Kosovo is one of Europe’s poorest countries. A large part of the population lives on social assistance and support from relatives abroad. There is a social safety net but the compensation levels are low.
According to the World Bank, almost half of the population lives in poverty, while 15 percent are considered extremely poor. Kosovo is not included in the UN Development Agency’s UNDP list of development levels in the countries of the world, but according to calculations, Kosovo is lower than other countries in the region.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Kosovo, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
All Kosovo citizens have the right to health care, although the reality is limited and insufficient, especially for women. For example, according to the UN Population Agency UNFPA, Kosovo has the highest maternal mortality rate in Europe. While health care is of good quality in Prishtina (and for those who can afford it), it is much worse in the countryside where most people live. There is no general health insurance so anyone who has a job and becomes ill is affected by large income losses.
Women enjoy the same legal rights as men, but traditionally have lower social status and are subject to discrimination. In rural areas, women find it difficult to decide independently about themselves and their children or to exercise complete control over their property. Only a small proportion of women live on their own acquired income. Unemployment among women is also significantly higher than for men, especially for women in rural and minority groups, as a result of poorer access to education and other gender discriminatory practices.
Although the laws do not impose barriers, few women are found in higher positions in business, police and government, which is partly due to the fact that working women are still expected to take the main responsibility for households and families. However, in the years 2011–2016, Kosovo had a female president (Atifete Jahjaga, former police chief) and 30 percent of MPs are women. In order to have a greater impact on the issues they raise in Parliament, they have formed a cross-party cooperation group.
Abortions are allowed until the tenth week of pregnancy, according to legislation that has existed since the Yugoslavian era. Thereafter, only abortions are permitted if the life or health of the woman or fetus is in danger. This limitation, as well as the lack of public care places and conservative attitudes, contribute to many abortions being carried out in secret and with unsafe methods.
Traditional attitudes in society makes LGBT -People often forced to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity to non-discrimination, negative reactions, intimidation or violence. The fact that fewer threats have been reported in recent years is mainly due to increased caution in LGBT circuits.
Opposition boycott of budget
The opposition refrains from voting on the budget in protest of an amendment that seeks to privatize Kosovo’s post and telecommunications company PTK.
Serbian police chief in the north
Kosovo and Serbia agree in Brussels that a Serbian police chief will be in charge of the regional police in the Serbian-dominated northern Kosovo. The goal is to create an integrated police force, according to the two leaders.
Success for nationalists in the second round
In several places, a second round of local elections is being conducted between the main candidates. The results show that both Albanian and Serbian nationalists are successful in their quarters. In the mayor election in the capital Pristina, an Albanian nationalist wins, who is opposed to Kosovo’s negotiations with Serbia, and in the Serb-dominated northern Mitrovica becomes a Serbia-supported nationalist mayor.
Low turnout in local elections
Voter turnout is low in the Serb-dominated area in the north. There is violence and pressure to deter Serbs from voting. The electoral authority decides that the election should be redone in some polling stations in northern Mitrovica, where polling stations were crushed, tear gas was used and voting was interrupted. The vote shows that the “Srpska” list, supported by the Government of Serbia, won the most votes in the three Serbian-dominated municipalities Leposavić, Zvečan and Zubin Potok in the north. Thus, the list’s candidates become mayors there despite hard-fought Serb nationalists’ campaign for electoral boycotts.
Kosovo Serbs are invited to vote
The Serbian president and prime minister calls on the Serbs in Kosovo to take part in the local elections. In the past, the Serbian Orthodox Church has also urged Kosovo Serbs to vote, thereby reversing the previous elections.
EU police shot dead
An EU Lithuanian police officer is shot dead by unknown perpetrators near the city of Zvečan in northern Kosovo. The area is dominated by Serbs who oppose the EU-mediated settlement between Kosovo and Serbia.
Former guerrilla commanders are acquitted
In a very noteworthy trial, former guerrilla commander Fatmir Limaj is acquitted of charges of war crimes during the war in Kosovo 1998-1999. Limaj was once co-worker of the guerrilla leader Hashim Thaçi, now prime minister. Limaj, himself a parliamentarian and a minister, was charged with torture and murder in a camp with Serbian prisoners of war. He is acquitted along with nine co-defendants for lack of evidence. Limaj was also acquitted in 2012, when a major witness committed suicide, as well as by the War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, both 2005 and 2007.
Serbia dissolves municipal councils
The decision to dissolve four municipal councils financed by Serbia in northern Kosovo includes the agreement on normalized relations such as Serbia and Kosovo. Since the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, Northern Kosovo has been out of control of the Kosovan government and Serbia has continued to fund police, judiciary, health care and schools.
Since the Kosovo authorities announced local elections until November, as part of the settlement with Serbia, the Serbs in protest set up their own regional assembly in the north. Belgrade is distancing itself from the move.
Serbia agreements are formally approved
Parliament formally approves the April Agreement on Normalized Relations with Serbia. Kosovo Albanian nationalists object to the decision, but from Brussels comes the message that Kosovo can now begin negotiations with the EU on a Stabilization and Association Agreement. Parliament, by a large majority, adopts a law that gives amnesty to Serbs who countered the country’s outbreak of Serbia. Impunity is granted, among other things, to those who participated in armed rebellion, destroyed public property, engaged in espionage, resistance to police or arson. Offenses such as murder, murder, assault or theft are excluded from the amnesty law. The law is an important element of the April agreement on normalized relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Agreement between Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs
The Serbs in northern Kosovo agree with the government of Serbia on how to implement the northern Kosovo agreement from April, despite the parties disagreeing on the content of the agreement. Serbia will, among other things, continue to finance health care and education among the Serbs in the area.
Agreement with Serbia with EU assistance
After several months of discussions under EU leadership, Kosovo and Serbia’s heads of government sign an agreement that establishes a legal structure for the Serb-dominated municipalities in Kosovo and gives them autonomy in matters related to economic development, education, health care and urban planning. The agreement stipulates that neither party should prevent the other from seeking membership in the EU. The agreement will bring Serbia one step closer to membership negotiations, and for Kosovo the possibility of a so-called Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU will be opened. The agreement does not mean that Serbia recognizes Kosovo as an independent state, but that Belgrade accepts Prishtina’s supremacy over the Serbian-dominated areas of northern Kosovo. The agreement is met by loud protests from nationalists on both sides.
Presidential meeting in Brussels
Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolić and Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga will meet in Brussels under EU leadership, which will be the start of a series of EU-led meetings between the parties this spring.
Serbia adopts Kosovo resolution
Serbia adopts a resolution saying that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo as an independent state but that the dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina will continue. The resolution includes a set of demands for comprehensive territorial and political autonomy for Serb-dominated municipalities in Kosovo.
Serbian president not welcome in Kosovo
The Kosovo government refuses a request from Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolić to make a Christmas visit to Serbs in northern Kosovo (Orthodox Christian Christmas is celebrated in early January). According to Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuçi, the Serbian president may not enter the country until representatives of the Kosovo government are allowed to visit Albanians in the Preševo Valley in southern Serbia.