25 February 2020 – Balkans Group organised a workshop on the Kosovo- Serbia dialogue in Pristina with students of the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Philosophy- Department of Political Sciences and Department of History, of the University of Prishtina. Through this event, BPRG aimed at expanding the discussion on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue process.
The workshop discussion was structured in two main sessions. Initially, the participants were asked to fill in an online survey of nine (9) questions, which was supposed to encourage them to brainstorm and express their opinions anonymously about the dialogue.
The first session generated a general discussion on the Brussels facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia with the assistance of the expert Fisnik Rexhepi. The discussion was focused on four main segments: A general overview on the dialogue; the agreements reached within the framework of the Brussels facilitated dialogue with special regards to the ones that have been implemented as well as the ones that have stalled; challenges and benefits of the Brussels dialogue and/or the agreements, and the future of the dialogue together with possible changes in this process. The second session generated an interactive discussion as participants were arranged in groups of five (5).
During this workshop, the initiative of increasing citizens’ engagement on the dialogue was welcomed by participants as they emphasized the lack of transparency and civic participation in this process so far.
Based on the conducted survey, BPRG found that the main sources of information that citizens used to be informed about the dialogue were social networks followed by TV news/ debates. Further, BPRG found that participants would like to see more involvement of the citizens (Serbs and Albanians) on the dialogue. Meanwhile for the upcoming workshops on the dialogue, the need to have a more varied demographic representation was emphasized.
It was also underlined that the “aim of the agreement” is the main component that needs to be presented to the general public, when talking about the agreements. While based on the latest developments, the future of the dialogue was brought to the table. If the dialogue were to continue, the orthodox religious sites and churches but also the missing persons, are some of the immediate topics for the dialogue that the Kosovo negotiation team should push forward, according to the students. Is the United States replacing European Union or will EU member states be directly involved in the dialogue, were some of the questions raised by the participants based on the same developments.
Overall, participants were in favour of continuation of the dialogue, but would like to see their country applying more reciprocal measures with regards to some agreements, namely the freedom of movement. Also it was underlined that Kosovo negotiation team should hold a clear position on each and every topic that is to be negotiated and to somewhat predetermine the expected outcomes and principles but also the compromises that they can afford to make. Above all, they mentioned the necessity to be informed about the compromises that both parties have made so far in order to reach the respective agreements. As for now, each party considers that they are giving much more than they are receiving from such a process and that there is only one beneficiary – the other party.
Participants also discussed the final agreement with Serbia on the status of Kosovo and the necessity to have the institution of referendum applied whenever crucial decisions are to be made and/or agreed.
This workshop was organized as part of the project “Advancing Kosovo Institutions, Democratization and Regional Cooperation” and falls under one of the regional cooperation pillars of the project, which aims to promote and support the dialogue on normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. This activity is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pristina.