Republic of Kosovo is Re-Establishing a Ham Radio Presence
Well-known DXer Martti Laine, OH2BH, reports that the first Amateur Radio licensing course in the Republic of Kosovo is nearing its end; passing the license exam will pave the way for Technical University of Pristina students to join the hobby ranks. The course was supported by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1, and it used both Croatian and UK course material. Radio equipment is in place for students and local amateurs at the Amateur Radio Association of Kosovo (SHRAK), currently located on the university. The Yasme Foundation helped the new association to get started.
“We had a superb field day with the students up at the mountain with generators and more,” Laine told ARRL. “We also set up few new stations with locals. Great bunch!”
Amateur Radio in the former Serbian province fell victim to civil unrest and war during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and hams were forced to go dark for more than 20 years. It’s been a year since any substantive operation from Kosovo, which is not a DXCC entity, although Laine, operating as Z68BH, was active this past weekend during the Worked All Europe DX Contest, in which Kosovo counts as a multiplier, and he reported making more than 100 contacts. Z6/LZ1BJ also has been spotted in recent weeks.
The equipment Laine used was given September 16 to Vjollca Belegu, Z61VB (ex-YU8AW), and she is expected to be the first female licensee active from the fledgling republic. Other licensees who had been active years ago using YU8 prefixes when Kosovo was still a part of Yugoslavia, have adopted Z6 prefix call signs, often using their former YU8 suffixes. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.
Reuters reported earlier this month that Serbia had dropped its opposition to assigning international telephone area code to its former province. The move marks the latest concession by the Balkan country as it seeks to start membership talks with the European Union in January. “Seasoned DXers know this usually follows or precedes issuance of an ITU call sign block,” said The Daily DX Editor Bernie McClenny W3UR, in reporting the action. “Will the ITU now list the Z6 prefix on the official Table of International Call Sign Series?” he asks. “If so this would finally qualify Kosovo for DXCC.”
IARU Region 1 President Hans Blondeel Timmerman, PB2T, has been involved in getting Amateur Radio back up to speed in Kosovo and operated in September 2012 as Z6ØK. “The reintroduction of Amateur Radio in Kosovo is a fact, and we hear Kosovar amateurs on the air often,” he said in a July post to the European DX Foundation website. “Kosovo as a DXCC entity is what DXers are really waiting for, of course.”
Under current DXCC rules, Kosovo does not qualify as a DXCC entity. For that to happen, Kosovo must become a UN member or be assigned an official ITU prefix. Kosovo’s telecommunications regulatory authority will issue Z6-prefix call signs to visiting radio amateurs for a fee. Kosovo also counts as a “country multiplier” for the CQ World Wide DX contests.