ECMI Publications Database

#110: The Influence of Dialogue Projects on the Reconcilation Process in Kosovo: Give Peace a Chance? - The Case of the Youth Peace Camp
Nevena Radosavljević
European Centre for Minority Issues
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The armed conflict in Kosovo was finished in 1999. Even though almost 20 years have passed, the process of reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians, who were the main actors of the war, is still under question. Even though most of the efforts towards reconciliation in Kosovo are attempted from the top-down level of governance, there are significant bottom-up activities as well. The aim of my research is to explore the influence of dialogue projects as a bottom-up tool to achieve the reconciliation in Kosovo. In order to explain this influence of dialogue projects, I am using the case of Youth Peace Camp (YPC) which can be seen as a dialogue project, organized by the Council of Europe.  Through the empirical research about the Youth Peace Camp, my research seeks to find elements of reconciliation recognized by a theoretical framework. According to this framework, reconciliation can be seen as space where two sides of the conflict are meeting in order to work on (re)building relationships; where they speak of the past and share their sufferings and experiences, work on acceptance of each other without feelings of hatred, change perceptions by getting to know the “other” and work on a common, interdependent future. Based on survey and questionnaires with previous participants of the YPC, as well as on the participant observation and interviews with participants at the YPC 2018, I found correlations between the YPC impact and reconciliation. The results of this study are emphasizing the positive impact of the dialogue projects such as YPC on the reconciliation process in Kosovo. The biggest influence of the YPC is made on the theoretical components such as relationship building, experience sharing, mutual acceptance and the changing of perceptions. The aspects of acknowledgment and future planning are also tackled and recognized in my empirical research, but not in the same range as the other components.  The overall impact of the Youth Peace Camp on the reconciliation process in Kosovo can be seen as a positive one. Since there is no negative influence, the main recommendation of this research is to implement and organize these kinds of projects as much as possible in order to foster the reconciliation process. Besides the practical implementation, more academic research is needed.

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