Overview of Kosovo

95% Muslim. Kosovo was recently recognized as an independent nation years after the majority ethnic Albanian uprising. Formerly part of Yugoslavia and a province of Serbia.
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Overview of Kosovo

Postby AbuElyas » Jan 04, 2016

My experience with Kosovo goes back too far to give it an accurate assessment of the current situation. I worked on Kosovo related issues before and during the "war", and lived there for 2 years after it (until 2000- 2002). Kosovo was once a semi autonomous state within Serbia, after the break up of other Balkan states from the former Yugoslavia. Historically it has a lot of importance for the Serbian Orthodox church and historical sites, however in more recent history, the ethnic balance shifted greatly to a majority ethnic Albanian (Muslim) population. Long story short, tensions between the Serb controlled government, and the desire for autonomy and more ethnic Albanian institutions, combined with extreme nationalism on both sides led to some conflict in the late 1990's. This led to the rise of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation army), which started an armed independence movement and hope of establishing a greater Albania (with Albania and parts of Macedonia). Between NATO nations funding and training this group, and the Serb reaction, NATO used the crack down as an excuse to run an extended and intense bombing campaign of Serbia. Afterwards, NATO forced occupied Kosovo to act as peacekeepers in a similar manner that happened in Bosnia. Many years later, Kosovo became recognized as an independent nation.

My observations from living in the south of the country during the period soon after the war:

1) Infrastructure (or lack of it). Electricity supply was very irregular and everyone (houses and shops) seemed to rely on their own generators

2) Roads. Not necessarily due to war damage, there were potholes that destroyed 4 wheel drive trucks. In many cases, you had to drive on the sidewalks to get through an area. Over the years, NATO did a lot of repair work in this regard. It should be improving.

3) Islam: I wasn't too close with the people here, but the ones that I did know didn't seem to practice very much. People would fast ramadan, but celebrate Eid with alcohol. Prayer was very uncommon. I would say that this region and many ex-communist countries suffer due to the many years of atheistic state rule. From what I was told about this particular region, if you acted religious in any way during the rule of the communist government, you wouldn't be able to get a job. So, this would seriously impact over generations with less and less practice, less communal practice, and crack down on learning. That being said, this was a long time ago, and I know in some cases (at least in Serbian christian communities), after communism went away, religious practice really started to pick up again. So I hope the case is the same with Kosovo. Besides communism though, they have close proximity with western Europe and are greatly influenced by that. So its likely that it is a very secular view of religion, regardless of how actively it is practiced. I suspect the area is in need of knowledgeable people who can speak (or learn) albanian, who can do dawah and guide the people back.

4) Economy: Very basic, small businesses, agriculture

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