History of Kosovo

History of Kosovo

The Kosovo region in the Balkans in antiquity was known as Dardania, and from the 1st century AD formed part of the Roman province of Moesia. It was part of Medieval Serbia from 1180 to 1455, when it was conquered into the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Kosovo Vilayet dates to 1875, with borders significantly different from today's Kosovo. Kosovo was incorporated into Serbia in 1912, and with Serbia was part of Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1999.

On February 17, 2008 Kosovo's Parliament declared independence, as the Republic of Kosovo, with partial recognition of that declaration.

Early history

The area of Kosovo in the Neolithic lay within the areal of the Vinča-Turdaş culture (Western Balkanic black and grey pottery). The Bronze Age begins in ca. the 20th century BC, and the Iron Age begins in ca. the 13th century BC. Bronze and Iron Age tombs have been found only in Metohija, and not in Kosovo.Djordje Janković: [http://www.rastko.org.yu/kosovo/istorija/malkolm/djankovic-facts.html Middle Ages in Noel Malcolm's "Kosovo. A Short History" and Real Facts] ]

The area comes to lie within the eastern parts of the kingdom of Illyria in the 4th century BC, bordering on Thrace. At the time, it is inhabited by the Thraco-Illyrian tribes of the Dardani and the Thracian tribe of the Triballi. Illyria was conquered by Rome in the 160s BC, and made the Roman province of Illyricum in 59 BC. The Kosovo region became part of Moesia Superior in AD 87 (or alternatively was divided between Dalmatia and Moesia, a view which is supported by some archaeological evidence). Upper Moesia was reorganized further by Diocletian (after 284) into smaller provinces, being further divided into Dardania, Moesia Prima, Dacia Ripensis and Dacia Mediterranea. The Dardania's capital was Naissus. [http://www.jogg.info/32/bird.htm] Roman province of Dardania included eastern parts of modern Kosovo, while its western part belong to newly formed Roman province Prevalitana with capital in Doclea. [http://www.euratlas.com/big/big0300.htm]

Justinian I, who assumed the throne of the Byzantine Empire in 527, oversaw a period of Byzantine expansion into former Roman territories, and re-absorbed the area of Kosovo into the empire. He is often referred to by historians as the last "Roman" emperor because Latin was his native tongue and because he was the last emperor to make a serious attempt to reunite the Latin-speaking West with the East. [Baker, George Philip: "Justinian: The Last Roman Emperor", Cooper Square Press, 2002, ISBN 0815412177]

The Slavic migrations reached the Balkans in the 6th to 7th century. The area was absorbed into the Byzantine empire in the 850s.

Kosovo in the Middle-Ages (839 to 1455)

Bulgarian Empire (839 to 1241)

The region was incorporated into the Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Khan Presian (836-852). Numerous churches and monasteries were constructed after the Christianization of Bulgaria in 864. It remained within the borders of Bulgaria for 150 years until 1018 when the country was overrun by the Byzantines after half-century bitter struggle. According to "De Administrando Imperio" of the 10th century Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, the Serbian-populated lands lied to the north-west of Kosovo and the region was Bulgarian.

During the Uprising of Peter Delyan (1040-1041), Kosovo was shortly liberated and during the Uprising of Georgi Voiteh in 1072, Peter III was proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria in Prizren from where the Bulgarian army marched to Skopje.

In the beginning of the 13th century Kosovo was reincorporated in the restored Bulgarian Empire but the Bulgarian control faded after the death of Emperor Ivan Asen II (1218-1241).

Byzantine Empire (1018 to 1180)

Byzantine control was subsequently reasserted by the forceful emperor Basil II. Serbia at this time was not a united state: a number of small Serbian kingdoms lay to the north and west of Kosovo, of which Raška (central modern Serbia) and Duklja (Montenegro) were the strongest. In the 1180s, the Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja seized control of Duklja and parts of Kosovo. His successor, Stefan Prvovenčani took control of the rest of Kosovo by 1216, creating a state incorporating most of the area which is now Serbia and Montenegro.

erbia (1241 to 1455)

Kosovo was absorbed into Serbia in the late 12th century, and was part of the Serbian Empire from 1346 to 1371. In 1389, in the famous Battle of Kosovo the army of the Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebljanovic was defeated by the Ottoman Turks, who finally took control of the territory in 1455. During the rule of the Nemanjić dynasty, many Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries were built throughout Serbian territory. The Nemanjić rulers alternatively used both Prizren and Pristina as their capitals. Large estates were given to the monasteries in Western Kosovo (Metohija). The most prominent churches in Kosovo - the Patriarchate at Peć, the church at Gračanica and the monastery at Visoki Dečani near Dečani - were all adopted during this period. Kosovo was economically important, as the modern Kosovo capital Pristina was a major trading centre on routes leading to ports on the Adriatic Sea. As well, mining was an important industry in Novo Brdo and Janjevo which had its communities of émigré Saxon miners and Ragusan merchants. In 1450 the mines of Novo Brdo were producing about 6,000 kg of silver per year.

The ethnic composition of Kosovo's population during this period included Serbs, Albanians, and Vlachs along with a token number of Greeks, Armenians, Saxons, and Bulgarians, according to Serbian monastic charters or "chrysobulls". A majority of the names given in the charters are overwhelmingly Slavic rather than Albanian. This has been interpreted as evidence of an overwhelming Serbian majority. This claim seems to be supported by the Turkish cadastral tax-census (defter) of 1455 which took into account religion and language and found an overwhelming Serb majority.

Ethnic identity from the Middle Ages was somewhat fluid throughout Europe, and people at that time do not appear to have defined themselves rigidly by a single ethnic identity. Those of Slavic origin, particularly of the Serbian background, appear to have been the dominant population culturally and were a demographic majority as well.

In 1355, the Serbian state fell apart on the death of Tsar Stefan Dušan and dissolved into squabbling fiefdoms. The timing fell perfectly within the Ottoman expansion. The Ottoman Empire took the opportunity to exploit Serbian weakness and invaded.

Battles of Kosovo

First Battle of Kosovo

The First Battle of Kosovo occurred on the field of Kosovo Polje on June 28 1389, when the ruling "knez" (prince) of Serbia, Lazar Hrebeljanović, marshalled a coalition of Christian soldiers, made up of Serbs, but also of Bosnian Serbs, Magyars and a troop of Saxon mercenaries. Sultan Murad I also gathered a coalition of soldiers and volunteers from neighboring countries in Anatolia and Rumelia. Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but most reliable historical accounts suggest that the Christian army was heavily outnumbered by the Ottomans.Fact|date=February 2008 The combined numbers of the two armies are believed to be less than 100,000. The Serbian army was defeated and Lazar was slain, although Murad I was killed by Miloš Obilić. Although the battle has been mythologised as a great Serbian defeat, at the time opinion was divided as to whether it was a Serbian defeat, a stalemate or possibly even a Serbian victory. Serbia maintained its independence and sporadic control of Kosovo until a final defeat in 1455, following which Serbia became part of the Ottoman Empire. The fortress of Novo Brdo, important at the time due to its rich silver mines, came under siege for forty days by the Ottomans during that year, capitulating and becoming occupied by the Ottomans on June 1, 1455.

econd Battle of Kosovo

The Second Battle of Kosovo was fought over the course of a two-day period in October 1448, between a Hungarian force lead by John Hunyadi and an Ottoman army lead by Murad II. Significantly larger than the first battle, with both armies numbering twice that of the first battle,Fact|date=February 2008 the ending was the same, and the Hungarian army was defeated in the battle and pushed from the field. Although the loss of the battle was a setback for those resisting the Ottoman invasion of Europe at that time, it was not a 'crushing blow to the cause'. Hunyadi was able to maintain Hungarian resistance to the Ottomans during his lifetime.


Both of these battles were significant in the overall resistance against the Ottoman advance through the Balkans. Had the Serbian and Hungarian-led coalition armies been victorious in either or both of the battles, it could have changed the course that Kosovo eventually took under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The First Battle of Kosovo sealed the fate of the Serbian resistance, and became a national symbol for heroism and the admirable 'fight against all odds'.

Although he lost the Second Battle of Kosovo, eventually Hunyadi was victorious in his resistance and defeat of the Ottomans in the Kingdom of Hungary. Skanderbeg was also successful in his resistance in his home country of Albania, a cause that was lost following his death in 1468. Both of these leaders were significant (as was Wallachian leader Vlad III Dracula) in that their resistance gave Austria and Italy greater time to prepare for the Ottoman advance.

Ottoman Empire (1455 to 1912)

The Ottomans brought Islam with them and later also created the Vilayet of Kosovo as one of the Ottoman territorial entities. Ottoman rule lasted for about 500 years, in which time the Ottomans were the absolute paramount power in the region. Many Slavs accepted Islam and served under Ottomans. Kosovo was taken temporarily by the Austrian forces during the War of 1683–1699 with help of Serbs but were defeated and retreated shortly thereafter. In 1690, the Serbian Patriarch of Peć Arsenije III, who previously escaped a certain death, led 37,000 families from Kosovo, to evade Ottoman wrath since Kosovo had just been retaken by the Ottomans. The people that followed him were mostly Serbs. Due to the oppression from the Ottomans, other migrations of Orthodox people from the Kosovo area continued throughout the 18th century. It is also noted that many Albanians adopted Islam, whilst only a very small minority of Serbs did so.

In 1766, the Ottomans abolished the Patriarchate of Peć and the position of Christians in Kosovo was greatly reduced. All previous privileges were lost, and the Christian population had to suffer the full weight of the Empire's extensive and losing wars, even having blame forced upon them for the losses.

The territory of today's province was for centuries ruled by the Ottoman Empire. During this period several administrative districts (known as sanjaks ("banners" or districts) each ruled by a "sanjakbey" (roughly equivalent to "district lord") have included parts of the territory as parts of their territories. Despite the imposition of Muslim rule, large numbers of Christians continued to live and sometimes even prosper under the Ottomans. A process of Islamisation began shortly after the beginning of Ottoman rule but it took a considerable amount of time - at least a century - and was concentrated at first on the towns. A large part of the reason for the conversion was probably economic and social, as Muslims had considerably more rights and privileges than Christian subjects. Christian religious life nonetheless continued, while churches were largely left alone by the Ottomans, but both the Serbian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and their congregations suffered from high levels of taxation.

Around the 17th century, there is evidence of an increasingly visible Albanian population initially concentrated in Metohija. It has been claimed this was the result of migrations out of the south-west (i.e. modern Albania), and that the putative migrants brought Islam with them. Historians believe that there was probably a pre-existing population of probably Catholic Albanians in Metohija who mostly converted to Islam.

In 1689 Kosovo was greatly disrupted by the Great Turkish War (1683-1699), in one of the pivotal events in Serbian national mythology. In October 1689, a small Habsburg force under Margrave Ludwig of Baden breached the Ottoman Empire and reached as far as Kosovo, following their earlier capture of Belgrade. Many Serbs and Albanians pledged their loyalty to the Austrians, some joining Ludwig's army. This was by no means a universal reaction; many other Albanians fought alongside the Ottomans to resist the Austrian advance. A massive Ottoman counter-attack the following summer drove the Austrians back to their fortress at Niš, then back to Belgrade, then finally back across the Danube into Austria.

In 1878, one of the four vilayets with Albanian inhabitants that formed the League of Prizren was Vilayet of Kosovo. The League's purpose was to resist both Ottoman rule and incursions by the newly-emerging Balkan nations.

In 1910, an Albanian insurrection, which was possibly aided surreptitiously by the Young Turks to put pressure on the Sublime Porte, broke out in Pristina and soon spread to the entire vilayet of Kosovo, lasting for three months. The Sultan visited Kosovo in June 1911 during peace settlement talks covering all Albanian-inhabited areas.

Albanian national movement

The Albanian national movement was inspired by various reasons. Besides from the National Renaissance that had been promoted by Albanian activists, political reasons were a contributing factor. In the 1870s the Ottoman Empire experienced a tremendous contraction in territory and defeats in wars against Slavic monarchies of Europe. During the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish war, the Serbian troops invaded the northeastern part of the province of Kosovo deporting 160,000 ethnic Albanians from 640 localities. Furthermore, the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano marked the beginning of a difficult situation for the Albanian people in the Balkans, whose lands were to be ceded from Turkey to Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. [Hysni Myzyri, "Kriza lindore e viteve 70 dhe rreziku i copëtimit të tokave shqiptare," "Historia e popullit shqiptar: për shkollat e mesme" (Libri Shkollor: Prishtinë, 2002) 151.] [ [http://historia.shqiperia.com/rilindja/kreu_5.php Historia e Shqipërisë, “Kreu V: Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit,” "Shqiperia.com"] ] [ [http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/kosovo/undword-11A.html HRW, " Prizren Municipality," "UNDER ORDERS: War Crimes in Kosovo"] ]

Fearing the partitioning of Albanian-inhabited lands among the newly founded Balkan kingdoms, the Albanians established their League of Prizren on June 10, 1878, three days prior to the Congress of Berlin that would revise the decisions of San Stefano. [Г. Л. Арш, И. Г. Сенкевич, Н. Д. Смирнова «Кратая история Албании» (Приштина: Рилиндя, 1967) 104-116.] Though the League was founded with the support of the Sultan who hoped for the preservation of Ottoman territories, the Albanian leaders were quick and effective enough to turn it into a national organization and eventually into a government. The League had the backing of the Italo-Albanian community and had well developed into a unifying factor for the religiously-diverse Albanian people. During its three years of existence the League sought the creation of an Albanian autonomous state within the Ottoman Empire, raised an army and fought a defensive war. In 1881 a provisional government was formed to administer Albania under the presidency of Ymer Prizreni, assisted by prominent ministers such as Abdyl Frashëri and Sulejman Vokshi. Nevertheless, military intervention from the Balkan states, the Great Powers as well as Turkey divided the Albanian troops in three fronts, which brought about the end of the League. [Hysni Myzyri, "Kreu VIII: Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit (1878-1881)," "Historia e popullit shqiptar: për shkollat e mesme" (Libri Shkollor: Prishtinë, 2002) 149-172.] [ [http://historia.shqiperia.com/rilindja/kreu_5.php Historia e Shqipërisë, “Kreu V: Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit” Shqiperia.com] ] [Г. Л. Арш, И. Г. Сенкевич, Н. Д. Смирнова «Кратая история Албании» (Приштина: Рилиндя, 1967) 104-116.]

Kosovo was yet home to other Albanian organizations, the most important being the League of Peja, named after the city in which it was founded in 1899. It was led by Haxhi Zeka, a former member of the League of Prizren and shared a similar platform in quest for an autonomous Albania. The League ended its activity in 1900 after an armed conflict with the Ottoman forces. Zeka was assassinated by a Serbian agent in 1902 with the backing of the Ottoman authorities. [Hysni Myzyri, "Kreu VIII: Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit (1878-1881)," "Historia e popullit shqiptar: për shkollat e mesme" (Libri Shkollor: Prishtinë, 2002) 182-185.]

Independence of Albania and the Balkan Wars

The demands of the Young Turks in early 20th century sparked support from the Albanians, who were hoping for a betterment of their national status, primarily recognition of their language for use in offices and education. [Hysni Myzyri, "Lëvizja kombëtare shqiptare dhe turqit e rinj," "Historia e popullit shqiptar: për shkollat e mesme" (Libri Shkollor: Prishtinë, 2002) 191.] [Г. Л. Арш, И. Г. Сенкевич, Н. Д. Смирнова «Кратая история Албании» (Приштина: Рилиндя, 1967) 140-160.] In 1908, 20,000 armed Albanian peasants gathered in Uroševac to prevent any foreign intervention, while their leaders, Bajram Curri and Isa Boletini, sent a telegram to the sultan demanding the promulgation of a constitution and the opening of the parliament.The Albanians did not receive any of the promised benefits from the Young Turkish victory. Considering this, an unsuccessful uprising was organized by Albanian highlanders in Kosovo in February 1909. The adversity escalated after the takeover of the Turkish government by an oligarchic group later that year. In April 1910, armies led by Idriz Seferi and Isa Boletini rebelled against the Turkish troops, but were finally forced to withdraw after having caused many casualties amongst the enemy. [Hysni Myzyri, "Kryengritjet shqiptare të viteve 1909-1911," "Historia e popullit shqiptar: për shkollat e mesme" (Libri Shkollor: Prishtinë, 2002) 195-198.]

20th century

Balkan Wars

In 1912, during the Balkan Wars, most of Kosovo was taken by the Kingdom of Serbia, while the region of Metohija (Albanian: "Dukagjini Valley") was taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro.

Following the First Balkan War of 1912, Kosovo was internationally recognised as a part of Serbia and northern Metohija as a part of Montenegro at the Treaty of London in May 1913. In 1918, Serbia became a part of the newly-formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

Interbellum and World War II

The 1918–1929 period of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians witnessed a rise of the Serbian population in the region and a decline in the non-Serbian. In the Kingdom, Kosovo was split into four counties—three being a part of the entity of Serbia: Zvečan, Kosovo and southern Metohija; and one of Montenegro: northern Metohija.

In 1929, Kosovo was split between the Zeta Banovina in the east with the capital in Cetinje, Vardar Banovina in the southeast with the capital in Skopje and the Morava Banovina in the northeast with the capital in Niš.

The partition of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers from 1941 and 1945 awarded most of the territory to the Italian-occupied Greater Albania, and a smaller part of it to German-occupied Serbia and Greater Bulgaria. During the occupation, thousands of Kosovo Serbs were expelled by armed Albanian groups, notably the Vulnetari militia. It is still not known exactly how many fell victim to this, but Serbian estimates put the figures at 10,000-40,000 killed with 70,000-100,000 expelled.

Kosovo in the Second Yugoslavia (1945-1996)

Following the end of the war and the establishment of Tito's Communist regime, Kosovo was granted the status of an autonomous region of Serbia in 1946 and became an autonomous province in 1963. The Communist government did not permit the return of many of the refugees while continuing the imprisonment and killing of the patriots like Shaban Polluzha culminating in the Tivar massacre where 3000-4000 Kosovar Albanians were killed by machine-guns.

With the passing of the 1974 Yugoslavia constitution, Kosovo gained virtual self-government. The province's government has applied Albanian curriculum to Kosovo's schools: surplus and obsolete textbooks from Enver Hoxha's Albania were obtained and put into use.

Throughout the 1980s tensions between the Albanian and Serb communities in the province escalated.Reuters 1986-05-27, "Kosovo Province Revives Yugoslavia's Ethnic Nightmare"] Christian Science Monitor 1986-07-28, "Tensions among ethnic groups in Yugoslavia begin to boil over"] The Albanian community favoured greater autonomy for Kosovo, whilst Serbs favored closer ties with the rest of Serbia. There was little appetite for unification with Albania itself, which was ruled by a Stalinist government and had considerably worse living standards than Kosovo. Beginning in March 1981, Kosovar Albanian students organized protests seeking that Kosovo become a republic within Yugoslavia. Those protests rapidly escalated into violent riots "involving 20,000 people in six cities"New York Times 1981-04-19, "One Storm has Passed but Others are Gathering in Yugoslavia"] that were harshly contained by the Yugoslav government. 2000 student were poisoned when poison was put in the water-tubes that supplied the dormitories.

Serbs living in Kosovo were discriminated by the provincial government (the term "ethnic cleansing" was coined to denote these actions), notably by the local law enforcement authorities failing to punish reported crimes against Serbs.New York Times 1982-07-12, "Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia"] The increasingly bitter atmosphere in Kosovo meant that even the most farcical incidents could become "causes célèbres". When a Serbian farmer, Đorđe Martinović, turned up at a Kosovo hospital with a bottle in his rectum after being assaulted in his field by masked men, 216 prominent Serbian intellectuals signed a petition declaring that "the case of Đorđe Martinović has come to symbolize the predicament of all Serbs in Kosovo."

Perhaps the most politically explosive complaint leveled by the Kosovo Serbs was that they were being neglected by the Communist authorities in Belgrade.New York Times 1987-06-27, "Belgrade Battles Kosovo Serbs"] In August 1987, during the dying days of Yugoslavia's Communist regime, Kosovo was visited by Slobodan Milošević, then a rising politician. He appealed to Serb nationalism to further his career. Having drawn huge crowds to a rally commemorating the Battle of Kosovo, he pledged to Kosovo Serbs that "No one should dare to beat you", and became an instant hero of Kosovo's Serbs. By the end of the year Milošević was in control of the Serbian government.

In 1989, the autonomy of Kosovo and the northern province of Vojvodina was drastically reduced by a Serbia-wide referendum. The referendum implemented a new constitution which allowed a multi-party system, introduced freedom of speech and promoted human rights. Even though in practice it was subverted by Milošević's government, which resorted to rigging elections, controlled much of the news media, and was accused of abusing human rights of its opponents and national minorities, this was a step forward from the previous Communist constitution. It significantly reduced the provinces' rights, permitting the government of Serbia to exert direct control over many previously autonomous areas of governance. In particular, the constitutional changes handed control of the police, the court system, the economy, the education system and language policies to the Serbian government Fact|date=April 2007.

The new constitution was strongly opposed by many of Serbia's national minorities, who saw it as a means of imposing ethnically-based centralized rule on the provinces. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,970851,00.html Yugoslavia The Old Demons Arise] , "TIME Magazine", August 06, 1990] Kosovo's Albanians refused to participate in the referendum, portraying it as illegitimate.

The provincial governments also opposed the new constitution. It had to be ratified by their assemblies, which effectively meant voting for their dissolution. Kosovo's assembly initially opposed the constitution but in March 1989, when the assembly met to discuss the proposals, tanks and armored cars surrounded the meeting place, forcing the delegates to accept the amendments Fact|date=April 2007.

The 1990s

After the constitutional changes, the parliaments of all Yugoslavian republics and provinces, which until then had MPs only from the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, were dissolved and multi-party elections were held for them. Kosovo Albanians refused to participate in the elections and held their own, unsanctioned elections instead. As election laws required (and still require) turnout higher than 50%, the parliament of Kosovo could not be established.

The new constitution abolished the individual provinces' official media, integrating them within the official media of Serbia while still retaining some programs in the Albanian language. The Albanian-language media in Kosovo was suppressed. Funding was withdrawn from state-owned media, including that in the Albanian language in Kosovo. The constitution made creating privately owned media possible, however their functioning was very difficult because of high rents and restricting laws. State-owned Albanian language television or radio was also banned from broadcasting from Kosovo [http://www.hrw.org/worldreport/Helsinki-12.htm] . However, privately owned Albanian media outlets appeared; of these, probably the most famous is "Koha Ditore", which was allowed to operate until late 1998 when it was closed after it published a calendar which was claimed to be a glorification of ethnic Albanian separatists.

The constitution also transferred control over state-owned companies to the Serbian government (at the time, most of the companies were state-owned and "de jure" they still are). In September 1990, up to 123,000 Albanian workers were fired from their positions in government and the media, as were teachers, doctors, and workers in government-controlled industries [http://www.bndlg.de/~wplarre/back337.htm] , provoking a general strike and mass unrest. Some of those who were not sacked quit in sympathy, refusing to work for the Serbian government. Although the sackings were widely seen as a purge of ethnic Albanians, the government maintained that it was simply getting rid of old communist directors.

The old Albanian educational curriculum and textbooks were revoked and new ones were created. The curriculum was (and still is, as that is the curriculum used for Albanians in Serbia outside Kosovo) basically the same as Serbian and that of all other nationalities in Serbia except that it had education on and in Albanian language. Education in Albanian was withdrawn in 1992 and re-established in 1994. [http://www.osce.org/kosovo/documents/reports/hr/part1/ch1.htm] At the Pristina University, which was seen as a centre of Kosovo Albanian cultural identity, education in the Albanian language was abolished and Albanian teachers were also sacked en masse. Albanians responded by boycotting state schools and setting up an unofficial parallel system of Albanian-language education. [Clark, Howard. "Civil Resistance in Kosovo". London: Pluto Press, 2000. ISBN 0745315690]

Kosovo Albanians were outraged by what they saw as an attack on their rights. Following mass rioting and unrest from Albanians as well as outbreaks of inter-communal violenceFact|date=June 2008, in February 1990, a state of emergency was declared, and the presence of the Yugoslav Army and police was significantly increased to quell the unrest.

Unsanctioned elections were held in 1992, which overwhelmingly elected Ibrahim Rugova as "president" of a self-declared Republic of Kosovo; however these elections were not recognised by Serbian nor any foreign government. In 1995, thousands of Serb refugees from Croatia settled in Kosovo, which further worsened relations between the two communities.

Albanian opposition to sovereignty of Yugoslavia and especially Serbia had surfaced in rioting (1968 and March 1981) in the capital Pristina. Ibrahim Rugova initially advocated non-violent resistance, but later opposition took the form of separatist agitation by opposition political groups and armed action from 1996 by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA; Alb. "Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës" or "UÇK"). The KLA launched a guerrilla war and terror campaign, characterised by regular bomb and gun attacks on Yugoslav security forces, state officials and civilians known to openly support the national government, this included Albanians who were non-sympathizers with KLA motives. In March 1998, Yugoslav army units joined Serbian police to fight the separatists, using military force. In the months that followed, thousands of Albanian civilians were killed and more than 500,000 fled their homes; most of these people were Albanian. Many Albanian families were forced to flee their homes at gunpoint, as a result of fighting between national security and KLA forces leading to expulsions by the security forces including associated paramilitary militias. The UNHCR estimated that 460,000 people had been displaced from March 1998 to the start of the NATO bombing campaign in March 1999. [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&page=home&id=3ae6b80dc]

There was violence against non-Albanians as well: UNHCR reported (March 1999) that over 90 mixed villages in Kosovo "have now been emptied of Serb inhabitants" and other Serbs continue leaving, either to be displaced in other parts of Kosovo or fleeing into central Serbia. The Yugoslav Red Cross estimated there were more than 30,000 non-Albanian displaced in need of assistance in Kosovo, most of whom were Serb. [http://www.refugees.org/news/crisis/kosovo_u0399.htm]

Following the breakdown of negotiations between Serbian and Albanian representatives, under North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) auspices, NATO intervened on March 24, 1999 without United Nations authority. NATO launched a campaign of heavy bombing against Yugoslav military targets and then moved to wide range bombings (like bridges in Novi Sad). A full-scale war broke out as KLA continued to attack Serbian forces and Serbian/Yugoslav forces continued to fight KLA amidst a massive displacement of the population of Kosovo, which most human rights groups and international organisations regarded as an act of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the government forces. A number of senior Yugoslav government officials and military officers, including President Milošević, were subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes. Milošević died in detention before a verdict was rendered.

The United Nations estimated that during the Kosovo War, nearly 640,000 Albanians fled or were expelled from Kosovo between March 1998 and the end of April 1999. Most of the refugees went to Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, or Montenegro. Government security forces confiscated and destroyed the documents and license plates of many fleeing Albanians in what was widely regarded as an attempt to erase the identities of the refugees, the term "identity cleansing" being coined to denote this action. This made it difficult to distinguish with certainty the identity of returning refugees after the war. Serbian sources claim that many Albanians from Macedonia and Albania - perhaps as many as 300,000, by some estimates - have since migrated to Kosovo in the guise of refugees. The entire issue is moot, however, due to the survival of birth and death records.

Recent history (1999 to present)

The war ended on June 10, 1999 with the Serbian and Yugoslav governments signing the Kumanovo agreement which agreed to transfer governance of the province to the United Nations. A NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) entered the province following the Kosovo War, tasked with providing security to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Before and during the handover of power, an estimated 100,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians, mostly Roma, fled the province for fear of reprisals. In the case of the non-Albanians, the Roma in particular were regarded by many Albanians as having assisted the Serbs during the war. Many left along with the withdrawing Serbian security forces, expressing fears that they would be targeted by returning Albanian refugees and KLA fighters who blamed them for wartime acts of violence. Thousands more were driven out by intimidation, attacks and a wave of crime after the war as KFOR struggled to restore order in the province.

Large numbers of refugees from Kosovo still live in temporary camps and shelters in Serbia proper. In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro reported hosting 277,000 internally displaced people (the vast majority being Serbs and Roma from Kosovo), which included 201,641 persons displaced from Kosovo into Serbia proper, 29,451 displaced from Kosovo into Montenegro, and about 46,000 displaced within Kosovo itself, including 16,000 returning refugees unable to inhabit their original homes. [http://www.refugees.org/world/countryrpt/europe/yugoslavia.htm] [http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/statistics/opendoc.pdf?tbl=STATISTICS&id=414ad5b57&page=statistics] Some sources put the figure far lower; the European Stability Initiative estimates the number of displaced people as being only 65,000, with another 40,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo, though this would leave a significant proportion of the pre-1999 ethnic Serb population unaccounted-for. The largest concentration of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo is in the north of the province above the Ibar river, but an estimated two-thirds of the Serbian population in Kosovo continues to live in the Albanian-dominated south of the province. [http://www.esiweb.org/index.php?lang=en&id=156&document_ID=53]

In March 17, 2004, serious unrest in Kosovo led to 19 deaths, and the destruction of a 35 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries in the province, as Albanians started pogroms against the Serbs. Several thousand more Kosovo Serbs have left their homes to seek refuge in Serbia proper or in the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo.

Since the end of the war, Kosovo has been a major source and destination country in the trafficking of women, women forced into prostitution and sexual slavery. The growth in the sex trade industry has been fuelled by NATO forces in Kosovo. [http://web.amnesty.org/actforwomen/stories-9-eng] [http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1211214,00.html] [http://www.refugeesinternational.org/content/article/detail/4146?PHPSESSID=8cd9d5b0df1ae0bbae8d3ddf647ec715]

International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo, as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 which ended the Kosovo conflict of 1999. Whilst Serbia's continued sovereignty over Kosovo was recognised by the international community, a clear majority of the province's population sought independence.

The UN-backed talks, lead 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. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6034567.stm UN frustrated by Kosovo deadlock] ", "BBC News", October 9, 2006.] 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 proposes 'supervised independence' for the province. As of early July 2007 the draft resolution, which is backed by the United States, United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council, had been rewritten four times to try to accommodate Russian concerns that such a resolution would undermine the principle of state sovereignty [http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/newsbriefs/setimes/newsbriefs/2007/06/29/nb-07] . Russia, which holds a veto in the Security Council as one of five permanent members, has stated that it will not support any resolution which is not acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina [http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/newsbriefs/setimes/newsbriefs/2007/07/10/nb-02] .

On Feb 17th 2008, Kosovo's Parliament declared independence," [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7249034.stm Kosovo MPs proclaim independence] ", BBC News Online, 17 February 2008] to mixed international reactions.

ee also

* Demographic history of Kosovo
* Rulers of Kosovo
* History of Serbia
* History of Ottoman Albania
* History of Albania
* History of Yugoslavia
* History of the Balkans
* History of Europe

External links

* [http://www.kosovo.net/default3.html History of Kosovo, articles, studies]
* [http://unitedalbanian.com/content/category/3/66/212/ History of Kosova] from the end of WWII to the Kosovo War, Albanian point of view
* [http://www.rastko.org.yu/kosovo/istorija/kosovo_chronicles/index.html The Kosovo Chronicles] , book of Serbian historian Dušan T. Bataković

Further reading

*Malcolm, Noel. "Kosovo: A Short History". Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998. ISBN 0333666127.



# Djordje Janković: [http://www.rastko.org.yu/kosovo/istorija/malkolm/djankovic-facts.html Middle Ages in Noel Malcolm's "Kosovo. A Short History" and Real Facts]
# "Ibid"
# Kosovo.net: [http://www.kosovo.net/egracanica.html Gracanica Monastery]
# Kosovo.net: [http://www.kosovo.net/edecani.html Visoki Decani Serbian Orthodox Monastery]

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