ERSTE Stiftung Books

Utopian Visions. Governance failures in Kosovo´s capital

Utopian Vision is the first of the European Stability initiatives (ESI) studies titled New Economic Geography. It broaches the issue and the concerning conflicts in this matter of Kosovo, in its process of change as to deindustrialization, Europeanization and the living together in a multiethnic society. Especially Pristina as the capital city of Kosovo and therefore the major player of this process of revitalisation has to face urban challenges and has to make an effort to gain economic structures and foremost an effective and democratic governance.


Amidst the high political drama surrounding final status talks, it is easy to lose sight of the vast challenge facing Kosovo once status is resolved. In social and economic terms, Kosovo has been falling behind Europe for half a century. A decision on status alone will not break this trend. It will require major changes in the way Kosovo is governed. As the capital city, Prishtina should be leading this process of revitalisation by setting the standard for effective and democratic governance. Prishtina is Kosovo’s wealthiest municipality, the seat of all of its governing institutions and home to a large number of international institutions. Yet Prishtina is still far from setting a positive example. Illegal construction is rampant. Buildings are constructed without regard to safety standards, and unplanned housing settlements and commercial developments place major strain on infrastructure. The city’s historical centre has been filled with new, high-rise construction. Buildings listed as national historical heritage have been neglected, some even destroyed. Infrastructure is deteriorating: water cuts are frequent, the road network is barely maintained, and the sewage system is deteriorating. Public spaces, parks and markets are falling into disrepair. Municipal services are unreliable. In winter, ice accumulates in the streets, posing a threat to public safety, while in summer garbage builds up in public spaces. The town’s economy depends to a dangerous degree on the presence of temporary international missions. There is unreliable data on what is being produced in Prishtina today, and no credible vision for its future economic development. What would it take for this to change?