Reconciliation between countries is a very complex and sensitive process. This applies in particular to the Western Balkans, which is often referred to as “the Europe’s powder keg”, mainly because of the history of perennial bloody wars that marked the region.
In the 21st century, when many European countries are involved in ambitious economic projects and tremendous technological development, Western Balkans countries are still facing difficulties to get closer to each other given that the wounds of the devastating wars of the 1990s are still open. One of challenges in the relationship between the entities of the former Yugoslavia is the prolonged transition from a socialist system to democracy. Many Western countries, but also countries from other parts of the world, have given tens of millions of Euro for the recovery of the Balkan states including projects related to education, economy and environment. Nevertheless, a lot is left to be desired with the fact that insufficient work has been done in building functional state institutions.
As a citizen of the Republic of Kosovo, I am grateful to the United States, EU countries and other states worldwide, who have invested money of their taxpayers for the development of the Republic of Kosovo. However, Europe has underestimated the sensitivity of ethnic relations in the Western Balkans when it opted for the policy of appeasement in the region, by making concessions to Serbia. The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where as a result of genocide against non-Serbian population the so-called “Republika Srpska” was created, should have served Europe as an example of how not to act in subsequent wars in the region, such as the case of the Republic of Kosovo. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered by many as a failed state, with a floundering economy, rising ethnic tensions, and redundant overlapping governments as a result of the countries partition in two entities, with separate policies in various sectors and with veto power for all ethnic groups.
In recent years I have been engaged in projects related to the reintegration of minority communities in the Republic of Kosovo, in interfaith initiatives, but also in activities related to regional cooperation and the membership of the Republic of Kosovo in Eastern European organizations. At various conferences and seminars which I attended, where I debated with peers from other countries of the Western Balkans, I became convinced that the media have played a key role in the disinformation of the public about the wars in the region and by portraying negatively the members of various ethnic groups, thus propagating typical Milosevic’s extreme nationalism. In this regard, I will use my capacity, experience and creativity to promote the importance of the meetings between the youth of regional countries where through a direct communication they will break down barriers and prejudices about each other. Thus, various forms of cooperation in different areas will be found.
In the case of the Republic of Kosovo, whose citizen I am, I believe that the official apology by the Serbian state to the victims of the war crimes in the Republic of Kosovo, committed by the Serbian state, expression of regret by the Republic of Kosovo for crimes committed to Serbian civilians by a few Albanian individuals during the war euphoria, the mutual recognition of the two countries, combined with the continuous communication and cooperation between young people of the two countries, a part of which I will be in the future also, will bring peace between the two nations. This will enable us to focus on the challenges of the 21st century, economic development and the adoption of European values through membership in the European Union.