Kosovo is the spiritual birthplace of Serbian nationhood, although today only an estimated 10% of the population are Serbs.

In the 1980s, President Milosevic built his reputation as a protector of the Serbian people, starting with a speech in Kosovo in which he promised Serbs they would not become victims. This rekindling of Serbian nationalism in the former Yugoslavia was to spell the beginning of the end for the Yugoslav Federation. The other republics eventually broke away, with bitter wars in Croatia and Bosnia, leaving Serbia and Montenegro as the rump Yugoslavia.

Serbia sees the Kosovo Liberation Army as a terrorist organisation and denies Western accusations that it has driven Kosovo Albanians from their homes. Belgrade’s refusal to sign up to a peace deal which would have included autonomy for the province precipitated the Nato strikes.