Decentralisation in Kosovo: Potemkin Charade or Political Pragmatism?
As an autonomous province of Serbia, under the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Kosovo enjoyed a substantial level of administrative and legislative authority. After Milosevic’s rise to power in 1987, Kosovo’s autonomy was in effect revoked and Belgrade attempted to strengthen its central-level power. Promoting the message that Serbia could not lose to afford the cradle of its culture, Serbs were stimulated to settle in Kosovo. Efforts to change Kosovo’s demography were accompanied by repression of the Kosovo Albanian population; thousands of Albanians in Kosovo lost their jobs in this period; medical staff was fired, the university was closed and Kosovo’s assembly was dissembled, moves that pushed Albanian public life underground. The Kosovo Albanian population formed a parallel infrastructure under leadership of an elected assembly, providing social services as education. With the disintegration of the Yugoslav federation starting in 1991, Serbia’s repressive grip on Kosovo gained an increasingly violent character and was met by resistance from the Kosovo Albanian side, first peaceful but turning violent in the second half of the 1990s (led by the Kosovo Liberation Army).
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