Kosovo celebrates 10 years of social, political and economical turmoil in the name of liberal peace building
Skrevet av: Martine Enge
While there has not been any armed conflict in the Balkan region since the NATO bombings in 1999, modern Liberal peacebuilding aims for more than just the absence of war. The post conflict intervention’s fundament is to localize the core of the conflict to build sustainable peace.
The belief is that democratization and liberalization of markets is the key to stabile and sustainable peace and development. As Kosovo celebrates its 10 years anniversary of independence with liberal peacebuilding periodically conducted by the UN and the EU, it’s socio-economical, political and ethnical problems still prevails. The UN is not involved anymore and the EU has decleared to withdraw this spring.
The parallel reality in Mitrovica
The controversial intervention in 1999 was based on the cosmopolitan thought of international responsibility to protect to stop the bloody secteric conflict between the Albanians and Serbian. NATO managed to stop the systemic violence, but nearly twenty years later the ethnic hostility is still a problem. The North-Kosovo case especially. This is an area within Kosovo’s border where the inhabitants speak Serbian, use Serbian money and drink Serbian beer and generally recognize it as a part of Serbian territory. It is a totally segregated area inside the Kosovo that needs police supervision to preserve peace. The anti EULEX attitudes prevails in the Serbian minority communities, the issue is highly polarized. This is not just an anecdote, but well describes a very unusual situation and highlights the unique aspects of the young countries issues.
Although the people of the former Yugoslavia have lived with together with various religions for centuries, ethnicity seems to be a part of the contemporary situation where a us and them mentality is ruling. The Serbian minority in Kosovo are orthodox Christian and the Albanians are mostly Muslims. The feelings of the past do not necessarily grow old, the breakup is still hurting and some of these feeling are inherited to new generations. Though there lie big expectations in the capital, Pristina, which is a pulsing city that flourish of young, open minded people that consider themselves as Kosovar’s rather than Serbian or Albanian. But how long this thinking can sustain without any change is questionable.
From responsibility to protect to responsibility to control
One of the two pillars in Liberal peacebuilding is market liberalization. In practice this means less state control over the market, letting private cooperation’s take over government institution and assets, give low taxes to businesses, create flexibility within job-markets and so forth. Stimulating competitiveness is believed to create economical growth. This comprehensive strategy was implemented; the Kosovar’s where hopefully waiting for the break trough of the young country’s economical rise. Ten years later, Kosovo is the third poorest country in Europe.
EU-membership with access to job-markets and free trade was and is seen by many as the solution, but because of the recognition-conflict with Serbia, Kosovo lives in total economical and social isolation from the European community, Kosovar’s are the only Europeans that can’t travel freely in the Schengen area. There are five EU member-states does not recognize Kosovo as a state, for various reasons, Spain for example neglects its existence in fear of own separationist movements. And it is not just in Europe recognition that causes trouble, they are also being left out of important international trade-agreements, making international organization quite hard. Which everyone knows, it is crucial to be a part of the global market in a globalized world.
Not to say that the whole Kosovo’s state building process has been a failure, but the market liberalization does not seem to be one of the factor of the successes they actually have seen. Either on the contrary. The state suffers today from an unsecure and unstable income basis because of extensive privatization of capabilities. And with a population where about 70% is under 36 years old the extreme unemployment is critical, leading youths to seek jobs outside the country. Yet again, without any agreement with the EU, it is not a part of the Schengen area, and jobseekers do not have any immediate access to the European job-markets. It seem to be a vicious circle, where the economical stagnation hinders the possibility of an EU membership, but the economical situation will not be solved without being a part of the international market.
The utopian dream of european integration
It should be clear in the aftermath of western interventions that liberal peacebuilding is not a pattern that fits all individual unique states. Privatizing markets in a country that does not even have the access to a free trade union on its continent does not seem logical for stable and sustainable growth. And this action is unfortunately irreversible unlike many other policies, which is critique worthy, as it is doubtful that the EULEX (which is the name of the EU operation and base in Kosovo) officials thought that a EU-membership was likely in the foreseeable future when the process started. In the new EU strategy for vest Balkan, where future membership is evaluated, Kosovo wasn’t even mentioned. Ten years with one clear goal, and their not even close.
Kosovo should be evidence enough that the principple of democracy and liberalization of markets does not necessarily create economical growth and social harmony. The region has deep scars that takes longer time to heal and are of a different character that the Liberal peacebuilding has been able to tackle. These unique traits may seem small and submissive in the project of building a state from scratch, but it is evident that they are precarious and need attention. Building a state needs a personal tailor not a fit all sizes.
Todays Kosovo is a result of a Western-European neo-liberal experiment, where the old thought of Kantian Peace was derived and put to practice; liberal peace building. The international community should use this year’s anniversary as an opportunity to acknowledge the default. The future success now lies solely in the hands of Kosovo’s young generation, and hopefully the western inaccurate diagnosis and treatment didn’t do too much harm and that they will be able to control and govern the state by their own and that prosperity will come.
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