Kosovo. According to Countryaah, talks with Serbia continued at the beginning of the year during mediation by the EU. Both parties were pressured to find a way to co-exist to have a chance at future EU membership. Negotiations broke down several times, but in April Prime Ministers Hashim Thaçi and Ivica Dačíc reached a deal that was seen as a breakthrough. Serbia still did not formally recognize Kosovo but endorsed Pri˘stina’s supremacy over four Serbian-dominated municipalities, which make up one fifth of the country. In return, the municipalities were given far-reaching autonomy and an assurance that NATO and not the Kosovan military would manage security. The settlement met with loud criticism among Serbs who looked betrayed, but also by Albanians who felt that it infringed on Kosovo’s sovereignty.
The agreement was signed in May and ratified by Kosovo’s parliament in June, with the numbers 84–3. As of June, the two countries had special envoys stationed at the EU representation in the counterparty’s capital. Before the November municipal elections, both the Belgrade government and the Serbian Orthodox Church also called on the Kosovo Serbs to participate, as opposed to previous elections. But turnout was low and, due to violence, several polling stations in the divided city of Mitrovica were forced to close prematurely. In three polling stations, the election was made after a few weeks.
In April, an EU-led court in Pristina sentenced five people to up to eight years in prison for illegal organ trafficking, where kidneys were taken from poor people and sold to the rich. Both donors and recipients came from abroad. The trial did not concern accusations that had long figured that organs had been taken from Serbian prisoners of war during the 1998-99 war.
Three former members of the Albanian separatist guerrilla UCK were sentenced in June to between three and six years in prison for war crimes during the war, and in November an EU prosecutor prosecuted 15 people for murder and torture during the war. Several of them were reported to be members of the ruling party PDK (Kosovo Democratic Party), heirs to the UCK.
UN resolution 1244, which sealed the end of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (June 1999), placed Kosovo under the provisional control of an international body – UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) – while, with regard to the statute of the province, he hoped for its autonomy while reaffirming the sovereignty of Serbia. Due to its ambiguity, therefore, the document did not seem to lay the foundations for a concrete solution to the question.
- According to AbbreviationFinder.org, Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo. See acronyms and abbreviations related to this capital and other major cities within this country.
The delay with which UNMIK became truly operational did not help restore stability to civilian life; on the contrary, organized crime was favored which, in the political and juridical vacuum that arose, was able to intensify and branch out its activities (trafficking in arms, drugs and human beings). The demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria çlirimtare and Kosovës, UçK) and its transformation into a civilian body – the Kosovo Protection Corps (in Albanian Trupat and Mbrojtjes së Kosovës, TMK) – did not help eliminate militarized extremist fringes Albanians, whose members soon organized themselves into new armed formations. The international security forces – the Kosovo Force (KFOR), first under the command of NATO and later (April 2000) of the Eurocorps, made up of troops from five countries of the European Union – they failed to quell the inter-ethnic conflicts, which immediately rekindled, and the vendettas perpetrated by the Albanians, mainly to the detriment of the Serbs, but also of the Roma and other minorities.
In April 2000 it was estimated that about 200,000 Serbs had left the province, while about 90 % of the Albanian displaced people (900,000) had returned there. In the same year, an investigation by the Hague International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reduced the number of Albanian victims of Serbian persecutions before the start of the conflict to 3000-4000, disproving the estimate released by NATO (10,000). The tension between the international military forces and the local communities also culminated in several episodes of violence, among the most serious the clashes between Albanians and the French KFOR troops in Mitrovica (February-March 2000). In the early months of2000 the various institutions of government born in the previous years were suppressed (the government in exile, based in Bonn, the provisional government of H. Thaçi, former commander of the UçK, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, led by moderate I. Rugova) and the provisional administrative council of Kosovo was established, composed of the main political parties of the province (120 seats, of which 20 reserved for Serbs and other ethnic groups).
In the municipal elections (Oct) the Democratic League of Kosovo (Lidhja Demokratike and Kosovës, LDK), Rugova’s party, obtained 58 % of the votes, followed with 27 % by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (Partia Demokratike and Kosovës, PDK) by Thaçi, and with 8 % by the Alliance for the future of Kosovo (Aleanca për Ardhmërinë e Kosovës, AAK) by R. Haradinaj, also a former member of the UçK. The LDK was also the strongest party in the first legislative elections (Nov. 2001), obtaining 44 seats, followed by the PDK (26 seats), the Serbian Return coalition (Povratak, 22 seats) and the AAK (8 seats); UNMIK, however, retained the executive power and financial and legal control of the province. In January 2002 Rugova was re-elected president, while the post of prime minister went to B. Rexhepi of the PDK (former member of the UKK).
The new federal structure of Yugoslavia, renamed Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro (February 2003), left unchanged the statute of Kosovo, rekindling the claims of independence by the Albanians. The inter-ethnic tensions, never subsided, began to rise again resulting in the violent clashes in Mitrovica (March), which caused 29 victims, while 4000 between Serbs and Roma, attacked by Albanians, were forced to flee.
In the legislative elections of October 2004, the LDK won 47 seats, the PDK 30, the AAK 9; the Serbs, who had boycotted the ballots, were assigned 10 seats. Having formed the governing coalition (LDK and AAK), Haradinaj was elected prime minister, investigated by the Hague Tribunal, a nomination severely contested by the government of Serbia. Officially remanded for trial, Haradinaj left his post (March 2005), which was then covered by B. Kosumi (until March 2006) and by A. Çeku, a former UçK officer.
After Rugova’s death (January 2006) F. Sejdiu, of the LDK, was elected president. The second meeting between representatives of the governments of Serbia and Kosovo, in Vienna (February 2006 ; the first was held in October 2003), saw the two sides perched on their respective positions: the Albanian request for independence was not welcomed by the Serbs, willing to grant only a statute of autonomy.