Formerly an autonomous province of Serbia within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the largely Albanian-inhabited territory was stripped of its autonomy in 1989.
In 1991, an unofficial referendum was organized that showed overwhelming support for independence. However, this went all but ignored internationally.
In the mid-1990s, Kosovo Albanians launched a guerrilla campaign to press for independence. And in 1999, after a major escalation of tensions between the sides, NATO intervened.
Following a 78-day bombing campaign, Kosovo was placed under UN administration pending a decision on its final status. UN-mediated talks on the future of Kosovo began in 2006.
And while Serbia offered extensive autonomy, Kosovo demanded nothing short of independence. And on 17 February 2008, following two years of unsuccessful negotiations, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence.
Although it’s since been recognized by the United States, Britain, and almost a hundred other countries, its statehood has been rejected by Russia and China.
As a result, it is unable to join the United Nations. In the meantime, the European Union has led a dialogue process between Serbia and Kosovo with the aim of normalizing relations between them.
Ultimately, there’s no prospect that Kosovo will be reintegrated back into Serbia and it’s expected that Serbia will in fact eventually recognize Kosovo – even if only to secure membership in the European Union.
The question, therefore, is what the price of that recognition will be.