What is it about Kosovo that attracts the corrupt and/or makes people corrupt? I don’t suppose it has anything to do with the statehood- “deserving” province being founded on organized crime, which is the nicest thing that can be said about it.

First we had a suitcase full of cash going to UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, to ensure that he would include independence as the final outcome of any plan he drew up for the province’s future. And now we have the deputy chief of UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) resigning amid allegations of corruption and, of course, indiscreet sexual behavior:

UNMIK Deputy Chief Leaves Kosovo

The Deputy Head of the UN administration in Kosovo, Steven Schook, left the independence-seeking entity on Tuesday after being told his contract would not be extended.

Schook, a retired US army general, was being investigated by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, OIOS, for irresponsible behaviour and close connections with Kosovo’s politicians.

A previous OIOS investigation into the UN police mission in Kosovo found that the administration was incapable of fighting corruption in Kosovo’s public institutions.


Schook told local media in September that the U.N.’s oversight office was inquiring about his relations with Kosovo officials including Energy Minister Et’hem Ceku, who spearheaded a multimillion-dollar (-euro) project to build a power plant. Schook is also said to be close to Kosovo’s former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who is accused by a U.N. tribunal of war crimes. [UN officials have been accused by the U.N. war crimes tribunal of hindering investigations into war crimes by Haradinaj in 1998-99.]

His departure on Tuesday could be linked, however, to his declared support for Kosovo’s independence — a thorny issue to which the U.N. does not subscribe because of Russia’s objection.

Ah, yet another gangster who supports Kosovo independence.

Meanwhile, a recent poll found Kosovo to be the fourth-most corrupt place in the world. Byzantine Sacred Art blog summarizes:

The survey conducted by Transparency International, which included 60 world countries and territories, shows that Kosovo province ranks fourth in corruption — right after Albania and before…Macedonia, while Cameroon and Cambodia are at the top of the list…The Gallup International Association that has conducted the Barometer survey on behalf of Transparency International, cites that 67 percent of Kosovo province residents have stated they have to pay bribes to get services.

Our old pro-KLA, pro-Ustasha British pal “Balkan Baby”, from whom we first learned of Kosovo’s Hitler diner, posted a blog on the matter:

The region’s other countries had lesser, though still noticeable problems, with over one fifth of Serbia’s population saying that they have paid bribes at 21%. Across the Danube, Croatia attained a respectably low 8% given that corruption is still one of the blocking tools employed by EU members who don’t want to let the Croats into their club. This line of argument becomes even further flawed when a quick browse of the results shows that Croatia is deemed less corrupt than present EU members Greece, Romania and Lithuania.

The greatest surprise flagged up in the report is that Bosnia had the lowest score in the entire region, only 5% of people having said that they had paid bribes…[C]ould it be that the people answering the question did not feel happy to admit that they had paid bribes? This could hardly be likely on a cultural level though since neighbours Croatia and Serbia both did express their experiences, and there is no reason to presume that Bosnia would be any different had similar practices happened there.

One of Balkan Baby’s readers, Ivan, responded, “I beg to differ. A few years back in Croatia, the number of those who refused to participate in the TI poll was 90%. The “declined to answer” cases are dissmissed and the stats are calculated only from those that answered. Going by what people who live in Bosnia have to say, I seriously doubt it’s less corrupt then Croatia.”

So what we’ve learned from this reader is that there are many “decline to answer” responses, which are not figured into the final tally. Which can only mean that Kosovo’s fourth-place position is flattering when compared to the likely truth about where it really ranks, given an existence underwritten by the heroin and sex trades, plus an economy in which crime is the chief job opportunity.

Speaking of Balkan Baby, let it be known that he not only attended the Nazi rockfest at Croatia’s Maksimir Stadium in June, but LOVED it!

What’s more, while demanding on his home page the capture of former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and former Serbian general Ratko Mladic — the only two Balkan war criminal names that everyone knows — Balkan Baby lists among his “Top 10 Croats” Ante Gotovina, currently on trial for the murder and disappearance of 150 Serbs and the cleansing of 150,000. Had the names of non-Serb Balkan war criminals been even half as widely disseminated among the masses as the Serbian ones have been, this particular mass might be less proud to list him as a hero.

Not surprisingly, Balkan Baby (real name Ed Alexander) also supports an independent “Kosova”. Clearly, he has the pop version of Balkan events ringing in his ears as loudly as the pop songs whose lyrics he uses as titles for his posts.

The following appears on Ed’s home page:

Balkan Baby asks: Why do some people believe the Balkans are primitive?

1. Serbia won’t allow Kosova [sic] it’s [sic] independence
2. Karadzic and Mladic remain uncaptured
3. You can still find people who defend Milosevic
4. Serbia and Croatia performances at 2006 World Cup

6. Nobody admits their country committed any war crimes

10. The E.U. refuse Croatia entry for no good reason.

The four items leading the list all place the emphasis on Serbs with regard to perceptions of the Balkans as primitive. And while faulting Milosevic defenders, Ed doesn’t see the irony in defending Gotovina, not to mention an independent “Kosova” born of the far more brutal and evident crimes of the KLA, including by Kosovo leaders Hashim Thaci, Ramush Haradinaj and Agim Ceku.

Then, while being in war criminal Gotovina’s corner, Ed laments that “no one” admits their country’s war crimes — a blatant lie, given that Serbia has done so all along. Just one testament to that effect came three weeks into NATO’s 1999 bombing of Belgrade, from UN commander in Bosnia, General Satish Nambiar:

Portraying the Serbs as evil and everybody else as good was not only counter-productive but also dishonest. According to my experience, all sides were guilty but only the Serbs would admit that they were no angels, while the others would insist that they were. With 28,000 forces under me and with constant contacts with UNHCR and the International Red Cross officials, we did not witness any genocide beyond killings and massacres on all sides.

As for No. 10, that there is “no good reason” to refuse Croatia entry into the EU, here is one of many, from the European Sun:

Only an appeal by a group of celebrities persuaded hooligan fans of Croatia’s Hajduk Split football team to abandon jerseys that featured a belligerent eagle and a declaration of membership of the Hajduk Jugend (Hajduk Youth) — alluding to the Hitler Youth.

But before dropping the insignia, the fans threatened to ‘chop off the legs’ of Tvrtko Jakovina, a Croatian philosophy professor who had been criticizing the hooligans’ flirtation with Nazi ideas.

‘During the 1990s we allowed a wave of such incidents, which the state leadership tolerated, even incited… that has consequences,’ Jakovina recently told the Slobodna Dalmacija daily.

‘The public was infected by the view that those are ‘our boys’ and should be forgiven.’

The scars of World War II, when Croatia was set up as Hitler’s puppet-state and implemented Nazi racial laws, along with the conflict of the last decade has led to a surge of racial supremacists, many of them grouped around football clubs.

Dinamo Zagreb vice-president Zdravko Mamic frequently curses his opponents as ‘enemies of Croatia’ and ‘children of Yugo (military) officers.’

Not only young, under-educated and probably drunk fans tend to act as racists, but some prominent figures have also been revealed as such.

‘A black man can’t coach Croatia’s national team. I don’t remember any black manager of a major team,’ the president of the national football organization, Vlatko Markovic, said last year.

The remark matched the blunder by Croatian Olympic official Antun Vrdoljak, who said: ‘All our boys want to be like (basketball stars) Toni Kukoc or Dino Radja, but I haven’t heard of any wanting to be black.’

Those and other pejorative statements were never punished in Croatia, but at best swept under the carpet.

Politicians are ambivalent because they make use of football and its fans. For instance, in campaign for the Nov 25 parliamentary polls, the entire Dinamo Zagreb football club publicly backed Prime Minister Ivo Sanader’s Croatian Democratic Union.

Hrvoje Prnjak, analyst and author of a book on Dinamo Zagreb’s violent ‘Bad Blue Boys’, told DPA: ‘The resilience of various forms of chauvinism surrounding sports in Croatia is not just a deformation of the traditional sports animosity of us against them. It is a product of the climate of exclusiveness that was created from the independence onward.

‘The children of the 90s, born at the time when patriotism was measured with intolerance against others, just reflect their family matrix in the stands.’

In his words, the phenomenon is declining, but too slowly at least partly owing to the tolerant stance of the authorities.

Ah but Dinamo Zagreb, which has helped raise money for the defense of Ante Gotovina and other Croatian war criminals, is Balkan Baby’s “favourite team”, according to his home page.

Another of Balkan Baby’s Top 10 Croats is the tennis player Goran Ivenisevic who, the LA Times reported in 2001, referred to a tennis official as “that guy, he looks like a fagot little bit, you know. His hair all over him.” Far less egregious, to Ed’s taste, is what the New York Times sports section reported in February 1993, describing how Ivanisevic had learned to shoot a machine gun: “They showed me how to shoot, just for fun…They let me shoot a machine gun. It was tough to control, but, oh, it was a nice feeling — all the bullets coming out. I was thinking it would be nice to have some Serbs in front of me.”

It’s sad watching hippies try to make sense of the world they backpack through, under the guidance and influence of whatever friends they may make first along the way.