How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue
How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue
Report 100 / Europe & Central Asia

Kosovo Report Card

Over its first 15 months the international mission in Kosovo has a number of accomplishments to its credit.

Executive Summary

Over its first 15 months the international mission in Kosovo has a number of accomplishments to its credit.  These include negotiating an agreement with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to disband and to publicly commit to hand over its weapons – although few believe the KLA’s disarmament has been complete; heading off, in the early months after the war, an incipient conflict between backers of the KLA and the other major political force in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK); creating the framework of an administrative structure for Kosovo, and mobilising humanitarian assistance that helped feed and get more than one million Kosovo refugees into homes or temporary shelters before the first post-war winter.

Neither the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) nor the UN were prepared to deal effectively with the violence that unfolded in Kosovo after the war as returning Albanian refugees sought revenge against Serbs.  Over half of Kosovo’s Serb population fled and the rest now live a separate and heavily guarded existence in isolated enclaves or to the north of divided Mitrovica, which KFOR and the UN have until recently left for many purposes under Belgrade’s control.  As Kosovo moves toward local elections scheduled for 28 October 2000 political violence among Albanian groups is growing.  The international mission has yet to develop the capacity to uncover and move against the illegal armed groups that appear to be acting under the surface in Kosovo, just as it has failed to move against the influence that Milosevic continues to exert over the Kosovo Serbs.     

Impatience among Kosovo’s majority Albanian population is growing with the international mission’s slowness in putting in place some of the basic structures of normal life – 15 months after the end of the war the judicial system is still getting started and Pristina suffers prolonged daily power outages.  The UN police, although nearing its level of authorised deployments, has yet to deal effectively with the climate of lawlessness and disrespect for public authority.  Albanians have seized with both hands the opportunities for creating a flourishing small business economy – thanks in part to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) chief Bernard Kouchner’s decision to introduce the DM as the Kosovo’s currency – but the international community has yet to begin the process of privatisation and market reform that is critically necessary to restart the Kosovo economy and to channel investment into legitimate economic activity and away from the quasi-legal grey economy.

Underlying virtually all of Kosovo’s problems is the international community’s continued unwillingness to resolve the issue of Kosovo’s final status.  With neither the Albanian nor the Serb communities nor the international mission itself having any idea what Kosovo’s status will be in the future, it is unrealistic to expect either successful moves toward reconciliation or long-term investment. There is no magic wand on this issue – the international community is if anything even more divided on the issue of Kosovo’s future status than it was at the end of the 1999 war – but failure to address this problem will have growing consequences that in the end could cause the entire mission to unravel.    

Pristina/Brussels, 28 August 2000

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.