In the Balkans it is often said that “everything started in Kosovo and everything will end there”, meaning that the cancer of nationalism that destroyed Yugoslavia began exactly there and that the Yugoslav conflicts had begun in Kosovo and would end there. Three decades after the beginning of those conflicts it is still hard to say that the processes they had unleashed have finished.
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic that the country is dealing with, Kosovo is currently experiencing unprecedented political turmoil. While the state institutions and public health bodies have been actively faced with the COVID-19 situation since mid-March when the first protective measures were introduced in Kosovo, on the other hand the former junior government’s coalition partner - Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), ranked in second place in Kosovo’s snap elections held on October 6, 2019 - started to angrily act in opposition to the government.
Kosovo as a state is not just a product of the popular will to self-determination, but also a product of the liberal international order that is now being dismantled. It was able to secede from Serbia and gain recognition from an overwhelming majority of Western countries (and others) based on the liberal understanding of international law that dominated in the age of US unipolar dominance. This was confirmed by the 2011 verdict of the International Court of Justice, which ruled that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was not in contradiction to international law.
Most experts agree that Serbia has a "single-issue", the foreign policy of countersecession following Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. This issue shapes Serbia's official discourse and foreign policy.
In 2015, the Kosovar Parliament passed a law to establish a Special Court in The Hague in order to investigate war crimes perpetrated in Kosovo between January 1998 and December 2000.
The Western Balkans – that is, the countries of former Yugoslavia minus Slovenia and Croatia, plus Albania – are faring relatively better than other regions on the edges of Europe. Unlike their Eastern neighbours, they are on track to become members of the European Union (EU).
While the EU’ member states are absorbed by the political campaign in view of the European elections and apprehensive about the implications of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the Balkan question remains in the background. The Balkans, nevertheless, continue to make progress on the convergence with the EU and for some of them the membership is getting closer. After Croatia's accession to the EU last July, thanks to the Brussels agreements of April 2013, Kosovo opened the negotiations for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement in October 2013 and Serbia for the EU accession in January 2014. Meanwhile, the European Commission and the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee issued positive opinions on granting candidate status to Albania, even though the Council later postponed the signature of further verification to June 2014. Despite the successful path towards the EU, there are still unsettled issues (Kosovo's status, ethnic slow down the process of European integration and make the region unstable. For this reason the EU needs to not neglect the Balkans and to continue with its commitment towards enlargement.
Aver toccato con mano la realtà di un Paese tanto complesso come il Kosovo e avere avuto l’opportunità di incontrare e discutere con personalità che a tutti i livelli, da quello internazionale a quello locale, si occupano della gestione quotidiana di questo Paese è un’esperienza che sicuramente rimarrà impressa nelle menti e nei cuori di tutti i partecipanti alla Field Experience organizzata da ISPI tra il 18 e il 22 luglio.
Come i nostri lettori abituali ricorderanno, l’ISPI è stato in Kosovo lo scorso Maggio, dal 18 al 22, portando sul campo un gruppo selezionato di partecipanti interessati ad approfondire personalmente temi di grande interesse quali cooperazione allo sviluppo, post-war reconstruction ed assistenza umanitaria.