PRISTINA, BELGRADE -- Thursday – Many analysts say that the economic aspects of Kosovo will be key to the status discussions.
When talking about Kosovo, the region is usually mentioned in a historical or territorial context, but rarely is the economic interest of Belgrade talked about.
The economic potential is based on its mining riches, mostly in Trepca, which has a reserve of seventeen billion tons of coal, which is enough to sustain the region for the next two hundred years. The agricultural life of Kosovo is also fairly developed with two complete irrigation systems. There are 540 active companies working in Kosovo, of which 120 were sold to by the Trast Kosovo agency, despite the reservations of the Serbian Government.
Director of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Slobodan Milosavljevic, said that protecting economic interests in Kosovo means protecting the economic interests of Serbia.
“In this context, we have been in contact with chambers of commerce around the globe, advising them to tell their companies not to participate in privatization activities in Kosovo.” Milosavljevic said.
Most of the companies in Kosovo depend on money from the Yugoslavian Fund for the under-developed, in which Serbia has greatly invested in. However, when these companies where sold or rented out during the last several years, the Albanian workers received money and the Serbian workers got nothing.
Economic analyst Milivoje Mihajlovic said that the Serbian Government can use its money and its ownership as a serious argument in the discussions.
“That is what the Albanians are afraid of because they have no rights of ownership.” Mihajlovic said.
Kosovo has old debts that it owes to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that total 1.4 billion dollars and Serbia puts aside 250 million dollars every year in order to pay these debts back. B92
In a related development, Kosovo officials have indicated that they will bring up the issue of repartition during the negotiations. The Assembly speaker, Nexhat Daci, was quoted by RTK as saying that repartition will be one of the main sticking points of Kosovo delegations.
Serbian forces caused widespread destruction/looting of property/houses during the 1998-1999 conflict, which some analysts estimate to total hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions. Serbian officials have not reacted to Daci’s statement so far.