Regions and territories: Kosovo
Kosovo, an impoverished territory with a population of mainly ethnic
Albanians, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February
immediately won recognition from the United States and major European
Union countries. But Serbia, with the help of its big-power ally
Russia, has vowed to block Kosovo from getting a United Nations seat.
Kosovo has been the backdrop to a centuries-old and often-strained
relationship between its Serb and ethnic Albanian inhabitants. The province has been administered by the UN, having
endured a conflict in the late 1990s which was fuelled by ethnic
division and repression. Reconciliation between the majority ethnic
Albanians, most of whom support independence, and the Serb minority
The landlocked region is one of Europe's poorest, with more than half
of its people living in poverty. Although it possesses rich mineral
resources, agriculture is the main economic activity.
Ethnic Albanians number about 2 million - about 90% of the population.
Some 100,000 Serbs remain following a post-war exodus of non-Albanians.
The Serbian minority live in separate areas watched over by Nato
peacekeepers. International diplomats have voiced concern over slow
progress on their rights.
Slavic and Albanian peoples have co-existed in Kosovo since the eighth
century. The region was the centre of the Serbian empire until the
mid-14th century, and Serbians regard Kosovo as the birthplace of their
state. Over the centuries, as the ethnic balance shifted in
favour of Albanians, Kosovo came to represent a Serbian golden age,
embodied in epic poetry. Serbia's defeat at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 ushered
in centuries of rule under the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Serbia regained
control of Kosovo in 1913, and the province was incorporated into the
Path to autonomy
Serbs and ethnic Albanians vied for control in the region throughout
the 20th century. In the 1960s the suppression of Albanian national
identity in Kosovo gave way to a more tolerant line from Belgrade.
Ethnic Albanians gained a foothold in the Kosovan, and Yugoslav,
The 1974 Yugoslav constitution laid down Kosovo's status as an
autonomous province, and pressure for independence mounted in the 1980s
after the death of Yugoslav President Tito. But resentment over Kosovan influence within the
Yugoslav federation was harnessed by the future leader, Slobodan
Milosevic. On becoming president in 1989 he proceeded to strip Kosovo
of its autonomy. A passive resistance movement in the 1990s failed to
secure independence or to restore autonomy, although ethnic Albanian
leaders declared unilateral independence in 1991. In the mid-1990s an ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement,
the Kosovo Liberation Army, stepped up its attacks on Serb targets. The
attacks precipitated a major, and brutal, Yugoslav military crackdown.
Slobodan Milosevic's rejection of an internationally-brokered deal to
end the crisis, and the persecution of Kosovo Albanians, led to the
start of Nato air strikes against targets in Kosovo and Serbia in March
1999. Meanwhile, a campaign of ethnic cleansing against
Kosovo Albanians was initiated by Serbian forces. Hundreds of thousands
of refugees fled to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. Thousands of
people died in the conflict.
Serbian forces were driven out in the summer of 1999 and the UN took over the administration of the province.
Declared itself independent 17 February 2008. Serbia refuses to recognize declaration. UN-administered in the meantime.
1.8 million-2.4 million (estimate)
Coal, lead, zinc, chromium, silver
Fatmir Sejdiu was elected by parliament in February 2006. The leader of
Kosovo's biggest party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), he was
the sole candidate.
He was a close ally of the former president, writer-turned-politician
Ibrahim Rugova, who died of cancer just days before UN-mediated talks
on Kosovo's future status began in February 2006. Ibrahim Rugova was nicknamed the "Gandhi of the
Balkans". He led an ethnic Albanian campaign of passive resistance
against Serb rule in the 1990s. He was twice elected president in
unofficial elections, and won official presidential elections in 2002.
Like his predecessor, President Sejdiu supports independence for Kosovo.
He was born near the town of Podujevo in northern Kosovo. He studied
law in France and the US and speaks both English and French.
Hashim Thaci is a veteran of the ethnic Albanians' drive to break away from Serbia.
He began agitating for the Kosovo Albanian cause while still in his
teens, and first came to prominence as the political leader of the
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the guerrilla group that took up arms
against Serb forces in the late 1990s. He became known outside Kosovo when he formed part of
the Kosovo Albanian negotiating team at internationally-sponsored peace
talks at Rambouillet, France, early in 1999. He made such a powerful impression at the talks that he
succeeded in sidelining veteran Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova -
who was more in favour of passive resistance to Serbia - and was
appointed leader of the Kosovo Albanian negotiating team. After the talks broke down and NATO launched its air
campaign against Serbia that resulted in Kosovo becoming a UN
protectorate, Mr Rugova reasserted his authority within the province
and officially became president in 2002. Meanwhile, Mr Thaci underwent a gradual process of
transformation from fiery left-wing guerrilla to respectable
politician. His Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) emerged out of the KLA
and finally won an election in November 2007. Some analysts believe that the years spent by Mr Thaci
as prime minister-in-waiting allowed him to hone his political skills
and made him into one of the province's most moderate leaders. On being elected prime minister, he made an attempt to
reach out to Kosovo's dwindling Serbian minority by switching to
speaking Serbian as he called on the Serbs to consider Kosovo their
Hasim Thaci was born in 1968 in the Drenica region, a stronghold of the ethnic Albanian revolt against Serbia.
He was a student activist in 1989-91, and later went underground to
join the KLA, which was formed in 1993. It was at that time that he
acquired the nom de guerre of "the Snake" on account of his success in
He is married, with one son.
The media in Kosovo reflect the mainly-Albanian ethnic composition, with most outlets using the Albanian language.
Television is the main source of news. Public broadcaster RTK was set
up as an editorially-independent service. There are 80-90 licensed
radio stations. The newspaper market is limited; the biggest and most
trusted newspaper is the Koha Ditore daily. Some dailies publish
editions for Kosovo Albanians living in Western Europe. A UN-backed commission established a code of conduct
for journalists, with the aim of preventing incitement to hatred in the
media. International organisations run media support programmes.
Internet use is limited. Those with access tend to be the English-speaking Pristina-based elite.
Koha Ditore (The Daily Times)
Bota Sot (The World Today) - daily
Kosova Sot (Kosovo Today) - daily
Zeri (The Voice) - daily
Lajm (News) - daily
Gazeta Express - daily
Epoka e Re (The New Epoch) - daily
Kosovo Radio-Television (RTK)
Kosovo Radio-Television (RTK)
- public, operates Radio Kosova and former UN multi-ethnic station Radio Blue Sky
- popular private music-based station
- private, English-language pages
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/04/11 10:44:28 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
Le Mensonge peut courir un an, la vérité le rattrape en un jour, dit le sage Haoussa
se SURPASSER ,ne JAMAIS ABDIQUER,TOUJOURS RESTER HUMBLE