Kosovo still has a conflict with Serbia. Photo/Reuters
PRISTINA – The raid on a monastery in northern Kosovo has drawn attention to persistent problems in the ethnic Serb-majority region, 15 years after Pristina declared independence.
Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, but Serbia still officially considers Kosovo part of its territory.
Here are 5 reasons why the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia continues to heat up.
1. Kosovo is still considered Serbian territory
According to Reuters, the independence of Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, occurred on February 17 2008, almost a decade after the uprising against Serbian rule.
This is recognized by more than 100 countries.
However, Serbia still officially considers Kosovo to be part of its territory. They accuse Kosovo’s central government of trampling on the rights of ethnic Serbs, but deny accusations of inciting strife in neighboring countries.
Serbs make up 5 percent of Kosovo’s 1.8 million population, and ethnic Albanians about 90 percent. Some 50,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo, on the border with Serbia, vent their defiance by refusing to pay state utilities for the energy they use and frequently attacking police who try to make arrests.
All of them receive benefits from the Serbian budget and pay no taxes to either Pristina or Belgrade.
2. Ethnic Albanian Leaders Lead in Serb-Dominated Areas
Unrest in the region escalated when an ethnic Albanian mayor took office in the Serb-majority region of northern Kosovo following April elections boycotted by Serbia, a move that led the United States and its allies to rebuke Pristina.
Last December, Serbs in northern Kosovo set up several roadblocks and exchanged fire with police after a former Serb police officer was arrested for allegedly attacking police officers at an earlier protest.