The government in Pristina says it is ready to address the past and reconcile with Serbia, but wants Belgrade to apologise for the crimes it committed in Kosovo, ahead of such a process.
The Kosovo authorities announced the creation of an inclusive body that will deal with transitional justice and reconciliation, and called upon Serbia to apologize for the crimes it committed before and during the war in Kosovo.
Reconciliation, according to the authorities in Pristina, is a process that will take decades, and as such requires an environment that will accommodate all sections of society who suffered under past regimes.
“The Government of Kosovo will create a national working group for transitional justice, which will be composed of all actors from the society, including the families of missing persons, war veterans, and political prisoners associations, which we hope will produce the desired effects,” says the Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci.
He made the announcement at the international conference “Dealing with the past - What kind of truth mechanisms does Kosovo need?” and pledged that the future Transitional Justice working group would be free of political influence, and would work towards a “national strategy” by documenting all the damage caused by the war.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade refuses to recognize the secession, which it considers unilateral.
Kuci, who is also the Justice Minister, said that most of the obstacles in initiating the reconciliation process come from Serbia, which continues to act aggressively towards the Kosovo authorities and their sovereignty.
“Serbia needs to recognize the independence of Kosovo, the territorial integrity of our country, which will ease our efforts in the reconciliation process. At least apologize, as a moral act, since any other approach from Serbia makes inter-ethnic reconciliation impossible,” he said.
The International Civilian Representative, Pieter Feith, noted that Kosovo is far away from reconciliation process, as memories of the 1999 war are still fresh.
But he insists that reconciliation needs to be offered to individuals, who need to decide themselves whether or not they want to deal with the past.
Feith commended the government initiative to establish the working group, and said that owing to current Kosovo-Serbia relations, the process is not going to be easy.
“We are aware that in the current circumstances, and based on the actual relations with Serbia, this process will not be easy. One cannot expect quick results, as it may take generations, but it’s important that the government has expressed its willingness to commence this process,” he said.
“Victims remain victims, the past cannot be undone, and the truth needs to be told,” Feith added.