Kosovo | Albanians Strive for Independence
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Albanians Strive for Independence
Kosovo’s Albanians opposed Serbia’s attempts to relocate Serbs into Kosovo in the 1920s and 30s. During World War II, Kosovo’s Albanians attempted to unite with Albania, but the Yugoslav government thwarted the rebellion. After the war, Kosovo became an autonomous region within Serbia under Josip Broz Tito. In the postwar years, Albanians cultivated their national identity and assumed a more active role in government, with tacit approval from the capital, Belgrade. Albanization of the province coincided with the migration of Serbs. The 1974 Yugoslav Constitution granted Kosovo status nearly equivalent to a republic. By 1981, Albanians accounted for 75% of the population of Kosovo, and 90% by 1991.
Serbia's 1989 constitution significantly limited Kosovo's autonomy. In 1991, Kosovo’s Albanian leaders attempted to break free from Serbia using non-violent resistance. The government of Serb president Slobodan Milosevic cracked down on the Albanians’ efforts to gain independence. In 1995, Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, frustrated by the lack of progress toward independence under Ibrahim Rugova, formed the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army and started an armed insurgency.