Peaceful Change initiative (PCi) strongly condemns the appalling violence against KFor peacekeepers in Zvečan, plus the attacks against journalists covering developments on the ground. This is arguably the most serious incident in Kosovo since 2011. The situation remains volatile and we add our voice to those calling for calm and restraint.
Sustainable solutions can only be achieved through dialogue, not only between governments but involving all elements of society. To this end, we stand in solidarity with those civil society organisations from Kosovo and Serbia who continue to propose constructive ideas for how to de-escalate the current tensions and build trust and confidence between the various parties. Their efforts are vital for demonstrating that a different future is possible.
The public stances they take are often unpopular within their own communities, where they often face threats and intimidation for criticising, in particular, their own political leaderships. However, at the same time, these public stances are rarely heard by other communities, such is the manner in which information exchanges are siloed. Such civic actors deserve our support in these trying moments to help amplify their messages in order to ensure that they are heard by as wide and diverse an audience as possible.
In times of crisis, it is vital that civil society continue to provide alternative channels of communication that can confront the spread of disinformation which can have a profoundly destabilising impact within and between communities. Civil society organisations, through their ties with their constituencies, can relay the perspectives of citizens who find themselves on the front lines of conflict; those who typically bear the brunt of such crises.
Peace is a long-term project which can be severely impacted by such violent episodes. For the sake of the normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia – a process that should have been reinforced by the recent roadmap and implementation annex agreed between the two under EU facilitation – civil society must continue to identify and advocate for key issues for the process.
A failure to capitalise now could see relations deteriorate further, and the process of integration unravelling to the extent that all the gains from the 2013 Brussels Agreement, whose tenth anniversary has just passed, are lost.
Since 2020, PCi has been engaging a diverse group of civil society organisations from Kosovo and Serbia to explore common responses and approaches to issues that impact the environment for the normalisation of relations. Learn more about our work in Kosovo and Serbia.