The paper aims to analyse the state of inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs, with special focus on the period after unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo in 2008. Inter-ethnic conflict in Kosovo has exclusively been over its territory since both Serbs and Albanians have made claims about history and ethno-demography to justify their alleged exclusive right to this ethnically mixed region. Consequently, inter-ethnic relations between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo have been rather problematic throughout the most of the 20th century. During this period Albanians in Kosovo have been subjected to discrimination, intimidation and even mass expulsion by Yugoslav/Serb authorities. In late 1990s, these relations between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo have progressively worsened and finally escalated in an armed warfare in 1999.
Immediately after the war, Serbs in Kosovo were occasionally exposed to acts of inter-ethnic and retaliatory violence. Inter-ethnic relations between the two major ethnicities continued to be tense and fragile after independence of Kosovo in 2008. Dramatic changes of ethnic composition structure, atrocities and huge number of refugees due to the war, have left a legacy of deep mistrust and animosities between Albanians and Serbs in the newly created state. Consequently, Serbs in Kosovo have from the beginning refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence and have rigorously refused any governance by Kosovo authorities. Serbian community, especially in the North, claims stronger territorial autonomy, even separatism and unification with Serbia. The paper claims that in Kosovo inter-ethnic and interstate relations are basically the components of the same equation. Therefore, paper concludes that only overall improvement of relations between Kosovo and Serbia could contribute to overall relaxation of inter-ethnic relations between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. Unfortunately, the latest incidents between Kosovo and Serbia have increased the tensions between the two sides to alarming levels.
Inter-ethnic relations between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia have been rather problematic since the times of former Yugoslavia. After independence, the new constitution of the Republic of Macedonia instead of improving it has further downgraded the position of Albanians and other minorities living in the country. The non-fulfilment of Albanians’ core demands led to an armed conflict in 2001. The Ohrid Agreement has in addition to ending the armed conflict, also provided for a range of legislative and policy measures to improve the position of the Albanians by ensuring equality and minority protection. However, 16 years after the Ohrid Agreement, inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia still remain burdened by prejudice and stereotypes, rather than cooperation and mutual prosperity. The main aim of the paper is to analyse the state of inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia, with special focus on relations between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. The paper also offers an analysis of main factors that contribute to inter-ethnic tensions in the country and explores possible scenarios in the future. The most relevant part of the paper analyses the causality between inter-ethnic and interstate relations. The paper claims that similarly to most of the countries in the Western Balkans, inter-ethnic and interstate relations are basically the components of the same equation. The paper concludes that in Macedonia, Kosovo rather than Albania is much more relevant for the causality between inter-ethnic and interstate relations in Macedonia, and it also offers several reasons to support such thesis. Accordingly, the overall inter-ethnic relations between Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia heavily depend on inter-state relations between Macedonia and Kosovo and vice versa.
Eleven years after Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, Spain’s position vis-à-vis Kosovo has not only not varied, but it has become stronger, turning Madrid into the leader of the Kosovo non recognizers club within the EU. This paper analyses Kosovo-Spain relations in the last eleven years. More specifically, the paper examines the reasons behind the non-recognition of Kosovo and the approach of the Spanish governments toward Kosovo’s statehood. This is followed by a thorough analysis on how Kosovo’s path for self-determination played a major role in Catalonia’s quest for independence in 2017.
The empirical research demonstrates that Spain’s main reason not to recognise Kosovo is based on the country’s internal dynamics; namely, Catalonia and the Basque country. Likewise, the paper argues that the Spanish governments throughout the last eleven years have created an analogy between Kosovo and Catalonia; not in their political statements, but in their political decisions, by worsening the almost inexistent diplomatic relations with Kosovo, when the Catalan path for independence was at its highest peak. By the same token, the paper reveals that this position was enhanced and driven by Catalan separatism, that continuously used Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence as a model to further their own path for self-determination. The data provided and analysed in this paper as well as the statements made are based on desk research and seven semi-structured interviews conducted in Prishtina, Brussels, Madrid and Barcelona in 2018.