Has Kosovo's first year of independence truly been "totally successful," as Prime Minister Hasim Thaci asserts?
Kosovo's economy is heavily dependent on remittances from abroad and foreign aid, two income sources expected to decline given the global financial crisis. And the foreign investment promised by the government has yet to materialize.
There remains untapped potential in the mining industry. Geologists recently discovered vast amounts of high-quality lignite coal (up to 15 billion tons) and considerable nickel, lead, zinc and bauxite deposits, and traces of gold.
But you have to wonder who would want to invest in any industry in a country ranked in the top fifth of the world’s most corrupt countries by Transparency International. Then there's the the threat of the mob. The UN mission in Kosovo estimates organized crime to account for some 15-20 percent of Kosovo's economy.
"For 10 years we linked every problem to status," said Shpend Ahmeti, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Pristina, referring to Kosovo's struggle to separate from Serbia. "We thought independence was going to simplify things. It has not. Independence has removed a mental block among Kosovars. Now, in every poll, the priority is not status, but jobs. We've moved from survival, to development and prosperity as a great need we don't yet have."