Local Studies, Global Comparision, march 2008.
The Independence of Kosovo
Kosovo is a little region of 10 887 km² in the Balkans, bordering Serbia to the North, Montenegro and Albania to the west, and Macedonia to the south. Among its 2 200 000 inhabitants (estimations in 2005), 92% is Albanian, and 5,3% Serb. It has just declared its independence from Serbia on17th of February 2008 but it is not recognized by the whole international community (Russia, Serbia, China and Spain among others do not accept the independence).
What is the history of Kosovo? And the way leading to the independence of Kosovo, and which issues does it creates nowadays?
We are going to describe the recent history of Kosovo, trying to explain the evolution leading to itsindependence. And we will, in a second part, set forth the principal issues Kosovo has now to face and the questions it raises for the global community.
From 1455 to 1912, Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire. It was first part of the eyelet of Rumelia (southern Balkan regions of the Ottoman Empire) until 1864 and then it became a separate province as a result of the administrative reform law. Itunderwent gradual Islamisation during that period, even if not so pronounced in that part of the Empire, particularly in towns, when entire villages passed from orthodoxy to Islam, in order not to pay the djizia . (taxation of non-Muslim)
The Kosovo is considered by Serbs as the birthplace of their nation, in a religious and cultural way. Indeed, in actual Kosovo was established the archevêchéof Pec in 1219. More than 1500 churches and monasteries were built after this symbolic date. The Church has claimed since then his historical belonging to that region.
Another important fact in favour of Serb roots in Kosovo is the battle of Kosovo of 1389, where the Serbs defeated against the Ottoman Empire. The region became as a result, the symbol of a national tragedy and the symbol of theopposition with Turks. What’s more, this battle got a divine meaning : according to the legend, the prince of Serbia, Lazar, had to choose between winning the battle and getting a kingdom on earth, or loosing the battle and getting a kingdom in Heaven. Lazar choose Heaven and lost the battle.
In addition to this historic quarrel, Serbian believe that if Albanian are in majority in Kosovo, it isbecause of their exodus in history, particularly when Turkish people invaded the zone until Voïvodine’s region. The Kosovo went through Albanisation and Islamisation until it was “liberated” in autumn 1912 by Serbian army during the first Balkan war. And in August 1945, Tito exclaimed a special law that prohibited to the 100 000 Serbian expelled from Kosovo during the Second World War to come back.Then the opening of the border with Albanian lead dozens of thousands Albanians to occupy the Serbian houses in Kosovo. As a result, Serbians denounce a massive immigration from Albania.
To finish with, independence of Kosovo was not to be discussed for Serbian because since the constitution of 1974, the status of the province of Kosovo was independent and it had a veto power on every Serbianlaw. If a lot of Serb were reluctant to go to fight in Croatia and in Bosnia during the ex-Yugoslavia war , they were more willing to go to defend “their”
We can now compare this vision with the one of Albanian People :
Albanian Kosovars think that Kosovo is part of the Albanian Nation, and this, a long time before Slave people came into the region in VI and VII centuries. They aredescendants of the Illyrian people that were living in the west Balkan region, including Kosovo, colonized by the Greeks in the VII century b.c. and then part of the Roman Empire from 27 b.c until VII when it was dominated by Slaves. They consider that they were not so influenced by those dominations and that they still have their “pureness” that situate them “above” Greek and other Balkan...