West wants 2-yr-old Kosovo to stop relying on donors  Newly independent country 
has received 4 bln euros in aid since 1999

A Kosovo Albanian man holds Albanian flags in the town of Kacanik yesterday, in 
preparation for the second anniversary of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of 
independence from Serbia.

By Fatos Bytyci - Reuters

PRISTINA – Two years after Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, increasingly wary 
Western donors are keen to wean the country from foreign aid and take more 
resolute steps to fight poverty, crime and corruption. The landlocked country 
of 2 million people, mostly ethnic Albanians, is among the poorest in Europe, 
swallowing 4 billion euros in aid since the war with Belgrade ended in 1999.

It marks its independence anniversary today, but economic woes still bear 
heavily. Donor help accounts for 15 percent of GDP and Finance Minister Ahmet 
Shala has said Kosovo will ask donors for more aid to fill this year’s budget 
gap. Western countries, grappling with their own financial problems, want 
Kosovo to start developing a viable economy.

“International assistance will continue but this will not be enough to solve 
the economic problems and start up a real progress of this country,” said 
Michael Giffoni, the Italian ambassador in Pristina, whose country remains a 
big donor.

“There is a need to break this vicious circle of dependence on external 
assistance.” The economy, driven by exports of metals, cannot generate enough 
revenue for the government, nor can its labor market absorb some 30,000 
youngsters every year. Exports cover only 10 percent of imports, putting 
pressure on public finances. Unemployment stands at 40 percent.

“A Greek organization built my home in 1999 but today our last and only wish is 
to find jobs for my two sons,” said Naxhie Rushiti, 62, from the village of 
Raskove, near Pristina, echoing the sentiment of many. Around 65 percent of the 
population is under 30 but many of them seek to leave Kosovo for Western 
Europe, mostly by paying 2,000-3,000 euros to human traffickers.

Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci told Reuters this week Kosovo would need 
foreign donors for another three to five years, but said that “our aim is not 
to receive foreign aid for survival but assistance for economic development.”

Sixty-five countries, including the USA and its key European allies, have 
recognized Kosovo but opposition from Serbia, Russia and China has prevented it 
from becoming a UN member. Constant tensions between Albanians and Serbs, as 
well as rampant crime, have kept foreign investment away. “Without a robust 
legal framework, Kosovo is in danger of turning into a persistently 
impoverished country and this can go on for decades,” said Marko Prelec, 
Balkans director of the Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group 

Despite the continuing presence of some 10,000 NATO troops and 2,000 police, 
judges and prosecutors from the EU, Kosovo remains “a source and a place of 
transit for organized crime activities,” according to a
2009 European Commission report.

Furthermore, the government still does not control 15 percent of its northern 
territory where half of 120,000 Kosovo Serbs live and do not recognize 
Albanian-run institutions.

“If you have no rule of law, public money is misused by officials and then 
there is no economy and without good economy you cannot fight crime and this 
circle always continues in Kosovo,” said Engjellushe Morina, director of Kosovo 
Stability Initiative, a nonprofit organization.

A decade after NATO bombing drove out Serb forces to stop the killing of 
Albanians, Kosovo thinks its economy can grow on the back of its mineral wealth 
– lignite coal, lead, zinc and nickel – and the energy of its fast-growing 
young population.

The economy should expand some 4 percent this year, more than any other Balkan 
peer, but experts say Kosovo needs much higher growth to fight unemployment and 

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                                   Serbian News Network - SNN



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