|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Serbia (excl. Kosovo)||205,835 (2009) and to a lesser extent Montenegro, United States|
(Zeta-South Raska, Kosovo-Resava,
Prizren-South Morava dialects)
|Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Serbian Church)|
Kosovo Serbs (Serbian: Косовски Срби/Kosovski Srbi, "Serbs of Kosovo") are the Serbs living in Kosovo[a], where they are the second largest ethnic group, numbering between 126,000 and 140,000 or (4-8% of the population).
During the 12-13th century, Kosovo was the cultural, diplomatic and religious core of the Serbian Kingdom. It was also an important part of the 14th century Serbian Empire, but was occupied by the Ottomans following the Battle of Kosovo. After five centuries as part of the Ottoman Empire, Kosovo was annexed by the Kingdom of Serbia in 1912, following the First Balkan War. It was then part of Serbia (and later Yugoslavia), until the 1999 Kosovo War resulted in the de facto separation of Kosovo from the rest of Serbia, followed by its final secession from Serbia in 2008. Most of Kosovo's pre-1999 Serb population relocated to Serbia proper following the ethnic cleansing campaign after 1999.
The formal name for the Serb community in Kosovo is Srbi na Kosovu i Metohiji, Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. The term "Kosovo Serbs" is predominantly used in English. They are known by the demonym Kosovci, though this is properly used for inhabitants of the region of Kosovo (in the narrow sense – centred around the Kosovo Field), along with Metohijci (of Metohija).
Early Slavs came to the Balkans between the 6th and 7th centuries. The Byzantine Slavs, known as Sklavenoi were Christianized in several waves, between the 7th and 9th century. The northwestern part of modern-day Kosovo, Hvosno, was part of the Serbian Principality. In the late 9th century the region was seized by the Bulgar Khanate. Although Serbian prince Constantine Bodin restored control over Metohija throughout the 10th century, the rest of Kosovo was returned to the Byzantine Empire after the Bulgarian Empire crumbled in the late 10th century. In a renewed Slavic rebellion of Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria, entire Kosovo was controlled by the First Bulgarian Empire from the late 10th century, until the Byzantine restoration of 1018. In 1040–1041 a massive Slavic rebellion against the Eastern Roman Empire arose that temporarily controlled Kosovo. After its break, the Byzantines restored control.
In 1072, an uprising was prepared by the Bulgarian and Slavic nobility in Skopje led by Georgi Voiteh, known in modern historiography as the Uprising of Georgi Voiteh. The rebels chose Constantine Bodin, a Serbian prince, the son of Michael I of Duklja, as their leader, as he was a maternal descendant of the Bulgarian Emperor Samuil; in the autumn of 1072 Constantine Bodin arrived at Prizren, where he was proclaimed Emperor of the Bulgarians. Despite some initial success, Bodin was subsequently captured at Pauni (Taonion), in southern Kosovo in December 1073 and then sent to Constantinople, then Antioch, where he spent several years, while Voiteh died en route. Next, Vukan became the independent Serbian Grand Prince; he had advanced all the way to Ulpiana (Lipljan), burned it down and raided the neighbouring areas. He met the Byzantine Emperor at Zvečan for negotiations, and concluded peace which was broken by Vukan who defeated John Komnenos, the Emperor's nephew. Byzantine Emperor Alexius had to come to Ulpiana in 1094 to negotiate. Peace was concluded and Vukan gave hostages to the Emperor, including his two nephews, though he broke peace again by defeating John Komnenos once again.
In 1166, a Serbian prince, Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjić dynasty, asserted independence after an uprising against the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Nemanja defeated his brother, Tihomir, at Pantino near Pauni, and drowned him in the Sitnica river. Nemanja was eventually defeated and had to return some of his conquests, and vouched to the Emperor that he would not raise his hand against him. In 1183, Stefan Nemanja embarked on a new offensive allied with the Kingdom of Hungary after the death of Manuel I Komnenos in 1180, which marked the end of Byzantine domination over the region of Kosovo.
Nemanja's son, Stefan, ruled a realm reaching the river of Lab in the south. Stefan conquered all of Kosovo by 1208, by which time he had conquered Prizren and Lipljan, and moved the border of his realm to the Šar mountain.
In 1217, Stefan was crowned King of Serbs, due to which he is known in historiography as Stefan "the First-Crowned". In 1219, the Serbian Church was given autocephaly, with Hvosno, Prizren and Lipljan being the Orthodox Christian eparchies with territory in modern-day Kosovo. By the end of the 13th century, the centre of the Serbian Church was moved to Peć from Žiča.
King Stefan Dušan founded the great Monastery of the Holy Archangel near Prizren in 1342–52. The Serbian Kingdom was elevated into an Empire in 1345–46. Stefan Dušan received John VI Kantakuzenos in 1342 at Pauni to discuss an alliance against the Byzantine Emperor. In 1346, the Serbian Archbishopric at Peć was upgraded into a Patriarchate, but it was not recognized before 1370. After the death of Dušan in 1355, the fall of the Serbian Empire began, with feudal disintegration during the reign of his successor, Stefan Uroš V (r. 1355–71). Parts of Kosovo became domain of Vukašin Mrnjavčević, but Vojislav Vojinović expanded his demesne further onto Kosovo. The armies of Vukašin from Pristina and his allies defeated Vojislav's forces in 1369, putting a halt to his advances. After the Battle of Maritsa on 26 September 1371 in which the Mrnjavčević brothers lost their lives, Đurađ I Balšić of Zeta took Prizren and Peć in 1372. A part of Kosovo became the demesne of the Lazar of Serbia.
The Ottoman Empire invaded the realm of Prince Lazar on 28 June 1389, at the Battle of Kosovo near Pristina, at Gazimestan. The Serbian army was led by Prince Lazar who led 12,000–30,000 men against the Ottoman army of 27,000–40,000 men. Lazar was killed in battle, while Sultan Murad also lost his life, believed to have been assassinated by Serbian knight Miloš Obilić. The outcome of the battle is deemed inconclusive, with the new Sultan Bayezid having to retreat to consolidate his power. Vuk Branković came to prominence as the local lord of Kosovo, though he was an Ottoman vassal at times, between 1392 and 1395. Another battle occurred between the Hungarian troops supported by the Albanian ruler George Kastrioti Skanderbeg on one side, and Ottoman troops supported by the Branković dynasty in 1448. Skanderbeg's troops which were going to help John Hunyadi were stopped by the Branković's troops, who was more or less an Ottoman vassal. Hungarian King John Hunyadi lost the battle after a 2-day fight, but essentially stopped the Ottoman advance northwards. Kosovo then became vassalaged to the Ottoman Empire, until its direct incorporation as the Vilayet of Kosovo after the final fall of Serbia in 1459.
The Ottomans brought Islamisation with them, particularly in towns, and later also created the Kosovo Vilayet as one of the Ottoman territorial entities. During the Islamisation many Churches and Holy Orthodox Christian places were razed to the ground or turned into mosques. The big Monastery of Saint Archangels near Prizren was torn down at the end of the 16th century and the material used to build the Mosque of Sinan-pasha, an Islamized Serb, in Prizren. Although the Serbian Orthodox Church was officially abolished in 1532, an Islamized Serb from Bosnia, Grand Vizier Mehmed-pasha Sokolović influenced the restoration of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1557. Special privileges were provided, which helped the survival of Serbs and other Christians on Kosovo.
Kosovo was taken by the Austrian forces during the War of the Holy League (1683–1698). In 1690, the Serbian Patriarch of Peć Arsenije III, who previously escaped a certain death, led 37,000 families from Kosovo, to evade Ottoman wrath since Kosovo had just been retaken by the Ottomans. The people that followed him were mostly Serbs, but there were numerous Orthodox Albanians and others too. 20,000 Serbs abandoned Prizren alone. Due to the oppression from the Ottomans, other migrations of Orthodox people from the Kosovo area continued throughout the 18th century. It is also noted that some Serbs adopted Islam and some even gradually fused with the predominantly Albanians and adopted their culture and even language. By the end of the 19th century, Albanians replaced the Serbs as the dominating nation of Kosovo.
In 1766 the Ottomans abolished the Patriarchate of Peć and the position of Christians on Kosovo was greatly reduced. All previous privileges were lost and the Christian population had to suffer the full weight of the Empire's extensive and losing wars, even to take the blame for the losses.
Serbian and Yugoslav rule
The arising Principality of Serbia planned a restoration of its rule on Kosovo as Ottoman might crumbled on the Balkan peninsular. The period witnessed a rise of Serbian nationalism, as the Serb elite refused to admit the Albanian national spirit and referred to the Albanians as Arnauts, "Albanians of Serbian origin" or "Albanian-speaking Serbs". Serbia's plans for a post-Ottoman period included the return of Kosovo.
Albanians formed the nationalistic League of Prizren in Prizren in the 19th century. The Aim of the League of Prizren was to unite the four Albanian-inhabited Vilayets by merging the majority of Albanian inhabitants within the Ottoman Empire into one Albanian Vilayet. However at that time Serbs were opposing the Albanian nationalism along with Turks and other Slavs in Kosovo, which disabled the Albanian movements to establish Albanian rule over Kosovo.
During the First Balkan War, the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro fought alongside the Kingdoms of Greece and Bulgaria as part of the Balkan League to drive the Ottoman forces out of Europe and to incorporate the spoils into their respective states. Serbia, Montenegro and Greece had occupied the entire Western Balkan (Albanian-inhabited territories) with the exception of Vlora in the hope of achieving recognition with their new borders. Resistance from the Albanians across their entire region in favour of their own proposed independent nation state led to fighting between the Balkan League armies (less geographically uninvolved Bulgaria) and Albanian forces. To end the conflict, the Treaty of London decreed an independent Albanian kingdom (akin to its present borders), with most of the Vilayet of Kosovo awarded to Serbia and the Metohija region awarded to Montenegro. Serbian authorities planned a recolonization of Kosovo and numerous Serb families moved into the region; this, and mass killings of Albanians, restored to some extent the demographic balance between Albanians and Serbs. Trotsky wrote:
The Serbs in Old Serbia, in their national endeavour to correct data in the ethnographical statistics that are not quite favourable to them, are engaged quite simply in systematic extermination of the Muslim population.
During the First World War, in the winter of 1915–1916, the Serbian army withdrew through Kosovo in a bid to evade the forces of tCentral Powers. Thousands died of starvation and exposure. In 1918, the Serbian army pushed the Central Powers out of Kosovo, and the region was unified as Montenegro subsequently joined the Kingdom of Serbia. The Monarchy was then transformed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
The 1918–1929 period of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes witnessed a decrease in the Serbian population of the region and an increase in the number of Albanians. In the kingdom, the former Ottoman province of Kosovo was split into four counties – three being a part of the entity of Serbia: Zvečan, Kosovo and southern Metohija; and one of Montenegro (itself now a ceremonial entity): northern Metohija. However, the new administration system since 26 April 1922 revised the plan and split Kosovo among three areas of the Kingdom: Kosovo, Rascia and Zeta.
In 1929, the state was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia with the Yugoslav nationality unifying all Kosovan Slavs. The territories of Kosovo were split among the Banate of Zeta, the Banate of Morava and the Banate of Vardar. The Kingdom lasted until the World War II Axis invasion of 1941.
Following the Axis invasion, most of Kosovo became part of an Italian-controlled Greater Albania, and smaller portions became part of the Tsardom of Bulgaria and Nazi German-occupied Serbia. Prior to the surrender of Fascist Italy in 1943, German forces took over direct control of the region. After numerous uprisings of Serbian Chetniks and Yugoslav Partisans, the latter being led by Fadil Hoxha, Kosovo was liberated after 1944 with the help of the Albanian partisans of the Comintern, and most of it became a province of Serbia within the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (other parts lay outside the province within Serbia whilst another part went to the newly formed Macedonian republic).
The Province of Kosovo was formed in 1946 as an autonomous region to protect its regional Albanian majority within the People's Republic of Serbia as a member of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia under the leadership of the former Partisan leader, Josip Broz Tito, but with no factual autonomy. After Yugoslavia's name changed to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia's to the Socialist Republic of Serbia in 1953, the Autonomous Region of Kosovo gained some autonomy in the 1960s. In the 1974 constitution, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo's government received higher powers, including the highest governmental titles – President and Premier and a seat in the Federal Presidency which made it a de facto Socialist Republic within the Federation, but remaining as a Socialist Autonomous Region within the Socialist Republic of Serbia. Serbian (called Serbo-Croatian at the time) and Albanian were defined official on the Provincial level marking the two largest linguistic Kosovan groups: Serbs and Albanians. In the 1970s, an Albanian nationalist movement pursued full recognition of the Province of Kosovo as another Republic within the federation, while the most extreme elements aimed for full-scale independence. Tito's government dealt with the situation swiftly, but only gave it a temporary solution. The ethnic balance of Kosovo witnessed unproportional increase as the number of Albanians rose dramatically due to higher birth rates. Serbs barely increased and dropped in the full share of the total population down to 10% due to higher demographic raise of the Albanian population.
In 1981, Albanian students organized protests seeking that Kosovo become a Republic within Yugoslavia. Those protests were harshly contained by the centralist Yugoslav government. In 1986, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) was working on a document, which later would be known as the SANU Memorandum. An unfinished edition was filtered to the press. In the essay, SANU explained the Serbian peoples history as victims of a 500 year and more genocide from Kosovo, and therefore called for the revival of Serb nationalism. During this time, Slobodan Milošević's rise to power started in the League of the Socialists of Serbia. Milošević used the discontent reflected in the SANU memorandum for his political goals.
One of the events that contributed to Milošević's rise of power was the Gazimestan Speech, delivered in front of 1,000,000 Serbs at the central celebration marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, held at Gazimestan on 28 June 1989.
Soon afterwards, as approved by the Assembly in 1990, the autonomy of Kosovo was revoked back to the old status (1971). The proclamation of an autonomous Kosovo by Tito and his communists was in fact a part of Tito's hope to continue the communist Yugoslavia. He had said "Strong Serbia, Weak Yugoslavia – Weak Serbia, Strong Yugoslavia" Milošević, however, did not remove Kosovo's seat from the Federal Presidency. After Slovenia's secession from Yugoslavia in 1991, Milošević used the seat to attain dominance over the Federal government, outvoting his opponents.
After the Dayton Agreement of 1995, the Kosovo Liberation Army began attacking Serbian civilians and Yugoslav army and police, bombing police stations and government buildings, killing Yugoslav police and innocent people of all nationalities, even Albanians who were not on their side. This triggered a Yugoslav interior ministry counter strike, aiming at crippling KLA-members, but since this was a guerilla organization it was hard to establish civilians from insurgents, and Albanian Americans started a lobby in the United States congress. The numbers that US, UK, NATO and UN officials operated with were around 10,000 Kosovo Albanians killed. This triggered a 78-day NATO campaign in 1999. As of 2014[update], mass graves of Kosovar Albanian victims are still being found.
According to the 1991 Yugoslavia census, there was 194,190 Serbs in Kosovo however with the arrival of NATO, a large number of Serbs fled the region, estimated at 100,000 by the UNHCR. Around 120,000 remain in Kosovo and oppose any rule by Albanians. During the unrest in Kosovo, 35 churches and monasteries were destroyed or seriously damaged. In total, 156 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed since June 1999. Many of the churches and monasteries dated back to the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.
Republic of Kosovo
The interim Kosovo government unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, 17 February 2008. Serbia refuses to recognise this declaration of independence. Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence has been recognised by 108 UN countries, and one non-UN country, the Republic of China (Taiwan). The remaining Serbs from North Kosovo want to remain in the Republic of Serbia, but Serbian majority towns are now rare in the Albanian-dominated, partially recognised Republic of Kosovo.
Some officials[who?] in the Serbian government have proposed the partitioning of Kosovo, with North Kosovo and Štrpce becoming part of Serbia or given autonomy. The United States opposes the partition of Kosovo, stressing that the "great majority of countries around the world are not going to stand for that." In response to the seizure of railways in Northern Kosovo and formation of Serbian offices to serve as part of a parallel government, Kosovo's Prime Minister stated that they would "not tolerate any parallel institution on Kosovo's territory" and would assert their authority over all of Kosovo. The UN's Special Representative in Kosovo said the "international community has made it very clear that no partition of Kosovo will be acceptable." Ivan Eland, a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, suggested such "a partition within a partition" would prevent a "Serbia-Kosovo War" and provides the "best chance" of Kosovo having a long-term stable relationship with Serbia. Chairman of the Serb Municipalities of Kosovo Alliance Marko Jakšić dismissed the talk of partition and said the action of Serbs in Kosovo is to protest the Kosovo declaration. Oliver Ivanović, a Kosovo Serb political leader, said he was against Kosovo's partition because "most Serbs live south of the Ibar and their position would become unsustainable". A Reuters analysis suggested that Kosovo may be divided along ethnic lines similar to Bosnia-Herzegovina. James Lyon of the International Crisis Group thinktank was quoted as saying, "the Republika Srpska style is acceptable for Serbia, but within the confines that it (Kosovo) is still part of Serbia." Pieter Feith, the European Union's special representative in Kosovo, and the International Civilian Representative for Kosovo said no plans are under discussion to carve out a canton or grant any other autonomy to Serbs living in the north of Kosovo. He told the Pristina, Kosovo, daily Koha Ditore, "It is quite clear that the privileged relations between the Serbs here (in Kosovo) and Belgrade are in the spheres of education, health care, and religious objects," adding that "the government in Pristina has to be respected." On 30 September 2008, Serbian President Boris Tadić stated that he would consider partitioning Kosovo if all other options were exhausted. The former Foreign Minister for Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanović, applauded the suggestion saying "finally this is a realistic approach coming from Serbia. Finally, after several years, there is a room to discuss." After his comments aroused controversy in the media, Tadić reiterated that he was suggesting this as a possibility only if all other options were exhausted. Kosovo's parliamentary speaker, Jakup Krasniqi, condemned any suggestion of paritioning saying, "All of those who aim to divide Kosovo, I want to say, it will end in nothing. Serbs lost their right to Kosovo with the unjust war against the Albanian majority."
Post Brussels Agreement of 2013
Since the Brussels Agremeent of 2013 where Serbia agreed to abolish all of its institutions and role in Kosovo Serbs have accepted many aspects of the Republic of Kosovo. They now vote on republic of Kosovo central election Commission ballots in local elections. Mayors like Goran Rakic of North Mitrovica and Kosovo assembly members loyalty oaths to the Republic of Kosovo. Krstmir Pantic of North mitrovica could not become mayor because he refused to sign the oath to the republic of Kosovo after he was chosen in the elections of 2013. Kosovo Serb policeman must take an oath when they join the Kosovo police to the Republic of Kosovo. Kosovo Serbs who serve in the legal system must take the Republic of Kosovo bar exam to practice law. There is now wide acceptance and recognition of Kosovo independence among Kosovo Serbs and a strong patriotism about the Republic of Kosovo and not Serbia.  Kosovo Serbs pledge to join republic of Kosovo army and wear its uniform. 
|1991||82.2 %||9.9 %||7.9 %|
|2000||88 %||7 %||5 %|
|2007||92 %||5 %||3 %|
During the 20th century, the Serb population of Kosovo constantly decreased. Their share in the overall population of the region is now estimated at around 100,000 or 7% of total population. Serbs mostly populate the enclaves across Kosovo, as well as compact North Kosovo where they comprise 95% of population and whose 1,200 km2 (463 sq mi) comprise 11% of Kosovo's territory.. Diplomats from the United Nations have voiced concern over slow progress on Serb rights. Human Rights Watch pointed out discrimination against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo immediately after the War in Kosovo.
Besides municipalities of Leposavić, Zvečan, Zubin Potok and North Kosovska Mitrovica in Serb-dominated North Kosovo, Serb majority have three other municipalities further south: Gračanica, Parteš, and Ranilug. In Novo Brdo, Štrpce and Klokot-Vrbovac Serbs form about 45% of the total population.
Estimations on the total number of Serbs in Kosovo ranges between 90-120,000.
The term Arnauti or Arnautaši was coined by ethnographers for "Albanised Serbs"; Serbs who had converted to Islam and went through a process of Albanisation. It is claimed that more than 10,000 ethnic Serbs have had their names Albanised, e.g. from Nikolić to Nikoliqi, Petrović to Petroviqi, and their nationality changed from "Serbian" to "Kosovan". This has been interpreted by some as a form of ethnic cleansing.
The Battle of Kosovo is particularly important to Serbian history, tradition, and national identity.
In connection with social gatherings among the Serbs around the churches and monasteries called Sabori during the Slava and Hram (Patron of the monastery) there was a belief that everyone must dance (to instrumental accompaniments) in order to gain and secure good health. In upper Prizren the Sabor was held on November 21 by the ruins of the monastery of the Holy archangel founded by the Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan the Mighty in the 14th century. There was also great social gatherings at the Kaljaja fortress.
|Part of a series of articles on|
- Stephen Uroš II Milutin of Serbia
- Stephen Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia
- Lazar of Serbia
- Đurađ Branković
- Arsenije IV Jovanović Šakabenta
- Vuk Branković
- Čolak-Anta Simeonović
- Jake Allex
- Ivica Dačić
- Bogoljub Karić
- Aleksandar Tijanić
- Jorgovanka Tabaković
- Dragan Velić
- Tomislav Trifić
- Radivoje Papović
- Dejan Stojanović
- Ljuba Tadić
- Vuk Isakovič
- Mira Stupica
- Dragan Maksimović
- Milutin Šoškić
- Stevan Stojanović
- Darko Spalević
- Nikola Lazetić
- Miloš Krasić
- Milan Biševac
- Nenad Stojković
- Marko Simonović
- Dejan Musli
- Milena Rašić
- Sonja Stolić
- Nevena Božović
- Novak Djokovic
- ^[a] Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states.
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