Balkanalysis.com

Kosovo

Capital Prishtina
Time Zone CET (GMT+1)
Country Code 377 (Monaco); 381 (Serbia)
Mobile Codes 44
ccTLD (TBD)
Currency Euro
Land Area 10,908 sq km
Population 1.8 million
Language Albanian, Serbian, Turkish
Major Religions Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism

Notes on the 15th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1244

June 10, 2014

By Anita McKinna Today is the 10th of June, marking the fifteenth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which established the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and marked the beginning of the reconstruction of Kosovo after the war. It is in many ways an extraordinary document, both for the far-reaching mandate of UNMIK that […]

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Kosovo after Supervised Independence: Interview with Petrit Selimi

October 5, 2012

Balkanalysis.com Editor’s note: September marked the end of the four-year period of supervised independence that followed Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. The transition was met with fanfare by Kosovo Albanians, with trepidation by Serbs, and with some amount of relief from the oft-beleaguered international overseers charged with overcoming the many challenges of Kosovo state-building and […]

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Key Data

Notable Public Figures

Atifete Jahjaga, President

Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister

Behgjet Pacolli, Deputy Prime Minister, International Recognitions and Foreign Investments

Bajram Rexhepi, Interior Minister

Enver Hoxhaj, Foreign Affairs Minister

Bedri Hamza, Finance Minister

Agim Çeku, Security Forces Minister

Fehmi Mujota, Infrastructure Minister

Albin Kurti, Activist and founder of the Vetëvendosje party

Naim Ternava, Mufti of Islamic Community of Kosovo

Pieter Feith, EU Special Representative, International Civilian Office (ICO)

Lamberto Zannier, UN Special Representative, UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Xavier Bout de Marnhac, Head of Mission, EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX)

Lt. Gen. Markus Bentler, Commander of Kosovo Force (KFOR)

Major Industries

Mining, energy, telecommunications; some agriculture

Key Trade Partners

Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Germany, Turkey; also diaspora remittances

Issues and Insights

Overview

Some 13 years after the NATO bombing that ended Yugoslav governance in Kosovo, the Balkans’ newest independent country remains sharply contested. Although the formerly all-pervasive United Nations-led governance here has gradually given way to locally-directed institutions, international minders – in the form of the controversial EU law-and-order mission, EULEX – still play the key role in keeping Kosovo and its fractious ethnic groups under control, particularly in the ethnically-contested north. In the south and center, however, minority Serb populations have been largely integrated.

Further, as has been the case since 1999, the ongoing presence of international organizations and major countries continues to manifest in rivalries, games of brinksmanship, corruption and a level of foreign interest almost without parallel (given the small size of the country).

Despite a July 2010 legal setback at the Hague over Kosovo’s right to declare its independence, Serbia remains obstinate in opposing this de facto situation, with large areas of territory north of the River Ibar remaining outside of Prishtina’s control. This has led to repeated violent clashes between Serbian locals and KFOR troops trying to change the ‘facts on the ground’ by force. Thus an international talking point popular in 2012 has depicted the North as a breeding ground for “organized crime” which is run by “parallel structures” in order to justify intervening.

However, despite the ongoing impasse over political legitimacy and numerous legal issues associated with it, all of which impact on an already sluggish economy, Kosovo sees its future in its youth; with the youngest average population in Europe, the country is attempting to rebrand itself from a place associated with conflict and crime. The generally pro-American and pro-European sentiment of the Kosovo Albanian population has served the country’s image well over the past decade, but it will still take some time before Kosovo catches up with the European mainstream.

Meanwhile, the completion of a highway to Albania and expected building of another one to Skopje in 2013 are making Kosovo more integrated. The acquisition of a strategic ‘seaport’ in Durres, by virtue of the new highway, gave Kosovars confidence that they can expand their economy.

Outstanding Issues

The legal status of Kosovo’s independence, and relevant issues surrounding it, from rights of participation in international events to violence in the North; international recognitions, arbitration, contracts and memberships developments; pressures on the economy, including corruption and diaspora activity; organized crime, including weapons and narcotics smuggling; the fate of Serbian and other minorities in the country; the role and legitimacy of international institutions in Kosovo; relations with Serbia.

Forward Planning: Points of Interest

  • Diplomatic intrigue and initiatives concerning Kosovo’s independence and aspirations, from both the Prishtina government and from Belgrade
  • Internal dynamics and rivalries within the various international power-brokers in Kosovo (ICO, EULEX, UNMIK, KFOR, etc)
  • Continuing violence and threat of violence over the northern municipalities and the border control with Serbia proper, as well as the effect this can have on energizing the hardline ethnic Albanian opposition parties
  • Developing economic ties with Albania and the real or expected benefits of major infrastructure projects for enhancing Kosovo’s trade ties abroad
  • Inter- and intra-religious issues and their effect on society, including Serbian Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Islam and secularism
  • Relations with Turkey, including governmental relations and issues such as textbook depiction of Ottoman history