I've arrived safe and sound in Pristina and I have to say that the place is a lot better than I was expecting. Having worked in Bosnia in 1998 I was expecting some similarities in terms of bullet hole damaged buildings and so on. Although it is obvious that although the place is perhaps not amongst the best places architecturally (lots of 70s and 80s concrete blocks which wouldn't look out of place in back streets in China) it certainly isn't all that bad.
The UNMIK mission is clearly a major presence in the City and there are a significant number of ex-pats about. In fact, I met a friend from Bulgaria tonight who I had trained in 2000 and she now works for the Kosovo Trust Agency which is responsible for privatisation and liquidation of former state owned assets. I've been rather surprised at how small a world it is here in Kosovo having spoken to or heard of the exploits of a number of friends and acquaintances in the international development trade.
My Kosovar driver Bardh spoke fantastic English and was able to brief me on what was going on politically from a Kosovar point of view. Naturally there are at least two sides to every story but it does seem that there is quite a lot of tension in the air at the moment for various reasons.
Anyway, I shall meet my team leader tomorrow morning, the Italians who are running the project (which is working with disadvantaged groups in the Mitrovica area) and my local counterpart expert who I shall be delivering the training with next week.
GOOD LUCK GREG AND NIGEL FOR TOMORROW. I hope that we have great success in the by-elections tomorrow and I'm sorry that I can't be there to help.