Preface: Why we wrote this report
Current policy debates in Kosovo fail to address what might well be the most important development issue facing Kosovo today: the impact of migration. As a result, one of the most destabilising changes to affect Kosovo society for generations – the end of the era of mass migration – risks being entirely overlooked by those responsible for promoting stability and prosperity in Kosovo.
This report seeks to put migration at the heart of debates about the future of Kosovo. It analyses the impact of the end of mass migration since 1999, taking two, typical villages in particular as illustrations for the forces that have been set in motion in rural Kosovo. Its core thesis is certain to be uncomfortable for European policy makers: if young Kosovars are no longer able to come to Europe as migrant workers, the current crisis in rural Kosovo is certain to deepen, and the outcome is likely to be serious instability.
The report also contains some uncomfortable messages for Kosovo's own policy makers. Migration and remittances have been a lifeline, but they have not brought about development. They have simply substituted for the lack of any effective development policies.
In doing so, they have helped to preserve one of Europe's oldest and most conservative institutions: the traditional, patriarchal household. Leaving rural Kosovo to depend on remittances for its survival has left it trapped in a vicious circle of underdevelopment.