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.
At least 100 of 193 UN member states recognize Kosovo as an independent state in 2022. These include notably the United States, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Pakistan. Another 13 to 18 countries —from Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania— have withdrawn their former recognition of Kosovo, according to the Serbian government. The Kosovo government states that it is not possible to de-recognize a country and disputes the veracity of Serbian claims.
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 (signed by Serbia and Kosovo in 2013) foresees the establishment of an association of Serbian-majority municipalities (the Community of Serb 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 (since 2021)
Prime Minister: Albin Kurti, Vetëvendosje (since 2021)
Political system: independent state. Not recognized by its former parent state (Serbia).
Distribution of seats in the Assembly (2021 election). 120 seats:
Vetëvendosje (centre-left, Albanian nationalism) - 58
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK, centre-right) - 19
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK, centre-right) - 15
Serbian List (Serbian autonomists, centre-right) - 10
Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK, right) - 8
Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo (KDTP, Turkish minority, centre-right) - 2
Other minorities' parties - 8
Government: coalition of Vetëvendosje (including Guxo party), Serbian List, KDTP and other minorities' parties (since 2021)
(Last updated October 2022.)