September 30, 2005: The worst thing about Kosovo is that there has been no progress in the last six years. After NATO military force got Serbia to pull their troops out of the province, because of Serb attempts to expel the Albanian majority population, the Albanians came back and successfully forced out most of the Serb minority in Kosovo. Now, only about five percent of the population is Serb, and they live in enclaves guarded by 17,000 NATO peacekeepers. Violence and crime are common, and jobs are not (about two thirds of the workforce are unemployed.) The only big business is crime, with organized gangs heavily into smuggling, drugs, prostitution and whatever else will earn money. Islamic charities have set up religious schools, and are turning thousands of young Albanians into enthusiastic haters of all things Christian. Because it's bad for business, the Albanian gangsters let it be known that Islamic terrorism is not welcome in Kosovo. But the groundwork is being done.Well. It was predictable.
UPDATE: The NY Times provides a timely article, which contains some interesting statistics used in interesting ways. For example,
At first glance, the province appears relatively thriving today - particularly when compared with the war devastation of 1999. New houses can be seen everywhere, the result of a postwar construction boom. In the regional capital, Pristina, the streets are filled with cafes, restaurants and stores. Only the ubiquitous white four-wheel drive vehicles of the United Nations mission and the infrequent military checkpoints hint at another reality.Well, there are other hints, auch as
Today, most Kosovo Serbs remain in enclaves and in small rural communities, often fearful of venturing out. Albanians steer clear of the Serb-dominated northern part of the province, for fear of attack.
Estimates of unemployment range from 30 to 70 percent. The regional government is close to bankrupt, and the United Nations expects the economy to shrink by 2 percent this year...
What money has been invested in economic development appears to have had a marginal impact. The province's two power stations suffer daily power cuts, despite more than $700 million in capital spending.
Kosovo's banking and payments authority report for 2004 states that the economy has been disinvesting since 2000, despite substantial international aid. United Nations officials here note that Kosovo was the poorest part of the old Yugoslavia, even before tensions exploded in the late 1980's and Slobodan Milosevic rode nationalist tensions to seize and consolidate power and to bring Kosovo under direct rule from Belgrade.