The Future of Kosovo

The fate of Kosovo, Serbia's troubled province, has in recent years received a good deal of attention in the world press, usually in connection with the actions of Serbia's president, Slobodan Miloševic. A somewhat obscure communist until he became head of the Serbian Communist Party in 1986, Miloševic went to Kosovo in April 1987 to assess personally the charges of the persecution of Serbs by the Kosovo Albanians, at which time he uttered the words heard round the world—"No one will ever beat you again." Although spoken in a limited context, those words were frequently interpreted in the West as signifying the ascent of rampant Serbian nationalism.

The cradle of the Serbian nation and the site of its historic Christian monuments, Kosovo at the time of its capture by the Ottoman Turks in 1389 was ethnically almost entirely Serbian. At the time of its liberation in the Balkan wars of 1912, however, Kosovo's population was nearly 40 percent Albanian. By the end of World War II, it was close to 50 percent, by 1987 it was between 75 and 80, and at present it is around 90 percent.

With the inauguration of communist rule at the end of World War II, Kosovo was made an autonomous province within the republic of Serbia and was governed by the Kosovo Communist Party, part and parcel of the Yugoslav Communist Party. Although Miloševic must have had at least a general awareness of what...

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