During 1998 and 1999, Lawrence Rossin found himself working in the disputed region of the Balkans. Having previously worked in Mali, South Africa, Barbados, and Haiti, Rossin had extensive experience in negotiations and regional complexities. Originally brought into the State Department’s Office of South Central European Affairs in the European Bureau following his work in Haiti, Rossin soon had difficulties translating his experiences. But as we see in this “moment” in U.S. diplomatic history, thanks to cigarettes, contact group diplomacy, and writing skills, Rossin quickly became a key actor in Kosovo in the late 1990s.
Bordered by Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia, Kosovo has become one of the highly disputed autonomous regions in the Balkans. With ethnic groups such as Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks, Turks, and Roma, Kosovo is also home to many religions. In 1992, the Albanians of Kosovo declared independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Kosova. Fighting broke out between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998, and ended in 1999 due to NATO intervention, which is where Rossin got involved. Kosovo later declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and is internationally recognized by over 100 countries. Read more