IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 105: KOSOVO'S NOUVEAU RICHE
- Subject: IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 105: KOSOVO'S NOUVEAU RICHE
- From: Alessandro Marescotti <kfqma at tin.it>
- Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 12:20:36 +0100
>Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 10:02:37 +0100
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>From: Paola Lucchesi <paola.lucchesi at mail.inet.it>
>Subject: IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 105: KOSOVO'S NOUVEAU RICHE
>>WELCOME TO IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 105, January 7, 2000
>>The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based independent
>>non-profit organisation supporting regional media and democratic change.
>>Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH, United Kingdom.
>>Tel: (44 171) 713 7130; Fax: (44 171) 713 7140 E-mail: info at iwpr.net; Web:
>>The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors
>>and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.
>>Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting <www.iwpr.net.
>>KOSOVO'S NOUVEAU RICHE
>>Resentment is mounting over huge wage disparities created by the
>>international organisations. As the UN and others shell out vastly inflated
>>salaries to a lucky few, tens of thousands of public employees wait in vain
>>for their meagre payments.
>>By Imer Mushkolaj in Pristina
>>Besnik Zabergja stands at the bar in Tricky Dick's café, Pristina, smoking a
>>Marlboro cigarette and drinking a foreign beer. Dressed up and swaying to
>>the loud music, Besnik has joined some young friends for a relaxing drink
>>after work. Just down the road Idriz Ajeti holds a tense discussion with his
>>wife over the family budget.
>>Besnik, a student of electronic engineering, now works for the Organisation
>>for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as a personal assistant. He
>>earns 2,000 German marks (DM) per month. Ajeti, a distinguished academic,
>>founding member of the Kosovo Academy of Science and Arts and author of
>>several scientific studies, has to make do on 165 DM month - if he is gets
>>paid at all.
>>With the arrival of NATO forces and a plethora of other international
>>organisations in Kosovo, a new stratum of the privileged has been created.
>>The OSCE, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the multitude of
>>other non-government organisations (NGOs) in Kosovo have recruited hundreds
>>of local young people to help - and pay very good salaries in return.
>>Meanwhile tens of thousands of Kosovars - professors, academics and public
>>employees of all descriptions - have not received even their minimal
>>salaries for several months. A driver or interpreter for an international
>>organisation receives around 1,000 DM a month, six or seven times the
>>average income in Kosovo.
>>Virtually the only requirement is a driver's licence. But only a few hundred
>>such jobs exist, while the rest of the population is left to cope with the
>>effects of Kosovo's fractured economy.
>>Most factories are still not operational and many people remain reliant on
>>assistance provided by humanitarian organisations. Kosovo teachers are among
>>the poorest. They had hoped that the arrival of the UN administration under
>>Bernard Kouchner would resolve the problem of their salaries. But six months
>>after the end of war, teachers have received a 200 DM subsidy and little
>>"UNMIK has promised that they will pay at least $200 a month, but we have
>>seen nothing until now. We are still working for free," said Fatmushe Shala,
>>an elementary school teacher in Pristina.
>>For nine years, Shala and her colleagues have been paid through direct
>>contributions from Albanian families using the schools, providing an average
>>salary of not more than 150 DM a month.
>>Professors at the philology faculty at Pristina University have also only
>>received a subsidy of $200 from UNMIK. "Professors have not received any
>>payment for months.The amount given to them as aid by UNMIK is minimal.
>>People are not happy," said Vesel Nuhiu, dean of philology.
>>As a result, many professors and students from the faculty are employed as
>>interpreters by international organisations.
>>"The third and fourth course of English language at our faculty is almost
>>non-existent at the moment. All the students have left the university and
>>are working for international organisations. In addition, ten of our
>>professors work part time for these organisations," Nuhiu said. "It is
>>absurd that a professor is paid five to six times less than his students. We
>>cannot ask professors to work for us for such a ridiculous salary."
>>The situation is also bad in other sectors of the Kosovo economy. Employees
>>in the energy sector are also paid irregularly. "We have only received 540
>>DM in aid from UNMIK since the end of the war," complained Bajram Gjinovci,
>>a worker at the Kosova B thermoelectric power station.
>>Kouchner has announced that the annual budget for the province for the year
>>2000 will be about $391 million. International authorities are planning to
>>meet the monthly salary payments for around 65,000 Kosovo employees. Simple
>>arithmetic produces an average salary of 270 DM a month for each worker. But
>>as the administration collects little revenue from the province itself,
>>almost all such payments come from international donations.
>>UNMIK officials recognise that unemployment and the general standard of
>>living are among the biggest challenges facing Kosovo. "It is very important
>>to us that business restarts amidst good conditions", said Maurice Mezel,
>>head of UNMIK's employment office. "We should find a way to decide on
>>payment according to some qualifications. It is difficult to understand how
>>one of our drivers can earn a 1,000 DM a month, while a doctor receives
>>nothing for months on end."
>>Mezel emphasises the need for close co-operation with Kosovo institutions on
>>vocational training, to prepare people to work with the EU and other
>>international organisations - an approach Kosovo Albanian officials welcome.
>>Most people in Kosovo look with mixed feelings of admiration and resentment
>>at the lucky few who have secured prized employment with international
>>organisation. "It is not normal at all that a driver or interpreter with
>>UNMIK is paid that much, while my husband earns only 165 DM," complained
>>Hajrija, wife of the academic Ajeti.
>>"Kouchner himself is building two different classes in our society, the poor
>>and the rich," Agim, a medicine student, complained.
>>"My salary is the only income for my family," said Mimoza Pireva, a student
>>now working as an interpreter for the British sector of KFOR. "But I do not
>>think this [a relatively large income] is fair either, and I am sorry about
>>it," she added.
>>Idriz Ajeti remains philosophical: "I think things are going to be better in
>>the future, and everybody will get what he deserves." Yet while he and
>>others like him wait and hope for fair compensation from the UN, Besnik
>>Zabergja and his lucky counterparts will continue their toasts at the local
>>café, which some of its grateful patrons wish to rename "Tricky Kouchner's".
>>Imer Mushkolaj is a journalist in Kosovo.
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