by Marcel Baumler, October 1998



Nowhere can we get closer to examining the question of national identity
and nation building in contemporary politics
than in the case of Yugoslavia's Kosovo.



The two opposing view-points from the Albania's regime and from Yugoslavia's Serbian regime has brought important political questions out into the open.
Why has most of the western media along with national governments sided with the Albanian response
and actions? Is it merely a humanitarian agreement or one that has been cleverly distorted and manipulated by numerous factors?



In order to get to a closer understanding of the Kosovo question we will take a one-sided view of what emotionally Kosovo means to the Serbs. What value does it has to them given that it is further disintegrating their country and slaughtering thousands upons thousands of their countrymen. Kosovo has been described by the Serbian people to the rest of the world as being their Mecca, their Jerusalem.



 The Serbs refer to Kosovo as metohija , which derives its name from the Greek term metoh, meaning church lands.
Tourists in Kosovo will appreciate the monastaries dating from the golden age of the Mediaeval Serbian Empire, which has political and religious foundations there (5,7).


From early thirteenth century on, Kosovo was also the religious center of Serbia. The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church has his headquarters in Peja / Pec, where three grand patriarchal churches of the period can still be seen today.



The magnificent monasteries of the region are proof of the important role played by the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo.


  And not only in the Middle Ages, but also later under the Turkish rule.  Most of them were dominated by the kings of Serbia.




Kosovo is rich in natural resources. The one-time gold and silver mines of Novobėrda / Novo Brdo in the mountains southeast of Prishtina, have now been abandoned, but silver, lead, nickel, zinc and magnesite are still being mined in the Mitrovica area. The Trepēa mining complex, once owned by an English company, is one of the largest producers of refined lead on earth



Battle of Kosovo.

Kosovo, with its capital Prishtina, was the northern frontier of the Byzantium Empire at the time. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it gradually came under the control of the Serbain Nemania dynasty which had its power base there. Kosovo became the heart of the Serbian Empire which, at its zenith stretched from the Danube to the Aegean and Ionian Seas.

Kosovo was also the breadbasket and economic heart of the Serbian Empire in the Middle Ages. It produced fine wines and silken textiles. Wool from Peja was famous, known to merchants from Dubrovnik as fina lana de Albania . The Trepcha mines north of Prishtina produced silver, lead, and iron ore. The mines at Novobėrda / Novo Brdo south of the capital yielded not only silver but also precious gold.



Today the population is more than 80% Albanian. Traditionally, however, their have been a good deal of tolerance among the religious communities and even co-operation in times of crisis.

   About 70% of the population is Moslem, 20% (mostly Serbs and Montenegrins) is Orthodox, and 10% (mainly Albanians) is Catholic (6). Religion did not play a very important role in the lives of Kosovo Albanians until recently.






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