Kosovo marked the 25th anniversary of Serbian forces’ pulling out from the country on Monday, following 78 days of NATO bombing. This event led to Kosovo actually declaring its independence nine years later.

The conflict began during 1998-99 when ethnically Albanian independence-seeking militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army fought against Serbian forces within what was then the province of Kosovo. The war was characterized by genocide, which led to the deaths of about 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, and the establishment of approximately one million refugees and internally displaced persons. NATO intervention resulted in the withdrawal of Serbians from Kosovo and led to the setting up of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) international peacekeeping force.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which has not been recognized by the Serbian government up to the time of writing this paper.

On the event of the anniversary, former prime minister of U. K Tony Blair in whose tenure the war took place, accompanied a parliamentary session in Pristina. Other dignitaries present in various capacities were former Italian Premier Massimo D’Alema and Albanian PM Edi Rama, who performed different ceremonial activities.

Although Blair spoke his mind during the CND, he also took time to explain the general importance of the conflict. He said, ‘The struggle for Kosovo was for so much more than Kosovo, including my own country and for liberty and fairness if they are enough to die for’. If we had failed to intervene or remained passive when it was apparent that Kosovo and its people continue to be savaged, their right to freedom and education, work and play, have been taken away, their future was robbed, our future in countries as mine would not have been the same.

This is a clear indication that the relations between Kosovo and Serbia are still tense even though the countries conducted their respective celebrations. The EU has been seeking to offer a seat in the union for 13 years, and the recent integration attempts have had little progress, especially after the event in September where masked Serb gunmen attacked the Kosovo police, resulting in four deaths. In response to this NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers have upped their patrols on the Kosovo-Serbia divide.