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Kosovo's Gordian knot: the contested north and the search for a solution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Janine Natalya Clark*
Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK


Until 1999, Kosovo was a little-known province of Serbia. NATO's intervention, however, changed this. Suddenly, everyone was talking about Kosovo and the plight of the Kosovo Albanians. Today, Kosovo is no longer a major talking point; few authors are now writing about post-independence Kosovo and the many challenges that confront the young state. Particularly striking is the relative absence of scholarly writings that discuss the Gordian knot of northern Kosovo. Seeking to rectify this neglect, this article has three core aims: to provide new empirical insights into the situation on the ground in northern Kosovo, to explore Serb and Albanian viewpoints regarding the status of the north (and in particular to examine Serb fears and concerns) and to discuss possible solutions. It argues that granting the north a special, autonomous status within Kosovo is the ultimate way to resolve the “northern problem,” and indeed this now seems the most likely solution following the recent conclusion of the First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations. This research is based on five weeks of fieldwork in Kosovo in July and August 2012. During this time, the author conducted 56 semi-structured interviews, 29 of which took place in northern Kosovo.

Copyright © 2014 Association for the Study of Nationalities 

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