Friday, February 16, 2018

10 years on

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.

I was living in the, literally, divided city of Mitrovica at the time feeling a very eery unease:

Which unfortunately seems to still be the case:

The horrid pollution I experienced back then also looks set to stay and possibly worsen:

Last week saw their first winter Olympics representative walk the flag in the opening ceremony. While there is much to celebrate and hope for the future, there is a nagging feeling that the ingrained corruption and wilful ignorance of environmental sustainability means real progress could be a long way off.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Airport codes for my travels from 28 March 08 to next week... and in July you can add SYD-ADL-MEL-SYD.

Yep, I'm back in Australia and very happy to be home after a year and a half in the WTK, but starting to get a little bit sick of airports, planes, and bag lugging...

Leaving Kosovo. It was sad to say good bye to friends and work mates but exciting to be headed home. My final meal was , somehow appropriately, Swedish Meatballs cooked by the fabulous Chef Daniel of Goteburg.A stopover was had in London on the way home for a final weekend jaunt with great friends,

and some last dash shopping, architecture critiquing at Canary Wharf and quality British tv watching.
Arriving home in Melbourne late at night, this was my morning walk in glorious late summer sunshine the next day.

Later that day, one of my most favourite bands ever happened to be playing in Melbourne!

Rather a lovely welcome home, thanks Melbourne.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Got a little more serious today...

Things got a little more serious in north Mitrovica today, when the UN tried to take control back of the courthouse that was overtaken on Friday.

There have been reports on BBC and CNN of thousands of protesters stepping up the violence with grenades, rifle fire, molotov cocktail and firecrackers.
The pictures are certainly a bit worrying with direct attacks on the courthouse and tanks. Several injuries are reported, around 40 UN Police and 12 Kfor troops.

The UN police have pulled out and NATO-KFOR is now keeping the tense peace.

Today marks an anniversary of serious ethnic violence across Kosovo in 2004 and is the one month anniversary of the declaration of Independence by Kosovo's majority Albanian government.

I've just watched (from my apartment window) a long line of tanks and trucks from the French KFOR camp in south Mitrovica pull out into the street and drive off - perhaps heading north for reinforcement/replacement?

Things in the south are basically quiet and business as usual, and I was glad to be in another town all day in workshops that kept me from most of the news, but I imagine its not just me that is a bit on edge.
I am rather glad to be leaving next week I must say.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snipers, Protests, Railways

Just days after my first Kosovo train adventure (from Pristina to Skopje) things have gotten a bit complicated with the railways here, with Serbia taking back control of part of the network in the north of Kosovo and stopping trains from travelling north of Mitrovica.

They claim "the move will ensure better quality of transport, and noted that the railway company operating there under UNMIK's jurisdiction since 1999 was unable to perform according to the SŽ standards. "

Protests are underway at the Zvecan railway station, and also continue at the court house in north Mitrovica, with people demanding that both institutions, and their employees jobs, be returned to Serbian jurisdiction.
photo credit:
"It is in line with the Belgrade government's instructions to the Serbian minority to shun any contact with Kosovo's government after it declared independence two weeks ago, and to work directly with Serbia instead"
The security situation has been changing each day, but there has been regular restrictions of movement for internationals. After being told movement in north was safe yesterday, I had planned to drive to the office by the east road past the community centre. For various reasons I didn't, and I'm glad as there were reports of sniper fire aimed at the centre.

These events follow several weeks of bubbling unrest, daily protests, small but effective explosions and the expulsion of many international organisations including the new EU mission.

Intimidation by the bridge watchers has continued, with even foreign journalists receiving the nasty 'kosovo kiss'.

It is hard to see any end to this, though the daily protests have been getting smaller there seems to be something new each day to increase the tensions and fuel the anger. It is clear that neither side is willing to change its position, but how long can this go on?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What people are wearing in Mitrovica

Photo Credit - Reuters/Yahoo

We are still being advised not to travel in north Mitrovica, so I can't get close enough to take photos myself.
But apparently what people are wearing are Serbian military hats - at least when attending a rally to protest that is.

The rallies in north Mitrovica have been relatively peaceful and calm, a few thousand people utilising their right to demonstrate.
Every day for six days so far.

Will they have enough outfits to keep it up much longer?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The atmosphere in Mitrovica is now tense to say the least:

Reuters reports that NATO steps in as Serbs torch Kosovo border post
"NATO peacekeepers in newly independent Kosovo intervened on Tuesday as Serb mobs opposed to its secession attacked border posts and police fled."
This was apparantly a reaction to a plan to erect Kosovo flags at the border points today.

BBC reported about the protests and small explosions
"As they marched they took up the children's chant: "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia"
B92 reports more about Explosions in northern Kosovo
"A Kosovo police spokesman confirmed that the blasts took place, one at the OSCE mission offices in Kosovska Mitrovica, that caused minor damage to the building and vehicles parked outside.

The second explosion took place in another Serb town in the northern part of the province, Zvečan, when unknown perpetrators set two UN vehicles on fire.

The third incident took place in northern Kosovska Mitrovica in the neighborhood of Bošnjačka Mahala, when a device exploded in a yard, causing damage to a house, a garage and a private car. "

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pavarësia - Independence

Even Australia's Prime Minister Rudd is backing the declaration of independence by Kosovo.

The ABC news site goes so far as to claim that
"The Federal Government has formally recognised the independence of Kosovo..."

Protests are occurring today in Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, including north Mitrovica, and Belgrade has seen violence directed at embassies and consulates of countries supporting the declaration.

The South East European Times writes that Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica
called on Serbian citizens "to come together and show the whole world that we do not acknowledge the creation of a false state on our territory"
Last night saw explosions in north Mitrovica at property associated with the UN and the incoming EU mission.

But the south part of the city is quiet, and celebrations last night were quite subdued in comparison with the capital, Pristina. Posters urged "Celebrate with dignity for a good beginning"