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Republic of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, in his February 17 speech commemorating the 5th anniversary of the country’s independence, expressed pride in his country’s visible accomplishments, but noted appropriately his awareness that “we need to do much more.”

Indeed. Despite notable reforms since independence, the foundations of economic freedom in Kosovo are only weakly institutionalized. According to a recent article in The Atlantic:

An inadequate legal system which is open to political influences has hindered both democratic and economic progress [in Kosovo]. The legal code—complex by virtue of the incorporation of edicts of the former Yugoslavia, UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] Regulations, and the Kosovo Assembly—as well as multiple ownership claims on properties are “obstacles to foreign direct investment,” the Heritage Foundation asserts. Kosovo is quite open to foreign investment, but failure to tackle corruption, crime and graft has negatively impacted the regular economy while at once encouraging the growth of the black market.

The consequence of this is that unemployment remains stubbornly and astonishing high at 45 percent, while the GDP[gross domestic product] per capita is the lowest in Europe outside of the former Soviet Union. Kosovo has an extremely youthful population—half of its citizenry is under 25—but in order to absorb the number of young people wishing to enter the job market…the economy must grow at 8 percent every year.

This year, Kosovo was covered by The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom for the first time. As the young nation celebrates its “irreversible” independence and embarks on a new chapter in its development, it is time for its government to recommit to policies that will advance economic freedom and jump-start the economy.

Read more about Kosovo Economy.
See more from the 2013 Index.