Topic of 1st Debate: - re-transmitting of the best quotes from the 6 month previous debate Technical dialogue and EU.
Vlora Citaku – Minister of EU Integration in the Government of Kosovo
Ana Milic- head of European Integration Institute in Belgrade
Azem Vllasi – former communist leader of Kosovo
Dusan Janjic – analyst, expert on Kosovo- Serbia relations
Vlora Citaku: “ in fact, the technical dialogue is the first round of negotiations that Kosovo has started with EU for joining the Shengen zone. We are negotiating with Brussels and not with Belgrade. The main tool and concept of EU is dialogue. We are all witnessing that EU is constantly engaged in dialogue and talks: talks on Euro-zone, talks with Greece, talks on budgetary deficits with Spain and Ireland. EU is in permanent condition of dialogue. As such we as a country that aspires EU have to embrace too the dialogue and not be against it. There is nothing to be feared off the dialogue. With these talks Pristine is definitely bricking Kosovo closer to EU, a family which is the number one national priority”.
Ana Milic: ‘With these talks, Belgrade is talking with Brussels. We need to show that as a country deserve to be member of EU. I think that is final moment that our politicians show to western community that Serbia has clearly decided to join EU. We should end all the obstructions that we continue to do to Kosovo intuitions. For example I do not understand why Serbia is not allowing participation of Kosovo sportiest in the international sport scene. For 12 years now, due to Belgrade position, Kosovo youngsters do not attend international competitions. We should look the case of Scotland, Wells or Northern Ireland. They take part in all sport competition separated from Great Britain but you do not hear someone in London saying that this is undergoing the national interest of Great Britain. Also, we should be brave and say that the privileged status of Serbs in the North of Kosovo should end since by supporting the parallel structures established in the North, we majority of Serb population in Serbia are Suffering. We can not allow ourselves to continue this situation that for a small group of Serbs in the north all Serbian nation stay isolated and out of Europe”.
Azem Vllasi – former communist leader of Kosovo - On the Prishtina side of the Bridge, former politician Azem Vllasi stated that "I am not surprised at all with Serbia's stubbornness that even 12 years after the war; Belgrade continues to call Kosovo the cradle of Serbia. Tadic also continues the policy of Milosevic.” However Vllasi is optimistic that Belgrade will change his attitude toward Kosovo with new people coming in power: “Already now we are seeing in Belgrade there are some politicians who are really brave Democrats and are saying the truth to their citizens. Here especially, I have in mind for example Vuk Draskovic who has now appealed to accept Ahtisaari's package, then Dragoljub Micunovic otherwise founder of DS, while there is also Cedomir Jovanovic, who although currently has little political influence, but his popularity is on the rise. Until we do not see in power in Belgrade someone who is brave, to speak the truth to its citizens, Serbia will continue to obstruct development of Kosovo society”.
Dusan Janjic – analyst, expert on Kosovo- Serbia relations -In the other side of The Bridge, one of most respected analyst, Dusan Janjic is confident that the only way forward for Serbia is dialogue. However, Mr.Janjic blames Brussels for latest development which could bring to the collapse of the technical dialogue: “I am sure that both capitols, Prishtina and Belgrade entered this process with its outmost commitment. However, when Belgrade saw that regardless they will not get any reward from EU, then they started to distance themselves from the dialogue. This came due to the fact that you can not have a proper dialogue process without specifying deadlines and what parties in the process will get in reward to their readiness to compromise and reach agreements. You can not threat with stick and carrot while both your hands are empty. The failure of this process is entirely due to poor work of Cooper and EU” explains his position Janjic who regardless believes that if mediators change their attitude, then Prishtina and Belgrade will continue with the same commitment as in the beginning. “Brussels should clearly say to Prishtina that on this date you will have liberalization of visa while to Belgrade on this date you enter road to join EU, as a reward to your flexibility and commitment to the dialogue”.
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Topic of 2nd Debate - Culture and youth in Serbia and Kosovo
This debate of “The Bridge”, was a bit different then the others.
Main topic and objective was to inform citizens of both communities about current tendencies in the independent culture/music scene of Pristine and Belgrade. Both guest agreed that while they might know more about the past scene of each other, now they simple do not know noting about what is going on. Both guests agreed that more should be done in informing youth of both communities on different new music bends that share same values or are of same gender, i.e. “most probably as n Pristine, in Belgrade too, there are bends who are inspired by Arctic Monkeys, or the Stone Roses etc” concluded Lorik Sulejmani who said that he is preparing a book based on experiences of visiting many international, regional and local festivals.
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Topic of 3rd Debate: - Religion culture- language - manners and costume of both entities Serbian and Albanian
Topic of the 3rd show was on the culture, manners language and specifically customs which through out history were main elements of Kosovo history regardless of their ethnic background.
During this show listeners had the chance to hear about ancient background of Kosovo. Hear listeners had the chance to know more about ancient times of Kosovo dating from the pre-Romanian times as well as more recent history developments. Main goal of the show was to underline different elements that are shared between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo through out different periods.
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Topic of 4th Debate: - main topic was general elections in Serbia which saw Tomislav Nikolic of SNS as a victorious one becoming had of Serbia. As such guests in our show were Avni Zogjani from NGO in Kosovo QOHU and Isak Vorgucic head of very influential Serb radio broadcasting station in Cagllavica Radio KIM.
Both guests expressed their opinions about the result of the general elections in Serbia. While Mr. Zogjani expressed his opinion that this change f the government in Serbia will not make much effect to the Kosovo issue, Mr. Vorgucic said that the main reason to why SNS won the election is the fact that citizens of Serbia were very disappointed on the previous DS party government which unfortunately did not have the force and the will to bring Serbia closer to EU which was the main promise of DS party when they took the government.
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Topic of the 5th Debate: - main guests were Shkelzen Maliqi – political analyst in Prishtina ans in Belgrade Zoran Stojanovic debating on the recent political developments in Serbia and their impact on the continuation of Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue
Mr. Mailiqi in his exclusive interview for the Bridge expressed his opinion that the change of the political structure in Belgrade will not change much on the relations that Belgrade will have towards Kosovo. He added that now on power, after these elections are political parties that headed Serbia during the 99 war but that as a change he mentioned the different European and worldwide context that exist now in 2012 when it comes to the issue of Kosovo. Mr. Maliqi expressed his opinion that until now president of Serbia Tadiq lost elections simply because he disappointed the so called “citizens layer of Serbian society that wanted to join Europe and wanted to leave beyond the “Serbia of 90`s”. Even though Tadic was “loved” by the west he could not deliver what was expected from him and that is why so any Serbian citizens simply boycotted the elections which brought Nikolic in power.
In the other hand Belgrade based analyst Zoran Stojanovic shared the same opinion with Mr. Maliqi saying that when it comes to Kosovo issue, new Serbian government will not change a lot since main priority of this new government remains EU joining meaning that it does not live them enough space for changing from the previous government. Mr. Stojanovic added that the new political establishment will continue with the technical dialogue with Prishtina with the possibility that these talks would arise in higher levels since now the new government has 4 years of power in Belgrade and will have to deal entirely with the issue of Kosovo and subsequently with the issue of desire of Serbia to join EU.
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Topic of the 6th Debate: - main guest were Branko Nicic mayor of Leposavic –parallel structures that do not recognize Kosovo institutions and Petrit Selimi deputy Minister of Foreigh Affairs of Republic of Kosovo.
Mr. Nicic in his exclusive interview for the Bridge expressed his opinion that from now on the so called technical negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia will be more focused on the future status of the Northern part of Kosovo. He added the belief that the new government in Serbia will be more focused on the political status of Kosovo Serbs underlying hear the need for the negotiations of the status of the North Kosovo which during these 12 years after the war was left out of Prishtia jurisdiction. Mr. Nicic also expressed his opinion that now and on in the Prishtina- Belgrade negotiations will take part also representatives of Kosovo Serbs especially those of 4 municipalities place in the Northern part of Kosovo.
In the other had deputy minister of foreign affairs of Kosovo, Petrit Selimi expressed his opinion that the new political establishment in Serbia will first of all have in mind their interest in joining EU. As such added Mr. Selimi, main preoccupation of Kosovo authorities is to see the implementation of so many technical agreements which were made until now between Prishtina and Belgrade. Hear first and foremost he focused on the implementation of agreements by Belgrade made on telecommunication, freedom of movement (borders), recognition of documents etc, agreements made during the first round of the so-called technical negotiations. Finally, Mr. Selimi added that the most important issue for Kosovo is that through these talks is to fulfil Kosovo’s obligations towards Brussels insuring the Kosovo road toward EU integrations.
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Topic of the 7th Debate: - main guest were vice Prime Minister of Kosovo Hajredin Kuci and in Belgrade, Marko Djuric main political adviser of the Serbian President.
During his interview vice Prime Minister of Kosovo Hajredin Kuci expressed his opinion that elections in Serbia are inside issue of Serbia and that all that Kosovo authorities can say on the result of these election is that to congratulate new power winners in Belgrade. “Citizens of Serbia decided who will be their leaders as such we can not interfere in their political decision that they made” said Kuqi. However, he said that these results do not make any impact on Kosovo since Kosovo is an independent state for more than 4 years. He also added that Kosovo authorities will not discuss with Serbia any issue that touches on the internal regulation of Kosovo meaning that official Prishtina will never accept any negotiations with Belgrade on the issue of the North part of Kosovo and that he expects that new round of Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue will mainly be focused on the issue of normalization of relationship between these two states.
In the other hand main political advisor of Serbian President Nikolic, Mr. Marko Djuric during his interview for the Bridge mainly focused on the need that exists in Serbia to make an overall consensus when it comes to the ways they will approach towards the issue of Kosovo. Mr. Djuric said that the main priority now in Belgrade is to make and clear platform on how Belgrade sees the issue of Kosovo. He also added that Belgrade should be more focused in the upcoming political negotiations that are about to start however not leaving behind the technical negotiations which will continue between Prishtina and Belgrade. Mr. Djuric once more expressed the desire of Serbia to be part of EU but underlined the issue of Kosovo as a very specific problem for Serbia which needs creative ways of approach and not leaving behind interests of Kosovo Serbs citizens.
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Topic of the 8th Debate: - main guest were in Prishtina Ardian Arifaj (KIPRED – Civil Society of Kosovo) and Maja Kocijancic – Brussels (spokesperson of Catherine Ashdown)
Mrs. Kocijancic as one of the highest representative of EU that took part in the implementation of the Bridge project in the begging of the interview expressed Brussels point of view on the continuation of the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade saying that the most important thing currently is that both capitols have their government in place with full legitimacy of their citizens. She said also that for Brussels there is no distinguishing between the so-called technical and political dialogue and that the most important thing is that both capitols have clearly underlined their political agenda of joining EU as their primary political target. Mrs. Kocijancic also added that Brussels is sure that and urges that all agreements reached during the Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue should be implemented having hear in mind agreements of joint management of borders, free flow of citizens, recognition of documents etc. Finally, she concluded that negotiations between Prishtina and Belgrade will continue since this is the only way towards establishment of permanent stability and peace in this part of Europe.
In the other hand from Prishtina, Mr. Ardian Arifaj from KIPRED, NGO based in Prishtina, firstly expressed his gratitude that according to latest statements coming from political elite in Prishtina, there will be no new negotiations wit Belgrade without implementation of already reached agreements during the technical dialogue. However, added Mr. Arifaj, which until now experience has shown that political leaders of Kosovo very often fall under the pressure of international community and change their views. That is why, Mr. Arifaj believes that new round of talks between Prishtina and Belgrade, will start very soon regardless if the agreement reached will be implemented. One more key element which is important is the fact that from the second part of September, Kosovo will be fully independent i.e. that the ICO mission of observation will be closed meaning that new pressures of international community will be added in their desire to conclude with the issue of Kosovo, added Mr. Arifaj.
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Topic of the 9th Debate: - main guest were Borko Stefanovic (head of Serbian team during the technical negociations) and Luan Shllaku – head of SOROS Foundation in Kosovo
Borko Stefanovic head of the technical negotiations talks between Prishtina and Belgrade in his first part of interview exclusively for the Bridge, has protected his role in the arrangements made during this process by adding that only arrangements that were notified from the Serbian government are official and that all other that are part of media and public speculations remain like that “speculations”. “I could recognize in Brussels independence of Kosovo, something that I did not do and I will never do however officially remain only those documents that Serbia Government ratified. As such I am happy that the new Serbian Government has said that all these will be implemented by the new Serbian government. That is clearly stated in the new Prime Minister expose and that is the sign that we (then in power, now in opposition) did not make anything wrong. I am encouraged by the plea of the new political establishment in Serbia that they will discuss any decision with the overall Serbian society something that we wanted to do too however we were not supported by then opposition” concluded his interview Mr. Stefanovic.
From Prishtina guest in this debate was Luan Shllaku form SOROS Foundation in Kosovo.
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Topic of the 10th Debate: - main guest were Dejan Vuk Stankovic – political analyst in Belgrade and Visar Ymeri from oppositional party Vetvendosja in Prishtina.
Political analyst Mr. Stankovic firstly pointed the need for the continuation of negotiations between Prishtina and Belgrade as the only way forward in the establishment of permanent stability in this part of the region. He also expressed his opinion that both Prishtina and Belgrade should continue with talks since that is the only way forward both countries toward EU. He also added that “currently it early to state that the new government in Belgrade is more willing to properly engage in the dialogue with Prishtina, however based on the statements from Brussels, new conciliated government in Belgrade has no other way other than to be focused and actively engage in such dialogue if they stand honest to their declaration that the main priority will remain Serbia’s integration in EU”. Mr. Stankovic concluded his interview by saying that “Serbs and Albanians have to agree on mutual recognition of interests since they are who do live side by side and that international community will not remain entirely focused in this part of the region forever. It is proven until know that Prishtina and Belgrade has to come to some sort of long-term political agreement in order for peace and stability to prevail in this part of the region”. “The true peace will come years after the implementation of technical and other future political agreements that in due time will Prishtina and Belgrade reach” conclude his interview Mr. Stankovic.
In the other hand Visar Ymeri from Vetvendosja (oppositional party in Kosovo) expressed his and his party’s disagreement with the negotiations of Prishtina with Belgrade. He said that all talks with Belgrade are political and that until now talks were called in Kosovo as technical only to hide true nature of these arrangements from Kosovo citizens. Mr. Ymeri added that prior to start of negotiations Serbia should had apologized to Albanians in Kosovo for their atrocities done during the war. He also added that Kosovo government showed weakness by accepting these negotiations which according to him are a clear sign that current government in Kosovo is betraying interests of Kosovo citizens. He also concluded that “Albanians in Kosovo never had problems with Kosovo Serb citizens but with the state Serbia itself. Serbs of Kosovo will join all their human and other rights in Kosovo as any other minority in European states or even much more. However, for this to be sufficient once and for all there should be a clear cut of Serbian state interference in Kosovo. That is the only way forward in the establishment of long-term peace between these two nations”.
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Topic of the 11th Debate: - main guest were in Belgrade Aleksander Vulin head of Kosovo Office in Serbian Government and in Prishtina Bajram Rexhepi – Minister of Internal Affairs in Kosovo Government.
In the first part of the interview Mr. Vulin focused on the negotiation team of Serbia which according to him in comparesment with the previous government will be made of politicians and not state officials as it was till now. He also added that the negotiations from now on will include highest political representatives such are the President, the Prime Minister but also political party leaders, members of civil society, the Church as well as the National Academy of Science. He also said that in these talks Serbia will enter with clear political platform which will be drafted with the inputs of all mentioned layers of society and institutions.
Mr. Vulin called on the return of greater powers for UNMIK since officially in place there is still the 1244 UN Resolution for Kosovo and UN did not recognized independence of Kosovo. He concluded that the new Serbian Government is aware that there will be a need for very painful compromises that will “hurt” Serbia but did not specified what kind of compromises will be.
In the other hand Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo Government, Mr. Bajram Rexhepi during his interview was more focused on the current situation in the North saying the situation there is currently calm but with tensions. He said that the main problem remains blockades of the roads imposed by local Serbs which are making obstacles for the freedom of movement which is the elementary human right. He called on the international security bodies (KFOR and EULEX police) to do their job as he putted and return freedom of movement in this part of Kosovo. Also Mr. Rexhepi during his interview for the Bridge said that can not say much on the new Government of Serbia since it is up to Serbian citizens to decide their leaders and official Prishtina is not bothered to much on who are political leaders in Belgrade since now Kosovo is an independent state separated from Serbia. On the topic of negotiations Mr. Rexhepi said that these will be talks between two neighbouring states and they will be on the normalisation of relationships between them. “Categorically there will be no talks on the internal organization of Kosovo as such neither on the situation in the North of Kosovo” concluded his interview Mr. Rexhepi.
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Topic of the 12th Debate: - this show was dedicated to the opinions of citizens and dozens of citizens from Prishtina, Mitrovica, Shterpce, Gracanica, Leposavic and other cities which local radio stations are based.
Citizens said that their main preoccupation is based on the different technical arrangements that were made during Technical Talks between Prishtina and Belgrade and that affect their every day life. Much of complaints of Kosovo Serb citizens were made on the arrangements made on border passing between Kosovo and Serbia with payments that they can not afford. Citizens interviewed in majority of cases said that they have positive approach toward the negotiations and that they do expect that results deriving from such talks will positively influence their every day life especially when it comes to the freedom of movement and improvement of social and economical situation.
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Topic of the 13th Debate: - was made from 2 radio-documentaries, on Kosovo and Serbia`s history and main characteristics
The radio-documentaries intended to inform citizens of two mutual states on the historical, cultural, political heritage of Kosovo and Serbia. It contained information’s on the ancient history, development through out centuries, different stages which saw the both countries under Roman and Ottoman Empires as well as latest political systems that they had. However most emphasise on these radio-documentaries was put on the cultural, architectural heritage as well as on different specific and characteristics customs of both two nations.
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Topic of the 14th Debate: - as guests were in Belgrade, Nenad Maksimovic Centre of Peace and Tolerance, Alban Vokshi, Foreign Policy Club - Raba Gjoshi Youth initiative for human rights in Kosovo.
During his interview for the Bridge, Mr. Maksimovic said that negotiations are the only way forward for both countries and that they need to continue as soon as possible in the benefit of both sides. He also said that the North of Kosovo will be part of these new round of negotiations since the reality in the North is such that needs to be part of the political talks between Prishtina and Belgrade. He said that Prishtina can not ignore the wishes of Serbs which live in the North who in huge majority do not recognize and are not happy to live under Prishtina political institutions. As such talks will include the situation in the North since it exists as a specific entity for more then 12 years.
In the other hand in Prishtina, Mr. Alban Vokshi Said that believes that the new round of talks will have much more clearer agenda and will be clearer. He said that the way negotiations went were very unclear and with full of unknown. It is clear that neither Prishtina, nor international community have clear strategy on how to proceed with negotiations. While Belgrade’s strategy is to make obstacles as much as it can on not allowing Kosovo’s development. However he concluded that regardless of these problems, negotiations are necessity for both countries and that they will go ahead since both strive for integration in EU. He concluded that one positive aspect of this is the fact that EU has clearly expressed the invitation towards Prishtina and Belgrade to join them.
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Topic of the 15th Debate: - as guests were in Kerstimir Pantic head of North Mitrovica coming from SNS party while in Prishtina Nexhedin Spahiu director of Radio Mitrovica radio station (Albanian broadcaster).
Mayor of North Mitrovica controlled by Belgrade municipality in his interview for the Bridge expressed his belief that with the new government in Serbia (he is also SNS member), political status of Serbs in the North of Kosovo will be much better. He disagreed with the previous technical negotiations which as he said have finished with agreements that are not implemental. Such conclusion he based on the fact that different technical agreements reached during the technical negotiations have been differently commented in Prishtina and Belgrade. As such he added that new talks where also political leaders of Serbia will take part will be much better organized and eventual agreements reached clearer to be implemented. He also added that the situation in the North and the blockades put on the main roads linking main 4 cities of this area with the South and border lines with Serbia will continue to remain since in this way Serbs are blocking any possible future action from the Kosovo Police Special Forces like the one that happened on the 25th of July last year.
In the other hand guest in the Prishtina studio Nexhmedin Spahiu head of the RTV Mitrovica (local Albanian Broadcaster) and very active political analyst when it comes to the development in Mitrovica – the divided city, said that negotiations should and will continue in order to avoid any radicalisation of situation and avoid any conflict. He said that regardless what they are saying, politicians in Prishtina will engage in the political dialogue and one of the key topics will be finding political compromise for the North of Kosovo. Mr. Spahiu also commented the fact that while Serbia spends up to 200 million euros per year in northern Serb controlled municipalities and Kosovo only 4 million as a clear sign that who he is more interested to have in control this part of Kosovo. Mr. Spahiu agreed with Mr. Pantic remark that the opening of the administrative office of Republic of Kosovo in the North Mitrovica is a very small step and with very small influence in the strive of the Prishtina to establish political control over the 4 municipalities with Serb majority in the North of Kosovo. At the end Mr. Spahiu concluded that as a result of upcoming new round of negotiations, north part of Kosovo with its 4 Serb dominated municipalities will gain very high degree of the autonomy close to the Bosnian statute of Bosnia and Hercegovina entities, i.e., that as the result of these negotiations to a certain degree
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INC- Network of Local Radio Stations in cooperation with in total 15 local radio stations from Kosovo broadcasting in Serbian language and five local radio stations in Serbia including Radio Presheva, Albanian local broadcaster, with the support, of BTD, Austrian.., KFOS Soros Fund and NED, in the period of July-September 2011, produced and broadcast weekly shows titled The Bridge, Prishtina - Belgrade Civil Dialogue which as the main objective had promotion of ethnic tolerance, intra-ethnic and regional cooperation between Albanians and Serbs i.e. Kosovo and Serbia. The motivation for the initiation and then implementation of this unique project which involved in total 15 local broadcasters from Kosovo and Serbia was the beginning of the technical dialogue between two capitols with the mediation of European Union. As the opinion is aware these ongoing talks as the main objective had solving of issues that remains an obstacle in normalization of relations between two capitols. The project was unique for couple of reasons which will be elaborated in this report, however we need to underline here the fact that ‘The Bridge” is the first project which saw such close cooperation and joint work between local broadcasters from Kosovo and Serbia, i.e. for the first time local broadcasters from these two countries together produced and broadcasted same weekly shows, a fact that in itself is an indicator of the conclusion that this project was unique and that was successful in its implementation.