Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo

Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo

Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo

Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo


The dissolution of communism and the rise of ethnic and religious conflict throughout the former Yugoslavia, which sparked the war among Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats, has captivated the attention of the Western media throughout the 1990s. But little notice has been paid to the growing ethnic and religious tensions within the Serbian province of Kosovo -- tensions that now pose a serious threat to the security of the Balkans. Nearly 90 percent of the population of Kosovo is composed of Albanian Muslims, many of whom support a growing movement -- at first peaceful, but now turning violent -- for independence from Christian Serbia.

In Between Serb and Albanian, Miranda Vickers explores the roots of this conflict and tracks the recent trajectory of Serbian and Albanian relations in Kosovo. The first third of the book outlines the history of Kosovo during the medieval and Ottoman periods, when relations between the two communities were generally good. The second part examines Kosovo since 1945, when the area fell under Serbian administration in the socialist Yugoslav system. Vickers concludes by surveying the steady deterioration in Serb-Albanian relations since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1981. With careful detail, she reveals how a largely peaceful. politically driven campaign for the independence of Kosovo has recently turned to violence with terrorist attacks on Serb political and military institutions, on Albanians thought to be collaborating with the


Towards the end of the nineteenth century a new political factor had emerged within the Ottoman Empire, with roots going back to the 1860s. This was the Young Turk Movement, which formed a liberal opposition to the regime of Sultan Abdul Hamid. The Young Turks, a product of the earlier reforms and the better education provided in schools modelled on Western lines, sought to revitalise, restructure and regenerate the Empire. An emerging sense of 'Turkish' national identity had by now made its appearance and the rediscovery of texts in the Koran supporting government by discussion, combined with a new literary movement based on French models, created an atmosphere of change and progress. Thus the foundations were being laid for an eventual Turkish national state distinct from the Ottoman Empire.

Kosovars and the Young Turks

In 1906 the Young Turks established their headquarters at Thessaloniki and formed a Committee of Union and Progress. Before long, branches sprang up in neighbouring towns and many Albanian members of the Young Turk Committee were also members of the local Committee of the Prizren League. They sought a return to the 1876 constitution which had granted the Empire's ethnically and culturally diverse population the national rights they had been demanding. Gradually the movement extended its influence in the army, until a general and spontaneous uprising heralded a military coup which overthrew the Sultan and brought the Young Turks to power in July 1908. This revolution was greatly assisted by Albanians, esPecially those from Kosovo, since the Young Turks had promised to relieve them of their heavy taxes and award them full constitutional rights, together with their traditional privileges. They . . .

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