“Kosovars Who Fought for Land Are Now Eager to Leave”
The New York Times, March 8, 2015, p.A6
“The extended Cakaj family has built a few dozen homes here, along Tony Blair Street, between the Dubai supermarket and the French peacekeepers base, in a clannish faith that closeness would bring security. But recently the family of Kosovo Albanians has begun to splinter, as a disastrous economy, static politics and a newly created opening in the border with Serbia have enticed tens of thousands of Kosovars to leave their troubled land in search of opportunity and work. … Sixteen years after NATO, in its only war, drove out Serbian security forces so 850,000 Kosovo Albanians expelled by the Serbs could return home, the flow of Kosovo Albanians has reversed. For months now, buses have been bringing Kosovo Albanians through Serbia to the porous land border with Hungary, in the European Union. The Albanians cross on foot, often undetected. When picked up by Hungarian officials, they have been detained only briefly. Many are enticed by the promises of a paid Serbian ‘guide’ or have a friend or relative in Austria, Switzerland, Germany or Scandinavia and, moving freely among European Union nations, make their way toward them. But Kosovo’s Albanians, most of whom are Muslims, are not being greeted with open arms. In another twist, they are being forced back to their land, deemed too physically — if not financially — secure to warrant asylum status. The turnaround says as much about Western Europe’s struggle to handle its torrent of refugees and other immigrants seeking stability and opportunity, as it does about the isolation and deprivation of the people in the Balkans. … In a region plagued by aging demographics, it is Europe’s youngest territory, with 27 the average age of its two million citizens. Kosovo would need an impossible 7 percent annual economic growth to offer work to the 25,000 to 30,000 youths the government says finish school each year. Direct investment from foreign sources is about $270 million a year, half what it was in 2007, said Lumir Abdixhiku, executive director of Riinvest, an independent research group.”
Quickie analysis: Having an independent country is not the same as having opportunities in life.