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THE DEATH OF BELANICA | Serbia and Kosovo

The Historic Origins

April 25, 1999

1331-55: Reign of Serbian King Stepan Dusan, who expands the boundaries of Serbia to their largest area: from Belgrade to present-day southern Greece, including Albania and Kosovo. Archbishop of Pec (in Kosovo) becomes the patriarch of the church.


1389: Prince Lazar raises a multinational force to fight the Turks in the Battle of Kosovo Polje (Field of the Blackbirds) in Kosovo. Legend claims that Lazar, in a dream, chooses to die rather than to live in shame. Both Lazar and the Turkish leader are killed. The Turks claim victory.


Turkish Domination of Serbia

1459: Turks conquer all of Serbia.

1557: Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate restored in Pec.

1690: Unsuccessful Serbian revolt against Turks. Serbs flee Kosovo for Austrian protection.

1718: Austrians take Serbian regions south of the Sava River from the Turks.

1774: Albanians, who have become a majority in Kosovo, begin oppressing the Serbs who stayed. Russia competes with Austria for Turkish empire.

1791: Austria abandons Serbia. Turkish empire declines.

1833: Serbs conquer Turkish provinces, doubling their territory.

1844: Ilija Savic Garasanin writes: "The Plan," a Serbian nationalist vision based on Dusan's 14th Century empire.

1878: Russia and Serbia defeat Turkey. Serbia expands southward, annexing more territory from Turkey.

1882: Serbia declares independence from the Turks, but under the influence of the Austrian empire.

1878-1912: Serbs leave Kosovo in large numbers.

1912-13: Balkan Wars begin. Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro join to remove the Ottoman Empire from the Balkans. Serbia conquers Kosovo and massacres Albanians. Serbs gain control of almost all remaining Ottoman land in Europe with the Treaty of London.


Beginning of Modern Era

1914: Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinates Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Within weeks, Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire declare war on Serbia. World War I begins when Britain, France and Russia leap to Serbia's defense.

1918: Serbs expel Austrians. Allies award Kosovo to Yugoslavia despite opposition from Albania. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is created, with Belgrade as its capital.

1920: Belgrade starts a resettlement of Serbs in Kosovo. Coercion, illegal expropriation of Albanian-owned land and forced deportations begin.

1929: King Alexander institutes dictatorial rule and renames the country Yugoslavia. Serbs are the most powerful group.


World War II

1939: Italy occupies Albania. Croatia becomes autonomous. World War II begins Sept. 1. Yugoslavia tries to remain neutral.

1941-45: Germany and Italy conquer Yugoslavia and open gates of Kosovo to Albanians, who arrive in droves. Germans dominate region with terror. Hitler allies with Croatian fascists and creates Nazi puppet state of Croatian. Germans occupy Serbia and send Serbs among others to concentration camps established in Croatia. The Partisan resistance movement forms under Josip Broz Tito, a communist.

1945: After the defeat of Germany, Tito reorganizes the Kingdom, declaring the People's Republic of Yugoslavia a federation under Communist rule and suppressing ethnic rivalries.

1945-1980: Tito's 35-year dictatorship is a period of relative peace and stability.

1968: First pro-independence demonstrations by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

1974: Tito's constitution makes Kosovo an autonomous province.

1980: Tito dies.

1981: Kosovo Albanian college students start protests that escalate into riots. Thirty thousand soldiers are sent into the province.

1987: Slobodan Milosevic becomes leader of Serbia.

1989: Milosevic revokes Kosovo's autonomy. Ethnic Albanians riot. Milosevic addresses the Serbs on the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje. More than 20 killed in protests.

1990: Serbia closes Kosovo's parliament. Kosovo Albanians start parallel government.

1991: Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia secede from the Yugoslav federation. Kosovo Albanians approve independence. In a secret referendum, separatists proclaim the Republic of Kosovo.

1992-93: Bosnia-Herzegovian declares independence. With Yugoslav army support, Bosnian Serbs proclaim separate state. Fighting spreads, and Serbs advance on the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. Kosovo Albanians endure hardships.

1994: NATO threatens Bosnian Serbs with airstrikes if they don't withdraw from Sarajevo. Bosnian Croats and Muslims sign U.S.-brokered accord, ending their yearlong war.

1995: Croatia launches two assaults on rebel Serbs and retakes most of remaining Serb-held land. NATO begins air campaign against Bosnian Serbs. After 43-month Bosnian war ends, Balkan leaders agree on settlement.

1996: Pro-independence Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA emerges.

1998: KLA seizes control of 40% of Kosovo before being routed in Serbian offensive. Massacres and fighting start in Kosovo.

1999: Peace talks fail, and NATO begins Operation Allied Force against Yugoslavia.

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