Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, the social environment in Kosovo is very welcoming for a visitor and the Kosovans are easy to get in touch with. The language skills vary, but it is never far to a person who is fluent in any major European language (or for that matter any Scandinavian language).
You spend time with family and close acquaintances in the home and otherwise the many cafes and restaurants are natural meeting places. Socializing is often spontaneous and rarely planned well in advance; for example, a wedding can be planned with just one week’s notice.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Kosovo, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Food and drinks
Hospitality is important and guests should be pampered with an abundance of food and drink. Alcohol intake is relatively moderate. The local “rakia” is offered on festive occasions but you are equally happy to spend over coffee or tea.
The food is quite rustic and reminiscent of the cuisine of the other Balkans. Meat dishes are common, as are fresh vegetables by season, peppers with varying heat, olives and other pickles. Ajvar is a typical flavoring made with pepper, oil and garlic. Pork is not included in the Albanian cuisine, but instead appears abundant in Serbian. Yogurt is a common table drink.
Kosovo is one of the most internationally characterized parts of the Balkans. This is due to influences partly from a large international presence for over a decade, and partly from the large groups living abroad mainly in Europe and North America. The environment is therefore quite open and tolerant to visitors. The dress code is relatively informal.
However, visitors should be aware that the local culture is conservative. This applies not least to contacts between the sexes. Local women without a company can run into difficulties after contacts with foreigners. Older people are shown great respect and attention. The family, family and personal network are given great importance.
Holidays and national symbols
February 17 is Independence Day and Kosovo’s official national day. Other official holidays are the Constitution Day (April 9), May 1, Europe Day (May 9), the Orthodox and Catholic Christmas Day, as well as the Muslim holidays id al-fitr and id al-adha.
In connection with independence, Kosovo received its own flag and national anthem. The flag is blue with a map of Kosovo in yellow and in an arch over the six white stars, which represent the six different nationalities in the country (Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Gorani, Roma and Bosniaks). The national anthem (“Europe”) lacks text so that no folk group feel outside.
Kosovo is allowed to participate in the Olympics
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides to give Kosovo full membership. This means that Kosovo can set itself up as a nation in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
New government finally ready
Half a year after the parliamentary elections, Kosovo finally gets a new government, after a crack has occurred in the opposition alliance and a settlement is reached instead between PDK and LDK. This means that LDK leader Isa Mustafa becomes prime minister with the outgoing prime minister Hashim Thaçi as his deputy. Thaçi will also become Foreign Minister and will succeed Atifete Jahjaga in 2016 as President. In addition, LDK’s Kujtim Shala and Serbian list Branimir Stojanović also become Deputy Prime Ministers. PDK’s Deputy Party leader, Kadri Veseli, will be the new Speaker of Parliament, with 73 of the 120 members voting for the new government.
Eulex in scandal
High-ranking people in the EU legal mission Eulex, with the task of helping Kosovo with justice and establishing its own legal system, are accused of corruption. A British lawyer, who revealed the scandal to the media, is dismissed. The EU appoints an independent investigator to find out what has happened.
Locked government negotiations
The Constitutional Court declares that it is the PDK, as the largest individual party, that has the right to appoint a new President. Only if PDK fails to get a majority for his candidate can the bid go to someone else. But the court also demands that all 120 members of parliament must be present in the vote on the president, a single member of the opposition can choose to absent from this and the election becomes invalid. However, this means that PDK can do the same against the opposition if it is commissioned to appoint the President. The situation therefore seems completely locked. As long as no President can be appointed, neither will the President commission anyone to form a new government. A new election thus seems to move closer.
Eulex cuts down
The EU’s legal mission, EULEX, places more responsibility on the local judicial authorities by reducing the over 2,000 strong staff by 30 percent from October 2014 and cutting the budget to EUR 111 million by 20 percent.
Difficulties in forming a new government
When Parliament is assembled for the first time, just over a month after the election, this elected LDC leader Isa Mustafa as new president. The PDK appeals against the decision, which it considers was wrong, and the case is sent to the Constitutional Court. Government negotiations continue.
Unclear position after parliamentary elections
In the recent election, Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi’s party PDK gets just over 30 percent versus just over 25 percent for LDK. In third place is Vetëvendosje under Albin Kurti, who collect 13.6 percent of the vote. Next comes the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), under former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (9.5 percent) and Initiative for Kosovo (Nisma) led by Fatmir Limaj and Jakup Krasniqi who resigned from PDK in March and formed his new party (5, 2 percent). The Serbian party, the Serbian List (SL), gets 5.2 percent of the vote. The three parties LDK, AAK and NK join forces in an alliance to remove Thaçi and bring forward AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj as candidate for the Prime Minister’s post. Haradinaj, who, like Thaçi, has its roots in the armed struggle for Kosovo’s freedom, has previously been prime minister.war crimes but acquitted both times since the court had trouble getting witnesses to appear.
New elections are announced
The leaders of the largest political parties agree after a meeting with President Atifete Jahjaga to dissolve parliament and announce new elections. After the failure of the members, the decision will come to an agreement on two basic issues: to transform Kosovo security forces (with limited missions) into a regular Kosovo army and to preserve reserved seats in parliament for minorities (today a total of 20). The Serbian minority, which has 10 reserved places, has set a conservation of the minority sites as a requirement to approve a Kosovo army.
A special court shall be established
Parliament in Prishtina votes to set up a special court to investigate possible war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, UÇK in the context of the 1998-1999 war. The decision comes after heavy pressure from the EU, whose legal mission Eulex, at the same time, is extended mandate for 2016.
Defenders form a new party
Disagreement within Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi’s ruling PDK leads two of the party’s leading MPs, Fatmir Limaj and Jakup Krasniqi, to step down and form a new party, Intiative of Kosovo (Nisma për Kosovën).