THE FIRST EMPIRICA CALLS FOR THE TRANSPARENCY OF BRUSSELS DIALOGUE

THE FIRST EMPIRICA CALLS FOR THE TRANSPARENCY OF BRUSSELS DIALOGUE

Representatives of five CSOs from northern Kosovo (NGO Aktiv, OEK Sinergija, NGO ACDC, Human Center, and Radio Kontakt Plus) took part in the debate about the transparency of the Brussels dialogue, within the framework of the advocacy platform “Empirica”, on 17 October at the Civic Energy Center in North Mitrovica.
At the very beginning of the conference, Civic Energy Center’s Manager Maja Dimitrijević presented to the public “Empirica” as programme that by advocating and launching initiatives and research points to the problems of our society and holds decision-makers accountant.
Afterwards, the representative of the NGO Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture, Srdjan Simonović, who stressed that the process around judicial integration deeply non-transparent, as well as weakly followed by the population. This is vividly represented by the fact that only 12% of citizens have read the text of the agreement. To the question of the moderator about at what progress was made with the implementation of this process, the answer was that there is no official information from the negotiating team and that there is a problem of political will, “because the difference between the legislation in Serbia and in Kosovo amounts to some 25%, and this gap could be resolved in some hours with the help of two good lawyers. All the problems could be solved with the formation of the Association of Serb Municipalities, but that it is a matter which is still unclear, as nothing is really known,” concluded Simović.
Did security perceptions change after the signature of the Brussels Agreement, was the question addressed to the Director of NGO Human Center, Veroljub Petronić. He noted that a majority of Serbs is not satisfied, and that only 10% of them think that the Brussels Agreement is a guarantee of security in Kosovo. “We came to the conclusion that the situation is really worrying, and we call it the 4-lack situation – lack of security, lack of awareness, lack of satisfaction, lack of trust.” In the context of security is comprised also the integration of the Civil Protection, for which it is also said that it is “integration for the sake of integration.” Petronić explained that such process was not conducted in accordance with the regulations and added that 80 members of the CP were transferred to the fire brigades, 25 to corrective facilities, and the remaining were assigned to position in which they are not really needed.
About the different interpretations of the Brussels dialogue spoke Sinergy’s Executive Director, Igor Simić. He addressed his comments also to the formation of the Association of Serb Municipalities, which is deemed as the most positive of the Brussels Agreement for the Serb community in Kosovo. However, to the insistence of Belgrade on the formation of the Association, Pristina’s answer is a wall of silence and negation, which per se produces added mistrust between the parties. To that also contribute unilateral decisions, such as the decision of the Government in Pristina on the Trepca complex. Concerning the different interpretations of the Agreement, Simić said that the Serbian negotiators proposed to hold a joint press conference after each agreement reached, but the EU remained deaf to such request. This left space for different interpretations by the two parties.
Željko Tvrdišić, from Radio Kontakt Plus, carefully observes the dialogue in Brussels and holds that, at least concerning media, it is far from transparent a process. Each side interprets reached agreements to its own benefit, so that journalists are only left to wait and report statements and press releases, or to “read between the lines.” He deems both sides as insincere, if they manage to give such contradictory views about one single event, and that “each agreement can be interpreted both black and white”.
Miodrag Milićević, Executive Director at NGO Aktiv, mentioned non-transparency as one of the main problems of the Brussels dialogue, especially when it comes to the Association of Serb Municipalities. Regarding the agreement on the licence plates, added Milićević, the two negotiating parties issued totally opposite statements on the very same day.
All the panellists agreed that it is extremely relevant that civil society organisations follow and give comments on the agreements reached in Brussels, and that the message coming from this meeting is directed particularly to them and to the ones who can change this non-transparent practises.

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