Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Countries rush to include Kosovo in their constitutions, after Serbia's move

Serb cell phone company has its illegal wireless towers in Kosovo dismantled. But there is still hope -- at least for the more beautiful of you.
Bidding for the new concession will begin in earnest on 17 January 2007. The 15-year licence carries a EUR20 million pricetag and will be awarded via a beauty contest. (link)
Official car of Miomir Dasic, coach of the Basketball Club Bambi Mitrovica and advisor in the Ministry for Communities and Returns was blown up on Saturday in Zvecane in northern Kosovo. Bambi joined the Kosovo Super League after initial threats to the players' families from fellow Serbs, which forced them to forfeit the game against the Albanian team across the river. So far Bambi is holding 7'th place with a surprising win over X Prishtina.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Press release

American Law Students and Professor take on Corruption in Kosovo

A group of law students at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and their professor and former dean have released a detailed report on how an independent Kosovo can bring public corruption under control. The report is the product of visits to Kosovo over the seven year period since the NATO intervention substituted a UN civil administration and an elected local government for the reign of former Serbian strong man Slobodan Milosevic, research into “best practices” for prosecuting public corruption in the United States, and discussions with FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys.

The hotly debated topic of corruption by public officials in Kosovo is the subject of the report, which is currently being distributed to high-level government officials in Kosovo and the United States. Professor and former Dean of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Henry H. Perritt Jr., who has recently finished writing a book on the KLA and has been involved in the region for over eight years, led a team of law students in a research and policy analysis project focused upon putting corruption under a microscope.

The report examines successful experiences in combating corruption in other countries and generates ideas for reducing corruption in Kosovo, considering the country’s unique political and cultural landscape. A May 2006 trip to Kosovo convinced Professor Perritt and research assistant Jeff LaMirand that combating corruption was vital to the future success of Kosovo as an independent country. Kosovo is widely expected to become independent as a result of “final status” negotiations now taking place under UN auspices. Officially, Kosovo, though administered by the UN, is still a province of Serbia, a status which the 90% Albanian population militantly opposes.

The summer-long project resulted in an 85 page report beginning with summaries of other work on corruption in Kosovo by organizations such as the UNDP and USAID, and ending in recommendations and possible scenarios for reducing corruption in Kosovo in the future. Some of the new report’s recommendations are familiar: Kosovo must develop independent and courageous investigative, prosecution, and judicial resources as well as a genuine political will to fight corruption. Other assertions, however, are bound to be controversial. The report suggests that certain types of conduct currently viewed as corrupt in Kosovo society may actually be helpful, or at the very least relatively harmless in comparison to the most harmful forms of corruption such as embezzlement, bribery, and fraud.

The report claims that real progress in reducing corruption in Kosovo necessarily involves identifying the most harmful corruption to Kosovo society, and then attacking it at its highest levels. Anything short of this approach serves to undermine sincere corruption efforts by distracting the Kosovo public.

In regard to this need to set appropriate priorities, Professor Perritt said, “There is a big difference between selling smuggled cigarettes on the streets of Pristina and murdering one’s political opponents or commercial competitors. The world will know that the political will to bring corruption under control exists in Kosovo only when at least one government minister and at least one major businessman have been sent to jail.”

The report also faults the international community for having consistently been indifferent to corruption, despite its several years of primary responsibility for law-and-order functions in Kosovo. “International officials have been afraid of where serious investigation might lead. Rather than taking the risk of building a strong foundation for Kosovo’s future, they have preferred not to rock the boat,” Professor Perritt said.

Tackling corruption is essential to build confidence in a democratic political system. After his first trip to Kosovo, Mr. LaMirand said, “Everyone I talked to—everyone: law students, young businessmen, political activists, cab drivers, cellphone card sellers on the streets—identified corruption as a pervasive reality in Kosovo that undermines their confidence in the future.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded from Kent College of Law’s Operation Kosovo website at: http://operationkosovo.kentlaw.edu. In addition to Mr. LaMirand and Professor Perritt, second-year Chicago-Kent student Frank Bieszczat, third-year Chicago-Kent student Chair Mair, and Claremont-McKenna senior Lisa Atkins contributed to the research and writing of the report.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Virtual title

A little bit of virtual democracy to go with your daily cup of virtual multiethnicity.


Kosovo's independence will not jeopardize regional stability and co-operation, said Erhard Busek, the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South East Europe.
"The region will be more stable if we move toward such solution," Busek said... (Makfax)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Five Pillars of Ardita

Tim Judah's take on the developments ahead for Kosovo. He's good.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Boss

Does UN Security Council even matter? No. Russia and China will stop it from doing anything that doesn't suit them. And US of A won't even ask them. I'm surprised UNSC wasn't dismantled 15 years ago. It is about as relevant as a conference Balkan pharmacists like to go to.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On Kosovo's Sesame Street

There is an oppotunity for those of you living in the US to watch a documentary about the Kosovo production of Sesame Street. In Los Angeles it's showing on KCET at 9:00 PM. Interviews with children are morbidly funny, the kind of funny that would be more suitable to be shown in Kosovo itself. Glad to have been a little part of the project.

Hurray for TRA: Kosovo is finally dismantling illegal cellphone base stations. Come back in a few months for final final dismantling. It will be dead serious next time.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Results of Vienna: no agreement, but the understanding is there.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What an irony!

These are the participants of the regional anti-organized crime conference taking place in Serbia.

There's only one thing missing: a Kosovo representative. Yes, the same Kosovo that is supposedly washed in crime (and thus shouldn't get independence).

Quick reads

Sticky carrots!

Kids for Peace leader invited to UN as Kosovo enters final status talks

D'Alema's position on Kosovo

Kosova C powerplant and the Shibovc mine that will supply it will cost $3.5 billion

Monday, October 16, 2006

Kosovo is Serbia

Truthiness I was talking about:

While choosing among various topics like sports, music, movies and websites, I have decided to write on a small part of my country called Kosovo and Methojia. The territory occupies the southern part of the country called Serbia, including borders with Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. Major historical events regarding Serbian history and culture occurred in Kosovo and Metohija during the 11th and 12th centuries, so the significance this part of my country has to me and Serbian people is tremendous. No matter what others say or do, I believe that Kosovo is Serbia. (Progressive U)



B92 brings excerpts on article 16 of the Serb Constitution discussed on Life in Kosovo in the previous post:

“If you read this constitution, it states in article 16 that any decision made on an international level, and also includes resolutions by the United Nations Security Council, automatically becomes a part of the national law. If the Security Council states tomorrow that Kosovo is independent, the decision automatically takes effect.” Nosov said.


Kosovo Invites Bulgarian Investors

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Serb Constitution Wiki

Their victims were their neighbhors. Jasmina Tesanovic on the war crimes indictees in Belgrade:

These Serbian policemen from kosovo would do it all again, with even more vigor, even when not ordered to do it. Their only regret is not having done more and better. That their regime lost the war. They had to flee instead of killing all the Albanians. As 10 percent of the Kosovo population, they had to leave their property to the 90 percent majority. They were Orthodox and Serbs, the superior race in their holy land, living in paranoid agression for centuries on end.


From Radio Television Kosova' Life in Kosova comes a program about the new Serb constitution. Participating are a lawyer from Kosovo, two Serbs from Kosovo, and a civic leader from Belgrade. Unfortunately it's in Serbian and Albanian only and available until 26 October. There will be a special bonus at the end when "Kosova's son in-law" (a Yankee) goes to Gracanica to ask its citizens to sign a petition for an independent Kosovo and Metohija. 


Out of the blue the so-called democratic forces in Serbia pulled their joker card to delay Kosovo's independence. Like seven years weren't enough. Serbs have been working on a replacement for what is a Milosevic constitution since the "democratic" forces took power. They were never able to do it because of the delicate balance of power in the parliament. In September political leaders struck a deal with the Radicals and then the parliament voted on the constitution three days later without much discussion. A referendum is scheduled for this month. Elections might be held in December or as late as next March.

Albanian voters will not be allowed to vote (necessary to make the 50% voter threshold possible) and yet president of Serbia according to this constitution will take the oath to defend Serbia "and Kosovo and Metohija as it's inseperable part." This is where Web 2.0 part comes in. If Serbia makes it's constitution a Wikipedia-like wiki, immediately after Kosovo's gone, they will be able to edit it to fit their new truthiness. Or they might choose to leave it alone even if there isn't a Kosovo to defend; just like in Wikipedia, as long as enough Serbs agree on Kosovo is a part of Serbia in a referendum, it is truthiness enough.    

From Tadic's viewpoint, the goal of all this is to win time in discussions on Kosovo's final status. By puting Contact Group capitals in a checkmate where ultranationalists would win if Kosovo is given away before an election, Tadic is able to argue for a delay. Yet this is a crisis that the "democrats" initiated by hastening elections. London and Washington right now should be asking themselves: why should the victim bear the burden of democratcratization of its agressor? Hasn't Kosovo gone through enough pain during the war and more than seven years since?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Loose lips sink collection rates!

Bishop Artemije has recruited TV evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to his "Kosovo is a Muslim hellhole" crusade. How's that for an opener?

However, another supporter to Artemije's cause, The Washington Times, is changing its editors. The Washington Times was close to the Serb lobby and has consistently published more editorial pieces from Artemije & Co than news on Kosovo itself. But it was the support of Confederacy and other extreme right causes that got them.

Still Kosova has more pressing issues at hand than whether we the faithful have prepared the landing sites for Jesus' comeback. For Kosovo winter is close and nobody can guarantee power during it. 

This brings me to the most ridiculous news this week: an international manager at Kosova's public power company KEK has accussed the union for a E2 million collection rate drop last month. Earlier the KEK union had published the exorbitant salaries that the local and international managers get while accusing them of incompetency for producing only debatable levels of power. Local and international managers threatened with firing the employees that divulge company secrets and undermine KEK's competiviness. In other words: they think Kosovars are idiots. Boy we're lucky Kosovo doesn't have ships otherwise they would all be at the bottom of the seas now. 


EU citizens might want to write Brussels about the fact that EU "experts" in KEK are making more than Mr. José Manuel Durão Barroso.    

Monday, October 02, 2006

Good stuff

Is Kosovo the next West Bank?

When diplomatic solutions to a crisis are delayed, the situation begins to fester.

from Anna Di Lellio

Slightly strong language, but she hits it on the head.

She also mentions the fact that there is very little communication of what will come out of the status talks. Kosovars have been left in the dark from their delegation and some of the points agreed will be painful so nobody from the delegation wants to give the bad news. Realizing this, last week UNMIK's vice Steven Schook blasted (sq) again Kosovar leaders for not arguing their decisions to the population. However, I believe this to be disengenious of him since UNMIK and UNOSEK were glad to deal only with the leaders and put the people affected by their decisions in front of a closed case.  

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bosnia has spoken

Despite poverty and high unemployment, issues of ethnicity and nationalism have dominated the election campaigns, says the BBC's Nicholas Walton in Sarajevo.

The office of the International High Representative, which oversees the peace process, will close in mid-2007.

But if it judges that Bosnia's politicians are unable to take on the responsibility for taking the country forward, the international community has warned that it might not hand over power after all, our correspondent adds. (BBC)

 As we witness the cutout in Kosovo with decentralization it is important to take in the lessons of Bosnia. When economy and laws (and ways to enforce them) are concerned, a strong central government should take precedent. The primary motive for the EU was not because Europeans were in love of each others langueages, cultures, and beaches. At the end of the day, a common market and the laws that enforce it are what will unite Bosnia.

Sarajevo should also do more to discourage ethnic homogenization of the population. If it wants a unified Bosnia, Serbs living in the Federation and the other way around is the best demoracratic way to ensure it.

Now, RS Serbs should be able to promote their cultural ties with Serbia. Just like a teenager that can't let go of home, this nationalism will also pass. Ties with Serbia will pacify Serbs of Bosnia and take away the cause away from the rebels. (Cultural rights are sacred in Europe, so I wouldn't argue against them anyways). It is often repeated about Kosovo the the opening of the border with Albania was when Kosovar Albanians stopped wishing for unification. Although even before that it was mostly a rebel rally call rather than a sincere wish.   

So, economic unification in exhange for cultural ties with Serbia should do the trick. If it doesn't, EU, or more like the US, will have to bring in the hammer one more time.