Kosovo History and Background

This section will help educate American businesses about their new business prospect and provide a basic understanding of the relations in the region. Kosovo stretches in the territories previously known as the Kingdom of Dardania during the Illyrian domination of the Western Balkans peninsula. Kosovo has been occupied by Romans, Turks, whereas with the weakening of the Ottoman Empire, Kosovo’s territories were occupied by force from the Kingdom of Serbia. Kosovo’s modern boundaries were established post WW II. The countries of the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia) form the Western Balkans. (Congressional Research Service Report). To end Serbia’s control over Kosovo and after bitter fighting, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Over 114 countries have now recognized Kosovo. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Kosovo’s independence is valid under principles of international law. Serbia and Kosovo have

normalized relations although there is currently a significant tariff dispute between the two countries. Kosovo has imposed a 100% tariff on Serbian imports. Serbia refuses to accept Kosovo’s independent status.

Kosovo wishes to join the UN, NATO and the European Union but until the issues of recognition is not resolved, that move, particularly the membership in UN, is considered unlikely. See CIA The World Factbook.

Kosovo has membership in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Council of Europe Development Bank. See “Kosovo, Ten Years Later – Progress and Impediments Since Kosovo’s Independence,” by Ryan Cimmino, Harvard International Review, Summer 2018, p. 19. Kosovo’s population comprises of 95% of Albanians, whereas the other ethnic groups include Serbs, Turks, Bosniancs, Montegrins, Croats, Romas, Egyptians, Askali and Gorans.

Strong bonds and relationships exist between Iowa National Guard, Kosovo, Sister Cities, and Sister State.

An especially strong and enduring relationship between Iowa and Kosovo stems in large part from contacts between the Iowa National Guard and the Kosovo Security Force. This partnership was facilitated by Adjutant Major General Timothy Orr. The Federal/State Partnership Program began in 1993 as a way to pair National Guard troops with Eastern bloc militaries. (Des Moines Register, Nov. 9, 2018) The distinctive approach is known in practice as the “Whole of Iowa/Whole of Kosovo” approach that relies in large part on citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. The Iowa National Guard continues to be well received in Kosovo and the Kosovo Security Force infrastructure is based primarily on the Iowa National Guard best practices.

Iowa has a distinctly strong relationship with Kosovo. Kosovo is quite pro-American -an advantage for Iowa companies that are considering doing business in Kosovo. One comment we heard repeatedly was how pro-American the Kosovo population is.
 
Kosovo is Iowa’s newest sister state. In 2013 then-Governor Terry Branstad signed the official agreement establishing the relationship. According to the www.iowasisterstates.org website, there are three Iowa cities that are sister cities with cities in Kosovo and others are in the process of becoming sister cities. Johnston is sister city with Peja (2013), Fort Dodge is sister city with Gjakova (2016) and Norwalk is sister city with Vushtrri (2016). Today, Kosovo maintains a consulate in downtown Des Moines Iowa. Since its opening three years ago, this
consulate has proven to be an incredibly productive foreign relations office. The services the consulate provides to businesses, government agencies, and educational institutes have become quite valuable. The consulate is able to provide specific information and direct contact to the U.S. Embassy and Kosovo government agencies. This liaison creates a much simpler and smoother process for business owners and interested organizations when it comes to subjects such as the visa process, laws and regulations between Kosovo and the US, direct contact information, travel suggestions and requirements, and much more

Education

Source: OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 2019. Students spend grades one – nine in primary schools. At the end of ninth grade students take a nationwide comprehensive exam, called the Matura Test. Based on the students’ test scores on that exam, they are sorted into three potential high schools: gymnasiums, professional and technical. The gymnasium is a university prep school where the top-scoring students study. The professional and technical high schools are vocational schools.

Generational differences

Kosovo’s recent history of war and turmoil along with its prior experience as a collectivist society means that there will be generational differences throughout society. Perhaps those educated before the war present a contrast with those educated after the war. Those citizens in rural areas versus those in urban areas, the professional class versus the working class, those expecting to do agricultural and manual labor versus those with other aspirations, all add to the variety of skills, abilities and knowledge that the Kosovar workforce presents.

Current Situation

From the Ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo:

As a developing country, Kosovo offers a range of ground-floor investment opportunities in the mining, energy, and agricultural sectors. Kosovo possesses the fifth largest lignite reserves in the world and has an abundance of non-energy minerals and natural resources with investment potential. Infrastructure, healthcare, and telecommunications are also investment possibilities….In recent years, Kosovo has improved its business climate: the Government of Kosovo recently implemented a new fiscal package to spur economic development, attract foreign investment and increase revenues. Kosovo is modernizing its infrastructure: the Route 7 highway, built by the U.S.-Turkish consortium Bechtel-Enka, connects Kosovo with Albania and makes it possible to travel from the capital of Pristina to the Adriatic coast in less than four hours. A new highway to Macedonia, Route 6, is under construction…the government is working to privatize a range of publicly owned assets: it reopened Pristina International Airport…finalized the privatization of its energy distribution network…and recently approved the private construction of the new coal-fired thermal power plant, Kosova e Re.

For more about Kosovo history, click below: