As part of the migration, Slavic tribes spread to the Balkans, but the region of today’s Kosovo was dominated by Byzantium until around 1200 and later by Bulgaria. Afterwards, a Serbian state of Serbian Orthodox origin was founded, which gradually conquered the area of today’s Kosovo. As a result, Kosovo developed into an important economic center. Towards the end of the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire expanded into the Balkans, culminating in the battle on the blackbird field in 1389. It probably ended in a draw, but it gave rise to the myth of the Serbian defense of the Christian West.
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By 1455, the Ottomans managed to conquer Constantinople and subdue the Serbian princes. Since the Albanians had adopted the Muslim faith, they enjoyed privileges and spread increasingly in the Balkans and especially in Kosovo. Over 200 years later, with the Habsburgs’ conquest of Budapest (1686) and Belgrade (1689), the slow disintegration of Ottoman rule in the Balkans began, and in the 18th century the states of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia were founded. Because of the common belief, the Albanian territories continued to advocate belonging to the Ottoman Empire, but they fell to Serbia after the Serbian-Ottoman Balkan War (1912).
The competing relationship between Austria-Hungary (which ruled Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Serbia led to the establishment of an Albanian state at the beginning of the 20th century at the urging of the Habsburgs. They wanted to curb Serbia’s expansion efforts and in particular to prevent Serbian access to the Adriatic. However, Kosovo, in which at that time there was only an Albanian majority in some areas, did not become part of the Albanian state and fell to Serbia. Since then, even under the Communist Yugoslavia, a Serbization policy has been attempted to increase the proportion of Serbs in Kosovo and to force the Albanians to emigrate to Albania or Turkey by oppression. However, due to the poor economic situation, To attract Serbs to immigration and the population rather decreased.
During the Second World War, Kosovo was divided between the Axis Powers Germany and Italy and the Allied Bulgarians, the majority of which was surrendered to Albania conquered by Italy. There was cooperation between the German Reich and parts of the Albanians, followed by Albanian acts of revenge on the Serbian Kosovars with the participation of the SS. At the same time, there were also Albanians among the communist partisans Titos and independent communist resistance groups in Albania and Kosovo.
After the end of the war, Kosovo was incorporated into the Yugoslavia of Titos, the Slavic dominance was restored and a policy of displacement and oppression against the Albanians was carried out again. Albania, which was under the rule of dictator Hoxha at the time, refused to accept refugees from Kosovo, and by 1966 more than 200,000 Albanians had emigrated to Turkey. This policy was controversial in the Politburo of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, and after the departure of some Serbian hardliners, a new Kosovo policy emerged. Kosovo became an autonomous province within the Republic of Serbia in 1974 and more cultural freedoms were granted, which led to an Albanization.
After Tito’s death in 1980, Slobodan Milošević’s autonomy was withdrawn and Albanian was banned as the language of instruction. With the independence efforts of Slovenia and Croatia as a model, Kosovo saw a kind of parallel administration of the country by an Albanian shadow state that regulated schools, hospitals and local transport.
The Albanian Parliament proclaimed the “Republic of Kosovo” in 1991, which was not recognized internationally. As a result, groups of rebels – such as the underground army of the Kosovo Albanians UÇK – increasingly formed and there were attacks and Serbian acts of retaliation, such as the “Massacre of Drenica”. After unsuccessful peace negotiations in Rambouillet, NATO began air strikes on Serbia in 1999 without a UN mandate. After the withdrawal of Serbia, Kosovo became a UN protectorate.
In the spring of 2002, a government was formed and subsequently limited self-government. The ethnic conflicts between Albanians and Serbs flared up again in spring 2004. In order to support the already deployed KFOR peacekeeping force, several NATO countries then sent additional soldiers to the autonomous province. The second parliamentary election in autumn 2004 was boycotted by the Kosovo Serbs because of the lack of security for this ethnic group in the UN protection zone. At the end of 2004, the International Court of Justice (IGH) dismissed a lawsuit from Serbia and Montenegro (former Yugoslavia) against eight of the NATO countries involved in the 1999 attacks.
On February 17, 2008, the Kosovar parliament proclaimed the Republic of Kosovo an independent state based on a plan by former Finnish President Athisaari, who had failed to negotiate with the Albanians and Serbs for the United Nations. As a result, violence broke out in Kosovo and Serbia. Serbia does not recognize independence. Despite the opposition from Russia in the World Security Council, the United States and the European Union supported the proclamation.
With the withdrawal of the International Civilian Office (ICO) in September 2012, the Republic of Kosovo achieved full sovereignty – even though international missions remain in the country. The EU Rule of Law Mission EULEX Kosovo started operating at the end of 2008. There are currently over 5,000 KFOR soldiers stationed in Kosovo. The security situation throughout Kosovo has improved steadily in recent years, with the exception of the still tense situation in the north. Relations with Serbia remain dominated by the conflict over Kosovo’s status, but have also improved. The focus of foreign policy is gradual integration in the EU and NATO.