Emigration from Kosovo

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A substantial emigration from Kosovo has been taken place in three phases during the second half of the 20th century. It is estimated that about a third of people of Kosovan descent currently live outside of Kosovo. Emigration took place in three main waves and was mostly motivated by economic reasons, but was in the final phase also reinforced by the Kosovo War:

  • First Phase: initially as seasonal workers (1960, in Switzerland and Germany)
  • Second Phase: with the dissolution of former Yugoslavia (1990s-Serbian early ethnic cleansing)[1][page needed]
  • Third Phase: immigration during and after the Kosovo War (1997-1999 - Serbian escalated ethnic cleansing and now genocide)[2][3]

As the population of Kosovo mainly consisted of Kosovar Albanians, emigrant population was of a corresponding composition, with about 90% Albanians besides smaller numbers of Kosovo Serbs, Bosniaks, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians, Turks etc.[4]

The largest numbers of Kosovan emigrants are found in Germany (300,000), Switzerland (150,000), the U.S. and Scandinavia, making almost 800,000 Kosovars living abroad.[5]

Since 2008, the constitutional status of Kosovo is under dispute, it is recognized by some states as the Republic of Kosovo and by others as a part of the Republic of Serbia. In practice, the Kosovar emigrants abroad were registered as Serbian nationals by their host countries until 2009, when the Republic of Kosovo began issuing its own passports. Since 2009, parts of the Kosovar emigrant population has acquired such new passports and are now registered as of Kosovo nationality while others retained their old Serbian passports and continue to be registered as Serbian nationals. For this reason, there is no reliable statistics of the size of the "Kosovoar diaspora" in individual host countries.

Current situation[edit]

With 70 percent of the population being under the age of 35, Kosovo has one of the most pronounced youth bulges in Europe. There continues to be a significant trend for emigration, with about 50 percent of Kosovo's youth stating they would emigrate if they could. Around 200,000 young persons are expected to enter the labour market in the next five years[clarification needed] in Kosovo (EC 2007). Kosovo’s labour market is unable to absorb this high number. A Framework paper for the donor’s conference held on 11 July 2008 by the UK Government’s DFID (DFID, 2008) suggests that Kosovo could become an exporter of labour.[6]

Ministry of Diaspora[edit]

Coat of arms of Kosovo

On 19 May 2011, the Government of Kosovo took a decision on the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora, with a mandate to establish closer ties with compatriots, to represent their interests as well as to create opportunities for them to participate directly in decision-making processes future of the state. Ministry of Diaspora will be the node that will be linked and set guidelines for the implementation of projects that will be useful for diaspora and Kosovo. Its activity is determined by the Government Regulation. The purview of the Ministry of Diaspora:

  • Develops policies and legislation in the area of its responsibility
  • Develops and implement policies and projects related to the diaspora
  • In cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and in accordance with the applicable legal frame in force, proposes and manages the budget of the Ministry of Diaspora
  • Assists in the promotion, preservation and cultivation of cultural, educational and linguistic identity, of the diaspora members, and oversees their implementation
  • In cooperation with other relevant institutions, draws the register of members of the diaspora
  • Draws, implements and coordinates studies, researches, programs of the field belonging to the diaspora
  • Serves as intermediary and communication between the members of the diaspora and the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo
  • Implements educational programs for members of the diaspora, drawn by the responsible Ministry of Education
  • Implements policies in the sphere of culture for the members of the diaspora
  • Offers information, coordinates and supports investments for the members of the diaspora in Kosovo;
  • Establishes and coordinates cultural centres of Kosovo for the diaspora
  • In coordination and cooperation with Kosovo’s cultural centres for diaspora prepares reports to the Government regarding on the state of the diaspora
  • Prepares, coordinates and supervises the implementation of the strategy for the diaspora
  • Collaborates and coordinates activities with other municipal and state institutions, civil society and with organizations and associations inside and outside Kosovo, to improve the position of the diaspora[7]

Diaspora investment in Kosovo[edit]

Further information: Economy of Kosovo

Ministry of Diaspora organised the conference “Attracting Diaspora investment in Kosovo”, where diaspora has been considered as an important part of the economy of Kosovo.

On the other side Minister of Diaspora, Mr. Ibrahim Makolli said that the objectives of the ministry which he leads are to identify, encourage and to support investment from diaspora.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry Mimoza Kusari – Lila showed the planes on investment attraction of the Kosovo’s diaspora, which are linked directly to two agencies that operate under the MTI. At the Media Conference, she talked about the Business Registration Agency that will collaborate with Ministry of Diaspora on opening Business Registration Centres in: Switzerland, Germany, America and Turkey, which will serve business registrations out of Kosovo where the owners will be Kosovars. In that meeting many international representatives were present. The objective of those conferences will be investment promotion and inform Kosovo diaspora on doing business facilities and reforms happened in Kosovo.

Furthermore, nowadays business registration in Kosovo can be done much easier and faster; export and import procedures for the Kosovo goods has been significantly reduced; a considerable number of construction licenses has been eliminated while in meantime in regard to contract implementation area a considerable improvement has been made through laws governing enforcement procedures, notary and cadastre.

Among other Minister Kusari – Lila also have mentioned the conclusion of the investment protection agreement, where so far several agreements have been signed with 12 other countries (as Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Netherland, Croatia, Japan, UAE, Kuwaiti, Qatar, Norway, France and Montenegro). At the end, she has mentioned improvement of relations with European Union which affect on investment promotion growth.

Kosovo’s remittances for 2010 were € 511.6 million, while 30% of direct foreign investments have come exactly from diaspora.[8]

Direct investments[edit]

Around 25% of businesses surveyed were established with partial or full support from diaspora, through:

  • Cash (42.9%)
  • Joint investments (11.5%)
  • Support in form of vehicles, equipment, raw materials etc. (6.5%)
  • Links with companies abroad (0.7%)
  • Know-how and education (3 percent)
  • Professional skills (4.6%)
  • 9 % did not specify the type of support received
  • 21.8 % gave multiple answers

Only 2% of businesses were supported by International Development Agencies. Almost none were supported by National Government.[9]

Socio-economic development contribution[edit]

According to official statistics Kosovo benefits from the diaspora 450 - 500,000,000 million euros in annual revenues. Around 30 percent of households in Kosovo have access to international remittances – in form of money or goods. 49% of donors live in Germany, 24% in Switzerland. Remittances made 17,5 percent of country’s GDP in year 2000 (275 million Euro).[10]

Agency of Diaspora[edit]

In order to support the migrants KDA is established. Kosovo Diaspora Agency, according to the law is a responsible government body for diaspora members, which exercises and implements the authority and responsibilities defined by the law. The Kosovo Diaspora Agency is founded as an Executive Agency, which is part of the office of the Prime Minister.

And it has the following responsibilities:

  • To implement the disposition of this law and other approved subsidiary laws
  • To draft and propose policies for promoting the values of the diaspora and to oversee their implementation
  • To coordinate the implementation of agreements with the Kosovo Cultural Centre for the diaspora
  • To coordinate work in preparing the diaspora Strategic Plan and to monitor its implementation
  • To cooperate with state and municipal level institutions and with civil society to improve the position of the diaspora of the Republic of Kosovo
  • To improve the position of the diaspora it will cooperate with other institutions of other states with the approval of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo
  • To work and assist in raising the general awareness of the diaspora of the Republic of Kosovo
  • To help in promoting the cultural, linguistic and educational identity of the Republic of Kosovo in the various states where the diaspora lives
  • To coordinate and cooperate with the Kosovo Cultural Centre for the Diaspora in preparing reports for the Government about the situation of the diaspora
  • To report each year to the Government about the Agency’s work[11]


Beyond Remittances: Public Diplomacy and Kosovo's diaspora

Based on the article 'Beyond Remittances: Public Diplomacy and Kosovo's diaspora',[12] Kosovo diaspora is seen as source for the country’s public diplomacy because it is considered that the role of Kosovo’s diaspora is being a primary provider of remittances and investments in Kosovo.This is founded by SDC in Forum for Democratic Initiatives, Pristina

Forum for Democratics Initiatives has also found: Report based on the results of a survey lasted a year collaborating with the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and commissioned by the Swiss agency for development and cooperation (SDC). It was found that about a third of Kosovar families are taking international shipments, which are mainly used for consumption and luxury goods. Diaspora fund to start businesses is twelve-fold higher than that received from international development agencies. However, compared with diaspora investment expectations remain low, this is due to the focus on integration rather than on the financial support of Kosovo.

Preferences for emigration of Kosovars after Germany[13]

Based on 'Kosovo - winning its independence but losing its people? Recent evidence on emigration intentions',[14] the reasons of emigration that contribute in diaspora forming, vary or are linked to the population needs, thus the quality of educating, the level of conditions for work, unemployment emphasis the desire to migrate. But we should be aware that the Kosovars abroad consider the labour force with low education so works that are done from them are like building construction, public service etc.

Regarding the survey, the first preference for Kosovar ethnicity for emigration is Germany, on the list are Switzerland and the U.S. (both 34%), UK (29%), France (18.2%), Italy (16.4%) and Sweden (15.2%). Favourite places to Kosovo Serbs: Serbia (29.7%) and Switzerland (21.6%), USA, Norway, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Montenegro with a score between 4 and 6%. For both populations Switzerland is an attractive destination, reflecting previous networks refugees. (ESI) (2006). Germany is also the most important destination among Kosovo Albanians. The main reasons for emigration 52.5% of respondents emphasize unemployment in Kosovo, 25.7% a chance to increase income and 9.7% better career and growth opportunities.

At the same time, the report reflects on the fragile state of the economy, in particular the unemployment rate, which is rated at about 40%.


Elections for the Assembly of Kosovo are held free, general, equal, direct and secret, in pursuance to the Law on General Elections in Kosovo and the rules of CEC. Voters are equal in exercising their right to vote. Every citizen of Kosovo has the right to vote and be chosen without any discrimination based on race, ethnic community, colour, gender, language, religion or political opinion, education, social affiliation or any other criteria.

The law on General Elections in Kosovo, among other things regulates:

  • Acknowledgement and protection of the right to vote and criteria for eligibility of vote
  • Maintenance of the voters’ list
  • Procedures for voting, counting and announcement of results

Every person has the right to vote in the elections, in accordance with this law if he/she has reached the age of 18 in the day of elections and fulfils one of the following criteria:

  • Is registered as citizen of Kosovo in the Central Civil Registry;
  • Lives outside Kosovo or has left Kosovo before 1 January 1998, with the condition to fulfil the criteria according to the legislation in force for being citizen of Kosovo;
  • Has won the status of refugee, set out in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 and its protocol of 16 December 1966, after 1 January 1995 and has the right to register in the Central Civil Registry as resident of Kosovo.

Freedom and secrecy of vote is guaranteed. No one has the right to prevent any citizen to vote, to compel to vote, to hold responsible for voting or to request, against his/her wish to reveal his/her vote or reasons for not voting.[15]


  1. ^ Judah. The Serbs. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15826-7. 
  2. ^ "Kosovo diaspora". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Kosovo Genocide: Massacres". Web Genocide Documentation Centre. University of the West of England. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Kosovo diaspora". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Kosovo diaspora". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Haxhikadrija, Amir (16 April 2009). http://www.hslu.ch/amir_haxhikadrija_e.pdf. Retrieved 23 February 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Ministry of Diaspora". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Attracting Diaspora investment in Kosovo". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Haxhikadrija, Amir (16 April 2009). http://www.hslu.ch/amir_haxhikadrija_e.pdf. Retrieved 23 February 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Development contribution". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Ministry of Diaspora". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Xharra, Waehlisch (16 July 2012). "Beyond Remittances: Public Diplomacy and Kosovo's diaspora". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Ivļevs, King (September 2009). "Kosovo - winning its independence but losing its people?". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Ivļevs, King (September 2009). "Kosovo - winning its independence but losing its people?". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Voting". Retrieved 23 February 2013. 

See also[edit]