Saturday, February 16, 2008

Should we welcome Kosovo's independence?

So one of the most corrupt and under-developed economies in Europe (per capita income only around Euros 1,700) is about to become a nation, principally because of the sponsorship of the United States and the EU.

Well, I believe in self-determination as the only grounds on which a nation or country should exist, so I must and do welcome Kosovo.

At the same time, I have a foreboding for the future of Kosovo. In the old Yugoslavia, despite all the political peculiarities of that country under Tito, the area of Kosovo was the poorest in Yugoslavia - though Kosovo received substantial development subsidies from all the other Yugoslav republics! Kosovo's economy remains weak today, principally because of corruption. One of the main exports of the country has been drugs and organised crime.

Though Kosovans are highly optimistic about their prospects after independence, I fear they are being a little unrealistic. Yes, there has been a bit of an economic boom over the last few years, but that is mainly in trade, retail and construction, with unreliable electricity supply (even more than in India!) a key constraint to the development of industries. Unemployment is around 40%. There is a massive black economy.

It remains to be seen whether the influence of the Muslim world, the EU and the USA can help Kosovans develop and clean up their country, or whether Kosovo will simply go down the economic charts even faster. The answer actually depends, not on other nations, but on whether the leaders and the people of Kosovo are prepared to pay the cost of creating the right culture. I pray for the best. Sphere: Related Content

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