July 22 (Reuters) - The World Court rules on Kosovo's unilateral secession from Serbia on Thursday, a case that could have implications for separatist movements around the globe, as well as Belgrade's stalled EU membership talks.
Here are some details of relations between the two:
* THE COURT CASE:
-- Serbia asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to give an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's independence declaration.
-- Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said the Balkan state hoped the court's ruling would help Belgrade stop more countries recognising Kosovo and force Pristina to re-enter talks on its future. It has been recognised by 69 countries.
-- Kosovo became part of the Kingdom of Serbia in the early 13th century, with a mixed population of Serbs, Albanians and Vlachs. The Nemanjic dynasty made it the spiritual heartland of Serbia, giving lands to the Orthodox Church and building monasteries that stand today.
-- Many Serbs left in the 500 years after the Ottoman Empire defeated the Serbs at the 1389 Battle of Kosovo while the Albanians grew in number. Mutual expulsions and migrations to and from Albania in the early 20th century changed Kosovo's makeup.
* VIOLENCE & WAR:
-- Ethnic tensions escalated in the 1980s as Yugoslavia began to crumble and economic conditions deteriorated. Populist Slobodan Milosevic used Serb nationalism as a springboard to power in 1989, restricting Albanian rights in education and local government.
-- Strikes, protests and violence led to Belgrade declaring a state of emergency in 1990. Albanians demanded independence in renegade elections in 1992 when pacifist leader Ibrahim Rugova was elected president of a self-declared republic.
-- After sticking to a policy of passive resistance for years, Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas launched an armed rebellion in the late 1990s, prompting a brutal crackdown by the Yugoslav army and police.
-- NATO powers warned Milosevic they would not tolerate another round of "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans following the 1992-5 Bosnian war. Peace talks on Kosovo in France failed and in March 1999 NATO started bombing Serbia to force it to withdraw its forces from Kosovo.
-- Some 800,000 ethnic Albanians fled or were expelled to Macedonia and Albania before Milosevic gave in 78 days later. As his forces pulled out and NATO took over, up to 200,000 Serbs and other ethnic minorities left as well.
* FROM LIMBO TO INDEPENDENCE:
-- The two communities -- some two million Albanians and 120,000 Serbs -- have lived separately since 1999, deeply suspicious and occasionally hostile to each other.
-- Albanian impatience for independence and discontent with the United Nations mission running the territory resulted in bursts of violence against the Serb minority.
-- The West decided the situation was unsustainable. After almost two years of Serb-Albanian negotiations ended in failure, Kosovo declared independence in February 2008.
-- "Serbia will never, under any circumstances, implicitly or explicitly, recognise the unilateral declaration of independence of the ethnic-Albanian authorities of our southern province," President Boris Tadic told the U.N. General Assembly in September 2009.
-- Serbia has been leaning on Russia to block Kosovo's entry into the United Nations and other international bodies. It is backing the Serb minority in boycotting the new state and its Albanian authorities, deepening its de facto partition.
* KOSOVO NOW:
-- Kosovo has established a new constitution, its own army, national anthem, passports, identity cards, intelligence agency and has opened its first embassies, mostly in Western countries.
-- Kosovo joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank last June, a move it hopes will strengthen political confidence and lead more countries to recognise it.