Kosovo celebrates ten years of independence

Ten years of independence from Serbia - thousands of Kosovars celebrated the anniversary in Pristina all dressed up in the blue and yellow of the national flag on Saturday. But commentators disagree about how much cause today's Kosovo has to celebrate, because poverty, corruption and organised crime are still dominant in the lives of the 1.9 million Kosovars despite billions in international funds.

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Novi list (HR) /

A sad anniversary

The Kosovars have not benefitted much from their longed-for independence so far, Novi list believes:

“On the one side we see the celebrations including [a concert by pop singer] Rita Ora, on the other the sad reality of this seventh state to emerge from the collapse of Yugoslavia. In view of the difficult economic situation, the gap between joy at the separation from Serbia and independence on the one hand and the depression resulting from today's living standards on the other is no doubt larger than in the other ex-Yugoslav republics that find themselves in a similar dilemma. ... In all of these states, however, people are bitter over the fact that the hard-fought independence has not resulted in the desired prosperity.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Kosovars must shoulder responsibility

The foreign money that has flowed into Kosovo and the political dictates from abroad have often prevented the Kosovars from shouldering responsibility themselves, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes:

“That's why the time is ripe for the West to reduce its commitment and allow the renewal of outdated policies. That's not without risk but it's well within the reach of Europe's youngest nation. Without democratisation from within, there can be no impulses for the future. The current structures stand in the way of those who want to rebuild the country - and discourage the talented members of the diaspora who'd love to come back and help.”

Die Presse (AT) /

EU still a peace project in the Balkans

The daily Die Presse, however, remains optimistic. It believes the EU accession process really can bring peace and sees Austria as an advocate of the Balkan countries:

“An advocate paving the way for Kosovo and also for Serbia to enter the Union. True, reforms are still needed in these states - and in the EU. But it's also true that the EU still has the potential of a peace project in the Balkans. Fostering the idea that in such a union borders no longer play a significant role can help to ease conflicts. That applies to Kosovo and Serbia, but also to countries like Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”