Balkans Policy Research Group
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Projects

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.

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.

Support for the Promise: CVE Communications Campaign
US Department of State

The project consists of a comprehensive communication campaign aimed at increasing civic awareness on the consequences of extremism and religious radicalism in Kosovo. The main activities (i.e. FDGs, open debates) located in the municipalities of Ferizaj, Vushtrri and Drenas, where a high number of fighters joined to fight for jihad in Syria and Iraq.

Project Objectives:

To affect Actions/Behaviors: Encourage target audiences to seek more information about the consequences of extremism and religious radicalism and proactively take preventive measures to prevent extremism in cooperation with relevant institutions and partners.

To affect Social Norms: Promote the prevention and report radicalisation amongst our target audiences, in all stages of the recruitment process. This includes preventing and reporting recruitment sites, identifying their goals, beliefs, means of persuasion, etc.  Our campaign will also try to affect social norms so that our target audience talks to their peers about the great risks of becoming directly involved in terrorist activities.

Raise public awareness and knowledge about the consequences of radicalism and the importance of countering VE ideologies in both words and practice. In close collaboration with other teams, “Support the Promise” will offer audiences an opportunity to learn about extremism and religious radicalism, as well as voice their concerns and address the relevant questions in the post-campaign forums that we organise.

Inclusive Policy Making in Kosovo and Serbia: Advance Harmony and Peace Through Dialogue, Integration, and Improvement of Services, Jobs and People
Olaf Palme International Center

The project aims at contributing to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, through integration of respective minorities/communities and addressing their interests and needs for better services and jobs. 

The first component, to be implemented in North Kosovo, is focused on identifying mechanisms and actors that would prompt integration of local public companies vital to the life of the northern Serbs. 

The second component, to be implemented in South Serbia, is focused on obstacles that hinder institutional integration of Albanians and issues that are crucial to advancing minority rights. 

The first component is implemented in cooperation with Team for Social Research (TDI) while the latter is carried out jointly with Centre for Advocacy and Democratic Development (CADD).

Enhancing Kosovo’s Think Tank’s Impact on Policy-Making
Norwegian Embassy

This grant supports BPRG to enhance its impact on the Policy Dialogue, Policy Forum and the dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. With regards to the latter component, one of the main project aims is to advance cooperation between CSOs of Kosovo and Serbia, and mobilise efforts to support a formal consortium of think-tankers whose aim will be to support the normalisation of relations between the two states and societies.

This grant has resulted in the formation of the Think Tankers Policy Forum (BPRG, KCSS and D4D)

 And the Kosovo Serbia Policy Advocacy Group (KSPAG)

Objectives:

The Project aims to achieve greater impact of think tank production through four separate but mutually supportive component:

  • Policy Dialogue

In reaction to the persistent political crisis, BPRG has designed and launched a locally-driven Policy Dialogue between the ruling parties and the opposition in hopes of halting the crisis and achieving a reform-driven agreement. The Dialogue roundtable was successfully launched in March 2016 by BPRG, where we act as an impartial mediator and facilitator, as well as an adviser on expert policy matters. The project timeframe of Policy Dialogue is one to three years starting March 2016. The aim is to foster political stability and establish a culture of dialogue cooperation between political actors, institutions and CSOs.

  • Policy Forum

Balkans Group is in the course of establishing a POLICY FORUM, a high-level advocacy of think-tankers in Kosovo. Bearing in mind the limited capacity of the civil society to impact policy change, BPRG took the lead to develop a project aimed at amplifying the ability of CSOs to affect policy-making. We plan to initiate a dialogue between think tanks and institutions, through joint publications, joint research and advocacy initiatives with fellow CSOs. Through this intervention, we aim to pool expertise of think tanks on cross-cutting issues, produce common research and policy papers, organise coordinated and joint public events, and to mobilise institutions to work on topics that consolidate Kosovo’s state. This activity will strengthen local think tanks’ ability to effectively advocate on their way to becoming sufficiently empowered to trigger change at the state-level.   Dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia

  • Dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia

The Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has been severely criticised by the opposition and civil society in Kosovo, where nationalism has already gained grounds against what is perceived as a corrupt governing elite making too many concessions to Belgrade. BPRG, on the other hand, perceives any setbacks to the Dialogue as damaging to the fledgling state of Kosovo, and plans to engage think tanks in Kosovo and Serbia in designing and developing joint programmes that are conducive to the normalisation of relations. We are hopeful that the project will conclude with the establishment of a joint consortium between local think tanks and their counterparts in Serbia. Indeed, BPRG has already initiated and spearheaded drafting of a joint letter by Kosovo and Serbian think tanks calling on the EU institutions and member states to support civil society in its efforts to enhance normalization of relations between the two countries at state-to-state level but also at societal levels. The initiative arose an interest of the EU High Representative to support creation of a consortium of Kosovo and Serbian CSOs for the normalisation of relations, under the leadership of the Balkans Group.

  • Policy Reporting

 BPRG is committed to continuing to produce quality reports based on field research, and to actively advocate for institutional reform and policy-change. We aim to utilise our expertise to support progress in areas crucial to Kosovo’s state building and EU integration efforts, namely institution-building democratic consolidation, community integration and reconciliation and rule of law.

Building a World-Class Think Tank in the Balkans
Open Society Initiative for Europe (Think Tank Fund)

The project is aimed at strengthening BPRG’s internal capacities (i.e. provision of staff trainings, acquisition of statistical software) and improving the quality of its outputs. The grant enables BPRG to fully utilise its existing and incoming human capacity and increase its ability to successfully advocate for policy change.

Objectives:

The proposed project seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhance the quality of research outputs of BPRG experts by acquiring advanced quantitative skills and tools
  • Boost the development of a new programmatic area and complement the existing expertise with the necessary instruments for high quality research and analysis
  • Develop tools and human resources for better visibility and impact of BPRG’s work
  • Employ innovative tools to increase the interest of institutions, media and public in the work of BPRG
  • Consolidate internal governance structures to fully utilise the potential of the Board of Trustee and the Advisory Board for contributing to BPRG’s further development.
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.

Albanians Reject: What Serbs Think of the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities?
Kosovo Foundation for Open Society

This policy paper analyses attitudes of the Serbian population in Kosovo towards the Association of Serbian Municipalities and formulates policy recommendations on the future functioning of the Association. Media monitoring in North Kosovo, interviews with key officials, and focus groups and a survey were the main tools used to collect the data. The survey was designed in cooperation with the Team for Social Research (TDI).

The goal is to present Serb’s views on the August Agreement on the Association of Serb municipalities to the Kosovo-wide audience. Kosovo and Serbia agreed on the principles/protocol for establishment of the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities in Kosovo on 25 August 2015, which included a four-month period for preparation of the statute.

Objectives:

The Overall objective includes Survey Serb acceptance (levels of) of the Association for their municipalities

1. In depths analyses of Serbs views, thinking and expectations on newly agreed Association of the Serb municipalities, in face of massive opposition by Albanians

2. Assess and survey the impact of the turbulent political crisis in Pristina on the Serb Community and their views about the Association/Community and integration

3. Make Serb views and their concerns heard in Pristina and part of the public discourse and debates about the benefits and gains.