Kosovo. The Serbian majority in four municipalities in northern Kosovo voted in February with a large majority against recognizing the republic that the country’s Albanian population declared in 2008. They thus defied the government of Priština and also did not support the Serbian government in Belgrade to hold a referendum in question.
In talks during EU mediation, Kosovo and Serbia reached a settlement in February that allowed Kosovo to have representation at international meetings.
When a group of Serbs from northern Kosovo visited a historic battlefield outside Priština in June, their buses were attacked by stone-throwing Albanians, and about 50 people were injured.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Kosovo. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
A visit by UN chief Ban Ki Moon in July was interpreted by many as a recognition of Kosovo’s right to independence, although a UN membership was still remote. In September, the international steering group – 23 EU countries, the US and Turkey – gave the go-ahead for Kosovo to go from being a republic with “supervised independence” to “full independence”. Kosovo, now recognized by more than 90 countries around the world, was found to have fulfilled conditions set out in a UN plan in connection with independence from Serbia. US President Barack Obama called the status change a “historic milestone.” However, Serbia, which did not recognize the independence of the breakaway republic, dismissed the message as irrelevant.
Nevertheless, the country’s heads of government, Kosovo’s Hashim Thaçi and his Serbian colleague Ivica Dac˘ić, met in Brussels in October, led by EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton. It was the first high-level political meeting held since Kosovo declared itself independent. Ashton stated that they both promised to work to improve relations between the countries. The talks sparked violent protests in Kosovo’s capital Priština by people who opposed all normalization in relations with Serbia. Over 20 were injured and dozens were arrested in the unrest.
During the autumn, Kosovo and Serbia also managed to agree on a common border check, despite having different views on the border status.
A research team in the Netherlands was commissioned in November to lead an international investigation into alleged organ trafficking in Kosovo in 2008. According to the data, illegal transplants should have taken place. Several arrests in the case had been made in Israel earlier this year. The investigation was funded by the European Commission and would last for three years.
In November, the UN War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague freed former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj from suspicions of war crimes during the 1998–99 conflict with Serbia. Haradinaj was already released in 2008, but the trial had to be rescheduled because of information that witnesses were threatened. The verdict was celebrated in Kosovo but triggered protests in Serbia.