Kosovo Force 1999 – 2000 (KFOR)

12 April 1999 - 8 August 2000
Military personnel

In the Yugoslavian constitution of 1974, Kosovo was granted the status of an autonomous province within the constituent republic of Serbia. The majority of Kosovo’s population was of Albanian extraction, with a small Serbian minority. The Serb president, Milosevic, stripped Kosovo of its autonomous status in 1989.

In the years that followed, the Albanians lost all the rights which guaranteed the preservation of their own language and culture. The nationalistic sentiment of which Milosevic took advantage and the repressive policy adopted towards the Albanian Kosovars led in the 90s to an armed struggle in Kosovo, which became so intense in 1998 that neighbouring countries were at risk of becoming embroiled.

NATO peacekeeping force

At the beginning of February 1999, the international community made a last-ditch attempt to bring the Serbs and the Albanian Kosovars to the negotiating table. The Serbs refused, however, despite considerable pressure from the UN and NATO, to sign the proposed agreement, whereupon the North Atlantic Council authorised air strikes on targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The air strikes were designed to end the military actions and the ethnic cleansing by Yugoslav army and police units and irregular militias in Kosovo. On 9 June 1999, Belgrade agreed to a ceasefire and the phased withdrawal from Kosovo of all its army and police units. KFOR was responsible for upholding the ceasefire and creating the conditions for the safe return of the refugees (Albanian Kosovars). This meant:

  • disarming the Kosovar liberation movement (the UCK);
  • maintaining law and order until UNMIK was able to take over;
  • making a start on mine clearance;
  • conducting border controls;
  • providing support for UNMIK;
  • ensuring their own freedom of movement and that of the international organisations.