Kosovo’s fledgling democracy needs more U.S. support

Learn more about Igor Khrestin .
Igor Khrestin
Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director, Global Policy
George W. Bush Institute

The President of Kosovo Dr. Vjosa Osmani’s visit to the United States last week was a timely reminder to Americans about Kosovo’s continuing efforts to consolidate its statehood and democracy.

  • Why this matters: The Kosovars have embarked on a difficult journey gaining global recognition and integrating into the Euro-Atlantic economic and security structures since declaring independence in 2008.
    • Osmani attended the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Dallas and the celebration of MCC’s 20th anniversary. She met with President George W. Bush, who was the first U.S. president to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. 

Some history: Rising out of the ashes of former Yugoslavia, the Kosovars fought for their independence in 1999 with the support of NATO military intervention. NATO’s Mission in Kosovo is still active today, comprising of 3,800 troops from 27 countries.

Present day: Serbia’s unwillingness to recognize Kosovo’s independence is hindering its Euro-Atlantic push, including Kremlin-fueled efforts to subvert the fragile peace in Kosovo. 

Why should the U.S. care? Kosovo is one of the most pro-American nations in the world. It’s part of the U.S.-led global coalition to defeat ISIS and generously hosted Afghan refugees after the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan in 2021.

  • The U.S. played a critical role in securing the country’s independence and must continue to help Kosovo achieve a prosperous and secure future as part of the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.

The White House should more robustly support Kosovo’s efforts to enter into NATO , instead of focusing on reconciliation with Serbia.

  • The Kosovars overwhelmingly support membership in the alliance. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the alliance has already added two new members in Finland and Sweden — and should also add Ukraine as soon as practicable.

In 2022, MCC signed a $236 million compact with Kosovo, which was successfully launched on May 1, 2024. But Kosovo’s nascent war-scarred economy needs a lot more help.

  • The U.S. should work with the European Union, international financial institutions, and other private sector partners to provide additional support so that Kosovo will thrive in the future and serve as a model to its neighbors.