10 Years After: Kosovo Independence
Kosovo declared its independence on February 17, 2008, beginning a new chapter after almost 10 years of UN administration following NATO intervention in 1999. Kosovo’s immediate challenge is to build the capacity of its governing institutions, enabling it to integrate into Western European and Trans-Atlantic structures, while at the same time ensuring the protection and integration of minorities, particularly Kosovo Serbs.
This is a long-term challenge. Effective and transparent governance firmly rooted in the principle of the rule of law and supportive of a robust private sector is key to addressing pressing problems of the next decade: economic growth to create jobs for a burgeoning youth population facing an estimated 45% unemployment rate; a citizenry becoming confident in the fairness and responsiveness of its institutions despite current perceptions of ineffectiveness and corruption; and full participation in the economic, political and social life of Kosovo by all its citizenry despite reluctance by minorities, particularly Kosovo Serbs, to engage with Kosovo institutions.
After addressing immediate post-conflict humanitarian needs to house, feed and tend to the basic needs of an enormous number of displaced people following the conflict, USAID helped to establish basic governing institutions, most significantly the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Initially USAID embedded technical staff at every level of Kosovo institutions. While the major work to establish these key governance institutions has successfully concluded, USAID continues to provide technical advice in a few key areas including in financial policy, judicial strengthening, and energy.
In addition to helping to establish national governing structures, USAID works in tandem with the U.S. Mission to contribute to Kosovo’s security and stability. USAID’s community-based programs have rehabilitated and built infrastructure, engaged young people and supported businesses in minority areas of Kosovo. Today these programs are focused on supporting stability by increasing the confidence of Kosovo Serbs in a viable future in Kosovo through programs focused on improved quality of life and security.
Kosovo is now an independent country working towards European integration. New government institutions and the foundations of a judicial system have been crafted with major assistance from USAID and other donors. Now USAID has transitioned from starting up economic ministries and independent agencies to enhancing the ability of these public organizations to manage the overall economy.
To date, USAID been instrumental in establishing core functions of the Ministry of Finance and Economy; installing modern budget and treasury processes; establishing a tax administration that has collected over €1 billion in taxes to date; creating a core legal framework for a functioning market economy; helping to establish a Central Bank and a rapidly growing banking sector with 6 licensed banks; assisting in the privatization of 90% of socially-owned enterprises; and implementing a Property Tax which contributes to about 30% of municipal own-source revenues.
Since 1999, USAID has worked to develop the private sector with the aim of increasing sales and employment for the long-term growth of local enterprises; reducing reliance on imports; and developing an improved business operating environment.
Over the last four years, USAID’s initiatives contributed to 6,676 new full-time jobs, increases in the value of sales of €141 million, capital investment of €41 million, and financing of €22 million.
USAID continues to be involved in private sector development activities in selected sectors for which there is growth potential. Efforts are underway to assist enterprises to enter new markets, develop new products and processes, and advance labor skills and productivity.
USAID is proud of its contribution to Kosovo’s accomplishments these past ten years. Kosovo is becoming increasingly stable as the Kosovo Government reaches out, with USAID support, to minorities to build their confidence in a prosperous and secure future in Kosovo.
In the medium term Kosovo is on the path to European integration, with political stability, peace and security concerns well on their way to resolution, and is no longer dependent on a major international presence. We know that a robust economy providing jobs for graduates and governance that is, and is perceived to be, fair, open and accountable, will enhance the chances for achieving a stable and multi-ethnic society which works for all its citizens.
The United States has a long history of extending a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country. It is this caring that stands as a hallmark of the United States around the world — and shows the world our true character as a nation.
U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing world. Spending less than one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, USAID works around the world to achieve these goals.
USAID's history goes back to the Marshall Plan reconstruction of Europe after World War Two and the Truman Administration's Point Four Program. In 1961, the Foreign Assistance Act was signed into law and USAID was created by executive order.
Since that time, USAID has been the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.
USAID is an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State; currently this position is held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
USAID's global programs support long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting:
- economic growth, agriculture and trade
- democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance
- global health
With headquarters in Washington, D.C., USAID's strength is its field offices around the world. We work in close partnership with private voluntary organizations, indigenous organizations, universities, American businesses, international agencies, other governments, and other U.S. government agencies.
USAID has working relationships with more than 3,500 American companies and over 300 U.S.-based private voluntary organizations.
Last updated: May 10, 2013