Communities, not minorities! How to escape politicization of the “minority issue” in our societies?

Marko Savković

28. June 2014

Communities, not minorities! How to escape politicization of the “minority issue” in our societies?

The seminar ‘Rights of Minorities and Institutional Arrangements: Seeking Better Solutions’ has started on Thursday,  26 June in Prishtina.

After introductory remarks and welcome words, Ms. Vlora Citaku, Kosovo Minister for European integration, opened the RAD seminar yesterday. Mr. Marko Savkovic, RAD Executive Director, expressed his hopes for the sincere deliberation of facts on the Belgrade-Prishtina process so far. Ms. Leonora Kreziu, the host of the seminar and Executive Director of Prishtina Institute for Political Studies welcomed more than 45 participants, while the Minister gave a speech on the importance of EU integration for the entire region.

The second day was dedicated to the concept of power sharing introduced by Mr. Stefan Wolff, Professor at University of Birmingham, and the concrete application of these models in Kosovo.  Can power sharing work was debated among RAD participants.

Mr. Wolff argued that with a mixture of leadership, diplomacy and good institutional design, power sharing could work. He illustrated his arguments with case studies of Northern Ireland, Sudan and Bosnia and Herzegovina and explained why in some cases power sharing was benefitial, while in others it happened to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

‏‪@BFPE_BFPI

Stefan Wolf at ‪#RADWB in Pristina: You believe power sharing will bring a perfect system and expect people will catch up. Be realistic.

The second presentation was delivered by Mr. Albin Kurti, leader of the movement ‘Vetevendosje’. He introduced the audience with the recent developments in Kosovo, and critized the elitist model of integrating the Serbian community in the society.

He incited the discussion with the idea that people and not the representatives should be integrated into society, while the focus shoud be put on economic development rather than on reconciliation in Kosovo. His speech generated a lot of questions and reactions from participants who were interested in why privatisation was bad for Kosovo, why young people do not engage in social movements and why there is a lack of original concepts other than imported ones.

In the afternoon participants presented situation related to minority rights protection in their own countries. Ledio Braho, Melita Mulic, Bojan Stanic, Vilma Petkovska, Enis Imamovic, Mirko Stanic and Engjellushe Morina all provided great overviews of the legal and strategic framework regarding minorities. While some models were presented as succesful, others were strongly criticized; proposals on how to improve them were heard as well. The most interesting presentations included the analysis of procedural obstacles to effective functioning of National Minority Councils in Serbia, and the obstacles to true decentralization in Kosovo.

‏‪@BFPE_BFPI

We discuss basic services delivery, fiscal and economic centralization and property issues as main obstacles to decentralized Kosovo.

The third seminar day started with the panel ‘Bilateral Treaties and Agreements: The Prishtina-Belgrade Agreement: a ‘soothing’ path for minority issues?’. The discussion was moderated by RAD alumni, Mr. Ramadan Ilazi, and with the participation of Mr. Ian Cliff, UK Ambassador to Kosovo, Mr. Blerim Shala, Coordinator of Belgrade-Prishtina Dialogue and Ms. Sonja Licht, President of BFPE. The most important idea conveyed at the panel was the elite nature of the process, and the importance of trickling it down.

‏‪@BFPE_BFPI

Similarities between the EU integ. and the Dialogue process: they both belong to elites, and need to be trickled-down

It may well been a ‘three steps forward, two steps back’ process, but one cannot underestimate the importance of Belgrade-Prishtina Agreement and everything that followed, was concluded at the panel discusssion.

We continue our proram with the lecture on minority rights and transitional justice to be delivered by Mr. Zoran Pusic, President of Citizens Committee for Human Rights, followed by a study trip to Prizren.

And how did our visit to beautiful city of Prizren went, you can see here.