Developments in Kosovo

Updated: 5 October 2015

Kosovo is Europe's youngest country. In 2008, Kosovo became an independent country after almost ten years as an UN protectorate.

After World War II, Kosovo became an autonomous province within the Yugoslav Republic of Serbia. The autonomy was abolished in 1990 and an increasingly severe repression began. The dominant party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) advocated non-violence in the fight for independence, but by the mid 1990’s a growing number of people opted for armed struggle.

Many joined the guerrilla group Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which in 1998 carried out a number of attacks. Serbia responded with widespread violence against civilians, which led to a mass exodus. In 1999, NATO initiated a bombing campaign against Serbian targets, forcing the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his troops from Kosovo.

The independence

Under UN auspices, the self-governance was took form. In the years after the independence Kosovo was placed under the transitional UN administration (UNMIK) and the development in Kosovo was monitored by an International Steering Group (that included Sweden). In 2004, the United Nations decided to accelerate the process for the future of Kosovo and the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari was appointed special envoy. In  2007 Ahtisaari proposed that Kosovo should become independent under international supervision. In February 2008, Kosovo declared independence and in 2012 the Steering Group ended its supervision.

Under the Constitution, Kosovo is a democratic and indivisible republic. The main political parties are the left-wing Kosovo Democratic Party (PDK) with roots in the guerrilla movement (Kosovo Liberation Army), and the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

Disagreement over who would get to form a government after the 2014 election meant that a new government could be formed only six months later, after an agreement was reached when PDK and LDK jointly formed the government.

The judiciary system

In connection with the independence in 2008, the EU established a so called police, customs and judicial mission, EULEX, whose mandate runs until 2016. EULEX mission is to strengthen Kosovo's own capacity in the legal area, as well as to pursue prosecution of organized crime, corruption and war crimes. However, in 2014, high-ranking officials within EULEX where themselves accused of corruption.

Diplomatic recognition

To date, nearly one hundred countries (including Sweden) have recognized Kosovo. Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina has refused to recognize Kosovo's independence, as well as several EU states. Nor is Kosovo recognized by the UN.

Since 2014 there has been a certain rapprochement between Kosovo and Serbia, but tensions still remain high, something that is also true when it comes to the relation between the Serb minority and the Albanian majority in Kosovo.

Large international presence

Kosovo has no formal relations with the EU, since all members have not recognized independence, but the EU is Kosovo's largest donor. Since 2000 Kosovo has received approximately 1.4 billion Euros in EU aid. The NATO-led international force KFOR remains in Kosovo and is responsible for security in the country. In early 2013, the number of KFOR troops amounted to 5000 persons.

Business and Economy

Agriculture and mining is the base of the economy I Kosovo, the domestic industry is weak and exports are modest. The money that migrants send home (remittances) accounts for nearly a sixth of the total GDP.

Kosovo is one of Europe's poorest countries, and over a third of Kosovo's inhabitants are considered poor. The official unemployment rate is 45 per cent. The black economy is thought to be extensive with drug trafficking, cigarette smuggling, prostitution and human trafficking as main areas.

Social issues

Both health care and education system has serious shortcomings. There are not enough schools or trained teachers. According to UNICEF, child labour is common in many sectors.

Kosovo is not included in, UNDP's Human Development Index, but an estimate from 2012 indicated that Kosovo would end up in 87th place if included.

Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

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