March 25, 2008

Kosova

    

STATISTICS
(estimate on July 2009)

Status: Unrecognized state
Population: 1.804.838
Capital City: Pristina (Prishtine, Prishtina)
Area: 10,887 km2
Language: Albanian (official), Serbian (official), Bosnian, Turkish, Roma
Ethnic Groups: Albanian 88%, Serbs 7%, Others 5% (Bosniak, Gorani, Roma, Turk, Ashkali, Egyptian)

 

UNPO REPRESENTATION: Democratic League of Kosova

Kosova is represented by the Democratic League of Kosova. 


OVERVIEW

GEOGRAPHY

Kosova is situated in the southern territory of former Yugoslavia and borders with Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The capital is Pristina. Area: 10,887 km2

POPULATION

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates the population at 2.0 to 2.2 million people, by analyzing voter registration data in 2000. They are comprised of:

- 88% Albanians (1,733,600)
- 7% Serbs (137,900)
- 3% Muslim Slavs (59,100)
- 2% Roma (39,400)
- 1% Turks (19,700)

ECONOMY

The economy is primarily agricultural: wheat, maize, potatoes, grapes. Livestock; cattle, sheep, pigs. Kosova has always been one of the least developed regions within former Yugoslavia. The country is rich in natural resources, especially in lead, pyrite, gold, nickel and brown coal. Kosova is one of Europe's poorest regions, with more than half of its people living in poverty.


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The earliest inhabitants of Kosova were called Illyrians by both the Greek and the Romans. Alexander the Great conquered Kosova three centuries before Christ and the region became part of the Roman province of Dardania in the 4th century A. D. Slavic people crossed the Danube and moved into the Balkans by the 6th century. These migrations weakened the Byzantium Empire. The result was that Illyrian-speaking people, known to their neighbours as Albanians, moved eastward from the Adriatic into the Kosova region of the Balkans.Their language became known as Albanian and their culture became allied with Byzantium after the breakup of the Catholic Church into Eastern and western branches in 1054. By 1190 Kosova had become the administrative and cultural centre of the medieval Serbian state ruled by the powerful Nemanjic dynasty that lasted two centuries. In 1389, in the famous Battle of Kosova Polje, the Serbs and their allies were defeated by the Ottoman Turks and for a short period of time Kosova became part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans took sovereignty over the region in 1489. During this time the great majority of Albanians were still Christians, and Serbs and Albanians lived together in reasonable harmony. Gradually, Albanians and to a lesser extent Serbs, were converted to Islam. In the late 17th century a great number of Serbs left Kosova as a result of military victories of the Ottoman Turks. As a result, the Serbian "center of gravity" moved to the region of Belgrade. This displacement of the Serb population is known in history as "the great migration". In this period Kosova was resettled by Muslim and Christian Albanians.

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in the Russo-Ottoman War in 1878 the terms of the "Peace Accord" extended Bulgaria westward and gave the Serbs control of Mitrovica and Pristina in Kosova, while the remainder stayed in Ottoman hands. In the first Balkan War of 1912 Albania was attacked by Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Serbs joined the army in large numbers to avenge the Serbian defeat by the Turks at the Battle of Kosova Polje. The population of Kosova at this time mostly consisted of Albanians. Serbs entered Pristina as Albanians fled to the mountains. The Albanians fought fiercely but lost the war and Kosova came under Serbian authority. In 1913, as a result of the London Conference, one-half of Albanian territories, including Kosova, were taken away from Albania and granted to the Serb, Croat, Slovene Kingdom and Greece.The entire period between 1913 and 1941 was marked by a policy of massive repression towards the Albanians in Kosova with the aim of either assimilating them or expelling them. In 1943, the Conference of Bujan recognized the Kosova-Albanian right to self- determination. After World War II Yugoslavia consisted of the Republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia. In 1940, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had committed in writing to an autonomous "Peasant Republic of Kosova", but the promise wasn't kept. After the end of the war, the Assembly of Kosova was forced to vote for an entry into Yugoslavia at its Convention in Prizren in 1945.

After Tito had consolidated his power and the rule of the communist party over all of Yugoslavia, he favored a Kosova within Serbia for political reasons since he needed support from the Serbs and to win them over to communism. The 1946 Yugoslav constitution did not grant territorial autonomy to Kosova, nor did it grant Albanian status as a recognized nationality. The 1953 constitution reduced autonomy for Kosova even more with much repression of Albanians taking place. Not surprisingly, by 1956 there was a resurgence of Albanian nationalism. In 1974, by reconfirming the Bujan Resolution, the federal status of Kosova was recognized in the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Kosova was represented as one of the eight constitutive units of the federation of Yugoslavia in all elected bodies, including the presidency of the state, and had the right to veto. Kosova passed its own constitution, maintained a genuine constitutional government and had a territorial defense force. The process to abolish Kosova autonomy began in March 1989 via amendments to the Serbian constitution that gave Serbia direct control over Kosova. The Kosova Parliament, after it had been purged of opponents to centralization, also accepted these modifications.

In 1990 civil disturbances in Kosova broke out, which was violently suppressed by the security forces. In March 1990, the Serbian Parliament adopted the"Program for Achieving Peace, Freedom and Equality in Kosova". The aim of this program was the peaceful co-existence of all ethnic groups in Kosova, but it also identified Albanian separatists as the main menace to this objective. Consequently, Albanians did not recognize this program. In July 1990, the Serbian government prevented the Kosova Parliament from meeting. In response, Albanian parliamentarians assembled on the steps of the Parliament building and proclaimed the Sovereign Republic of Kosova within the Yugoslav federation. Serbia then officially dissolved Kosova's government and took executive control. The complete removal of Kosova's autonomy was completed in September 1990 when a change in the Serbian constitution redefined Kosova as a region in Serbia, with administrative and executive control now in the hands of the Serbian National Assembly.In September 1991 the Parliament of the un-recognized Republic of Kosova approved a resolution supporting the "Independence and Sovereignty of Kosova".

In the summer of 1992 Albanians and Serbs in Kosova were living in a virtual state of apartheid, basically entirely separated from each other. In December 1992, there were Yugoslav elections, in which the Albanian leadership in Kosova advised Albanians not to vote. The Albanian population decided to follow this recommendation and did not vote. Milosevic's Socialist Party won the election with 47 seats but the strongly nationalist Radical party won 33 seats. This result put additional pressure on Milosevic to preserve Serbian interests in Kosova and Serbian nationalism in general. By 1993, 400,000 Albanians had left Kosova as a result of the deteriorating socio-economic conditions. The Albanian Kosovars were disappointed by the 1995 Dayton agreement to end the conflict in former Yugoslavia, which did not recognize their demand for independence. Meanwhile Serbs felt isolated and abandoned by Belgrade and increasingly felt they were being sold out to the Albanians. Serbs and Albanians in Kosova were mobilizing themselves with arms. Passive Albanian resistance gradually gave way to a more violent atmosphere, first by the underground "National Movement for the Liberation of Kosova" and then by the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA).

In March 1997, civil government in Albania totally collapsed and anarchy resulted. This caused some Albanians to realize that a "Greater Albania" may not be such a great idea. The KLA and Serbian authorities meanwhile became engaged in a civil war for independence. The United States advised the League for a Democratic Kosova, under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova, who sought a non-violent solution to the crisis that parallel parliamentary elections should not be held and also that Kosova should remain part of Serbia. As the civil war intensified in Kosova, Western Europe and the United State became involved in early 1998. In March 1998, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright outlined terms, which Milosevic and his government had to accept including the presence of international observers in Kosova, "enhanced" status for Kosova within Serbia and an end to the killing. These terms and others were not met and the war intensified. In October 1998, NATO authorized the NATO Commander to launch air strikes if Milosevic continued to fail to comply with "the repeated political and humanitarian demands of the UN Security Council in regards to Kosova". On October 27, Albright announced at a news conference in Washington that Milosevic had complied sufficiently with NATO demands that air strikes were not warranted "at this time". The KLA, sensing that NATO was on its side intensified its military efforts and the Serbs intensified their military campaign to defeat the KLA on the field. Hence the October agreement fell apart.

On January 28, 1999 NATO warned that it was ready to use military force immediately. A conference was held at Rambouillet in France in mid-February to negotiate an end to the war. Present were the Western allies, Yugoslavia and representatives of the major Albanian Kosovar groups demanding independence. The Western Allies led by the United States issued a two-week deadline, backed by the threat of air strikes, during which time both parties must agree to the proposed settlement. This settlement, dictated by the West, required Yugoslavia to withdraw its forces from Kosova, the KLA to lay down their arms, NATO peace-keeping troops on the ground to enforce the agreement and a three year period to settle the political future of Kosova. Neither side would agree and the bombing deadline was extended two weeks.

The conference re-convened in Paris two weeks later and enough pressure was put on the Albanians that they finally agreed to sign the Rambouillet agreement. Milosevic would not. The bombing started March 24. The expectation of NATO was that Yugoslavia would capitulate to the West and sign the Rambouillet agreement. Instead Yugoslavia intensified its war with the KLA and approximately a million Kosovars were driven out of Kosova. An agreement was signed later in which both sides made compromises. This agreement was formalized by the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 adopted June 10, 1999. Key elements of this resolution were the right of all refugees to return home, commitment of all member states to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. 


CURRENT ISSUES

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

As a result of the war in Kosova the following long-term effects occurred or may occur in the future. High levels of pollution around main military targets, in particular the chemical industry.Ecosystems are threatened, in particular river ecosystems.Contamination of drinking water now priority of the environment in the reconstruction process. Especially under time pressures this can lead to decisions where the environmental impact of an activity is not taken into consideration. One of the main sources of pollution in Kosova is the industrial sector. It is characterized by air, water and soil contamination and dirty production techniques.


CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT

LANGUAGE

The official language in Kosova is Albanian. The Albanian language has two main dialects, Tosk and Gheg. The latter is spoken in Kosova. CULTURE AND RELIGION The Albanians in Kosova are the direct descendents of the Illyrians who held vast territories covering all of the western Balkans in 2000 B.C. The name "Albania" is derived from the ancient Illyrian tribe called the Albanoi who inhabited the provinces of Durres and Dibra in today's Albania in 200 AD. The Albanian population in Kosova share the ethnic background of the population of neighbouring Albania. They speak the Albanian language and are largely a Muslim population.