The Republic of Kosovo declared independence from the Republic of Serbia in 2008, a move which Serbia rejects. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Initially there were no relations between the two; however, in the following years there has been increased dialogue and cooperation between the governments of Kosovo and Serbia.
Serbia strongly opposed Kosovo's declaration of independence, which was declared on 17 February 2008. On 12 February 2008, the Government of Serbia instituted an Action Plan to combat Kosovo's anticipated declaration, which stipulated, among other things, recalling the Serbian ambassadors for consultations in protest from any state recognising Kosovo, which it has consistently done. Activities of ambassadors from countries that have recognised independence are limited to meetings with Foreign Ministry lower officials. The Serbian Ministry of the Interior issued an arrest warrant against Hashim Thaçi, Fatmir Sejdiu and Jakup Krasniqi on 18 February 2008 on charges of high treason.
On 8 March 2008, the Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica resigned, dissolving the coalition government, saying it was too divided over the Kosovo situation to carry on. A pre-term parliamentary election was held on 11 May 2008, together with local elections. President Boris Tadić stated that the government fell "because there was no agreement regarding further EU integration".
On 24 March 2008, Slobodan Samardžić, Minister for Kosovo and Metohija, proposed partitioning Kosovo along ethnic lines, asking the United Nations to ensure that Belgrade can control key institutions and functions in areas where Serbs form a majority but other members of the Government and the President denied these claims. On 25 March 2008, the outgoing Prime Minister, Vojislav Koštunica stated that membership in the EU should be "left aside," until Brussels stated whether it recognised Serbia within its existing borders.
On 24 July 2008, the Government decided to return its ambassadors to EU countries. Other ambassadors were returned following the positive outcome of the vote in the UN General Assembly. Serbia has expelled diplomatic representations of all neighboring countries that subsequently recognised Kosovo's independence: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, and the Republic of Macedonia.
On 15 August 2008, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić filed a request at the United Nations seeking a non-legally binding advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of whether the declaration of independence was in breach of international law. The United Nations General Assembly adopted this proposal on 8 October 2008. In July 2010, the ICJ issued its opinion which found that Kosovo's declaration of independence "did not violate international law".
Since the declaration of independence, Serbia refused to deal directly with the Republic of Kosovo, but only through the international intermediaries UNMIK and EULEX. However, there has been some normalisation; beginning in 2011, an EU team persuaded Serbia to discuss some minor border issues with Kosovo; in February 2013, the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia met in Brussels. Liaison officers are also being exchanged.
On 27 March 2012, four Kosovo Serbs, including the mayor of Vitina, were arrested by Kosovo Police while attempting to cross the disputed border at Bela Zemlja back into Kosovo with campaign materials for an upcoming election. They were subsequently charged with "incitement to hatred and intolerance among ethnic groups".
The following day, trade unionist Hasan Abazi was arrested with fellow unionist Adem Urseli by Serbian police manning the Central Serbia/Kosovo crossing near Gjilan. Abazi was charged with espionage and Urseli with drug smuggling. Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić stated of the arrests that "Serbian police did not wish to take this approach, but the situation obviously could no longer go on without retaliation... If someone wants to compete in arrests, we have the answer". According to his lawyer, Abazi was then held in solitary confinement. On 30 March, the Serbian High Court in Vranje ordered Abazi to be detained for thirty days on espionage charges dating to an incident in 1999 in which Abazi allegedly gave information to NATO. Abazi's arrest was protested by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as "arbitrary".
On 19 October 2012, normalisation talks mediated by the European Union began in Brussels with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, where the two PMs sat at the table and initiated talks on normalising relations between Pristina and Belgrade. Reaching such a deal was a necessary condition of Serbia's EU candidacy. The governments slowly reached agreements and deals on various areas, such as freedom of movement, university diplomas, regional representation and on trade and international customs. In Brussels, Serbia and Kosovo agreed that implementation of the border agreement would start on 10 December 2012. A historic meeting took place on 6 February 2013, when Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić and Kosovar President Atifete Jahjaga sat at the same table for the first time since Kosovo declared independence.
Following a December 2012 agreement, the two nations swapped liaison officers who worked at EU premises in the two capitals. Pristina referred to these officers as "ambassadors", but Belgrade rejected such a designation.
Serbia's top officials met with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in Brussels, on 11 March 2013, Serbian president Nikolić said that Serbia and Kosovo were very close to signing an agreement which would improve their relations.
On 19 April 2013, the two governments completed the Brussels Agreement that was hailed as a major step towards normalising relations, and would allow both Serbia and Kosovo to advance in European integration. The agreement is reported to commit both states not to "block, or encourage others to block, the other side's progress in the respective EU paths." Amongst other measures the deal establishes a special police commander (Commander will be appointed by Pristina from a list submitted by Serbs) and appeal court (Under Pristina laws and procedures) for the Serb minority in Kosovo, but does not amount to a recognition of Kosovo's independence by Belgrade. There were no Special provisions in the agreement given to Serb communities in North Kosovo as all municipalities have the same rights and status. In news reports Ashton was quoted as saying, "What we are seeing is a step away from the past and, for both of them, a step closer to Europe", whilst Thaçi declared "This agreement will help us heal the wounds of the past if we have the wisdom and the knowledge to implement it in practice."
Kosovo–Serbia negotiations encountered difficulties in the wake of the agreement reached in Brussels. On 7 August 2013, an agreement was announced between the two governments to establish permanent border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo throughout 2014.
On 9 September 2013, an agreement was reached to allow Kosovo to apply for its own international dialling code. Two days later, the Serbian government announced the dissolution of the Serb minority assemblies it created in northern Kosovo in order to allow the integration of the Kosovo Serb minority into the general Kosovo population. In order to facilitate the integration of the Serb minority in the north into Kosovar society, the Kosovo parliament passed an amnesty law pardoning for past acts of resistance to Kosovo authorities. This principle was put into effect in early December, as the governments of Serbia and Kosovo agreed to the appointment of a Kosovo Serb as chief of police in the Serbian area of Northern Kosovo. The two governments also reached agreement in principle to allow Kosovo to apply for its own international dialing code once the Serbian government begins EU accession talks. On September 19, a EULEX officer was killed in the Serb area of Kosovo in a drive by shooting, this murder viewed as an act by opponents of reconciliation.
In late 2014 Kosovo–Serbia negotiations reached standstill owing to the change of government in Kosovo which now advocated a more hardline towards Serbia. More difficulties arose in December 2014, as President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic went against the position of the government by stating that any decision on Kosovo must be submitted to a referendum.
On August 26, 2015, Kosovo and Serbia signed a series of agreements in key areas, in a major step towards normalizing ties. Kosovo's foreign minister claimed it was a de facto recognition of independence, while Serbia's prime minister said it ensured representation for ethnic-Serbs in Kosovo. As a result of the agreements, Serbia can now move forward with its negotiations to join the EU. However, the Serbian government still opposes any initiative by the government of Kosovo joining UN agencies, and Kosovo's initiative regarding UNESCO membership was met with protest by Belgrade.
In January 2017, a train painted in Serbian flag colors and with the words "Kosovo is Serbia" was prevented from crossing into Kosovo. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić stated that Serbia would send its army to Kosovo if Kosovo Serbs are attacked. Kosovo viewed the train as a provocation. Both Serbia and Kosovo mobilized their military forces along the Kosovo-Serbian border.
Kosovar special police arrested Serbian politician Marko Đurić visiting Northern Mitrovica in March 2018. Despite being banned from entering Kosovo and warnings by the Kosovo police, Đurić decided to visit the northern part of Mitrovica. The Kosovo police armed with machine guns followed by EULEX entered premises where local Serb politicians were having a meeting and arrested Đurić, who according to Pacolli is banned from entering as he "encourages hatred". Commenting on the event, President Vučić called the Kosovo state and police terrorists, and that they were out to take over northern Kosovo.
On 13 December 2016, at the 3511st Council of the European Union meeting, the delegates urged Kosovo to swiftly implement in good faith its part of all past agreements, in particular the establishment of the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities and to engage constructively with Serbia in formulating and implementing future agreements. On December 29, 2016, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić noted the significance of maintaining the dialogue and implementing all agreements, primarily those that apply to establishing the Community of Serb Municipalities. On December 30, 2016, Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi had stated that he hopes the questions of the Community would be resolved at the beginning of 2017. That never occurred, and deep divisions followed within the government.
Since the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, a large portion of Kosovo Serbs have been displaced from their homes, like other minorities throughout the province. A significant portion of Serbian Orthodox churches, as well as Serbian cemeteries and homes, have been demolished or vandalised.
The Serbian Government promised suspended Serb prison workers from Lipljan money if they were to leave the Kosovo institutions, which they were working in, so they did. However they were never paid, so staged a continued a blockade of the Co-ordination Centre in Gračanica. They claim that Belgrade, the Kosovo Ministry specifically, has not paid them money promised for leaving the Kosovo institutions.
Serbs have also responded by forming their own assembly.
In September 2013, the Serb government dismantled the Serb minority assemblies in Mitrovica, Leposavić, Zvecan and Zubin Potok as part of an agreement with the government of Kosovo. At the same time, the President of Kosovo signed a law that granted amnesty to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo for past acts of resistance to Kosovo law enforcement authorities.
Kosovo pays considerable attention to Albanian minority in Serbia. The Albanian minority in Serbia has voiced support for more rights in line with the rights of Serbs in Kosovo. In 2013, Isa Mustafa, then one of the leaders of opposition in Kosovo, referring to the Brussels Agreement said that "Once the programme for implementing the agreement is finished, Kosovo and Serbia have to open a discussion about the issue of the rights that Albanians who live in Presevo and in Serbia enjoy".
Widespread protests and riots in Serbia and North Kosovo followed the proclamation of independence by the Republic of Kosovo on February 17, 2008. Protests were also held by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.2008 unrest in Kosovo
The 2008 unrest in Kosovo followed Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17, 2008. Some Kosovo Serbs opposed to secession boycotted the move by refusing to follow orders from the central government in Pristina and attempted to seize infrastructure and border posts in Serb-populated regions. There were also sporadic instances of violence against international institutions and governmental institutions, predominantly in North Kosovo.
Tensions in the North intensified when Serbs in Kosovska Mitrovica seized a UN courthouse on March 14, 2008. UN police and NATO forces responded on March 17, and attacks by Serb protesters left one UN police officer dead and as many as 150 people wounded. On June 28, Kosovo Serbs formed the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija to coordinate resistance to the Kosovan Government.Ahtisaari Plan
The Ahtisaari Plan, formally the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement (CSP), is a status settlement proposal covering a wide range of issues related to the Kosovo status process for Kosovo.Some of the main components of the plan include the formation of the International Steering Group for Kosovo (ISG), and the International Civilian Representative for Kosovo (ICR), the European Union Special Representative (EUSR) for Kosovo, appointed by the Council of the European Union.In early 2012 President Boris Tadić recommended his Five-Point Plan for Kosovo, essentially a reworking of the Ahtisaari Plan.
On 10 September 2012, the International Steering Group had its final meeting and formally ended its supervision,
With immediate effect, the CSP no longer exists as a separate and superior legal power, and the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo now constitutes the sole basis for the country’s legal framework.
and Kosovo became responsible for its own governance.Albania–Serbia relations
Albanian–Serbian relations are foreign relations between Albania and Serbia. Albania has an embassy in Belgrade. Serbia has an embassy in Tirana. Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). Serbia and Albania are both official candidate countries for EU accession..Belgrade–Kosovska Mitrovica train incident
The Belgrade-Kosovska Mitrovica train incident happened on 14 January 2017, when a provocative Serbian train was prevented from entering Kosovo.Belgrade–Pristina negotiations
Belgrade–Pristina dialogue are a series of EU-facilitated talks between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo. Serbia claims Kosovo as its southern province under United Nations administration, and rejects its independence. Kosovo considers Serbia as a neighboring state. The negotiations began in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence. They are the first negotiations between the two entities since Kosovo declared independence in February 2008.Borko Stefanović
Borko Stefanović (born 5 February 1974, born as Borislav Stefanović) is the founder of political party Levica Srbije. Prior to founding Levica Srbije, he was active in the Democratic Party in Serbia, with whom he engaged in a high-profile split in the summer of 2015. He was one of Serbia's representatives during the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations. He was the Political Director of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Chief of Staff for Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić.Brussels Agreement (2013)
The Brussels Agreement (Serbian: Бриселски споразум / Briselski sporazum, Albanian: Marrëveshja e Brukselit) was made between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo on the normalization of their relations. It was negotiated and concluded, although not signed by either party, in Brussels under the auspices of the European Union. The negotiations were led by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, and mediated by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. The agreement was concluded on 19 April 2013.Disappeared Serbian journalists in Kosovo
From August 1998 to September 2000, at least seven Serbian journalists disappeared and are believed to have been killed in Kosovo, during and in the aftermath of the Kosovo War (1998–99). The perpetrators are assumed to have been Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members, but there has been no convictions.
Ranko Perenić (born 25 September 1958 in Lipljan) and Đuro Slavuj (born 24 December 1962 in Dvor na Uni) were journalists of RTV Priština who disappeared on August 21, 1998. Earlier that day they had set out for the Zočište Monastery to gather information on the freed Orthodox monks who had been kidnapped by the KLA. They were last seen in Velika Hoča from where they were to drive towards Zočište, but instead they made a wrong turn towards Orahovac, which was under the control of the KLA. The car which they drove, a blue Zastava 128, was never found. They were the first Serbs working for the media that disappeared during the conflict.
Ljubomir Knežević (born 25 May 1939 in Ulcinj) was a journalist of Pristina newspaper Jedinstvo and correspondent of Belgrade daily Politika. He disappeared on 6 May 1999 near Vučitrn at the foot of Čičavica. Bekim Shuti "Niku", KLA commander in Shala operational zone, is suspected for his disappearance. Knežević is believed to have been kidnapped by Shuti's unit and taken to their headquarters in the Ošljane village where he was tortured and killed. Police documents mention two possible perpetrators and nine more suspects, but the Kosovo police did not interrogate any of these.
Aleksandar Simović (born 1 October 1968 in Prizren) was a journalist and translator who disappeared on 21 August 1999 in Pristina. Part of his remains were found in the Obrinje village near Glogovac. His family has not received any official information on the investigation and defendants in the case.
Marjan Melonaši (born 3 July 1976 in Pristina) was a reporter for the Serbian editorial of Radio Kosovo who disappeared on 9 September 2000 in Pristina. According to his family he was last seen entering a taxi outside the office. Only in 2005 the Kosovo police showed interest in the case and entered testimonies into their data base and then closed the case. The police did not investigate his home or his work place. It is likely that the murder was politically motivated.
Momir Stokuća (born 2 October 1949 in Belgrade) was a photojournalist who reported to Politika that disappeared on 21 September 1999 in his family home in the Pristina centre Đura Jakšić street 15. His family has not received any official information on the investigation.
Milo Buljević, RTS employee in Pristina, was according to eye witness testimonies abducted on 25 June 1999 in Pristina by men wearing KLA uniforms.The Association of Journalists of Serbia has asked of EULEX, UNMIK, Kosovo Police, the War Crimes Prosecution Office and War Crimes Court to initiate and renew investigations and public campaigns to encourage individuals to speak. The signs calling on information about the cases have been destroyed once set up. As of December 2017, out of 14 cases, the Kosovo Prosecution is investigating seven and three were to be handed over to EULEX.Foreign relations of Kosovo
Foreign relations of Kosovo are accomplished by efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo. Kosovo operates 24 embassies abroad and is host to 21 Embassies in Pristina. Kosovo has membership in several International Organisations.
On 17 February 2008, members of the Assembly of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. This move was controversial among the international community. International supervision over the direction of the assembly ended in September 2012, and Kosovo became responsible for its own governance.
The Republic of Kosovo has been recognised by 112 UN member states, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Cook Islands, and Niue. Additionally some countries that don't formally recognise the Republic of Kosovo (China, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Greece) maintain non-diplomatic official "liaison offices" in Kosovo; as does the European Union.
The current Foreign Minister of Kosovo is Behgjet Pacolli.International recognition of Kosovo
Since its declaration of independence from Serbia, enacted on 17 February 2008, international recognition of Kosovo has been mixed, and the international community continues to be divided on the issue.
As of 4 November 2018, the Republic of Kosovo has received 115 diplomatic recognitions as an independent state, of which 10 have been subsequently withdrawn. As of 9 February 2019, 102 out of 193 (53%) United Nations (UN) member states, 23 out of 28 (82%) European Union (EU) member states, 25 out of 29 (86%) NATO member states, and 34 out of 57 (60%) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states have recognized Kosovo. The government of Serbia does not recognize it as a sovereign state, but has begun to normalize relations with the government of Kosovo in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.Kosovo je Srbija
"Kosovo je Srbija" (Serbian Cyrillic: Косово је Србија; English: Kosovo is Serbia) is a slogan used in Serbia since at least 2004, popularised as a reaction to Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. The slogan has been used by a series of protests, and by the Serbian Government. The slogan has appeared on T-shirts and in graffiti and was placed on the websites of Kosovan institutions by hackers in 2009. The slogan is used by Serbs across the world.North Kosovo crisis
The North Kosovo Crisis (2011-2013) was made up of a sequential series clashes between ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo and the Republic of Kosovo and began on 25 July 2011 when the Kosovo Police crossed into the Serb-controlled municipalities of North Kosovo, in an attempt to control several administrative border crossings without the consultation of either Serbia or KFOR/EULEX. Though tensions between the two sides eased somewhat after the intervention of NATO's KFOR forces, they continued to remain high amid concern from the EU, who also blamed Kosovo for the unilateral provocation. On 19 April 2013, an agreement was signed in Brussels between representatives of Kosovo and Serbia. The 15-point document granted devolved powers to North Kosovo regarding economic development, education, healthcare and urban planning, and a number of mechanisms that allowed a certain degree of autonomy in justice, policing and electoral matters.Political status of Kosovo
The political status of Kosovo, also known as the Kosovo question (Serbian: Косовско питање/Kosovsko pitanje) is the subject of a long-running political and territorial dispute between the Serbian (and previously, Yugoslav) government and the Kosovar leadership in the Assembly of Kosovo, stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia (1991-92) and the ensuing Kosovo War (1998–99). In 1999 the administration of the province was handed on an interim basis to the United Nations under the terms of UNSCR 1244 which ended the Kosovo conflict of that year. That resolution reaffirmed the sovereignty of Serbia over Kosovo but required the UN administration to promote the establishment of 'substantial autonomy and self-government' for Kosovo pending a 'final settlement' for negotiation between the parties.
The UN-sponsored talks began in February 2006, and though no agreement was reached between the parties, a proposal from UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari was presented in May 2007 which recommended 'supervised independence' for the province. After many weeks of discussions at the UN in New York, the United States, United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council formally 'discarded' a draft resolution backing Ahtisaari's proposal on 20 July 2007, having failed to secure Russian backing.On 17 February 2008 representatives of the people of Kosovo, acting outside the UNMIK's PISG framework issued a declaration of independence establishing the Republic of Kosovo. The International Court of Justice ruled that the declaration did not violate international law and argued that the signatory authors represented the broad will of the People of Kosovo, rather than the Assembly of Kosovo under the umbrella of UN resolution 1244.Serbian Coordination Directorate
The Serbian Coordination Directorate (in Serbian Координациона управа / Koordinaciona uprava) is an authority which is responsible for issuing Serbian passports to Serbian citizens residing in Kosovo.
In the process of granting visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, the European Union urged Serbia to found such a special authority for its citizens residing in Kosovo as the European Union considered it impossible for Serbia to evaluate the issuing of original source documents needed to apply for a passport and the integrity of the procedures applied by Serbia to check the authenticity of documents provided by applicants for that purpose. In July 2009, Serbia founded the Serbian Coordination Directorate.
Serbian passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate do not allow the holder to enter the Schengen Area without a visa, even for a stay of less than three months within half a year; nor do Kosovan passports. Serbian citizens with passports issued by other authorities enjoy such a privilege.