Kosovo marks the fourth year of independence with the recognition of 87
countries, efforts to develop the country’s economy, establish democratic
institutions and goals of joining the Euro-Atlantic structures.
Thousands gathered at Mother Teresa Square in Pristina to celebrate the
fourth anniversary of independence, proclaimed on February 17th, 2008. “Our
country has big potential for development… All we, the citizens of Kosovo,
without distinction, unite in the joint vision of full membership in the
European Union,” said Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga.
The state hymn and a moment of silence for the fallen heroes opened the
official ceremony. The Kosovo Security Force (KSF) led the parade.
“We created more jobs, improved the general infrastructure everywhere in
Kosovo. Salaries for all the social categories… were raised substantially,”
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said, adding that 2012 is the year supervised
Some experts say that unemployment, corruption and the conflict in the
Serb-dominated north still challenge independence and development in
“Corruption and organised crime have seriously damaged the trust of the
citizens in state institutions, and the legitimacy of the political class is
wavering more and more,” said Kosovo analyst Ramadan Ilazi, former head of
Kosovo NGO, "Fol" (Speak). “The low number of [international] recognitions
represents a serious challenge for the integration and establishment of the
state of Kosovo.”
Citizens have reacted positively to some changes the government has made
since independence, but the main issues, they think, remain unsolved.
“The biggest successes [of the government] were the infrastructure
development and education reform,” said Lirim Gjukolli, a student of the economy
faculty at Pristina State University. But unemployment, a poor healthcare
system, and corruption have a negative impact on further development, he
“Border security and economic development are the main concerns,” said
Pristina resident Amor Koshi, 47.
Days before the fourth anniversary, Serbs in the north held a non-binding
referendum. Almost 100% of voters there said they do not accept Kosovo
institutions. “What independence? This is Serbia for us and we hope it will
remain so further on,” said Dejan Trajkovic, a Kosovo Serb from
Ilazi said normalisation of relations with Serbia should be a priority of
Kosovo foreign policy, but added that Serbia must admit and accept its share of
responsibility for past crimes. "If Serbia refuses to normalise relations with
Kosovo on that basis, then whatever agreement [is reached] between Kosovo and
Serbia will be no more than a piece of paper," he said.