World Bulletin / News Desk
Kosovo, Europe's youngest state, turns nine on Friday, but 24-year-old Nazim Ahmeti is in no mood to celebrate.
Like others, he defies extreme cold as he waits for hours outside Pristina's vegetable market in hopes of being hired for a day's work that might earn a meagre 15 euros ($16).
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and since has been recognised as a state by more than 110 countries, despite Belgrade's fierce opposition.
In spite of its diplomatic success, the former southern Serbian province is scarred by poverty and corruption.
Official statistics say the jobless rate fell to 26 percent last year.
But people believe this is a vast underestimate. World Bank data shows average unemployment at 42.6 percent over the last four years.
A third of Kosovo's 1.8 million people meanwhile live below the poverty line and the average monthly salary is 360 euros -- less than a quarter of monthly wages in the European Union, which Kosovo hopes one day to join.
The 1998-1999 conflict between Serbian security forces and Kosovo Albanian guerrillas that was ended by a NATO air campaign claimed 13,500 lives, most of them ethnic Albanians.
- Massive migration -
So analysts believe it is more than radical Islamism that is to blame for some 300 Kosovo Albanians joining jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
The same dire poverty and lack of economic progress have also pushed youngsters to emigrate to western Europe, more often illegally than legally.
In fact Kosovo's population has shrunk to 1.87 million from an estimated 2.1 million in 2008, and a key subject of talk recently has been winning visa liberalisation to ease travel to the European Union countries.
"Just look at their faces. There is not a single smile," said political analyst Ramush Tahiri, pointing to a crowd of youngsters at the main Mother Teresa square in central Pristina.
"None of their dreams has come true," he said.
Kosovo must provide "an economic perspective to its citizens in order to make them stay here, to prevent the social and other crises that made them look for solutions outside Kosovo," Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told AFP.
He said his government was doing its best to attract foreign investment.
But an editorial in the leading Koha Ditore daily said that "the government has not even come close to meeting the expectations of the young."
Normalising ties with Serbia appears to be a necessary step.
Talks between the two that have been underway since 2011 are slowly progressing although tensions return from time to time.
- Endemic corruption -
Despite strained relations, Kosovars and Serbs have never stopped trading.
Excluding allegedly significant amounts of smuggled goods, Serbia in 2016 exported some 400 million euros of goods to Kosovo, notably food, while tiny Kosovo exported 40 million euros worth -- or four million more than to its big brother Albania.
Another obstacle to development is endemic graft. Kosovo is ranked 95 of 175 countries on the 2016 corruption perception index list of Transparency International.
Government's finance department chief Zahir Bajrami was recently suspended on suspicion of corruption.
Economist Mehmet Gjata said Kosovo cannot become a "functional country without developing an economy able to address high jobless and poverty rates, its two major challenges."
"The fact that the elite is abnormally rich shows that economic development has not been their priority," he added.
But Ahmeti cannot hide his disillusion.
"I did not expect independent Kosovo to become America overnight. But I did expect not to have to worry about having enough bread for my family."
Israeli TV claims metal detectors at Al-Aqsa gates to be replaced with handheld ones
EU asks Israel and Jordan to take an attempt in the Al-Aqsa Mosque to uphold the status quo
Fifty-seven people injured in clashes, 12 taken to hospital, says Palestinian Red Crescent
Speaking ahead of a meeting with Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the foreign minister of Oman, which has remained neutral in the dispute, Tillerson noted "positive movement" in talks since he visited the region ten days ago.
Catalonia's pro-independence regional government plans to hold a secession vote in the wealthy northeastern region on October 1, in defiance of Spain's central government in Madrid which has repeatedly said such a vote would violate the constitution.
The 6.7-magnitude tremor also left hundreds more injured in the Turkish resort of Bodrum, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) across the sea from Kos.
"In the interest of Europe and in the spirit of the old Hungarian-Polish friendship, the inquisition campaign against Poland can never lead to success," Orban said during a visit in Romania.
"We shall not accept lessons and still less threats such as those we have heard from our neighbours in recent days," said Gentiloni.
Ultraviolent Abubakar Shekau’s Boko Haram faction this week released video of policewomen captured in northeast
Two other fighters of pro-government Shia militia were injured in attack
Spicer quit after Trump named Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and one-time critic, as the new White House communications director -- a role Spicer had hoped to play.
West African nation marks former holiday as dark reminder of dictator Yayha Jammeh, now recently fallen
Rebranding to Syrian Democratic Forces done to give PYD/PKK a voice in Syria talks, assuage Ankara, Raymond Thomas says
The legislation, which was pushed through by parliament Wednesday, was approved by 55 senators, with 23 opposed and two abstentions.
Court warns naming alternative justices 'illegal', can lead to jail time
Following deadly shootout last week, Israel placed metal detectors at entrance to mosque compound, outraging Palestinians