21 November 2017 – In this occasion Balkans Group presented the report Association of Serb Municipalities: Understanding the conflicting views between Albanians and Serbs. 21 November 2017 Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG) in cooperation with NGO AKTIV hosted a roundtable discussion on “Kosovo-Serbia relations, the impact of this relations on the Kosovo Serbs and implementation of the agreements”. Former Kosovo government officials, Serb members of the parliament, politicians from the North of Kosovo, media, as well as representatives from the civil society participated and contributed to the roundtable discussions. Balkans Group report “Serb Association: Understanding conflicting views of Albanians and Serbs” presents the differences in the way Albanians and Serbs view the aims of the Association. To the Albanian community as a fundamental issue of sovereignty and statehood. To northern Kosovo Serbs as a tool to preserve national identity. The report reveals the lack of understanding of one another’s concerns as a central obstacle to the formation of the Association.
Naim Rashiti, Executive Director of Balkan Policy Group, stated the report shows that Serbs and Albanians have a very different perception of the dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina, and therefore, perceive inversely the Association of Serb Municipalities. Rashtiti noted that the representatives of both sides should do more to explain it to its citizens. Rashiti also emphasized the lack of transparency and the need for greater involvement of civil society and citizens in the round tables and consequently in the dialogue. He stressed the need for a roadmap which would fulfill the needs of Serb community and Kosovo.
Igor Simic, from Srpska Lista, stressed the importance of Association of Serb Municipalities for the Serb community. “The Association for Serbs in Kosovo represents the essence of the Brussels agreement because it is directly related to their lives”, Simic said. He emphasized that 1682 days have passed without the establishment of Association of Serb Municipalities, and that Serb representatives in Kosovo institutions will do the utmost for the establishment of ASM. He further noted that the positive side of the dialogue is that the incidents were reduced.
Bajram Gecaj, former deputy Minister of Local Government said that this Association should be made in accordance with the Kosovo Constitution, while adding that the previous government invited Kosovo Serb representatives to discuss on the modules of the establishment of the association in accordance with the constitution, but Serbs did not responded. He reiterated that the ASM did not remain suspended due to internal political crisis but due to the lack of harmonization between Kosovo and Serb representatives. He said the main foundation of Kosovo-Serbia relations is the lack of recognition of the latter towards the new reality of Kosovo.
Media, civil society organizations, and other participants had the opportunity to discuss and comment on the topic at hand with panel speakers, agreeing that an increased harmonization between Kosovo Albanian and Serb representatives, is key to improving the prospects for full integration.
The Balkans Group report “Serb Association: Understanding conflicting views of Albanians and Serbs” attracted the interest of wide range actors, local and international, in better understanding the concerns and views of all sides on the dialogue, agreements and in particular regarding the agreement on the Association of Kosovo-Serb majority Municipalities. Read the executive summary and the full report by clicking here. This project is supported with the funds of the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS) and the Governments of Finland and Norway. The roundtable was organized in cooperation with the NGO ACTIV. It was held at the KFOS-funded Civic Energy Center in North Mitrovica. Balkans Group has a long and unmatchable expertise on the Kosovo-Serbia relations, Community integration and other regional issues.
For more reporting and information on the roundtable, please visit the links below: