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Ethnicity and Its History in Kosovo
Most of Kosovo’s history is struck by murder and misunderstanding. The country is located in southeastern Europe, between Serbia and Macedonia. It was once an enclave inside Yugoslavia, before the fall of the empire. Approximately 90 percent of the population is made up of Albanians (Judah 2). They live in the northern part of the country and two thirds of the population are Muslim (“Religion in Kosovo”). Serbians make up roughly 6 percent of the population (Judah 2). They are constantly moving around and the majority fled or was displaced after the wars in the 90s. Most of their population are Catholic (Judah 12). Though there are ethnic differences, the religion of the groups doesn’t seem to be a problem or extra factor, as there is no discovered data that supports that. However, power struggles and wars fought concerning ethnicity and the history in Kosovo have caused countless deaths, poverty and severe oppression against the Serbians, and sometimes the Roma.
Albanians moved into Kosovo after the defeat of the Serbian empire in 1389. In history, this is classified as the Battle of Kosovo (Central Intelligence Agency). By the end of the 19th century, the Albanians made up the majority of the population. Kosovo is said to be at the core of Serbian history. This roots a lot of the conflict. The Ottoman Empire came into power around 1389, or when the Serbian empire fell. They ruled for approximately five centuries. Serbia, however, regained control over Kosovo during the First Balkan War in 1912 (Central Intelligence Agency). Since then, there has been a constant power struggle as to who has right over Kosovo or whether the country should be fought for by the Albanians or Serbians. Throughout history, they have done just that.
In more recent history, or March of 2004, there was a massacre in Kosovo. On March 15th, a Serbian man was attacked in a Serbian neighborhood. He claimed his attackers were Albanians. The next day, people protested and blocked the main road. Angry rallies took place for days. By March 24th, 4366 people were forced to flee. Roughly 700 were Albanians and Romas, and the rest were Serbians (Judah 109-110). In an attempt to cease the arguing, NATO bombed Yugoslavia. UN administrations moved in shortly afterward and have remained in Kosovo since the bombing to try to help rebuild the economy and society. It is still unknown when these foreign people will remove themselves from the area because a permanent peace plan cannot be ensured (“Kosovo” 2). After 1999, Albanians began to return. Serbians were ethnically cleansed, or fled. Everything the Serbians had once controlled, the Albanians took over. The economy crashed (Judah, 93). Now, it is considered a gray economy. Children sell cigarettes in the streets, multimedia piracy is on the rise and sex trafficking is a big issue. The Kosovo people constantly argue over who was in the country first, though, the Serbian population is so little that many of the problems are no longer an issue (“Kosovo” 2).
In attempts to cease the fighting and stop the killing of thousands, different efforts were taken into consideration. An ethnic cleansing took place after NATO planned to bomb Serbian buildings in 1992. They tried to drive out non-Serbians and acted viciously in this attempt, including rape and murder (Kosovo). Afterward, 200,000 Serbians and Roma were forced to flee (Kosovo Independence). Later, on February 17th 2008, the Kosovo Assembly announced that Kosovo was independent. Leading up to this highly anticipated and controversial event was twenty years of horrible conflict. It began in the late '80s when Serbia demanded its historical rights over the country of Kosovo. Several years later, that right was pushed again when a Serbian crackdown on rebels killed 10,000 people and drove 100,000 from their homes (Kosovo Independence). Since the independence was declared, over fifty countries have recognized Kosovo (Central Intelligence Agency). Serbia continues to protest the independence; even though; Albanians say that gaining their independence was imminent.
The events in Kosovo’s history make it clear that ethnic instability has caused many problems within the country. Albanians entered the country and from there started the issues. In the 90s, the Serbians gained control of the country, but many of their people were fleeing from Kosovo, where as the Albanians were returning. This resulted in a vicious ethnic cleansing of the Serbian, and later a controversial massacre where thousands of people were forced to flee, and others shot and killed. The instability of the country lead to a bad economy (“Kosovo”2) and foreigners living in Kosovo to maintain peace. The ethnic wars have only been made worse due to the independence of Kosovo as an Albanian state. Serbia protests this of course. Clearly, throughout history, thousands upon thousands of people have been displaced, slaughtered and fled Kosovo out of fear and lack of understanding for other cultures.
Central Intelligence Agency. “Kosovo.” CIA - The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency, 28 Sept. 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2009. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kv.html>.
Judah, Tim. Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford, 2008. Print.
“Kosovo’ 2.” Editorial. Insight on Conflict. Peace Direct, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009. <http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/kosovo>.
“Kosovo.” Encyclopedia Brittanica: Macromedia. Vol. 27. 418-419. Print.
“Kosovo Independence.” IrishTimes.com.The Irish Times, 19 Feb. 2009: Pub. Web. 2 Nov. 2009. <http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0219/1224241414590.html>.
“Religion in Kosovo.” Editorial. International Crisis Group. International Crisis Group, 31 January 2001. Web. 2 Nov. 2009. <http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=1591&l=1>.