Timeline of Events – The Kosovo War

1987 Slobodan Milosevic‘s power increases with a trip to Kosovo. During public rallies, he dramatically promises to defend Serb interests in the province.


1989 Milosevic contrives changes in the Serbian constitution that reduce the provincial autonomy Kosovo has enjoyed since 1974. Other measures put tens of thousands of Kosovo Albanians out of work and restrict the activities of their cultural organisations. Rioting and protests by Kosovo Albanians ensue.


1991 The bloody break-up of Yugoslavia begins as Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence. After a secret vote, ethnic Albanians proclaim the creation of their own Republic of Kosovo, though it earns little international recognition.


1992 War begins in Bosnia, after it too moves for independence. In May, Kosovar Albanians elect Ibrahim Rugova president in unofficial elections. Rugova begins creating a shadow government.


1994 NATO carries out first airstrikes in its history against Bosnian Serbs.


1995 The Dayton Peace Accord ends the war in Bosnia. Milosevic emerges as the region’s power negotiator. Kosovo issues are left unresolved.


1996 The Kosovo Liberation Army appears, and begins attacks against Serb authorities in Kosovo. Serbs intensify repression of student and ethnic movements in Kosovo. Madeleine Albright named first female US Secretary of State.


1997 Violence escalates in Kosovo as Serbian security forces clamp down further on resistance and KLA steps up its attacks.


5-7 Mar. 1998 After KLA attacks, Serb security forces massacre over 50 members of the Jashari family in Prekaz. Tens of thousands rally in Pristina to protest massacre. Serbs respond with counter-demonstrations.


Mar. 1998 US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Russia meet in London to discuss Kosovo. Rugova re-elected “president” of Kosovo with 99% of vote in controversial elections. UN Security Council resolution condemns Yugoslavia’s excessive use of force and imposes economic sanctions on Serbia.


Apr. 1998 In national referendum, 95% of Serbs reject foreign mediation to solve the Kosovo crisis.


May 1998 As many as 20 Kosovo Albanians killed in retaliation for death of a Serb policeman near Glogovac.


Jun. 1998 Rugova meets UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan in New York, requests NATO intervention. NATO begin planning for intervention in Kosovo. Air exercises begin in Kosovo as signal to Milosevic.


Aug. 1998 Serbian forces intensify their summer offensive and attack KLA and Kosovo Albanian villages in Drenica region.


Sept. 1998 Serb police find 34 bodies of Kosovo Albanians and Serbs in a canal near Glodjane. UN Security Council demands cease-fire and Serb withdrawal. Serb police killed during fighting with the KLA; Serb forces kill 35 villagers including 21 members of one family in Gornje Obrinje.


Oct. 1998

Following negotiations, Holbrooke secures the “October Agreement.” Agreement calls for a cease-fire, troop withdrawals, elections, substantial autonomy for Kosovo and other confidence-building measures. Serbia withdraws thousands of Serb security forces from Kosovo.


Dec. 1998 NATO begins deploying in Macedonia an “extraction force” (XFOR) to defend peacekeepers in Kosovo. Yugoslavian forces fight the KLA and attack Podujevo.


Jan. 1999 The Racak Massacre. In retaliation for KLA attack on 4 policemen, Serb security forces kill 45 Kosovo Albanians. Albright pushes for military ultimatum. Milosevic claims Racak was staged by the KLA. The Contact Group foreign ministers issues ultimatum to Kosovo Albanians and Serbs calling them to begin peace talks in France.


Feb. 1999 Kosovo Albanians and the KLA announce they will participate in talks in France. Rambouillet peace talks being on 6th Feb without Milosevic who refuses to attend. Clinton announces his intention to send 4000 US peacekeepers to Kosovo after cease-fire and Serb withdrawal have taken place.


Mar. 1999 Holbrooke and Hill meet with Milosevic to urge him to accept NATO settlement. Yugoslavia asks Interpol to arrest KLA leader Hashim Thaci. Kosovo Albanians sign autonomy plan, Serbs refuse and ‘winter live fire’ begins in Kosovo. Kosovo Verification Mission leaves Kosovo. Serb forces move in and begin a new offensive in Kosovo. Holbrooke delivers final ultimatum to Milosevic.


24 Mar. 1999 The Kosovo air war begins. Serb forces kill more than 60 Albanians near Bela Crvka. Yugoslavia breaks off diplomatic relations with United States, Germany, Great Britain and France. Kosovar Albanians are loaded on special “refugee trains” and sent to the border with Macedonia.


Apr. 1999 Central Belgrade hit by NATO missiles for first time. 3 missiles hit a residential town of Aleksinac, killing several civilians. Milosevic calls for an (Orthodox) Easter cease-fire. 8000 deployed to Albania for humanitarian and refugee efforts.

NATO bombs Socialist Party headquarters in Belgrade. Attack destroys television operations run by Milosevic’s daughter and wife and one of Milosevic’s private residences.


May 1999 NATO accidentally bombs a civilian bus near Pristina, kills at least 17 in attack on civilian vehicles near Pec, and planes mistakenly target Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing 3 and wounding 20. UN Security Council meets to discuss the mistake and violent demonstrations ensue in China. Milosevic announces end to attacks on KLA and claims that some units of the army and police being withdrawn. NATO denies any withdrawal underway.

In Korisa, NATO bombs kill as many as 87 Kosovar Albanians after Serb troops use them as human shields. NATO votes to increase ground forces in Macedonia to 48,000.


Jun. 1999 After mediators meet with Milosevic, the outline of a new Kosovo peace deal is announced. During G8 talks in Cologne, allies and Russia reach agreement on possible UN resolution to sanction the peace deal. UN Sec. General Solana requests suspension of NATO bombing, and the Security Council adopts resolution 1244 permitting the deployment of the international civil and military authorities in Kosovo. 200 Russian troops leave Bosnia, travel through Serbia and enter Kosovo before NATO, taking control of Pristina airport


June 1999 Ethnic Albanians return to Kosovo; within three weeks over 600,000 return in one of the most rapid refugee returns in history. 200,000 Serbs and Roma begin moving toward Serbia and Montenegro to escape retribution. Albright and Russia reach preliminary agreement over Russian participation in peacekeeping force. Over 20,000 international troops have moved into Kosovo.


20 Jun. 1999 Serbs complete withdrawal from Kosovo and Secretary General Solana formally ends NATO’s bombing campaign. KLA agree to disarm.


Sept. 1999 KFOR certifies that the KLA has completed demilitarisation.



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