Community Centre Opens in Kosovo Serb Village

Oct. 15 — “US soldiers, representatives from the US Office in Pristina and USAID, and members of KFOR attended Monday’s dedication. Also present were two representatives from the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and from the office for social assistance.” (Could that be our friend Nicki in the front?)

A new culture and sports centre opened this week in Gjilan, southeastern Kosovo. The centre — funded by KFOR and USAID — cost around 147,000 euros to build in the village of Partesh, which is a Serb enclave and a pilot municipality.

Congratulating local residents, Tina Kaidanow, chief of mission of the US Office in Pristina, said that she is in Partesh to support the local community. “This project is a symbol of co-operation between Partesh and [the US government]. This is also a way to demonstrate that we care for the future,” she said.

Symbolism amid the tide of inevitability is important. So is good multi-ethnic-seeming PR amid talk of independence.

Kaidanow also said that co-operation between the Kosovo Serbs and the Kosovo Albanians is expected to increase, which will improve the life of Serbs in Partesh and other parts of Kosovo.

Meanwhile, down the street four days later: “Orthodox church attacked in Kosovo”
(via FoNet news agency)

GJILANE — Police in Kosovo have confirmed that an explosive device was thrown at a Serbian Orthodox church in Gjilane.

The bomb, however, did not explode on impact, leaving only a black trace on the wall of the St. Nikola church, a Kosovo Police Service (SPC) spokesman in the area told journalists.

KFOR, UNMIK police and KPS came out in force to block the part of the town where the church is located.

You bet they did, given Monday’s ceremonialism. Back to that first article for a moment:

According to US General Douglas B. Earhart, commander of the KFOR Multinational Brigade East…the centre is a symbol of the country’s partnership with different agencies, of the partnership with the population and the youth of Partesh, and of the co-operation that will continue in the future. [Note that there is no mention of Albanian officials being present at the opening.]

“I can assure you that the KFOR commitment for your benefit will continue for a long time in order to achieve a peaceful and safer environment in Kosovo,” Earhart said.

Kosovo isn’t peaceful? It needs to be safer? That’s odd coming from General Earhart, who wrote this letter to American Legion Magazine, which appeared in the September issue:

“The Balkan Blowback” — While the author certainly is entitled to her opinions and has a right to express those opinions, it causes me great concern that many of the [arguments] she makes are not true.

As the commander of the Kosovo Forces’ Multi-National Task Force (East), I see first-hand the progress that has been made in the region. I see firsthand the actions of our soldiers and the tireless efforts they make toward maintaining a safe and secure environment for all the people of Kosovo, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. [Agreed.]

Gorin makes false claims, including “a Serb a day is killed in Kosovo,” that Kosovo Serbs live in “barbed-wire-enclosed, KFOR-guarded perimeters of a few kilometers with NATO protection. We frequently patrol Kosovo Serbian villages, but they are free to leave their homes to shop, to work and to visit friends and family…

In that case, what could Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) be talking about here:

Christian Serbs are confined to NATO-protected enclaves for fear of endemic Muslim Albanian violence…A quarter of a million expellees — some two-thirds of the Serbs, Roma, Croats, and all the Jews — still cannot return safely to their homes. More than 150 Christian holy sites have been burned, blown up or desecrated…

Independence would likely be followed by renewed anti-Serb attacks, at least against the smaller enclaves, if not against Northern Mitrovica, where most of the remaining Serbs enjoy relative security. Unrest in neighboring Albanian-dominated areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, even Greece, could be reignited.


[I]t is certain that unless we hit the reset button and reevaluate the situation, Kosovo may once again become a trouble-spot requiring American and NATO attention at a time we can least afford it. [LIAR! THIS MAN CLAIMS TO BE REPUBLICAN?! HE CLAIMS TO BE CONSERVATIVE?!]

But back to Earhart:

Gorin goes on to write that “Serbian nuns continue to be killed” and “churches and monasteries continue to be destroyed.” Again, these claims are false. Our contacts in the Serbian Orthodox Church confirmed for us that the last act of violence against a nun or priest in Kosovo was in 2006 when someone threw rocks at the Serbian priest while he was traveling. There have also been no churches or monasteries destroyed in Kosovo since 2004.

[Except for a minor priest-shooting incident a couple weeks ago and a rocket-propelled grenade hurled at a church in April — and the two Molotov cocktails from today — but no, nothing “destroyed” or “killed” since — my gosh — all the way back in 2004.]

The situation in Kosovo is far from perfect. There are still feelings of mistrust between ethnic groups [and occasional feelings of shrapnel], and there is much work to be done to improve the infrastructure and economy. But the important thing is that progress is being made. Every day we see more signs of cooperation between ethnic groups and we see more signs of progress toward a bright future for Kosovo. For anyone wanting accurate up-to-date and first-hand information about our mission in Kosovo, I invite them to visit our public-information Web site at [I’d suggest taking him up on that invitation; that site is definitely a much more pleasant place than my website or]

Brig. Gen. Douglas B. Earhart
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo

(He looks like a nice enough guy, and I understand that he’s just trying to make the best of the convoluted mission he’s been assigned to.)

Oops — Kosovo update as I write this, via Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

Kosovo police seize weapons cache

Pristina — Kosovo police said Friday they had seized a major cache of weapons and ammunition and arrested five people in the south of the province.

The weapons and ammunition were found in a raid in Djeneral Jankovic, in southeastern Kosovo, close to the border with Macedonia, police said.

The cache included a recoil-less cannon, an anti-aircraft machine gun, a mortar, a sniper rifle and 1,300 rounds of various ammunition.

The five arrested, aged between 30 and 72, were facing charges linked to smuggling of weapons, police said.

That brings up one of many qualities that Albanians don’t have in common with other Muslims: they’ve got Grandpa in on the act. Which makes sense, given that Greater Albania is an ancient dream that’s finally coming to fruition. The older generation is in fact the force driving the younger generations, as can be intimated even from photos: