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Kosovo and Metohia (Serbian: Косово и Метохија; Albanian: Kosova), or Kosovo, is a region in the western Balkan Peninsula. The name "Kosovo" is from "Kosovo Polje" which means "Blackbird's field" in Serbian language. "Metohia" is a Greek word which denotes church-owned land.
|Table of contents|
2 Politics and international status
3 Administrative subdivions
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links
10 See also
11 External links
Entered by Serbs migrating from the north-east around the early 7th century AD, Kosovo was a centre of the medieval Serbian kingdom until its conquest by the Ottoman Turks in the late 14th century. The existing Albanian population is mostly formed by migrants from the south-west (modern Albania) during the centuries of Ottoman rule (particularly during and after the 17th century), when Islam also became the faith of most of the Albanian people.
From the 1870s onwards Albanians formed the League of Prizren to resist Ottoman rule, and a provisional government was formed in 1881. In 1912 Kosovo was briefly included in the newly independent state of Albania. But the following year the Great Powers (Britain, America, France etc) forced Albania to cede the region to Serbia as at that time about 60% of the population was Serb (see Kosovo population data-points). In 1918, Kosovo became a part of the newly formed Yugoslavia.
Between 1941 and 1945, Kosovo was included under the Italian-occupied Greater Albania. Following the end of the war and the establishment of Tito's Communist regime, Kosovo was given the status of an autonomous region of Serbia in 1946 and an autonomous province in 1963.
In 1974, new constitution of Yugoslavia was passed, under which Kosovo enjoyed almost complete self-government under predominantly Albanian local communist party leaders. For example, schools had the same curriculum and textbooks as in Albania under Enver Hoxha, even after they were dropped from Albania's school system.
Serbs living in Kosovo were widespreadly discriminated by Albanians. In August 1987, during the dying days of Yugoslavia's communist regime. Kosovo was visited by Slobodan Milosevic, then a rising politician. He appealed to Serb nationalism to further his career. Having drawn huge crowds, 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 Milosovic was in control of the Serbian government.
In 1989, following discrimination against Serbs, the autonomy was revoked by a Serbia wide referendum which implemented a new Serbian constitution which was more democratic as it allowed multi-party system, introduced factual freedom of speech and respect of human rights, and it also drastically took away the provinces' rights, which some might view as less democratic. Albanians refused to participate in the referendum, however their participation would not have changed the outcome of the referendum.
After constitutional changes, 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 then 50%, parliament of Kosovo could not be established.
New constitution took away the right of having official media from provinces and official media were integrated within official media of Serbia. The media still had program in Albanian language however, and as the constitution made creating privately-owned media possible, privately-owned Albanian media appeared; of these, probably the most famous is "Koha ditore", which operated until late 1998 when it was closed following publishing 1999 calendar with KLA iconography and glorification.
The constitution also gave control over state-owned companies (at the time, most of the companies were state-owned and de jure they still are) to Serbian government, so new non-communist government fired old communist (mostly Albanian) directors and some of those who stayed have quit, refusing to work for Serbian government. A number of Albanian employees, alleged by some to be as high as 125,000, were also sacked from state industries in September 1990, provoking a general strike and mass unrest.
The Albanian curriculum and textbooks were revoked, and new made. 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 on Albanian language was reportedly withdrawn in 1992 and re-established in 1994). New textbooks were (still are) basically the same as those in Serbian, except that they were in Albanian language. Albanians however were displeased with it and responded by boycotting state schools and attempts to maintain a "parallel" system of Albanian-language education.
Following outbreaks of inter-communal violence, in February 1990, a state of emergency was declared, and presence of the Yugoslav Army and police was increased.
Kosovo Albanians were outraged by these developments. Unsanctioned elections held in 1992, overwhelmingly elected Ibrahim Rugova as "president", however these elections were not recognised neither 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, which had surfaced in rioting (1968 and March 1981) in the capital Priština, subsequently took the form of separatist agitation by opposition political groups and armed action from 1996 by the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (Ushtria «lirimtare e KosovŽs, or U«K). The Serbian police and U«K actions by 1998 created a state of low intensity warfare with some 2000 dying prior to Kosovo War of 1999.
The KLA repeatedly attacked Serbian police. In March 1998 Yugoslav army units joined Serbian police to fight the KLA separatists. In the months that followed, hundreds of people were killed and more than 200,000 have fled from their homes, most of these people were Albanians. Some media have reported that many Albanian families told of being forced to flee their homes at gunpoint.
The United Nations estimated that during the Kosovo War, nearly 640,000 Albanians fled Kosovo between March 1998 and the end of April 1999. Most of the refugees went to Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or Montenegro. Most western media have reported that at some border crossings, some identification papers of some Albanian families were destroyed by Serbian officials.
Politics and international status
Its international status is anomalous in that although it is formally a province of the Republic of Serbia, actual administration is presently conducted by the United Nations with no involvement on the part of the Serbian governments (under Security Council resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999; see Security Council Resolutions 1999). A parliament was elected in November 2001 and Ibrahim Rugova was selected as president in March 2002, however the UN retained control of security, justice and external affairs.
Kosovo's anomalous status is the result of the Kosovo War of March-June 1999, in the course of which air strikes against the Federal republic of Yugoslavia's armed forces and civilian infrastructure aimed at stopping the Serbian para-military crackdown on KLA and Albanian civilians, by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, without endorsement by the United Nations, forced the signing of the Kumanovo agreement which provided for the withdrawal of military and the province's occupation by a NATO-led international force (KFOR) including also Russian troops (no longer serving as of July 2003).
Both NATO and the UN continue to recognise Kosovo as a part of Serbia, but with the departure since 1999 of much of the Serb population and the reluctance of local Albanians to see Serbian sovereignty restored in practice, it is difficult to imagine how the removal of de facto Serbian authority in the province can be reconciled with assurances of Serbia's continued territorial integrity given by the NATO powers and reaffirmed (June 1999) in UN Security Council resolution 1244.
At the same time, it is also difficult to see how Serbia would consent to recognizing independence of Kosovo, and without Serbia's approval, recognition of Kosovo independence would be extremely problematic under international law as it would be a violation of the principles of territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs. The most likely outcome is the indefinite continuation of the current situation.
UNMIK declared the Euro as the official currency in Kosovo, however the Serbian dinar remains an official currency in Kosovo. The Dinar is widespread in Kosovo because most trade is done with the rest of Serbia and the Kosovo Serb enclaves also use it widely. Other international currencies (Dollar, Swiss Franc) are also widespread.
The population is currently comprised of a majority of Albanians (estimated at 80% prior to the international conflict of 1999, but now somewhat larger owing to the flight of many Serbs and other non-Albanians; see Kosovo population data-points).