O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 8 June 1999

Tirana 8 June 1999

Since we are now living in the new Sunflower Hostel in the town center I go for my morning coffee to another cafe-bar, every morning around seven o'clock I'm sitting in cafe-bar "Jeruzalem", it is run by some Palistinians, how they came in this country I don't know. But I must honestly say that a lot of foreigners have (small) shops, companies, factories and houses here, more than for example in Zagreb or Sarejevo. Of course directly after the fall of communism the prices for houses and factories were rather low. The enourmous price-hikes are something of the last 2 years, of the time since the collapse of the pyramid schemes. Apart from these Palestinians, you will find Macedonians, Bulgarians, Kosovars, Croats, Egyptians, Greeks, Italians, Turks, even some British, Austrians, Dutch and Germans here. And in the last two years a bigger group of Chinese came (back), most of them opening shops selling (plastic) toys. It is there where the kids buy their plastic pistols, which fire off small plastic bullets (dangerous stuff, the bullets which come out are powerful enough to destroy an eye or something).

For the Albanian kids school is out. No school in the next three months - only if they want they can come late in the afternoons to do some organised playing in the schoolyard (the rest of the day they do unorganised playing in the schoolyard by the way). So now you see the young kids playing UCK (KLA), shooting at the bloody Serbs, whom nobody likes to play. So you see them running around shooting at anything shouting "UCK, UCK" and some powerful slogans which I can't understand, and dragging a dog around the block. The dogs are probably the Serbs (poor dogs, they can't help it). For Kosovar kids school has started yesterday, at least for 100.000 of them, it was said in the newspapers. It was unclear how it was going to be organised untill the last moment. But they seem to have solved the largest problems at the last moment, they found enough Kosovar teachers (according the newspapers) and also teaching material. But we will see what really has happened. The school next to our house however is not being used as a summer school, although a few hundred families around here have hosted Kosovars.

We have a new Kosovar working at our office, he is from Djakovica and in charge of our computers. He ran his own computer company in Kosov@, being a programmer, and in the evenings he did computer trainings for teenagers. Most Kosovars were boycotting the regular schools, since the teaching there was in Serbian, so they set up their own underground education system. This is now an advantage by the way, since most of the Kosovar teachers are used to work under improvised conditions. Anyway he was also lucky, he wasn't arrested when he escaped and as a good computer programmer he took his cdroms, with his standard programmes (and self-made ones) with him. He had hidden them somewhere under the motorblock of his car, knowing that the Serbian police would search his car and destroy them if they found them.

When he drove away he had seen how his house was already set on fire. Nevertheless he wants to go back as soon as possible. He is sure that in two or three weeks he will be able to go back. At the same time we are talking about activities which we will do at the end of July. So he is not really so sure as he says he is. But that is a normal situation. He wants to go back to his country, from there maybe to the West, since what is the future of Kosov@? Will the West really help them, and will it really repay all that the war has destroyed, not only the houses but also the production materials, in his case all his computers? He doesn't think so. They have to do it on their own, as they have done it on their own before, he says. An opinion most of the Kosovars share by the way.

In the afternoon I went to the Albanian Youth Council to ask them why they hadn't sent any volunteers of theirs to Vlora as they had promised. All in, just back from Italia, apologised as always for the confusion, and explained that they were running out of money. UNICEF promised them to pay for the projects in Vlora and the project in Kukes, but they haven't done so thusfar. The youth council has been pre-financing it all, but doesn't have anymore money now, it will even have problems paying their staff at the end of the month. I'm not saying it, but I think that if UNICEF would drive one car less through Tirana and would give the money it'd save to the Youth Council and to us we wouldn't have any financial problems whatsoever. It is stupid that a big organisation endangers a good project just because they aren't able to transfer a small amount of money in time, since for them it is just nothing. Maybe we should ask for more, than they might pay quicker.

In the afternoon the volunteers went to the swimming pool refugee camp, they stayed there a long time, especially in the Greek camp next to it, they were shown around by the camp management and were explained about everything. In the Greek camp they found a Kosovar who actually has a job in Germany, he is living and working there. Ten days ago he came to Albania in order to visit his family here. On the first day of his stay his wallet, with his money and passport, was stolen. So now he is staying with his family in the refugee camp, although he came to get them out of here and rent a proper apartment for them. And even more weird is that he can't go back to Germany himself, since his passport with all the official stamps has been stolen. He already went to the German Embassy a couple of times, standing in line for hours, amongst all the people who are applying for a visa. And was told in reaction that somebody from his town's council in Germany should send a fax to the German Embassy here proving that he has permission to live in Germany. When he phoned with the local council they said that the German Embassy should fax them the request and that only then can they answer. The German Embassy, in its turn, replied that they don't want to send this fax because if they would start doing that for everybody they would run up too high a telephone bill, or something like that. In the meantime the employer of the guy is getting angry and unsure about if he will ever return, and is considering replacing him.

At this time of the evening there is a meeting taking place between NATO and Yugoslavian Army generals in a bunker north of Blace in Macedonia. As far as I know the Yugoslav army has to decide tonight whether they say "yes" to the peace plan or not. "No" means probably that the ground war will start. What "yes" means is not so clear. It should mean that the Yugoslav army will leave Kosov@, but what will happen if they don't, and what will happen with the para-militaries? I think that "yes" also means a kind of ground-war, since I don't think that the "Chetniks" (para-militaries) will give up so easily.

Anyway the French guy from Food'n Rock who stays in our hostel just came back from Elbassan, he was visiting the French army there. And his report is that the French are packing up, they are loading their trucks, arming their guns and ready to go. They will have to take the northern part of Kosov@. In the forthcoming days also 7000 soldiers from the foreign legion will land here in Albania, all their hardware is already here.

Are they going to sign a peacetreaty or not, they are telling me that it's now just a question of minutes. I must be honest, on this moment it is quiet over Tirana, although I should not have written that as now I hear the airplanes flying over, or maybe it is the sound of the NATO troops being flown in. It is funny to know that we can hardly get information about what is going on there in Blace. Even the Kosovar helpers I asked if they are following it had to admit that they are following it via the BBC or CNN television, since the Albanian newspapers are not really helpful. I have been telling that to the volunteers here as well, that what they read in the translation of the Albanian newspapers we make every day is what is published in the Albanian newspapers, it is not like the New York Times, or the Herald Tribune, or any other newspaper which controls his sources a couple of times (at least should do) before they print anything, or at least clearly points out that a statement comes from uncontrolled sources. This is not the case here, but what the newspapers publish is what people in Albania read, so by having it translated we are able to read what is being told here, but it's just that, it is not always the truth or the reality, but it is the news. Hope you understand this part. In a country in war it is always important to know that the news you read and hear doesn't have to be the truth, it is possible that it is, but it doesn't have to be.

By midnight it became clear, according to BBC radio, that nothing will change tonight, they will continue tomorrow, and probably will sign it tomorrow. I am listening to the sound of the airplanes high up in the sky passing by, it is all so unreal.

wam :-)