The dialogue platform: an opened door of information
The EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia started a decade ago. When this lengthy process commenced, it had the interests of the citizens at heart, but it ironically ended up leaving them uninformed and disoriented. Agreements were reached, compromises were made, several issues were solved and some challenges appeared, but the general public continuously remained detached from the whole landscape. As a consequence, every reached agreement became “a hard pill to swallow” for the people of Kosovo and Serbia.
Speaking of these agreements, citizens are still able to name just a few of them. Discrepancy particularly occurs when trying to come up with the exact number of the concluded agreements. The lack of transparency with regards to such fundamental information thereof, has justly portrayed the process as destructive and continues to fuel uncertainty on the matter. Based on the KCSS’s Report of the Western Balkans Security Barometer 2020, only 18 percent of citizens in Serbia and 11 percent of citizens in Kosovo are familiar with the content of the dialogue. This information becomes twice shocking when you consider the fact that the dialogue was supposed to improve their lives. To continue further, 60 percent of Kosovars and 71 percent of Serbians, believe that the dialogue has not changed anything. Add here the inconsistency with regards to the goals of the dialogue and you get 47 percent of Kosovars and only 27 percent of Serbians believing on the achievement of the peaceful and normal relations between the countries in the near future.
To shrink the distance between the citizens and the process and to trail the developments which take place in the trajectory of the dialogue, Balkans Group has launched the dialogue-info.com platform.
The idea is to disseminate information, but on top of that, to generate innovative, user-friendly and easy-accessible forms of information. All you have to do is type: dialogue-info.com (or in Albanian: dialogu-info.com and in Serbian: dijalog-info.com) and numerous materials on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue will appear in front of you, starting from the simplest: animated/info graphic videos, to the most complex: reports, policy papers, analysis, decisions etc.
By using a topic-based taxonomy, we have presented a total of 19 agreements (counting the Economic Normalization Agreement) which include other thematic sub-agreements. Once the user clicks on a particular agreement, say the Freedom of Movement, he/she is able to grasp the content and the main developments of the subject through a 3-min long animated video. These videos, in fact, focus on the benefits and challenges of the specific agreement considering both governments’ failures in delivering these aspects to the people. A number of citizens for instance, are unaware of the fact that Kosovo received a country code due to one of the agreements of the dialogue process (The Telecom Agreement, for those who wonder), though they all cherished the fact that Kosovo’s country code began to appear in international telecommunication registers. As for the ones that want to dig deeper, they can always jump in the thorough written explanation, which is accompanied with info-graphs and images (from the relevant events, meetings, documents etc.).
The ignorance as for the content and the number of agreements is accompanied by the loopholes in the number of meetings, as well. From 2011 to 2016, several meetings of different levels (high- political level, technical level, and working – group level) took place under the auspices of the EU, but their actual number still remains open to question. The dialogue button, in this regard, attempts to navigate the citizens’ way out of the current “bubble of ambiguity” by keeping a record of the documented meetings between the delegations of Kosovo and Serbia.
Dialogue-info is a nonconventional platform which is enriched with two other exceptional components: the library and the blog.
The library, just as the name suggests, refers to an actual library of the dialogue content. This, first and foremost, is dedicated to researchers and students who can flow into different materials on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, published by local NGOs and the institutions of Kosovo, Serbia or the EU.
The blog, as the last component of this platform, symbolizes a dialogue community, where different individuals (Albanians, Serbs, and other nationalities) share their perspectives, knowledge, and expertise on the issue. It materializes our efforts of bringing the dialogue closer to citizens and enables them to comprehend both realities (that of Albanians and of Serbs), and maybe change the narratives.
So, use this opportunity and visit dialogue-info.com. Open the door of information that is available to you regarding the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and create your own well-informed positions on the process. After all, the dialogue has always been about us – the citizens.
This op-ed is originally written in English.
The op-ed is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pristina. The opinions are of the authors and do not reflect the views of Balkans Policy Research Group and the donor.