Co-heads for Kosovo's Post & Telecommunications named: The Interim Administrative Council today named Mr. Zef Morina, an engineer and member of Kosovo's Christian Democratic Party and Mr. Pascal Copin, head of Postal Services and Telecommunications in UNMIK as co-heads of the Department of Post & Telecommunications, one of the 19 proposed departments of the Joint Interim Administrative Structure. The Council also discussed preparations for the establishment of the first four departments -- Health and Social Security, Education and Science, Local Administration, Budget and Finance -- which will become operational on 1 February.
Social assistance payment to begin in February: Needy families in Kosovo will be paid up to 100 deutsche marks (about $53) per month to cover the months of February to April, beginning the last week of February. UNMIK said today these payments are part of an emergency plan to give some assistance to the most needy over the winter. The payments generally go to elderly persons, families with one parent or families with disabled persons. The first round of payments was made in December and 10 million deutsche marks (about $5.3 million) was paid to some 60,000 people.
Elections likely d in September: Elections in Kosovo are likely to be held in September or fall of this year, UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said today in answer to a question at a press briefing in Pristina. "We're looking at September or fall for the first elections," she said.
Extreme cold cause local power cuts and breakdowns: Kosovo has 542 megawatts of power available, but due to extreme cold local cuts and breakdowns continue to cause temporary outages, UNMIK said today. Repairs to one of Kosovo's power plant, Kosovo B2, which shut down due to a fire two weeks ago, will take two months. Talks are continuing with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on importing Macedonian power and Greek power through Macedonia.
Three days' notice required for demonstrations: UNMIK Police will require three days' notice from anyone wanting to organize a major event or demonstration within the city of Pristina. UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said today the objective is to allow the police provide security and the public. She said under the requirement, major events include basketball and football matches, music concerts and street performances.
UNMIK Police also reported that the security situation was "relatively stable" over the past 24 hours. There were no murders. A grenade was thrown into a Serb house in Orahovac and another was thrown into the house of an Albanian in southern Mitrovica but in both cases no injuries were reported. Also last night, the tyres of 16 UNMIK Police vehicles were slashed, most of them parked in front of the UNMIK police station in northern Mitrovica. On Wednesday the body of an Albanian male was found in Podujevo with bullet injuries to the head. Police are investigating.
Kosovo's wheat harvest expected to be lower than pre-1990 levels: Kosovo's winter wheat harvest will be lower than the pre-1990 levels and similar to 1997/98 at 2.75 tonnes per hectare, FAO said today in a report issued in Rome. Wheat is the basic cereal staple of the province and planning relief assistance in 2000 will depend greatly on the outcome of the wheat harvest from July, the UN agency said. An FAO crop assessment mission in Kosovo estimated that the area planted to winter wheat in 1999 is about 79,000 hectares, the bulk of which will be harvested in 2000.
The mission also found that farmers intended to plant about 100,000 hectares of maize -- Kosovo's primary feed cereal -- this summer. FAO said plans were in hand to supply seeds and fertilizers to a targeted group of the most vulnerable farmers. It also said weeds are expected to be a major problem this summer, given the abundance of weeds in last year's harvested and unharvested cereal crops, reduced cultivation practices where tractors were in short supply and the lack of herbicide use in the autumn. Excessive weed competition would reduce yields even lower than those currently estimated by the mission and international support for spring weed control on winter wheat and summer sown maize should be a priority for the coming months.
European Union gives over $200,000 to kick-start Kosovo's wine industry: The European Union has given 400,000 deutsche marks (about $212,680) to kick-start Kosovo's wine industry, UNMIK announced today. The first step of the project, which will provide jobs to 500-600 people, will be to prune Kosovo vineyards, starting in the second week of February. The Kosovo vineyards suffered from lack of care in the last ten years. Until 1990, the Kosovo vineyards had around 100,000 hectares. Today there are 5,000-6,0900 hectares of vineyards in cultivation and three state wine cellars in Orahovac, Gjakova, Suhareka, with a one-million hectolitre capacity. In the second phase of the project, machines, fertilizers and chemicals will need to be provided. UNMIK said help of international donors is required for the success of this initiative.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.