Many Challenges Ahead for Kosovo

The new country of Kosovo must ensure political stability, establish the rule of law and create a culture of accountability for its new international supervisors from the European Union.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The nation of Kosovo is three days old. Since the country declared its independence from Serbia the streets have been alive with celebrations and protests. Ethnic Albanian youths are celebrating in Pristina, but in the north NATO troops yesterday sealed the border between Kosovo and Serbia after groups of Serbs torched two border crossings.

These clashes echo the wider challenges faced by the new government of Kosovo and the European Union in making Kosovo a viable state. And we have more this morning from NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Within weeks, the European Union will send a 1,800 strong civilian and police mission here. It'll take over from U.N. officials, who have administered the province since NATO wrested control of Kosovo from the Milosevic regime in 1999. The E.U. will enter uncharted territory. This is its first attempt to export Democratic values and methods. They won't do it with troops, like the U.S. in Iraq, but with technocrats in suits and carrying laptops.

Bujar Bukoshi, Kosovo's former prime minister in exile in the '90s, is clear of what the first challenge will be.

Former Prime Minister BUJAR BUKOSHI (Former prime minister, Kosovo): We have to start with a justice system to install justice. I mean properly - judges, prosecutors - alpha and omega for this country, for this newborn state, is rule of law.

POGGIOLI: International human rights monitors agree, the U.N. has failed to combat organized crime involved in drug and human trafficking, has not sufficiently defended human and property rights of minorities - such as the Roma, as well as Serbs - and has stood by while domestic violence against women has dramatically increased.

Bukoshi warns the E.U. not to follow the U.N. example.

Prime Minister BUKOSHI: After NATO intervention we had international administration, which came in this so-called Terra Incognita without any clear concept what should be done, how to run this country. It was concept-less. Eight years after, we have very little from this success of U.N. mission in Kosovo.

POGGIOLI: Analysts say nowhere is change needed more than in the area of accountability. U.N. officials and NATO peacekeepers have not had to answer to any Kosovo institution for any of their misdeeds, including violations of property rights and sexual and criminal misconduct.

E.U. officials will face widespread mistrust of Kosovars for international administrators. A recent Human Rights Watch report said success of the new mission requires accountability and transparency and respect for rule of law in order to regain the confidence of Kosovo's public opinion.

The other pressing challenge will be improving Europe's worst economy. Kosovo has an unemployment rate of 70 percent. And 45 percent of its population subsists below the poverty line of $2.00 a day.

Alex Anderson, an analyst at the International Crisis Group says Kosovars shouldn't count on immediate economic improvements.

Mr. ALEX ANDERSON (Analyst, International Crisis Group): Kosovo is not going to be any investor's paradise. We have a history of inter-ethnic instability, and we have very poor infrastructure at the moment with the electricity supply being a particular problem. And although Kosovo has a mass of young people -with one of the fastest growing and youngest populations in Europe - they are very much let down by a rundown poorly resourced education system.

POGGIOLI: The streets of Pristina are lined with dozens of cafes, where crowds of young men idle all day long. Analysts worry that once the independence celebrations are over and they see little change in their daily lives, these disappointed youths could become impatient and unleash a wave of social unrest.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Pristina.

INSKEEP: It's a dramatic week around the world. And you're hearing about it on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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