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How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue
How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue
Report 41 / Europe & Central Asia

Kosovo’s Long Hot Summer

During the past six months, Serbia's southern, predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo has emerged from international obscurity to become the world's most reported conflict zone.

Executive Summary

During the past six months, Serbia's southern, predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo has emerged from international obscurity to become the world's most reported conflict zone. That said, the history of ethnic animosity in this contested land, the complexity of competing Serb and Albanian claims and the speed with which the fighting has escalated make it difficult to keep up with the events, let alone analyse and try to understand them.[fn]For a comprehensive political analysis of the Kosovo conflict, see ICG Report Kosovo Spring, 20 March 1998.Hide Footnote   What had, on 1 January 1998, been a long-standing ethnic Albanian political aspiration, namely an independent Kosovo, had evolved, by 1 March 1998, into the military objective of a popular insurrection and had by, 1 July 1998, become part of the cause of an impending humanitarian catastrophe with hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting.

At the beginning of the year, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA or, according to its Albanian acronym, UCK) was an unknown, underground organisation, the frequent object of exaggerated claims and misconceptions. Now, although far from a professional army, it has begun to take some shape and must be recognised as one of the actors on the Kosovo scene. Meanwhile, on the political front, Ibrahim Rugova, elected in 1992 as "president" of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo and viewed abroad before the outbreak of fighting as undisputed leader and sole representative of the Kosovo Albanians, is steadily losing influence, his political absolutism and passive pacifism increasingly irrelevant. If productive negotiations are ever to take place, the new balance of forces on the internal, ethnic Albanian political scene must be understood and taken into consideration.

This report examines the evolution of the UCK, its genesis, military fortunes, political impact and prospects. It considers the current humanitarian crisis. And it analyses the internal dynamics of ethnic Albanian politics in and concerning Kosovo and their impact on the options that the international community may contemplate to promote a political solution to the conflict.

Pristina/Sarajevo, 2 September 1998

How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue

Online Event to discuss Crisis Group's report "Relaunching the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue", in which we discussed what currently stands in the way of a new status quo and what it will take to relaunch the process with the Pristina elections in view.

Thirteen years after Kosovo broke away from Serbia, the two countries remain mired in mutual non-recognition, with deleterious effects on both. The parties need to move past technicalities to tackle the main issues at stake: Pristina’s independence and Belgrade’s influence over Kosovo’s Serbian minority.

In this conversation, we discussed what currently stands in the way of a new status quo and what it will take to relaunch the process with the Pristina elections in view.

How to Relaunch the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue (Online Event, 28th January 2021)