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Kosovo: A unique case

Opinió | 04/11/2010

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The independence of Kosovo, proclaimed unilaterally by its parliament and never submitted to a referendum, is an unprecedented process on the international level. Once formed, Europe’s youngest and poorest state has serious problems on the economic front and of institutional legitimacy.

The autonomous parliament of Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence on 17 February 2008, after an unsuccessful process of negotiation with Belgrade on its status within the Serbian state. It was endorsed by the Western powers, led by the United States, while Serbia itself, Russia and Spain, among others, did not accept the new state. In a long-awaited judgement, among great expectation, the International Court of The Hague ruled that the unilateral proclamation of independence did not infringe any international law, setting a possible precedent for others aspiring to statehood.

The special circumstances of the secession of Kosovo, never submitted to a referendum of the population, do not prevent the new state from presenting serious problems of viability. Kosovo is by far Europe’s poorest state. The contributions of emigration and international aid are essential given the bad health of the Kosovar accounts, until the opening-up of the markets bears fruit. Another problem is the new state’s precarious institutional legitimacy: in the last election participation was below 40%. A good part of its future involves joining the Euratlantic structures, an intention made clear in its Constitution.

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