Pristina thanks EU for its revival

July 20, 2001

Work on a €4.5 million (£2.7 million) European Union-funded project to improve facilities at the University of Pristina in Kosovo has been completed, as the institution reverts to normality after years of political turmoil.

The money has helped rehabilitate the faculties of arts, law and natural sciences, as well as the chemistry and architecture departments, the student canteen and some dormitories.

Although the campus did not suffer serious damage during the 1999 conflict, when Nato occupied Kosovo, the university required "crucial repair and rehabilitation works" after years of neglect by the former Serb authorities.

The European Agency for Reconstruction, which coordinated the project, said: "The existing buildings were of very poor technical and architectural standard. The campus needed serious attention to generally upgrade the living conditions of the students."

The work has been completed during a period of transition, following the flight of Serb academic staff who dominated the institution until the Kosovo war. Since then, Albanian academics have taken their place, teaching Albanian students in a formerly Serb-dominated student body.

This year, a number of initiatives have marked the return to normality. They include an international summer school, involving foreign professors, including courses in law, economics, business, sociology, politics, environmental and media studies, electrical engineering and English.

Earlier this year, a programme was launched for students to visit Nato's Kfor camps, teaming them with soldiers of their own age "to foster an exchange of ideas between the students and the soldiers".

The rehabilitation scheme had been launched before the 1999 conflict following an agreement signed between the province's Serb and Albanian authorities, but it was interrupted in its early stages by the war.

It was revived when the European Commission launched its emergency reconstruction programmes after the war. An international management group carried out an assessment of the university buildings, in cooperation with a Pristina University committee composed of faculty professors. A priority list of buildings was drawn up for repair works.

Hugues Mingarelli, director of the European Agency for Reconstruction, said: "All the users of Pristina University buildings will benefit from this EU-funded project. Most importantly, it is the students' living and studying conditions that have been greatly improved."

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