KOSOVA vs KOSOVO

Snapshots of daily life in Kosovo after the gain of its independence from Serbia.

(some of the snaps have been acquired by the archives of LE MONDE)

Brief history:

Owing to its strategic position at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, Kosovo has always been an important through road and attractive spoil for its conquerors.

Illyrians (ancestors of modern day Albanians) settled here long before Romans, Bulgars or Byzantines came to rule this region.

The name Kosovo (derived from the Serbian word kos, meaning blackbird) was first mentioned after the famous Kosovo battle dating back to 1389.

Epic songs secured it a special place in Serb national identity and Kosovo became an important spiritual centre and seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

For nearly 500 years Kosovo was an Ottoman province, enjoyng stability and the peaceful coexistence of its different communities and religions.

The 20th century was marred by wars and destruction and in June 1999, after 78 days of NATO bombardment and the mass flight of 800.000 refugees, Kosovo passed under direct UN administration.

Kosovo announced independence on February 17th 2008.

The US, most EU member states and other supporting countries immediately recognised Kosovo.

On July 22nd 2010 the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled 10-4 that the declaration of independence on 2008 did not violate international law, Security Council Resolution 1244 or the previous UNMIK constitution.