There is a particular “country” on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It has a small area of about 10,000 square kilometers and is surrounded by four countries: Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro. It is in Kosovo.
This is a place with complex internal religions and acute ethnic issues. It is part of Serbia’s territory but unilaterally declared independence in 2008.
Kosovo’s independence is recognized by some Western countries and the United States, but many countries do not.
For thousands of years, due to ethnic conflicts, territorial disputes, and great power games, there have been countless wars, large and small, in the small land of the Balkan Peninsula. Then why are there frequent wars in this land?
Let’s first look at the geographical location of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan Peninsula is located at the southeastern tip of Europe, surrounded by three major seas of the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Aegean Sea. The maritime advantage is undeniable. At the same time, it is located in the middle of the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
This pattern of direct adjacency to three continents is critical, and it has important strategic significance if any of its surrounding forces control the Balkan Peninsula. You can expand your territory and expand your sphere of influence. You can also establish a strategic buffer zone when facing oppression from other forces.
The geographical environment of “advance can be attacked, the retreat can be defended,” and apparent conflicts of interests have made the Balkan Peninsula a place where great powers have competed since ancient times.
And Kosovo, this small piece of land located in the southwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula. There are many bordering countries around it and coupled with the complex religious composition and escalating ethnic conflicts, it is often the fuse of wars and the veritable key to wars in the Balkans.
Tracing back to early history, before the 4th century AD, some nomadic tribes were active in the Corvo area. Albanians regard these nomads as “ancestors” and “important evidence” that Albania was active in Kosovo.
This view originated in the 9th century AD when the Serbs among the Yugoslavs established their own country. Then in the 12th century, Kosovo belonged to the Kingdom of Serbia. Serbs were the main population of Kosovo at this time.
Soon, at the end of the 13th century, the mighty Ottoman Turkish Empire noticed the strategic significance of this area of Kosovo and started a war with the Kingdom of Serbia in the Kosovo wilderness. Serbia was defeated, and Kosovo was included in the Turkish plate.
At the beginning of this period, the population distribution of Kosovo began to change. Serbs fled to the west and north of the Balkan Peninsula, while Albanians took the opportunity to emigrate to Kosovo.
Time has passed, and Kosovo’s sovereignty has changed again. In the 1912 Scramble for the Balkans, the weakening Turkish Empire was defeated by Serbia and its allies. After the war, Kosovo returned to the embrace of Serbia.
However, after hundreds of years of reproduction, Albanians have been “deeply entrenched” in Kosovo, and their population proportion has gradually increased.
In 1929, Albanians already accounted for about 40% of the total population of Kosovo. Since then, due to continuous wars, Serbs have continued to leave Kosovo, the population has continued to decrease, and the proportion of the population has continued to decline.
Analyzing the development history of Kosovo objectively, it is “entangled” like a pair of lovers. However, the presence of a third party, Albania, created a gap in the lovers’ intimacy. At the same time, the seeds of independence began to germinate in Kosovo.
During World War II, the guerrillas led by the communist parties of Yugoslavia (Serbia is a member of Yugoslavia) and Albania competed for the ownership of Kosovo, and disputes continued.
From the end of 1943 to the beginning of 1944, at the meeting of the Kosovo People’s Liberation Committee held in Albania, it was decided to incorporate Kosovo into Albania. Still, this decision was immediately opposed by the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party.
In November 1944, the Yugoslav People’s Liberation Army liberated Kosovo, which was invaded by fascists. Nominally, Kosovo belonged to Serbia.
But in February 1945, ethnic Albanian rebels established a military government in Kosovo. The military government issued a decree on March 16 of the same year. It resolved to prohibit Serbs and Montenegrins who had left Kosovo from returning to Kosovo, saying they were supporters of the more excellent Serbian autocratic regime.
This move angered the Yugoslav side. The Yugoslav soldiers fought fiercely with the Albanian soldiers and won. Serbia once again dominated Kosovo.
In July 1945, Kosovo’s People’s Assembly decided to annex Kosovo formally to the Republic of Serbia. In the subsequent Yugoslav constitution, Kosovo was defined as an autonomous province under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia, which was part of Serbian territory. The dispute over Kosovo’s sovereignty has temporarily come to an end.
During the war, the Albanians in Kosovo kept making “little tricks” to divide Kosovo and even get close to the fascist invaders.
Serbia was very dissatisfied and resorted to violence to suppress those “dishonest Albanians.” However, violence will evolve into greater violence, and the ethnic conflicts between the two sides will intensify further!
Fighting for sovereignty, social turmoil, and constant wars, Kosovo is like an orphan, hovering between being adopted and abandoned and eventually malnourished, becoming the poorest area in Yugoslavia.
Albanians have a large population base and a much higher birth rate than Serbs, exacerbating poverty.
Albanians are increasingly becoming the dominant population in Kosovo. At the same time, Serbs are only a tiny proportion, resulting in the weakening of the “blood relationship” between Kosovo and Serbia. Therefore, Kosovo wants to leave this tiny home.
Kosovo has belonged to Serbia many times in history, so it should be an inalienable part of Serbia’s territory from beginning to end. This is Serbia’s attitude.
Kosovo, however, appears determined to become independent. And after various independent conflicts broke out, Serbia, the “parent,” was also a headache.
In May 1980, Tito, the authoritative leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, died. The alliance between the republics was challenging to maintain, and the tendency to separate continued to intensify. The social situation in Kosovo has also become turbulent. Albanian college students in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, even took to the streets to demonstrate and demand the establishment of the an independent Republic of Kosovo.
Demonstrations led to clashes between police and civilians, and students were arrested. To maintain order, Serbia adopted military control over Kosovo, managed the demonstrators with militarized means, and imposed a curfew to restrict the travel of the masses. This move aroused a contradiction between the Serbs and the Albanians. After that, Kosovo will never have peace!
On March 2, 1989, the Southern Federal Republic of Serbia announced the withdrawal of part of the legislative, administrative and judicial powers of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo. Kosovo lost its “freedom.” Large-scale demonstrations broke out that day and ended with the sacrifice of several demonstrators and police officers.
The flames of Kosovo’s independence are burning brighter, and the Albanians are trying to establish their own independent Republic of Kosovo order. They hold elections, elect a “president,” and build public institutions such as schools, hospitals, and radio stations.
The subsequent disintegration of the Yugoslav Federation gave Kosovo an opportunity for independence. Albanians in Kosovo became more active. They visited various countries to gain international recognition and support. The Liberation Army of Kosovo even directly proposed independence.
Albania’s “anti-customer-oriented” behavior made Serbia very dissatisfied. In 1998, Serbia took military action against Kosovo to arrest supporters of independence. They even directly massacred local civilians to declare their sovereignty in Kosovo. This incident triggered the exodus of more than 800,000 Albanian residents in Kosovo.
The events in Kosovo began to affect the international situation, and the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization began negotiations with Serbia on the Kosovo issue. They hope that Kosovo’s autonomy can be restored without independence. Serbia has not agreed to this request and has increased its military strikes.
NATO was very dissatisfied with Serbia’s attitude, and war broke out.
On March 24, 1999, NATO began bombing Serbia. The war lasted nearly three months and destroyed hundreds of thousands of Albanian and Serb homes.
Serbia compromised and signed a peace agreement that determined that the administration of Kosovo belonged to the United Nations. In this way, Kosovo belongs to Serbia in its name. Still, it enjoys a high degree of autonomy, including all legislative and executive powers and judicial management.
After this incident, Kosovo is getting closer and closer to independence.
Independence, the destiny of a small country
Finally, after decades of turmoil, Kosovo has gained independence from Serbia.
On February 17, 2008, Kosovo Prime Minister Hasin Thaci held a special meeting in the parliament and read out the “Declaration of Independence,” announcing that Kosovo would be independent of Serbia and become “an independent, sovereign and democratic country” following the wishes of the people. Members of Parliament voted for Kosovo’s declaration of independence and established Pristina as its capital.
After Kosovo declared its independence, Britain, France, and the United States quickly recognized Kosovo’s status and established diplomatic relations with it. But Serbia has been against it.
As the central part of the former Yugoslavia, it has gone through the early split and is now in disarray. Serbia does not want to split again and lose the territory of Kosovo.
On July 22, 2010, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on the Kosovo case, arguing that Kosovo’s declaration of independence on February 17, 2008, “does not violate international law.” Kosovo has received partial international recognition.
However, Serbia has always insisted on its sovereignty over Kosovo and claimed to lower diplomatic relations with all countries that have “established diplomatic relations” with Kosovo to show that it will “never let go” of Kosovo.
Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo is retrospective and will not change because the current Kosovo residents are mainly Albanians. However, under the oppression of the United States and the European Union, Kosovo has to accept that Kosovo has become independent.
Today, more than 100 countries worldwide recognize Kosovo’s independent status. But more than 90 countries, including China and Russia, do not recognize Kosovo’s independent status.
Due to the opposition of our country and Russia, even though Kosovo has been recognized by most countries and even able to participate in the Olympic Games in 2016, it still cannot enter the United Nations as an independent country.
Kosovo became independent but did not gain independence in the true sense. After all, it was an “illegal independence” not recognized by the original subject country. The independence gained from the split has also brought adverse effects on other countries. If Kosovo’s independence is recognized, a second, third, or even more “Kosovo” will gradually appear worldwide.