Kosovo's problem is that for nearly a century the main political topic has been nationalism ("The basket case called Kosovo," European Business, Nov. 15). Many people believe that all the problems will be solved once Kosovo becomes independent. As a consequence, nobody is prepared to do the hard work that is necessary to get an economy running. Until last year, Kosovo's politicians refused to negotiate with the Serb government about anything. In many policies, the Kosovo government willfully exceeded the limits of its authority. This created a climate where no practical solutions were sought and where the Serb government had little motivation to help. Giving Kosovo independence within its present borders will leave neither party satisfied.
I have been visiting Kosovo regularly over the past five years. Its infrastructure had been neglected during the 10 years of Yugoslavian rule. Kosovo exports (textiles, spare parts, and Amselfelder wine) all ceased with the hostilities. During Yugoslavian rule, many Kosovar nationals worked abroad ("one in each family" as I was told), as the Yugoslavian administration had few jobs for ethnic Albanians. Now that they are no longer considered political refugees, they have returned home, which accounts for much of the population growth you mention.
The returnees did bring money to invest but spent their money on the small scale you mention (restaurants, bars, travel agencies, petrol stations), with almost nil employment. Did anyone have the vision to direct that money to the abandoned textile factories, wineries, and spare-parts industries along the old labor-intensive formula? Not U.N. administrators. You show people lining up for social assistance -- a situation where people look for someone to blame for their plight. Hence the recently revived "ethnic rifts." Many Kosovarans feel Belgrade and the U.N. alike have conspired to deprive them of the right of self-determination and economic prosperity.