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Kosovo Independence: What Can the World Expect? | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 18.02.2008
Kosovo's declaration of independence has already sent tremors through the international community. DW-WORLD.DE spoke to Balkans expert Stefan Wolff about what Kosovo and the world can expect in the near future.

Stefan Wolff is a professor of political science at Nottingham University in the UK, specializing in the prevention and settlement of ethnic conflicts and in post-conflict reconstruction in deeply divided and war-torn societies. He has extensive expertise in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe, and has also worked on a wide range of other conflicts elsewhere, including the Middle East, Africa, and Central, South and Southeast Asia.


DW-WORLD.DE: Is Kosovo prepared for independence in terms of infrastructure, governance, security and stability?


Stefan Wolff: Kosovo has most of the important institutions of statehood and democratic governance in place, but at the same time these institutions will require continued international support for some time. This is accepted by both the Kosovars and  the West and is the background against which we need to understand the EU mission for Kosovo -- as external assistance to consolidate existing institutional structures to enable Kosovars to take care of developing their economy, infrastructure and ensure security and stability.


The decision to declare independence is not a unanimous one within the population. What minorities in Kosovo have most to lose from this independence? 


In principle, all minorities and the majority Albanian population can gain from the clarification of Kosovo's international status, not least in the sense that they will all benefit from economic development. Prime Minister Thaci made some very important gestures yesterday towards reconciliation with Serbs in Kosovo. The Arthisaari plan offers important mechanisms to Serbs to preserve and develop their identity, gives them opportunities to play a meaningful part in the political process in Kosovo and retain ties with Serbia. From this perspective, there is no need for conflict between the two main population groups, but that does not mean that extremists on either side will refrain from violence and provocations. So far, this risk has been contained, but not eliminated.

by Fran on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 11:29:35 AM EST

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