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Kosovo Independence Day – February 17, 2023

Kosovo Independence Day is a national holiday observed annually every February 17, in commemoration of the declaration of the Balkan nation’s independence in 2008. Kosovo, the second-youngest country in the world, Southeastern Europe, on February 17, 2008, made a declaration of Independence from Serbia following a deadly war from March 5 1998 to June 11, 1999. Forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group — Kosovo Liberation Army (K.L.A.) — came at each other savagely, gaining widespread attention. The conflict came to a halt following the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) intervention by airstrikes in March 1999. Yugoslav forces then withdrew from Kosovo.

History of Kosovo Independence Day

Reputed for taking a seat as the most bloodied event to leave a gruesome scar in Europe since World War II, snatching a staggering 13,000 lives, the tragic event of the Kosovo war still lingers on today.

The Republic of Kosovo, which derives its name from the Serbian region “field of the blackbirds”, a former province in Serbia, is majorly described as an ethnic Albanian territory. Her history cannot be told without reference to neighboring regions including Serbia. Present-day Kosovo traces its origin to Dardania, forming an independent polity known as the Kingdom of Dardania (fourth century B.C.). It was later annexed by the Roman Empire in the first century B.C. The Middle Ages saw the region merge with the Bulgarian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Serbian medieval states. The Ottoman Empire then gained control. In 1913, Kosovo became part of the Kingdom of Serbia, which formed Yugoslavia in 1918.

The Kosovo war erupted following decades-long mistreatment and oppression of the ethnic Albanians by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, this would form the root cause sparking the revolt. The pre-Kosovo war shows long tensions between the Serb majority and the Albanians, although a partition had been suggested severally as the solution to ease the conflict, the 2008 declaration of independence cemented it.

Before this time, on May 18, 2001, Vice-President of Serbia, Nebojša Čović, proposed the two entities, a Serbian and an Albanian, be established in Kosovo and Metohija. In 2008, Kosovo boldly declared independence from Serbia. That decision was met with both acceptance and rebuff. The United States and most European Union members gave a nod, Serbia, its affiliated Russia, and several other countries including the United Nations did not recognize that decision. However, in 2010, the International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Kosovo stating it in no way violated international law.

Kosovo Independence Day timeline

1913
Serbia Regains Control of Kosovo

After seizing control from Turkey, the Kosovo Vilayet merges into the Kingdom of Serbia.

1918
Kosovo Officially Becomes Province of Serbia

Kosovo becomes incorporated as a province of Serbia in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (S.F.R.Y.) after World War II.

1989
Slobodan Milošević is Elected as President

Milošević is elected during the first presidential election in December 1990, and earned repute for oppressing Kosovo — he would later be charged with Bosnian War crimes.

1996
The Kosovo Liberation Army (K.L.A.) Emerges

Considered a terrorist movement, K.L.A. adamantly pursues a separatist movement for Kosovo from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

1998—1999
Kosovo Bloody Civil War

The Kosovo war spans from February 28, 1998, to June 1999.

1999
NATO Intervenes in War

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commences a 78-day bombing airstrike from March 24, 1999, to 11 June 1999.

2008
Kosovo Declares Independence

Kosovo officially separates from Serbia after a bloody war that lasted from February 1998 until June 1999.

2010
U.N. Rules in Favor of Kosovo

The U.N. court (I.C.J.) states that Kosovo did not violate international law and that her declaration was legal.

Kosovo Independence Day FAQs

When was the Kosovo war?

The Kosovo conflict, held from 1998 to 1999, drew from the separatist movements which had become fast spread around her neighborhood, and following rising tensions with ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs, an escalation occurred.

How did the Kosovo war end?

The Military Technical Agreement, also known as the Kumanovo Agreement, brought about peace. The International Security Force (K.F.O.R.) and the Governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia, all signed the agreement on June 9, 1999, in Kumanovo, Macedonia. Following this, the war ended.

How do we celebrate Kosovo Independence Day?

Although varied traditions exist, most people take to the streets for joyous celebrations in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city.

How to Observe Kosovo Independence Day

  1. Attend independence-themed concert

    It's a special day celebrating freedom and new beginnings. Make your day memorable by attending a super fun independence day concert.

  2. Attend an independence day parade

    Colorful outfits, marching, and waving of flags, sounds exciting right? Don't be a couch potato, go out there and have massive fun!

  3. Follow the hashtags

    Thanks to technology, you still get the luxury of connecting to the day with just a scroll. Follow up on the conversation.

5 Interesting Facts About Kosovo You Should Know

  1. Mother Teresa lived in Kosovo

    Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia formerly part of Kosovo Vilayet, Ottoman Empire.

  2. Forestry makes up a large part

    The forests of Kosovo have been said to account for 41% of the entire surface area which could usher in a huge turnaround for the country.

  3. A predominantly Muslim nation

    In the tiny state, owing to the Ottoman Empire imposing Islamic rule, the Islamic population greatly outnumbers Christians.

  4. Albanians make up the majority

    Albanians account for officially 92.93% of Kosovo's entire population, hence one of the two official languages of the country along with Serbian.

  5. Kosovo recognized as an independent country

    More than 100 United Nations members and 23 out of 28 members of the European Union (E.U.) recognize Kosovo as an independent republic.

Why Kosovo Independence Day is Important

  1. It reminds us how far we've come

    Regardless of country or race, history makes up an integral part of our story. A look back at the past reminds us of our pride and inspires us to keep pushing for the better.

  2. It allows us to celebrate heroes

    Every freedom story comes into existence because of the selflessness and courage of zealous fighters. Their sacrifice and strength deserve to be celebrated and the day provides that perfect opportunity to show our respect.

  3. It helps us know our past

    Kosovo Independence Day broadens our knowledge of our roots through crystal clear analysis of events which helps update knowledge of our existence. It’s important to reflect on the past.

Kosovo Independence Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 17Friday
2024February 17Saturday
2025February 17Monday
2026February 17Tuesday
2027February 17Wednesday

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