Kosovo. In June, Kosovo held a new election since the
government in May cast a vote of no confidence in
Parliament. The cooperation between the government's largest
parties, the center-right party PDK and conservative LDK,
had long been strained.
In the June 11 election, a coalition led by PDK (34% of
the vote) won. According to
Countryaah.com, the opposition party VetŰvendosje received
27% and the former government partner LDK just under 26% of
the vote. But it would take until September before President
Hashim Thaši's party PDK could secure 63 of Parliament's 120
seats. This was done with the help of the small party New
Alliance for Kosovo. Former guerrilla leader and former
prime minister Ramush Haradinaj was given the task of
forming government on September 7. Haradinaj had been
arrested in France in January after Serbia issued an arrest
warrant on suspicion of war crimes committed during the
1990s in the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). However, he was
released a week later. In 2005, Haradinaj had resigned as
prime minister on charges of war crimes.
At the beginning of the year, a minor conflict arose
between Kosovo and Serbia. A Serbian train, painted with the
slogan "Kosovo is Serbian", was stopped on January 16 from
crossing to Kosovo. President Thaši was similar to the
provocation of the Russian annexation of the Crimean
Peninsula in 2014. Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolić said
a group of Kosovo Albanians planned to attack the train and
accused Kosovo of escalating the conflict.
Kosovo after 1990
From 1990, Kosovo was fully subject to Serbian rule. The
name was changed to Kosovo- Metohija, as it was in the era
of communist and anti-Albanian rule. Serbian military and
police imposed strict control in the province, and Albanians
were severely discriminated against. In September 1990, more
than 100,000 Albanians lost their jobs, including government
officials and media people. This led to a general strike.
The tension increased, but the Albanians avoided direct
rebellion. During the period 1990-1997, the Kosovo Albanians
developed their own parallel institutions within government
agencies and educational systems. The residents boycotted
all Serbian elections and held their own instead. Albanian
cultural rights claims were systematically rejected.
In 1991, Yugoslavia began to disintegrate when Slovenia,
Croatia and Bosnia erupted and declared independence. Kosovo
also declared itself a sovereign state and formed a
provisional government. In 1992, the Kosovo Albanians held
both parliamentary and presidential elections, and the
Kosovo Democratic League party won a clear victory. The
party's leader, academic Ibrahim Rugova, received over 99
percent of the vote in the presidential election. Serbian
police forces tried to control Kosovo, and there were
several reports of abuses against the civilian population.
Between 1993 and 1997, ethnic tensions in Kosovo and Serbian
violence against Albanians increased.
War and NATO intervention
In 1998, the conflict in Kosovo intensified. Serbia's
President Slobodan Milošević used force to stifle the Kosovo
Albanian opposition. From March, Serbian police were in
regular fighting with Kosovo's liberation army UCK. The
chaotic situation in Albania in the south, where the weapons
depots were opened, caused the Albanian resistance in Kosovo
to be given weapons to fight back against the Serbian
authorities. The conflict escalated. Serbian police and
military were accused of ethnic cleansing and massacres.
In September 1998, NATO gave Belgrade an ultimatum to
stop its progress against the Albanian people, and repeated
threats of NATO attacks against Serbian forces in Kosovo.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) deployed an observer force of 2,000 men as part of an
effort to resolve the conflict.
Peace talks did not go ahead, and in March 1999 NATO
launched air strikes against a number of targets in Serbia.
Serbian forces responded by intensifying attacks against
civilian Kosovo Albanians. Over one million Kosovo Albanians
were driven to the border areas against Macedonia, Albania
and Montenegro. In June 1999, Serbia and Montenegro signed
an agreement on Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo. NATO blasted
its bomb attacks, and the war was officially over. The UN
took over the administration of the area, and the UN
Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the
NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) in Kosovo.
After the war, a number of mass graves of Albanian
civilians were uncovered. It was estimated that at least
10,000 Albanians were killed by the Serbs during the NATO
bombing. Very quickly, the Albanian refugees began to
return. In Kosovo, KFOR forces were unable to cope with
police duties, which meant a power vacuum that led to
widespread abuse of the Serbian population.
In November 2001, elections were held in the province to
a newly formed regional parliament, which became a big
victory for Ibrahim Rugova and his moderate nationalist
party LDK. LDK held the post in the 2004 election. Rugova
died in 2006 and was succeeded by Fatmir Sejdiu.