1. The First Stage

 

Albanians are acknowledged as the oldest people in the Balkan Peninsula, and with the richest history. With a historical heritage more than 3500 years old, the oldest language in the Balkans and one of the three oldest languages in the world, according to the prestigious "The New York Times", the Albanian people of Kosovo is characterized by unique features and identity.

What makes the Kosovo Albanians particularly exceptional is that their national identity, throughout history has been based on language, culture and other elements, and not on religion. Before 1912, Kosovo was for four and a half centuries, as was most of the Balkan Peninsula, part of the Ottoman Empire.

Internationally renowned historians, such as Noel Malcolm from the prestigious Cambridge University,  have scientifically argued that "Kosovo was occupied by Serbia during the First Balkan War (October 1912), around thirty-five years after Serbia's independence in 1878, although it was not legally included in the Kingdom of Serbia, and remained an occupied territory until after 1918”.


2. The Second Stage
 

During this period, there were reports by credible international organizations regarding the ethnic cleansing and war crimes against ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo, such as the Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan War by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

 

The Russian Marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, at that time had reported about the ethnic cleansing, the crimes against humanity, and Serbia's national efforts to exterminate and change the ethnical composition of the Albanian people living in Kosovo. The Albanian people who lived in Kosovo remained occupied and were not allowed to join Albania, who declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, because the Great Powers of that time had other interests, and wanted to maintain their power in the region.

Consequently, the policies of assimilation, colonisation, conversion to the Orthodox religion, and denial of the Albanian language, except for the areas inhabited by Albanians, despite such rights being granted to other ethnical groups, continued in the territory of Kosovo, inhabited by a majority of Albanians.

Another important event that has to be noted is the Bujan Conference, which took place at the end of World War II, when legitimate representatives of Kosovo, through a Resolution, expressed their willingness to make use of the right to self-determination and join Albania, as it was promised to them by the Yugoslavian communists and allied forces. Regardless of the will expressed by Kosovo, the latter in 1945 was included in Yugoslavia as an autochthonous province, against the will of the people and its legitimate representatives.


3. The Third Stage

 

The policy of colonising Kosovo continued during the 1950-60s as well, thereby forcing Kosovo Albanians to flee to Turkey, while encouraging Serbs to settle in Kosovo. A period of mild progress in terms of rights and representation of Kosovo Albanians was noted upon the enactment of the Constitution of 1974, which granted Kosovo a higher level of autonomy within the (former) Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and as a federal unit of this structure, Kosovo would have the same functions and Constitutional Rights as the six other Republics of the Federation. However, fifteen years later, namely in 1989, Serbia, led by Milosevic, violently superseded the Constitution of Kosovo, and replaced it with a new bias Constitution, which revoked Kosovo’s autonomous status.

 

Such violent and unilateral actions that were undertaken by Milosevic prompted some of the other Republics of the Federation to move towards independence, as was the case with Slovenia, followed by Croatia, which led to the armed conflict during the 1990s. In the wake of such violent events, Kosovo Albanian leaders responded by organizing the referendum for declaring Kosovo's independence in 1991.

4. The Fourth Stage

 

While the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Serbian occupation of Kosovo by the Milosevic regime continued, Kosovo Albanians in the early 1990s started the peaceful resistance movement, which aimed to gain international support for the unresolved issue of Kosovo.
 

At that time, a parallel government was established, which was generally funded by the Kosovo Albanians in diaspora. Removal of Kosovo from the Dayton Peace Talks almost extinguished the hopes for a peaceful resistance, and strengthened the conviction that a war was inevitable.

As a result of this situation, the armed resistance appeared in 1997, through the Kosovo Liberation Army, whose main purpose was to protect the civilian population and liberate the country.

 


5. The Fifth Stage

 

Serbia, led by Milosevic, with its police, military and paramilitary forces, continued to commit crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and mass destruction, which forced more than 1.4 million of Kosovo Albanians (more than 90 percent) of the population to leave their homes and settle in neighbouring countries, and resulted in more than 13,000 innocent civilians killed, 130,000 houses burned and destroyed, over 20,000 women raped and 218 mosques  destroyed or damaged.