Dušan T. Bataković
Institute for Balkan Studies
Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Kosovo and Metohija:
Serbia’s Troublesome Province*
Abstract: Kosovo and Metohija, the heartland of medieval Serbia, of her culture, politics and economy (1204–1455), experienced continuous waves of spiralling violence, forced migration and colonization under centuries-long Ottoman rule (1455–1912). A region which symbolizes the national and cultural identity of the Serbian nation as a whole now has an Albanian majority population, who consider it an ancient Albanian land, claiming continuity with ancient Illyrians. Kosovo was reincorporated into Serbia (1912) and Yugoslavia (1918) as a region lacking tradition of inter-ethnic and inter-religious tolerance and cooperation. The two rivalling Kosovo nations, Albanians and Serbs, remained distant, maintaining limited interethnic communication throughout the twentieth century. The mounting national and ideological conflicts, reinforced by the communist ideology, made coexistence almost impossible, even after the 1999 NATO bombing campaign and establishment of KFOR-secured UN administration. Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008 is a dangerous attempt to establish a second Albanian state extended into the heartland of Serbia, a failed state cleansed of both Serbs and other major non-Albanian communities.
Keywords: Serbia, Kosovo, ethnic strife, nationalism and communism, Kosovo crisis, NATO bombing, war against Yugoslavia, international protectorate