February 17, 2012
Kosovo on Friday marked its fourth anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia as the defiant Serb minority in the north of the breakaway territory again rejected Pristina’s rule.
Pristina, KOSOVO – by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Friday, February 17, 2012 | DEMOTiX |
Having declared its independence on February 17, 2008, Kosovo became the newest state in the world. Kosovo, the neighbor of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania; came under the interim administration of the United Nations in 1999.
|The modest celebration included a parade by Kosovo Security Force (KSF) units along the main Pristina ‘Mother Teresa” square. (DEMOTiX Photo/Vedat Xhymshiti)|
The country, having been under the protection of the United Nations until its declaration of independence, took the first steps toward a brand new future. Costa Rica is one of first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence, than U. S. A to continue with France, Afghanistan, Albania and Turkey ect.
Kosovo is in limbo; supported by the United States and the EU heavyweights, but with its path to UN membership firmly barred by Russia and China on the Security Council, with a clear majority of countries that either oppose or haven’t decided yet about its recognition.
Serbia had taken the issue of unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo to the ICJ three years ago, believing that the court’s advisory opinion would back its claim that such a move has breached the international law.
The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled that Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence did not violate international law.
The strongest disputer of this ruling, Serbia’s ministry of foreign affairs, has emphasized numerous times that it will consider the decision as irrelevant if it doesn’t satisfy its interests, a clear indicator about Serbian policy of just buying time while taking such initiatives as this court case.
American, European and influential Muslim nations in the world like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have said that the political status of Kosovo is resolved.
On this day, 4 years ago, Kosovo became a unilaterally declared independent state. Since the declaration of Kosovo independence, almost 88 UN member states have recognized the youngest European country.
The region was the center of the Serbian Empire until it fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire as a result of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. It was not until 1913 that the Serbs regained control of Kosovo.
Region of Kosovo then became a part of the Democratic Federal of Yugoslavia. The issue of independence began gaining importance in Kosovo after the Cold War. As a result of the Serbs’ ethnic cleansing campaign, Kosovo went under the interim administration of the United Nations until February 18, 2008.
The landlocked country of 2 million people, mostly ethnic Albanians, is among the poorest in Europe, swallowing 4 billion Euros in aid since the war with Belgrade ended in 1999.
Despite its rich mineral resources, the main source of income is agriculture. Kosovo has an ethnic Albanian population of two million. Due to Serbs leaving Kosovo after 1999, there are only 100 thousand Serbs left.
The Serbian minority lives in closed regions under the administration of the NATO Peacekeeping forces.
Two years after Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, increasingly wary Western donors are keen to wean the country from foreign aid and take more resolute steps to fight poverty, crime and corruption.
Around 65 percent of the population is under 30 but many of them seek to leave Kosovo for Western Europe, mostly by paying 2,000-3,000 Euros to human traffickers.
Pristina is the center of entertainment and nightlife in Kosovo. Especially in the ‘Mother Teresa” square, there are bars and nightclubs. In summers, parties flow out of bars and clubs into the square and last all night. Aside from that, in special days folklore shows are presented to the public in the Pristina main square.
On its 4th anniversary, a modest celebration included a parade by Kosovo Security Force (KSF) units along the main Pristina ‘Mother Teresa” square.
President Atifete Jahjaga and prime minister Hashim Thaçi addressed to the crowd from a stage set at the main square, decorated with Albanian flags rising high above the snow-covered grounds.
However, the 4th anniversary has already been marred by a two-day referendum earlier this week in which an overwhelming majority of Serbs living in volatile northern Kosovo clearly rejected Pristina’s ethnic Albanian rule.
The next round of EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Pristina are about to start on February 21, Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for the EU foreign policy chief, confirmed.
The agenda will cover the vexed issue of Kosovo’s representation at regional meetings, which is a sticking point for the two sides. “The two sides managed to achieve certain convergence of stands, after EU mediator Robert Cooper invested intensive efforts to this purpose,” Kocijancic explained.
News that the dialogue is to resume broke after Cooper returned from a visit to Kosovo where he held talks with officials.
In the past two months, Cooper has held meetings with both sides and organized numerous video and telephone conferences between Belgrade and Pristina.
EU facilitator in the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue Robert Cooper has already made up his mind regarding Kosovo’s regional representation. According to the final version, Kosovo will be represented only with its name and a footnote mentioning UN SC Resolution 1244 and the ICJ ruling.
Under the regime of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, Belgrade in 1990 put an end to decades of broad autonomy for Kosovo Albanians and introduced direct rule in the province, where minority Serbs led all institutions.
Calls for renewal of autonomy by ethnic Albanians were rejected. This led to armed rebellion by Kosovo Albanian groups, followed by stern Serbian repression in 1998 and 1999. The international response came by way of 11 weeks of NATO bombing of Serbian installations.
The war in Kosovo erupted in 1998 when Serbia launched a brutal crackdown against the Albanian civilians, as well as people fighting for liberation of their country from Serbia.
The UN administration was introduced after 11 weeks of NATO bombardment of Serbia due to Belgrade’s repression against two million Kosovo Albanians.
Kosovo is the state, which is the last to emerge from the remains of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However Russia, Serbia’s old-time ally, has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution on the country’s independence and emerge as a free state.