A struggle for independence in Kosovo : The role of the international community in determining the region’s future

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After decades of conflicts, the Assembly of Kosovo declared its independence on 17 February 2008, some two years ago now. As of today, the state had been recognized by 69 states worldwide. This includes 22 out of 27 European Union Member States and 55 United Nations Member states. While not completely recognized, the Kosovo case calls for the question if Kosovo can be called a state. The main question of this research is: To what degree is Kosovo a state? The purpose of the research is to gain insight in the political status of Kosovo, according to influential foreign actors. Kosovo was an entity within Serbia and previously within Yugoslavia. Unlike the rest of Serbia, the inhabitants of Kosovo are mainly of Albanian descent. The ethnical differences have been the cause of many conflicts in the region. Since decades, the Kosovar Albanians felt like they did not belong under Serian rule, they had the wish for self-government. The region was firstly recognized as an autonomous province under Yugoslavian leader Tito in 1946. Milosevic ended this autonomy for Kosovo and placed it directly under the Yugoslavian regime. More and more Kosovar Serbs fled Kosovo, so the eventual low rate of Kosovar Serbs in de region decreased dramatically. In the time of Slobodan Milosevic, a nonviolent movement for more autonomy in Kosovo raised; the League of Kosovo. For the first time in 1990 the leader of the League of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, declared Kosovo’s independence. However, this independence was only recognized by neighboring country Albania. A few years later a more violent resistance group arose: the Kosovo Liberation Army. They tried to force the ‘foreign’ forces of Serbia and Yugoslavia out of the region with the use of violence. The conflict worsened and both sides got involved in a series of bloody conflicts. In 1999 the Serbian police were being accused of ethnic cleansing, which led to the intervention of foreign forces. On March 22, 1999 NATO started its bombing campaign with the goal to force the Serbs out of the region, to get the peacekeepers in and the many refugees back in the region. Although the operation was seen as rather successful, the conflicts did not stop. NATO and other western actors wanted to restore Kosovo’s autonomy. This meant the start for years of negotiation over the status of Kosovo. Led by United Nations UNMIK government, foreign forces run the show in the region until today.
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