Serbs of Kosovo
|Kosovo [a]: 140 000
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Kosovo Serbs (Serbian: Косовски Срби) are the second largest ethnic group in Kosovo.[a] By the 12th century, the cultural, diplomatic and religious core of the Serbian Kingdom was located in Kosovo. This became essential to the Serbian Empire of the 14th century.
During the 20th century, the Serb population of Kosovo constantly decreased. Their share in the overall population of the region is estimated at 7% by the CIA. Serbs mostly populate the enclaves across Kosovo, North Kosovo being the largest one. The large-scale emigration of ethnic Serbs, especially since 1999 onwards, makes them the only major ethnic group in Kosovo to have a negative natural growth rate with deaths exceeding births. BBC reports that fewer than 100,000, 5% Serbs remained in Kosovo following a post-war exodus of non-Albanians. The Serbian minority live in separate areas watched over by NATO peacekeepers. International diplomats have voiced concern over slow progress on their rights. Human Rights Watch pointed out discrimination against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo immediately after the War in Kosovo.
According to the Statistical Office of Kosovo, in 2006 there were 111,300 ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, making up 5.3 per cent of the population, compared to 24.1 per cent in 1948. In modern times, the absolute number of Serbs was highest at the time of the 1971 census, when it stood at 228,264. Serbs constitute 95% of population in North Kosovo, whose 1,200 km2 (463 sq mi) comprise 11% of Kosovo's territory.
According to the 1991 census, Serbs formed a majority in five municipalities of Kosovo:
For other places in Kosovo inhabited by Serbs, see: Kosovo Serb enclaves.
Slavs came to the territories of roughly modern-day Kosovo in the 6th–7th centuries, with the largest waves coming in the 630s. The Slavs were Christianized in several waves, between the 7th and 9th century, with the last wave taking place between 867 and 874. The northwestern part of Kosovo – Hvosno, became a part of the Byzantine-vassalaged Serb Principality of Rascia, with Destinikon as the Principality's capital.
In the late 9th century entire Kosovo was seized by the forces of the Czardom of the Bulgarians. Although Serbia 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 renewed Bulgarian Czardom 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 the local Slavs under George Voiteh pushed a final attempt to restore Imperial Bulgarian power and invited the last heir of the House of Comitopuli – Duklja's prince Konstantin Bodin of the House of Vojislavljević, son of the Serbian King Mihailo Voislav. The Serbs decided to conquer the entire Byzantine theme of Bulgaria, so King Mihailo dispatched his son with 300 Serb fighters led by Duke Petrilo. Constantine Bodin was crowned in Prizren as Petar III, Czar of the Bulgarians by George Voiteh and Slavic Boyars. The Empire swept across Byzantine territories in months, until the significant losses on the south had forced Czar Petar to withdraw. In 1073 the Byzantine forces chased Constantine Bodin, defeated his army at Pauni and had him imprisoned.
The full Serbian takeover was carried out under a branch of the House of Voislav Grand Princes of Rascia. In 1093, Prince Vukan advanced all the way to Lipljan, burned it down and raided the neighbouring areas. The Byzantine Emperor himself came to Zvečan for negotiations. Zvečan served as the Byzantine line-of-defence against constant invasions from the neighbouring Serbs. A peace was concluded, but Vukan broke it and defeated the army of John Comnenus, the Emperor's nephew. His armies stormed Kosovo. Byzantine Emperor Alexius had to come to Ulpiana in 1094 and negotiated again. Peace was concluded and Vukan gave hostages to the Emperor, including his two nephews Uroš and Stefan Vukan. Prince Vukan renewed the warring in 1106, once again defeating John Comnenus' army, but Vukan's following death put a halt to a total conquest of Kosovo.
In 1166, a Serbian nobleman from Zeta, Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the House of Nemanja asserted to the Rascian Grand Princely throne and conquered most of Kosovo, in an uprising against the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. He defeated the previous Grand Prince of Rascia Tihomir's army at Pantino, near Pauni. Tihomir, who was Stefan's brother, was drowned in the Sitnica river. Stefan 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 with the Hungarians after the death of Manuel I Comnenus in 1180, which marked the end of Byzantine domination of Kosovo.
Nemanja's son, Stefan II, recorded Nemanja's conquests, as Nemanja restored Kosovo from the Greeks, the border of the Serbian realm reaching the river of Lab. Grand Prince Stephen II finished the inclusion of the Kosovo territories in 1208, by which time he had conquered Prizren and Lipljan, and moved the border of his realm to the Šar mountain.
In 1217, the Serbian Kingdom achieved recognition. In 1219, an autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church was created, with Hvosno, Prizren and Lipljan being the Orthodox Christian Episcopates on 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 vast Monastery of Saint Archaengel near Prizren in 1342–1352. The Kingdom was transformed into an Empire in 1345 and officially in 1346. Stefan Dušan received John VI Cantacuzenus in 1342 in his Castle in Pauni to discuss a joint War against the Byzantine Emperor. In 1346, the Serbian Archepiscopric at Peć was upgraded into a Patriarchate, but it was not recognized before 1370.
After the Empire fell into disarray prior to Dušan's death in 1355, feudal anarchy caught up with the country during the reign of Tsar Stefan Uroš V. Kosovo became a domain of the House of Mrnjavčević, but Prince Voislav Voinović expanded his demesne further onto Kosovo. The armies of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević from Pristina and his allies defeated Voislav'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 House of Lazarević.
The Ottomans invaded the Serbian Realm and met the Christian coalition under Prince Lazar on 28 June 1389, near Pristina, at Gazi Mestan. The Serbian Army was assisted by various allies. The Battle of Kosovo followed, in which Prince Lazar himself lost his life. Prince Lazar amassed 70,000 men on the battlefield and the Ottomans had 140,000. Through the cunning of Miloš Obilić, Sultan Murad was murdered and the new Sultan Beyazid had, despite winning the battle, to retreat to consolidate his power. The Ottoman Sultan was buried with one of his sons at Gazi Mestan. Both Prince Lazar and Miloš Obilić were canonised by the Serbian Orthodox Church for their efforts in the battle. The local House of Branković came to prominence as the local lords of Kosovo, under Vuk Branković, with the temporary fall of the Serbian Despotate in 1439. Another battle occurred between the Hungarian troops supported by the Albanian ruler George Kastrioti Skanderbeg on one side, and Ottoman troops supported by the Brankovićs in 1448. Skanderbeg's troops which were going to help John Hunyadi were stopped by the Branković's troops, who was more or less a Turkish 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.
|1455||1 %||98 %||1 %|
|1871||32 %||64 %||4 %|
|1899||48 %||44 %||8 %|
|1921||69 %||26 %||5 %|
|1931||60 %||27 %||13 %|
|1939||60 %||34 %||5 %|
|1948||68 %||27 %||5 %|
|1953||65 %||27 %||8 %|
|1961||67 %||27 %||6 %|
|1971||74 %||21 %||5 %|
|1981||77 %||15 %||8 %|
|1991||82.2 %||9.9 %||7.9 %|
|2000||88 %||7 %||5 %|
|2007||92 %||5 %||3 %|
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 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.
The arising Principality of Serbia planned a restoration of its rule on Kosovo as the 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.
In 1912, during the Balkan Wars, most of Kosovo was taken by the Kingdom of Serbia, while the region of Metohija was taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro. Serbian authorities planned a recolonization of Kosovo and numerous Serb families moved into the region, restoring to some extent the demographic balance between Albanians and Serbs. 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 the Central 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 lead 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 regime 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. In the speech, Milošević criticised the "dramatic national divisions" and called Yugoslavia "a multinational community which can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it".
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 100,000 Kosovo Albanians killed. This triggered a 78-day NATO campaign in 1999. When UN-authorities took over administrative power in Kosovo in accordance with UN-Resolution 1244, it was discovered that the number of those killed did not exceed 10,000.
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.
Declaration of Independence
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 101 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 in the Serbian & international government proposed the partitioning of de facto Serbian-ruled North Kosovo, taking away a little over 1/8, 13.75% (one eighth, 1500 km2 with Štrpce) of the territory and fully integrating it with Serbia. The United States' Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, in response to the suggestion that Kosovo be partitioned, said "we absolutely oppose the partition of Kosovo," and 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 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 suggeted 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."
|“||A factual division of Kosovo to a northern, Serbian part and a southern, Albanian one, will take place as a consequence of the illegal declaration of independence.||”|
According to the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, more than 1,000 Serbs have been killed in Kosovo since June 1999.
In 2011, it was claimed that more than 10,000 ethnic Serbs have had their names Albanized, e.g. from Nikolić to Nikoliqi, Petrović to Petroviqi, and their nationality changed from "Serbian" to "Kosovan". This has been interpreted by Serbs as ethnic cleansing.
List of Serbian Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo:
At the end of the 19th century, writer Branislav Nušić recorded that the Serb poturice (converts to Islam) of Orahovac began speaking Albanian and marrying Albanian women. When Dr. Jovan Hadži Vasiljević (1866–1948) visited Orahovac during the First World War, he could not distinguish Orthodox from Islamicized and Albanized Serbs. They spoke Serbian, wore the same costumes, but claimed Serbian, Albanian or Turk ethnicity. The Albanian starosedeoci (old urban families) were Slavophone; they did not speak Albanian but a Slavic dialect (naš govor, Our language) at home. In the 1921 census, the majority of Muslim Albanians of Orahovac were registered under the category "Serbs and Croats".
Mark Krasniqi, the Kosovo Albanian ethnographer, recalled in 1957: "During my own research, some of them told me that their tongue is similar to Macedonian rather than Serbian (it is clear that they want to dissociate themselves from everything Serbian). It is likely they are the last remnants of what is now known in Serbian sources as Arnautaši, Islamicised and half-way Albanianised Slavs."
- Stephen Uroš II Milutin of Serbia
- Stephen Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia
- Lazar of Serbia
- Đurađ Branković
- Arsenije IV Jovanović Šakabenta
- Vuk Branković, a medieval ruler of Kosovo.
- Nikola Lazetić, footballer
- Miloš Krasić, footballer
- Dejan Stojanović (born 1959), Serbian-American poet, writer, essayist, philosopher, businessman, and former journalist
- Čolak-Anta Simeonović
- Grigorije Božović
- Jake Allex
- Boro Vukmirović
- Ivica Dačić
- Dragan Velić
- Tomislav Trifić
- Dejan Stojanović
- Ljuba Tadić
- Nevena Božović
- Vuk Isakovič
- Anti-Serb sentiment
- Kosovo Serb enclaves
- Serbs in Vojvodina
- Serbs of Bosnia
- Serbs of Croatia
- Serbs of Macedonia
- Serbs of Montenegro
- Serbian nationalism
Notes and references
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the self-proclaimed 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 101 out of 193 United Nations member states.|
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- "Human Rights Watch: Abuses Against Serbs And Roma In The New Kosovo (August 1999)". Hrw.org. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Ottoman land registry (Original version on Turkish language is kept in Istanbul Archive, 1972. Institute for Near East Studies from Sarajevo made its translation under Serbian title "Област Бранковића – опширни катастарски попис из 1455. године" or in English "Land of House of Branković – detailed land registry from year 1455.")
- Bugajski, Janusz (2002). Political Parties of Eastern Europe: A Guide to Politics in the Post-Communist Era. New York: The Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 479. ISBN 1563246767.
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- Eland, Ivan (2008-02-20). "Prevent trouble with partition of Kosovo". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-03-09. Text "Eland" ignored (help)
- "K. Serb leader: Partition talk is nonsense". B92. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
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- Novosti Online, 7 July 2011, Upisuju Srbe kao Albance
- Dietmar Müller, Staatsbürger aus Widerruf: Juden und Muslime als Alteritätspartner im rumänischen und serbischen Nationscode: ethnonationale Staatsbürgerschaftskonzepte 1878–1941, p. 183-208. ISBN 3-447-05248-1, ISBN 978-3-447-05248-1
- Religion and the politics of identity in Kosovo, p. 73: see footnotes
- Kosovo Roma Oral History Project Contains detailed information on the post-1999 status of Serbs, Roma and other Kosovo minorities
- Filling the Vacuum: Ensuring Protection and Legal Remedies for Minorities in Kosovo by Minority Rights Group International (May 2009)
- Groups working with all demographics in Kosovo