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Косово и Метохија

Image:The position of Kosovo within Serbia.PNG

The location of Kosovo in Serbia and Europe.

Official languages Albanian, Serbian, English
Capital Prishtinë / Priština
President of Kosovo Fatmir Sejdiu
Prime Minister of Kosovo Agim Çeku
 – Total

 – % water

  10,887 km²
 4,203  sq. mi
 – Total ( 2003)
 – Density

 2.1 million (est.)
 220/km² (approx)
 500/sq. mi
Ethnic groups
( 2003)
Albanians: 87%
Serbs: 8%
Turks: 1%
Others: 4%
Time zone UTC+1
Currency Euro (Official) and Serbian Dinar (Used in Serbian enclaves and some areas of northern Kosovo)

Kosovo ( Serbian: Косово и Метохија or Kosovo i Metohija, also Космет or Kosmet; Albanian: Kosovë or Kosova) is a province in southern Serbia which has been under United Nations administration since 1999. While Serbia's nominal sovereignty is recognised by the international community, in practice Serbian governance in the province is virtually non-existent (see also Constitutional status of Kosovo). The province is governed by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the local Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, with security provided by the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).

Kosovo borders Montenegro, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. The mountainous province's capital and largest city is Priština. Kosovo has a population of around two million people, predominately ethnic Albanians, with smaller populations of Serbs, Turks, Bosniaks and other ethnic groups.

The province is the subject of a long-running political and territorial dispute between the Serbian (and previously, the Yugoslav) government and Kosovo's Albanian population. International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo. According to the news media it is widely expected that the talks will lead to some form of independence.


Physical map of Kosovo
Physical map of Kosovo

With an area of 10,912 square kilometres (4,213 sq. mi) and a population of over two million on the eve of the 1999 crisis, Kosovo borders Montenegro to the northwest, Central Serbia to the North and East, the Republic of Macedonia to the south and Albania to the southwest. The province's present borders were established in 1945. The republic of Serbia has one other autonomous province, Vojvodina, located in the far north of the country.

The largest cities are Pristina, the capital, with an estimated 600,000 citizens, and Prizren in the southwest with 120,000 citizens; five other towns have populations in excess of 50,000. The climate in Kosovo is continental with warm summers and cold and snowy winters. .

There are two main plains in Kosovo. The Metohija/Rrafshi i Dukagjinit basin is located in the western part of the province, and the Plain of Kosovo ( Albanian: Rrafshi i Kosovës, Serbian: Kosovska Dolina) occupies the central area.

Much of Kosovo's terrain is rugged. The Sar Mountain (Albanian: Mali i Sharrit, Serbian: Šar Planina) is located in the south and south-east, bordering Macedonia. It is one of the region's most popular tourist and skiing resorts, with Brezovica and Prevalac/Prevallë as the main tourist centres. Kosovo's mountainous area, including the highest peak Deravica/Gjeravica (2656 m above sea level), is located in the south-west, bordering Albania and Montenegro.

The mountain range dividing Kosovo from Albania is known in English as the Cursed Mountains or Albanian Alps (Albanian: Bjeshkët e Nemuna, Serbian: Prokletije). The Kopaonik mountain is located in the north, bordering Central Serbia. The central region of Drenica, Carraleva/Crnoljevo and the eastern part of Kosovo, known as Gallap/Golak, are mainly hilly areas.

There are several notable rivers and lakes in Kosovo. The main rivers are the White Drin (Albanian: Drini i Bardhë, Serbian: Beli Drim) -several other waterways flow into it, including the Erenik, and the river runs towards the Adriatic Sea-, Sitnica, South Morava in the Goljak area and Ibar (Albanian: Ibër) in the north. The main lakes are Badovc in the north-east and Gazivoda in the north-western part.


History of Kosovo

Ancient Kosovo
Medieval Kosovo
First Battle of Kosovo
Second Battle of Kosovo
Ottoman Kosovo
Vilayet of Kosovo
League of Prizren
Modern Kosovo
Kosovo War


The region was certainly inhabited in prehistoric times, it appears, by two different cultures: Bronze and Iron Age tombs have been found only in Metohia, and not in other parts of Kosovo. After the Indo-European invasion, Kosovo became inhabited by Illyrian and Thracian tribes, such as the Dardani and the Triballi; the territory of today's province was a part of Dardania. The south of Kosovo was ruled by Macedon since Alexander the Great's reign in the 4th century BC. The local Dardani were of Illyrian or Thracian stock. Illyrians resisted rule by the Greeks and Romans for centuries but after the long periods of conflict between Illyrian tribes and invading imperial powers, the region was eventually occupied by the Roman Empire under Emperor Augustus in 28 BC, although it is not clear whether it was part of the province of Moesia or was divided between Dalmatia and Moesia (a view which is supported by some archaeological evidence). Emperor Diocletian later (c. 284) made Dardania into a separate province with its capital at Naissus ( Niš). When the Roman Empire split in A.D. 395, the area came under the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire. Many inhabitants of Dardania became leaders in Rome and Constantinopolis, including Justinian the Great.


Great Migrations and Interregnums

Serbs came to the territories that form modern Kosovo in the 7th centuries migrations of White Serbs under the Unknown Archont, with the largest influx of migrants in the 630s; although the region was increasingly populated by Slavs since the 6th or even 5th century. These Slavs were Christianized in several waves between the 7th and 9th century, with the last wave taking place between 867 and 874. The northwestern part of Kosovo, Hvosno, became a part of the Byzantine Serb vassal state the Principality of Rascia, with Dostinik as the principality's capital.

In the late 800s, the whole of Kosovo was seized by the First Bulgarian Empire. Although Serbia restored control over Metohija throughout the 10th century, the rest of Kosovo was returned to the Byzantine Empire in a period of Bulgarian decline. However, Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria reconquered the whole of Kosovo in the late 10th century until the Byzantines restored their control over the area as they subjugated the Bulgarian Empire. In 1040-1041, Slavs staged a rebellion against the Eastern Roman Empire that temporarily encompassed Kosovo. After the rebellion was crushed, the Byzantine control over the region continued.

Throughout the following decades, numerous foreign peoples invading the Byzantine Empire stormed Kosovo, among them the Cumans.

In 1072, local Slavs, under George Voiteh, pushed a final attempt to restore Imperial Bulgarian power and invited the last heir of the House of Comitopuli - Duklja's prince Konstantin Bodin of the House of Vojislavljevic, son of the Serbian King Mihailo Voislav - to assume power. The Serbs decided to conquer the entire Byzantine region of Bulgaria. King Mihailo dispatched his son with 300 elite Serb fighters led by Duke Petrilo. Constantine Bodin was crowned in Prizren as Petar III, Tsar of the Bulgarians by Goerge Voiteh and the Slavic Boyars. The Empire swept across Byzantine territories in months, until the significant losses on the south had forced Czar Petar to withdraw. In 1073, the Byzantine forces chased Constantine Bodin, defeated his army at Pauni, and imprisoned him.

Incorporation into Serbia

The full Serbian takeover was carried out under a branch of the House of Voislav Grand Princes of Rascia. In 1093, Prince Vukan advanced on Lipljan, burned it down and raided the neighbouring areas. The Byzantine Emperor himself came to Zvečan for negotiations. Zvečan served as the Byzantine line-of-defence against constant invasions from the neighboring Serbs. A peace agreement was made, but Vukan broke it and defeated the army of John Comnenus, the Emperor's nephew. Vukan's armies stormed Kosovo. In 1094, Byzantine Emperor Alexius attempted to renew peace negotiations in Ulpiana. A new peace agreement was concluded and Vukan handed over hostages to the Emperor, including his two nephews Uroš and Stefan Vukan. Prince Vukan renewed the conflict in 1106, once again defeating John Comnenus' army. However, his death halted the total Serb conquest of Kosovo.

In 1166, a Serbian nobleman from Zeta, Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the House of Nemanja ascended to the Rascian Grand Princely throne and conquered most of Kosovo, in an uprising against the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. He defeated the previous Grand Prince of Rascia Tihomir's army at Pantino, near Pauni. Tihomir, who was Stefan's brother, was drowned in the Sitnica river. Stefan was eventually defeated and had to return some of his conquests. He pledged to the Emperor that he would not renew hostilies, but in 1183, Stefan Nemanja embarked on a new offensive with the Hungarians after the death of Manuel I Comnenus in 1180, marking the end of Byzantine domination of Kosovo.

Nemanja's son, Stefan II, recorded that the border of the Serbian realm reached the river of Lab. Grand Prince Stephen II completed the inclusion of the Kosovo territories under Serb rule in 1208, by which time he had conquered Prizren and Lipljan, and moved the border of territory under his control to the Šar mountain.

Kingdom of the Serbs

In 1217, the Serbian Kingdom achieved recognition. In 1219, an autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church was created, with Hvosno, Prizren and Lipljan being the Orthodox Christian Episcopates on Kosovo. By the end of the 13th century, the centre of the Serbian Church was moved to Peć from Žiča.

In the 13th century, Kosovo became the heart of the Serbian political and religious life, with the Šar mountain becoming the political centre of the Serbian rulers. The main chatteu was in Pauni. On an island was Svrčin, and on the coast Štimlji, and in the mountains was the Castle of Nerodimlje. The Complexes were used for counciling, crowning of rulers, negotiating, and as the rulers' living quarters. After 1291, the Tartars broke all the way to Peć. Serbian King Stefan Milutin managed to defeat them and then chase them further. He raised the Temple of the Mother of Christ of Ljeviška in Prizren around 1307, which became the seat of the Prizren Episcopric, and the magnificent Gračanica in 1335, the seat of the Lipljan Episcopric. In 1331, Juvenille King Dušan attacked his father, Serbian King Stefan of Dechani at his castle in Nerodimlje. King Stefan closed in his neighbouring fortress of Petrič, but Dušan captured him and closed him with his second wife Maria Palailogos and their children in Zvečan, where the dethroned King died on 11 November 1331.

In 1327 and 1328, Serbian King Stefan of Dechani started forming the vast Dečani domain, although, Serbian King Dušan would finish it in 1335. Stefan of Dechani issued the Dechani Charter in 1330, listing every single citizen in every household under the Church Land's demesne.

Serbian Empire and Despotate

King Stefan Dušan founded the vast Monastery of Saint Archaengel near Prizren in 1342- 1352. The Kingdom was transformed into an Empire in 1345 and officially in 1346. Stefan Dušan received John VI Cantacuzenus in 1342 in his Castle in Pauni to discuss a joint War against the Byzantine Emperor. In 1346, the Serbian Archepiscopric at Peć was upgraded into a Patriarchate, but it was not recognized before 1370.

After the Empire fell into disarray prior to Dušan's death in 1355, feudal anarchy caught up with the country during the reign of Tsar Stefan Uroš V. Kosovo became a domain of the House of Mrnjavčević, but Prince Voislav Voinović expanded his demesne further into Kosovo. The armies of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević from Pristina and his allies defeated Voislav's forces in 1369, putting a halt to his advances. After the Battle of Marica on 26 September 1371, in which the Mrnjavčević brothers lost their lives, Đurađ I Balšić of Zeta took Prizren and Peć in 1372. A part of Kosovo became the demesne of the House of Lazarević.

The Ottomans invaded and met the Christian coalition under Prince Lazar on 28 June 1389, near Pristina, at Gazi Mestan. The Serbian Army was assisted by various allies. The epic Battle of Kosovo followed, in which Prince Lazar himself lost his life. Prince Lazar amassed 70,000 men on the battlefield and the Ottomans had 140,000. Through the cunning of Miloš Obilić, Sultan Murad was murdered and the new Sultan Beyazid had, despite winning the battle, to retreat to consolidate his power. The Ottoman Sultan was buried with one of his sons at Gazi Mestan. Both Prince Lazar and Miloš Obilić were canonised by the Serbian Orthodox Church for their efforts in the battle. The local House of Branković came to prominence as the local lords of Kosovo, under Vuk Branković, with the temporary fall of the Serbian Despotate in 1439. Another great battle occurred between the Hungarian troops supported by the Albanian ruler Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg on one side, and Ottoman troops supported by the Brankovićs in 1448. Skanderbeg's troops that were going to help John Hunyadi were stopped by the Branković's troops, who was more or less a Turkish Vassal. Hungarian King John Hunyadi lost the battle after a 2-day fight, but essentially stopped the Ottoman advance northwards. Kosovo then became vassalaged to the Ottoman Empire, until its direct incorporation after the final fall of Serbia in 1459.

In 1455, new castles rose to prominence in Prishtina and Vučitrn, centres of the Ottoman vassalaged House of Branković.

Ottoman rule

The Ottomans brought Islamisation with them, particularly in towns, and later also created the Vilayet of Kosovo as one of the Ottoman territorial entities. This brought a great shift, as the Orthodox Serb population began to lose its majority when large numbers of Turks and Albanians moved to Kosovo. During the Islamisation, many Churches and Holy Orthodox Christian places were destroyed or turned into Mosques. The big Monastery of Saint Archangel near Prizren was torn down at the end of the 16th century and the material used to build the Mosque of Sinan-pasha, an Islamized Serb, in Prizren. Although the Serbian Orthodox Church was officially abolished in 1532, an Islamized Serb from Bosnia, Vizier Mehmed-pasha Sokolović influenced the restoration of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1557. Special privileges were provided, which helped the survival of Serbs and other Christians in Kosovo.

Kosovo was taken by the Austrian forces during the Great War of 1683-1699 with help of 5,000 Albanians and their leader, a Catholic Archibishop Pjetër Bogdani. The archbishop died of plague during the war, and his grave was later reopened, with his body scattered and given to the dogs by the Ottomans because of his role in the rebellion. In 1690, the Serbian Patriarch of Peć Arsenije III Čarnojević, 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 – 20,000 Serbs abandoned Prizren alone - but they were likely followed by other ethnic groups. 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 some Serbs adopted Islam, while some even gradually fused with other groups, predominantly Albanianians, adopting their culture and even language. By the end of the 19th century, Albanians replaced the Serbs as the dominating nation of Kosovo.

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.


In 1871, a massive Serbian meeting was held in Prizren. The possible retaking and reintegration of Kosovo and the rest of "Old Serbia" was discussed at the meeting, as the Principality of Serbia itself had already made plans for expansions towards Ottoman territory, much easier than elsewhere.

Albanian refugees from the territories conquered in the 1876- 1877 Serbo-Turkish war and the 1877- 1878 Russo-Turkish are now known as ' muhaxher' (which means 'refugee', from Arabic muhajir) and are the ancestors of many who are still known by their same surnames, Muhaxheri. It is also estimated that 200,000 to 400,000 Serbs were cleansed out of the Vilayet of Kosovo between 1876 and 1912, especially during the Greek-Ottman War in 1897.

In 1878, a Peace Accord was drawn that gave the cities of Prishtina and Kosovska Mitrovica under civil Serbian control, outside the Ottoman authorities, while the rest of Kosovo would be under Ottoman control. As a responce, the Albanians formed the nationalistic & conservative League of Prizren in Prizren later the same year. Over 300 Albanian leaders from Kosovo and western Macedonia gathered and discussed the urgent issues concerning protection of Albanian populated regions from division among neighbouring countries. The League was supported by the Ottoman Sultan because of its Pan-Islamic ideology and political aspirations of a unified Albanian people under the Ottoman umbrella. The movement gradually became anti-Christian and spread great anxiety among Christian Albanians and especially among Christian Serbs. As a result, more and more Serbs left Kosovo northwards. Serbia complained to the World Powers that the promised territories were not being held because the Ottomans were hesitating to do that. The World Powers put pressure to the Ottomans and in 1881, the Ottoman Army started the fighting the Albanian forces. The Prizren League created a Provisional Government with a President, Prime Minister (Ymer Prizreni) and Ministries of War (Sylejman Vokshi) and Foreign Ministry (Abdyl Frashëri). After three years of war, the Albanians were defeated. Many of the leaders were executed and imprisoned. The subsequent Treaty of San Stefano in 1898 restored most Albanian lands to Ottoman control, but the Serbian forces had to retreat from Kosovo along with some Serbs that were expelled as well.

In 1908, the Sultan brought a new democratic decrete that was valid only for Turkish-speakers. As the vast majority of Kosovo spoke Albanian or Serbian, the Kosovar population was very unhappy. The Young Turk movement supported a centralist rule and opposed any sort of autonomy desired by Kosovars, and particularely the Albanians. In 1910, an Albanian uprising spread from Prishtina and lasted until the Ottoman Sultan's visit to Kosovo in June of 1911. The Aim of the League of Prizren was to unite the four Albanian Vilayets by merging the majority of Albanian inhabitants within the Ottoman Empire into one Albanian State. However, at that time Serbs have consisted about 40% of the whole Vilayt of Kosovo's overall population and were opposing the Albanian nationalism along with Turks and other Slavs in Kosovo, which disabled the Albanian movements to occupy Kosovo.

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. An exodus of the local Albanian population occurred. This is best described by Leon Trotsky, who was the reporter for the 'Pravda' newspaper at the time. The Serbian authorities planned a recolonization of Kosovo. Numerous colonist Serb families moved-in to Kosovo, equalizing the demographic balance between Albanians and Serbs. Many Albanians fled into the mountains and numerous Albanian and Turkish houses were razed. The reconquest of Kosovo was noted as a vengeance for the 1389 Battle of Kossovo. At the Conference of Ambassadors in London in 1912 presided over by Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro were acknowledged sovereignty over Kosovo.

In the winter of 1915- 1916 during World War I Kosovo saw a large exodus of Serbian army which became known as the Great Serbian Retreat. Defeated and worn out in battles against Austro-Hungarians, they had no other choice than to retreat, as Kosovo was occupied by Bulgarians and Austro-Hungarians. The Albanians joined and supported the Central Powers. As opposed to Serbian schools, numerous Albanian schools were opened during the 'occupation' (the majority Albanian population considered it a liberation). Allied ships were awaiting for Serbian people and soldiers at the banks of the Adriatic sea and the path leading them there went across Kosovo and Albania. Tens of thousands of soldiers have died of starvation, extreme weather and Albanian reprisals as they were approaching the Allies in Corfu and Thessaloniki, amassing a total of 100,000 dead retreaters. Transported away from the front lines, Serbian army managed to heal many wounded and ill soldiers and get some rest. Refreshed and regrouped, it decided to return to the battlefield. In 1918 the Serbian Army pushed the Central Powers out of Kosovo. During their re-occupation of Kosovo, the Serbian Army committed atrocities against the population in revenge. Serbian Kosovo was unified with Montengrin as Montenegro subsequently joined the Kingdom of Serbia. After the World War I ended, the Monarchy was then transformed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians ("Mbretëria Serbe,Kroate,Sllovene" in Albanian, " "Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca" in Serbo-Croatian) on 1st December 1918, gathering territories gained in victory.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia and WWII

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 onto four counties - three being a part of the entity of Serbia: Zvečan, Kosovo and southern Metohija; and one of Montenegro: northern Metohija. However, the new administration system since 26 April 1922 split Kosovo among three Areas of the Kingdom: Kosovo, Rascia and Zeta. In 1921 the Albanian elite lodged an official protest of the government to the League of Nations, claiming that 12,000 Albanians had been killed and over 22,000 imprisoned since 1918 and seeking a unification of Albanian-populated lands. The League of Nations did not respond, as the appeal was found unfounded. As a result, an armed Kachak resistance movement was formed whose main goal was to unite Albanian-populated areas of the Kingdom to Albania.

In 1929 the Kingdom was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which the Yugoslav nationality unifying all Kosovan Slavs. The territories of Kosovo were split among the Banate of Zeta, the Banate of Morava and the Banate of Vardar. The Kingdom lasted until the World War II Axis invastion of 1941.

The greatest part of Kosovo became a part of Italian-controlled Fascist Albania, and smaller bits by the Nazi- Fascist Tsardom of Bulgaria and Nazi German-occupied Kingdom of Serbia. Since the Albanian Fascist political leadership had decided in the Conference of Bujan that Kosovo would remain a part of Albania they started an ethnic cleansing campaign of the non-Albanian population in the Kosovo. The infamous SS Division Skanderbeg committed crimes. . Tens of thousands of Serbs lost their lives and around 75,000 Serbs fled Kosovo during the war. Hundreds of thousands more would leave in the following decades, following the shift of power in Kosovo.

Prior to the surrender of Fascist Italy in 1943, the German forces took over direct control of the region. After numerous uprisings of Serbian Chetniks and Yugoslav Partisans, the latter being lead by Fadil Hoxha, Kosovo was liberated after 1944 with the help of the Albanian partisans of the Comintern, and became a province of Serbia within the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.

Kosovo in the Second Yugoslavia

The Province of Kosovo was formed in 1945 as an autonomous region to protect its regional Albanian majority within the People's Republic of Serbia as a member of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia under the leadership of the former Partisan leader, Josip Broz Tito, but with no factual autonomy. After Yugoslavia's name change to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia's to the Socialist Republic of Serbia in 1953, Kosovo gained inner autonomy in the 1960s. In the 1974 constitution, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo's government received higher powers, including the highest governmental titles — President and Premier and a seat in the Federal Presidency which made it a de facto Socialist Republic within the Federation, but remaining as a Socialist Autonomous Province within the Socialist Republic of Serbia. Serbo-Croatian and Albanian were defined as official languages on the provincial level marking the two largest linguistic Kosovan groups: Albanians and Serbs. In the 1970s, an Albanian nationalist movement pursued full recognition of the Province of Kosovo as another Republic within the Federation, while the most extreme elements aimed for full-scale independence. Tito's arbitrary regime dealt with the situation swiftly, but only giving it a temporary solution. The ethnic balance of Kosovo witnessed unproportional increase as the number of Albanians tripled gradually rising from almost 65% to over 80%, but the number of Serbs barely increased and dropped in the full share of the total population from some 25% down to 10%.

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" that were harshly contained by the Yugoslav government. During the 1980s, ethnic tensions continued with frequent violent outbreaks against Serbs and Yugoslav state authorities resulting in increased emigration of Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic groups. The Yugoslav leadership tried to suppress protests of Kosovo Serbs seeking protection from ethnic discrimination and violence.

In 1986, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) was working on a document which later would be known as the SANU Memorandum, a warning to the Serbian President and Assembly of the existing crisis and where it would lead. An unfinished edition was filtered to the press. In the essay, SANU criticised the state of Yugoslavia and made remarks that the only member state contributing at the time to the development of Kosovo and Macedonia (by then, the poorest territories of the Federation) was Serbia. According to SANU, Yugoslavia was suffering of ethnic strives and the disintegration of the Yugoslav economy into separate economic sectors and territories, which was transforming the federal state into a loose confederation. On the other hand, some think that Slobodan Milošević used the discontent reflected in the SANU memorandum for his own political goals, during his rise to power in Serbia at the time.

By the end of the 1980s, calls for increased federal control in the crisis-torn autonomous province were getting louder. Slobodan Milošević pushed for constitutional change amounting to suspension of autonomy for both Kosovo and Vojvodina.

Kosovo War

In 1987, Milošević was sent to Kosovo by the Serbian President Ivan Stambolic to "pacify restive Serbs in Kosovo" who wanted to curb the autonomy enjoyed by the province. "Milošević broke away from a meeting with ethnic Albanians to mingle with angry Serbians in a suburb of Pristina. The Serbs protested they were being pushed back by police with batons, and Milošević told them, "Niko ne sme da vas bije" ("No one is allowed to beat you"). "Slobo! Slobo!" the crowd chanted.”

One of the events that contributed to Milošević's rise of power was the Gazimestan Speech, delivered in front of 1,000,000 Serb citizens at the central celebration marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, held at Gazimestan on 28 June, 1989. In the same speech, Milošević also criticised the "dramatical national divisions" and called Yugoslavia "a multinational community [which] can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it." Milošević also said in the speech, "Six centuries later, now, we are being again engaged in battles and are facing battles. They are not armed battles, although such things cannot be excluded yet." However, many analysts - ranging from biographer Lebor to critics of American foreign policy such as Jared Israel - believe that the speech has been exaggerated beyond all proportion. Much of the speech was aimed at consolidating socialism and racial harmony in an era when Communism was collapsing.

Soon afterwards, as approved by the Assembly in 1990, the autonomy of Kosovo was reduced. After Slovenia's secession from Yugoslavia in 1991, Milošević used Kosovo's seat on the Yugoslavian Presidency to attain dominance over the Federal government, outvoting his opponents.

Many Albanians organized a peaceful separatist movement. State institutions and elections were boycotted and separate Albanian schools and political institutions were established. On July 2, 1990 an unconstitutional Kosovo parliament declared Kosovo an independent country, this was not recognized by the Government or any foreign states. In September of that year, the unofficial parliament, meeting in secrecy in the town of Kaçanik, adopted the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo. Two years later, in 1992, the parliament organized an unofficial referendum which was observed by international organisations but was not recognized internationally. With an 80% turnout, 98% voted for Kosovo to be independent.

With the events in Bosnia and Croatia coming to an end, the Serb government started relocating Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia all over Serbia, including in Kosovo.

Logo of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government
Logo of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government

After the Dayton Agreement in 1995, some Albanians organized into the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), employing guerilla-style tactics against the Serbian police forces. Violence escalated in a series of KLA attacks and Serbian reprisals into the year 1999, with increasing numbers of civilian victims. In 1998 western interest increased and the Serbian authorities were forced to sign a unilateral cease-fire and partial retreat. Under an agreement led by Richard Holbrooke, OSCE observers moved into Kosovo to monitor the ceasefire, while Yugoslav military forces partly pulled out of Kosovo. However, the ceasefire was systematically broken shortly thereafter by KLA forces, which again provoked harsh counterattacks by the Serbs. On 16 January 1999, the bodies of 45 Albanian civilians were found in the town of Racak. The victims had been executed by Serb forces. The Racak Massacre was instrumental in increasing the pressure on Serbia in the following conference at Rambouillet. After more than a month of negotations Yugoslavia refused to sign the prepared agreement, primarily, it has been argued, because of a clause giving NATO forces access rights to not only Kosovo but to all of Yugoslavia (which the Yugoslav side saw as tantamount to military occupation).

This triggered a 78-day NATO campaign in 1999. At first limited to military targets in Kosovo proper, the bombing campaign was soon extended to cover targets all over Yugoslavia, including bridges, power stations, factories, broadcasting stations, hospitals, post offices, and various government buildings.

During the conflict roughly a million ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo, several thousand were killed, the numbers and the ethnic distribution of the casualties are uncertain and highly disputed. An estimated 10,000-12,000 ethnic Albanians and 3,000 Serbs are believed to have been killed during the conflict, including military personnel and civilians, primarily as a result of the ground war in Kosovo between the KLA and the Yugoslav military, Serbian police and Serbian paramilitary forces. Some 3000 people are still missing, of which 2,500 are Albanian, 400 Serbs and 100 Roma. According to OSCE numbers and Kosovar Albanian sources on population size and distribution, an estimated 45.7% of the Albanian population and 59.5% of the Serb population had fled Kosovo during the bombings and ethnic cleansing (i.e. from 23 March to 9 June 1999). Albanian refugees accused the Serbian forces of ethnic cleansing and only returned after NATO secured the area.

With the arrival of NATO, a large number of refugees, mostly Serbs fled the region. The number of registered refugees is around 250,000. Around 120,000 remain in Kosovo. Many Serbs fear to return to their homes since they perceive not to be safe for them, even with UNMIK protection, notably the unrest in 2004, when 900 Serbian houses were burned and other property destroyed while the Serbian populace was closed into enclaves and had to concentrate to the north of Kosovo until today, causing a wave of 3,500 Serbian refugees.

Among the numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites destroyed by the Albanian para-military forces is King Stefan Milutin's grave, Our Lady of Ljeviš Orthodox Cathedral from the 12th century in Prizren. In total, more than 30 Orthodox Serb Churches and Monasteries were destroyed during the March unrest in Kosovo. Many of the Churches and Monasteries were dating back to the 12th, 13th and 14th century. At the end of the two-day riots, 19 people were dead, 11 Albanians and 8 Serbs.

During the period in between the deployment of KFOR international forces in June 1999 and February 2000, 78 Serbian Orthodox Churches and Monasteries were destroyed and desecrated. Examples include The Church of the Holy Building in Musutiste (built in 1315), Devic Monastery near Srbica (built in 1434), St Uros Cathefral in Urosevac and St Nicholas Church in Ljubizda, near Prizren (16th Century).

According to a report compiled by the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Project, Serbian forces also engaged in a "deliberate campaign of cultural destruction and rampage during the Kosovo War". Of the 500 mosques that were in use prior to the war, 200 of them were completely destroyed or desecrated. The report concludes that most mosques were deliberately set on fire with no sign of fighting around the area. Examples include: Sinan Pasha Mosque in Prizren, the Prizren League Museum, the Hadum Mosque complex in Gjakova (Serbian: Djakovica); the historic bazaars in Gjakova and Pec (Albanian: Peja); the Roman Catholic church of St. Anthony in Gjakova/Đakovica; and two old Ottoman bridges, Ura e Terzive (Terzijski most) and Ura e Tabakeve (Tabački most), near Gjakova/Đakovica.

Kosovo Politics and Governance

UN Security Council Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under transitional UN administration pending a determination of Kosovo's future status. This Resolution entrusted UNMIK with sweeping powers to govern Kosovo, but also directed UNMIK to establish interim institutions of self-governance. Resolution 1244 permits Serbia no role in governing Kosovo and since 1999 Serbian laws and institutions have not been valid in Kosovo. NATO has a separate mandate to provide for a safe and secure environment.

In May 2001, UNMIK promulgated the Constitutional Framework, which established Kosovo's Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG). Since 2001, UNMIK has been gradually transferring increased governing competencies to the PISG, while reserving some powers that are normally carried out by sovereign states (e.g., foreign affairs). Kosovo has also established municipal government and an internationally-supervised Kosovo Police Service.

According to the Constitutional Framework, Kosovo shall have a 120-member Kosovo Assembly. The Assembly includes twenty reserved seats: ten for Kosovo Serbs and ten for non-Serb minorities (e.g., Bosniak, Roma, etc.). The Kosovo Assembly is responsible for electing a President and Prime Minister of Kosovo.

The largest political party in Kosovo, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), has its origins in the 1990s non-violent resistance movement to Milosevic's rule. The party was led by Ibrahim Rugova until his death in 2006. The two next largest parties have their roots in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA): the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) led by former KLA leader Hashim Thaci and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) led by former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj. Kosovo publisher Veton Surroi formed his own political party in 2004 named "Ora." Kosovo Serbs formed the Serb List for Kosovo and Metohija (SLKM) in 2004, but have boycotted Kosovo's institutions and never taken their seats in the Kosovo Assembly.

In November 2001, the OSCE supervised the first elections for the Kosovo Assembly. 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.

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 the current government of corruption.

Ramush Haradinaj resigned the post of Prime Minister after he was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in March 2005. He was replaced by Bajram Kosumi (AAK). But in a political shake-up after the death of President Rugova in January 2006, Kosumi himself was replaced by former Kosovo Protection Corps commander [Agim Ceku]. Ceku has won recognition for his outreach to minorities, but Serbia has been critical of his wartime past as military leader of the KLA and claims he is still not doing enough for Kosovo Serbs. The Kosovo Assembly elected Fatmir Sejdiu, a former LDK parliamentarian, president after Rugova's death. Slaviša Petkovic, Minister for Communities and Returns, is governments only Serbian minister and unlike other Serbians have chosen to not boycott the Kosovo institutions.

Kosovo Future Status Process

A UN-led process was begun in late 2005 to determine Kosovo's future status. This process will determine whether Kosovo should be independent or remain a part of the state of Serbia. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 did not address Kosovo's status, but did envision an eventual political process to resolve this question. In October 2005, a UN-commissioned report written by Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide assessed that Kosovo's undefined status was a factor for regional instability and should be settled soon. As a result of this report, the UN Security Council issued a Presidential Statement in November 2005 to endorse Eide's conclusions and authorize the launch of a status process.

Belgrade's position on Kosovo status is that Kosovo should be highly autonomous, but not independent. The Belgrade negotiating platform, often characterized by Belgrade leaders as "more than autonomy, less than independence," envisions granting sweeping rights of self-governance for Kosovo, but would deny Kosovo a role in international affairs, defense or representation in Serbia's central governing institutions. Pristina's position is that Kosovo should be independent, subject to robust institutional protections for Kosovo's minorities. Belgrade frequently cites international law provisions about the integrity of sovereign states to justify its claim to Kosovo. Pristina asserts that Kosovo's independence would be the result of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and the actions of Milosevic in the 1990s.

In November 2005, the Contact Group countries released a set of "Guiding Principles" for the resolution of Kosovo's status. These principles notably included the requirement that there be no return to the situation prior to 1999 and that there be no change in Kosovo's borders (i.e., no partition of Kosovo) and no union of Kosovo with any neighboring state. At a January 2006 meeting of foreign ministers, the Contact Group further declared that a settlement "needs, inter alia, to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo" and that "all possible efforts should be made to achieve a negotiated settlement in the course of 2006." Contact Group public statements have also emphasized the need to preserve Kosovo's multi-ethnic character.

The Kosovo future status process is led by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland; Austrian diplomat Albert Rohan is his deputy. Ahtisaari's office -- the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Kosovo (UNOSEK) is located in Vienna, Austria, and includes liaison staff from NATO, the EU and the United States. Ahtisaari is supported in his efforts by Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, the U.S. Representative to the Kosovo Status Talks. Ahtisaari holds regular meetings with representatives of the Contact Group.

The initial status negotiations focused on technicalities important for Kosovo's long-term stability, particularly the rights and protection of Kosovo's minorities, particularly the Kosovo Serbs. Ahtisaari brought the parties together for the first direct dialogue in February 2006 to discuss decentralization of local government, which is an important measure to protect Kosovo Serb communities. Subsequent meetings addressed economic issues, property rights, protection of Serbian Orthodox Church heritage and institutional guarantees for the rights of Kosovo's minorities.

On July 24, 2006, Ahtisaari brought the parties together in Vienna for the first high-level talks on the status outcome itself. Serbian President Boris Tadić and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Agim Çeku attended and presented their respective platforms for Kosovo's future status. Ahtisaari later told the press that the meeting resulted in no breakthroughs, but that the parties generally listened respectfully to each other's position.

Ahtisaari briefed Contact Group foreign ministers on September 20, 2006, in New York City at a meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. At that meeting, the Contact Group released a press statement that reaffirmed its commitment to achieve a negotiated settlement in the course of 2006. The statement also endorsed Ahtisaari's plans to develop a comprehensive proposal for a status settlement, which he will take to the parties.

Most international observers believe these negotiations will lead to some form of independence which Serbian leaders still reject. The Contact Group has said in numerous public statements that regardless of status outcome a new international mission will be established in Kosovo to supervise the implementation status settlement and guarantee minority rights. NATO has also announced its intention to maintain KFOR in Kosovo after the status settlement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in September 2006 that Russia may veto a UN Security Council proposal on Kosovo's final status that applies different standards than those applied to the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

On the 30th Sept, 2006, the Serbian Parliament unanimously adopted a new constitution which describes Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia; this Constitution was later adopted after a successful referendum on October 28-29, 2006. The UN Civilian Administrator in Kosovo, Joachim Rücker, has argued that this move will have no effect on the final political status of Kosovo. Meanwhile, before the referendum, a poll conducted on Aug 26 though Sept 5, 2006 in Serbia suggested that 36 percent expected independence, 29 percent were unsure, 17 percent thought the territory would be split, and 12 percent though it would remain an autonomous region of Serbia.


Kosovo has one of the poorest economies in Europe, with a per capita income estimated at 1,565 Euro (2004). Despite substantial development subsidies from all Yugoslav republics, Kosovo was the poorest province of Yugoslavia. Additionally, over the course of the 1990s, poor economic policies, international sanctions, weak access to external trade and finance, and ethnic conflict severely damaged the economy.

Kosovo's economy remains weak. After a jump in 2000 and 2001 GDP growth was negative in 2002 and 2003 and is expected to be around 3 percent 2004-2005, with domestic sources of growth unable to compensate for the declining foreign assistance. Inflation is low, while the budget posted a deficit for the first time in 2004. Kosovo has high external deficits. In 2004, the deficit of the balance of goods and services was close to 70 percent of GDP. Remittances from Kosovars living abroad accounts for an estimated 13 percent of GDP, and foreign assistance for around 34 percent of GDP.

Most economic development since 1999 has taken place in the trade, retail and the construction sectors. The private sector that has emerged since 1999 is mainly small-scale. The industrial sector remains weak and the electric power supply remains unreliable, acting as a key constraint. Unemployment remains pervasive, at around 40-50% of the labor force.

UNMIK introduced de-facto an external trade regime and customs administration on September 3, 1999 when it set customs border controls in Kosovo. All goods imported in Kosovo face a flat 10% customs duty fee. These taxes are collected from all Tax Collection Points installed at the borders of Kosovo, including those between Kosovo and Serbia. UNMIK and Kosovo institutions have signed Free Trade Agreements with Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Albania and Macedonia.

Macedonia is Kosovo's largest import and export market (averaging €220 million and €9 million respectively), followed by Serbia-Montenegro (€111 million and €5 million), Germany and Turkey.

The Euro is the official currency of Kosovo and used by UNMIK and the government bodies. The Serbian Dinar is used in the Serbian populated parts.

The economy has been seriously weakened by Kosovo's still-unresolved international status, which has made it difficult to attract investment and loans. The province's economic weakness has produced a thriving black economy in which smuggled petrol, cigarettes and cement are major commodities. The prevalence of official corruption and the pervasive influence of organised crime gangs has caused serious concern internationally. The United Nations has made the fight against corruption and organised crime a high priority, pledging a "zero tolerance" approach.


Ethnic composition of Kosovo in 2005 according to the OSCE
Ethnic composition of Kosovo in 2005 according to the OSCE

According to the Kosovo in Figures 2005 Survey of the Statistical Office of Kosovo, Kosovo's total population is estimated between 1.9 and 2.2 million in the following ethnic proportions:

  • 88% Albanians (between 1,972,000 and 2,100,000)
  • 7% Serbs (between 126,000 and 140,000)
  • 1.9% Bosniaks (between 34,200 and 38,000)
  • 1.7% Roma (between 30,600 and 34,000) (see also Roma in Mitrovica Camps)
  • 1% Turks (between 18,000 and 20,000)
  • 0,5% Gorani (approx. 10,000)

However, the figures are highly disputable. Some estimates are that there is an Albanian majority well above 90 percent. The population census is set to take place in the near future. Others give much higher figures for Roma and Turks. There was also a small minority of Circassians in Kosovo Polje but they were repatriated to the Republic of Adygea, in Southern Russia. The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army is thought to have threatened the Adygs. The majority of the Albanians in Kosovo are Muslims and most Serbs are Eastern Orthodox, even though Kosovo Albanians do not define their national identity through religion. Most of them are non-practising Muslims. About 5% of the Albanians in Kosovo are Catholics. Atheism is also common among both Albanians and Serbs.


Kosovo is divided into 7 districts:

  • Prishtina/Pristina District
  • Prizreni/Prizren District
  • Peja/Peć District
  • Ferizaji/Uroševac District
  • Gjakova/Đakovica District
  • Mitrovica/Kosovska Mitrovica District
  • Gjilani/Gnjilane District

North Kosovo maintains its own government, infrastructure and institutions by its dominant ethnic Serb population in the Mitrovica District, on the Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok municipalities and the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.


Prishtina/ Priština.

List of largest cities in Kosovo (with population figures in 2006):

  • Prishtina/ Priština (562,686)
  • Prizreni/ Prizren (165,227)
  • Ferizaji/ Uroševac (97,741)
  • Gjakova/ Đakovica (97,156)
  • Peja/ Peć (95,190)
  • Gjilani/ Gnjilane (91,595)
  • Mitrovica/ Kosovska Mitrovica (86,359)
  • Podujeva/ Podujevo (48,526)



Music has always been part of the Albanian culture. Although in Kosovo music is diverse (as it got mixed with the cultures of different regimes dominating in Kosovo), authentic Albanian music (see World Music) does still exist. It is characterized by use of çiftelia (an authentic Albanian instrument), mandolin, mandola and percussion. In Kosovo, along with modern music, folk music is very popular. There are many folk singers and ensembles. Classical music is also well known in Kosovo. The modern music in Kosovo has its origin from the Western countries. The main modern genres include: Pop, Hip Hop, Rock and Jazz. The most notable rock bands are: Gjurmët, Troja, Votra, Diadema, Humus, Asgjë sikur Dielli, Kthjellu, Cute Babulja, Babilon, etc. Ilir Bajri is a notable jazz and electronic musician.

Leonora Jakupi and Adelina Ismajli are two of the most popular commercial singers in Kosovo today.

There are some notable music festivals in Kosovo:

  • Rock për Rock - contains rock and metal music
  • Polifest - contains all kinds of genres (usually hip hop, commercal pop, unusually rock and never metal)
  • Showfest - contains all kinds of genres (usually hip hop, commercal pop, unusually rock and never metal)
  • Videofest - contains all kinds of genres
  • Kush Këndon Lutet Dy Herë - contains all kinds of genres which have christian lyrics

Kosovo Radiotelevisions like RTK, 21 and KTV have their musical charts.

List of Presidents

List of the presidents of Kosovo:

  • Fatmir Sejdiu, 10 February 2006 - present
  • Ibrahim Rugova, 4 March 2002 - 21 January 2006

List of Prime Ministers

  • Bujar Bukoshi
  • Bajram Rexhepi, 2002- 2004
  • Ramush Haradinaj, 2004- 2005
  • Bajram Kosumi, 2005- 2006
  • Agim Çeku, 2006-present


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