About that coal in Kosovo (II)

A couple of years back, I wrote an article about Kosovo’s coal industry. Short version: Kosovo has lots of coal, and most of it is middle-quality lignite. But the mines suffer from a horrible lack of investment; many of them are still using thirty to forty year old equipment. So both output and quality are far below where they should be.

So I wasn’t exactly surprised to see this recent article:

Importing Lignite into Coal-Rich Kosovo

[One of] Kosovo’s biggest firms is being forced to import lignite from Malaysia and Indonesia, despite estimates that the newly independent country sits on the world’s fifth largest reserve of the fuel.

Metal firm Ferronikeli, one of Kosovo’s biggest companies, is importing lignite from the other side of the world because it cannot access the country’s rich reserves of brown coal… the ferronickel exporter has been forced to sign deals with Malaysia and Indonesia to import lignite to its plant in Drenas.

Ferronikeli, which was bought in 2007 by IMR/Alferon as part of Kosovo’s privatisation programme, complains that the lignite which is available cannot be used.

Arten Bajrushi, spokesman for Ferronikeli, told Balkan Insight: “Even early on, and still today, we have imported lignite from other countries of the world. We have agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia to import lignite.”

He added that only a very small amount of lignite is taken from KEK, Kosovo’s national energy provider, because the publicly owned firm cannot provide enough lignite, and that the coal it can provide is ‘too wet’ for Ferronikeli to use.

Bajrushi said: “Lignite that KEK uses for electricity is 38 per cent wet, while for our technological processes lignite needs to be only 18 per cent wet.

“This issue was supposed to be solved by a drying facility that KEK does have, but it does not work most of the time,” said Bajrushi.

He added that KEK’s organisational problems mean that it is cheaper for his firm to import coal from thousands of kilometres away rather than buy it in Kosovo.

The coal is brought in via Greece rather than Albania, because Greece’s ports have more capacity. I assume the coal is brought along the rail line north through Macedonia; if any Kosovar readers know more details, I’d be interested to hear.

Ferronikelli was created back in Yugoslav times with this idea; it would take the nickel and other ores from Kosovo’s mines, and use Kosovo’s abundant coal to smelt them. Like most Communist-era industrial concentrations, it was not very efficient, and the environmental side effects were horrendous. But the basic idea was sound.

In a related story, Kosovo’s Energy Minister just announced that they won’t be building the 2,000 MW thermoelectric plant that they bid out earlier this year. Instead, they’ll be re-bidding the project next year — as a 1,000 MW plant, half as big.

As a data point, Kosovo’s current electricity needs are around 2,000 MW, but half of their generating capacity expected to go offline by 2016 (aging equipment, environmental problems). Over the same period, the country’s population is expected to grow by almost 10%, and its electricity demand by nearly 20%. So in very round numbers, Kosovo needs to find about 1400 MW of new production by the second part of the next decade. The original plan would have covered this, plus some excess capacity for export. The current version doesn’t even cover the next five years of expansion plus lost capacity. The official explanation is that the reduction is “because of the current economic crisis”. This seems unlikely on its face. More likely explanations might include “Kosovo’s transmission and distribution systems couldn’t handle the larger load”, “Kosovo’s coal mines can’t guarantee the necessary fuel”, and/or “KEK can’t show how it will collect enough money to pay for the larger plant”.

Kosovo should have energy, literally, to burn. It’s a small country sitting on top of billions of tons of coal. It should be able to export electricity to its neighbors while supporting a variety of energy-intensive industries at home. Instead, Kosovo’s cities are still plagued by blackouts, while its largest industry has to import coal from abroad. That’s just nuts.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I’m a firm supporter of Kosovar independence. And not all of this is Kosovo’s fault; as noted in the earlier post, they endured a decade of actively malevolent mismanagement under Milosevic, followed by seven years of simply incompetent mismanagement under UNMIK.

But they’ve been running things themselves for a while now. And this is just ridiculous.

19 thoughts on “About that coal in Kosovo (II)

  1. Who is paying for the import of coal?
    EU had being funding energy sector in Kosovo including import of energy (while Kosovo was exporting it at the same time) and rehabilitation programmes for the coal-mines for several years. Is it this the result?

  2. It is indeed ridiculous. However, rebuilding the infrastructure takes time and inefficiencies from the typical Balcan lassaiz faire coupled with corruption issues are not going to accelerate things. As far as the ports are concerned I think it is more probable that Ferronikeli has opted for Greek ports because of a still inexisting direct railway link with Albanian ports. The only alternative is currently the route through Macedonia.

    This being said, Kosovo did not primarily gain independence to boost it’s coal production. I think, it had much more something to do with a couple of basic human rights. So, the hopefully temporary ineptitude to exploit their resources shouldn’t be a welcome opportunity to question their still fragile freedom from an apartheid regime.

  3. Eni, as I said, I’m a firm supporter of Kosovar independence. But if Kosovo ends up as a corrupt backwater where the lights can’t stay on… well, let’s say it will be a disappointment.

    Doug M.

  4. Dear Douglas,
    I must confront two of your basic statements in the above text. First, statement that Kosovo lies on “billions of tons of coal” is simply not true. It is just a myth created to boost K-Albanian morale toward the independence. Kosovo has reserves of coal, indeed, but those reserves are far form “billions of tons”. They are very limited. They could be exploited just for the next 15 to 25 years before they dry up, depending on the intensity of the excavation. Second, quality of that coal is very low. It is lignite, as you stated, but of very poor quality which is quite obvious from the mr. Bajrushi statement.
    Apart from the facts, one could confirm that just by following simple logic. K-Albanians are independent from Serbia for more then 10 years now. If it is true that Kosovo has so much coal reserve, many of World’s mining companies would have flock in Kosovo to exploit those coal reserves. But, as we could see, not a single company showed any interest in the exploitation.
    Another issue on which you are simply not right is your statement that Milosevic’s mismanagement have led to the current energy situation in Kosovo. Let me remind you that Kosovo’s thermo-plants “Kosovo A” and “Kosovo B” are of the exact type as Serbia’s most powerful thermo-plant “TENT”. And roughly of 2/3 of its capacity.
    During Milosevic’s time he mismanaged not only Kosovo, but whole of Serbia, including Serbia’s “TENT”. If we follow your logic, we could simply say that Serbia should be in the same position as Kosovo is now. But that is not true. Why? Because Serbia after the fall of Milosevic’s regime Serbia did major reparations on all of its thermo-plants, so now Serbia is energy leader in the region. Unfortunately, K-Albanians never did that in “Kosovo A” and “Kosovo B” thermo-plants. Reason for that is simply because K-Albanians didn’t know how to do that, since almost all executive engineers working in Kosovo plants were Serbs who were ethnically cleansed by K-Albanians in 1999. after NATO air campaign. And to be perfectly clear, the main reason for very small number of K-Albanian engineers was not “Serbian apartheid regime”, but simple fact that K-Albanians always were much more interested in politics (getting independence from Serbia), then in being engineers or coalminers.

    Kindest regards.

  5. No offense, Hawk, but almost everything in your comment is wrong.

    — “Billions of coal” — yes, there are. Try googling “Kosovo coal reserves”. Current estimates are 11 billion tons.

    — “Quality of that coal is very low ” — no, the quality varies from low to moderate. The main problem is not quality, but that the coal is very wet.

    — “not a single company showed any interest” — no; a number of large companies have showed a lot of interest. There are still problems with large investments in Kosovo, including the fact that Serbia still disputes ownership of the coal mines and coal processing equipment, and also an extremely inefficient privatization system set up by UNMIK.

    That said, there have been several large investments in Kosovo’s mining sector in the last three years, totalling over a billion dollars.

    — “Let me remind you that Kosovo’s thermo-plants “Kosovo A” and “Kosovo B” are of the exact type as Serbia’s most powerful thermo-plant “TENT”.

    No. TENT in Obrenovac was commissioned in 1983. Kosovo A was commissioned in 1962. They’re completely different designs.

    — “K-Albanians didn’t know how to do that, since almost all executive engineers working in Kosovo plants were Serbs”

    I’m sorry, but this is nonsense. Before 1989, most of the miners, executives and engineers at the coal mines were ethnic Albanians. (Most, not all. There were plenty of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes too. But the majority were Albanians.) In fact, the mines’ problems really started when Milosevic fired all the ethnic Albanians in 1990-91. Output promptly collapsed — which is what you’d expect when you fire 2/3 of the employees — and never recovered.

    The fact that the new administration was incompetent and spectacularly corrupt didn’t help, of course. You are correct to point out that Serbia had the same problems at that time, but it was much worse in Kosovo, because in Kosovo the government didn’t have to worry about public opinion — they could do anything to the Albanians, and nobody would protest.

    “to be perfectly clear, the main reason for very small number of K-Albanian engineers was not “Serbian apartheid regime”, but simple fact that K-Albanians always were much more interested in politics (getting independence from Serbia), then in being engineers or coalminers.”

    — Well, this is just nonsense again. And I’m being polite.

    One, the majority of coal miners in Kosovo have been Albanians ever since large-scale exploitation started in the late 1950s.

    Two, in the 1970s and 1980s Prishtina University had a large and vigorous engineering curriculum. Then in 1990-91 the Milosevic government… can you guess? Fired all the Albanian professors and administrators and turned PU into a Serb-only school. For a decade, it was more or less impossible for an Albanian to get an engineering degree (or any other sort of university degree) in Kosovo… but it wasn’t because Albanians are too stupid to be engineers. It was because, with very few exceptions, only Serbs were allowed into the university system.

    Brief googling shows that today, Pristina U.’s faculties of engineering and architecture are even busier than before. I see 1100 students enrolled in engineering majors, and I suspect I didn’t find all of them.

    So, no. Just wrong.

    Doug M.

  6. …you know, the modern era of violence in Kosovo got started when 25,000 Albanian miners went on strike in March 1989. Belgrade responded with a crackdown that killed a couple of dozen people and injured hundreds, while putting hundreds more into custody.

    It was a prelude to the general strike of autumn 1990, when 250,000 Albanian employees of state enterprises — including about 100,000 at the mines — went out on strike. (To no effect. Slobo already controlled the media, and — the strikers could not understand this — he /did not care/ if Kosovo’s economy collapsed.)

    Anyway. This is pretty basic, recent history — there’s nothing particularly controversial or mysterious about it. Saying “Albanians weren’t interested in being coal miners” is, well, just astonishing ignorance.

    Doug M.

  7. Non taken, dear Doug.

    But I must say you are wrong. I presume that is because you are learning about Kosovo by googling around. Unlike you, I spent about 2 years in Kosovo, and I am living very near Serbia, thus I have information first hand.

    -“Billions of coal in Kosovo” – number of 11 billions is myth. (google is good thing, but not alway true. Be careful) There is about 2 to 3 billions estimation at the best. The fact is that couple of world mining companies showed interested in exploitation of Kosovo’s coal, indeed. But every single of them withdraw from the area because after survey implemented, they discovered that “11 billion in coal reserves” was only a myth, as I already said. Beside that, they discovered that Kosovo’s lignite /apart from being poorest of all coal types/ has very low fuel quality (wetness is much less problem).
    Those three companies you are referring to, have invested much less then billion dollars until now. But apart from their questionable reputation, most of their “investments” are placed in research, not in the production & exploitation. They are hoping that they could discover some new coal ore vessels (or maybe something else). Maybe they could, I don’t know. But I doubt it.
    Serbia, which is not asked about anything in Kosovo for more then 10 years now, doesn’t represent any obstacle for foreign investments.

    About TENT – you are completely wrong. I mean, if you want to discuss energy, to be polite, you must post facts not forgeries.
    Though “Kosovo A” was commissioned 1962, it was designed exactly as TENT A predecessor, TE “Kolubara” built in 1959. which afterwards became first block of the TENT A. Officially TENT A was commissioned in 1970. (not in 1983. as you said). To cut a long story short, after 9 years of development, last 3 bloks (of its 5)in Kosovo A, and last 4 bloks in TENT A (of its 6), were built exactly the same. Boilers were Polish LME, turbines were Russian LMZ, and block transformers were built in “Rade Koncar” factory, in todays B&H.
    Since you are not in the matter, I presume that you made unintentional mistake confusing TENT A with a TENT B, which was commissioned in 1983., indeed.

    About miners… You are, of course, wrong again. Number of K-Albanian and Serb miners in Kosovo was 50%-50%. Number of engineers working in Kosovo A&B was about 70%-30% in favor of Serbs. Number of Croats and Slovenians was so minimal that its not worth mentioning.

    There were technical department in the University of Pristina indeed, but the proportion of Albanian students who attended Social science and Technical Science were about 10 to 1. Most students in the University of Pristina who studied technical science were Serbs. And one more thing. Education of good engineers don’t depend on the number of students, but on the quality of education program and the quality of teaching stuff. You’ll have to think little bit about that.
    Milosevic did fire Albanian professors, that is true. But not all of them. That is another Albanian propaganda lie. He fired those Albanian professors who in 1990. among students openly opted for the secession of Kosovo from Serbia. Other left on their own will, but the most of Albanian professors left University since they were threatened by Albanian militants that they will be killed if they continue to teach at the Pristina University. Albanians students were not baned from the University. They left it by they own free will. But, young people is not hard to manipulate. (Quick question: How many Serbs students attend and how many Serb professors teaching at the University of Pristina today?)

    With respect to its energy capacity, Serbia didn’t have the same problem as Kosovo, but much much bigger, since NATO bombs in 1999. destroyed almost all energy plants, transformers and power grid all over Serbia. Kosovo energy system was left intact. (very deliberately, of course). So, current situation in Kosovo is not connected with the public opinion, as you try to suggest, but with Albanian incompetence and indifference to deal with the matter.

    Although you might have some point here and there, generally you are wrong, and that is the after effect of Albanian propaganda which influenced you very much.

    With respect

  8. Hawk,

    — when I was in Kosovo, the figure thrown around was “around ten billions”. Brief googling turns up multiple cites for 11 billion, several for 15 billion, and even for 17 billion. In October 2005 the respected periodical Mining Journal stated that “At 14,700 Mt [14.7 billion tons], Kosovo possesses the world’s fifth-largest proven reserves of lignite.’

    You are certainly right to say that google must be used carefully. But I can’t find a source that’s saying “2-3 billions at the best”. Can you provide a cite?

    — Quality of the coal, here’s Mining Journal again: “The lignite is of high quality for the
    generation of electricity and compares well
    with the lignite resources of neighbouring
    countries on a range of parameters. Kosovo’s
    lignite varies in net calorific value (NCV) from
    6.28-9.21 MJ/kg, averaging 7.8 MJ/kg.”

    — Serbia represented an obstacle until recently, because the Kostunica government said that it still owned the public enterprises in Kosovo, and that anyone who invested there could be liable to lawsuits in Serbia. The Tadic government has quieted down on this point, but it was a nontrivial deterrent to investment for years.

    A larger deterrent was, as mentioned above, the relentless incompetence of UNMIK and the mismanagement of the Kosovo Trust Agency, which was supposed to handle privatization.

    “You are, of course, wrong again. Number of K-Albanian and Serb miners in Kosovo was 50%-50%. Number of engineers working in Kosovo A&B was about 70%-30% in favor of Serbs.”

    — But now you are changing your position. Originally you said ‘Albanians were not interested in being coal miners’. Now you’re acknowledging that tens of thousands of Albanians were, in fact, coal miners. And you’ve gone from “almost all” engineers were Serb to “70/30”.

    — TENT, when I said “TENT in Obrenovac” I meant TENT B, but this was not clear — my bad.

    But again you are changing your position. You said Kosovo A and B were exactly the same as TENT. Now you’re saying Kosovo A is the same as TENT A, and never mind Kosovo B or TENT B.

    Also, the European Agency for Reconstruction put around $100 million into TENT A between 2003-2007. So it’s not like EPS fixed it by pure force of will.

    — “the proportion of Albanian students who attended Social science and Technical Science were about 10 to 1.”

    I’d like to see a cite for this, since it’s not consistent with what I saw in Kosovo. Prishtina seems to have a lot of fortysomething engineers who got their degrees in the 1980s. In some cases they had other degrees (math seems to have been popular) but if you spend time around Kosovo’s telecoms and IT types, you are not left thinking that everyone at PU’s class of ’85 was studying sociology and French literature.

    “Milosevic did fire Albanian professors, that is true. But not all of them. That is another Albanian propaganda lie. He fired those Albanian professors who in 1990. among students openly opted for the secession of Kosovo from Serbia.”

    No — he fired (some) professors who would not sign a declaration saying they opposed Kosovar independence and that Kosovo was part of Serbia. I think you will agree that is not the same thing.

    The declaration was only used to purge a few high-profile professors. A much larger group were fired for “violations of the Serbian Education Law”, which in 1991-3 could include (for example) suggesting that some courses be taught in Albanian, suggesting that Kosovo should regain its autonomy, or not respecting Orthodox holidays.

    “Other left on their own will, but the most of Albanian professors left University since they were threatened by Albanian militants”

    Again, I would like to see a cite for this. I have met a number of Albanian academics in Kosovo, and none have ever said they were threatened, or mentioned anyone else being threatened.

    This does not mean it did not happen, of course. But you are making the claim here, so some evidence from an unbiased observer would be nice.

    Incidentally, I met some who survived the first couple of purges. But by 1993-4, pretty much all Albanian professors had been driven out. Even if they signed the declaration, they had budgets cut, classes reassigned, offices moved, etc. etc. by the new all-Serb administration. PU was handed over to guys like Radovan “Albanian students are enemies and monsters” Papovic. They were perfectly capable of driving out the Albanians without “threats from militants” — who barely existed during the period 1991-3 anyway.

    — “How many Serbs students attend and how many Serb professors teaching at the University of Pristina today?”

    None. There are modest numbers of Bosnian and Turkish students, and even a few Roma, Egyptians and Ashkali. But no Serbs. And I don’t defend that.

    — “current situation in Kosovo is not connected with the public opinion, as you try to suggest, but with Albanian incompetence and indifference to deal with the matter.”

    I have suggested that both incompetence and indifference are problems (and corruption, too). If you look at the last part of the original post, you can see I am critical of the Kosovar government.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s /all/ the Albanians’ fault, either. The Serbs did a tremendous amount of damage in 1991-99; all the publicly owned enterprises were systematically looted. This happened in Serbia too, of course — remember when four of the five biggest banks turned out to be bankrupt, back in 2002? — but Kosovo was worse. Then UNMIK, as mentioned above.

    I also make a distinction between the Kosovar Albanian government (which is, let’s be frank, shaky) and the Kosovar Albanians themselves. You want to say that the Kosovars’ problems are their own fault because of “laziness and indifference”, but I just don’t see that. Bad government can turn even Germans into lazy, sloppy shirkers (RIP, DDR) and Kosovo has had a lot of bad government in the last 20 years.

    The recent surge of young Kosovar Albanians into engineering suggests that there is no inherent tendency of Albanians to avoid the “hard” subjects. In fact, I would suggest they are responding rationally to incentives. Most young Kosovars expect to spend some time outside of Kosovo. Pretty much every twentysomething you meet in Prishtina has done a few years as a hotel doorman in Thessaloniki or working for his uncle’s electrical repair shop in Milan. Whether legally or illegally, young Kosovars are very mobile. And an engineering degree travels better than a degree in sociology, or even one in law. Unsurprisingly, accounting, IT, and English have also become very popular.

    The Albanosphere — Albania, Kosovo, and western Macedonia — is one of the poorest and most backwards parts of Europe. But it would be a mistake to assume that (1) it’s poor and backwards because of the “laziness and indifference” of the Albanians, or that (2) it will stay poor and backwards. In fact it is modernizing — very unevenly, but in parts with great speed.

    (Of course, it will go faster if they can keep the lights on.)

    Doug M.

  9. I would like you people to say more about the “investments” made by the European Agency for Reconstruction in the energy sector trying to refurbish the plants A and B an continue to use the local abundant coal. In those days when EU taxpayers money was being spent (how badly?) I said two things: a) with the same money and time frame we could build brand new energy plants b) we could get out of coal and have some more technologically advanced like wind and solar installations to cater for those kosovars to whom houses were rebuilt. At that time the problem of collecting electricity bills was huge (I do not know now).
    Import and export of electricity was a funny business particularly when imports where paid by donors. Kosovo was exporting electricity to its neighbors while energy plants and mines refurbishments and electricity imports were paid by donors. Now I am not surprised that we import coal after donors tried to keep functioning local mines. Who is paying now for coal imports?

  10. Dear Doug,

    Your second post is substantially different then your first post. It is much lighter and I believe that with that kind of attitude of yours we could continue to discus the matter.

    First of all, we must separate two things: Politics and Economy. It is not always easy, but I’ll try.
    First I’ll try to address political stuff you introduced, and latter I’ll talk little bit about economy, since I don’t have much time now.

    All those talks about Milosevic and his mismanagement, Kostunica, Serbia’s interference etc. are just plain propaganda stuff. Tough I agree that Milosevic implemented enormous damage to the economy, as I already said – he did that to all of Serbia not just in Kosovo. Every single accusation after Milosevic (from 1999 onwards – and remember that Milosevic died in 2006), is just plain Albanian propaganda and brilliant excuse for K-Albanians to continuously cover up not just their incompetence, but much more important thing – the lack of will to do something good for Kosovo society. Most easier solution by far for the ongoing problems is to blame it on the others!!! So, whatever they say to you, try to filtrate that through this prism.
    Pardon me saying, but it is also very well known fact that every single of todays K-Albanian leading politicians is suspected of having some kind of deal in the drug smuggling and human trafficking business. With that kind of politicians one could not see prosperous life of the region in the foreseeable future. Especially since all of them (Thaci, Haradinai, Limai etc) are young people (around 40) and full of energy and enthusiasm to rule Kosovo in the next, let’s say 30 or 40 years.

    Now little bit about political past.
    Again, you are pretty wrong about the facts. I reckon it is due to your lack of first hand knowledge about situation in former YU before 1990.

    -You said: “…you know, the modern era of violence in Kosovo got started when 25,000 Albanian miners went on strike in March 1989…”

    That is completely wrong. First K-Albanian mass and violent protest happened just a few months after Tito’s death, in march 1981. More the 100 000 of them (mostly Albanian students) went out on the streets of Prishtina, crying paroles “Kosovo – Republic”. That was Albanian agenda from the day one. “Kosovo-Republic”. Why? Because that was the first step in their plan to secede from what was then YU. Since Kosovo was just autonomous province, under YU constitution it didn’t hold the possibility to secede legally from YU. Therefore the parole “Kosovo-Republic”.
    That protest, and every single Albanian protest (which happened at least once a year) from that time onwards (until 1989) was cracked down by brutal force of Yugoslav police and army. But, in that time – please bear that in mind – YU police and army were “multiethnic” (whatever that word means) – so it consisted of the Slovenian, Croat, Bosniak, Macedonian and Serbian police officers and soldiers. Ethnic composition of those two was not at all in the favor of Serbs. There were even K-Albanian policemen in that force but they were in substantially smaller numbers because of the fear of the Albanian revenge toward their families.
    And that continued to happen every single year up to the 1989. Albanian protest, parole “Kosovo-Republic”, brutal crackdown by YU “multiethnic” police and army, with tens of dead and hundreds of wounded. Much more on Albanian side, but there were police officers and soldiers who died too, you know. So, if you want to talk the past, you must talk everything and not just calling me ignorant (calling someone ignorant is very easy).
    BTW one of very important thing to know about that times is that those crackdowns (81-89) were much much more brutal and bloodier than crackdown Milosevic tried to implement in 98-99. But during that time YU was not on the USA agenda (and the crackdown forces were of multiethnic origin), so who cared?

    Then it came 89, and you are right. I don’t have anything to add to that, except that in that period Slovenians and Croats didn’t want to send their policemen in Kosovo, so crackdown of Albanian coalminers strike was executed by the police force consisted mainly of Serbian (with the about 20% Macedonian & Bosniak) policemen.

    Since the cradle of Albanian protests was Pristhina University (as I already said – young people are easy to manipulate. Especially by their professors), Milosevic insisted that Albanian professors should sign the loyalty paper to Yugoslavia (not Serbia). And I agree with that move. It is absurd to have someone teaching children and telling them that YU was not their country and that Kosovo must secede from it. I mean, do you really believe that there is a single country in the world which will let unpunished someone who openly opts for its dissolution? I don’t think so. If you don’t agree with me, we could discuss that matter in the light of Turkey’s 50 years long actions against 10 million of its Kurd minority who demand just “autonomy within Turkey”.

    Everything what happened from 1990 onwards are more-less well known so I don’t want to waste anyones time writing about that.
    At the end I must say that it saddens me to see that the fact that is not a single Serb student or professor worked in Prishtina University (from 1999 up until now), even if you don’t approve that, represents a matter of complete indifference to you.

    In my next post I will, hopefully, try to address Economy matters with the special emphasis on the problems regarding about 5 billion dollars of foreign donations and “investments” in Kosovo which “M.G. in progress” stipulated in his post.

    With respect.

  11. “All those talks about Milosevic and his mismanagement, Kostunica, Serbia’s interference etc. are just plain propaganda stuff.”

    — I’m sorry, but no.

    In Serbia, Milosevic’s government was corrupt and incompetent. In Kosovo, it was just as incompetent, more corrupt, and far more brutal.

    Economically, Kosovo went through a decade of massive disinvestment. No new infrastructure was built except to serve the Serb minority. Albanian services — from elementary schools to hospitals — were either shut down or deliberately starved of resources. This is not a myth, nor is it a mystery; it was widely known at the time.

    “very well known fact that every single of todays K-Albanian leading politicians is suspected of having some kind of deal in the drug smuggling and human trafficking business.”

    Really? Fatmir Sejdiu is a drug dealer? Nexhat Daci is a trafficker? Remarkable.

    I could mention Arkan and Legija, but let me throw out a blast from the past: Radovan “Badza” Stojicic. Remember him?

    Several members of the current Kosovar government have violent pasts and/or dubious associations, yes. That’s true. But “they’re all drug dealers and human traffickers” is just idiotic. Every one of them? Really? Can a single country support so many mafia chieftains?

    I note in passing that, for a country ruled by criminal gangster terrorists, Kosovo has a remarkably low rate of violent crime. It’s been falling rapidly over the last five years and is currently not much higher than Serbia’s. Prishtina’s murder rate is almost exactly the same as Nish’s.

    — I actually agree with you that domination of Kosovar politics by the KLA generation is a problem. Too many ministers and parliamentarians are KLA veterans with few credentials beyond “he fought for our freedom”. And since most of the KLA were quite young — the majority were under 25 — this generation is going to be around for a long time.

    On the other hand, I am much less certain that they will continue to dominate Kosovar politics for the next 30 years. Kosovar Albanians are a young population, and the aura of magic around the KLA has already faded quite a bit.

    “First K-Albanian mass and violent protest happened just a few months after Tito’s death, in march 1981.”

    — I know. But then from 1982-88 things quieted down, with occasional protests (and lots of football riots) but relatively little violence. Whereas starting in 1989 things got bad and then got worse.

    You say that “every year” in 1981-9, there were protests with “tens of dead and hundreds wounded”. If so, you should easily be able to provide a cite for this.

    “much more brutal and bloodier than crackdown Milosevic tried to implement in 98-99.”

    Really? In the 1980s, JNA wiped out an entire extended family in their compound, massacring over 50 people, many of them unarmed civilians? In the 1980s, tens of thousands of Albanians were driven from their homes, and dozens “disappeared” to never be seen again?

    Again, it should not be difficult for you to provide cites for this.

    “Kosovo-Republic”. Why? Because that was the first step in their plan to secede from what was then YU.

    — I am impressed by your power to read the minds of people hundreds of kilometers away and thirty years ago. But when you talk to Albanians today — the ones that are old enough to remember — they say, no, they wanted a republic independent of Serbia, which would be equal with the Serbs, Slovenes and Croats. I’ve never met a single Albanian who has said “oh, yes, we wanted independence from the beginning”.

    The great majority of Kosovar Albanians liked being part of the old Yugoslavia just fine. Why wouldn’t they? They got subsidies, freedom to travel and study, and the best passport in the world. They had a sweetheart deal, and they knew it. (They still do — Yugonostalgia is very strong in Kosovo.) They wanted the autonomy and prestige of Republic status, but they had little interest in independence. That exploded in 1989 and after.

    “Milosevic insisted that Albanian professors should sign the loyalty paper to Yugoslavia (not Serbia). And I agree with that move.”

    — as noted in the last comment, most professors were not fired for this. Only a few high-profile professors were asked to sign. Most were fired for “violations of the Serbian Education Law”.

    You’re trying to say they deserved to be fired because they were disloyal. In fact, they were fired because they were Albanian. Loyalty or not had nothing to do with it.

    “I must say that it saddens me to see that the fact that is not a single Serb student or professor worked in Prishtina University (from 1999 up until now),”

    — You know there’s also a ‘Prishtina University’ in Mitrovica and other Serb areas of Kosovo, right? It’s the Serb University, evacuated in 1999. (They took all the money, all the lab equipment and quite a lot of the books.)

    There are plenty of Albanians living north of the Ibar, or for that matter in Serbia itself. How many are enrolled in the Serbian ‘Prishtina University’? And if the answer is ‘none’, does that make you sad?

    Doug M.

  12. I don’t have time to waste trying to conduct decent dialogue with someone who refers to his interlocutor as an idiot. This is not a way civilized people conduct dialogue.

    But since this is your blog, you are free to do whatever you want.

    Have nice life.

  13. IMO it’s healthy to be told sometimes that “what you’re saying is not only wrong, but stupid” when what you’re saying is, in fact, stupid. Saying a statement is idiotic != saying the speaker is an idiot.

    Everyone says dumb stuff sometimes — me included. I treat all commenters here the same, and I don’t demand better treatment for myself.

    But if this is too rough for you, well, shrug. It’s a big Net.

    Doug M.

  14. M.G., googling the EAR (and the EBRD, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) + Serbia (or Kosovo) will give you plenty of information.

    Four years ago, I wrote a short post at my home blog about electricity generation in Kosovo. Unfortunately, much of it is still relevant today:

    http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000818.html

    Things have improved since then, but they’re still not good.

    Doug M.

  15. Pingback: About that coal in Kosovo (II) | afoe | A Fistful of Euros … | alba news

  16. It is quite hilarious to see Mr Muir under the accuse of being a pro-Albanian propagandist by none other than “Hawk”, who has spent a considerable amount of time in posting flat-earth to xenophonic comments in regards to Albanians in quite a few websites ranging from B92 to balkansight, from serbianna to sofiaecho etc etc.

    Albanians can’t do anything right (except for running crime), Albanians are unable to run a state so they deserve none at all, Albanians are nazi-fascist islamic savages…so it’s perfectly fine to butcher and cleanse them as the world watches…the usual stuff staright from serb websites and stormfront Srbija…right Hawk?

    Anyways, good responses (except for one small line) from Mr Muir as far as Kosovo’s history is concerned. Now, onto the main point, the article :

    The picture is not as bleak as it seems, or even that it will be so for a long time.

    1) Modern Pec 3 substation has just recently been opened, bringing Kosovo’s energy generating capacity from 930 MW to 1200 MW.

    http://kryeministri-ks.net/?page=2,9,999

    2)There are quite a few projects involving several small hydro-electric stations (80MW, except one near Prizren who’ll be 300MW) and wind farms (30MW)

    Sorry, I cannot find good links for these in English, both forums, skayscrapercity (albanian section) and urbania.al have only Albanian articles.

    http://www.newkosovareport.com/200905121762/Business-and-Economy/Kosovo-pioneers-wind-energy-in-the-Balkans.html (NKR’s hippy style reporting is unbearable I know)

    And there can be more projects in the future by foreign investors as the world economy recovers from the global crisis. Several companies have alredy started employing people and Easy Jet will soon ease the burden of disaporids visiting their homes.

    For those interested, some of them are mentioned here

    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=543010&page=57

    3)Currently Albania is helping, and will continue to do in the future, especially since most of the foreign investment in the country is in the energy sector.

    http://www.emportal.rs/en/news/region/104469.html

    The Durres-Kukes road was very prolific this summer for both travellers and Albanian exporters (July 2008 : 50 thousand people & 19 thousand cars, July 2009 : 447 thousand people & 215 thousand cars), heck Albania’s farmers sold everything they produced til Central Europe. In a few weeks, it will enable Kosovo to have its own port, that of Shengjin/Saint Eugene.

    That said, this does not excuse the very disgraceful situation of having to import lignite from the opposite corner of the world. I just hope the politicans turn to real work when they are done with the post-election political games.

    I apologize for any English mistakes.

  17. “(Quick question: How many Serbs students attend and how many Serb professors teaching at the University of Pristina today?)”

    Response question: How many albanian students attend and how many albanians professors teaching are there in the Presevo Valley?

  18. Pingback: Coal « Unë jetoj në Kosovë

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