Ibrahim Rugova

Ibrahim Rugova

Infobox_President | name=Dr. Ibrahim Rugova


order=1st President of Kosovo
term_start=May 24 1992
term_end=Jan 21 2006
successor=Fatmir Sejdiu
birth_date=birth date|1944|12|2|mf=y
birth_place=Crnce, Albania
death_date=death date and age|2006|01|21|1944|12|02
death_place=Priština, Kosovo (then a province of Serbia and Montenegro under UN Administration) Flagicon|UN
spouse=Fana Rugova

party=LDK (1989-2006)

Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Rugova Audio|Ibrahim Rugova.ogg|listen (December 2, 1944January 21, 2006) was a politician of Albanian descent who was the first President of Kosovo and of its leading political party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

During the many conflicts in Kosovo, Rugova was regarded as a moderate ethnic Albanian leader, and later by some as "Father of the Nation". [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4634562.stm Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova dies] ", BBC News, 21 January 2006]

Family and early life

Ibrahim Rugova was born on December 2, 1944 in Cerrcë, Kosovo near the end of World War II, to a family that is a Muslim branch of the Klimenti Albanian clan.Vreme 767: Vera Didanović: [http://www.nspm.org.yu/komentari%202005/2005_vreme_rugova.htm Ibrahim Rugova: Umeren političar, ekstreman cilj] ] At this time, Kosovo was unified with Albania (controlled by the Italians since 1941, and later by the Germans since 1943). Yugoslav control was re-established towards the end of the war when the Yugoslav Partisan army of Tito defeated Albanian nationalists for control of the province. His father Ukë Rugova and his paternal grandfather Rrustë Rugova were summarily executed in January 1945 by Yugoslav communists, who accused them of being allies of the Germans in the war, though Rugova himself claimed that they were Partisans. Rugova finished primary school in Burimi and high school in Pejë, graduating in 1967.

He moved on to the newly established University of Priština, where he was a student in the Facility of Philosophy's Department of Albanian Studies and participated in the 1968 Kosovo Protests. He graduated in 1971 and re-enrolled as a research student concentrating on literary theory. As part of his studies, he spent two years (1976-1977) at the École Pratique des Hautes Études of the University of Paris, where he studied under Roland Barthes. He received his doctorate in 1984 after delivering his thesis, "The Directions and Premises of Albanian Literary Criticism, 1504-1983".

Rugova was active as a journalist throughout the 1970s, editing the student newspaper "Bota e Re" ("New World") and the magazine "Dituria" ("Knowledge"). He also worked in the Institute for Albanian Studies in Priština, where he became the editor-in-chief of its periodical, "Gjurmime albanologjike" ("Albanian Research"). He formally joined the Yugoslav Communist Party during this period; as in many other communist states, Party membership was essential for anyone who wanted to advance their careers. Rugova managed to make a name for himself, publishing a number of works on literary theory, criticism and history as well as his own poetry. His output earned him recognition as a leading member of Kosovo's Albanian intelligentsia and in 1988 he was elected chairman of the Kosovo Writers' Union (KWU).

Political career

In 1989, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević abolished Kosovo's autonomy within Yugoslavia. A harsh regime was imposed, leading to widespread violations of human rights and the repression of dissenters. An estimated 130,000 Kosovo Albanians were sacked from their jobs [Hans Das, " [http://www.unhabitat.org/HD/hdv6n2/housing_kosovo.html Regularizing Housing and Property Rights in Kosovo] ". United Nations Centre for Human Settlements.] and the police in particular were almost completely purged of Albanians [Zoran Kusovac, "Another Balkan Bloodbath? Part One". "Jane's Intelligence Review", February 1998.] There were numerous reports of extrajudicial beatings, torture and killings, attracting strong criticism from human rights groups and other countries. [Ivana Nizich, " [http://www.hrw.org/reports/1992/yugoslavia/ Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo 1990-1992] ". Human Rights Watch, October 1992] [" [http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1993_hrp_report/93hrp_report_eur.html Serbia/Montenegro Human Rights Practices, 1993] ". United States Department of State, January 1994]

Milošević's actions were strongly opposed in Kosovo, not least by the Kosovo Albanian political élite (including the local Communist Party), which had been stripped of authority. Members of the abolished Kosovo assembly met to declare an independent "Republic of Kosovo", which was not recognised by the outside world. The Serbian government responded by arresting 112 of the 120 members of the assembly and six members of the Kosovo government and charging them with "counter-revolutionary activity." Journalists who reported the assembly's declaration were also detained and imprisoned. Kosovo's intellectuals also opposed the changes; Rugova was one of 215 signatories of the "Appeal of Kosovo Intellectuals" against Milošević's decision to change Kosovo's status. He was immediately expelled from the Communist Party in retaliation.

In December 1989, Rugova and a number of other dissents sent up the Democratic League of Kosovo as a vehicle for opposing Milošević's policies. Rugova became leader after the first candidate, Rexhep Qosja, a prominent nationalist writer, refused the job. The new party was an overwhelming success and within months, 700,000 people – virtually the entire adult population of Kosovo Albanians – had joined. The LDK established a "shadow government" and a "Parallel Social System" to provide education and health services to the Albanian population, which was either excluded from or chose not to use the equivalent services provided by the Serbian government. An underground Kosovo Assembly was founded with Bujar Bukoshi acting as Prime Minister from the safe distance of Germany. The shadow government's activities were mostly funded by the overseas Kosovo Albanian diaspora, based primarily in Germany and the United States. However, Rugova's government was recognised officially only by the government of Albania.

The Kosovo Albanians boycotted Yugoslav and Serbian elections on the grounds that they would legitimise the Milošević regime and would in any case most likely be rigged. In May 1992, separate elections were held in Kosovo in which Rugova won an overwhelming majority and was elected President of Kosovo. Although there were questions about the fairness and propriety of the elections – they were held virtually in secret in Albanians' houses, there were repeated reports of harassment by state security forces, and there were allegations of vote-rigging – it was nonetheless generally accepted that Rugova was the legitimate winner of this election.

In 1991 the Yugoslav wars began with the secession of Slovenia and Croatia from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. By the summer of 1992, Yugoslavia was fully absorbed with the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, and had no spare military capacity to deal with conflicts elsewhere. Rugova supported Kosovo's independence but strongly opposed the use of force as a means of achieving it, fearing a Bosnia-style bloodbath. He instead advocated a policy of Gandhi-like passive resistance, stating on a visit to London that

:The slaughterhouse is not the only form of struggle. There is no mass humiliation in Kosovo. We are organised and are operating as a state. It is easy to take to the streets and to head towards suicide, but wisdom lies in eluding a catastrophe.Fact|date=February 2007

The Serbian and Yugoslav governments subjected LDK activists and members to considerable harassment and intimidation, and argued that the shadow government was an illegal organisation. However, they did not try to shut down the LDK completely and they allowed him to travel abroad. It seems likely that Milošević saw Rugova as being useful in averting an uprising in Kosovo. The Yugoslav government would have found such a situation difficult to contain at the same time as supporting simultaneous wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

For his part, Rugova stuck to a hard line throughout the 1990s, rejecting any form of negotiation with Serbia's authorities other than on achieving outright independence of Kosovo. A compromise, or a setback in the eyes of his critics, came in 1996 when he reached an agreement with Serbia over educational facilities, under which the parallel shadow education system would not be integrated with that of Serbia.

The slide to war

Rugova's strategy of passive resistance attracted widespread support from the Kosovo Albanian population, who had seen the carnage wrought in Croatia and Bosnia and was wary of facing a similar situation. However, the Dayton Agreement of 1995, which ended the Bosnian War, seriously weakened Rugova's position. The agreement failed to make any mention of Kosovo and the international community made no serious efforts to resolve the province's ongoing problems. Radicals among the Kosovo Albanian population began to argue that the only way to break the impasse was to launch an armed uprising, in the belief that this would force the outside world to intervene. They blamed Rugova's policy of non-violence for Kosovo's failure to achieve independence.

In 1997, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) emerged as a fighting force and began carrying out attacks and assassinations against Serbian civilians, paramilitia and security forces as well as Albanians deemed to be "collaborators". The Serbian response was, as the KLA had predicted, forceful and often indiscriminate. By 1998, the KLA had grown into a full-scale guerrilla army, 100,000 Kosovo Albanians were refugees and the province was in a state of virtual civil war. Rugova was re-elected president in the same year and was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. However, he was by now clearly being eclipsed by the KLA. This was highlighted in February 1999 when he was passed over in favour of the KLA's political chief Hashim Thaçi, who was chosen by the underground Kosovo Assembly to head the Kosovo Albanian negotiating team in the discussions on the aborted Rambouillet Agreement.

At the end of March 1999, after negotiations at Rambouillet had broken down, NATO launched Operation Allied Force to impose a resolution of the Kosovo War. Rugova spent the first few weeks of the war under virtual house arrest, along with his family, in Priština. At the start of April 1999, Rugova was forcefully taken to Belgrade, where he was shown on Serbian state television meeting Milošević and calling for an end to the war.

Rugova was allowed to leave Kosovo for temporary exile in Italy in early May 1999, not long before the war ended. He attracted further criticism for his slowness to return to Kosovo – it was not until July that he arrived back in the province. Nonetheless, he received a hero's welcome and returned to political life under the new United Nations administration in Kosovo.


Despite the political damage suffered by Rugova during the war, he soon regained public esteem and won a decisive victory against his political rivals in the KLA. The guerrillas had been welcomed as liberators by Kosovo Albanians but subsequently alienated many by the perception that they were engaging in organised crime, extortion and violence against political opponents and other ethnic groups in Kosovo. When elections were held in Kosovo in October 2000, the LDK won a landslide victory with 58% of the vote. Its nearest rival, Hashim Thaçi's KLA-linked Democratic Party of Kosovo, polled only 27%. On Monday, March 4, 2002, Rugova was appointed as President by the Kosovo Assembly, though this only took place at the fourth attempt after lengthy political negotiations.

As the new President of Kosovo – this time formally acknowledged as such by the international community – Rugova continued to campaign for Kosovo's independence from Serbia. However, he insisted that it had to be achieved by peaceful means and with the agreement of all parties. He also pursued a policy of very close relations with the United States, as well as with the European Union. His incremental approach was criticised by radicals, but he sought to bring along the supporters of the former KLA; in November 2004, he appointed Ramush Haradinaj, the former commander of the KLA, as Prime Minister. The following month, Rugova was again elected President by the Kosovo Assembly. Nonetheless, he still encountered violent opposition. On March 15, 2005, he escaped unhurt when a bomb exploded in a dustbin as his car passed by.

Rugova demonstrated a number of unusual traits during his time as President. He was readily identifiable by the silk neckscarf that he wore and was known for his habit of giving visitors samples from his rock collection. His presents were carefully graded; the size of a crystal could reflect Rugova's feelings about the outcome of a meeting, prompting diplomats to compare notes afterwards about the size of the rocks presented to them. He was also a chain-smoker, and it may have been this habit that caused his eventual fatal condition.

On August 30, 2005, Rugova left Kosovo and went to the United States Air Force Landstuhl Military Hospital in Germany for medical treatment after earlier treatment in Priština and Camp Bondsteel, the main US base in Kosovo and the second-biggest in Europe. After a week at Landstuhl he returned to Kosovo. On September 5, 2005, he announced that he was suffering from lung cancer, but said that he would not be resigning from the post of President. He underwent chemotherapy, conducted by U.S. Army doctors, at his residence in Priština but the treatment failed to resolve the cancer. He died four months later, on January 21, 2006. He was buried without religious rites on January 26 at a funeral attended by regional leaders and a crowd estimated to number half a million people.

Books by and about Ibrahim Rugova

* Prekje lirike, [Lyrical Touches] , essays, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1971;
* Kah teoria, [Towards Theory] , essays, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1978;
* Bibliografia e kritikës letrare shqiptare 1944-1974, [Bibliography of Albanian Literary Criticism 1944-1974] , Instituti Albanologjik, Prishtinë, 1976 (together with Isak Shema),
* Kritika letrare (nga De Rada te Migjeni), [Literary Criticism] , anthology with commentary, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1979 (together with Sabri Hamiti);
* Strategjia e kuptimit, [Strategy of Meaning] , essays, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1980;
* Vepra e Bogdanit 1675-1685, [Bogdani’s Oeuvre 1675-1685] , monograph study, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1982;
* Kahe dhe premisa të kritikës letrare shqiptare 1504-1983, [Directions and Premises of Albanian Literary Criticism 1504-1983] , monograph study, Instituti Albanologjik, Prishtinë, 1986;
* Refuzimi estetik, [Aesthetic Rejection] , essays, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1987;
* Pavarësia dhe demokracia, [Independence and Democracy] , interviews and other occasional pieces, Fjala, Prishtinë, 1991;
* Çështja e Kosovës, [The Kosovo Issue] , (together with Marie-Françoise Allain and Xavier Galmiche), Dukagjini, Pejë, 1994; translation of the original La question du Kosovo - entretiens avec Marie-Francoise Allain et Xavier Galmiche, Preface de Ismail Kadare, Paris, 1994;
* Ibrahim Rugova: “La frêle colosse du Kosovo” , Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 1999;
* Kompleti i veprave të Ibrahim Rugovës në tetë vëllime [Ibrahim Rugova’s Oeuvre in eight volumes] , Faik Konica, Prishtinë, 2005.

* On the first anniversary of Rugova’s death, the Kosovo Presidency published a book entitled President Rugova, with a Preface by President Fatmir Sejdiu (‘The First Statesman of Kosovo’) and a long introduction by Sabri Hamiti (‘Memento for Rugova’). The book collects some of the President’s major speeches/addresses as a leader and statesman.


* 1995 Peace Prize of Paul Litzer Foundation, Denmark.
* 1996 Honorary Doctorate of , France
* 1998 Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament.
* 1999 Peace Prize, City of Münster
* 1999 Honorary Citizen of the Cities of Venice, Milan and Brescia (Italy).
* 2000 Peace Prize of the Democratic Union of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain.
* 2003 Prize European Senator of Honour.
* 2004 Honorary Doctorate of Tirana University.
* 2006 Order of the Flag (posthumously), by President of Albania Alfred Moisiu
* 2007 Order "Hero of Kosovo" (posthumously), by President of Kosovo Fatmir Sejdiu

ee also

* Kosovo
* History of Kosovo
* Democratic League of Kosovo
* Operation Allied Force
* Slobodan Milošević
* Kosovo Liberation Army



* [http://www.economist.com/people/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5436910, "The Economist" on Ibrahim Rugova, 26 January 2006]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Kosovo/Story/0,,1692825,00.html Ibrahim Rugova] , "The Guardian" obituary
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Kosovo/Story/0,,1695877,00.html Independence leader Rugova given hero's funeral] , "The Guardian"
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/international/europe/27kosovo.html?_r=1&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fR%2fRugova%2c%20Ibrahim Kosovo Albanians Mourn Pro-Independence Leader] , "The New York Times"
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/23/international/23rugova.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fR%2fRugova%2c%20Ibrahim Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo Albanian Leader, Is Dead] , "The New York Times"
*en icon " [http://www.scc.rutgers.edu/serbian_digest/257/t257-4.htm Ibrahim Rugova - Profile] ", "Vreme" News Digest Agency No 257, September 7, 1996
** " [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/01/22/MNGDFGRBSG1.DTL San Francisco Chronicle] ", 22 January 2006
** "The Times", "The Guardian", " [http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article340297.ece The Independent] ", "Financial Times" - 23 January 2006

External links

* [http://www.president-ksgov.net/?id=1,67,67,67,e Official website of the President of Kosovo]
*sq icon [http://www.ibrahimrugova.org Book of Condolence]
*sq icon [http://www.ldk-kosova.eu Democratic League of Kosovo]
*sq icon [http://www.assembly-kosova.org Assembly of Kosovo]
* [http://www.cidob.org/es/documentacion/biografias_lideres_politicos/europa/kosovo/ibrahim_rugova Extended bio by CIDOB Foundation]
* [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/01/22/news/kosovo.php?rss Kosovo Albanians mourn lost leader]

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