Friday, September 29, 2006

Minority Edition

Serbs want Kosovo but not the Kosovars. Not that it matters, though it's an exercise in interestingness.

Kosovo and Croatia sign Free Trade Agreement

The trade exchange between Croatia and Kosovo in the first 2006 semester amounted to 55.4 million euros. The export operations from Croatia to Kosovo totaled 55.3 million euros, while Kosovo exported 107.000 euros worth of goods to Croatia.

I don't see what Kosovo has to lose from this.

Serbia has a new constitution ready for approval.

It also grants a form of self-rule to the northern province of Vojvodina, said Dusan Petrovic, from the pro-Western Democratic Party. No other details about the draft's contents were immediately available. (IHT)

Radicals (SRS) have said they will fight the proposed document because of the Vojvodina clause, despite the fact that it is designed to "show to the international community that Serbia is united in its bid to preserve its identity" (i.e. Kosovo) (IHT). Could Vojvodina end up the unexpected  winner in all this?

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Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) trained minority journalists in Kosovo at the end of which they came up with the following articles:

Belgrade Media Keep Kosovo Serbs in the Dark

Relentlessly negative reporting from Serbia isolates Kosovo minority more than ever

Village For Sale

With no jobs for the young and no security for the old, no wonder entire Serbian villages are on the market.

Serbs and Albanians Play Politics with Heritage Sites

After a deal looked close, both sides appear to have decided that scoring points is more important than making a breakthrough.

Kosovo Serb Political Divisions Grow

With final status talks seemingly no nearer a conclusion, the politicians representing the Serb minority are growing further apart.

In June for the first time any dissatisfaction with Belgrade was recorded among Kosovo Serbs. Although the number was still a paltry 15% and affected by events at the time, it's a move in the right direction. Of course, others favor a whole new and sad direction.

Kosovo Serbs Seek Radical Salvation

Hard-line rhetoric and grandiose pledges are winning hearts and minds in isolated Serbian enclaves.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Would you like a bomb with that meeting?

roundup of important political events in Kosovo and about Kosovo this week.

There have been four bomb attacks. The first three caused some material damage and were definitely designed to send a message to government officials. Details are missing yet but the the ones in Gjilan might be realated to decentralization and the unsatisfaction in that area about what is being planned.

The fourth one happenned in Klina with four members of a Serb family wounded from it. This was also designed to send a massage. The fact that it happened just a day before imporant decision-making meetings of the UNSC and the Contact Group - and the fact that every such meeting is preceded by similar attacks - makes me think it was well planned and with clear intentions. Just when arguments for independence are most needed these heineous crimes against defensless Serbs will happen. I would love to know who's doing them - they definitely are not friends of Kosovo. 

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Balkan Peace Park

British conservationists are working with Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania on creating a protected zone in the Accursed Mountains shared by the three countries. Here is a map of the area they intend to include (600 kb). As blogged previously on this blog, this area is underdeveloped and often cut-off from the world during the winter months. Underdevelopment can hurt the environment as much as development does. This could be a sustainable way of using this area to promote cooperation in the border area and preempt any undesirable development or destruction down the road.

I don't know about you but this just seems too enticing to me:

Whilst traveling in the region you will be able to sample some of the local produce. Local industries include honey-making, raki-making, cheese-making, baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, including wild strawberries and herbs (such as to make mountain tea).

Shala Mountains

Plav Lake
playing the national albanian instrument ├žifteli

Head to the official Balkan Peace Park Project web site and see if you can help them out.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Howto make the Kosovar Nation

Cafe Babel brings a topic not familiar even to people familiar with Kosovo. You see we're builing a new nation but can't figure out what it means to be a Kosovar. This issue will become important once we start accepting national symbols designed in blue and yellow by our international friends.

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Kosovo refugees in Prokupjle, Serbia struggle to make ends meet

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Kosovo Parliament has voted down a request to make Turkish the third official language in the Prizren municipality. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Serb President Boris Tadic visited Washington last week. The outcome of the meetings was/ was not opportune for Belgrade, as he relayed it live from Washington to his home audience. One has to genuinely wonder whether he really believed that he would achieve anything.

Serb lobby had actually tried to soften up the stance in Washington by playing these infomercials on two DC radio stations inviting the public to write to their congressmen. Have a listen!


powered by ODEO

The problem with the message is that DC population is awfully small and disinterested in the Balkans (it is mostly African-American) to care about to whom Kosovo goes to, on top of their representative not carrying a vote in congress. Some senators did write to Bush on July 28 regarding Kosovo, although all they asked from him is not to withdraw from Kosovo, which I second. The lobby has received the money and it has to spend it lobbying for something.

On the other hand the Albanian lobby responded with another very public appeal to the administration to support an independent Kosovo. It made a deal with McDonald's and KFC restaurants across DC to send forth its message through the in-your-face, primary-colored signs like the one below.



There is this train of thought among dog breeders that the moment a fighting dog drops his tail, he will be too weak to be a fighter anymore. I have the same idea with the communist taint of current political actors in the Balkans. Albanian PM Sali Berisha has made a smart move by enlisting the help of former US Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge for his government and Albania. The details are still vague, although Ridge seems to be an accomplished and honorable man. I hope that veteran government leaders like Berisha (and his montenegrin countepart Milo Djukanovic, who seems to have won another election yesterday) will draw power from Ridge's example and retire from government and politics. They may open their own political consulting firms, go into charity, or even do a blog, but please retire from politics. The political scene in the Balkans needs new blood from people that are less divisive and don't have their resumes begin and end with politics.

*Ok, I made up the part about signs on McDonald's. The rest is dead serious.

Serb President Boris Tadic visited Washington last week. The outcome of the meetings was/ was not opportune for Belgrade, as he relayed it live from Washington to his home audience. One has to genuinely wonder whether he really believed that he would achieve anything.

Serb lobby had actually tried to soften up the stance in Washington by playing these infomercials on two DC radio stations inviting the public to write to their congressmen before Tadic's visit. Have a listen!


powered by ODEO

The problem with the message is that the DC population is awfully small and disinterested in the Balkans (it is mostly African-American) to care about whom Kosovo goes to, on top of their representative not carrying a vote in congress. Some senators did write to Bush on July 28 regarding Kosovo, although all they asked from him is not to withdraw from Kosovo, which I second. The lobby has received the money and it has to spend it lobbying for something.

On the other hand the Albanian lobby responded with another very public appeal to the administration to support an independent Kosovo. It made a deal with McDonald's and KFC restaurants across DC to send forth its message through the in-your-face, primary-colored signs like the one below.



There is this train of thought among dog breeders that the moment a fighting dog drops his tail, he will be too weak to be a fighter anymore. I have the same idea with the communist taint of current political actors in the Balkans. Albanian PM Sali Berisha has made a smart move by enlisting the help of the former US Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge for his government and Albania. The details are still vague, although Ridge seems to be an accomplished and honorable man. I hope that veteran government leaders like Berisha (and his montenegrin countepart Milo Djukanovic, who seems to have won another election yesterday) will draw power from Ridge's example and retire from government and politics. They may open their own political consulting firms, go into charity, or even do a blog, but please retire from politics. The political scene in the Balkans needs new blood from people that are less divisive and don't have their resumes begin and end with politics.

*Ok, I made up the part about signs on McDonald's. The rest is dead serious.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Albania 1989


Gjirokaster Albania 1989, originally uploaded by Maverick12.

From the good old days of 1989 Albania comes a full set of photographs on Flickr.

(Through peshkupauje.com.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Trajkovic: Serbs have sold property worth 3 billion euro

Belgrade, 5 September 2006. (Beta) - Leader of Spot Momcilo Trajkovic stated that Serbs in Kosovo since June 1999 have sold property worth three billion euro and that money has ended up in Serbia.

"I have two hectares of land. If I sold that land, I could get 1.5 million euro. But selling land, house in Kosovo, that means to sell territory, state and national interests," said Trajkovic on the show Openly on Kosovo.