Key events

1974: Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito's Constitution gives ethnic Albanians autonomy with great political power at the republic and federal levels.

1980: Tito dies and Communist Yugoslavia slowly begins to unravel.

1981: Kosovo Albanians demonstrate for republic status and are met with violence by the Serbian police.

1989: Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic strips Kosovo of its autonomy and stirs up nationalism that spurs the breakup of Yugoslavia. Twenty are killed in Kosovo protests.

1991: In an underground election, nonviolent Ibrahim Rugova is chosen president of the so-called Republic of Kosovo, as ethnic Albanians leave Serbian state institutions and form a parallel world.

1997 (early): Neighboring Albania implodes, and government arms stocks are looted.

1997 (October): Ethnic Albanian students begin protests against the will of Rugova.

1998 (February and March): Violence breaks out in Drenica region, and the Kosovo Liberation Army has its first martyr: Adem Jashari, who along with 20 family members is killed in the village of Prekaz.

1998 (spring): The KLA balloons and claims to control 40 percent of Kosovo.

1998 (summer): A massive offensive by Serbian forces demolishes scores of villages, kills hundreds, and sends the KLA into the hills.

1998 (October): US envoy Richard Holbrooke negotiates a cease-fire with Mr. Milosevic that doesn't work.

1999 (Jan. 15): Forty-five ethnic Albanians are killed in the village of Racak.

1999 (February): Under strong international pressure, Albanians and Serbs go to Rambouillet, France, to try for a peace deal that would give Kosovo autonomy.

1999 (Feb. 20): Deadline for a political settlement. Otherwise, NATO may intervene.

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