NATO’s military attack on Serbia started in March 1999 and lasted until June the same year, when the Military Technical Agreement also known as the Agreement of Kumanovo, between the International Security Force (KFOR) and the Governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia was signed in the Yugoslav Army tent in the NATO base in Macedonia, after five days of negotiations.
In June 1999, the UN Security Council adopted the Resolution No. 1244 by 14 votes and 1 abstention (China), reaffirming its call for a meaningful autonomy and self-administration for Kosovo. On 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice gave its Advisory Opinion on the question of the Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo. The opinion that the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on 17 February 2008 did not violate international law was voted by ten votes to four. Five years later, Serbia recognized the governance of the Republic of Kosovo on its territory, but also continues to claim it as the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.
In March 2011 following a UN General Assembly Resolution the Kosovo-Serbia technical dialogue began and in September 2012 Kosovo declared the end of supervised independence. A high-level dialogue facilitated by the High Representative/Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton between the two states, started immediately after.
Half of native Albanian territory and almost 40% of the Albanian population were left out; in particular the Vilayet of Kosovo (Kosova) was given to Serbia and Chameria (Ҫamëria) to Greece, as a result of the decisions taken in the Treaty of London (1913). The Conference of Ambassadors was an international summit of the six Great Powers of that time, which convened in December 1912, dealing with the adjustments of territories after the results of the First Balkan War, between the defeated Ottoman Empire and the Balkan League. One of the issues discussed in the Conference of Ambassadors, was also the status of the territories of Albania, which had declared its independence from Ottoman Empire only one month earlier. The formal decision to establish the Principality of Albania as a sovereign state independent from the Ottoman Empire was reached by the Ambassadors July 1913.
Some historical facts were needed to refresh our thoughts when referring to Kosovo.
I am an Albanian. It is difficult for me to see Kosovo in a separate reality, hoisting a different flag instead of the double-headed black eagle. It is the flag that constitutes our Albanian roots, the one we cover our heroes with, the one we hoist when building new houses. During the conflict of 1999, I have seen people arriving in Albania from Kosovo as refugees. They didn’t have anything left from home but tiny red and black Albanian flags hidden in their chests. They could have died if caught carrying it.
And yet I have always admired peaceful political leaders of Kosovo who wished to maintain historical moments and people under control. That is maybe the reason why I easily accepted the existence of a second Albanian state with a different flag. It was that invention that made me feel as if that was not a real flag, but in reality it is.
When learning about our own country’s history we somehow were taught to consider Kosovo as the forbidden apple, the thought we were not allowed to think of, the wish we were not supposed to dream of. Kosovo to us is like the dear brother of same blood living next door. You share roots and family name, you support and seek each other in case of need, but you are not allowed to live under the same roof. It is exactly what I wished to say.
Despite national feelings when thinking of Kosovo, we as Albanians are aware of our common future in another bigger geographical context and economical union. We are testimonials of hate speech and even human massacres resulting in sick nationalistic movements and threats in our region. This is not the case when considering Albania and Kosovo. I belong to the generation that were brought up learning from the history books that we never started a war or tried to invade neighboring countries.
Today the newest state in Europe is still striving between internal clashes of political parties for power and high standards set by internationals. Landlocked in the central Balkans, Kosovo represents an important key stability actor in the region. I am writing these words and I believe in what I just wrote.
Our two states continue to follow development and tick some items off the list on their common way towards EU integration. We share many similar challenges, poverty, unemployment, corruption, trafficking, judiciary, freedom of media, informal economy, political crisis and difficulties to reach consensus. Our two governments have so much to do to strengthen collaboration and increase trade exchanges. This is not that easy, even though we speak the same language. Nationalism is not enough when thinking about regional development and economy.
Reducing unemployment and rising hopes for a better future for youth is the biggest challenge of each government. Kosovo unfortunately offers few employment opportunities for the youth between 16-24 years, with an unemployment rate of 60%. This is a generation constituting the major labour force for the country, but doesn’t see the green light after graduation, leading the society to social crisis.
The European Union is the single largest donor providing assistance to Kosovo. Since 1999 Kosovo has received more than €2 billion in EU assistance. There are 18 representative offices of EU Member States present in Kosovo, be it embassies or liaison offices.
In October 2012 the European Commission issued the feasibility study for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo which was initialed in July 2014 by the chief negotiators of EU and Kosovo in Brussels.
Kosovo has been standing alone for more than a century and came to this point the hard way. Kosovo will be able to overcome day by day its obstacles and develop a strong self-governance, sound economic development and reforms, with strong self-determination to move on!
Edited by: Lisa Enocsson