Kosovo marks the 25th anniversary of its liberation, when Serb forces withdrew after NATO bombing

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo on Wednesday celebrated what it considers a liberation day, marking the 25th anniversary of the withdrawal of Serb forces.

During the 1998-1999 war with ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army separatists, Serbian forces failed to meet Western demands on reconciliation, which pushed NATO to launch a 78-day bombing campaign against Serbia that resulted in its withdrawal. About 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, died under Serbian repression. Some 1,600 are still missing.

Neighboring Serbia refuses to officially accept the independence its former province declared in 2008. More than 100 countries have recognized Kosovo, including the U.S. and most other Western countries, but not Russia and China, which have shut it out of the United Nations.

But Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said that “the European Union is our political goal while NATO is our military destination.”

Kosovo-Serbia ties have tumbled even further in the past year, and years of European Union-facilitated normalization talks have failed to make progress. NATO-led peacekeepers have increased their numbers along the border.

Kosovo on Wednesday held a military parade with celebratory speeches.

Visiting Kosovo earlier this week, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said that “had we allowed Kosovo and its people to continue to be brutalized, their rights stripped from them, their futures stolen, our own future in countries like mine would have been diminished.”

Writing on social platform X, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said the NATO air campaign gave an end to “a decade of repression and a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing.”


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.


Follow Llazar Semini at https://x.com/lsemini

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