The Future of Kosovo and the Balkans
Since the conflict over Kosovo began seven years ago, the status of Kosovo remains unresolved. Nevertheless, Edith Harxhi controversially insisted that Kosovars, Serbs and Albanians are on a path towards reconciliation in the Balkans. Given the extreme conditions in Kosovo and given the negative compound legacies of authoritarianism, communism and nationalism, with substantial help from the international community, Kosovo has achieved much progress in terms of democratization, transitioning to a market economy and overcoming the effects of forced migration of both Albanians and Serbs.
From the Albanian perspective, Kosovars have shown skill in governing, particularly in its privatization program and the government's efforts to fight organized crime, trafficking and corruption. Political leaders there are eager to show the region's potential as a partner for NATO and a member of the European Union, and accession to these two institutions has become a top priority.
The largest hurdle—inter-ethnic relations—has also seen some progress, with growing evidence that Serbs living in Kosovo are feeling less threatened than before and more interested in cooperating with Kosovo's government. Harxhi stated that the Albanian government strongly supports ethnic harmony and is working to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo. The status quo, Harxhi argued, is fragile and will continue to be unstable until a decision on the region's status can be achieved, and this should be independence, since it will be the reflection of the will of more than 90 percent of the people in Kosovo.