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Kosovo-Serbia Conflict


Serbian protesters and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) peacekeepers recently clashed in Kosovo, leading to more than 60 injuries. It is the most serious violence seen in the region in over a decade.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What factors are contributing to the current tension?
  2. Kosovo-Serbia Conflict
  3. Current Status of Kosovo
  4. India’s Stand on the Status of Kosovo

What factors are contributing to the current tension?

  • Ethnic Divide: There is a longstanding divide between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. Northern Kosovo, where tensions are particularly high, has a majority Serbian population.
  • Blockade of Albanian Mayors: Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo have attempted to block Albanian mayors from assuming their positions in local councils. This has further escalated tensions between the two communities.
  • Boycott of Local Elections: In April 2023, Serbs in northern Kosovo boycotted the local elections, resulting in a very low voter turnout of less than 3.5%. As a result, the election results were rejected by the Serbs, who viewed them as illegitimate.

Kosovo-Serbia Conflict:

Serbia and Kosovo:
  • Serbia is a landlocked country in eastern Europe, while Kosovo is a small landlocked region southwest of Serbia.
  • Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.
  • Ethnic and Religious Composition:
  • Kosovo is home to different ethnic and religious groups, with the majority being Albanians (92%) and a minority of Serbs (6%).
  • Serbs are primarily Eastern Orthodox Christians, while Albanians in Kosovo are predominantly Muslim. Other minority groups include Bosnians and Turks.
The Battle of Kosovo:
  • Serbian nationalists view the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 as a significant moment in their national struggle.
  • Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians see Kosovo as their own and accuse Serbia of occupation and repression.
Breakup of Yugoslavia:
  • Yugoslavia was a country in the Balkans from 1945 to 1992, composed of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
  • Nationalism and weakening central government led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, with each republic becoming independent.
  • Slovenia was the first to secede in 1991, and nationalist rhetoric fueled fear and mistrust among ethnic groups.
  • In 1998, ethnic Albanian rebels formed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to challenge Serbian rule.
NATO Intervention:
  • NATO intervened in 1999 due to Serbia’s harsh response, leading to a 78-day air campaign against Kosovo and Serbia.
  • Serbia agreed to withdraw its forces from Kosovo, resulting in the return of Albanian refugees and the displacement of many Serbs.
  • Since June 1999, Kosovo has been under international administration, with its final status remaining unresolved. Serbian leaders faced war crimes indictments.

Current Status of Kosovo:

  • Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize it as an independent country.
  • Recognition of Kosovo’s independence varies among different countries.
  • Countries such as India, China, and Russia do not recognize Kosovo as a separate country.
  • The United States, the majority of EU countries, Japan, and Australia recognize Kosovo’s independence.
  • Currently, 99 out of 193 United Nations (UN) member countries recognize Kosovo’s independence.

India’s Stand on the Status of Kosovo:

  • India does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.
  • India argues that Kosovo does not meet the three principles required for recognition: defined territory, duly constituted government accepted by the people, and effective control over an area of governance.
  • India has opposed Kosovo’s membership in various international bodies, including UNESCO, Apostille Convention, Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, and Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
  • India’s non-recognition of Kosovo is based on its support for Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as the two countries have a longstanding relationship.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023