Kosova: A Timeline
"The West's position is more in favor of the Serbs than the [Kosova] Albanians.
Because the West recognizes the border of Serbia as untouchable and, as a result, will
never allow the independence of Kosova. This is also the position of the Pope."
[Franc Perko, Archbishop of Belgrade in a frank interview with Italian newspaper
"Avvenire," 18 May 99.]
Confused about what is really going on in Kosova? Here are important milestones
on the road leading up to the current situation.
1389 Sultan Murad I defeats King Lazar who was leading a coalition of
Serbian and Christian Albanian army in the battle of Kosova. Serbia accepts suzerainty of
Caliphate. A Serbian, Milosh Obilich, stabs Sultan Murad with a poisoned dagger after
gaining access on the pretext that he was a deserter.
1453 Sultan Muhammad Fateh conquers Constantinople. Kosova becomes province
1467 Albanian kingdom comes under direct Caliphate control. Enjoys internal
1521 Sulaiman the Magnificent conquers Belgrade.
1600-1700 Albanians convert to Islam in huge numbers as they come in contact
with Muslims from Turkey and elsewhere and find Islam's teachings attractive. Many Serbs
migrate to Hungary.
1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war. Ottoman Empire loses Bulgaria, Montenegro, and
1912 First Balkan War. Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece (including
20,000 American Greeks) gang up on Turkey. Serbs occupy Kosova. Ottoman Empire loses
practically all of its European holdings. A period of oppression of Muslims begins.
1937 Vasa Cubrilovic authors the secret memorandum "Expulsion of
Albanians," advocating forced removal of Muslims, who are 90% of the population, from
1945 Churchill gives Kosova, along with Macedonia, Slovenia, and Croatia to
Communist regime of Josip Tito in Yugoslavia. A reign of terror starts for followers of
all religions, especially the Muslims.
1945-1951 Thousands of Muslims from Kosova are murdered and many more are
expelled to Turkey after being labeled as Turks.
1968 First pro-independence demonstrations by Muslims in Kosova, many
1974 Yugoslav constitution declares Kosova an Autonomous Province within
Yugoslavia. It is a Constituent Unit of the Yugoslav Federation with its own constitution,
parliament, government, judiciary, and police force. Kosova has a representative and a one
voice vote in a rotating eight-member Yugoslav Presidency.
1980 Yugoslav leader Marshal Josip Broz Tito dies. Serbs begin the campaign
to re-take Kosova, and return it to its former status, a mere province of Serbia.
1981 The students at the University of Prishtina begin rioting in defense of
all Albanian national rights. Over 300 Kosovar Muslims killed.
1981-1989 Serb campaign against Muslims intensifies. Thousands of children
are poisoned by the food given to them at their schools. Pregnant women receive injections
of drugs, which create deformity in newborns. Mysteriously, hundreds of Kosovar Albanians
rank-and-file of the Yugoslav military begin to "commit suicide," and are sent
to their families in coffins for burial. More than 600,000 Kosovars, nearly one-third of
the Albanian population, go through police hands. More than 7,000, receive jail sentences
for up to 20 years for their participation in protests and demonstrations. Waves of
massive demonstrations by dissatisfied Albanians are mercilessly crushed by Serb police
using military tanks.
The Serb communist leader Slobodan Milosovic begins calling nationalistic rallies of
thousands of Serbs. He lays blame for the Serbs economic troubles on the Albanians and
their constitutional status. In a speech before a Serb crowd in Kosova, Milosovic incites
them by saying: "This is your country...Yugoslavia does not exist without
Kosova...Yugoslavia and Serbia are not going to give up Kosova."
March 1989 Milosovic introduces constitutional changes to abolish
Kosovas status as an Autonomous Province, while Serb police using military tanks,
surround the Kosova Parliament, and do not allow 115 members of the Assembly of Kosova to
1990 Milosovic abolishes the Assembly of Kosova and dissolves its
government. The courts are abolished, Muslim employees are fired en-masse, and the economy
is destroyed. Soon unemployment rate in Kosova reaches 85%.
Teaching of Albanian language and its use as a medium of instruction are banned. All
schools in the Albanian language are closed down. The Albanian University in Prishtina,
the only institute of higher education in Kosova, is closed. All the University buildings
and state financial support are given to Serbs for only Serb use. The entire
Albanian-speaking media (radio, television, and press) is silenced. Health services,
cultural institutions, and all state funds destined for Kosova are usurped.
June 1991 Yugoslav Federation is dissolved.
December 1991 European Community establishes an Arbitration Commission,
chaired by French Robert Badinter to make decisions regarding recognition of its former
constituents as independent countries. The Commission accepts the applications of Slovenia
and Croatia without a hitch. Bosnia is asked to hold a referendum since "it is not
clear what its people want." Kosova has already held a referendum in which 85% voted
for independence. But its application is rejected. Only Albania recognizes Kosova as an
independent country. Muslim countries also fail to offer recognition to Kosova.
1992 Ibrahim Rugova, who advocates a non-violent path to independence, is
elected president of Republic of Kosova. For his Gandhian policy toward the extremist
Milosovic, Rugova gets lot of praise but nothing else from the
West. Still, he puts all his hopes in Western help.
March 1992 The referendum for Bosnia is held.
April 1992 The results of referendum are announced. 99% of ballots are cast
in favor of independence. Bosnia is given recognition but the delay proves devastating.
Serbs have been preparing to slaughter the Muslims and their operation coincides with the
1992-1995 Extremist Serbs carryout genocide (which is euphemistically called
ethnic cleansing) in Bosnia. Serb aggression is aided by the imposition of an arms
embargo, enforced by NATO soldiers in UN uniform. The embargo works to keep the victims
unarmed so their slaughter could be facilitated.
Serbia is kept from attacking Kosova by President Bush (1992) and again by President
Clinton (1993). Spreading the war front to Kosova, where 91% population is Muslim and
which is not land-locked like Bosnia, might help the Muslims at this time.
1995 Srebrenica. UN forces declare it a protected and demilitarized zone and
disarm Muslims. They leave when Serbs arrive who massacre all 9000 of the male population.
1995 Talks are held at Dayton, Ohio to resolve the Balkan crisis. Kosova is
kept out of Dayton talks. (Its inclusion at this time could strengthen the Muslim
Dayton accords ensure that no independent Muslim state can be established in Bosnia.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into a Serb entity and a Muslim-Croat federation. Real power
now lies with the High Representative of European Community, while IMF and World Bank take
total control of its economy. The governor of the Central Bank of Bosnia is a Frenchman
named by the World Bank.
1996 Pro-independence Kosova Liberation Army emerges as a spontaneous
reaction to Serb barbarism, and claims responsibility for bombing police targets. The
Western media and virtually all Western leaders show hostility to the KLA right from the
1997 The rag tag KLA gains popularity. It reaches a strength of about 30,000
and controls 40% of Kosova. It also establishes a functioning government that provides
health, education and other facilities. About 300,000 to 500,000 expatriate Albanians
(mostly in Germany) pay 3% of their income to the government to finance all its
activities. The Ghandian philosophy of Rugova costs him public support.
1997 - 1998 -- As the Serbian offensive increases, US State Department spokesman
James Jolly claims the increased presence of the Serbian army on the Albanian border is
"legal and legitimate." US special envoy for the Balkans Richard Holbrooke
speaks of his fears of a "Ho Chi Minh Trail" for arms from Albania to Kosova.
Feb 23, 1998 U.S. special Balkans envoy Robert Gelbard visits Belgrade,
praises Milosovic for his new cooperation in Bosnia and brands the Kosova Liberation Army
(KLA) "without question a terrorist group." Immediately, Serb operations against
KLA go in high gear.
March 1998 Dozens killed in Serb police action against suspected Albanian
April 1998 95 percent of Serbs reject international mediation on Kosova in
referendum. International sanctions imposed against Yugoslavia.
May 1998 Milosovic and Rugova hold talks for first time that go nowhere.
Albanian side boycotts further meetings.
September 1998 Serbs attack central Kosova, where 22 Albanians are found
massacred. U.N. Security Council adopts resolution calling for immediate cease-fire and
October 1998 NATO allies authorize airstrikes against Serb military targets,
Milosovic agrees to withdraw troops and facilitate the return of tens of thousands of
refugees. Belgrade agrees to allow 2,000 unarmed monitors to verify compliance.
October-December 1998 U.S. envoy Christopher Hill tries to broker political
settlement. Scattered daily violence undermines fragile truce.
December 1998 Yugoslav troops kill 36 KLA soldiers. Six Serbs killed in a
cafe, prompting widespread Serb protests. Fighting in north kills at least 15.
Jan. 15, 1999 45 Muslims slain outside Racak.
Jan. 29, 1999 Serb police kill 24 Muslims in a raid. Western allies demand
warring sides attend Kosova peace conference or face NATO airstrikes.
Feb. 6-17, 1999 First, inconclusive round of talks between Kosova Albanians
and Serbs in Rambouliett, France.
February-March 1999 Serb forces sweep through Macedonian border region,
digging in across from where thousands of NATO forces are gathering and bombard KLA
positions in the north. Freedom fighters launch several attacks on Serb extremists.
March 18, 1999 Kosovar Muslims are forced to unilaterally sign a peace deal
at Rambouilett, France, calling for a "broad interim autonomy" and 28,000 NATO
troops to implement it. This autonomy is less than what they had in 1974 and much less
than what they want and legally deserve now: independence. The deal also requires them to
disband the KLA. Serb delegation refuses even this favorable deal and talks are suspended.
March 20, 1999 International peace monitors evacuate Kosova, as Yugoslav
forces buildup and launch offensives against freedom fighters. NATO aircraft and ships
ready for possible bombardments.
March 22, 1999 U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke visits Belgrade to warn
Milosovic of airstrikes unless he signs peace agreement. Milosovic refuses to allow NATO
troops in Kosova.
March 23, 1999 Holbrooke declares the talks have failed. NATO authorizes
airstrikes. Serbia declares state of emergency.
March 24, 1999 NATO airstrikes begin. NATO declares that it is not going to
be the Air Force of the KLA, the only force on the grounds that can challenge Serb
extremists if given weapons and support. It also announces that it will not introduce its
own ground troops, thereby giving full license to Serb extremists to carry on their
operation against Muslims.
The airstrikes do not target the extremist Serb troops active against the Muslims who
now go in full force in their operation. The NATO operation contributes to the catastrophe
in several predictable ways. First, the bombing requires the removal of the international
observers and relief workers whose presence provided some restraint. ("The Serbs were
spring-loaded to go when the last observer left Kosova," said a NATO intelligence
official quoted in the Washington Post (11 April 1999.) Second, the bombing solidifies
internal support for the extremist regime. Third, under the cover of a full-scale war,
mass atrocities become easier. Fourth, NATO continues to enforce the arms embargo to deny
the Kosovars the ability to defend themselves on the ground.
April 1999 More than 600,000 Muslims are forced out of their homes in the
first two weeks of NATO operation. Thousands of Muslim males are murdered. Thousands of
Muslim women are violated in a repeat of the atrocities committed by the same thugs in
Bosnia a little while ago. Entire villages are burned and properties are looted.
The Albanian government appeals to the West to arm the KLA, but State Department
spokesperson James Rubin says the US had made it clear that it continues to oppose arming
or training the "rebels." Albania also raises the issue with NATO commander
Wesley Clarke, who refuses, citing the arms embargo placed on Yugoslavia as a barrier to
such a move.
Privately NATO warns the KLA not to accept any military help from any Muslim sources.
Under that threat volunteers who came from Muslim countries to help defend them are turned
May 1999 After two months of non-stop bombardment by NATO, the number of
Serb troops in Kosova increases from 40,000 to 55,000. More than a million Muslims have
been expelled. Not one Serb operation against Muslims has been stopped by NATO action.
There is no loss of Serbian operational effectiveness. Muslim Refugees keep on leaving
Kosova for neighboring countries.
Milosovic is indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for war crimes. The
Tribunal issues warrants for his arrests, but nobody expects that he would be arrested,
tried, or punished.
Talks continue to find a political solution between NATO, Russia, and Serbia. Nobody
represents the interests of the victims in these talks. All parties have already agreed
that Muslims will be denied their right to self-determination, just as they have been
denied their right to self-defense.
June 1999 Agreement is reached between indicted war criminal Milosovic, NATO
and Russia. Kosova will remain a part of Serbia and its people will be disarmed. The
"Final Solution" for the Balkan Muslims is unfolding. Although the Serbs and the
NATO powers appear to be on the opposite sides of the conflict, they are pulling the boat
in the same direction from opposite banks of the river.