1998 - 2001
WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN KOSOVO
USAID/OTI’s Kosovo program began in 1998 as Yugoslav aggression toward Kosovars reached new heights, prompting the first in a series of threats of NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia. Continuation of violent tactics in the winter and spring of 1999 and the failure of peace negotiations at Rambouillet led to the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in March 1999. The airstrikes lasted through mid-June 1999, when Serb authorities signed Resolution 1244, allowing a NATO and U.N. presence to protect and govern Kosovo. In late June, overwhelming numbers of Kosovar refugees, accompanied by NATO forces and other international organizations, flooded back to the province to begin rebuilding their communities and establishing a peaceful and democratic Kosovo.
USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN KOSOVO
USAID/OTI’s Kosovo Transition Initiative (KIT) aimed to normalize life in post-conflict Kosovo and promote moderate Kosovar leadership and democratic governance. To achieve these goals, USAID/OTI sought to:
- Help citizens understand and responsibly exercise their political rights;
- Encourage and support the development of moderate and democratic local leadership; and
- Enable local communities to get the resources they needed to rebuild according to their priorities.
- Community Improvement Councils (CICs): USAID/OTI encouraged the development of representative CICs by organizing town hall-style meetings, composed of 12 to 15 people who reflected the political, social and intellectual diversity of the local population. After a CIC identified the community's priority reconstruction needs, such as repairing a school or a road, and secured a local contribution (usually in the form of labor), USAID/OTI provided the material resources. The experience of working together in a participatory, democratic and constructive manner was as important as the humanitarian impact of the project itself.
- Media development: KTI supported the creation of an independent media and a strong civil society. Media projects included rebuilding infrastructure for radio and TV broadcasts and supporting the first independent Albanian-language radio station in Kosovo, as well as community radio and newspaper outlets across Kosovo. Civil society groups, which have mobilized around issues related to human rights, women and youth activism, received crucial start-up assistance from USAID/OTI.