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Democratization in Kosovo
Kosovo had a different transition compared to other former communist countries after the fall of communism in the region that influenced the development of pluralism and democratization of the political party. This influence determined Kosovo’s different path for many reasons, but the main ones can be attributed to changes in the political, social and economic environment in Kosovo after the constitutional changes imposed by the Milošević regime. The initial demands of most of the political groups were a repetition of the previous ones for republic status for Kosovo within SFRY, yet they quickly shifted towards the struggle for full independence following similar developments in Slovenia and Croatia. All parties supported the establishment of a democratic system with free elections and the protection of minorities’ rights. In the ‘shadow’ elections in 1990 (that were considered illegal by the government in power in Kosovo) the party led by Ibrahim Rugova, of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) won the absolute majority of the votes. The government that was established operated mainly from abroad, soon to be known as the government in exile. Rugova’s government was limited to some level of control and organization of the education and health care sector, funded on a voluntarily basis through a symbolic tax collected in Kosovo diasporas. (9)
It was before the outbreak of the Yugoslav state crisis that full Serbian control over the province of Kosovo was re-established. The takeover of institutions provided the Kosovo Albanians with a rationale for the creation of their own parallel state, resulting in the proclamation of Kosovo first as a republic within Yugoslavia, in 1990, and then as independent state, in 1991. While observing and getting involved in other parts of the Yugoslav federation, the Europeans also became aware of the problematic situation in Kosovo. For example, in summer 1992, one of the declarations on the deteriorating situation across the Yugoslav federation addressed Serbia’s southern province, as well: The Community and its Member States noted that the situation in Kosovo is potentially dangerous and urge all parties to show the necessary restraint and sense of responsibility. They urge the authorities in Belgrade to refrain from further repression and engage in serious dialogue with representatives of Kosovo. Failure to do so would impede their prospect for the restoration of normal relations with the international community. The Community and its Member States recall that frontiers can only be changed by peaceful means and remind the inhabitants of Kosovo that their legitimate quest for autonomy should be dealt with in the framework of the EC Peace Conference. (EPC 1992)
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries. The Union is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II, initially by six Western European countries, to foster interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. Today, the EU is composed of 28 member states, including most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and has helped to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.
The EU has been built through a series of binding treaties, and over the years, EU member states have sought to harmonize laws and adopt common policies on an increasing number of economic, social, and political issues. EU member states share a customs union; a single market in which goods, people, and capital move freely; a common trade policy; and a common agricultural policy. Nineteen EU member states use a common currency (the euro), and 22 participate in the Schengen area of free movement in which internal border controls have been eliminated. In addition, the EU has been developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which includes a Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), and pursuing cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) to forge common internal security measures.
Albania’s modern history can be described with Tirana’s cafés, and each phase had a defining locale. When Albania opened in 1990, the Dajti Hotel was a hub of social life. The café with a parquet floor and high windows offered a tranquil place to talk politics, mostly with former communists who felt at ease in the faded room. By my arrival in 1993, Tirana’s elite drank coffee in the pyramid, the former EnverHoxhaMuseum. Journalists, ministers, and members of parliament sat at low tables with red upholstered seats to gossip and scheme. Over time, cafés grew around the pyramid’s edge, down the boulevard, and into RiniaPark, each with a specific clientele: pro-government journalists, opposition journalists, writers, professors, actors, and exiled Kosovars. From 1994 to 1997, the liveliest café was Bar West on RiniaPark’s northern side, known as Fidel’s after the name of its owner. A prefabricated glass-and-metal hut, it served the politicians, journalists, and intellectuals who opposed Berisha and the spies who monitored their lives.
Everyone played it cool, sipping espresso in the morning and raki inthe afternoon, watching who talked with whom. To this day, a weekly magazine from Tirana has a political gossip section called “Bar West.”