Saturday, January 27, 2007

Kosovo Questions

Once more it is the Balkans that is in the headlines. We are approaching the time when President Ahtisaari will present his ideas on Kosovo to both Belgrade and Prishtina.

And that will be the start of an intense period of diplomacy centered on Kosovo and Serbia.

On Tuesday evening I'm heading to Prishtina for some quick talks there during the Wednesday.

It is primarily Prime Minister Ceku and the UN head Ruckers who have expressed a desire to see me, and the best way of making that happen was for me to come down to them for some hours.

But I will also take the opporrtunity of seeing some others to get a better picture of the challenges abhead. That applies perhaps in particular to the economic situation of Kosovo which in my opinion should be given far more attention than is the fact.

There is the belief that if you take some sort of decision on the "status issue" you would automatically improve the economic and social situation. I fear that this is very far from what will happen, and that there is the risk of a rather rude awakening some time down the road.

And if you don't get a better economic situation for the inhabitants of Kosovo, I'm afraid that the political stability Kosovo so desperately need will also be in danger.

Today, approximately 60 % of the economy of Kosovo is based on money coming from abroad in different ways. That's a substantial increase in relation to the approximately 40 % it was during the Yugoslav years. But over the coming years there might well be a rather sharp reduction in these flows, and it will then be imperative that this is balanced by a dramatic increase in the activity of the domestic economy of Kosovo.

I want to know more about how the Kosovo instituitions are planning for the immense post-status challenges they will be facing.