When Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia, on 17th February 2008, hopes for a bright and better future were high. For the vast majority, it was a dream come true: Kosovo could finally stand among the free nations of the world, and the way for its European integration was thus paved.
Between eagles and stars
Ten years after that day, the state of Kosovo’s affairs looks dire and the hopes of its people have been largely dashed. The country with the youngest population in Europe also has the highest unemployment rate (33%), which reaches a world’s low when it comes to its youth (60%). Economic paralysis, rampant unemployment, increasing poverty, poor educational standards, widespread corruption, extremism and nepotism, topped by the virtual impossibility of traveling abroad due to the exclusion of Kosovo from visa liberalisation, are choking the future of this country, still not universally recognized as an independent State.
Institutions heavily rely on the presence of foreign armies, UN missions and NGOs, while the country’s economy depends on foreign aid. On the political scene, the rise of the nationalist movement Vetevendosje is symptomatic of the mounting disaffection over the country’s isolation and stagnation.
National identity seems at times more of a foreign-imposed undertaking, as its 6 main ethnicities (Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Gorani, Romani and Bosnian) stand close only in the official country flag, represented by golden stars, while in real life they carry on separate lives. In school, for example, children attend only mono-ethnical classes.