Here’s a brief timeline of some important dates in Kosovo’s troubled history. It’s reported by Ann Penketh in, “A history of the region: Troubled past… and a controversial present,” published here.
1389 Battle of Kosovo fought at Kosovo Polje (“Field of the Blackbirds” ), in which Prince Lazar of Serbia is killed. The comprehensive defeat of the Byzantine empire by Turkish forces was immortalised in folklore as a manifestation of the Serbian nation, with Kosovo its cradle.
1974 As unrest mounts, Tito’s Yugoslavia grants the Albanian-dominated province autonomy.
1989 In a speech at Kosovo Polje on the 600th anniversary of the battle, and amid escalating tensions, Slobodan Milosevic restates Serbia’s claim to the territory and rescinds autonomy.
1990 Kosovo’s Albanian leaders declare independence from Serbia, which responds by dissolving the government and sacking Kosovo Albanian workers.
1998 Serbs crack down on the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and hundreds of thousands of Albanian Kosovans begin to flee across the border. This prompts Nato to warn Milosevic on the treatment of Albanians.
1999 Nato air strikes begin against Yugoslavia. Milosevic finally withdraws troops from Kosovo. The United Nations takes over governance of the region, supported by Nato troops.
2002 Kosovan parliamentary elections take place and Albanian parties share power. Ibrahim Rugova is elected president.
2005 Rugova survives an attack in Pristina, and another explosion goes off near Kosovo’s parliament.
2006 Rugova dies and is replaced by Fatmir Sejdiu. UN-sponsored peace talks begin between ethnic Serbian and Kosovan leaders. Serbia approves a new constitution, declaring Kosovo a part of the country.
2007 In the UN Security Council, Russia blocks an internationally-agreed peace plan for “supervised independence”. International mediators are given a last chance to reach a negotiated solution by 10 December. They fail. Hashim Thaci, a former KLA leader, wins the general election in Kosovo in November and becomes prime minister-elect, but is persuaded to delay a declaration of independence in co-ordination with the US and EU.