Kosovo is the newest country in Europe. Its neighbors include Albania and Macedonia. The Capital Pristina is affordable and safe for tourists. Mostly the residents are language proficient. Pristina has a lively nightlife and you can relax on the terrace of the cafés during the summer season.
Official language: Albanian, Serbian
Passport and visa: Finnish citizens are not required to have a visa to Kosovo. The passport must be valid for at least 3 months upon arrival in the country.
Time difference to Finland: +1
The conditions for successful agriculture are really good in Kosovo, which has large areas of fertile land. Just over half of Kosovo’s surface is used for agriculture and pasture. Here wheat is grown mainly but also potatoes, maize and pepper. Some viticulture also occurs.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Kosovo. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
The vast majority of residents live in the countryside, where many support themselves through self-catering. For Kosovo defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
Farms are mostly privately owned, but they are often small and lack of investment and old-fashioned farming methods yield low returns. Kosovo is not self-sufficient for agricultural products.
According to UN data, agricultural production decreased by an average of 8 percent over the period 2001-2010, but then increased again.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
8.3 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
52.4 percent (2007)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of RKS stands for the state of Kosovo in geography.
Customs wall against Serbia is tightened
Kosovo introduces more customs duties on imports from Serbia. In November, the government imposed 100 percent duty on Serbian goods, but the measure did not include goods from international companies manufactured in Serbia, such as drinks such as Coca-Cola, dairy products and medicines. With today’s decision, the tariffs also apply to such goods. Customs will be introduced as revenge for Serbia’s counteracting Kosovo’s membership of international organizations (see also November 21, 2018).
Upset reactions to army decisions
Decides that Kosovo’s security force KSF should be converted into a regular army, whose personnel will eventually be increased from 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers; The Kosovo Serbs boycott the vote, with all parties otherwise voting yes (see October 18). In Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, President Vučić promises to protect the approximately 120,000 Kosovo Serbs if they are attacked.
US support for army
Washington supports Kosovo’s plans to set up its own army, said US Ambassador Philip Kosnett, in dispute with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who, the day before, said the timing of such a change is badly chosen and goes against “many NATO allies’ advice”. Parliament is expected to vote on this issue again shortly (see October 2018).
100% duty on Serbian goods
Kosovo introduces 100% tariff duties on imports from Serbia (and Bosnia), warning Serbia of a total cessation of cross-border trade and the EU demands that the decision be immediately withdrawn. But Kosovo threatens more measures. The already tense situation worsened already on November 6, when Kosovo imposed 10% tariffs on Serbia and Bosnia, for running an “aggressive campaign” against Kosovo. According to Prishtina, Belgrade is behind the fact that several smaller states have withdrawn their recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has accused Kosovo of undermining stability in the region after the first increase. The decision to raise tariffs to 100 percent comes the day after the international police organization Interpol voted no to join Kosovo for the third time. Kosovo has invested big money in a campaign to support membership, while Serbia has campaigned for a no.
Cooperation on lost war victims
Kosovo is one of five countries to sign an agreement to work together to identify victims of the 1990s war in former Yugoslavia. Around 12,000 of the 40,000 reported missing after the war have still not been found, according to the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP), a non-profit organization that contributes in the identification work with DNA samples and information exchange. The ICMP chief calls the agreement an investment in peace and stability and notes that it is especially important in the current era of “populism and nationalism”. In addition to Kosovo, the agreement includes Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.
First step towards own army
In a first reading, Parliament adopts three laws that lay the foundations for turning the security force KSF into a regular army, without going through a constitutional change; Serbian members leave the parliament building in protest during the vote. An amendment to the Constitution would require a two-thirds majority of both Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian members – and the Serbs have so far blocked all such initiatives.
Protest against land exchange
Thousands of people are demonstrating in Prishtina against the proposal to change the Kosovo-Serbia border (see August 2018). The protesters point their anger at President Hashim Thaçi, saying he has no mandate to negotiate land change.
EU skeptical about land change
Several EU foreign ministers warn Kosovo and Serbia to move forward with a proposal to exchange land with each other, as part of attempts to normalize relations. According to the proposal presented by Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić in July, parts of the Serbian-dominated northern Kosovo would be replaced by Albanian-dominated parts of southern Serbia. Vučić’s colleague Hashim Thaçi first appeared positive to the idea, but has since partially backed down. From an EU point of view, it is feared that the measure would tear up wounds and risk causing a domino effect of demands and counterclaims on changed boundaries in the ethnically charged region.
The EULEX mandate is being transformed
The current mandate for the EU legal mission EULEX expires and the executive part of the mission ends. Kosovo itself assumes responsibility for the judicial process. Eulex remains in a purely supervisory and advisory role, now with a mandate extending to June 2020. President Thaci has thanked Eulex, saying that the young Kosovo institutions have benefited from the legal cooperation. But both Albanians and Serbs have been critical of Eulex, which has failed to stop organized crime and corruption.
Prosecution for friendship corruption
Prosecutors are prosecuting eleven members of the ruling party PDK, for friendship corruption. Among the defendants are Minister of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Besim Beqaj as well as a former Deputy Minister and a current as well as a former Member of Parliament. The charges relate to a scandal that was revealed in 2016.
Minister of the Interior and chief of staff are fired
Prime Minister Haradinaj is kicking off Interior Minister Flamur Sefaj and intelligence chief Driton Gashi, after six Turks were expelled from the country without the President being informed. Five of the six Turks worked as teachers at schools in Kosovo that are reported to have ties to Fethullah Gülen, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo ğ accused of the coup attempt in Turkey 2016.
Kosovo Serbs leave the government
Serbian leader Goran Rakić says his party is resigning from the government in protest at the expulsion of a high-ranking government representative from Serbia from Kosovo. The message comes after a meeting between Rakić and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade. The reason is that Serbia’s chief negotiator on the Kosovo issue, Marko Đurić, the day before he was arrested and expelled from the country. Riots erupted in Mitrovica when police arrested Đurić, who was accused of illegally entering Kosovo. Prime Minister Haradinaj says the Kosovo Serbs’ departure is “incomprehensible”. The seriousness of the situation becomes clear when EU Foreign Minister Frederica Mogherini unexpectedly visits Belgrade for talks with Vučić.
Boundary agreements are approved despite violent protests
Parliament ratifies the disputed border agreement with Montenegro (see September 2015 and May 2017), thereby fulfilling one of the conditions set for Kosovo to obtain visa-free access to the EU. It was the fourth attempt by Parliament to try to ratify the agreement signed almost three years ago and which Montenegro has already ratified. The vote may be postponed several times since nationalists from Vetëvendosje protested by throwing tear gas. Several Vetëvendosjel members are arrested and others are shown out of the hall.
Kosovo celebrates its 10th anniversary
With pomp and standing, the ten-year anniversary is marked by the proclamation of the independent state. But many problems remain: 40 percent of the world’s countries have still not recognized the young nation, including Russia and China, both of whom are permanent members of the UN Security Council. Among the five EU countries that have not recognized Kosovo are Spain, whose resistance to separatist flows hardly subsided during the crisis in Catalonia. Albanian President Edi Rama possibly does Kosovo a bear service when, in a speech to Kosovo’s parliament, he said that the two countries could eventually have a joint president, as a “symbol of national unity” between Tirana and Prishtina. The statement is criticized by the EU, among others.
Serbian politician killed
One leading Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanović, is shot dead outside his Mitrovica office. He led the Serbian Party Freedom, Democracy, Justice and was regarded as a relatively moderate politician and the only leading Kosovo Serb politician who openly condemned Belgrade’s attitude towards Kosovo. Ivanović was sentenced in January 2016 to nine years in prison for war crimes in 1999, but was released by a higher court a little over a year later. A new trial is now awaiting. The murder occurred on the same day that talks would resume between Prishtina and Belgrade on a normalization of relations, after more than a year’s pause. However, the calls are canceled.