A Take on Kosovo

01/31/2008

For a few months now, I’ve been trying to explain my POV on the Kosovo issue to friends, without making much headway. Some of my thoughts on the subject can be found here: Kosovo-Will Serbia go to War. Basically, I disagree with the position that Serbia is not giving up its territory and that it is in no position to have say in whether or rather on what terms the province should have its independence. One of the opposing views is that it is up to Kosovo to win its independence, not up to Serbia to ‘allow’ it.

Today, I came across a blog post by Tony Barber that for the most part puts ever so eloquently the disorganised thoughts running through my head. Here are a few quotes:

…From being top dogs in the multinational Yugoslav communist party, army and bureaucracy, they found themselves either penned into the smaller state of Serbia or converted into ethnic minorities…

…well-known sentiments regarding Kosovo…

…This sense of victimhood persists and blends with more specific grievances about Kosovo. Here it is not so much a question of memories of the Ottoman defeat of the Serbs at the 1389 battle of Kosovo Polje… in the century following Serbia’s recovery of Kosovo in 1912, the ethnic Albanian component of the province’s population has increased to the point that most Serbs can see for themselves that, in demographic terms, the struggle is all but lost…

…and the bit I agree with wholeheartedly…

…The EU is therefore misguided if it thinks it can sugar the pill of Kosovo’s independence with the offer of visas and some subsidised schooling for Serbs at a German or Portuguese university.

…and…

…most Serbs are unlikely to take seriously such well-intentioned foreign attempts to guide them down the path of virtue…

So again, I hope that whether or not Serbia is entitled to a say in the issue of Kosovo’s independence in the eyes of the EU or the US that keeps one of its largest military bases in the world in Kosovo, a region that is positioned strategically

The main purpose for the Bondsteel military base is to provide security for the construction of the Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian oil pipeline (AMBO). The AMBO trans-Balkan pipeline will link up with the corridors between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea basin, which holds close to 50 billion barrels of oil. (source)

and holds an enviable reserves of lignite, which are estimated at around 12 billion tonnes (source), other natural resources and fertile land with cheap labour to boot, I do hope that they offer Serbia what its people will consider fair compensation for lost territories and resources. Considering what’s at stake, it shouldn’t be so hard to offer the country something more tangible than the EU freer trade, visa liberalisation and educational exchanges carrot as Tony Barber put it.

To conclude, I do believe Kosovo should gain its independence, but on fair terms and in peace. While this may not be a popular sentiment here, I do not believe Slovenia should be the first to recognize Kosovo independence. If for no other reason, then for the sake of our investments in Serbia. They are massive and putting salt on open wounds is bound to be a turnoff even for the best of friends.

Patients!

01/30/2008

While I appreciate the fact that our Government Communication Office regularly puts together a newsletter on current events in the country that anybody can subscribe to, I think it would be kind of nice to respect our language and possibly politicians (?) enough to spell their names correctly. Using čžš, that is.

Unless the keyboards were sponsored by a predominantly English-speaking country, these guys should be able to locate said letters on there someplace and when it comes to the dreaded umlaut, perhaps they should learn from my favourite moose

Just when I thought the Government Communication Office spelling Slovenia’s President as ‘Tuerk’ was a bit of an issue, I settled a real (or cyber, anyway) life issue with an American company’s live-chat tech-support guy. Let me quote his final words before the black screen sent him to oblivion… (Or possibly back to India.)

    Tech Support Guy: “Thank you for all your patients.”

Hey, anytime 😉

LA Times Loves Slovenian Wines

I’ll break away from what is bound to be the No. 1 topic around here today (Slovenia’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty) and post a link to a lovely article on Wild Wild Wines from Slovenia published by the LA Times along with a list of wines to watch for.

On a personal note, pinela is one of my favourite white wines and I did enjoy a glass of the 2004 Simčič Sauvignon Blanc Reserve from the list with this Sunday’s lunch.

Incidentally, just a few weeks ago one of my professors (politcal science) argued that no debate on politics at a high theoretical level is possible in the absence of good wine. It would seem Slovenians have the basics covered, eh? Or, as Luka would say, ne est-ce pas? 😉

Istanbul in the Dark

01/29/2008

Istanbul at Night
Hagia Sophia on a January Night; photo by dr. Fil

Istanbul is such a beautiful city, but sometimes the lights are dimmed by more than nighttime. The elightenment brought to the country by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk has not gone far enough to reach today’s understanding of free speech and academic debate, as Professor Atilla Yayla found, having just been handed down a 15-month suspended jail term on account of insulting the state’s founder. (Source: BBC)

Jazz in Tel Aviv

01/28/2008

Seems like ages ago, but in fact no more than a couple of weeks back, I walked into this bar in Tel Aviv harbour with a group of friends and after chatting away a lovely evening with my colleagues, listening to a group of friends playing and singing, they were kind enough to grant me a music request :) As the singer didn’t know the words, she had some help, which sort of made it even more cool. Thanks, guys! 😉

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. Yes, you!

Janez Janša Not Allowed to Sign

According to Delo (source) , none of the three Janez Janšas
were allowed to go ahead with the intended signing event at the House of Culture in Berlin tonight.

Comments?

Hard to Give Up

01/24/2008

Smokers enjoy Fresh Air in Israel as well

01/20/2008

Quite a few similarities between Slovenia and Israel. One of them is the prohibition of smoking in public places and the subsequent use of gas heaters outside the bars to keep the smokers warm.

Gas Heater
Tel Aviv

The Other Side of the Story

01/12/2008

Presented to us by Dr. Rafiq Husseini, Palestinian Chief of Staff.
Greetings from Ramallah

THE Place to Fish

01/11/2008

What a beautiful day at the Sea of Galilee…

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