18 June 2019, Belgrade
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, YUCOM, as a member of the “Kosovo – Serbia Policy Advocacy Group”, supported by the European Union, organized the Seminar "Brussels Dialogue - Influence of technical agreements on the rule of law and security in the process of normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina”, on 18 June, 2019, in the Human Rights House in Belgrade.
As a part of the project on informing the general public and promoting the benefits and results of the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, facilitated by the European Union, this seminar brought together Serbian and Albanian journalists and researchers from civil society organizations, working in Serbia and Kosovo, to discuss with the experts on the progress that has been made in the field of technical agreements between Pristina and Belgrade, the impact on citizens and consequences of the rule of law, security and regional connection.
Evaluating what has been done so far in the implementation of the technical agreements, Isidora Stakic, from the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, said:
“The core of the technical agreements between Belgrade and Pristina is to improve the relations and lives of citizens, but only a small number of them have been fully implemented, some partially while most agreements have challenges in their implementation”, Stakic said.
Speaking about the justice agreement, Jovana Spremo, from YUCOM - Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, mentioned that in the European Commission’s progress reports, for Serbia and Kosovo, the formal full implementation of justice agreement was highlighted, but the concern was expressed about the agreements that are related to the rule of law, such as agreement on cadastre and the recognition of university diplomas, where it was stressed that those should be revived and implemented.
Spremo said that the goal of the justice agreement was to offer Serbs in the northern Kosovo access to judicial institutions that operate in the Kosovo system and restore confidence in the institutions.
“The immediate benefit of the agreement is that Serbian judges and prosecutors could continue working in the Kosovo system, while citizens could have access to the judiciary institutions in an uninterrupted manner, they don’t need to think anymore which court they should address, and they can address it in their own language”, she said.
Spremo said that there were surveys showing that citizens are not satisfied, but on the other hand the number of those who request access to justice has increased.
According to Bojan Elek, from the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, integration of police has slowly started in 2014, including the dissolution of the MUP structures, then recruitment of the former members and training.
“Kosovo police is the institution with the highest Serb presence - over 12%, while in the northern Kosovo that is more than 90%”, Elek said, adding that the Kosovo Police has developed bilingualism, but the problem is that there is no formal language learning plan.
“This has led to less representation of Serbs in senior positions in the police, such as the criminal police because it requires specialized knowledge that Serbs in smaller communities cannot get”, Elek said.
In addition to the information about the progress in the implementation of the agreements, Sofija Todorovic, from BIRN Serbia, presented opportunities and possibilities on how to verify information in order to inform citizens in the most objective manner.
“The BIRN journalists from Kosovo and Serbia are working in teams when they discuss topics of mutual interest. It can be a similar opportunity for you to connect in order to check the information provided about the events related to the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina”, Todorovic said.
Around twenty-five journalists and researchers from civil society organizations from Belgrade, Novi Pazar, Nis, Leskovac, Bujanovac, Pristina and North Mitrovica said that the technical agreements are important for improving the lives of citizens, but also pointed practical problems in their implementation.
“The agreement on freedom of movement makes life easier for citizens, but still there are some problems at the crossing points, especially during the summer”, some journalists stressed. They also stressed that “people on both sides should be prepared and informed properly for dialogue”
The participants of the seminar said that the public has not been properly informed about the benefits of the Brussels Dialogue and stressed the need for cooperation between journalists and civil society organizations in the process of monitoring the implementation of the technical agreements.
This Seminar is part of the activities anticipated in the “Promoting and Communicating Benefits of the Pristina – Belgrade EU Facilitated Dialogue” project, implemented by the KSPAG.
This round table was organized with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of are the sole responsibility of Kosovo-Serbia Policy Advocacy Group Consortium and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.