NATO military and UN civilian presence take over in Kosovo
UNMIK Headquarters in Pristina. A view of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Headquarters in Pristina. 24 April 2007. (UN/Ferdi Limani)
KFOR Deploys. UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244 was adopted on 10 June 1999 and on 12 June, the first elements of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, entered Kosovo. By 20 June, the withdrawal of Serbian forces was complete.(NATO)
In the face of NATO’s air campaign, Milošević agreed to the withdrawal of Serbian military and paramilitary forces from Kosovo. Kosovo Albanian refugees began to return, and Serbs and others began to leave. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 authorized a military NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and civilian UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). NGOs also mushroomed in Pristina and elsewhere, to provide services and assist in the rebuilding of civil society.
There was an initial spurt of "revenge" killings of Serbs and perceived collaborators, which further hastened the departure of those who considered themselves targets.
Different international bodies took responsibility for different aspects of UNMIK’s operations: Pillar 1 humanitarian assistance was led by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (phased out by 2000), Pillar 2 Civil Administration was led by the UN, Pillar 3 Democratization and Institution Building was led by the OSCE, and Pillar 4 Reconstruction and Economic Development was led by the EU. UNMIK worked to reestablish law and order; international civilian police were deployed. The OSCE Mission in Kosovo organized the training of local police, in addition to its wider role in institution building, organization of elections, human rights monitoring and support for a democratic media.
The KLA was demilitarized and members formed or joined various political parties. In addition, several thousand KLA members became the nucleus of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), having an emergency disaster response mission. Some KLA members, however, retained arms and continue to use them for political and private purposes.
Deadly violence was used in political struggles among Albanians. The 2000 municipal elections were preceded and followed by assassinations of political leaders. One of Rugova's closest aides was killed within days of the LDK victory, and this was followed by the violent deaths of several former KLA leaders.
The mayor of Suhareka, Uke Bytyqi, was shot to death in 2002. In 2003, former Kosovo military leader Tahir Zemaj was killed in broad daylight in Peja/Pec, together with his son and nephew. Zemaj was one of several witnesses killed after testifying in the war crimes trial that convicted a group of ex- KLA members (including Ramush Haradinaj's brother Daut Haradinaj). In 2005 a bomb unsuccessfully targeted President Rugova’s motorcade in Pristina. The following month Ramush Haradinaj’s brother Enver was ambushed and killed.
Security Council Meets on Situation at UNMIK Søren Jessen-Petersen, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, addressing the Security Council on the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). 29 November 2004 United Nations, New York. (UN/Rick Bajornas)
Serbs continue to be targets in Kosovo. Major violence broke out in March 2004, after an incident in which three Albanian boys were drowned after claims (later shown to be false) that Serbs chased them with a dog. In widespread anti-Serb rioting and organized attacks by Kosovo Albanians, 28 people died and over 500 houses were destroyed before order was restored. UN personnel and vehicles were also targets for attack. By June 2004, 270 people had been arrested for their part in the riots.
Municipal elections in 2000 and Assembly elections in 2001 established the basis for democratic self-government in Kosovo. A government with limited powers under the authority of UNMIK was formed in 2002. Rugova’s LDK had 47 seats, Hashim Thaçi's PDK 26 seats, and the Serbian Povratak (representing only 11% of the popular vote) 22 seats in the Kosovo Assembly. The Assembly elected Rugova President of Kosovo.
The 2004 Assembly elections resulted in the LDK maintaining its leadership of Kosovo politics, winning 45% of the vote, compared to the PDK's 28%, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo's (AAK) 8%. Kosovo Serbs boycotted the elections and followed the hard-line position of Serbian Prime Minister Kostunića’s government and the Serbian Orthodox Church. The LDK and AAK formed a government, with AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj as prime minister. Haradinaj resigned after his indictment for war crimes. (He would be acquitted by The Hague Court in 2008, but ordered to face a partial retrial in 2010). Bajram Kosumi became prime minister in 2005. Agim Çeku replaced Kosumi as prime minister in 2006.
Death of Rugova
President Rugova died in 2006. The Assembly elected LDK Secretary General Fatmir Sejdiu as President.
LDK leaders competed to replace Rugova, leading to splits in the party and a sharp drop in public support. This benefited the former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaçi, whose PDK has been the leading party since then. The other party that emerged from the KLA leadership, Ramush Haradinaj's AAK, has been damaged by having leaders faced with war crimes and corruption charges. Moreover, these parties are regionally-based, rather than class or ideology-based. This makes it hard for any of them to build a broad base of public support.
2007 Assembly elections
Thaçi’s PDK became the largest party with 34.3% of the vote in the Assembly elections, followed by the LDK with 22.6%, the New Kosovo Alliance with 12.3%, the Democratic League of Dardania-Albanian Christian Democratic Party of Kosovo with 10%, and the AAK with 9.6%. The Reformist ORA with 4.1% failed to cross the 5% threshold to win a seat. Kosovo Serbs again boycotted the elections at the urging of the Serbian Government. Thaçi became prime minister in 2008, leading a PDK, LDK and New Kosovo Alliance coalition.