Xhorxhina Bami, Pristina, BIRN, July 22, 2020


Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at normalising relations has resumed, but Kosovo still needs a comprehensive strategy to deal with the legacy of the 1998-99 conflict, a new research report says.

A research report published this month entitled ‘Democratising Transitional Justice in Kosovo’ says that the country needs to focus on comprehensively dealing with the legacy of the 1998-99 war with Serbian forces in order to move towards a sustainably peaceful future.

“Twenty-one years since the end of violent conflict in Kosovo, the country has not managed yet to devise a national strategy on transitional justice due to lack of political will and commitment among national and international stakeholders to genuinely engage with the legacies of the past,” says the report, which was written by Gezim Visoka and Besart Lumi and published by PAX, Integra and the New Social Initiative.

Initiatives undertaken so far “have suffered from a lack of coordination and harmonisation, politicisation and personalisation by political leaders, and most importantly did not manage to ensure adequate representation and inclusion of affected communities (victims and survivors of the conflict)”, the report adds.

The report argues that there should be a “bottom-up and victims-centred national strategy” and an “integrated institutional infrastructure” for dealing with the legacy of the conflict.

It says that “there should be no [Kosovo-Serbia] peace agreement without transitional justice provisions” – a reference to the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina that resumed in Brussels on July 16 after being stalled for two years by political disputes.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after the meeting that they had discussed cooperation in the search for wartime missing persons, an issue that has not been on the agenda before.

Vucic said that Belgrade is ready to offer assistance to Pristina in finding the remaining ethnic Albanian missing persons from the 1998-99 war, but wants the Kosovo authorities to reciprocate by helping to find missing Serbs.

Hoti said that the talks also covered issues such as compensation for damage caused during the 1998-99 war. But Vucic said he refused to discuss the subject of reparations.