Foreign policy and defense
Central to Kosovo is to be recognized as a
state of its own, but only half of the world's nations
have attended the Kosovans. Resistance of members of the
UN Security Council means that the World Organization
has not been able to recognize the new state centrally.
Relations with Serbia remain lousy, but Kosovo has
formal relations with other neighboring countries.
Kosovo is a member of both UN unions, the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), even though
the country has not been centralized. International
sports organizations, such as the International Olympic
Committee and Fifa and Uefa football, have also accepted
Kosovo as a member. By contrast, membership in the UN
cultural body UNESCO has been halted.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Kosovo for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Just over a decade after independence, over half of
the world's countries have recognized the new state.
First out in 2008 was the United States, which had
constantly supported its quest for independence. Most of
the EU members, including Sweden, were also quick to
acknowledge. But five EU members have not recognized
Kosovo, including heavyweight Spain. Among the countries
of former Yugoslavia, neither Serbia nor
Bosnia-Herzegovina recognizes independence. Kosovo has
formal relations with the others.
Serbia has declared that the country will never
recognize the Republic of Kosovo, since the Serbs
believe that the declaration of independence is contrary
to international law. However, the International Court
of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) declared in July 2010 that
Kosovo did not violate international law when the
country disengaged from Serbia. While Kosovo is
supported by the US and the EU, Serbia has received
support from Russia and China, among others. Following
Donald Trump's take-over as President of the United
States in 2017, there have been hints that Russia might
consider recognizing Kosovo against the US recognizing
the Russian annexation of Crimea. At the same time, the
Russians seem to be keen on continued good relations
As the dispute between Kosovo and Serbia could be a
serious threat to the stability of the region, the 2010
UN General Assembly commissioned the EU to establish a
dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo with the aim of
normalizing relations between the countries and
improving the quality of life for citizens. With some
interruptions, EU-led talks have been held between the
parties ever since.
In the summer of 2011, the first agreements were
reached. Among other things, Serbia agreed to accept
Kosovan ID documents for border crossing. Other
agreements included cooperation on public accounting,
property registers and joint border guarding. In
February 2012, an agreement was reached on the forms of
Kosovo's participation in regional organizations.
A symbolically important meeting was held in February
2013 when the Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo met in
Brussels. In April of that year, the parties agreed on a
framework agreement that would, among other things, give
the government in Prishtina control over the
Serbian-dominated areas of northern Kosovo, which would,
however, gain far-reaching autonomy. The agreement also
stipulated that neither party would prevent the other
from seeking EU membership.
However, from 2018, the contradictions between Kosovo
and Serbia have deteriorated again (see Current policy).
Relations with the EU
In October 2015, a so-called Stabilization and
Association Agreement (SAA) was signed between the EU
and Kosovo and on 1 April 2016 it came into force. It is
a more formal agreement with the EU and a first step in
a (long) process towards EU membership.
Although not all EU countries have recognized
Kosovo's independence, the EU has always had a strong
presence in the country. Since 2000, Kosovo has received
widespread contributions from the EU, including to
implement reforms and adapt its legislation to the Union
acquis. The EU has regularly measured Kosovo's progress
towards membership. The conclusion is recurring that the
country must work harder to improve relations with
Serbia, in particular to establish autonomy for the
Serbs in northern Kosovo, and to seriously tackle
corruption and organized crime. Kosovo, however, has
been praised by both the European Commission and the
European Parliament for its fight against violent
Since 2008, the EU has a so-called High
Representative (EUSR) in Kosovo. The legal action of
Eulex is to support the development of Kosovo's law
enforcement institutions (see Political system). Until
June 2018, Eulex itself pursued a target in Kosovo, but
now the EU body has only an advisory and monitoring
Remaining in Kosovo, there is the UN agency Unmik
(see Modern history) with around 350 people, who are
mainly to look after human rights.
The NATO-led international force Kfor remains in
Kosovo for the time being and is responsible for
security in the country. Thanks to an improved safety
situation, the force has been able to lose weight from
the original 14,000 men to just over 4,000 men in 2018.
In January 2009, the Kosovo Defense Force (KPC),
created after the 1999 war, was replaced by the Kosovo
Security Force (KSF), which is responsible for various
forms of crisis management. KSF has approximately 2,500
people recruited from all ethnic groups and NATO
provides KSF with weapons and education. There are plans
for KSF to in turn be replaced by a regular Kosovar army
(KAF) responsible for the country's defense, but it
opposes the country's Serbian minority. The army is
expected to amount to 5,000 men and 3,000 reservists.
Parliament voted in autumn 2018 to initiate a process of
converting KSF to KAF.
FACTS - DEFENSE
2,500 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
0.8 percent (2015)
Military spending's share of the state budget
0.0 percent (2017)