Today, most Kosovo Serbs consider themselves citizens of Serbia. But they don't recognize the Kosovo state. Why the divide? I will like to go fully into the story.
In 2008, Kosovo became an Europe's newest country. The small state of over 1.8 million people, emerge as as a result of one of Europe's most brutal sectarian conflictsbsince the Second World War. It was a conflict that pitted an authoritarian nationalist leader, Slobodan Milosevic.
Today, Kosovo is peaceful but poor. Kosovo was part of Serbia from 1912. Then, in 1918, Serbia became part of what would become Yugoslavia. To this day, Kosovo is still divided along ethnic lines. Over 90% of it's population are ethnic Albanians, who are mostly Muslim. Serbs, who are Orthodox Christians, account for about 5%. Throughout 1980s, Kosovo enjoys autonomy within Serbia. But the majority ethnic Albanian population wanted more political freedom. But there is one man standing in the way of Kosovo Albanians, Slobodan Milosevic, the leader of the Serbian communist party. Milosevic wanted to keep Kosovo as part of Serbia. He rallied the minority Serb population and further divided Kosovo.
In 1989, Milosevic became President of Serbia, and within weeks, placed Kosovo back under the direct control of his Serbian government. Petrit Selimi was growing up in Kosovo at the time. He and his family belong to the ethnic Albanian majority. As communism collapsed across Central and Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia began to disintegrate. From 1991, it's republics declared independence. Wars broke out in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, as ethnic Serbs living in these new countries, opposed independence. Milosevic wanted to carve a greater Serbia out of the ruins. So he sent his troops to support Serbs in these conflicts. During this turbulent time, Kosovo's political leadership declared independence, but this was ignored by Serbia and the international community.
In the late 1990s, a guerrilla group, the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, began to attack Serbia police units. It's aim was to win independence through force. Milosevic sent more Serbian security forces into Kosovo to defeat the KLA.
On January 15th, 1999, Serb forces attacked the village of Racak, killing 45 Kosovo Albanian civilians. As Serbian forces retook territory from the KLA, thousands of Kosovo Albanians fled their homes.
At the peace conference in France, Western powers gave Serbia and Kosovo Albanians an ultimatum, accept a peace deal or face military action. The serbs rejected the deal. NATO resolved to punish Milosevic and his army, and began airstrikes on Serb military targets in Kosovo and through out Serbia it self.
After 78 days of bombing and hundreds of civilian death, Serbia capitulated. Milosevic withdrew his forces from Kosovo. NATO tanks rolled in, and Petrit was reunited with his family. As Kosovo Albanians returned, tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs fled north to Serbia. It would be another nine years before Kosovo finally declared independence.
Today, Kosovo has a rough and ready democracy and a growing economy, but unemployment is high at 33%. In recent years, clashes caused by ethnic tension, have erupted on occasions. External pressure could improve those strained relations. But Kosovo and Serbia are working to join the European Union. If Kosovo and Serbia are to become EU member states, their governments and peoples will have to work together and bury their bloody past.