Kosovo’s economic challenges are massive. It is one of the poorest regions in Europe, with stagnant growth, high unemployment, neglected infrastructure, low quality education, widespread corruption, interest rates at around thirteen per cent and a weak legal system: it has also inherited part of Serbia’s foreign debts.
Fifty six per cent of the work force does not have a job or is working unofficially. Forty five per cent of the population lives below the poverty line of 1.5 euros a day. The average monthly wage is 240 euros.
Kosovo’s road and rail network was neglected in Yugoslav times, fell into total disrepair in the 1990s, and was partly destroyed in the 1998-99 war with Serbia. Utilities, especially water and power, are unreliable.
Kosovo’s Finance Minister, Ahmet Shala, said they have the will, but need help: “Whatever we will do in next few years we will not be able alone to overcome the challenges that are ahead of us. However, Kosovo government has clearly made its agenda and priorities how to solve that and policies.”
Another problem, Serbia, with strong Russian backing, remains vehemently opposed to Kosovo’s split from Belgrade. The two have vowed to block Kosovo from joining international institutions such as the United Nations through which it could get more funding and aid.