Kosovo is the smallest country in the Balkans – the same area as the Ile-de-France – but also the poorest.
Unemployment, community tensions … Nearly 20 years after the war between Albanians and Serbs, this country of 1.8 million people is struggling to recover.
Small backward. At the beginning of 1998, Kosovo is still an autonomous region belonging to Serbia, but mainly populated by Albanians. The conflict broke out between Albanian separatists and Serbian authorities … It was war. Serbia and Albania dispute this territory where the two peoples live. The Kosovar enclave was then placed under the supervision of the United Nations until 17 February 2008, when Kosovo self-proclaimed itself independent. A status recognized by Albania but denied by Serbia.
2017 is a pivotal year for the country. For the first time, those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be designated and tried. The current president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, could be one of them. A Kosovo court is being set up this year in The Hague, the Netherlands, where the International Criminal Court is located. This court, relocated, will apply the national legislation and will judge these crimes while protecting the key witnesses.
These trials testify to Kosovo’s efforts to comply with international law. The Europeans could see a strong signal of rapprochement at a time when the country looks at the European Union (EU) with hope. Although it is not officially a candidate for integration within the EU, the country adopted the euro in 1999 and has forged economic ties with it since 2008.
Yet this pro-European vision still divides the Kosovars. Serbia and Albania, who also want to join the EU, do not like this rapprochement. A rivalry that revives community tensions within Kosovo. The EU is therefore a solution for the future of the country but also, paradoxically, a danger to its stability.
Come and discover with us this country, the youngest in Europe, which is trying to build itself.
Florie Castaingts and Manon Gayet