Photo courtesy of NGO Aktiv.

Northern Kosovo Serbs believe Brussels-facilitated dialogue is one-sided, report says

Most Serbs in northern Kosovo feel insecure and do not believe that the Brussels-facilitated dialogue has improved the rights and freedoms of their community, according to a new report.

Compared to NGO Aktiv’s 2016 opinion poll results, this year’s survey indicates a rising level of dissatisfaction in northern Kosovo. Last year, for example, 21 per cent of respondents said that they do not wish to remain in Kosovo, while this year, 47 per cent of respondents said they do not see themselves in Kosovo in the next several years.

“People believe that life for Serbs in Kosovo will become worse in three years, and this is especially true for highly educated people,” Milica Andric, head of NGO Aktiv’s policy section, said at the report’s launch.

“We’ve seen a very serious negative trend regarding support for the EU… the main reason being the belief that the EU takes Kosovo’s side in the Brussels-facilitated dialogue.”

The report, launched in North Mitrovica on Tuesday, is based on face-to-face surveys with 800 respondents and four focus groups in the four northern Serb-majority municipalities, as well as six in-depth interviews with government officials and political analysts, all conducted during summer 2017.

The largest recorded negative trend was related to perceptions of the overall security situation in northern Kosovo; about 52 per cent of respondents thought that the security situation deteriorated in the last year, which was a 38 per cent increase since 2016. Focus group participants suggested that media reporting on France’s rejection of a Serbian-issued international warrant for Ramush Haradinaj, the ‘train incident,’ and the wall erected in North Mitrovica contributed to high perceptions of insecurity.  

Most respondents said that they trust neither Serb nor Albanian politicians.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents believe that the EU is taking Prishtina’s side in the Brussels-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, and only 2 per cent of respondents believe that the Brussels Agreement has improved their rights and freedoms.

The report suggests that some explanatory factors for participant responses could be changes to telecommunications in the north resulting from the agreement on the Kosovo country code, as well as recent barriers to free movement.

Only 10 per cent of respondents support Kosovo’s accession to the EU, while “65 per cent of respondents believe that Russia should be the most important partner when it comes to lobbying for the protection of interests of Serbs in Kosovo,” the report states.

Overall, only 6.8 per cent of respondents feel that things are going in the right direction in Kosovo, compared to 23 per cent of respondents in 2016.

“This trend was explained by the progress in the legal and administrative integration of northern Kosovo into the constitutional and legal framework of Kosovo, a process which the citizens in the North perceive as imposed and unwanted,” the report states.

16/11/2017 - 12:03

16 November 2017 - 12:03

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.