The Kosovo Quagmire: What Are the Issues? Should We Care?

By Fraser, John M. | International Journal, Fall 1998 | Go to article overview

The Kosovo Quagmire: What Are the Issues? Should We Care?


Fraser, John M., International Journal


BEFORE LATE FEBRUARY OR EARLY MARCH 1998, most Canadians could probably not have located Kosovo (Kosova in Albanian) on a map with any confidence. (It is in the southwest corner of Serbia, also bordering Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro.) Since then, it has been prominent in the news because of the civil war that has developed between Serbian government forces and a Kosovo Albanian (Kosovar) insurgent group loosely identified as the Kosovo Liberation Army. The international community has become involved; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is poised for action; six Canadian aircraft are to take part in pressure by the international community to force the Serbian/Yugoslav authorities to end their repression and the insurgents to join them in negotiations.

Although many people speak of another Bosnia, the two situations are quite different. The war in Bosnia was a by-product of Yugoslavia's collapse; conflict between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo dates back at least to 1912.

The insurgents in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians make up more than 90 per cent of the population, seek independence, which would probably be followed by union with Albania - a traditional goal about which most Kosovars are now reticent but which many certainly espouse. The Yugoslav and Serbian governments wish to maintain the status quo of Serbian domination over Kosovo, but have offered some form of 'cultural' autonomy. They say that they are ready to negotiate; it is the Kosovars who walked away from the table.

The international community has consistently stated its opposition to Kosovo independence on the grounds that it would be destabilizing for the region - particularly for neighbouring Macedonia with its own restive Albanian minority. Publicly, at any rate, even the Albanian government does not support independence for Kosovo, much less its union with Albania, although the issue of policy towards the Kosovo crisis has been contentious in Albanian domestic politics. What Albania professes to favour, and the international community is pushing for, is the broadest possible autonomy for Kosovo, either within Serbia or as a separate constituent republic of Yugoslavia. So far, this is acceptable to neither the Serbs nor the Kosovars.

As usual in the Balkans, there is a lot of history tied up in the dispute. Kosovo is both the Serbian Camelot, and, for the last eighty-six years, a burr under Serbia's saddle. For the Albanians, it is part of their historic territory and the place where, in the late 19th century, aspirations for an independent Albanian state began to take shape.

ANCIENT HISTORY

(both Serbs and Albanians care about this)

The Serbs believe that Kosovo was basically empty before the Slav migrations of the sixth and seventh centuries. The Albanians assert that they have always lived there - at least since Roman times, when it was populated by the Illyrians, from whom Albanians claim to be directly descended. Much academic ink, on both sides, has been spilt in defence of these positions.

MEDIEVAL HISTORY

(Serbs particularly care about this)

Kosovo was the geographical and ecclesiastical centre of the mediaeval Serbian empire. It reached its height under Tsar Stefan Dusan (1331-55), who made Prizren (in Kosovo) one of his major capitals and was buried there. His realm included most of what is now Albania, and there were probably as many Albanians as Serbs in his victorious armies.

What made Kosovo the central point of heroic Serbian mythology, however, was the glorious defeat of Tsar Lazar's army at Kosovo Polje (the Field of Blackbirds) on 28 June 1389 (St Vitus Day, or, in Serbian, Vidovdan) by the invading Ottoman Turks. The Serbs see their role as having valiantly, if unsuccessfully, defended Christendom against the infidel. In fact, there were Serbs on both sides of this battle, and Tsar Lazar's forces included Albanians and a contingent from Bosnia - at the time perhaps the strongest Slav state in the region.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Kosovo Quagmire: What Are the Issues? Should We Care?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.