Most of Kosovo’s large Albanian majority are Muslims and are mainly Sunni. The Serbs are predominantly Orthodox Christians.
According to the Constitution, Kosovo is a secular state. Religion, for the most part, is not a strong reminder in everyday life, although there are many mosques, and prayer calls can be heard during the day.
The Albanian Muslims switched to Islam during the Ottoman occupation of the mid-14th century, mainly because of its economic-political benefits. Active believing Muslims, who then mostly profess a moderate form of Islam, are found mainly among the older population. However, some young Albanians have been attracted by Islamist tongues, which are spread by some Imams.
For the Serbs, religion is closely tied to national identity. The Serbian Orthodox Church was founded in 1219 in the city of Peja (Peć in Serbian) in Kosovo. The Serbs’ name in Kosovo is Kosovo-Metohija, where Metohija refers to the lands of the Orthodox Church with its many churches and monasteries.
There is also a group of Roman Catholics among the Albanians.
Although the Romans are mostly Muslims, there is also a large group of Orthodox Christian Roma. Similarly, most Bosniaks, Turks and Gorani are Muslims.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Kosovo, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
New parliament without government
The newly elected parliament is gathering for its first session, but the attempts to form a new government after the October elections have so far failed. The difficulties are mainly due to agreement on who will get the presidential post when the current term expires in April 2021. LDK has demanded that the party get the post, while Vetëvendosje wants the matter to be decided more closely in the elections. When Parliament is assembled, the Vetëvendosje member Glauk Konjufca is appointed President. Konjufca is a close ally of party leader Albin Kurti, who is expected to become prime minister if and when the government talks finally bear fruit.
Boycott of the Nobel Prize
Kosovo boycott the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, in protest of the 2019 Literature Prize being awarded to Austrian author Peter Handke. Protests have come from many directions against the Swedish Academy’s decision in October to award the prize to Handke, who is known for his support for the Serbs during the 1990s war in the Balkans and his admiration for the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosević. In Kosovo, Handke is sheltered by many Albanians but admired by many Serbs. The day after the awards ceremony, he is declared persona non grata in Kosovo. The awards ceremony is also boycotted by Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Northern Macedonia and Turkey.
Ex-minister sentenced to prison
A Prishtina court sentenced former Serb Prime Minister Ivan Teodosijević to two years in prison for saying that “Albanian terrorists” had invented information on a massacre in 1999. The statement was made in March and Teodosivejić was deposed a month later. He was one of the Serbs in Ramush Haradinaj’s government.
Opposition parties will be the biggest in the parliamentary elections
The two opposition parties Vetëvendosje and LDK will be the largest in the parliamentary elections, with 26.3 and 24.4 percent of the votes respectively. This gives 29 and 28 seats respectively. The dominant ruling party PDK receives 21.2 percent (24 seats) and the coalition partner, the outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s party alliance, receives only 11.5 percent of voters (13 seats). The Serbian list gets 10 seats, the alliance Nisma-AKR-PD 6 seats and eight small parties share the remaining 10. The turnout is 45 percent.
Kosovo jumps off summit
The Czech government announces that Kosovo jumped off a summit in Prague, since Czech President Milos Zeman called the Kosovan leader “war criminal”. On September 12, leaders of Balkan countries meet the prime ministers of the so-called Visegrad countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – but Kosovo has at the last moment decided to abstain. Zeman said earlier this week, during a visit to Belgrade, that he likes Serbia and not Kosovo, and that he wants the Czech government to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo.
Islamists convicted of terrorist crimes
Four people are sentenced to have planned terrorist attacks, both in Kosovo and abroad, to between twelve months and ten years in prison. According to the court, the convicted, three men and one woman, have links to the Islamic State. They must have planned attacks against NATO soldiers and four Orthodox churches as well as two discos in the Serbian-dominated Granica. Furthermore, they should have had plans for attacks in France and Belgium. Two of them have Belgian as well as Kosovo citizenship.
New elections in October
President Hashim Thaçi states that parliamentary elections will be held on October 6. The announcement comes five weeks after Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj announced his resignation, only halfway into the regular term (see June 2019), and four days after MPs voted to dissolve Parliament.
Haradinaj interrogated in The Hague
The recently departed Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj makes use of his right not to respond when he is questioned in the War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. To media in Prishtina, Haradinaj says he is suspected of crime, but it is not clear what crimes it is. Haradinaj was a regional commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army who fought for independence from Serbia from 1998 to 1999.
The Prime Minister resigns
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj announces that he is resigning because he has been called for questioning in the Kosovo-controlled new war crimes tribunal in The Hague (KSC / SPO). The court is investigating suspected war crimes during the war in the late 1990s, when Kosovo broke away from Serbia, and Haradinaj says he wants to be tried “as an ordinary citizen”. The president of Serbia, who does not want to recognize Kosovo’s independence, claims that Haradinaj’s departure is “a political trick” intended to increase his popularity with voters.
Kosovo celebrates 20 years as “free”
In Kosovo, it is noted that it is 20 days since NATO troops entered Kosovo, following a 78-day bombing war that forced Serbian forces to retreat. US President Bill Clinton, who is a hero in Kosovo, is visiting and is being given a “freedom order”. Clinton stands statue and has a street named after her in Prishtina.
UN employee Russian ported
Russian citizen Michail Krasnoshchov at the UN operation Unmik is declared persona non grata by the government, which would mean that he is not welcome back to Kosovo. However, a spokesman for the UN in New York says that UN personnel cannot be declared persona non grata because they represent the UN and not a country. Krasnoshchiv was one of the two Unmi employees who was arrested three days earlier in connection with the raid in northern Kosovo. They are accused of using a Unicycle to barricade a street, along with residents trying to prevent police intervention. When Krasnoshchevko was released, he was taken to a hospital in Belgrade, where he was visited by Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić.
Serbian Prime Minister expelled
Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli states that Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić is not welcome in Kosovo. The reason is “racist” comments that she must have made about Kosovo Albanians.
Police are arrested in raids in the north
Police arrest 19 other police officers and a number of customs officials and others in a crackdown on organized crime in the Serbian-dominated northern Kosovo. The insert meets resistance in the form of, among other things, roadblocks and shotgun breaks out. Several people are injured. The raid is causing angry comments by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who says the purpose was to “scare Serbs”. The arrested are suspected of, among other things, smuggling, bribery and abuse of power. Two employees of the UN agency Unmik are also injured in connection with the operation and are temporarily arrested, triggering protests from Unmik.
Conversations with Serbia will resume
Kosovo and Serbia agree that the EU-led negotiations will resume – even if a breakthrough in the deadlock between the countries fails – in connection with a Berlin summit between the EU and Western Balkan leaders. Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel make clear to President Thaci and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić that the conflict between the countries must be resolved if they are to move forward on a future EU membership. The situation is locked after Kosovo’s decision to impose 100% tariffs on goods from Serbia, as a result of Serbian lobbying to prevent Kosovo’s membership in Interpol (see November 2018).
Mayor elections are announced in northern Kosovo
President HashimThaçi announces mayoral elections on May 19 in the four Serbian-dominated municipalities in the Mitrovica district of northern Kosovo. The former mayors resigned in protest when Prishtina imposed 100 percent duty on goods from Serbia (see November 2018).
All bets are prohibited
All forms of gambling for money are banned for a period of 10 years, in an attempt to combat crime. The decision comes after two murders of casino employees were committed over the course of a few days. In one case, a police officer has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Games, not least at sporting events, have become very popular in Kosovo in recent years. The police have now closed the majority of around 470 playgrounds in the country. The state collects around 20 million a year in taxes on gambling.
Deputy Prime Minister is fired after Natokritik
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj dismisses Kosovo’s Deputy Justice Minister Vesna Mikić for calling NATO’s bombing of Kosovo 1999 a ” genocide against the Serbian people”. Haradinaj writes on Facebook that the statement is “unacceptable and represents hate speech”. The Serbian government condemns the dismissal and writes in a statement that Vesna Mikić expressed the “dominant opinion of the Serbian people”.