Kosovo. Disputed territory located on the Balkan Peninsula , in Southeast Europe . Its status is controversial. Serbia considers Kosovo to be an autonomous province within its own territory, in accordance with its own constitution and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 . The sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo is recognized by the majority of its inhabitants, of ethnic Albanian origin . However, part of the north of Kosovo, with an ethnic Serb majority, is administered autonomously with the coordination of the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija, a body created in June 2008with the support of the Republic of Serbia and which is not recognized by the Kosovar government .
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- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Sports
- 6 Fountains
Towards the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century , a wave of migrations of Slavic peoples arrived in the region under the rule of the Byzantine Empire , mixing with the Latins and Thracio-Illyrians who inhabited the area.
After the Ottoman conquest, the current Kosovar territory became part of Rumelia , which roughly corresponded to the territory covered by the Empire in Europe . Various administrative entities, called sanjak , were formed in Kosovo headed by a sanjakbeyi .
The main change after the invasion was the Islamization process carried out in the area, which began shortly after the arrival of the Ottomans. Despite the fact that they had absolute control of the territory, it was a slow process that took a considerable amount of time, at least a century, and that was initially concentrated on the cities. Many Christian inhabitants adopted the new faith, mainly for economic and social reasons due to the considerable benefits and rights granted to Muslims . That conversion was followed by the arrival of Arnauta settlers (Islamized Albanians) beginning in the 17th century ., which began to increase in number against the inhabitants of Slavic origin. Christian religious life continued despite the difficulties, but both Orthodox and Catholic churches and their adherents faced high levels of taxes.
In 1689 , Kosovo was greatly destabilized by the war between the Ottomans and the Holy Roman Empire under the rule of the House of Habsburg . In October of that year, a small Austrian force under Margrave Ludwig Von Baden managed to push into Kosovo, capturing Belgrade on the way. Many Serbs swore allegiance to the Austrians , some even joining von Baden’s army . For their part, the Arnauts gave their support to the Ottomans . The following summer, however, an Ottoman counter-attack forced the Austrians to retreat to the fortress at Niš, near Belgrade ., and finally to retreat beyond the Danube , returning to Hungary .
After the 1912 First Balkan War , Kosovo was internationally recognized as part of the Kingdom of Serbia , and Metohija became part of the Kingdom of Montenegro under the Treaty of London , signed the following year. The integration of Kosovo into Serbia caused a strong demographic change: thousands of Albanian families moved to the new nation-state of Albania, while the new authorities promoted a Serb colonization plan and ethnic cleansing procedures, which included massacres of Albanians. The outbreak of the First World Warit would generate an opportunity for the Albanians to recover part of their autonomy, allying some of their leaders with the troops of Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Bulgaria that forced the withdrawal of the Serbian troops between 1914 and 1915 ; however, the participation of the armies of the Triple Entente would allow the defeat of the Central Powers and the Serbian victory.
In 1918 , with the end of the Great War , Montenegro was absorbed by Serbia and later this country would be unified with the territories formed after the disintegration of the Austro – Hungarian Empire , thus creating the Kingdom of Serbs , Croats and Slovenes , which would acquire in 1929 the name of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia . Kosovo was divided into various smaller administrations and the persecution of Albanians continued, denying them minority status as “secessionists”. Around 1921 , Kosovar Albanian groups denounced the mass murders before theLeague of Nations , requesting the unification of the territory with Albania , which was denied. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Albanians fled the country and the Yugoslav government even established talks with Turkey for the deportation of 240,000 Kosovar Albanians.
Following Serbia’s defeat in the Kosovo War , the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1244in order to provide a transitional solution to the Kosovar problem. The territory of Kosovo, although it remained de jure as part of the FR of Yugoslavia, came to be administered autonomously and provisionally by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) while the security and stability of the area and the maintenance of the ceasefire was entrusted to the multinational force KFOR. Despite this, several acts of revenge were carried out by Albanians against the Serbian community, which caused their exodus to Serbia; Although the figures vary depending on the source, they are between 65,000 and 250,000 displaced persons. Other groups of Serbs formed enclaves in some areas of the country, especially in the sector north of the Ibar River .
On January 26, 2007 , the Finn Martti Ahtisaari , the UN special envoy for Kosovo, released preliminary details of his proposal for a final status for the province. Although the text did not directly mention independence, various points pointed to it, such as membership in international organizations, the adoption of national symbols and its own security body. The proposal was rejected by Serbia and by Russia , its main ally and with the power of veto in the Security Council ; meanwhile, it was welcomed by the Kosovar authorities, the United States and the United Kingdom. On April 3 , Ahtisaari (who would later receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Kosovo, among other places) proposed Kosovo’s “supervised independence” from the international community to protect minority communities, which was again dismissed by Serbs and Russians. In December 2007 , the European Union decided to send a “stabilizing mission” (EULEX) to the Kosovo region for the transfer of the UN mission in Kosovo to European hands.
Serbia announced that it would not recognize the new state and decided to submit a request for an advisory opinion to the International Court of Justice regarding the legality of the declaration, a request that was approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 8, 2008 , with 77 votes in favour, 6 against and 74 abstentions.
On July 22, 2010 , the Court issued its opinion on the matter under discussion, in which it stated that the declaration made by Kosovo did not violate international law since it does not have an active provision that limits declarations of independence. Although the advisory opinion is strictly limited to the formal aspects of the declaration as an act of promulgation of independence, it represented a strong blow to the intentions of Serbia , whose authorities reiterated that they would never recognize Kosovar independence. The Serbian government decided to submit to the United Nations General Assemblya draft resolution reaffirming its sovereignty over Kosovo, but pressure from the main countries of the European Union (to which Serbia wishes to accede) finally succeeded in changing the wording of the approved proposal, in which the United Nations is requested to support the dialogue between the governments of Belgrade and Pristina to reach technical agreements, which was approved by acclamation.
Kosovo is located in the center of the Balkan Peninsula , roughly rhomboid in shape and with no direct access to the sea. It extends between longitudes 41°50’58” and 43°15’42” North and latitudes 20°01’30” and 21°48’02” East. Its territory occupies an area of 10,887 km², an area similar to that of Jamaica or Qatar .
About 36% of the territory corresponds to plains with some karstic mountain ranges that extend into them, such as Goljak , Drenica and Crnoljeva . The latter marks the difference between the sector of the Kosovo basins to the east and Metohija (known in Albanian as Rrafshi i Dukagjinit, “Dukagjin plateau”) to the west. Several rivers cross the country: the White Drin runs in the direction of the Adriatic Sea along Metohija, while the Sitnica runs in the eastern area until it meets the Ibar river to the north, in the Kosovska Mitrovica sector . El Ibar , next to the Morava del Sur river, is one of the tributaries belonging to the great basin of the Danube River . Some lakes exist in Kosovo, notably Lake Gazivoda , Radonjić , Batlava and Badovac .
Much of Kosovo’s territory is crossed by mountains, especially along its borders. On the northeastern border with Montenegro and part of Albania are the Prokletije Mountains , part of the Dinaric Alps as a whole . In this chain is the Đeravica , which with an altitude of 2,565 is the highest point in the Kosovar territory, and the Rugova canyon with a length of 25 kilometers. In the northwestern sector the Kopaonik are located along the border with Central Serbiaand in the south are the Šar mountains. Both mountain ranges are popular tourist destinations, especially due to their national park and ski resorts.
The Kosovar climate is predominantly continental, with temperate temperatures that can reach extremes of -10 °C and 30 °C, during the winter and summer months , respectively. Between October and December the highest rainfall is reached (averaging 600 mm per year in the flat sectors ) and snow is common throughout the territory between November and March, although it is more important in the mountainous areas . The Metohija sector is more temperate due to the effect of the warm air masses coming from the Adriatic .
All these geographical characteristics make Kosovo a very fertile territory, with 69.1% of its surface available for agricultural activities (of which 31% is pasture and 69% is arable land). However, due to industrial and mining activities , a significant number of hectares have been contaminated, preventing agricultural development. 39% of the territory corresponds to forests, which are classified phytogeographically as part of the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region . Within the Kosovar flora , oaks , pines , beeches and birches stand out , while in the wild fauna there are species ofeagles , wolves , some deer and wild boars .
The population of Kosovo is approximately 1,733,832, made up mostly of Albanians . A 2002 estimate from the UN offers these population figures:
- 88% Albanians(1,996,000 – 2,072,000).
- 8% Serbians(60,000 – 90,000).
- 2% goranis(41,000 – 57,000).
- 5% Aromanians(also vlax or Macedo-Romanians) (34,000 – 38,000).
- 5% Turks(17,000 – 19,000).
The distribution according to religion would be:
- 92% Muslims.
- 7% Christian-Orthodox.
- 1% Catholics.
Following the establishment of UNMIK , the German mark was adopted as the official currency in Kosovo, being replaced in 2002 by the euro when the latter discontinued the mark in its home country. In ethnic Serb majority enclaves , the Serbian dinar is widely used to this day. Kosovo is one of the members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (under UNMIK mandate and not as an independent state), therefore it maintains free trade agreements with Albania , Bosnia and Herzegovina , the Republic of Macedonia , Moldova and Montenegro. Apart from Serbia, Macedonia is Kosovo’s main trading partner, followed by Germany and Turkey .
Kosovo’s economy is one of the poorest in Europe , with an estimated per capita income of €1,500 in 2006 . Remittances from emigrants and foreign aid represent a very important part of their livelihood. The industrial sector is very weak and the electricity supply is unreliable. Unemployment is very high, with rates between 40 and 50% of the labor force.
There is a notable underground economy in the country, associated above all with the smuggling of gasoline , cigarettes and cement .. Corruption and the influence of organized crime gangs are a matter of great international concern. The United Nations has made the fight against corruption and organized crime a priority, promising “zero tolerance” in this regard. In this context, in July 2010 , EULEX carried out the arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Kosovo , accused of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering. This has led some media to describe Kosovo as a narco-state.
Due to its anomalous status, Kosovo has currently been recognized and is part of two international sports organizations:
- International Handball Federation
- International Table Tennis Federation
- The Kosovo Football Federation(Federata e Futbollit e Kosovës in Albanian) has not been admitted to UEFA or FIFA to date, and therefore its team cannot take part in competitions such as the European Championship or the World Cup in Football. Similarly, it is not part of the International Olympic Committee