The Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Kosovo and Serbia are following with great concern the situation in the north of Kosovo after last night’s developments, which were caused as a result of the latest decisions of the Government of Kosovo regarding the measures of reciprocity in terms of identification documents and car license plates. The blockades in the streets and the violent actions led to the rise of inter-ethnic tensions, insecurity, and fear among the general population.
YIHR calls on both the government of Kosovo and the government of Serbia as well as on all citizens to refrain from statements and actions that could escalate the situation in the north of Kosovo, as well as promote inter-ethnic hatred. Considering the rhetoric around the war in Ukraine, the latest examples of statements made by public officials that are calling for the “denazification of the Balkans” are unacceptable. Such actions hinder the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and complicate the common life of ethnic groups in these countries.
We call for special attention to be paid to fake news about the situation in the north of Kosovo and for competent institutions to engage in fighting the distribution of such news which are a threat to human rights, democratic values, social stability, and peace. Fake news is designed to manipulate people’s perception of reality, thereby stirring up and intensifying inter-ethnic conflict.
Instead of further perpetuating inter-ethnic tensions, YIHR demands that both state institutions be very careful in their approach to the situation and place the victims and survivors of the war at the center of public discourse and policy-making in order not to hinder the process of dealing with the past and peace building. Also, YIHR encourages the continuation of the work of the institutions in ensuring the right to freedom of movement by removing the barricades in the north of Kosovo.
Therefore, YIHR condemns such violent acts and conflicting discourses and encourages both governments and societies to focus on dialogue and peaceful implementation of agreements between the two countries. It is crucially important to focus on building peace, reconciliation, and justice for the victims and not on inciting inter-ethnic hatred.