My neighbours are teh cute

They periodically have parties where their friends come over and sing along to pop hits together. They are doing an adorably off-key rendition of Soft Cell's Tainted Love right now.


Janez Drnovšek, former president of the Republic of Slovenia, died last night. Pengovsky has a post on his achievements and political life. Before coming to Slovenia, I remember reading about the country's vegan, New Age president. RIP.

I just came back from the market and the library, and when I looked at the first page of one of the books I borrowed, I came across this beautiful passage from Kahlil Gibran:

'For what is to die,
But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?
And when Earth has claimed our limbs,
Then we shall truly dance.'
-The Prophet


The joy of living in a small country, reason #108

You have conversations like this, with everyone you know:

"Hey, kako si?"
"Meh, I'm kinda sick."
"Yeah? Me too!"
"I've got a low-grade fever and the right side of my throat is sore as hell."
"I'm exactly the same! Only the right side of my throat hurts and I have just enough fever to feel crappy."
"Joj, sucks to be us."

Multiply that conversation by 2 million residents, who are all sick, at the exact same time and with the exact same weirdo symptoms. Did we all go out with wet hair or something? photo source


The world's newest country

Well, it's gone ahead as planned. Kosovar Albanians are partying in the streets of Pristina, meanwhile, both Tadic and Koštunica have declared independence an illegal move that Serbia regards as "null and void". Elsewhere, ultranationalists have protested in front of the Slovenian embassy in Belgrade, and top business people in Ljubljana (including the CEO of Gorenje, on behalf of 1,100 managers in the country) have submitted a letter urging perpetual Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitrij Rupel to delay recognizing Kosovo in order to avoid harming economic ties with Serbia and Russia.

We'll know soon enough if violence will spark off from Mitrovica, where soldiers have been busy putting concrete and barbed wire barriers between Albanian and Serb sides of the bridge over the Ibar, or in another corner of the country.Hopefully there will be peace, but the rhetoric from the Serbian political establishment (however expected and predictable) is ominous. Provoking violence would be a spectacularly bad (and ultimately pointless) move, but it wouldn't be the first time that Serbia pointed the gun at its own foot and pulled the trigger until the cartridge was empty.

If you're looking for news or analysis on the Kosovo issue, B92 has up-to-date news from Belgrade. A Fistful of Euros has excellent pieces on Kosovar independence. Camille also posted some good info sources, and drew a handy map to show people back home how far we are from the drama.

Top photo of boy in Mitrovica from the Sidney Morning Herald, french soldier working on reinforcements courtesy B92.


Mercator 'bombing'

I spent Friday on the train to Ljubljana, so I only just caught the news of the bomb threat and attack on two Mercator shops in Belgrade (Novi beograd and Čačak centres). No injuries, except to Merc's window, and the bomb threat turned out to be a hoax. B92 has more here. Apparently the leaked memo and Slovenia's likely endorsement of Kosovar independence have been stirring controversy in Belgrade. Photo source: B92.


News from Serbia

Boris Tadić just won the presidential election, over Radikalna Stranka (nationalist) party leader Tomislav Nikolić. Tadić is known for a pro-EU stance. Can he negotiate his country toward a compromise on the issue of Kosovar independence? It promises to be an interesting few weeks in this corner of the world, hopefully, everything will stay peaceful. A date for independence has been set, so it could be any time in the coming days.

ETA: Then again, PM Kostunica doesn't back Tadić's pro-European stance, and since they are in coalition together, there apparently could be a new election the minute Kosovo declares. Support for Nikolić is at 47% according to votes cast, so it's not like Tadić enjoys an overwhelming majority of support.