Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (1990-1999)

Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (1990-1999)

The Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija is an autonomous province of the Republic of Serbia. It was established by stripping the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo of its additional powers in 1990, effectively a return back to the pre-1974 status of Kosovo and Metohija. In 1990 it was an autonomous part of the Socialist Republic of Serbia within the larger Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and by 1992 the conditions had changed where it remained an autonomous part of the new Republic of Serbia in the smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Since 1999, Serbia no longer has "de facto" control over the territory, and in 2008 the Republic of Kosovo was proclaimed in the area. However, the Republic of Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state, and retains an administrative apparatus for the Autonomous Province.

History 1990-1999

After the constitutional changes in 1990, 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 Funding was withdrawn from state-owned media, including that in the Albanian language in Kosovo.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 [] . 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 [] , 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. [] At the Priština 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 violence, 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 Priština. 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" ("Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës", or UÇK) which started the Kosovo War that led to the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and eventually to the creation of the UN Kosovo protectorate (UNMIK).

Politics and government

Since 1999, the Serb-inhabited areas Kosovo has been governed as "de facto" independent from the Albanian-dominated government in Priština. They continue to uses Serbian national symbols and participates in Serbian national elections, which are boycotted in the rest of Kosovo; and in turn, it boycotts Kosovo's elections. The municipalities of Leposavić, Zvečan and Zubin Potok are run by local Serbs, while the Kosovska Mitrovica municipality had rival Serb and Albanian governments until a compromise was agreed in November 2002.

The Serb areas have united into a community, the Union of Serbian Districts and District Units of Kosovo and Metohija established in February 2003 by Serbian delegates meeting in Kosovska Mitrovica, which has since served as the "de facto" "capital." The Union's President is Dragan Velić. There is also a central governing body, the Serbian National Council for Kosovo and Metohija (SNV). The President of SNV in North Kosovo is Dr Milan Ivanović, while the head of its Executive Council is Rada Trajković.

Local politics are dominated by the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbian List is led by Oliver Ivanović, an engineer from Kosovska Mitrovica.

In February of 2007 the Union of Serbian Districts and District Units of Kosovo and Metohija has transformed into the Serbian Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija presided by Marko Jakšić. The Assembly strongly criticized the secessionist movements of the Albanian-dominated PISG Assembly of Kosovo and demanded unity of the Serb people in Kosovo, boycott of EULEX and announced massive protests in support of Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo. On 18 February 2008, day after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, the Assembly declared it "null and void".

There also exists a Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija within the Serbian government, Slobodan Samardzic is the current Minister for Kosovo and Metohija.

Administrative divisions

* Districts of Kosovo and Metohija

See also

* North Kosovo
* Kosovo Serb enclaves
* Kosovo District
* Autonomous Province of Vojvodina
* Republic of Serbia (federal)


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