Kosovo urged to focus on growth as political turmoil rages

2 Mar 16

Intensive efforts are needed to spur economic growth and opportunity in Kosovo as political turmoil hampers progress, chief of the United Nations mission in the country has warned.


Pristina, Kosovo's capital

Pristina, Kosovo's capital


Speaking via video link to the UN security council on Monday, Zahir Tanin, head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that, despite a turbulent political situation, continued attention to stability building and a more focused deployment of resources could turn things around.

He said Kosovo faces a number of complex challenges and security and political concerns had taken the spotlight off the country’s serious economic development challenges.

As a result, intensive effort was needed to generate economic growth and opportunity, which will in turn ease political tension, he said.

Violence recently erupted within Kosovo’s parliament, with opposition MPs releasing teargas to prevent the election of a new president. Tanin said the polarisation of the political landscape has seriously impeded progress.

Cyril Muller, World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia, also called for continued implementation of reforms and job creation measures during a visit to the country on Monday.

Tanin said it was time to shift the local and international focus away from political battles and towards more fundamental objectives, such as enforcement of the rule of law. 

Widespread corruption is increasing public frustration, hampering economic progress and undermining faith in the political system, he said.

While a strong legislative framework is already in place in Kosovo, its implementation is inconsistent, slow and blighted by political interference. As a result, Tanin said support for the rule of law should remain a central objective over 2016.

Tanin also called for the nexus between peacebuilding and development to be a central focus. Despite extensive natural and human resources there are few opportunities open for major investment and unemployment levels are high.

Education needs to be modernised and de-politicised, Tanin said, and harmful environmental practices need to be addressed.

Coherence and complementary projects across the UN systems in Kosovo and within the broader range of multilateral and bilateral initiatives will be necessary, he said.

Improvements to human rights and the capacity to address large flows of refugees and migrants will also be critical. 

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