Declaration of Independence
Kosovo is a much younger nation. The assembly of the country adopted a resolution of independence on 17 February 2008.
However, the representatives of the minority Serb community in the country boycotted the proceedings and the independence of the country is still not universally recognized. So, though Kosovo celebrates its independence on 17 February, it is not universally accepted.
In 1946, Kosovo and Metohija were declared to be autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia, which in turn was a province of the Federal Republic of Serbia. In 1974, Kosovo became the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo. When the political situation became unstable in Yugoslavia, the president of Serbia enacted laws to curb the powers extended to the Assembly of Kosovo. In protest, the Kosovo Assembly voted to declare Kosovo to be an independent state on 2 July 1990. This was recognized by Albania. However, in the following years, Kosovo suffered greatly during the Yugoslav Wars. There were severe conflicts between the federal forces of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo liberation army. Finally, the war ended with extensive military action from the NATO.
After the war, a vast number of Serbs and Romani fled from Kosovo in fear of reprisal. As internal unrest continued, international negotiations started in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo. Though vast majority of the population wanted freedom, Kosovo was recognized as a part of Serbia. Finally, the assembly declared independence by a resolution on 17 February 2008. However, the next day, Serbia declared this declaration of independence of Kosovo null and void. Till date, 107 members of UN have recognized the independence of Kosovo, but several countries including Russia and China refuse to do so. At the same time, Serbia has steadfastly withdrawn its ambassadors from any country that recognizes the independence of Kosovo.
Songs: The national anthem of Kosovo is titled ‘Europe’ and it has no lyrics. It was adopted on 11 June 2008. An open contest was announced in the newspapers on 12 March 2008 to submit writings for the national anthem. This entry was selected out of the various submissions as it contained no references to any specific community. The anthem was composed by Mendi Mengjiqi.
Apart from this anthem, the ‘Ode to joy’ was sung at the official declaration ceremonies of the Republic of Kosovo as a mark of respect to those members of the EU who helped the country to achieve its freedom. The national anthem of Albania, ‘Himni I Flamurit’ is also widely used in Kosovo. Finally, in 2000, President Ibrahim Rugogva had proposed the song “Kur ka ra kushtrimi n’Kosove” composed by Rauf Dhomi, but no conclusive decision was taken at that time.
Celebration- The celebrations of the newly independent state of Kosovo are held in a low key. The country is still recovering from a long period of war and strife. There are various tensions still running high, with the minority community of Serbs often seeking shelter in the neighboring country of Serbia. Unemployment and crime are major problems. In addition, Kosovo has developed a notorious reputation of being the Mecca of trafficking in women and the sex trade. All these problems coupled with the refusal of several countries of the world to recognize Kosovo as independent have led to tempered down independence celebrations.
Independence is celebrated in the capital city of Pristina and people travel to the capital for the purpose. Traditional music and the national anthem are performed. Recently, a military parade was held on that day. This has not been possible before, as Kosovo did not have a significant armed force.
Customs- The Independence Day of Kosovo is mostly celebrated by the ethnic Albanians, waving the flag and singing the national anthem. Till now, the Serbian minority communities do not join the festivities.
Facts: The independence of Kosovo is still not universally recognized. In fact, during its last Independence Day celebration, the Serbian President gave a speech outlining the dismal condition of crime, unemployment and human development in the country and called it unfit to survive by itself.