Tahiri on the 11th anniversary of Brussels: Instead of managing a better life and coexistence, we have crisis management

Besnik Tahiri
FOTO: Besnik Tahiri

„More than 11 years have passed since dialogue between the two countries was launched – there is no true reconciliation,“ Said Klan Kosova TV journalist Besnik Tahiri, describing the anniversary of the Brussels Agreement. „We need the beginning of that real process of true reconciliation of two peoples and two countries instead of ‘dialogizing’ on some irrelevant matters,“ he also said.

Tahiri is one of the Albanian journalists from Kosovo who followed the Brussels process most closely. He also followed Serbian officials’ visits to Kosovo, or in other parts of the region and in Brussels, to a far greater extent when compared to his colleagues.

„My journalistic career began precisely in 2013,“ Tahiri told KoSSev.

„At that time, I believed that it would be a big step towards the reconciliation of Kosovo and Serbia.“

He had his first experience of following a visit of Serbian officials to Kosovo during the stay of the then Serbian PM in Gračanica.

„I asked him about many things, in front of the Gračanica monastery, where he was giving a statement. When I asked him about how much sympathy he has for the past, what he told me that he had the impression that Belgrade was still not ready for true reconciliation, and that this process will be, in a political sense – ‘from one crisis to another’, while at the same time, the political careers would shine bright – since Europeans, but Americans as well, perceived some leaders as some kind of hope that they would finish the job on the ground,“ he said.

He posed a similar question to the subsequent Serbian prime minister in the same place in 2015.

„In January 2015, in Gračanica, I asked the next Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, about whether ‘Serbia is ready to apologize for everything that happened during the war.’ And he replied: ‘Let’s go to another question,'“ Tahiri recalls.

According to this Klan Kosova journalist, the points of the Brussels Agreement on the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, including its establishment, serve primarily as a „justification“ for the Serbian leaders, instead of serving Kosovo Serbs themselves.

„The very points of the ASM are only some modus operandi for the justification of Serbian leaders, for the sake of internal benefits. But the Association, based on what I witnessed on the ground, especially when we talk about the Serbian people in Kosovo – it was never, nor will it be, the main topic of their coexistence with others in Kosovo, especially with the majority of Kosovars.“

„Journalism Academy“ – they don’t share information on anything

Throughout his work as a journalist, which he refined in a kind of „journalism academy“ – how Tahiri describes reporting on the implementation of Brussels agreements and dialogue – he revealed that he also assessed the honesty of the Brussels process itself. In doing this, he highlighted the lack of transparency.

„Almost all events – meetings in Brussels were held behind closed doors. We have never seen the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, shake hands. This is an indication that the situation and the process itself are so complicated, and that, on the other hand, the relationship needs to be more easy-going. Starting from a handshake and going on from there,“ says Tahiri.

As an example, he cited the fact that whenever the facilitator in the dialogue, Miroslav Lajčak, comes to visit Kosovo, journalists almost always learn about the visit from some other circles, but not from the government.

Also, as additional obstacles in reporting on the Brussels dialogue, he mentioned the language barrier, as well as what Tahiri describes as the one-sidedness of Serbian journalists.

„For example, Kosovo journalists constantly report not only what the Kosovo side says, but also what the Serbian side has to say. However, this is not always the case with Serbian journalists, especially those from Serbia,“ claims Tahiri.

„Instead of a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, there needs to be a dialogue between the Serbian and Kosovar people“

If he believed 11 years ago that Serbs and Albanians would reconcile, what is Tahiri’s interpretation of the current situation?

„As far as the epilogue is concerned, I did expect a somewhat more difficult time and situation, but not that traveler’s from Kosovo are stopped at the border crossings, on one side, and that in the municipalities here – in Mitrovica, Leposavić, Zvečan, Zubin Potok, we have such a situation in which the mayors are people with 100 votes, while the Serbian community itself is in a delusion about some kind of a situation with little perspective. Because their lives are directed by some individuals who are not very informed about Kosovo,“ this journalist underlined.

In other words, the epilogue is actually „management of the crisis“, instead of „management of a better life, i.e. coexistence“, he added.

„The two peoples are now in a strange situation that can be improved and eased only if there is an internal dialogue, something that is not called the ‘Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina’, but is more than that, it is something that should come from of the Kosovar and Serbian people. Fast-tracked European integration would certainly contribute a lot to this standard.“

From the signing of the Brussels agreement in 2013, through the second Brussels agreement of February 27 and the Ohrid annex last year, Tahiri believes that Kosovo is still moving forward, with small steps, on its path to the EU, and that Serbia is „lagging behind“ because of its policy of “sitting on several chairs at once“.

„This does not contribute at all to the stability of the region, and especially to the stabilization of the life of Serbs in Kosovo,“ concluded Besnik Tahiri in his commentary on the 11th anniversary of the Brussels Agreement.

Ilazi: The Brussels Agreement is a historic peace agreement, but Kosovo and Serbia are further from the normalization of relations than in 2013


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