Kosovo is where the final disintegration of Yugoslavia began. It is there that the Titoist settlement of the national question in Yugoslavia broke down irreparably in 1990. The immediate issue was the decision of Slobodan Milosevic, the leader of Serbia, the largest federal unit of Yugoslavia, to abolish the wide autonomy enjoyed by the province of Kosovo under the Constitution of 1974.
Kosovo is Yugoslavia’s West Bank, with Serb nationalism confronting the reality of a huge Albanian majority, by now over 85 percent. Serbian claims to Kosovo, much like Israeli claims to the West Bank, are based on a mixture of strategic considerations, historical assertions, and mystical religious themes. Ultimately the Serbs believe that the special historical suffering of their people—namely, five hundred years of “slavery” under the Turks (aided by Muslim Albanians) and huge population losses in the two world wars—gives their claims greater weight than those of the present inhabitants of Kosovo....
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