European Union Special Representative to Kosovo, Samuel Zbogar said that the EU mission supports Kosovo's European path. "For this purpose it was decided for the...

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Putting news on Kosovo / Kosova in perspective. Analyzing trends, major developments and less talked about aspects of Kosovo.
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As a Republican, I voted with President Clinton consistently in our efforts to bail out our European friends in Kosovo to stop genocide. I am proud of those votes. I am proud of President Clinton for that.
-Gordon Smith, US Politician

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The politics of religion in Kosovo

Posted on April 01, 2013
The Politics of Religion in Kosovo

By Besnik Sinani –Respectable international news outlets keep telling us time and time again that Kosovo is the heartland of Serb spiritual heritage, the location of Serb medieval monasteries. Despite this being a relatively late Serbian claim, appearing in the 1800s with the advent of Serb nationalism, it is striking how churches of a universalistic religion like Christianity have become signposts of nationalism. The Serb Orthodox Church in Kosovo has maintained the same role that the former communist leader and butcher of the Balkans, Slobodan Milosevic, had assigned to the Church when he was arousing the flames of the future Balkan wars of the 1990s. This is the worst case scenario of mingling religion and politics.

The Serbs, however, are not the only ones who are politicizing religion in Kosovo. A controversial Catholic cathedral is currently being built in Prishtina. This project had from its beginning the extraordinary support of the late Kosovar president, Ibrahim Rugova, whose office was decorated with the picture of him with the Pope. Catholicism, the religion of less than 10% of the Albanian population of Kosovo, is being marketed politically in attempts to show a perceived cultural shift of Muslim Kosovars towards the West, mediated by Catholicism. This process of political marketing of Catholicism was referred to recently by the Bishop of the Catholic Church in Kosovo, dom Dode Gjergji, as “cultural baptism.”

This political marketing of Catholicism necessarily requires downplaying the presence of Islam in Kosovo. Following debates among devout Kosovars in internet forums, it is common to notice the dissatisfaction with the leaders of the Kosovar Muslim Community, for not reacting more aggressively in response to this “cultural baptism.” There has been at least one attempt from a political party, the Party of Justice, to capitalize on Muslim dissatisfaction. However, one is left to believe that in the last elections the Party of Justice was unsuccessful in attracting large sections of devout voters.

One of the main reactions to the current climate of politics of religion in Kosovo among many Muslims has been the embrace of forms of piety which promote detachment from the cultural, political, and social life of the society, Salafism. Contrary to a common held view, most forms of Salafism are apolitical. However, these are forms of visible piety and they clash with the attempts of the political and cultural establishment of Kosovo to shove visible signs of Muslim piety under the rug, fearing loss of much needed Western support.

Kosovar society aims at building a pluralistic, democratic, and secular new state. The promotion of religious identities as political identities creates the conditions for what French supporters of laicite would call the Balkanization of the society. If current conditions persist, institutions of Orthodox Christianity that play the tunes of Serb nationalism will be seen as a Serb Trojan horse in Kosovo.

Embracing Catholicism to serve as a European political ID card undermines the values of governance and secularism that are the hallmark of those same European models that Kosovo leaders wish to emulate. It also undermines the social cohesion of a newly created country. Ironically, the current American administration, as well as that of President Clinton, has emphasized the Muslimness of the Kosovars in attempts to show that America’s wars in the Middle East are not directed towards Islam.

The current forms of the Kosovo Muslim piety will affect negatively both the society and the interests of the Muslim community in Kosovo. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to see that the government of Kosovo creates a climate of freedom of religious expression while refraining from political manipulation of religions. It is the best bet in seeing a celebration of diversity of spiritual traditions, rather than political fragmentations of the kind that have enflamed Balkan history.

Watch-American-Idol-Online

The 16-year old Kosovar student who currently lives in New York, daughter of refugee parents, gave a moving audition on American Idol 2011.

 

Melinda’s mum talked about the experiences they have had, and bursting into tears she admitted that the memories still make her cry, adding “this is home now, of course. We make our home…American for life”.

Melinda then said she is glad to live the American dream. After entering the audition room, she performed If I Ain’t Got you in front of Jeniffer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson.

Here are the comments from the judges:

Steve Tyler: “I like that you’re very pretty and beautiful and play it down and your singing was sweet and straight and beautiful.”

Randy Jackson: “I think you’ve got potential and I am going to say yes.”

Jennifer Lopez: “Now you’re here you can live the American dream.”

Melinda embarked on a journey to Hollywood after receiving three yeses. /unrealitytv.com/

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NEW YORK, JANUARY 24, 2011 – Lonely Planet, a renowned travel guide, recently listed Albania first on its top-10 list of countries to visit in 2011. Its latest edition of Best in Travel, states that not so long ago, when the Balkans was considered a travel destination “only for the brave,” only the bravest of the brave trickled into Albania.

Since backpackers started coming to this elusive country in the 1990s, tales have been told of Albania’s azure beaches, excellent cuisine, heritage sites, nightlife, affordable adventures, and the possibility of old-style, unplanned journeys complete with open-armed locals for whom travelers are still a novelty. The jig is almost up—Albania won’t be off the beaten path for much longer, claims this report. While some Albanians may be a bit surprised to find their country listed as the number-one recommended destination, they know that they are endowed with a beautiful country, and its hardworking people have done a lot over the past 20 years to advance it.

News about Albanians’ achievements is not rare anymore; just a couple of days ago in Washington, the Albanian-America Enterprise Fund (AAEF), unlike some other funds in undeveloped nations, returned $15 million to American taxpayers. This is not a typo—on Wednesday, January 19, the fund’s Board of Directors presented a ceremonial check for $15 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to be returned to the U.S. Treasury. In addition to achieving exceptional developmental impact in Albania, AAEF also achieved extraordinary financial return on their investments in Albania and now was ready to repay with much gratitude 50 percent of the original grant back to the U.S. The remainder, together with all the earnings, will be transferred to the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF), a newly created legacy organization. Kudos to Albania for being such a good partner of the Fund and to the USAID and the American people for making it possible.

News such as the aforementioned examples makes every Albanian proud and provides an incentive for them to work hard to make
Albania the rose garden of the Balkans. However, the spirits of all Albanians were dampened and their friends around the world were disappointed last week, when they heard the news of violenkosovo-flag-1t demonstrations out in front of the offices of Albanian Prime Minister Mr. Sali Berisha. On Friday, January 21, antigovernment demonstrators clashed with police and the National Guard in front of the Prime Minister’s office. The confrontation turned violent; three protesters were killed and a dozen more were injured, mostly police. The international community and the Albanian Diaspora strongly denounced the violence that occurred and offered their condolences to the families of the victims who needlessly lost their lives.

The rally was organized by the government’s main opponent, the Socialist Party (SP), and its leader Edi Rama. Rallies and protests by the SP are nothing new; the SP has been staging them ever since the party was defeated in Albania’s 2009 national elections and also lost the opportunity to take part in its coalition government. The SP was outperformed and outmaneuvered by a smaller rival, the Socialist Movement for Integration Party (SMI), which joined the Democratic Party (DP) to form a coalition government. Feeling left out, Edi Rama, the head of the SP and Mayor of Tirana, challenged the election results by alleging electoral fraud and called for officials to open up ballot boxes, even though the results had already been certified by an election committee and international observers.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) described these elections as progress over past elections and found that the elections met most OSCE standards. Failing to accomplish his objective—primarily because he insisted on doing it his own way and not the normal way through proper channels and responsible institutions—Rama abandoned calling for the boxes to be opened; instead he is now calling for new elections over what the SP sees as election fraud and widespread government corruption.

Apparently this was the theme of the January 21 rally, but there is now a widespread belief that the actual intent of last Friday’s demonstrations was to overthrow the government. The rally turned violent when hundreds of protesters began assaulting riot police with stones, sticks, and Molotov bombs. Smoke rose from burning cars and police vehicles. Police responded with tear gas, water guns, and stun grenades; gun fire was heard when some protesters tried to storm the government building.

Similar events are not rare around the world; they happen often in democratically run governments. Perhaps this news would not have received much attention in countries with strong democratic institutions because those institutions have the strength and know-how to deal with these types of situations swiftly and effectively. Not too long ago, there was a disturbance among students in England over proposed increases to university tuition fees. In London approximately 50,000 students attended demonstrations where violent riots broke out around Conservative Party offices in Millbank Tower. Over one million pounds worth of damages was sustained while students wrecked havoc upon the party offices. Before the riots, the media and England’s older generation were, on the whole, sympathetic to the students. But this violent behavior changed all that. A most important lesson learned from this event was that this demonstration—which was intended to be peaceful—was hijacked by only a small group of troublemakers. The president of the National Union of Students later said he was “disgusted that the actions of the minority of idiots are trying to undermine 50,000 who came to make a peaceful protest”.

Peaceful protesting can engender change. But violence can cause a shift in attitudes, away from compassion for and toward the condemnation of a demonstrating group. I am sure that most Albanian citizens who belong to the SP did not attend last week’s rally with intentions of overthrowing their government. It was only a group of hooligans who, on their own accord or acting in concert with internal or external factors tried to undermine the Albanian government and decided to wreak havoc. Citizens of Albania, regardless of their political affiliations, should unanimously condemn the violence that occurred and be disgusted with the unlawful actions committed by a small group whose character is inconsistent with that of this great nation.

A similar event happened here in the United States in September 2008 during the last presidential election. At least 250 people were arrested outside the Republican National Convention as police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse rioters who were attacking property and blocking roads in protest of the war in Iraq. Rioters came by the thousands—grandmothers, veterans, young families, even disgruntled Republicans bearing banners and peace flags to demand an end to the five-year conflict. For the most part, the demonstrations were peaceful. But once the main antiwar march had finished, splinter groups embarked on a violent rampage, smashing windows, slashing car tires, throwing bottles, and even attacking Republican delegates attending the convention at The Xcel Center nearby.

Many of those involved in the riot identified themselves to reporters as anarchists. These protesters, some clad in black, wreaked havoc by damaging property and starting at least one fire. The Minnesota National Guard sent 150 soldiers to help police quash the riots, which flared as delegates were assembling in St. Paul for the four-day meeting. Many were arrested and at least 119 faced possible felony charges. At least four journalists were among those detained, including an Associated Press photographer. The antiwar march was organized by a group called the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, the leaders of which said they hoped for a peaceful, family-friendly event. But police were on high alert after months of preparations by a self-described anarchist group called the RNC Welcoming Committee, which was not among the organizers of the march. Security was tight in St. Paul in order to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes seen at the 2004 Republican convention in New York City, where more than 1,800 people were arrested. This time snipers looked on from nearby buildings and a helicopter hovered overhead as some 10,000 surged through the streets during St. Paul’s main march. Countries with strong democratic institutions like the United States have the means and know-how to deal with troublemakers.

Similar events occur in the U.S. and around the globe; however the two examples mentioned above should suffice in highlighting some important lessons about peaceful demonstrators. First and foremost, organizers should be very careful not to cross the line and become violent; otherwise, their demonstration will no longer be considered an exercise of their freedom of expression, but rather a violation of civil laws subject to swift justice and punishment. Second, organizers should not have a hidden agenda or undertake actions which are contrary to those of their democratically organized society. The government, through its specifically established institutions concerned with the enforcement of law and order, has the responsibility to protect its citizens, including the demonstrators. Equally so, the government has the responsibility to protect the property of the state, as such property does not belong to any one political party but rather to all citizens of that country. To quote Earnest Gellner, the famous philosopher and social anthropologist, “The state exists where specialized order-enforcing agencies, such as police forces and courts, have separated from the rest of the social life”.

Max Weber, a principal architect of modern social science and arguably the foremost social theorist of the twentieth century, defines a state as “that agency within the society which possesses the monopoly of legitimate violence.” The idea behind this is simple: in well-ordered societies that most of us either live in or aspire to live in, private or sectional violence is illegitimate. Conflict as such is actually legitimate, but it cannot rightfully be resolved by private or sectional violence. Violence may be applied only by the central political authority and its agencies established for maintaining law and order. Among the various sanctions of the maintenance of order, the ultimate sanction—force—may be applied only by a clearly identified, well centralized, and disciplined agency within a given society. That agency (or group of agencies) is the government or the state. Most members of modern societies agree with the theory enshrined in here: that only governments should exercise force.

The purpose of highlighting this important distinction between authorized and unauthorized force is to differentiate between the actions taken by the Albanian police and the National Guard vis-à-vis the violence perpetrated by the demonstrators that led to the death of three people and injuries sustained by more than two dozen people, mostly police. Yet most of the statements issued by foreign embassies and other international agencies with branches in Tirana fail to make this clarification with respect to violence.

Essentially, most foreign embassies and agencies said something similar to: “Violence and excessive use of force cannot be justified and should be avoided.” On the surface, this statement seems acceptable; however, when taking into consideration the evolution of this conflict and the violence displayed by the demonstrators, such a statement is ambiguous at best and in essence troublesome. There is a distinction between the warranted actions of the police and the illegal and threatening actions of the demonstrators. While the police were trying to protect all citizens and the government, the hooligans were trying to overthrow the government. What kind of democratic government would Albania’s be if it was taken by force? The history of the world is full of such examples and none of them are pretty. I am wondering how many of these diplomats can offer the same advice to their respective governments. Perhaps it is this kind of ambiguity that contributed to the escalation of this problem dating back two years to Albania’s last national election.

There is nothing wrong with contesting election results, especially if there are observable violations. Filing a complaint is well within the purview of law; but then you have to allow the legal system to resolve the issue once and for all. Who can forget the contested outcome of the 2000 presidential election in the United States? In Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the system devised by the Florida Supreme Court to recount the votes cast in the state during that election violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Because there was no time to create a system that was fair to both candidates, the Supreme Court effectively stopped the recount in its tracks, allowing George W. Bush of Texas to become the 43rd president of the United States. Bush v. Gore was a 36-day drama of the highest order, captivating the world’s attention as the U.S. judicial system was ensnared in a whirlwind of power politics.

The Republican presidential candidate clinging to a slim lead that seemed to dwindle by the day, if not by the hour, while the Democratic candidate kept forging ahead, trying to build momentum to eclipse his rival. At the same time, the nation witnessed two legal teams doing whatever they could to secure what their respective candidates felt they rightly deserved. Having lost the nation’s popular vote by approximately 500,000 votes, Bush still managed to defeat Gore in Florida by a mere 537 votes and capture that state’s 25 electoral votes, enough to win the Electoral College and the presidency. Once the ruling was issued, Gore accepted defeat and pursued other interests, accepting Bush as the nation’s president and as his president. The outcome of this election, including the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, may not have been fair to Gore, but the Supreme Court has the final say in any contested issue in this country; once the ruling is made, the case is closed.

The standoff has caused Albania a lot of damage, hampered economic development, and underscored its democratic credentials.

The European Union rejected Albania’s application to become an official candidate to join the organization, saying that Albania should first establish a functioning democracy and fight corruption. Yes, there is corruption in Albania and a lot more needs to be done to rid it of this infectious disease. But Albania is not more corrupt than some other countries in the Balkans—or in Eastern Europe, for that matter—that have already become EU members or whose applications have been conditionally accepted.

It is beyond doubt that the standoff between Prime Minister Berisha and Socialist Party leader Edi Rama—which has become a personal vendetta rather than a political issue—has caused the European Union to reject Albania’s application to join. No one can blame the EU for this action; the blame rests with the two main thespians in this ugly and sad saga. Some blame rests also with the Parliament and all the political parties that have become unable to rule the country and have degraded its civility institutions in which they serve by allowing a vocabulary of hooligans, inflammatory language, and disrespect for each other as elected officials, colleagues and human beings. Albanians are decent people, proud of their heritage and culture, proud of how they were able to govern themselves back when there was no written law or organized institutions, just an unwritten tribal law called Kanuni. Albanians are smart and hardworking, worthy of their country and worthy of acceptance into the European Union. Unfortunately, some of Albania’s elected officials are not worthy of their offices.

The freedom to express one’s opinion is a fundamental principle within a democratic system. Without it, the public would not be able to voice its opinions and hold its government and public officials accountable for their actions. However, even in developed democracies, including the United States, there are limits as to how far one can go in exercising this freedom. Acting in the name of a suspicion or belief, an idea or cause does not allow a person to attack the freedoms of others and the state institutions that belong to all. The events that took place in Tirana in front of the Prime Minister’s offices are a brutal reminder of the distinction between participating in a demonstration and participating in a riot.

The freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are enshrined as fundamental rights in the Albanian Constitution; but I wonder how many people comprehend the true meaning of these words and the true meaning of democracy in general. While democracy may be the most just form of the government it does not always guaranty justice. We have all heard Winston Churchill’s famous quipped about democracy “the worse form of government, except for all other forms that have been tried from time to time”. That is why framers of modern constitutions usually put checks and balances on majority rule. In any democracy worthy of its name, the minority or the opposition will always see things differently and claim injustice; however, the question is whether law-breaking is an appropriate response to perceived injustice.

As I read statements and press releases regarding the situation in Albania, it was such a pleasure to read the transcript of the press conference held by the U.S. Ambassador to Albania, Mr. Alexander Arvizu. I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Ambassador Arvizu and form an opinion about him, but I found his comments to be well balanced, thoughtful and considerate. I found his message to be unambiguous and direct, something that Albanians have not recently seen coming from the U.S. Embassy. Albanians consider the United States to be their greatest ally and rightfully welcomed this change. In this spirit, a visit to Albania by a senior official from the Obama administration would certainly help calm down the situation. Albanians have high admiration for the United States, and at this time of crisis words of advice from Washington would be welcomed and deeply appreciated by the government and the people of Albania.

Here is a statement from Ambassador Arvizu’s statements: “Yesterday [January 21, 2011] was a terrible day for Albania. I know Albanians across the country are very troubled by the day’s events. The same holds true for people in the United States and elsewhere who only want the best for Albania and its hardworking people who have done so much to advance this country over the past 20 years. As we have said many times, the right to free assembly comes with an obligation to do everything possible to ensure that it is peaceful. The violence that we witnessed was not necessary. Nor was it inevitable. It could have been avoided. It must be prevented from happening again, for the sake of all Albanians. It is important to remember that Albania is a democratic country and a member of the NATO alliance. Albania has come a long way. Albania has democratic institutions in place. They may not be perfect, in fact, and there are some areas for improvement. But, there are democratic structures in place and they need to be given a chance to perform and to function. In my statement earlier, I went into a bit more detail than we usually do as to what we mean by compromise. Compromise and negotiation means you have to give something up, even if it is something that you believe is right. You have to obviously stick to your principles, what we call a bottom line, which is difficult to negotiate. But that does not mean taking maximalist positions and not budging from it. That is what I mean by trying to find some common ground.”

We in the Diaspora, and, I believe, that Albanian people in general, agree wholeheartedly with Ambassador Arvizu. The challenge is now to have Albania’s political elite hold their breath and heed the wise words of Arvizu and other diplomats and friends around the world. We would simply like to say this to Albania’s elected officials: The Albanian people have put their trust and their country in your hands. Please stop this nonsense and don’t break that trust. If you do, history will judge you harshly.

Here are some suggestions that can help bring this saga to an end, allowing Albania to heal itself and start anew for the sake of good order and of the Albanian people:

1. Effective immediately, cease and desist from making any accusation or derogatory remark, or from using inflammatory language.

2. Until further notice, stop issuing permits for rallies, peaceful or otherwise. If necessary, Parliament should enact a law or the appropriate authority should issue a restraining order to the issuing authority. Albania must first heal from the wounds of so-called peaceful demonstrations before it is safe for citizens to exercise their rights to hold rallies and practice free self-expression.

3. The media and everyone else should respect the judicial process based on the democratic values principle that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. To avoid affecting public opinion in regard to such cases, neither the media nor anyone else should speculate about state evidence against those accused of crimes until prosecutors and other relevant institutions have had the opportunity to gather all the evidence necessary and the trial has begun.

4. Neither political parties nor anyone else should tamper with evidence or obstruct prosecutors’ and other agencies’ efforts to gather evidence and complete the investigation related to the riots in Tirana. Those responsible should be held fully accountable for what transpired on January 21, and those who broke the law should face justice..

5. All political parties should make an effort to help strengthen Albania’s fledging democratic institutions; they don’t belong just to the parties in the government but to all the parties and the people of Albania. Most importantly, they should be given a chance to perform their duties and to function as democratic institutions.

6. The political parties and the people of Albania should focus more on the upcoming national elections of 2013, which are a lot more important than Albania’s last elections. Many changes can be made on that day, but only the voters should decide what changes they want to bring about. That is also the rightful and legal way for the opposition to try to unseat the current government, not through violence in the streets.

7. Political parties and the people of Albania should pay special attention to pervasive corruption that has infected the whole country. Fighting against corruption does not start by pointing fingers at each other or making accusations, regardless of whether they are true or not; nor does it start by organizing street demonstrations that ironically are most likely funded through corruption. Albanians and their political parties should adopt a universal zero-tolerance policy against corruption and free the economy from its corrosive effects. Only by strengthening the rule of law and allowing prosecutors and other institutions to do their jobs will the country will rid itself of corruption.

8. Now is the right time for all political party members and those who serve other government functions to reassess their conduct and rededicate themselves to the service of their country and the interests of the Albanian people. Anyone who does not share in these objectives, or is more interested in life’s material aspects, should get out of politics and pursue those other interests. The voters should pay special attention and evaluate the performance of their elected officials. The voters are the most powerful force in Albania; their vote is the judge and the jury, and if they vote consciously and objectively during the next election, they can replace all the undesirable officials. Voters should start organizing now; they have two years to go through their evaluation process before they make their final decisions.

9. Now is also the right time for the intellectual elite of Albania to get more proactively involved in Albanian affairs for the good of the country and not for the sake of comradeship with the political elite. Perhaps the events that took place on that dreadful Friday should serve as a wake-up call. Albania has a lot of smart people, but they are either silenced or playing whatever tunes the media wants them to in order to keep their own faces in the public spotlight. It is time for those independent Albanian thinkers and scholars to pay greater attention to the Albanian cause than to collecting prizes and accolades. There is no greater or nobler prize than helping your nation.

10. It is time for Albanian politicians, governmental institutions, and the Albanian citizenry as a whole to get rid of the vulgar vocabulary that has evolved in recent years. Albanians are proud of their structured heritage and high family and moral values. Vulgarity and indecent language does not belong in Albania: not in its families, not in its governmental institutions, and not in its society—let’s get rid of it. The Parliament should enact a law requiring every governmental institution to prepare and implement a Code of Conduct, outlining what is acceptable conduct and what is not.

11. It is also time for Albanians from all walks of life to address the environmental issue and keep Albania clean and beautiful. God has endowed this country with much natural beauty. And as mentioned at the beginning of this article, Albania ranks as the number one country to visit in 2011. It would be immoral and a shame to ruin this beautiful country. Either the citizenry or the government should lead an initiative to formulate a policy concerning the environment and ecological systems, providing for sustainable development and ecotourism. But most important, keep the environment clean and healthy for your sake, the sake of your children, and generations to come.

12. Lastly, the Albanian people should not allow recent events or any other unpleasant event shake its confidence, self-respect, or ability to self-govern. It’s been said that the 21st century in the Balkans belongs to the Albanians, just like the 20th century belonged to the Slavs. Despite the growing pains and small obstacles along the way, Albanians will indeed play a leading role in the geopolitics and economic development of the region. Albanians deserve this honor not because of any specific or genetic abilities to lead, but because throughout their history, they never occupied or threatened another nation. To the contrary, Albanians are peaceful, loving, generous, and caring people, always putting others’ interests before their own. It is debatable whether this is a good or smart trait to possess, but it is true. Perhaps because not all their neighbors share these values, Albanians should be vigilant toward those who may want to directly or indirectly weaken the Albanian nation. Notwithstanding the facts that Albanians are spread across six Balkan countries, there is only one Albanian nation—and it is over 7 million strong.

May God bless Albania, and Albanians wherever they are.

——

*Cafo Boga is a renowned activist of the Albanian community in the United States.

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The second meeting of the Forum for Technical Information Exchange on Cultural Heritage was held yesterday at the Museum of Kosovo.

The Forum aims at bringing stakeholders in the field of cultural heritage together to facilitate information exchange. It will support relevant Kosovo authorities to meet their European Perspective challenges – thereby also enhancing the long-term sustainability of all Cultural Heritage sites in the Republic of Kosovo.The discussions in this second meeting of the Forum focused on the preservation and development of the Historic Centre of Prizren and underlined its potential as one of the richest and culturally most diverse cities in Kosovo.

The Forum touched upon the ongoing and planned projects on Prizren, the municipality’s vision for the future of the historic centre as well as the responsibilities of the various institutions – especially the local Institute of Protection of Monuments – when it comes to Cultural Heritage in Kosovo.

The next meeting of the Forum will take place around mid April.

The Forum is an initiative of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Kosovo in cooperation with the European Commission Liaison Office and the Office of the European Union Special Representative.

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The author of one of the funniest ads ever published about the car make ‘YUGO’, an American from Los Angeles, has received a series of death threats originating from citizens of Serbia.

 

“Serbs do not know how to joke” said the author of the funny announcement that made a boom around the world.

When he created this advertisement in an attempt to find a potential buyer for his ‘YUGO’ which he owns since 1988, the 43-year old American never thought this would hurt many Serbs.

He told journalists that he had no bad intentions, just to be funny.

“I have been told that I have shown a sense of humor since first grade – but many Serbs have experienced this ad as something personal” the American told a journalist from Belgrade’s ‘Politika’ newspaper. He refused to give his name as he is a family person, while the death threats he received he does not consider as jokes.

“I have really received a lot of e-mails, and nearly half of them contain racist insults (at the expense of Americans), vulgar expressions and other bad words, including death threats. Serbs have no idea what humor is”, said the 43-year old American, who’s originally from Israel./kohaditore/

The ad can be found HERE

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Republic of Somalia has recognized today, on May 19, officially the Republic of Kosovo as and independent and sovereign state said in a statement the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo.

In a diplomatic note addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somalia confirms the decision of the Government of the Republic of Somalia to recognize Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state.

Diplomatic note further stated that the decision was taken based on the official request for recognition signed by the President of Republic of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu.

Also, the note said that the government of Somalia is aware of the vital contribution that the Republic of Kosovo has for the stability and peaceful coexistence in the Balkans.

Somalia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti  to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia  to the west with territory of 637,661 km2.
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Time For Israel To Recognize Kosovo

Posted on May 13, 2010

For the case of Kosovo is ultimately a moral and historical one, and Jerusalem’s failure on this score, therefore, is all the more regrettable.

by Yonatan Touval

Four years ago this Friday, on Friday, February 17, 2008, the Republic of Kosovo declared its independence. This move, which followed years of failed international efforts to broker a compromise settlement between Kosovo and Serbia, won wide international recognition by all the major Western powers, including the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and France. Not, however, by Israel. Indeed, four years later, Israel has yet to recognize the Balkan republic. And while there are undoubtedly more pressing issues on Jerusalem’s foreign policy agenda, its failure to recognize Kosovo constitutes not only a needless diplomatic error, but a moral and historical failing as well.

It is a needless diplomatic error because, contrary to what Jerusalem thinks, such recognition will not undermine its own strategic interests. In fact, it might even advance them. The source of the error lies in a misplaced anxiety that, since Kosovo is often compared to Palestine, the diplomatic standing of the former might have dangerous implications for Jerusalem on the latter. The most anxiety-inducing implications concern the following:

– A Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence: The Palestinians have threatened to declare their independence, and in the past year have sought to obtain international recognition for their statehood. Jerusalem fears that the case of Kosovo makes for a dangerous precedent, and that its own recognition of the Balkan republic would undercut its case against Palestinian independence.

– Internal Palestinian secession: Jerusalem worries that recognition of Kosovo might help establish a universally applicable precedent for unilateral secession, one that could encourage Israel’s internal Palestinian minority in, say, the Galilee, to secede. (On this, Jerusalem is not alone: Other countries that have withheld recognition from Kosovo – notably within the European Union: Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania – all share the same anxiety. ).

– The validity of an internationally imposed solution: Since Kosovo’s independence was imposed on Serbia from the outside, Jerusalem is apprehensive lest a perception of success on Kosovo bolster the resolve of the international community to try and impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this context, Israel’s recognition of Kosovo might undermine its long-held resistance to such a diplomatic initiative.

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There are other types of anxieties as well, including the deeply phobic one that recognition of a predominantly Muslim republic would boost the spread of global Islam. As one right-wing member of Knesset argued in the Hebrew press following Kosovo’s declaration in 2008, “The flag of Kosovo is that of Islamic proliferation and a source of serious anxiety to Europe.”

Jerusalem’s non-recognition of Kosovo, in other words, has not been a function of a simple diplomatic lapse. It reflects instead a deliberate decision, one fueled by deep anxieties of various kinds. As it happens, these anxieties are entirely misplaced.

For one thing, as Jerusalem should know all too well, international diplomacy is primarily a function of high politics, not legal precedence. As the past few months alone have demonstrated, the case of Kosovo has had no bearing on the Palestinian bid for international recognition, not even in the wake of the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law. Israel’s leading friends in the international community – which, incidentally, were also the first to recognize Kosovo – opposed the Palestinian bid at the United Nations Security Council.

Even Albania, whose commitment to Kosovo is rooted in a shared ethnic identity (Kosovo’s population is overwhelmingly ethnically Albanian) and which lobbies on its behalf on the world stage, has had no qualms about coming out against the Palestinian bid. The Albanian prime minister publicly announced as much on a visit to Israel this past November. The irrelevance of the Kosovo case for the Palestinian UN bid has gone in the opposite direction as well. Some of the very powers that supported Palestine’s statehood bid remain adamantly opposed to Kosovo’s independence, not least Russia and China, the main opponents of Kosovo’s admission to the United Nations in the Security Council.

Incidentally, this alone should ring alarm bells in Jerusalem: Although no Western power is likely to bother to convey its “disgust” at the failure of these nations to recognize Kosovo, Jerusalem should be cognizant of the camp it has joined.

For the case of Kosovo is ultimately a moral and historical one, and Jerusalem’s failure on this score, therefore, is all the more regrettable. Arising out of one of the worst genocidal atrocities on the European continent since World War II, Kosovo’s demand for self-determination is one that Israel cannot afford to ignore. If anything, a country that never fails to invoke the Holocaust to justify its existence should have been at the forefront of the international campaign to recognize Kosovo’s independence. To mark Kosovo’s fourth anniversary, Israel has an opportunity to right a wrong and to recognize Kosovo. It is an act that Israel owes not only to Kosovo; it owes it also to the Jewish people. /haaretz.com/

Yonatan Touval is a foreign policy analyst and member of the board at Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti in Paris has informed the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in Paris, through a diplomatic note, that the Government of Djibouti has recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

In the letter signed by the Foreign Minister of Djibouti, Mahmud All Youssouf, it states, amongst other comments, that, “The Government of the Republic of Djibouti has decided to recognize Kosovo’s independence”.

Today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, Skender Hyseni, has written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Djibouti, Mahmud All Youssouf, whom he has thanked for this recognition, as well as expressing his readiness to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Djibouti is a country in the Horn of Africa, with territory twice the size of Kosovo.

Djibouti is the 68th UN country to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

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Vanuatu recognizes Kosovo independence

Posted on April 14, 2010

The Republic of Vanuatu recognized the Republic of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state, says the official letter of the Vanuatu Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade sent to the Republic of Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Vanuatu is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean with territory slightly bigger than Kosovo, total of 12,189km2.

Vanuatu is the 67th UN country that recognizes Kosovo as and independent and sovereign state.

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New Zealand recognizes Kosovo independence

Posted on October 13, 2009
New Zealand recognizes Kosovo as an independent and sovereign country through an act of establishment of diplomatic relations, informs the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo.

Recognition is done through the act of establishment of diplomatic relations, respectively, through agreement for the accreditation of Mr. Muhamet Hamiti as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to New Zealand, resident in London.

Notification has come today by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, through a diplomatic note sent to the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Skender Hyseni.

New Zealand becomes the 63rd country that recognizes Kosovo’s independence.

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Posted on October 13, 2009

President of the Republic of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu, has congratulated the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, on the occasion of winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I want to use this opportunity, on behalf of the people and institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, to commend your excellency for receiving the restigious Nobel Prize for Peace. This award is testimony to your success as a leader of a free country aimed at creating a safer and more peaceful world.”

The worlds newest state, Republic of Kosovo – says Sejdiu – has received this news with joy and with high respect and admiration of your Excellency, joining in the celebration of this important event.

“For us who have benefited directly from your country’s commitment to guarantee freedom of peoples around the world, choosing you as Nobel Laureate for Peace is a sign that indicates that there is hope and support to all those who believe in freedom, but that can not win it without the help of others.”

“Now that you have received this honor and great responsibility, I am convinced it will not weaken your efforts to promote freedom and democracy worldwide and to make the world safer for all of us. As the people of Kosovo appreciate the invaluable contribution the United States of America have given to the people of the Republic of Kosovo, you can count that we will support you in all your efforts in this direction,” continues the congratulatory letter.

“In anticipation of continued enforcement of a special relationship between our two countries, I once again express my congratulation to Your Excellency and I assure you my highest considerations”, ends the letter.

RTK, Kosovo TV public broadcaster, has showed on Tuesday evening exclusive video records of three Serb spies in action while trying to persuade people to offer false testimonies in exchange for money. The conversations, probably made by the Kosovo Police surveillance teams, clearly show the Serbian spies while they offered large amounts of money in exchange of false testimonies on organ transplants. They said that they would pay for one testimony up to 100,000 Euros.

The following is an unofficial translation of the footage which can also be found in YouTube and in the RTK website.

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Dominican-Republic-recognizes-Kosovo

Posted on July 13, 2009
The Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo confirmed today that  “the Dominican Republic has recognized the Republic of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state.”

The recognition was confirmed by the Dominican Republic Secretariat for International Relations which decision was made yesterday on July 10th.  “The Government of the Dominican Republic, based on the constitutional authority and in line with policies and international laws for recognition of states has decided to recognize the independent Republic of Kosovo,” says in the letter sent to Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo.

The Dominican Republic has congratulated the Government and people of Kosovo for their achievements and establishment of the institutional structures which enabled the people of Kosovo to have a sovereign country and internationally recognized.

The Foreign Ministry of Kosovo expresses gratitude to institutions and people of the Dominican Republic and will work on intensifying relations with the Dominican Republic aiming to deepen diplomatic relations.

The recognition was also confirmed by the Kosovar influenctal politician and leader of  New Kosovo Alliance (AKR), Behgjet Pacolli earlier yesterday. Pacolli confirmed from a live camera conference from Laussane, Switzerland stating that he has received a telephone call confirming that ” the Dominican Republic has decided to recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign country.”

The Dominican Republic becomes the 62nd country to recognize Kosovo as independent and sovereign state. The Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation with 48,442 km² and an estimated 10. million people.

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Zero Tolerance To Corruption

Posted on May 13, 2009

The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, said Wednesday at the inaugural meeting of the National Anti-Corruption Council, that Kosovo’s institutions must have zero tolerance to corruption.

During her speech, President Jahjaga declared that “the National Council Against Corruption in an initiative and an authoritative mechanism, and a necessary addition to other existing mechanisms”.

According to the President, the Council aims at creating a swift and regular inter-institutional collaboration, at harmonizing and coordinating various tasks, and finally at delivering periodic updates on the results of the fight against corruption.”

“Beware that I, as president of the country, will take every constitutional and legal action that adds to the efficiency and work of our institutions, civil society, media and every citizen so that all can contribute to the common fight against corruption”, said Jahjaga./zeri/

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Uganda Recognizes Kosovo

Posted on May 13, 2009

Uganda has officially recognized the independence of Kosovo.

The news was announced at a press conference today, where Deputy Prime Minister Behgjet Pacolli announced that Uganda has recognized Kosovo’s independence.

Uganda, an African country with more than 30 million inhabitants, is the 88th state that has recognized Kosovo’s independence. This recognition was announced on Kosovo’s fourth birthday.

Pacolli presented the verbal note confirming Uganda’s decision. /koha/

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The European Parliament urges EU countries that have not yet recognized Kosovo independence, to do so.

The European Parliament, in the resolution adopted today, with 424 votes for and 133 against, also welcomed the successful deployment of EULEX throughout Kosovo, including in the north of River Iber, reiterating the rejection of the possibility of the division of Kosovo.

The resolution also states that “the transitional agreements between the UN and the government of Serbia must be re-examined in light of developments in the field, when the EULEX reaches full operational capabilities,” dealing a blow to Serbia’s attempts to limit Kosovo’s soveregnity in the north through the so called six-point talks.

The European Parliament ended the debate about the first anniversary of Kosovo independence on Wednesday.

Most European deputies stressed the importance of territorial integrity of Kosovo by standing firmly against territorial division.  However, a limited number of deputies from Romania and Communist political groups called for a new international conference on Kosovo’s status or to allow the northern part of the country to join Serbia.

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Demonstration, 2nd December

Posted on December 14, 2008
On December 2nd, the day on which EULEX officially begins to operate in Kosovo, the second demonstration against the 6 Point Plan of Ban Ki-moon and for sovereignty is being organized by Lëvizja VETËVENDOSJE!, Çohu, Thirrjet e Nënave, Rrjeti i Grupeve të Grave të Kosovës, Rrjeti Rinor i Kosovës, Aksioni Qytetar FOL’08, Iniciativa për Progres and many other organizations.

This is the statement explaining the goal of our demonstration:

AGAINST THE 6 POINTS, FOR SOVEREIGNTY

The 6 point plan of Ban Ki-moon is being implemented in Kosovo. These 6 points put Serbia deep inside our territory. Kosovo is being internally partitioned, and EULEX will manage this partition. With this plan, the will of the people of Kosovo for an independent state is being violated and the territorial integrity of Kosovo is being endangered. This plan makes it impossible for Kosovo to function as a democratic state and to develop economically.

The mission of EULEX will disembark in Kosovo according to the 6 Point Plan of Ban Ban Ki-moon despite Kosovo’s NO. EULEX is coming to Kosovo under Resolution 1244 and under the umbrella of UNMIK. It is coming after receiving the approval of Serbia, neutral towards status, and so against the independence of Kosovo. EULEX will have executive powers over the institutions of security, rule of law and customs of Kosovo. This mission will not submit to the law and will have immunity from criminal punishment in Kosovo. It will not be accountable to us. Therefore this plan and this Mission should be refused in its entirety and without any compromise. This plan should be refused not only by saying NO, but also by fulfilling the will of the citizens of this country for an independent and sovereign Kosovo. As is defined in Clauses 1.1 and 2.1 of the Constitution where it states that the Republic of Kosovo is an independent state, united and indivisible, and respectively that its sovereignty derives from the people.

We demand to be a normal country, a democratic country where for serious issues the people decide through a referendum. We demand that Kosovo be like other independent countries governed by sovereign institutions chosen by the people, of the people and for the people. The minorities of Kosovo are citizens of Kosovo, their rights are guaranteed by international conventions which apply in Kosovo in their entirety. We want political, economic and social development and progress and not partition and continual negotiations about what Kosovo should be.

The institutions of Kosovo should not have the Ahtisaari Plan as a political position in a time when Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo and maintains parallel structures in Kosovo. This plan divides Kosovo on ethnic lines, and in its institutions and its territory. The 6 points are a supplement to the plan and not in opposition with it.

This country is ours, of all the people of Kosovo, and our responsibility. It is absolutely unacceptable for Kosovo to take permission from Belgrade. The state of Serbia should leave here and never return. The proposal of Serbia incites new partitions in the Balkans.

We invite all the citizens of Kosovo to join us in a demonstration and to oppose in a peaceful manner the 6 points that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo.

We will make our voice be heard! Tuesday, 2nd December, all in Prishtinë.

We will defend the Republic of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign, democratic, united and indivisible state!

Albin Kurti leads the Vetëvendosje! Movement, which opposes the international administration of Kosovo.
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Lt. General Sylejman Selimi

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, appointed yesterday Lieutenant General Sylejman Selimi as the Chief of Staff of the Republic of Kosovo Army, notifies PM’s Press Office.

Lieutenant General Sylejman Selimi is currently the commander of Kosovo Protection Force, which will be dissolved as Kosovo begins to build its first army battalions and take over the current military bases and other strategically important tasks.The signed letter by the Prime Minister has been sent yesterday evening to President of the Republic of Kosovo Fatmir Sejdiu.

Today, President Sejdiu ratified the appointment of Lieutenant General Sylejman Selimi as the Chief of Staff of the Republic of Kosovo Army.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, initially the Kosovo army is expected to have 2500 active troops and 800 reservists. The Kosovo army will be professional, which will reflect ethnic diversity of the people of the Republic of Kosovo and will be recruited from among the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo. The Kosovo army will serve as a national security force for the Republic of Kosovo and may send its members abroad in full conformity with its international responsibilities.The President of the Republic of Kosovo is the Commander-in-Chief of the Kosovo army. The Chief of Staff of the Kosovo army will be appointed by the President of the Republic of Kosovo upon the recommendation of the Government. Internal organization of the Kosovo army will be determined by law.

The six first regulations for Kosovo army, recruiting, code of conduct, bearing and using of weapons, disciplinary code, vacations for the Kosovo army members, and the regulation on emblems and symbols were ratified last week along with the revelation of the army uniforms.

That commander is critical in overseeing the commission for recruiting, where the North Atlantic Alliance is expected to train and assist in the establishment of the newly established Kosovo army.

The age of candidates should be from 18 to 30, up to 25 for NCOs and up to 30 for officers. Further on, the Kosovo army law regulates the operation as a security force in the Republic of Kosovo.

Candidates for the NCO rank must have at least high school education; for officers, university diplomas are required, while for the specialist rank only the qualification certification is required. Meanwhile, intensive training is foreseen for the phase after enlistment in the Kosovo army.

Many NATO members have already given donations to the newly established army and others have pledged to do so in the future as well.

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