(1) EU Integration of Kosovo


It was before the outbreak of the Yugoslav state crisis that full Serbian control over the province of Kosovo was re-established. The takeover of institutions provided the Kosovo Albanians with a rationale for the creation of their own parallel state, resulting in the proclamation of Kosovo first as a republic within Yugoslavia, in 1990, and then as independent state, in 1991. While observing and getting involved in other parts of the Yugoslav federation, the Europeans also became aware of the problematic situation in Kosovo. For example, in summer 1992, one of the declarations on the deteriorating situation across the Yugoslav federation addressed Serbia’s southern province, as well: The Community and its Member States noted that the situation in Kosovo is potentially dangerous and urge all parties to show the necessary restraint and sense of responsibility. They urge the authorities in Belgrade to refrain from further repression and engage in serious dialogue with representatives of Kosovo. Failure to do so would impede their prospect for the restoration of normal relations with the international community. The Community and its Member States recall that frontiers can only be changed by peaceful means and remind the inhabitants of Kosovo that their legitimate quest for autonomy should be dealt with in the framework of the EC Peace Conference. (EPC 1992)

Later, deeper ethnic antagonisms led to the conflict outbreak in Kosovo in 1998, culminating in January 1999 when the Serbian military forces committed a crime against humanity by killing 45 civilians in Račak. Understandably, there was a clear transatlantic ambition to prevent President Slobodan Milošević from directing another episode of ethnic cleansing and achieving full control of the province. Having experienced Slovenia, Croatia and especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Westerners claimed to be better prepared to deal with the Kosovo issue. According to Joschka Fischer, the then German Foreign Minister, acting politely with Belgrade officials would lead only to more mass graves, so he stated that the use of force should be considered: ‘I am not a friend of using force, but sometimes it is a necessary means of last resort. So I am ready to use it if there is no other way. If people are being massacred, you cannot mutter about having no mandate. You must act’ (Fischer 2000).

The consequent NATO military intervention was subject to numerous criticisms. Many commentators described the attack as an aggression against a sovereign state that had not attacked another sovereign state, as, for example, Iraq did when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. In addition, there were many other countries around the world that had been involved in or contributed to similar or even worse atrocities than Serbia was accused of, and in some nations such violations were still occurring, but most were largely, perhaps hypocritically, ignored compared to the Kosovo crisis, although they also presented a strong case for humanitarian intervention. With this in mind, NATO’s intervention in Kosovo had nothing to do with humanitarian impulses and was all about defending the West’s geopolitical interests in the region (Chomsky 1999). Other commentators went even further and perceived the aggression as a war of expansion by NATO, a war designed to push United States power right up to the borders of Russia. Thus, the intervention was criticized as a colossal error, an example of a policy applied too late, in the wrong place, and in ignorance of history. It was inconsistent and perceived as something that would create problems regardless of whether the outcome was a failure or success.

Once the intervention had terminated, the European Union saw the region impoverished and in need of aid. It persuaded the international community to collaborate in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, which was adopted in Cologne in June 1999. Back then, Javier Solana, the EU’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, reminded Kosovo Albanians that independence was not on the agenda and that technically Kosovo was still part of Yugoslavia. He argued that the main task of the international presence was to establish standards first, and then to discuss the final status of the province.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, passed on 10 June 1999, established the UN Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK), exercising full executive, legislative and judicial role. The resolution declared the establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo as a part of the international civil presence under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations. The interim administration was to provide transitional administration while establishing and overseeing the development of provisional democratic self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants in Kosovo. (UN 1999)

However, neither UNMIK nor the NATO-led peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) was capable of preventing violations of human rights in the areas comprising the remaining Serbs and other non-Albanian population. Thus, in contrast to the initial situation when international involvement was needed to protect the Kosovo Albanians from Serbian oppression, now the foreign presence was expected to protect the Serbs from the Kosovo Albanians. This was even more pressing given the Albanian position from the very beginning: they accepted nothing less than full independence. Aware of the complexity surrounding the future of Kosovo, the international community did not want to leave an impression that they would tolerate further acts of discrimination and violence. Consequently, the policy of ‘standards before the status’ was inaugurated by the third UN Mission in Kosovo under its chief, Michael Steiner of Germany - a well-conceptualized policy that was later abandoned, when Albanians were deemed unlikely to be able to fulfill the standards in the foreseeable future.

When considering the procedure to determine the future status of Kosovo (in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244), European officials tended to insist that ‘any solution must be fully compatible with European values and norms, comply with international legal instruments and obligations and the UN Charter, and contribute to realising the European prospects of Kosovo and the region’ (EU Council 2005). Aware of the complexity of the whole process, the EU asked the parties ‘to show goodwill, so as to achieve a mutually acceptable solution’ and especially ‘the authorities in Belgrade actively to encourage the Serbs of Kosovo to take their place in Kosovar institutions, to exercise their democratic rights there’ (EU Council 2005). It is worth noting that by 2006 Javier Solana and Olli Rehn had already expressed their support for Kosovo’s independence by recommending three courses of action that would assist Kosovo to become a reliable partner with an EU perspective: first, to create a post holding a twofold mandate (to lead the international community’s work in the region and to serve as the EU special representative to Kosovo), second, to launch a new EU mission, under the European Security and Defence Policy (to help reform and strengthen Kosovo’s justice system), and, finally, to use financial instruments to help Kosovo prepare for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

In February 2008, the General Affairs and External Relations Council agreed to establish the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), including political and judicial personnel, both international and local, with the task of monitoring and advising. However, there was not much that the EULEX could have immediately done. As noted in the later official report, Kosovo was trying to make some progress, but without any significant success. For example, ‘the judicial system remain[ed] weak at all levels’ and ‘[c]orruption was still widespread’ (European Commission 2008d: 15), there was ‘a lack of capacity to implement and upgrade human rights standards’ (European Commission 2008), money laundering and drug trafficking continued to be ‘a very serious problem’ and so on (European Commission 2008). The later reports noted some additional progress, but still not enough to give the impression that Kosovo would be able to secure EU candidate status soon. However, the European Commission reconfirmed the relevance of the previously adopted resolution on Kosovo by the European Parliament, encouraging ‘EU Member States to step up their common approach towards Kosovo’ (meaning that all of them should recognize its independence) and underlining that ‘the prospect of accession to the EU is a powerful incentive for the necessary reforms in Kosovo’ (European Commission 2010).

For the Serbs (in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) it has been difficult to accept that Kosovo might be lost forever. Such a feeling was further intensified when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its advisory opinion in July 2010, concluding that Kosovo’s declaration of independence of the 17 February 2008 was in accordance with international law and did not violate UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (ICJ 2010). Still, the Serbian authorities have not given up on their southern province, hoping that some new disclosures, such as Dick Marty’s December 2010 report about the involvement of members of the Kosovo Liberation Army in human organ trafficking, currently under investigation by EULEX (Council of Europe 2010), might change the current state of affairs in Serbian favour.

Since the collapse of the Yugoslav federation in 1992, the post-Yugoslav space has received an immense amount of attention from Europe, both its state and nonstate actors. Often, lengthy analyses have focused on the lessons learnt and what kind of policies would be suitable for the Balkan region, leaving an impression that there is no alternative to EU integration. In contrast to the Slovenes, who openly insisted on their pro-European orientation in order to secure international recognition and then fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria in order to join the EU in 2004, other Yugoslav republics have seemed to be less aware of and committed to their European perspective. As observed in the literature: [t]he only “alternative” to EU integration and democratic consolidation remains continued democratic stagnation and delays to further integration.

This particular dynamic appears often in the interest both of some EU member states reluctant to support further EU enlargement and some elites in the Western Balkans, who feel compelled to advocate EU accession formally due to high levels of popular support for European integration, but who have little incentive to pursue this agenda vigorously for fear of undermining their own power base.

As the above overview of the progress of individual post-Yugoslav states has demonstrated, the speed of democratization and Europeanization has been asymmetrical, and something that works in one of the states will not necessarily work in others. This, of course, creates additional concerns within the Brussels administration as to which mechanisms are likely to produce the most appropriate and timely results. Thus, it is not only a matter of the number of chapters and reforms to be addressed and implemented, it is also about choosing the most suitable strategies to convince the locals of the benefits of EU membership rather than opting for policies that would alienate them further. It is also understandable that some political parties and the general public have doubts about the EU’s intentions; after all, Europe was initially involved in helping to dismember the SFRY, and, since the 1999 Kosovo crisis, has offered support to the post-Yugoslav space, but on the EU’s own terms.

Looking at two decades of dynamics, it is clear that such links have often encountered different challenges and obstacles, generated by both the Europeans and the locals. While every obstacle is accompanied by a delay in EU integration, it also tells us more about the very nature and functioning of the Union and its potential members.

Democratization in Kosovo

At the Thessaloniki Summit of June 2003, the European Union (EU) made it clear that the future of the Western Balkans is closely tied up with Europe and that regional integration is the key to the future of the region. International institutions have played a crucial role in political development in the Balkans, from restoring peace to institution-building support and assistance. Organizations such as the UN, NATO and the EU were mandated to re-establish security and assist in institution building and economic revival. Since the declaration of independence by Kosovo authorities in 2008, the UN has been phasing out and the EU has taken a leading role in monitoring the progress of Kosovo institutions towards their democratic development. Kosovo has undergone great development in institution building, albeit that the process has had deficiencies and challenges, especially after the war.

This paper analyses the democratization development in Kosovo over the last two decades. It explores the political and ideological developments during the 1990s in the form of political movements and parties and their development after the war of 1999. In doing this it analyses the role of international institutions in the process and explores and attempts to assess the development of today’s Kosovo institutions. Later, this paper looks at the EU’s role in the process and argues that it is crucial not only to the democratic development of institutions but also to regional stability and economic development and sustainability. It argues that the EU integration process has been the main impetus behind democratization in the region, and in Kosovo, and that any lessening of such a drive from the EU itself due to ‘enlargement fatigue’ could be very dangerous for the region. This paper concludes that the EU holds the key to peace in the region by continuing its support of democratization and economic development.

The European Union considers the Balkan region of particular importance when it comes to EU integration for many reasons, the main one being the political turmoil and conflicts throughout the last century and especially during the 1990s and the potential that still exists for such conflicts to regenerate. A completely integrated Europe, as a stable political and economic entity in a global perspective, will face great challenges with regard to its functionality and political seriousness if the Balkan region is left out of the EU and becomes unstable again. On the other hand, if the Balkan region is integrated into the EU, the conflicts and wars are less likely to regenerate and national borders are also less likely to play a significant role.

Nevertheless Kosovo-Serbia relations remain one of the greatest regional challenges of the EU, and a formula for accepting two countries, one of which refuses to recognize the other, into a community of countries (the majority of which have recognized that country), (1) is complicated, tense and very challenging.

The EU is making every effort to find the solution to this challenge, as reflected in the latest technical talks between the Kosovo and Serbian governments on normalizing the relationship between them. The EU is the most important actor in such an enterprise. However, because of the historical relationship of the Balkans with Europe, the EU is often viewed with scepticism from many political actors in the Balkans.

This paper elaborates on these issues by looking at the current political and security challenges and obstacles. It illustrates the involvement of international actors in the process, to continue in more depth on the democratization process and development in Kosovo. In doing this, the chapter will be structured in three parts. The first part will analyse briefly the installation of international institutions in Kosovo following the NATO intervention against Yugoslavia/Serbia in 1999, offering a brief historical background. The second part will analyse the democratization process in Kosovo, looking at its beginning in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) following the collapse of communism, the changes of the political system in 1989 and the abolition by the Milošević regime of the autonomy that Kosovo enjoyed after the 1974 constitutional changes in SFRY. The review will include the establishment of political movements and parties to continue the development of such political groupings and institutions after the war. The third part will analyse the challenges of Kosovo institutions regarding EU integration and its relationship with Serbia.

Peter Novick argues about objectivity when writing history, drawing a line between the ‘knower and known, fact and value, history and fiction’, adding that truth and patterns in history are ‘found’ and not ‘made’, and that the historian should refrain from taking a judgmental role that could ‘degenerate into that of advocate or even, worse, propagandist’. Writing about the history of the Balkans is very challenging. The historical evidence provided by many historians in the Balkans varies quite a lot and is often contradictory. In short, the history written in the Balkans is often hard to distinguish from folklore. When considering the role of different individuals and institutions, it is apparent that the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia were political rather than ethnic.

Malcolm elaborates on the role of Slobodan Milošević and other political personalities in triggering those wars for the personal and political gains of their respective republics, or factions within them, using particular political platforms (such as different memorandums of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, in 1937 and 1986), (2) defining these conflicts as more political than ethnic. Mertus points out that these ethnic groups have lived in harmony and shared a mutual respect for their rights and cultures for centuries and have even fought together against other powers, such as the late Ottoman Empire’s occupation of the Balkans, suggesting that there is still a chance that they can live together in peace and harmony, although it will be difficult in the aftermath of the conflicts. Historically, conflicts between peoples of the Balkans started to appear after the first signs of weakness in the Ottoman Empire, with its involvement in wars against Russia in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. The arbitrary decisions of the then European powers on the borders of the Balkans in the late nineteenth century proved that the establishment of peace in the region was fragile, and conflicts reappeared as recently as the last one that followed the disintegration of the SFRY. The states that were created and established with the blessing of the European powers in 1878 seem to have had repercussions on the events of 1912, the events in 1945, and again in the more recent events of 1990-1999. These historical antecedents tend to be ignored by the EU itself and other international actors when projecting different decisions for the region and while developing policies. As Mayer suggests, ‘understanding the antecedents of the problems facing the Balkans can help statesmen avoid past mistakes’.

NATO Intervention and the UN Installation For eight years (1990-1998) Kosovo maintained a particular kind of peace that was built between the Albanian political projection for an independent Kosovo ‘that would be accomplished through the divine intervention of the West, and especially of the USA, and the Serbian reality of ruling Kosovo violently’. The passive peaceful resistance against Serbian rule preached through Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova started to change after the Dayton Peace Accords, where the Kosovo issue was not mentioned or included in the agreement. Different actors emerged within Albanian society. In the beginning they supported policy changes, initially called ‘active peaceful resistance’, later to be modified to supporting different approaches of active resistance, including guerrilla operations against the Serbian police and army. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) that emerged as an organization spread throughout Kosovo within days. There are no serious statistics about the number of members, as the KLA did not establish a vertical line of organization. What was important, however, was that this organization enjoyed the support and respect of many of the Albanian people in Kosovo and it played an important role in support of a more active involvement of the international community in the Kosovo crisis.

After the escalation of the conflict and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people internally in Kosovo, and later outside of it, a humanitarian catastrophe was imminent. The Milošević-Holbrooke agreement, reached in October 1998, mandated an International Verification Mission under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), whose mission was to verify the ceasefire between the Yugoslav Army and the KLA. The ceasefire was not respected and scenes of massacres and displacement of the civilian population pushed the international community to take more drastic measures towards reaching a peace agreement between the conflicting parties. They ‘locked in’ the parties in conflict in the Rambouillet Castle near Paris to negotiate until they could reach an agreement that would stop the conflict and would permit a political solution in the near future. Although the Albanians were now on the verge of fighting for independence, eventually an agreement was reached that called for an international military presence and political arrangements to end the conflict.

The Rambouillet Accord would put Kosovo into the position it had enjoyed with the SFRY Constitution of 1974, with some differences in foreign relations, taxation policy, education and health policy, and most importantly it recognized that this was an accord for a period of three years, after which the Kosovo people would express their will on a political solution through a referendum. Apparently, it was so extremely difficult to insert such a paragraph from the Albanian side, and especially from the KLA representatives, that the conference was about to be called a total failure. (3) The agreement was signed only by the Albanian delegation.

The refusal of the Serbian delegation to sign the agreement resulted in the NATO-led air strikes against Yugoslavia to end the Kosovo conflict.

The Kosovo case marked the first time that a substantive part of the international community went beyond its own principles and intervened against a sovereign state without the authorization of the UN Security Council. Intervention ended the war and brought peace, yet it left the political situation unresolved. Russia’s threat to veto the proposed supervised independence for Kosovo (4) took the issue out of the Security Council for the second time. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) responded to Serbia’s question, deposited through the UN General Assembly, with a ruling that the declaration of the independence of Kosovo did not violate international law (ICJ 2010). Will this lead to a different approach to the international principles in the future? One cannot be certain at this point, yet a revision of these principles seems to be happening.

However this may be seen and interpreted, one thing is certain, the intervention ended the century-long oppression by the different Yugoslav/Serbian regimes of the Albanian population living as a minority in Kosovo. It ended the systematic violation of human rights that happened there especially during the 1990s, and it ended the war in June 1999 and opened the path for the installation of the UN civilian mission (UNMIK) to help with the administration and rebuilding of Kosovo. More than 800,000 refugees returned to Kosovo within weeks. UNSC Resolution 1244 legalized the international military and civil presence. Despite some wording changes, Resolution 1244 restated major conditions stipulated in the Rambouillet Agreement, except for the three-year period clause and some changes with regard to the military presence of Yugoslavia/Serbia in Kosovo, with their numbers varying from a few thousands, according to the Rambouillet Agreement, to full withdrawal of all security forces, according to UNSC 1244.

UNSC Resolution 1244

UNSC Resolution 1244 was approved in June 1999 following previous UNSC resolutions (1160, 1199, 1203 and 1239) on the Kosovo issue that were approved in the period from March 1998 until June 1999. It authorized an international civilian and security presence. The security presence (under NATO command) would ensure the security of the borders of Kosovo, the complete withdrawal of the Serbian/Yugoslav police, army and paramilitary troops and ensure that these forces would not return to Kosovo unless as specified by the resolution and would supervise a complete demilitarization of the KLA. (5) The civilian presence would have the competencies to promote and establish substantial autonomy and self governance in Kosovo.

The territorial integrity of the FYR (Federal Yugoslav Republic) and the Rambouillet Accord principles are other important aspects of this resolution that have been discussed thoroughly by different international, Kosovar and Serbian legal experts, including during the hearings in the ICJ sessions (in November-December 2009) on the legality of the declaration of independence by the Kosovar authorities. The resolution recognizes the territorial integrity of the FYR, including Kosovo. However, it calls for a final political settlement, recognizing the temporariness of the resolution and the principles of the Rambouillet Accords and its determination to act for these purposes under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. (6)

Different actors from all sides have interpreted Resolution 1244 in different ways. The Serbian interpretation emphasizes the points about the territorial integrity of FYR/Serbia over Kosovo and ‘the return of the Serbian and Yugoslav personnel’, which is usually interpreted as the return of the army, police and administration, despite the specifications of the resolution including the numbers (hundreds, not thousands) that were to be supervised by the international security presence. Interpretations from Kosovo tend to focus on the points concerning the temporariness of the resolution and the call for a final political settlement according to the Rambouillet Accord, which was signed by the Kosovo side in 1999. UNMIK’s interpretation concentrated on the establishment of democratic institutions in Kosovo and the evaluation of these developments. Yet, as it happened, according to political developments during the UNMIK administration in Kosovo, those evaluations were not the sole responsibility of the UNMIK but rather of other international actors involved in the Kosovo issue such as different individual countries.

The collapse of communism in the SFRY was followed by development of tense political situations that led to military conflicts involving different ethnicities. Military conflicts have been quite common in the post-communist world and, as Horowitz observed, within 28 successor states eight have been affected by large-scale military conflicts. As a multi-ethnic state with fragile ethnic problems, hidden underneath Tito’s established governance with a ‘brotherhood and unity’ slogan, the SFRY went through a different democratization development compared to other Eastern European countries: a radicalization of different ethnicities. Yugoslavia went from being the most open and liberal society in the region, the socialist country with the highest per capita income in the communist world, and the country deemed most likely to join the European Community, to being behind the regional curve and a site of growing political conflict which led to violent warfare. Despite being labeled as ethnic wars, these conflicts and wars were more the result of struggles for economic and political reform. These struggles started in Kosovo as early as in the 1960s (to continue with different intensity during the 1970s and 1980s) and then spread to Croatia in 1971, bringing about the first signs of the fragility of the Yugoslavian project.

In Kosovo the main demands centred around equal rights in the federation, the consideration of Albanians as a nation and the consideration of Kosovo as a federative unit, while in Croatia they centred around demands for more autonomy for the republic. Both these struggles were crushed with violence that resulted in many political prisoners.

Albanians in Yugoslavia were the third nation in number, after Serbs and Croats; yet they did not enjoy the same nation status as the other republics. (7) Although Kosovo (and Vojvodina) became federative units with the constitutional changes in 1974, they still remained provinces of Serbia and were denied republic status, therefore the status of nation. The theoretical answer to why Kosovo and Vojvodina were denied republic status was that republics were entities of the nations as opposed to nationalities (terminology coming from the Soviet Union doctrine). A nation could form a republic in a federation and therefore have the right to secession. The practical answer was political: a Kosovo republic could secede from Yugoslavia and join Albania. Zoran Pajić describes this situation as creating two categories in SFRY, the hosts and historical guests. The hosts (nations) were Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins and Macedonians, while the historical guests (national minorities), were all other ethnic groups living in the SFRY.

Federalism in the late 1980s in Yugoslavia was faced with three crucial and interrelated factors that would seal the fate of the SFRY: identity politics, the relationship between the federal understanding of further centralization or decentralization of political powers between the federation and the federative units, and economic disparities between federative units. (8) Skalnik Leff argues that all communist multinational states shared commonalities on how identity politics shaped the opening up of the political systems with regard to freer public discussion and organization and to competitive elections. Further, she questions whether ethno federalism truly qualified as federalism, if federalism is generally understood as an institutional arrangement where authority and functional competences are shared among different levels of government. This is quite a reasonable question starting from the fact that the centre accorded official recognition to the identity of the dominant titular nationalities in each republic, which, in many cases, had unpleasant consequences for ethnic mobilization. The general idea of the establishment of a particular ‘Yugoslav’ identity for all the nationalities of SFRY simply proved to be unsuccessful. Fink-Hafner argues that the problem of maintaining the federal state was also directly related to the failure to create one society within the framework of the former Yugoslavia.

The attempts to create a unified Yugoslav identity, both national and political, from the early period following the First World War, were seen through different lenses by different nationalities, which ultimately led to the creation of two different visions of federalism: one that supported a more centralized federal structure that would give more power to the federal level and less to the republics (favoured by Serbs) and the other that supported a more decentralized federal structure (favoured by a majority of nations in the SFRY that saw the federation as being led by Serbs). The constitution of 1974 resolved the tensions between these two visions of federalism, for a period, creating a more decentralized structure and allocating more power to the republics and to the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. The new constitution acknowledged that the SFRY comprised eight federative units. However, as the situation developed, dissatisfaction increased, especially among Serbs, who viewed themselves as losers, and considered all the changes as conspiracy against them, especially when Kosovo and Vojvodina were carved out of Serbia to become autonomous regions and federative units. Such changes became the main points to be used by Milošević in the late 1980s for nationalist mobilization among Serbs, firstly in Kosovo, and then in other parts of Yugoslavia where Serbs were living as a minority. Such developments ultimately led to the collapse of federalism and the opening up towards political pluralism in the SFRY. Yugoslavia had developed subsystems of grass-roots self-government and self management with different levels of development and engagement in different republics. This development was more evident in Slovenia and in Croatia and less so in the other republics and autonomous units. Elements of pluralism existed in different professional bodies, such as the academy of sciences, universities, and around some literary and social-science journals. In Kosovo, the League of the Kosovo Writers and the Institute of Albanian Studies (the latter affiliated with the University of Priština) tended to be the more vocal instruments in the call for more decentralization of power in Kosovo and the upgrade of its political status to a republic and political pluralism. In 1989, as in other parts of Yugoslavia, different groups, affiliated with those groups and institutions that demanded and argued for different political changes, started to appear and call themselves political movements or parties. In January 1990, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) in Belgrade publicly acknowledged that the single-party system in Yugoslavia was dead. Nationalist parties were victorious in elections in 1990 in Yugoslavia across the six republics and in Kosovo. The elections created a particular situation that triggered the radicalization of ethnicities in the SFRY, usually though the exclusion of minorities from access to government or the boycott by minorities of national government institutions. In other cases in the SFRY the election led to ethnicization of the political environment: the collapse of multi-ethnic coalitions with radical candidates winning the elections led to what Rabushka and Shepsle called the ‘bankruptcy of moderation’.

Similar situations of minority boycott were created in most of the federative units. What happened in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia (Kosovo) was a general boycott of government institutions by minorities (namely Serb in Croatia and Bosnia, and Albanian in Kosovo). Minorities often organized themselves in structures parallel to the government, in non-violent ways of protest against the newly elected government or, as has happened, in violent protest up to a full-scale war against the government. Birnir argues that the main problem for maintenance of moderate inter-ethnic relations was not the ethnicization per se, but the exclusion of ethnic minorities from the government, which may result in radicalization in some cases but not always. This seems to have happened at the beginning of pluralism and democratization in Kosovo in the late 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. With the constitutional changes and Milošević’s suppression of the autonomy that Kosovo had enjoyed since 1974, the Albanian minority was not only excluded from the governance institutions but from all public (state) institutions including health care and education.




(1)     Kosovo has been recognized by 111 countries around the world and by 23 EU Member States. EU members that have not yet recognized Kosovo as an independent state are Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. (http://www.kosovothanksyou.com)

(2)     For more information on the content and role that both documents, and especially the Memorandum of 1986, played in the establishment of the nationalist policy of the Serbian authorities in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

(3)     Rambouillet Agreement, Chapter 8, Article 1, point 3 stated: ‘Three years after the entry into force of this Agreement, an international meeting shall be convened to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo, on the basis of the will of the people, opinions of relevant authorities, each Party’s efforts regarding the implementation of this Agreement, and the Helsinki Final Act, and to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of this Agreement and to consider proposals by any Party for additional measures.’

(4)     Negotiations for the final political status of Kosovo began in 2006 under Martti Ahtisari, former President of Finland, between Kosovo and Serbia authorities. Ahtisari had been called upon to mediate and facilitate the negotiations by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, following an earlier report for the progress of UNMIK’s standards from Kai Aide, a Norwegian diplomat. Aide suggested that the implementation of the policy of ‘standards before the status’ put in place by UNMIK in 2002/3 would be impossible to achieve before the status was clearer and Kosovo authorities were given wider competencies. The negotiations for the final status lasted for about two years and Ahtisari proposed a supervised independence with special rights and links for the Serbian minority towards the authorities in Belgrade. Ahtisari’s proposal had been accepted by the Albanians after a lot of pressure as a compromise for full independence but was rejected by the Serbian authorities as it was considered a precedent and an annexation of a part of their territory.

(5)     5 Article 6 of the Annex 2 of the resolution states: ‘After withdrawal, an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serbian personnel will be permitted to return to perform the following functions: Liaison with the international civil mission and the international security presence; Marking/clearing minefields; Maintaining a presence at Serb patrimonial sites; [and] Maintaining a presence at key border crossings’ (UN 1999).

(6)      ‘Determined to ensure the safety and security of international personnel and the implementation by all concerned of their responsibilities under the present resolution, and acting for these purposes under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.

(7)     Albanians in Yugoslavia were scattered in three republics: Serbia (Kosovo), Macedonia and Montenegro. In Kosovo they made up 80–90 per cent of the population of nearly 2 million. In Macedonia they made up 20 per cent of the population of 2 million. A small percentage also lived in Montenegro and Serbia proper. The percentage of Albanians living in Macedonia varies according to statistics. According to official results of the census in 1994, Albanians constituted 22.9 per cent of the total population. However, the Albanians claim that they constituted 40-50 per cent of the population.

(8)     Economic disparities in the SFRY were quite evident between the republics and autonomous provinces, with Slovenia having the highest general income per capita and Kosovo the lowest. Political development and stability, human rights issues, authoritarian discriminatory governance towards different ethnic groups and the level of democratization of the institutions and the geographic positioning of some republics contributed to economic development in different parts of Yugoslavia. On the theoretical aspects of how frustrated national ideals, political institutions and conflict and war can distract governments and institutions from a direction of economic and market reform agendas, as was the case with SFRY.










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