Kosovo is on the verge of declaring its independence from Serbia: a momentous occasion, yet most Americans will be too absorbed in the current political scene to pay any attention. Many will be thinking about whether or not Obama lacks substance or whether Clinton represents the politics of old or whether McCain is too old to be president.

Kosovo’s anticipated arrival on the world stage has not been won without sacrifice or criticism. It has been a long struggle – one which required the breakup of Yugoslavia and years of subsequent chaos, violence, and ethnic cleansing. Since 1999, Kosovo, a province of Serbia, has been under U.N. control.

Old Yugoslavia

On January 31, 1946, the new constitution of Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, modeled after the Soviet Union’s constitution, established six Socialist Republics, a Socialist Autonomous Province, and a Socialist Autonomous District that were part of SR Serbia. The federal capital was Belgrade. The Republics and provinces were as follows:

  1. Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the capital in Sarajevo,
  2. Socialist Republic of Croatia, with the capital in Zagreb,
  3. Socialist Republic of Macedonia, with the capital in Skopje,
  4. Socialist Republic of Montenegro, with the capital in Titograd (now Podgorica),
  5. Socialist Republic of Serbia, with the capital in Belgrade, which also contained:
    5a. Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, with the capital in Priština
    5b. Socialist Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, with the capital in Novi Sad
  6. Socialist Republic of Slovenia, with the capital in Ljubljana.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

From the end of the second World War until 1980, Yugoslavia remained a federation of the six republics. After Yugoslavian dictator Tito‘s death in 1980, some of the republics began to seek more freedom from centralized control, but, at the same time, Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian communist leader, whipped the Serbian people into a nationalistic fervor. Milosevic’s goal was to keep the Serb people together at any cost.

In 1990, after the fall of the Soviet Union, each of the republics held elections. Some of the republics voted for independence and some voted for continued unity with Yugoslavia. The stage was set for death and destruction as the forces that desired independence fought those who wished to remain tied to old Yugoslavia.

The New Nations

Yugoslavia formally ceased to exist on January 15, 1992, when all 12 members of the European Community officially recognized Slovenia and Croatia as independent states. One by one the former Yugoslav republics declared independence with each declaration leading to war and chaos.

Terrible atrocities were committed by all sides during the Yugoslavian wars. Serbian leaders had fought for an ideal of keeping all Serbs together in a “Greater Serbia”, but failed. In two of the most notable atrocities committed, both in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia besieged Sarajevo, resulting in 12,000 deaths and massacred 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica.

The war in Bosnia ended with the Dayton Agreement on December 14, 1995. In all, about 300,000 people were killed and more than 2,000,000 were displaced. In 2003, the name of Yugoslavia was abolished and by 2006, all republics had declared their independence. But within the republic of Serbia lay the autonomous province of Kosovo, waiting for its day of independence.


Kosovo, lying in the southern area of Serbia, is predominantly Albanian and Muslim. Under Tito, Kosovo was granted semi-autonomy in the 1980s but the Kosvars continued to agitate for greater autonomy. When Milosevic assumed leadership of the communist party, he began a drive to subdue Kosovan nationalism. When Milosevic refused to accept an agreement by the European Union to end the conflict, NATO began a bombing campaign. After 78 days of bombing, Milosevic agreed to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, but the violence did not end.

As Albanians returned to their homes, violence among the ethnic groups continued to simmer. Serbs, who had entered during the purging of the Albanian population, were now the ones forced to leave. The hostilities continue to this day, and, with Kosovo on the brink of declaring independence, fears are increasing that this latest and possibly last of the declarations of independence will lead to yet another round of violence.

Earlier Saturday the European Union finally agreed on a security, administrative and legal task force to aid Kosovo once it makes its much anticipated declaration.

Within hours, Kosovo will declare its independence, joining the other players on the world’s stage of autonomous players. And we may see yet another round of violence in the Balkans. As all Americans should remember, independence comes with a price.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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  1. Phil Marx says:

    In my opinion, Serbia was the main agressor in the Balkan conflicts after the end of the cold war. Therefore, I think that with the formerly dominant ethnic group of Yugoslavia being reduced to a rump state with no coastline, justice has been served to a great extent.

    But here is the problem I have with what is going on there currently. Most Kosovars are ethnic Albanians, and Kosovo will probably now become more closely aligned with Albania as a result of independence. But there is a smal minority (3-5%) of Kosovars who are ethnic Serbians. They would much rather remain citizens of Serbia than of an independent Kosovo. And it is these people that Serbia is beating it’s chest about protecting.

    If these people were dispersed throughout Kosovo in various small pockets, that would be problematic. But the fact is, almost all of them live in the North West section of Kosovo, right along the Serbian border. It seems to me that in the interest of justice for those ethnic Serbs and for the sake of stability in the region, that small area should remain attached to Serbia.

    The fact that the nations (including the United States) which have encouraged an independent Kosovo feel that ethnic subjugation for the Serbian Kosovars is an acceptable price to pay to achieve ethnic freedom for the Albanian Kosovars leeads me to conclude that other factors are at play. And I think that chief among those other factors is the fact that Serbia has traditionally been considered a protectorate of Russia.

    I think the motives behind this maneuver have at least as much to do with slighting Russia as they do with protecting the freedom of any ethnic group.

  2. Phil Marx says:

    My mistake. The ethnic Serbians live in the North East area of Kosovo, not the North West.

  3. We better all start praying that this wont be the “franz ferdinand ” event that will kick off WW3.
    you all recall that WW1 began with the assassination of the archduke by a serbian anarchist.
    and what of bush/cheneys insistence on placing missiles near the russian border? can you say cuban missile crisis redux?
    and the Iranian(Nazi) secret weapons programs to get their hands on nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them( uranium, and a v-2 rocket) dropped on israel?
    And speaking of FDR- I think the GOP would sell their souls and start WW3, rather than have hillary create another new deal.
    the GOP wants to follow the “lets get us out of the coming depression by war, instead of peace.

  4. Phil:

    I defintitely think other factors are in play. A primary one is that it is a slap in the face to Putin and Russia. Putin raises a valid point when he asks why Kosovo should receive the West’s backing for independence when other separatist groups — including the Basques in Spain — and breakaway republics — including the Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus — have no support.

    The reasons are purely political. Kosovo was a part of former Yugoslavia which was a satellite of the former Soviet Union. I imagine that any move that destracts from Russia is welcome to Bush as well as many Americans.

    Turkey, on the other hand, is the location for critical military bases. Similarly, Spain is seen as an ally whereas we still hold this fear and hostility toward Russia.

    I fear that what will now happen will be an escalation of violence between Serbia and Kosovo which will ultimately pull in NATO forces once again. The Balkans are not a stable area as of yet, and this can only lead to more destabilization.

    While I understand Kosovo’s desire to be independent, I also think this could lead to tragic consequences for the entire area.

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