PRISTINA, Serbia (AP) - A privatization agency in Kosovo on Thursday put up for sale patches of agricultural land, a shopping center and administrative buildings throughout the province in an effort to revive its depressed economy.
The Kosovo Trust Agency launched the 18th round of privatization in an effort to sell the companies, which were once owned by their workers and managers under a system set up during communist-era Yugoslavia, a statement said.
The U.N.-run Kosovo Trust Agency, the entity in charge of privatization, hopes to create 39 new companies once the sales are completed. Some of those firms are considered inefficient and dilapidated after years of neglect.
While most of the companies will be sold to the highest bidder, potential buyers for several firms will have to provide an investment plan and social conditions for workers.
The province's privatization agency, responsible for putting the firms on solid legal footing, wants private entrepreneurs to assume the risk of modernizing the industries.
Privatization is among the most sensitive issues in Kosovo, which was placed under U.N. administration in 1999 following NATO air strikes that ended a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.
The process of privatization in Kosovo is complex in part because it is unclear whether the province will become independent or remain linked to Serbia, with Belgrade authorities fiercely opposed to privatizations.
U.N.-brokered talks to resolve the dispute over Kosovo's final status are under way.