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Kosovo celebrates 15 years of indepedence but relations with Serbia remain tense

The status of Kosovo continues to divide the international community
The status of Kosovo continues to divide the international community Copyright Darko Vojinovic/AP
Copyright Darko Vojinovic/AP
By Mark Armstrong with AP
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Kosovo is celebrating 15 years of independence from Serbia but relations with Belgrade are still tense and the official status of the Balkan nation continues to divide the world

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Kosovo is celebrating 15 years of independence with a month of celebrations.

The Balkan nation is still facing serious challenges from Serbia, which refuses to recognise the autonomy of its former province.

The world is divided over the status of the province over which Serbia lost control back in 1999.

While the US and most Western powers recognised Kosovo's statehood, a number of European nations, including Bosnia, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Spain, Slovakia and Ukraine, do not acknowledge the Republic of Kosovo.

Russia and China back Serbia's stance.

The tension is visible and it is reflected through a very polarizing populist narrative by Kosovo institutions
Jovana Radosavljević
Political Analyst

Citizens of Kosovo also have different viewpoints.  

"Mostly things are bad," a woman living in Gračanica who considers herself Serbian, told Euronews, "I think nothing of what we thought would come true and we don't even know exactly what will come true."

But a pensioner in the capital Pristina who's ethnic Albanian told us: "I can say that we live quite well, every day is better and better".

For Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Kosovo is democratic and sovereign, with, he claims, the most developed economy in the region: "Kosovo is our common country, in which we must have both well-being and security, and this is the priority of our government as a guarantor of support for equal rights for all citizens of the country with a focus on the rule of law."

But official data from Kosovo's Statistics Agency paint a different picture. Unemployment is almost 40%, while professors, doctors, and civil servants are regularly seen protesting on the streets.

"When Serbia as a state is gone, we now see that we are responsible for our own lives," explains Nexmedin Spahiu, a professor of political sciences, "hence, it is not surprising that people are very disappointed"

Both in the Serbian and Albanian communities, a sense of fear and frustration prevails, primarily for security reasons.

"The tension is visible and it is reflected through a very polarizing populist narrative by Kosovo institutions," says political analyst Jovana Radosavljević

Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo is in crisis, but both sides accept the so-called Franco-German plan, which is backed by the European Union, for the solution of mutual relations. 

However, few of the 33 signed agreements have been implemented.

Both the EU and the United States have pressed for a faster reconciliation since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago, fearing another conflict in the Balkans, but for now, at least, tensions between Pristina and Belgrade remain tense. 

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