On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. In its declaration of independence, the newly-minted Republic of Kosovo committed to embracing multi-ethnicity as a fundamental principle of good governance, and to implement the Ahtisaari plan, which addresses a broad range of issues important to Kosovo's future.
"We can say there has been tremendous success in Kosovo since the February 17 declaration of independence," says Stuart E. Jones, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for the Balkan region. "Lots of new legislation, implementing the Ahtisaari plan, a constitution that recognizes the fundamental rights of the entire population of Kosovo, with special protections for minorities.”
Fifty four countries from all parts of the world have recognized Kosovo. Kosovo’s multi-ethnic police force and judicial personnel are working hand in glove with the European Union, the United States and other international partners to strengthen policing, justice and customs throughout Kosovo. NATO is assisting the Kosovo Government to stand up the Kosovo Security Force.
The Kosovo government is working hard to privatize State Owned Enterprises, to reform and streamline its tax and business codes and to boost development. Although Kosovo faces many challenges, economic growth topped 5 percent in 2008, double the rate from a few years ago.
Ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population, with ethnic Serbs, Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians and Turks making up the remaining 10 percent. Thus, in accordance with the Ahtisaari plan, the Kosovo government adopted a constitution, and quickly passed laws, that ensured the rights of all ethnic groups.
These legal provisions included the creation of protection zones for minority cultural and religious sites; zones for local self-governance; and the establishment of municipal boundaries. Of the 120 seats of the Kosovo Assembly, 20 are reserved for minorities, 10 for Serbs and 10 for other minorities. Kosovo’s minority groups are well represented in the Government.
“The development of a multiethnic democracy in Kosovo which protects minority rights and religious freedom, and which has government institutions that can deliver stability and prosperity for its people, is a goal that we should all support,” says Kyle Scott, Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE. “The United States will continue to strongly support and assist Kosovo,” he said.