Kosovo. At the beginning of the year, Kosovo was formally a Serbian province, placed under UN administration. During the year, the Albanian majority declared an independent state. By the end of the year, Kosovo was a divided country with some unclear status; only 52 of the world’s nations had recognized the new state. Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, France and the United Kingdom had recognized Kosovo, while Russia and China had not.
In early January, a coalition government was formed between the two parties that became the largest in the November elections, the Kosovo Democratic Party (PDK) and the Kosovo Democratic Alliance (LDK). PDK leader Hashim Thaçi, a former guerrilla commander, was appointed prime minister and Parliament re-elected LDK leader Fatmir Sejdiu as president.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of KS in general and in geography as Kosovo in particular.
On February 17, Prime Minister Thaçi proclaimed the independent state of Kosovo. The protests became violent in Serbia and among Serbs in Kosovo. Russia demanded a crisis meeting in the UN Security Council and demanded that the independence be annulled. But the United States and most EU countries, including Sweden, soon recognized the new state.
Unrest mainly occurred in northern Kosovo, where many residents belong to the Serbian minority. In the shared city of Mitrovica, Serbs entered a court building used by the UN administration UNMIK and clashes with UN police occurred. One Ukrainian police officer was killed and many injured. The Serbs refused to approve the new state and the Serb-dominated areas continued to be ruled from Belgrade.
In November, the UN adopted a plan to allow the newly established 2,000-strong EULEX operation to take over the police and customs services from UNMIK before the end of the year, except in Serbian-dominated areas where the UN continued to have control. The UN’s continued presence was a condition of the Serbs. The government of Priština opposed it, out of concern for a division of its young republic. However, both Serbia and Kosovo promised to accept the UN plan.
In April, the United Nations War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague released former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj from charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the separatist uprising in Kosovo in the late 1990s. Former guerrilla leader Haradinaj, who self-surrendered to the court three years earlier, was received as a hero on his return. A co-accused, Idriz Balaj, was also released while Lahi Brahimaj was sentenced to six years in prison for torture during his time in the then Kosovo Albanian guerrilla UCK.