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|Micro-level drivers

KOSOVO – Country Paper on Micro-Level Drivers

09 May 2024

Kosovo is one of the most recent additions to the global community, having declared its independence in February 2008 due to the tumultuous disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. However, even after 15 years since its declaration of independence, it remains a state of contention on the international stage. The nation has garnered recognition from over half of the member states within the United Nations (UN). Nonetheless, it still lacks recognition from two influential members of the UN Security Council – namely, Russia and China. Furthermore, it has secured recognition from 22 out of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) and from 26 out of the 30 member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the other hand, Kosovo is recognised by all of its immediate neighbours, with the exception of Serbia, with whom it continues to have a tense relationship.

According to the latest census conducted in 2011, the population composition of Kosovo is as follows: Albanians 92.9%, Bosniaks 1.6%, Serbs 1.5%, Turks 1.1%, Ashkali 0.9%, Egyptians 0.7%, Gorani 0.6%, Romani 0.5%, and other/unspecified 0.2%. In terms of religious affiliation, the distribution is as follows: Muslims 95.6%, Roman Catholics 2.2%, Orthodox Christians 1.5%, other 0.1%, none 0.1%, and unspecified 0.6%.

During the span of 2012 to 2016, a period marked by complex dynamics and far-reaching consequences, Kosovo found itself entangled in a situation where an estimated 359 of its citizens, encompassing 255 men, 49 women, and 55 children, ventured into conflict-ridden territories in the Middle East. Additionally, during this period, 41 children were born within the conflict zone. Notably, no new cases have been reported since 2017.

Against this background, the research objective of this paper is to analyse the individual root causes of violent extremism (VE) at the micro level in Kosovo, considering the seven pre-identified drivers: religion, economic deprivation, territorial inequalities, transnational dynamics, digital socialisation, political grievances, and education, culture, and leisure opportunities.

In this regard, it must be emphasised that the results of the research conducted at the macro level indicate that the driver of religion, specifically the violent misinterpretations of Islam, represents the major factor in fuelling VE. Furthermore, this driver is inherently intertwined with two other drivers: digital literacy (online propaganda) and transnational dynamics (global radical Islamic ideologies and movements). Therefore, they are considered the most significant drivers related to VE in Kosovo. The research demonstrates that the impact of other drivers is more peripheral.

On the other hand, the research results conducted at the meso level in the municipalities of South Mitrovica, Gjilan, and Gjakova demonstrate a general alignment with those at the macro level. In these three cases, the driver of religion has been identified as the primary factor contributing to VE, closely intertwined with the drivers of digital socialisation and transnational dynamics. However, the driver of territorial inequalities has shown no significant impact on radicalism and VE.

Regarding the other drivers, the results reveal differences in nuances regarding their impact on radicalism and VE. In the case of South Mitrovica, participants perceive the drivers of economic deprivation and the driver related to education, leisure, and cultural opportunities as having a certain impact on radicalisation and VE. The driver of political grievances is considered peripheral, while the driver of territorial inequalities is largely insignificant. In the case of Gjilan, participants perceive the drivers of economic deprivation, political grievances, and the driver related to education, leisure, and cultural opportunities as having a peripheral impact on radicalisation and VE. Lastly, in the municipality of Gjakova, the drivers of economic deprivation and the sub-driver of education, as well as the driver of political grievances, are perceived as having a certain impact on radicalisation and VE, whereas the driver of leisure and cultural opportunities is largely insignificant.

Since the research at the meso level was conducted in three out of the seven major municipalities/district centres of Kosovo, the research at the micro level is focused on the remaining four major municipalities/district centres: Prishtina (the capital), Prizren, Ferizaj, and Peja. The selection of these municipalities/district centres was based on the rationale that this research project should encompass all district centres of Kosovo to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the preselected drivers of VE in the country.

Against this background, the following research questions will guide the data analysis:

• What is the relevance granted by responders to each driver?
• How do the drivers interact with each other?
• How does exposure to violence have an impact on the perception of the drivers?
• What is the opinion of youth regarding public policies on preventing violent extremism (PVE)?

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