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Kosovo: Dialogue and building trust, key to defusing tensions

Briefing ambassadors, Caroline Ziadeh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General cited a “serious” incident on 24 September, that saw five people – including a Kosovo police officer – killed and others injured.

“[These events] exacerbated an already deteriorating security environment, characterized by an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and contradictory perceptions touching much of the population,” she said, especially in northern Kosovo and among Kosovo-Serb communities elsewhere in Kosovo.

April elections boycott

Ms. Ziadeh, also the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), added that the deteriorating security situation was compounded by the Kosovo-Serb community’s boycott of local elections in April, particularly significant in areas where they constitute the majority.

“The current political impasse, with its impact on the security and well-being of the population, can only be overcome through compromise,” she urged.

Political responsibilities

As the situation continues to escalate, political leaders on both sides bear a significant responsibility for addressing the security needs and broader socio-economic concerns of all segments of society, Ms. Ziadeh said.

The atmosphere of mutual suspicion, inflammatory public allegations, and divisive political rhetoric has strained communication channels and fueled tensions among the population.

“Rather than stoking tensions through political messages directed at one group, elected leaders bear responsibility for addressing the security needs and broader socio-economic concerns of all segments of society, regardless of ethnic, linguistic, or political background,” the UN official stressed.

Women and youth

Efforts to promote participation of women and youth in peace, and security agendas have been ongoing, Ms. Ziadeh said.

UNMIK has supported women-led civil society organizations and encouraged the active involvement of youth and women in decision-making processes.

Despite the challenges, initiatives aimed at addressing critical issues such as combating misinformation, youth involvement in decision-making, and domestic violence, have seen positive results.

Building trust

Ms. Ziadeh further noted that this year marked the fifth anniversary of UNMIK’s trust-building agenda, which has been instrumental in strengthening dialogue, social cohesion, and resilience at the grassroots level.

One example of such efforts is the Barabar Centre, which was opened in May. The term Barabar means equality and fairness in Albanian and Serbian – Kosovo’s two official languages.

In the course of six months, the Centre has organized more than 40 multiethnic events, demonstrating that even during challenging times it is possible to bring people together, Ms. Ziadeh said.

“The Centre is a safe space in the heart of Pristina, where people from all walks of life and all communities, can meet to freely deliberate and transcend divisive political rhetoric,” she added.

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