Balkans Policy Research Group
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Projects

Policy Dialogue for Reform-Driven Agreement and Resolution of the On-Going Political Crisis
Swiss Embassy

The project promotes democratic consolidation, cooperation, reform dialogue, and thus put the political crisis to an end through its Policy Dialogue discussions. The Dialogue roundtables are an activity of BPRG which were successfully launched in March 2016 as a pilot that brought together senior members of political parties at a roundtable focused on finding a way out of the crisis. The grant was used to support Dialogue discussions organised from March to May 2016.

Goal:

The overall goal of the project is to resolve the political crisis and prevent violence from taking place as well as to advance Kosovo’s state-building agenda.

By helping to develop working relations among all political parties, a more “normal” working atmosphere will be established which will contribute to returning institutions back to their full functionality, especially the Parliament.

By identifying themes and issues of common interest, the project will lead to a reform-driven political agreement addressing the major points of dispute while bringing about concrete reforms and policy solutions.

The project makes an important contribution to preventing state failure that has been lurking on the horizon for almost two years.

Objectives include:

  • To build consensus on key policy issues for Kosovo (including dialogue with Serbia)
  • To enable the full functioning of the institutions (including a return of the opposition parties to the Parliament)
  • To develop a culture of political dialogue in Kosovo.
Kosovo: Local Government and Serb integration
Swiss Confederation, represented by the Federal Department of Foreign Affair

The project was developed in response to the flawed elections that took place in North Kosovo in 2013. Project activities included interviews with Kosovo’s leadership, mayors, members of the Serbian enclaves in municipalities where Albanians are a majority, focus groups with students, doctors, and CSO representatives among others. The output is a report outlining policy solutions for enhancing integration of Serbs in North Kosovo.

Objectives:

The aim of the project is to write a report outlining policy solutions for enhancing integration of Serbs in north Kosovo. 

The first goal of our recommendations is to change policy. Our second goal is to clarify the policy debate and set the agenda.

 Balkans Group will interview the full scope of Kosovo leadership, including government officials, mayors, deputy mayors for communities, community representatives, local leaders and selected assembly members in the ten Serb-majority municipalities. Residents of Serb enclaves in Albanian majority municipalities: Peja, Istog, Prizren, Rahovec, Gjilan will also be interviewed. Other interviews include, faculty and administrators at north Mitrovica University, focus groups will consist of students, doctors, Gracanica medical center staff and civil society organisations. Serbian Government and international actors: EULEX, Embassies, UNMIK and UNDP, KFOR, USAID and others will also be involved.

Our policy recommendations are meant to offer realistic, guiding principles for the governments of Kosovo and Serbia and for the international community.

Strengthen the State Institutions and Peace in Kosovo
Finnish Embassy

Strengthen the state institutions and peace in Kosovo; enhancing Kosovo’s capacity to deliver governance, services, and access to key human rights, including in a decentralised context for minorities

The project aims to survey, identify and analyse obstacles and weaknesses in two broad areas as well as offer a series of policy recommendations on how to improve:

  • State-building, strengthen state institutions, including increase of service-delivery quality and enhancing citizen’s rights. And identifying ways for improvements
  • Peace-building, institutional and human capacity building, first survey effectiveness and use of the local governance by the communities, particularly in the Serb areas. Survey the impact of the implementation of the Brussels Agreement on ordinary citizens and ways to empower new institutions.

The project aims to develop practical policies that address the ways for improvement. The report aims to produce persuasive findings and recommendations that will mobilise domestic and international support for policy discussions and policy change.

The overall objective is to identify and remove the most salient obstacles or weaknesses in two broad areas;

a) Effective use of municipal governance by local communities, especially minorities

b) Effective access to key rights

The first specific objective is to identify through research, fieldwork and outreach the ways in which people seek to realise their rights to local self-government and their basic human rights and are, for reasons of government weakness or malfeasance, unable to do so.

The second specific objective is to develop practical policies that address those weaknesses, with reference to the experience in the region and best practices.

The third specific objective is to publish our findings in a succinct, persuasive way and to mobilise domestic and international support for our policy recommendations

The fourth specific objective is to mobilise cross ethnic analysts and researchers to promote those findings and recommendations, through;

a) adapting programmes to support local governance in the north

 b) With support of Balkans Group, Albanians and Serb researchers jointly engage in monitoring of those policies and furthering-and gaining other projects- the monitoring of the government policies with the aim to advance those key rights and increase the efficiency of the local governance.

Strengthening Peace and State-building
Norwegian Embassy

The project aims to support Kosovo-Serbia rapprochement by helping Kosovar and Serb leaders at all levels understand one another's views, goals and interests, and how their policies affect the lives of people on the ground.

We aim to foster the integration of the Serb community, using our unique and extensive network of contacts in northern Kosovo. We aim to help consolidate Kosovo state institutions and the rule of law.

Our second goal is to pass on the legacy of Crisis Group's fifteen years of work in Kosovo by building the capacity of national civil society organisations. Like Crisis Group, Balkans Group employs researchers and analysts of all ethnicities equally and will build a fully mixed team of highly qualified and trained researchers and policy analysts. Balkans Group is the only local think tank with Albanians and Serbs working together closely, doing joint research, drafting reports and engaging in advocacy. Working with Balkans Group will give Albanian researchers experience with the Serb community of northern Kosovo and Serb analysts experience with the Pristina government. All staff will receive training in research, analysis, drafting and advocacy skills to a high international standard.

Our ambition is to establish the leading multi-ethnic think tank of Kosovo. After working with Balkans Group, former staff will be well suited to take positions in civil society and government, passing on the skills and standards they have acquired. Our network of relations across the ethnic divide will be an invaluable asset for Balkans Group alumni. The goal is to establish a group of Albanian and Serb researchers and analysts under Balkans Policy Research Group, whose thoughts and ideas influence policy makers and international actors, and dedicated to building a strong, stable and prosperous society in Kosovo and the western Balkans.

Transition in North Kosovo After the Brussels Agreement
Norwegian Embassy ,

Published in March 2015, this policy report provides a roadmap for integration of the Serb community in Kosovo. It covers different issues crucial to the integration of the Kosovo Serbs within Kosovo jurisdiction, from the local to central institutions, judiciary, health and education. It discusses obstacles to Serb integration and explores possibilities on how best to overcome them in a manner that strengthens Kosovo’s institutions and minority group rights.

Objectives:

The goal of the project is to give Belgrade, Pristina and interested international actors a sound understanding of the views and options of the northern Kosovo population and leadership, and to craft policies for northern Kosovo that can secure local support and buy-in in the context of the Brussels Agreement.

A second goal is to explore how implementation on the ground can help overcome the remaining differences between Belgrade and Pristina.

The key issues relate to civilian implementation of the Agreement: municipal administration, establishment of a regional administration (“Community/Association”), elections, police and judiciary. Transfer of police to Kosovo jurisdiction should be smooth but building capacity and community trust and support are challenging goals. Closing the Serbian court in Zvecan town is easy, but the Kosovo court in North Mitrovica cannot work without local acceptance, as recent barricades (which forced the court to cancel hearings) have shown. The biggest challenge by far will be working out how this region will be administered in practice, and doing the work needed to secure meaningful participation in elections and the institutions created thereby.