Page 571 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 571

Kosovo and Metohija: History, Memory, identity
Dušan T Bataković
SKosovo Today: embattled Province of Serbia
erbia’s troublesome province of Kosovo (officially Kosovo and Metohija), was first established as a dis- tinct autonomous region within Serbia in 1945 by the
Soviet-installed communist regime of j.B. Tito of the post- -Second World War Yugoslav federation. Present-day Ko- sovo and Metohija is a rather small (10,887 sq km) but densely populated, fertile and mineral-rich area. an au- tonomous province within Serbia inhabited by albanians and Serbs as the two main ethnic groups, the region has had a long and turbulent past. The Province consists of two distinct areas: Kosovo proper with Priština as its centre and Metohija, with Peć as its hub. a valley between Kosovska Mitrovica and Uroševac, Kosovo proper is eighty-four ki- lometers long and roughly fourteen kilometers wide. Since medieval times the Kosovo valley has been a densely pop- ulated area, an important crossroad of vital transport routes in the Western Balkans, linking the adriatic Sea with the central and lower Danube basin. Kosovo is rich with both agricultural and mineral resources. The minerals found in Kosovo are approximately seventy percent of all mineral wealth of Serbia, whilst the coal mines (comprising most- ly lignite) in northern and central Kosovo are even more important. These reserves of coal are worth dozens of bil- lions of US dollars and they represent almost ninety per- cent of the overall coal reserves of Serbia.1
The other area geographically separated from Kosovo by the hills of Drenica has been known for centuries as Metohija (4,684 sq km in area), renowned by splendid en- dowments of Serbian rulers and landlords. Known as Hvo- sno in the late medieval period, Metohija probably earned this name during the four centuries of Ottoman domina- tion after 1459. Bordering northern albania in the west, Metohija is a fertile agrarian flatland that stretches from the town of istok and Peć to Djakovica and Velika Hoča, all the way to Prizren (the area known as Prizrenski Pod- gor) and its hinterland towards albania and Macedonia known as Gora and Opolje. Within the larger area that
  atanasije Urošević, Kosovo, Serbian ethnographic Collection, Monographs, vol. LXXViii (Belgrade: Serbian academy of Sciences and arts, 1965); Milovan Radovanović, Kosovo and Metohija Serbi- an and Regional Context (Belgrade: Mnemosyne, 2005).
encompasses parts of neighboring northern albania, Me- tohija is known to the albanians as Dukagjin (or “West- ern Kosovo”). Metohija is about eighty kilometers long and over forty kilometers wide.2 in 1968, supported by j. B. Tito, the lifetime dictator of communist Yugoslavia (1945– 1980) within the context of further decentralization of the communist federation, the albanian communist leader- ship of Kosovo succeeded in banning the name Metohija, perceived as excessively Serb and excessively for the de- sired political image of the albanian-dominated Socialist autonomous Province of Kosovo. in 1990, the term Me- tohija was reintroduced, as the official part of the name of the Province after its autonomy was limited and the province returned under the jurisdiction of Serbia. The Term Metohija, was eventually re-erased by the UN ad- ministration in june 1999. Thus, the whole area today is officially referred to as Kosovo.
Presently, Kosovo covers 10,887 square kilometers that is 12.3 percent of the total area of Serbia. The estimate of the Kosovo population in 1991 was as high as 1,954,747 in- habitants or 20.5 percent of the total population of Ser- bia.3 Legally a southern province of Serbia, since 1999 war and NaTO bombing campaign Kosovo was placed under UN administration by 1244 UN Security Council Reso- lution. according to the international law Kosovo is a con- stituent part of Serbia, a successor of the Federal Repub- lic of Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, Kosovo was additionally torn apart by the unilateral proclamation of independence on 17 February 2008, orchestrated solely by the albanian- -dominated Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) Kosovo. This unilateral proclamation of indepen- dence was firmly rejected as illegal and void by the Kosovo
2 Milisav Lutovac, La Metohija : étude de géographie humaine institut d’études Slaves, (Paris : Librairie ancienne Honoré Cham- pion 1935).
3 The number of ethnic albanians is only demographic projec- tions, after they boycotted the census of 1991 (Branislav Krstić, Koso- vo izmedju istorijskog i etničkog prava (Belgrade: Kuća Vid, 1994, 11–20). The real number of Kosovo albanians living in the province throught the 1990 was 1.3 to 1.5 million, i. e. 70 to 75 percent of the population, as estimated by demographic expert Milovan Radova- nović.

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