave Serb government now and save the parties in power from the crushing defeat later on (assuming that Socialists and even Radicals don't chip in to lengthen their coma)?

We now know that acting pissed helps you in certain situations. Yet too many touchy subjects and the outcome is anybody's guess.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

OSCE says that the media freedom situation in Kosovo has improved. Ethnic seperation remains a problem.