9th Dec 2019

NGOs argue against further indecision on Kosovo

The delay in working out a solution on Kosovo's future is hindering efforts to improve the lives of its people and creating tensions that could eventually result in violence, according to a report published by two NGOs on Monday (3 December).

The Serbian breakaway province has been under UN administration since 1999 and talks on its future status have been ongoing for years.

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People are "understandably anxious" about how the resolution of the status issue would affect them, while it is already having a negative impact on many aspects of their daily lives and is exacerbating tensions between the different communities, reads the report by London-based NGO Saferworld and Kosovo's Forum for Civic Initiatives (FIQ).

The local population is also increasingly frustrated as it does not feel involved in the international talks which are to determine the province's future.

"Many people feel cut off from high-level international negotiations and powerless to influence decisions made by the US, Russia and the EU about Kosovo. There is an urgent need to include the people of Kosovo in decisions about their own future", stated Ferdinand Nikolla, director of FIQ.

In addition, all of the Kosovars participating in the workshops organised by the NGOs during their research have agreed that "the decision on future status, when it comes, will cause some level of conflict".

If Kosovo becomes independent, this may trigger discontent among the Serbian minority; if it does not, then the "frustration among Kosovo Albanians could spill over into violence", reads the 30-page document.

Regardless of its final status, there are things that could already be done to ensure a smoother transition in the province, the NGOs argue.

They say more information should be made available to communities throughout Kosovo about the process of negotiations and on the possible implications of the different proposals for their everyday lives.

Involvement of the local population in the decision-making process should be increased as well and previous mistakes by the international community of not engaging with the local population and civil society should not be repeated.

Finally, internal action in some fields – such as the justice sector – are also essential in order to render the courts more functional and prevent people from "taking justice into their own hands", says the report.

EU works for recognition of independence in early 2008

Meanwhile, EU diplomats have told the International Herald Tribune (IHT) they are working on a plan to delay Kosovo independence.

The EU plan would mean that the 27-nation bloc will replace the UN as the civilian administration in the province and postpone a possible recognition of independence until early next year.

The time until then is to be used for diplomatic efforts to try to convince Russia – a loyal ally of Serbia and opponent of Kosovar independence – to change its position.

The project also includes implementing the so-called Ahtisaari plan – drawn up by former UN envoy to Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari - which was categorically rejected by Serbians earlier this year for putting Kosovo on its path to full independence.

EU, Russian and US negotiators are to report to the UN on the outcome of their mediation efforts regarding Kosovo's status on 10 December – but a last round of talks between Serbs and Kosovars last week saw no breakthrough.


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Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

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