Politico: How the US broke Kosovo and what that means for Ukraine

Armend NIMANI / AFP

Matthew Karnitschnig, chief European correspondent of the political portal Politiko, analyzed how, following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, its American heroes tried to make money off of the destroyed, resource-rich country, and what lessons Ukraine can draw from it.

George W. Bush’s little brother was confused, reported Politico.

“So are you Albanian?” Neil Bush asked Kosovo’s former ambassador to Washington, Vlora Citaku, over dinner at Pristina’s finest hotel last July.

“Yes,” she told the former American president’s sibling, who had just arrived a few hours earlier in a chauffeur-driven black Range Rover from neighboring North Macedonia.

“But if you’re all Albanian why is your country called Kosovo?” Bush replied, incredulous.

He was surprised to learn that his brother was considered a hero in Kosovo for championing its independence as president in 2008, said Politico.

Not that it really mattered. Like a parade of other prominent Americans who have blown through the country over the past quarter century, Bush wasn’t in town to learn about Kosovo.

He was here to make money as part of a group led by retired United States Gen. Wesley K. Clark looking to invest in the country’s energy sector, reported the portal.

Over the years, Kosovo — a postage stamp-sized Balkan country that Washington and its NATO allies wrenched out of Serbia in 1999 to halt an unfolding genocide against the ethnic-Albanian population — has seen its share of American fortune hunters, Politico said.

The highway Bush’s entourage used en route to Pristina from North Macedonia that day, for example, was built by a consortium led by U.S. construction giant Bechtel at a cost of more than €700 million. But like other big, American-led infrastructure projects in countries where Washington has gone in with guns blazing, the 65-kilometer stretch of road was plagued by cost overruns and corruption, Politico added.

Last month, the Kosovar minister who oversaw the deal was sentenced to three years in prison for paying more than €50 million too much for the road. Despite the whiff of scandal, there’s no question that Kosovo has been a good bet for many of the American businesses active here, said the portal.

Read the full story here.