Friday, July 29, 2005

Kosovo Status

I think it is important to provide some background and context for those of you reading this blog that are unfamiliar with the political situation in Kosovo.

Kosovo is a province in the vast country that was once known as Yugoslavia. Today it is still technically part of the country now known as Serbia and Montenegro (also two regions of the former Yugoslavia). But since 1999, Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations (UNMIK…The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo). The NATO-led peacekeeping force is known as KFOR.

In the late 1990’s, Yugoslav and Serbian President Slobadan Milosevic waged what many describe as an ethnic cleansing campaign to rid Kosovo of its ethnic Albanian majority. The campaign ended in 1999 after NATO, with assistance from the United States, waged a 78-day bombing campaign to drive Serb military forces from Kosovo.

In the end thousands of people died and at the height of the bombing campaign more than one-million people fled Kosovo to neighboring Macedonia and Albania. Milosevic is currently on trial at The Hague in the Netherlands for war crimes allegedly committed in Kosovo and Bosnia.
Since the end of the war, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority have sought complete independence from Serbia. Serbia, however, views Kosovo as sacred ground and has rejected calls for an independent Kosovo. And although most of Kosovo’s Serb population fled from the region in 1999, ethnic tensions remain high.

Later this year, a special United Nations appointed investigator is due to issue a report on what the future may hold for Kosovo’s political status. In the meantime, Kosovo’s future remains in limbo. This means foreign investment and any real chance for economic growth in this region is severely limited.