Kosovo:7 years independence, more shadows than light

Poverty and mass exodus, institutions in crisis

17 February, 11:15

    7th anniversary of Kosovo's independence 7th anniversary of Kosovo's independence

    (ANSAmed) - PRISTINA, FEBRUARY 16 - Kosovo is celebrating on Tuesday the seventh anniversary of the proclamation of its independence from Serbia in a situation that is still critical from a political and economic standpoint, and with corruption and crime rates still high.

    Poverty is widespread and unemployment is around 40%, inducing tens of thousands of ethnic Albanian Kosovans to leave the country to look for a better life, seeking asylum in vain in several northern European countries, primarily in Germany, Austria, Sweden and France.

    This mass exodus has also raised concern in Serbia, a country crossed by Kosovans to reach Hungary and other EU countries.

    Belgrade, which has never recognized Pristina's independence, has urged EU intervention, claiming that neither Serbia nor Hungary are the final destination of Kosovan migrants.

    Austria and Germany granted assistance, sending agents and sophisticated means to patrol the Serbian-Hungarian border.

    Observers and analysts in Pristina have also underlined the crisis of the country's main institutions: parliament, government, the judiciary - as shown by the long political void experienced by Kosovo after elections in June and the difficulty in forming a new government.

    Kosovo was at the center of a bloody war at the end of the 1990s between separatist Albanian militias and Serbian forces, which resulted in over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of refugees. It unilaterally proclaimed its independence on February 17, 2008.

    Up until now, Kosovo has been recognized by 108 countries - out of the 193 represented within the UN - including the United States and 23 of the 28 EU member states, including Italy.

    Spain, Greece, Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia have not recognized Pristina's independence.

    Over 90% of Kosovo's two million residents are ethnic Albanians of Muslim faith. The Serbian minority, totaling some 120,000 people of Christian-Orthodox faith, is concentrated in northern Kosovo and many enclaves across the country. Three years ago Belgrade and Pristina started a political dialogue mediated by the EU, which led to an agreement on the normalization of relations signed in Brussels in April 2013 that has paved Serbia's and Kosovo's way towards European integration. (ANSAmed)

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