Albanian politician, president of Kosovo 1992–2006, and leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). A moderate ethnic Albanian leader, who was viewed as father of the Kosovo nation. Until 2002, he headed a ‘government in exile’ (first in Germany and then in Switzerland, Macedonia, and Albania). In 2002 he was internationally recognized as president after the LDK won a general election for the region. As president, he campaigned for Kosovo's independence from Serbia, to be achieved by peaceful means and with the agreement of all parties.
Rugova was elected leader of the LDK, the first non-communist party in Kosovo, after Serb president Slobodan Milošević abolished Kosovo's autonomy in 1989. He developed a strategy of passive resistance against the Serb forces, but his stance appeared to be changing when the 1995 Dayton peace accord did not address tensions in the province and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLM) was formed. Despite attempts by rival Albanian groups to marginalize Rugova, he retained strong popular support. He set up a system of parallel administrations for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, mirroring Albanian governmental and educational structures, and even football leagues.
Rugova was born in Crnce, Kosovo. His father and grandfather were executed in 1945 by Yugoslav communists who accused them of being allies of the Nazi Germans in the war. Rugova studied linguistics at the Sorbonne, Paris, and worked as an academic, journalist, and writer. A member of the former Communist Party of Yugoslavia, he was expelled for demanding changes to Serbia's constitution.
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