Monument in Pristina unveiled on the occasion of Kosovo's independence in 2008.

Background Strong opposition to Kosovo's independence

A decades-long conflict over Kosovo’s status within Yugoslavia finally led to a civil war in 1998. NATO intervention ended the civil war in 1999. The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) then took over the administration of Kosovo. The province was thus granted the status of an autonomous territory within the Republic of Yugoslavia (from 2006, within the Republic of Serbia).

In 2005, the UN Security Council resolved to begin negotiations with Kosovo to decide the final status of the province under international law. However, several rounds of talks failed to produce an agreement.

On 17 February 2008, the Assembly of Kosovo in Pristina passed a resolution, in the face of Serbian resistance, declaring the independence of the state of Kosovo. On 15 June 2008, the first constitution entered into force. A month later, Kosovo applied to become a member of the International Monetary Fund (IWF) and the World Bank, and was accepted as a new member by both organisations in the middle of 2009.

The international community is still divided on Kosovo’s status. Serbia and Russia, for instance, as well as five EU member states, believe that its declaration of independence violates Serbia's sovereignty under international law. Important state responsibilities are, therefore, still under the control of the international community.

International missions

For example, since 2008, it has been the task of the European Union Rule of Law Mission, EULEX, set up under the auspices of the United Nations, to help the Kosovar authorities set up a multi-ethnic judicial system, police force and customs authority and introduce rule-of-law standards. The current mandate for EULEX runs until June 2023.

The OSCE's mission in Kosovo is engaged in helping to set up democratic institutions and to develop and strengthen good governance, respect for human rights and public security. The mission was instrumental in organising the parliamentary elections held in 2019.

The NATO Mission Kosovo Force (KFOR) has been tasked with peacekeeping and security in Kosovo. Since 2010, the number of troops stationed there has been gradually reduced. Currently, some 3,500 NATO troops remain, of which around 80 soldiers are from the German Bundeswehr.

A deeply divided society

Even now, 20 years after the war, Kosovar society is deeply divided. Human rights abuses and war crimes have hardly been addressed. The majority of the population (some 87 per cent) have Albanian roots and a minority of around eight per cent are of Serbian descent. These two groups live largely separate and segregated lives. The government in Pristina continues to have only minimal control over the northern part of the country, which is inhabited mostly by Serbs. The security situation there remains tense.

As at: 11/03/2022