Rugova’s passive resistance strategy attracted widespread support from the Albanian population of Kosovo, who had seen the carnage provoked in Croatia and Bosnia and concerned about a similar situation. However, the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian War, seriously weakened Rugova’s position. The agreement does not mention Kosovo and the international community has made no serious effort to solve the current problems of the province. The radicals of the Albanian population of Kosovo began to argue that the only way out of the impasse was to launch an armed insurrection with the conviction that it would force the outside world to intervene. They blamed Rugova’s policy of non-violence by Kosovo’s failure on independence.
In 1997, the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) emerged as a combat force and began to carry out attacks and assassinations against Serb civilians, paramilitary and security forces, and Albanians considered as ” Employees “. The Serbian answer was, as he had predicted the KLA, energetic and often indiscriminately. In 1998, the KLA had become a large-scale guerrilla army, 100,000 Kosovo Albanians were refugees and the province was in a state of quasi-civil war. Rugova was re-elected President of the same year and received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. However, it was clearly overshadowed by the KLA. This was stressed in February 1999, when he was neglected in favor of the KLA’s political head, Hashim Thaçi, elected by the Subterranean Assembly of Kosovo to lead the Albanian Kosovo negotiating team in the talks of the KLA, Rambouillet agreement.
At the end of March 1999, following negotiations in Rambouillet, NATO launched Operation Allied Force to impose a resolution of the Kosovo war. Rugova spent the first weeks of the war under house arrest with her family in Pristina. In early April 1999, Rugova was born tackles Belgrade, where he was shown at the meeting of Serbian public television Milošević and demanding the end of the war.
Rugova was allowed to leave Kosovo for temporary exile in Italy in early May 1999, shortly before the end of the war. It drew more criticism to be slow to return to Kosovo – it was not until July that returned to the province. However, he received a triumphant welcome and returned to political life under the new United Nations administration in Kosovo.