Saved and Depoliticised at One Stroke
July 15, 2008 10:06 AM   Subscribe

"The most startling features of Kosovo, now that the cleansing of the Serbian minority is on hold, are the poverty of the province ... and the pitiful economy that keeps it locked in."
Once a supplier of farm produce to other parts of Yugoslavia, Kosovo now brings in almost all its food, along with fuel and building materials. Its leading ‘export’ is scrap metal, a harvest of rundown plant from the Milosevic era and Nato bomb damage. Kosovo’s trade gap is dramatic: imports account for 90 per cent of legal cross-border trade ... The ambiguous status of the territory has been a large disincentive to foreign investors. Who can tell where their capital will be tied up or their taxes levied ten years from now? In a largely autonomous part of Serbia? A protectorate run by a handful of jaded international bodies? Or Europe’s latest sovereign state?
posted by geoff. (7 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Nationalism is a bitch, particularly in that sad little corner of the world.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:24 AM on July 15, 2008

a majority of Albanians in Kosovo are Sunni Muslims, only loosely observant, and a small Catholic minority is on the rise. In the absence of public provision or private sector wealth creation, it’s the cousins who count.

Kosovo looks like it has the same bright future as Lebanon's recent past.
posted by three blind mice at 10:39 AM on July 15, 2008

An excellent summary—thank goodness for the LRB's willingness to publish long articles like this, and thanks for the post.

After dozens of training sessions on ‘political modelling’, members who imagined their parties to be right-of-centre were forced to concede they had left-of-centre programmes and vice versa, a staffer at a policy research unit in Pristina recalled a few weeks ago.

They should give some of those training sessions to the U.S. Democratic Party.
posted by languagehat at 1:19 PM on July 15, 2008

Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo, Helsinki Agreement for Iraq. - This summer, the peace has a language. (previously in feel-good blockbusters Indonesia/ACEH and Namibia.)

Funny how those who set out to make history drop the ball and the actual deal writing and historymaking is left to small 3rd party countries. I wonder how much Finnish names there are in Middle-East's future history (red 1 moving in). Diplomatic win!

"Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere."
posted by Free word order! at 2:06 PM on July 15, 2008

Yugoslavia, was quite possibly better off under communist strongman Tito than parts of it are now. Kosovo is one of the parts that suffers in the new order.

I would argue that the people of Kosovo have the best possible future as an independant country, and they didn't become a scrap metal dealing economy over night. Without independence, Kosovo would be facing Serb nationalists at every turn or the emergence of some new strongman. As is, they have a chance at EU assistance and UN monitoring.

The level of analysis in the article is really quite disappointing. Small countries splitting off of bigger ones does not equal misery. We've seen plenty of good success stories in places like Slovakia and Estonia or even Norway and Sweden. We always see negative stories about national independence movements because the establishment does not want the people of Quebec, Western Canada, Scotland or the Basques getting any "bad" ideas.
posted by Deep Dish at 2:58 PM on July 15, 2008

@Deep Dish

Which establishment is this? Now I'd call myself no expert on European conspiracies, so I won't speak for the Basque/Scot angle, but do you have any evidence of some sort of cabal suppressing nationalism in the media? Or is just more comforting to assume the world is orderly enough to muster some sort of wide reaching global body with that much power?
posted by Phalene at 5:20 AM on July 16, 2008

@Phalene: "Which establishment is this?"

It's obviously the Illuminati, the Bilderberg group and the Freemasons, working to crush the Québécois, the Scots and the Basques. In other words, the same establishment that eliminated the gold standard and introduced the metric system. Notice a pattern?
posted by iviken at 6:25 AM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

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