11th July 2013
The Ideas Factory: Pitch and Network evening Our next event will be on the Thursday, 11th July at the RADA studios . We meet every six weeks or so in Central London. New concepts are...View More Information
With Kosovo declaring its independence from Serbia on 17th February 2008, opinions are divided about what this means for the Balkans. Some see it as a possible threat to the stability of the region, with a dozen countries including Russia, Spain and Cyprus - who fear being seen to support separatist movements - opposing Kosovo's desire to detach itself from Serbian rule.
Kosovo is a poor country - one of the most under-developed economies in Europe, and it has 50% unemployment. Its political situation is far from settled, the country is still currently run by the UN and NATO, as it has been since 1999. But its move towards independence potentially opens up a new territory with opportunities waiting to be tapped and it would be interesting to go there to see what it has to offer investors.
The property market is a huge unknown quantity in Kosovo, with a third of the housing stock destroyed during the war, the UN brought in to solve ownership disputes since 1999 and many properties lying abandoned. It is by no means an easy market to enter. But the capital, Pristina, is seeing foreign investment flood in.
Investors in Montenegro and Albania will also want to know what impact Kosovo's independence may have on these two countries, both of which share a border with Kosovo. The Montenegrin property market is unlikely to be affected, continuing to boom with big Russian and European investment and rising tourist numbers. Prominent Montegrin lawyer Dragan Prelevic sees the problem as uniquely a Serbian one. "The main conflict now lies with politicians in Belgrade as a Serbian politician that recognises Kosovo could lose the vote," he says. Of far greater concern to Montenegro is its impending EU membership - something they certainly won't want to compromise by becoming involved in Serbia's issues.
Albania has welcomed Kosovo's independence and is likely to benefit from an increase in trade between the two countries. The new road that is being built will bring Pristina to within two hours of the Albanian port of Durres, creating a new maritime hub, opening up the market for 2.5 million Kosovars - who love the Albanian seaside - to buy residential property on the coast.