Kosovo is a Balkan territory and state of the Western Balkans, mainly populated by Albanians and bearing historical links to Serbia and the Ottoman Empire. In 2008 Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia, a move recognised by approximately half of the UN members. The other half continues to regard Kosovo as a Serbian province.
Both Albanian and Serbian nationalism consider Kosovo to be their own territory.
Albanian nationalism argues that Kosovo's first settlers were the Illyrians, and conceives them to be modern Albanians' ancestors. Furthermore, Albanian nationalism points out that the majority of the population of Kosovo has been Albanian at least since the 19th century (currently over 90%) .
Serbian nationalism, however, denies the validity of the Illyrian argument, and tends to emphasize that the ancestors of today's Serbs reached Kosovo over the 6th and 7th centuries, long before the territory had an Albanian majority (which happened in the 19th century).
The existence of Kosovo as an administrative unit with its current borders dates back to 1946, when Yugoslavia established the autonomous district of Kosovo and Metohija. In 1963 the territory was upgraded to the status of autonomous province.
At the time of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Kosovo proclaimed its independence (1992), which was recognized only by Albania. A Kosovo Albanian militia, the KLA or UÇK, waged a war against Yugoslav forces, which ended in 1999 after NATO forces defeated the Yugoslav army. An interim UN administration was established, and it lasted until 2008, when the country again declared independence, this time with support from major Western powers.
As of September 2020, 98 of 193 UN member states recognized Kosovo as an independent state. These include notably the United States, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Pakistan. Another 15 countries —from Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania— have withdrawn their former recognition of Kosovo. The Kosovo government states that it is not possible to de-recognize a country.
Countries not recognizing Kosovo include Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Spain. Serbia does not recognize it either but is pursuing the normalization of relations with Kosovo following the 2013 Brussels Agreement.
Serbian local self-government
The Brussels Agreement foresees the establishment of an association of Serbian-majority municipalities (the Community of Serbian Municipalities, ZSO). The municipalities would be allowed to jointly exercise local self-government powers under the new body’s umbrella, including in the areas of economic development, education, health, and urban and rural planning. The Kosovar government has yet to implement the ZSO, although it has been working on a statute draft for it.
President: Vjosa Osmani, independent (since 2020, acting)
Prime Minister: Avdullah Hoti, LDK (since 2020)
Political system: independent state. Not recognized by its former parent state (Serbia).
Distribution of seats in the Assembly (2019 election). 120 seats:
Vetëvendosje (centre-left, Albanian nationalism) - 29
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK, centre-right) - 28
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK, centre-right) - 24
100% Kosovo (AAK-PSD alliance, big tent leaning to the right) - 13
Serbian List (Serbian autonomists, centre-right) - 10
NISMA-AKR-PD (centre-right to centre-left) - 6
Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo (KDTP, Turkish minority, centre-right) - 2
Vakat Alliance (Bosniak minority) - 2
Other minorities' parties - 6
Government: coalition of LDK, AAK, NISMA, Serbian List and KDTP (since 2020)
(Last updated November 2020.)