Inter-Ethnic Relations in Kosovo

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Abstract

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.

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