Kosovo Celebrates 15th Anniversary of Independence from Serbia

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia, a significant milestone for the young nation in the heart of the Balkans. Despite the landmark occasion, Serbia continues to refuse to recognize Kosovo's statehood, and this stance is shared by Russia, China, and several European Union countries.

The Political Landscape

Kosovo's path to EU membership has been halted by the five EU countries of Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece, who also do not recognize Kosovo's statehood. Russia, as an ally of Serbia, has vetoed Kosovo's membership at the United Nations, further complicating the young nation's diplomatic aspirations.

A Look at Kosovo

Located in Southeastern Europe, Kosovo is bordered by Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. It has a population of approximately 1.9 million, and its ethnic composition is predominantly Albanian (93 percent) with Serbs accounting for roughly 6 percent. Other minority groups include Turks, Bosniaks, Roma, and Gorani.

The Road to Independence

Kosovo was once part of Yugoslavia, which was formed after World War I in 1918. It was made up of six Slavic groups, and its official language was Serbo-Croatian. After World War II, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded, a federation composed of six republics divided along ethnic lines.

In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence, sparking the beginning of Yugoslavia's disintegration. In 1992, Macedonia followed suit. On March 1, 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina held an independence referendum, which Bosnian Serbs boycotted.

Kosovo sought autonomy after Yugoslavia's breakup, and Serbia cracked down on ethnic Albanians seeking independence. This ultimately led to a NATO campaign against Serbia in 1999, which resulted in Serbian forces withdrawing from Kosovo.

Recent Tensions

In 2022, tensions between Kosovo and Serbia erupted over a dispute about vehicle license plates. Kosovo requested that individuals entering the country with Serbian identification replace it with a temporary document, and Serbian drivers were asked to display Kosovo number plates on their vehicles.

Western nations are now pushing for a Kosovo-Serbia peace deal to resolve tensions. However, many analysts view the current agreement as weak because it fails to address mutual recognition between the two states.