Context of Kosovo

Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova [kɔˈsɔva] or Kosovë [kɔˈsɔvə]; Serbian Cyrillic: Косово [kôsoʋo]), officially the Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Republika e Kosovës; Serbian: Република Косово, romanized: Republika Kosovo), is a country in Southeast Europe. It unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, and has s...Read more

Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova [kɔˈsɔva] or Kosovë [kɔˈsɔvə]; Serbian Cyrillic: Косово [kôsoʋo]), officially the Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Republika e Kosovës; Serbian: Република Косово, romanized: Republika Kosovo), is a country in Southeast Europe. It unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, and has since gained diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 101 member states of the United Nations. Kosovo lies landlocked in the centre of the Balkans, bordered by Serbia to the north and east, North Macedonia to the southeast, Albania to the southwest, and Montenegro to the west. Most of central Kosovo is dominated by the vast plains and fields of Metohija and Kosovo field. The Accursed Mountains and Šar Mountains rise in the southwest and southeast, respectively. Its capital and largest city is Pristina.

In classical antiquity, the central tribe which emerged in the territory of Kosovo were the Dardani, who formed an independent polity known as the Kingdom of Dardania in the 4th century BC. It was annexed by the Roman Empire by the 1st century BC, and for the next millennium, the territory remained part of the Byzantine Empire, whose rule was eroded by Slavic invasions beginning in the 6th–7th century AD. In the centuries thereafter, control of the area alternated between the Byzantines and the First Bulgarian Empire. By the 13th century, Kosovo became the core of the Serbian medieval state, and has also been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the 14th century, when its status was upgraded to a patriarchate. Ottoman expansion in the Balkans in the late 14th and 15th century led to the decline and fall of the Serbian Empire; the Battle of Kosovo of 1389 is considered to be one of the defining moments in Serbian medieval history. The Ottomans fully conquered the region after the Second Battle of Kosovo. The Ottoman Empire ruled the area for almost five centuries until 1912.

In the late 19th century, Kosovo was the center of the Albanian National Movement and where the Albanian revolt of 1910 and Albanian revolt of 1912 took place. Following their defeat in the Balkan Wars, the Ottomans ceded Kosovo to Serbia and Montenegro. Both countries joined Yugoslavia after World War I, and following a period of Yugoslav unitarism in the Kingdom, the post-World War II Yugoslav constitution established the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within the Yugoslav constituent republic of Serbia. Tensions between Kosovo's Albanian and Serb communities simmered through the 20th century and occasionally erupted into major violence, culminating in the Kosovo War of 1998 and 1999, which resulted in the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army and the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, followed by the unilateral declaration of independence nine years later. Serbia does not officially recognise Kosovo as a sovereign state and continues to claim it as its constituent Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, although it accepts the governing authority of the Kosovo institutions as a part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement.

Kosovo is a developing country, with an upper-middle-income economy. It has experienced solid economic growth over the last decade as measured by international financial institutions since the onset of the financial crisis of 2007–2008. Kosovo is a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and has applied for membership in the Council of Europe, UNESCO, Interpol, and for observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In December 2022, Kosovo filed a formal application to become a member of the European Union.

More about Kosovo

Basic information
  • Currency Euro
  • Calling code +383
  • Mains voltage 230V/50Hz
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 1883018
  • Area 10909
  • Driving side right
  • This section may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. Please consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding subheadings. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. (January 2023)
    Early development
    Goddess on the Throne is one of the most significant archaeological artifacts of Kosovo and has been adopted as the symbol of Pristina.

    The strategic position including the abundant natural resources were favorable for the development of human settlements in Kosovo, as is highlighted by the hundreds of archaeological sites identified throughout its territory. The first archaeological expedition in Kosovo was organised by the Austro-Hungarian army during the World War I in the Illyrian tumuli burial grounds of Nepërbishti within the district of Prizren.[1] Since 2000, the increase in archaeological expeditions has revealed many, previously unknown sites. The earliest documented traces in Kosovo are associated to the Stone Age; namely, indications that cave dwellings might have existed, such as Radivojce Cave near the source of the Drin River, Grnčar Cave in the municipality of Viti and the Dema and Karamakaz Caves in the municipality of Peja.

    The earliest archaeological evidence of organised settlement, which have been found in Kosovo, belong to the Neolithic Starčevo and Vinča cultures.[2] Vlashnjë and Runik are important sites of the Neolithic era – the rock art paintings at Mrrizi i Kobajës near Vlashnjë are the first find of prehistoric art in Kosovo.[3] Amongst the finds of excavations in Neolithic Runik is a baked-clay ocarina, which is the first musical instrument recorded in Kosovo.[2] The beginning of the Bronze Age coincides with the presence of tumuli burial grounds in western Kosovo, like the site of Romajë.[1]

    Ruins of Ancient Ulpiana situated south-east of Pristina. The city played an important role in the development of one of the most important cities in the Roman province of Dardania.

    The Dardani were the most important Paleo-Balkan tribe in the region of Kosovo. A wide area which consists of Kosovo, parts of Northern Macedonia and eastern Serbia was named Dardania after them in classical antiquity, reaching to the Thraco-Illyrian contact zone in the east. In archaeological research, Illyrian names are predominant in western Dardania (present-day Kosovo), while Thracian names are mostly found in eastern Dardania (present-day south-eastern Serbia).

    Thracian names are absent in western Dardania; some Illyrian names appear in the eastern parts. Thus, their identification as either an Illyrian or Thracian tribe has been a subject of debate, the ethnolinguistic relationship between the two groups being largely uncertain and debated itself as well. The correspondence of Illyrian names – including those of the ruling elite – in Dardania with those of the southern Illyrians suggests a "thracianization" of parts of Dardania.[4] The Dardani retained an individuality and continued to maintain social independence after Roman conquest, playing an important role in the formation of new groupings in the Roman era.[5]

    The Roman state annexed Dardania by the first century AD. The importance of the area lay in its high mining potential (metalla Dardana), highlighted by the large mining complex of Municipium Dardanorum and the designation of part of the region as an imperial mining district.[citation needed] Kosovo was part of two provinces, Praevalitana and Dardania. Ulpiana is the most important municipium which developed in Kosovo.[6] It was refounded as Justiniana Secunda under Justinian in the 6th century AD.[7]

    Middle Ages
    Gračanica Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    Visoki Dečani Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    In the next centuries, Kosovo was a frontier province of the Byzantine Empire. The region was exposed to an increasing number of raids from the 4th century CE onward, culminating with the Slavic migrations of the 6th and 7th centuries.

    Toponymic evidence suggests that Albanian was probably spoken in Kosovo prior to the Slavic settlement of the region.[8][9]

    There is one intriguing line of argument to suggest that the Slav presence in Kosovo and southernmost part of the Morava valley may have been quite weak in the first one or two centuries of Slav settlement. Only in the ninth century can the expansion of a strong Slav (or quasi-Slav) power into this region be observed. Under a series of ambitious rulers, the Bulgarians – a Slav population which absorbed, linguistically and culturally, its ruling elite of Turkic Bulgars – pushed westwards across modern Macedonia and eastern Serbia, until by the 850's they had taken over Kosovo and were pressing on the border of Serbian Principality.[10]

    The First Bulgarian Empire acquired Kosovo by the mid-9th century, but Byzantine control was restored by the late 10th century. In 1072, the leaders of the Bulgarian Uprising of Georgi Voiteh traveled from their center in Skopje to Prizren and held a meeting in which they invited Mihailo Vojislavljević of Duklja to send them assistance. Mihailo sent his son, Constantine Bodin with 300 of his soldiers. After they met, the Bulgarian magnates proclaimed him "Emperor of the Bulgarians".[11] The uprising was defeated by Nikephoros Bryennios. Demetrios Chomatenos is the last Byzantine archbishop of Ohrid to include Prizren in his jurisdiction until 1219.[12] Stefan Nemanja had seized the area along the White Drin in 1185-95 and the ecclesiastical split of Prizren from the Patriarchate in 1219 was the final act of establishing Nemanjić rule. Konstantin Jireček concluded, from the correspondence of archbishop Demetrios of Ohrid (1216–36), that Dardania (modern Kosovo) was increasingly populated by Albanians and the expansion started from Gjakova and Prizren area, prior to the Slavic expansion.[13]

    Map of Southeastern Europe in 1265, including the Medieval Kingdom of Serbia

    During the 13th and 14th centuries, Kosovo was a political, cultural and religious centre of the Serbian Kingdom.[14] The zenith of Serbian power was reached in 1346 with the formation of the Serbian Empire (1346-1371). In the late 13th century, the seat of the Serbian Archbishopric was moved to Peja, and rulers centred themselves between Prizren and Skopje,[15] during which time thousands of Christian monasteries and feudal-style forts and castles were erected,[16] Stefan Dušan using Prizren Fortress as one of his temporary courts for a time. When the Serbian Empire fragmented into a conglomeration of principalities in 1371, Kosovo became the hereditary land of the House of Branković. During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, parts of Kosovo, the easternmost area located near Pristina, were part of the Principality of Dukagjini[citation needed], which was later incorporated into an anti-Ottoman federation of all Albanian principalities, the League of Lezhë.[17]

    Medieval Monuments in Kosovo is a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of four Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries. The constructions were founded by members of the Nemanjić dynasty, a prominent dynasty of Middle Age Serbia.[18]

    Ottoman rule
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    In the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, Ottoman forces defeated a coalition led by Lazar of Serbia.[19][20] Some historians, most notably Noel Malcolm, argue that the battle of Kosovo in 1389 did not end with an Ottoman victory and "Serbian statehood did survive for another seventy years."[21] Soon after, Lazar's son accepted Turkish nominal vassalage (as did some other Serbian principalities) and Lazar's daughter was married to the Sultan to seal the peace. By 1459, Ottomans conquered the new Serbian capital of Smederevo,[22] leaving Belgrade and Vojvodina under Hungarian rule until second quarter of the 16th century.

    The Rumelia Eyalet (red) in 1609

    Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1455 to 1912, at first as part of the eyalet of Rumelia, and from 1864 as a separate province (vilayet). During this time, Islam was introduced to the population. The Vilayet of Kosovo was an area much larger than today's Kosovo; it included all of current-day Kosovo, sections of the Sandžak region cutting into present-day Šumadija and Western Serbia and Montenegro, and the Kukës municipality, the surrounding region in present-day northern Albania and also parts of north-western North Macedonia, with the city of Skopje (then Üsküp), as its capital. Between 1881 and 1912, the Vilayet expanded to include other regions of present-day North Macedonia, including larger urban settlements such as Štip (İştip), Kumanovo (Kumanova) and Kratovo (Kratova). According to some historians, Serbs likely formed a majority of Kosovo from the 8th to the mid-19th century.[23][24] However, this claim is difficult to prove, as historians who base their works on Ottoman sources of the time give solid evidence that at least the western and central parts of Kosovo had an Albanian majority — the scholar Fredrick F. Anscombe shows that Prizren and Vushtrri (Vulçitrin) had no Serbian population in the early 17th century. Prizren was inhabited by a mix of Catholic and Muslim Albanians, while Vushtrri had a mix of Albanian and Turkish speakers, followed by a tiny Serbian minority. Gjakova was founded by Albanians in the 16th century, and Peja (İpek) had a continuous presence of the Albanian Kelmendi tribe. Central Kosovo was mixed, but large parts of the Drenica Valley were ethnically Albanian. Central Kosovo, as well as the cities of Prizren, Gjakova, and the region of Has regularly supplied the Ottoman forces with levies and mercenaries.[25]

    The Ottoman defters of the 15th-16th centuries indicate that the Plains of Dukagjin in western Kosovo were inhabited by a majority of Albanian Christians of both the Orthodox and Catholic rites. The Slavic population was a small minority that was concentrated in the Nahiya of Peja and a small pocket in the Nahiya of Prizren; the documentation of Albanians in Peja at the end of the 15th century presupposes that Kosovo Albanians were early inhabitants of the region that pre-dated the Ottoman period.[26] According to Paul Cohen, in the early sixteenth century, a large migration of Albanians into Kosovo resulted in a sizeable ethnic Albanian presence in some parts of Western Kosovo which continued into the next century.[27] Historian Noel Malcolm challenges this view, using 15th-18th century Ottoman immigration documents and 17th century northern Albanian Catholic emigration sources to argue that the majority of the migrants into the Kosovo region during this period were not Albanian.[28] The population of Kosovo was also much bigger than that of northern and central Albania and its rate of growth lower.[28] Kosovo was part of the wider Ottoman region to be occupied by Austrian forces during the Great War of 1683–99,[29] but the Ottomans re-established their rule of the region. Such acts of assistance by the Austrian Empire (then arch-rivals of the Ottoman Empire), or Russia, were always abortive or temporary at best.[23][30] In 1690, the Serbian Patriarch Arsenije III led thousands of people from Kosovo to the Christian north, in what came to be known as the Great Serb Migration. Anscombe casts doubt on the fact that this exodus affected Kosovo, since there is no evidence that parts of Kosovo were depopulated. Evidence of depopulation can only be found in areas between Niš and Belgrade. Some Albanians from Skopje and other regions were displaced in order to fill some areas around Niš, but there is no evidence that such events took place in Kosovo.[31][25] Considering Albanians were a significant part of the population before 1690 and that Albanian majority was not achieved until mid 19th century, a mass exodus of Serbs out of Kosovo in 1690 seems unlikely, according to historian Noel Malcolm.[32] In 1766, the Ottomans abolished the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć and fully imposed the jizya on its non-Muslim population.

    The city of Prizren was the cultural and intellectual centre of Kosovo during the Ottoman period in the Middle Ages and is now the historic capital of Kosovo.

    Although initially stout opponents of the advancing Turks, Albanian chiefs ultimately came to accept the Ottomans as sovereigns. The resulting alliance facilitated the mass conversion of Albanians to Islam. Given that the Ottoman Empire's subjects were divided along religious (rather than ethnic) lines, the spread of Islam greatly elevated the status of Albanian chiefs. Prior to this, they were organised along simple tribal lines, living in the mountainous areas of modern Albania (from Kruje to the Šar range).[33] Soon, they expanded into a depopulated Kosovo,[34] as well as northwestern Macedonia, although some might have been autochthonous to the region.[35] However, Banac favours the idea that the main settlers of the time were Vlachs.[23] Centuries earlier, Albanians of Kosovo were predominantly Christian and Albanians and Serbs for the most part co-existed peacefully. The Ottomans appeared to have a more deliberate approach to converting the Roman Catholic population who were mostly Albanians in comparison with the mostly Serbian adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy, as they viewed the former less favorably due to its allegiance to Rome, a competing regional power.[27]

    Many Albanians gained prominent positions in the Ottoman government, with "little cause of unrest", according to author Dennis Hupchik. "If anything, they grew important in Ottoman internal affairs."[36] In the 19th century, there was an awakening of ethnic nationalism throughout the Balkans. The underlying ethnic tensions became part of a broader struggle of Christian Serbs against Muslim Albanians.[20] The ethnic Albanian nationalism movement was centred in Kosovo. In 1878 the League of Prizren (Lidhja e Prizrenit) was formed, a political organisation that sought to unify all the Albanians of the Ottoman Empire in a common struggle for autonomy and greater cultural rights,[37] although they generally desired the continuation of the Ottoman Empire.[34] The League was dis-established in 1881 but enabled the awakening of a national identity among Albanians,[38] whose ambitions competed with those of the Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbia wishing to incorporate this land that had formerly been within its empire.

    The modern Albanian-Serbian conflict has its roots in the expulsion of the Albanians in 1877–1878 from areas that became incorporated into the Principality of Serbia.[39][40] During and after the Serbian–Ottoman War of 1876–78, between 30,000 and 70,000 Muslims, mostly Albanians, were expelled by the Serb army from the Sanjak of Niš and fled to the Kosovo Vilayet.[41][42][43][44][45][46] According to Austrian data, by the 1890s Kosovo was 70% Muslim (nearly entirely of Albanian descent) and less than 30% non-Muslim (primarily Serbs).[27] In May 1901, Albanians pillaged and partially burned the cities of Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Pristina, and massacred Serbs in the area of Kolašin.[47][48]

    Kingdom of Yugoslavia

    The Young Turk movement took control of the Ottoman Empire after a coup in 1912 which deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The movement supported a centralised form of government and opposed any sort of autonomy desired by the various nationalities of the Ottoman Empire. An allegiance to Ottomanism was promoted instead.[49] An Albanian uprising in 1912 exposed the empire's northern territories in Kosovo and Novi Pazar, which led to an invasion by the Kingdom of Montenegro. The Ottomans suffered a serious defeat at the hands of Albanians in 1912, culminating in the Ottoman loss of most of its Albanian-inhabited lands. The Albanians threatened to march all the way to Salonika and reimpose Abdul Hamid.[50]

    Division of Kosovo vilayet between the Kingdom of Serbia (yellow) and the Kingdom of Montenegro (green) following the Balkan Wars 1913.

    A wave of Albanians in the Ottoman army ranks also deserted during this period, refusing to fight their own kin. In September 1912, a joint Balkan force made up of Serbian, Montenegrin, Bulgarian and Greek forces drove the Ottomans out of most of their European possessions. The rise of nationalism hampered relations between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, due to influence from Russians, Austrians and Ottomans.[51] After the Ottomans' defeat in the First Balkan War, the 1913 Treaty of London was signed with Western Kosovo (Metohija) ceded to the Kingdom of Montenegro and Eastern Kosovo ceded to the Kingdom of Serbia.[52] During the Balkan Wars, over 100,000 Albanians left Kosovo and around 20,000 were killed.[53] Soon, there were concerted Serbian colonisation efforts in Kosovo during various periods between Serbia's 1912 takeover of the province and World War II, causing the population of Serbs in Kosovo to sharply decline after a period of growth.[28]

    Serbian authorities promoted creating new Serb settlements in Kosovo as well as the assimilation of Albanians into Serbian society, causing a mass exodus of Albanians from Kosovo.[54] Numerous colonist Serb families moved into Kosovo, equalising the demographic balance between Albanians and Serbs.[citation needed] The figures of Albanians forcefully expelled from Kosovo range between 60,000 and 239,807, while Malcolm mentions 100,000–120,000. In combination with the politics of extermination and expulsion, there was also a process of assimilation through religious conversion of Albanian Muslims and Albanian Catholics into the Serbian Orthodox religion which took place as early as 1912. These politics seem to have been inspired by the nationalist ideologies of Ilija Garašanin and Jovan Cvijić.[55]

    German soldiers set fire to a Serbian village near Mitrovica, circa 1941.

    In the winter of 1915–16, during World War I, Kosovo saw the retreat of the Serbian army as Kosovo was occupied by Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. In 1918, the Allied Powers pushed the Central Powers out of Kosovo. After the end of World War I, the Kingdom of Serbia was transformed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians on 1 December 1918.

    Kosovo was split into four counties, three belonging to Serbia (Zvečan, Kosovo and southern Metohija) and one to Montenegro (northern Metohija). However, the new administration system since 26 April 1922 split Kosovo among three districts (oblast) of the Kingdom: Kosovo, Raška and Zeta. In 1929, the country was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the territories of Kosovo were reorganised among the Banate of Zeta, the Banate of Morava and the Banate of Vardar. In order to change the ethnic composition of Kosovo, between 1912 and 1941 a large-scale Serbian re-colonisation of Kosovo was undertaken by the Belgrade government. Kosovar Albanians' right to receive education in their own language was denied alongside other non-Slavic or unrecognised Slavic nations of Yugoslavia, as the kingdom only recognised the Slavic Croat, Serb, and Slovene nations as constituent nations of Yugoslavia. Other Slavs had to identify as one of the three official Slavic nations and non-Slav nations deemed as minorities.[54]

    Albanians and other Muslims were forced to emigrate, mainly with the land reform which struck Albanian landowners in 1919, but also with direct violent measures.[56][28] In 1935 and 1938, two agreements between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Turkey were signed on the expatriation of 240,000 Albanians to Turkey, but the expatriation did not occur due to the outbreak of World War II.[57]

    After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, most of Kosovo was assigned to Italian-controlled Albania, and the rest controlled by Germany and Bulgaria. A three-dimensional conflict ensued, involving inter-ethnic, ideological, and international affiliations.[58] Albanian collaborators persecuted Serb and Montenegrin settlers,[59] and killed an estimated 10,000 and expelled or transferred 70,000 to 100,000 more to concentration camps in Pristina and Mitrovica.[60] Nonetheless, these conflicts were relatively low-level compared with other areas of Yugoslavia during the war years. Two Serb historians also estimate that 12,000 Albanians died.[58] An official investigation conducted by the Yugoslav government in 1964 recorded nearly 8,000 war-related fatalities in Kosovo between 1941 and 1945, 5,489 of them Serb or Montenegrin and 2,177 Albanian.[61] There had been large-scale Albanian immigration from Albania to Kosovo, by some scholars estimated in the range from 72,000[62][60] to 260,000 people. Some historians and contemporary references emphasise that a large-scale migration of Albanians from Albania to Kosovo is not recorded in Axis documents.[63]

    Communist Yugoslavia
    The flag of the Albanian Minority of Kosovo in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    The province in its current form first took shape in 1945 as the Autonomous Kosovo-Metohian Area. Until World War II, the only entity bearing the name of Kosovo had been a political unit carved from the former vilayet which bore no special significance to its internal population. In the Ottoman Empire (which previously controlled the territory), it was a vilayet and its borders were revised on several occasions. When the Ottoman province last existed, it included areas which were by now either ceded to Albania, or within the newly created Yugoslav republics of Montenegro, or Macedonia (including its previous capital, Skopje), with another part in the Sandžak region of southwest Serbia.

    Tensions between ethnic Albanians and the Yugoslav government were significant, not only due to ethnic tensions but also due to political ideological concerns, especially regarding relations with neighbouring Albania.[64] Harsh repressive measures were imposed on Kosovo Albanians due to suspicions that there were sympathisers of the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha of Albania.[64] In 1956, a show trial in Pristina was held in which multiple Albanian Communists of Kosovo were convicted of being infiltrators from Albania and given long prison sentences.[64] High-ranking Serbian communist official Aleksandar Ranković sought to secure the position of the Serbs in Kosovo and gave them dominance in Kosovo's nomenklatura.[65]

    Fadil Hoxha, the vice-president of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, from 1978 to 1979.

    Islam in Kosovo at this time was repressed and both Albanians and Muslim Slavs were encouraged to declare themselves to be Turkish and emigrate to Turkey.[64] At the same time Serbs and Montenegrins dominated the government, security forces, and industrial employment in Kosovo.[64] Albanians resented these conditions and protested against them in the late 1960s, caling the actions taken by authorities in Kosovo colonialist, and demanding that Kosovo be made a republic, or declaring support for Albania.[64]

    After the ouster of Ranković in 1966, the agenda of pro-decentralisation reformers in Yugoslavia, especially from Slovenia and Croatia, succeeded in the late 1960s in attaining substantial decentralisation of powers, creating substantial autonomy in Kosovo and Vojvodina, and recognising a Muslim Yugoslav nationality.[66] As a result of these reforms, there was a massive overhaul of Kosovo's nomenklatura and police, that shifted from being Serb-dominated to ethnic Albanian-dominated through firing Serbs in large scale.[66] Further concessions were made to the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo in response to unrest, including the creation of the University of Pristina as an Albanian language institution.[66] These changes created widespread fear among Serbs that they were being made second-class citizens in Yugoslavia.[67] By the 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia, Kosovo was granted major autonomy, allowing it to have its own administration, assembly, and judiciary; as well as having a membership in the collective presidency and the Yugoslav parliament, in which it held veto power.[68]

    Republics and provinces of the SFR Yugoslavia.

    In the aftermath of the 1974 constitution, concerns over the rise of Albanian nationalism in Kosovo rose with the widespread celebrations in 1978 of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the League of Prizren.[64] Albanians felt that their status as a "minority" in Yugoslavia had made them second-class citizens in comparison with the "nations" of Yugoslavia and demanded that Kosovo be a constituent republic, alongside the other republics of Yugoslavia.[69] Protests by Albanians in 1981 over the status of Kosovo resulted in Yugoslav territorial defence units being brought into Kosovo and a state of emergency being declared resulting in violence and the protests being crushed.[69] In the aftermath of the 1981 protests, purges took place in the Communist Party, and rights that had been recently granted to Albanians were rescinded – including ending the provision of Albanian professors and Albanian language textbooks in the education system.[69]

    Due to very high birth rates, the proportion of Albanians increased from 75% to over 90%. In contrast, the number of Serbs barely increased, and in fact dropped from 15% to 8% of the total population, since many Serbs departed from Kosovo as a response to the tight economic climate and increased incidents with their Albanian neighbours. While there was tension, charges of "genocide" and planned harassment have been discredited as a pretext to revoke Kosovo's autonomy. For example, in 1986 the Serbian Orthodox Church published an official claim that Kosovo Serbs were being subjected to an Albanian program of 'genocide'.[70]

    Even though they were disproved by police statistics,[70][page needed] they received wide attention in the Serbian press and that led to further ethnic problems and eventual removal of Kosovo's status. Beginning in March 1981, Kosovar Albanian students of the University of Pristina organised protests seeking that Kosovo become a republic within Yugoslavia and demanding their human rights.[71] The protests were brutally suppressed by the police and army, with many protesters arrested.[72] During the 1980s, ethnic tensions continued with frequent violent outbreaks against Yugoslav state authorities, resulting in a further increase in emigration of Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic groups.[73][74] The Yugoslav leadership tried to suppress protests of Kosovo Serbs seeking protection from ethnic discrimination and violence.[75]

    Breakup of Yugoslavia and Kosovo War

    Inter-ethnic tensions continued to worsen in Kosovo throughout the 1980s. In 1989, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, employing a mix of intimidation and political maneuvering, drastically reduced Kosovo's special autonomous status within Serbia and started cultural oppression of the ethnic Albanian population.[76] Kosovar Albanians responded with a non-violent separatist movement, employing widespread civil disobedience and creation of parallel structures in education, medical care, and taxation, with the ultimate goal of achieving the independence of Kosovo.[77]

    In July 1990, the Kosovo Albanians proclaimed the existence of the Republic of Kosova, and declared it a sovereign and independent state in September 1992.[78] In May 1992, Ibrahim Rugova was elected its president in an election in which only Kosovo Albanians participated.[79] During its lifetime, the Republic of Kosova was only officially recognised by Albania. By the mid-1990s, the Kosovo Albanian population was growing restless, as the status of Kosovo was not resolved as part of the Dayton Agreement of November 1995, which ended the Bosnian War. By 1996, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an ethnic Albanian guerrilla paramilitary group that sought the separation of Kosovo and the eventual creation of a Greater Albania,[80] had prevailed over the Rugova's non-violent resistance movement and launched attacks against the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police in Kosovo, resulting in the Kosovo War.[76][81] The situation escalated further when Yugoslav and Serbian forces committed numerous massacres against Kosovo Albanians, such as the Prekaz massacre in which one of the KLA founders Adem Jasheri was surrounded in his home along with his extended family. In total 58 Kosovo Albanians were killed in this massacre, including 18 women and 10 children, in a massacre where mortars were fired on the houses and snipers shot those who fled. This massacre along with others motivated many Albanian men to join the KLA.[82]

    Marines from the U.S. set up a road block near the village of Koretin on 16 June 1999.

    By 1998, international pressure compelled Yugoslavia to sign a ceasefire and partially withdraw its security forces. Events were to be monitored by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers according to an agreement negotiated by Richard Holbrooke. The ceasefire did not hold and fighting resumed in December 1998, culminating in the Račak massacre, which attracted further international attention to the conflict.[76] Within weeks, a multilateral international conference was convened and by March had prepared a draft agreement known as the Rambouillet Accords, calling for the restoration of Kosovo's autonomy and the deployment of NATO peacekeeping forces. The Yugoslav delegation found the terms unacceptable and refused to sign the draft. Between 24 March and 10 June 1999, NATO intervened by bombing Yugoslavia, aiming to force Milošević to withdraw his forces from Kosovo,[83] though NATO could not appeal to any particular motion of the Security Council of the United Nations to help legitimise its intervention.

    Kosovar Albanian soldiers holding pictures in memory of the men who were killed or went missing in the Krusha massacres.

    Combined with continued skirmishes between Albanian guerrillas and Yugoslav forces the conflict resulted in a further massive displacement of population in Kosovo.[84]

    During the conflict, roughly a million ethnic Albanians fled or were forcefully driven from Kosovo. In 1999 more than 11,000 deaths were reported to the office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.[85] As of 2010[update], some 3,000 people were still missing, including 2,500 Albanians, 400 Serbs and 100 Roma.[86] By June, Milošević agreed to a foreign military presence in Kosovo and the withdrawal of his troops. During the Kosovo War, over 90,000 Serbian and other non-Albanian refugees fled the province. In the days after the Yugoslav Army withdrew, over 80,000 Serb and other non-Albanian civilians (almost half of 200,000 estimated to live in Kosovo) were expelled from Kosovo, and many of the remaining civilians were victims of abuse.[87][88][89][90][91] After the Kosovo and other Yugoslav Wars, Serbia became home to the highest number of refugees and IDPs (including Kosovo Serbs) in Europe.[92][93][94]

    In some villages under Albanian control in 1998, militants drove ethnic Serbs from their homes.[citation needed] Some of those who remained are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been abducted by the KLA and killed. The KLA detained an estimated 85 Serbs during its 19 July 1998 attack on Rahovec. 35 of these were subsequently released but the others remained. On 22 July 1998, the KLA briefly took control of the Belaćevac mine near the town of Obilić. Nine Serb mineworkers were captured that day and they remain on the International Committee of the Red Cross's list of the missing and are presumed to have been killed.[95] In August 1998, 22 Serbian civilians were reportedly killed in the village of Klečka, where the police claimed to have discovered human remains and a kiln used to cremate the bodies.[95][96] In September 1998, Serbian police collected 34 bodies of people believed to have been seized and murdered by the KLA, among them some ethnic Albanians, at Lake Radonjić near Glođane (Gllogjan) in what became known as the Lake Radonjić massacre.[95] Human Rights Watch have raised questions about the validity of at least some of these allegations made by Serbian authorities.[97]

    Serbian children refugees, Cernica, Gjilan.

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) prosecuted crimes committed during the Kosovo War. Nine senior Yugoslav officials, including Milošević, were indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed between January and June 1999. Six of the defendants were convicted, one was acquitted, one died before his trial could commence, and one (Milošević) died before his trial could conclude.[98] Six KLA members were charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes by the ICTY following the war, and one was convicted.[99][100][101][102] In total around 10,317 civilians were killed during the war, of whom 8,676 were Albanians, 1,196 Serbs and 445 Roma and others in addition to 3,218 killed members of armed formations.[103]

    US President Bill Clinton with Albanian children during his visit to Kosovo, June 1999.

    On 10 June 1999, the UN Security Council passed UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which placed Kosovo under transitional UN administration (UNMIK) and authorised Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led peacekeeping force. Resolution 1244 provided that Kosovo would have autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and affirmed the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, which has been legally succeeded by the Republic of Serbia.[104]

    Estimates of the number of Serbs who left when Serbian forces left Kosovo vary from 65,000[105] to 250,000.[106] Within post-conflict Kosovo Albanian society, calls for retaliation for previous violence done by Serb forces during the war circulated through public culture.[107] Widespread attacks against Serbian cultural sites commenced following the conflict and the return of hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees to their homes.[108] In 2004, prolonged negotiations over Kosovo's future status, sociopolitical problems and nationalist sentiments resulted in the Kosovo unrest.[109][110] 11 Albanians and 16 Serbs were killed, 900 people (including peacekeepers) were injured, and several houses, public buildings and churches were damaged or destroyed.

    Camp Bondsteel is the main base of the United States Army under KFOR command in south-eastern part of Kosovo near the city of Ferizaj.

    International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo, as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The UN-backed talks, led by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, began in February 2006. Whilst progress was made on technical matters, both parties remained diametrically opposed on the question of status itself.[111]

    In February 2007, Ahtisaari delivered a draft status settlement proposal to leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, the basis for a draft UN Security Council Resolution which proposed 'supervised independence' for the province. A draft resolution, backed by the United States, the United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council, was presented and rewritten four times to try to accommodate Russian concerns that such a resolution would undermine the principle of state sovereignty.[112]

    Russia, which holds a veto in the Security Council as one of five permanent members, had stated that it would not support any resolution which was not acceptable to both Belgrade and Kosovo Albanians.[113] Whilst most observers had, at the beginning of the talks, anticipated independence as the most likely outcome, others have suggested that a rapid resolution might not be preferable.[114]

    After many weeks of discussions at the UN, the United States, United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council formally 'discarded' a draft resolution backing Ahtisaari's proposal on 20 July 2007, having failed to secure Russian backing. Beginning in August, a "Troika" consisting of negotiators from the European Union (Wolfgang Ischinger), the United States (Frank G. Wisner) and Russia (Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko) launched a new effort to reach a status outcome acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina. Despite Russian disapproval, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and France appeared likely to recognise Kosovar independence.[115] A declaration of independence by Kosovar Albanian leaders was postponed until the end of the Serbian presidential elections (4 February 2008). A significant portion of politicians in both the EU and the US had feared that a premature declaration could boost support in Serbia for the nationalist candidate, Tomislav Nikolić.[116]

    Provisional self-government

    In November 2001, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe supervised the first elections for the Assembly of Kosovo.[117] After that election, Kosovo's political parties formed an all-party unity coalition and elected Ibrahim Rugova as president and Bajram Rexhepi (PDK) as Prime Minister.[118] After Kosovo-wide elections in October 2004, the LDK and AAK formed a new governing coalition that did not include PDK and Ora. This coalition agreement resulted in Ramush Haradinaj (AAK) becoming Prime Minister, while Ibrahim Rugova retained the position of President. PDK and Ora were critical of the coalition agreement and have since frequently accused that government of corruption.[119]

    Parliamentary elections were held on 17 November 2007. After early results, Hashim Thaçi who was on course to gain 35 per cent of the vote, claimed victory for PDK, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, and stated his intention to declare independence. Thaçi formed a coalition with current president Fatmir Sejdiu's Democratic League which was in second place with 22 percent of the vote.[120] The turnout at the election was particularly low. Most members of the Serb minority refused to vote.[121]

    After declaration of independence
    The Newborn monument unveiled at the celebration of the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence proclaimed earlier that day, 17 February 2008, Pristina.

    Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008.[122] As of 4 September 2020, 114 UN states recognised its independence, including all of its immediate neighbours, with the exception of Serbia.[123] However, 15 states have subsequently withdrawn recognition of the Republic of Kosovo.[124][125] Russia and China do not recognise Kosovo's independence.[126] Since declaring independence, it has become a member of international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank,[127][128] though not of the United Nations.

    The Serb minority of Kosovo, which largely opposes the declaration of independence, has formed the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija in response. The creation of the assembly was condemned by Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu, while UNMIK has said the assembly is not a serious issue because it will not have an operative role.[129] On 8 October 2008, the UN General Assembly resolved, on a proposal by Serbia, to ask the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. The advisory opinion, which is not binding over decisions by states to recognise or not recognise Kosovo, was rendered on 22 July 2010, holding that Kosovo's declaration of independence was not in violation either of general principles of international law, which do not prohibit unilateral declarations of independence, nor of specific international law – in particular UNSCR 1244 – which did not define the final status process nor reserve the outcome to a decision of the Security Council.[130]

    Some rapprochement between the two governments took place on 19 April 2013 as both parties reached the Brussels Agreement, an agreement brokered by the EU that allowed the Serb minority in Kosovo to have its own police force and court of appeals.[131] The agreement is yet to be ratified by either parliament.[132] Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo organized two meetings, in Brussels on 27 February 2023 and Ohrid on 18 March 2023, to create and agree upon an 11-point agreement on implementing a European Union-backed deal to normalise ties between the two countries, which includes recognising "each other's documents such as passports and license plates"; president Vučić stated that it "will become part of the negotiation framework for both sides."[133]

    ^ a b Schermer, Shirley; Shukriu, Edi; Deskaj, Sylvia (2011). Marquez-Grant, Nicholas; Fibiger, Linda (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation: An International Guide to Laws and Practice in the Excavation and Treatment of Archaeological Human Remains. Taylor & Francis. p. 235. ISBN 978-1136879562. Archived from the original on 4 February 2022. Retrieved 20 September 2020. ^ a b Berisha, Milot (2012). "Archaeological Guide of Kosovo" (PDF). Ministry of Culture of Kosovo. pp. 17–18. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 April 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2020. ^ Shukriu, Edi (2006). "Spirals of the prehistoric open rock painting from Kosova". Proceedings of the XV World Congress of the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences. 35: 59. Archived from the original on 14 September 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2020. ^ Wilkes, John (1996) [1992]. The Illyrians. Wiley. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-631-19807-9. 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Stay safe
  • Stay safe  Landscape

    There are pretty much no physical or criminal dangers you need to worry about; people in general are extremely friendly and hospitable to tourists. Since the end of the war, more than 200,000 international workers from over the world have worked in Kosovo and local people are used to and friendly to foreigners.

    Don't let the politics stop you from visiting; tensions have risen on a few occasions in the past decade, but nearly all have been in the divided city of Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo. There are now fewer than 5,000-person NATO peacekeeping force. You may likely find an international troop presence from your own country.

    Like in much of the Balkans, land mines were heavily used during the Yugoslav wars, although you are extremely unlikely to encounter them in any way today. Mines were a major problem in Kosovo in the first four years after the war, and though some mines still exist, they are generally in remote areas and have well-marked signs advising not to enter a certain space. Most of the mined areas are places where conflict took place (rural Central Kosovo and the Kosovo–Albania border region). It's very safe to go hiking and camping — just ask before you do in order to make sure it's not an area that may still have mines, but most hiking and camping takes place in areas where the war did not occur, like the Sharr mountains, where there is a ski and camping resort.

    It is best to use registered taxi companies as they provide fixed prices measured through a meter. Unlicensed taxis are safe but the price is completely down to the driver's discretion.

    As with the region as a whole, homophobia is fairly widespread and public displays of affection are almost non-existent.

Where can you sleep near Kosovo ?
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