Conflict fears on the rise in Kosovo, but still time to act
11 October 2012
A new report published today by Saferworld which analyses public perceptions of security, highlights that public confidence in security and justice institutions remains low in Kosovo, with people across all ethnic groups increasingly concerned that there will be a return to violent conflict within the next five years. Opinion among both Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs has also hardened against granting special status for Northern Kosovo as a potential solution to the Northern issue. Most people also feel that EU-sponsored dialogue between Prishtinë/Priština and Belgrade will not bring improvements to their security.
The report concludes that following a serious decline in perceptions of safety in 2010, things did not improve in 2011. The continued political turmoil of 2011 – including a lingering electoral crisis and the eruption of tensions in Northern Kosovo - impacted heavily on people’s views about security and stability and attitudes towards security and justice providers in Kosovo. Divides between the Kosovo government and the Kosovo Serb population in the north have widened and confidence in Kosovo’s lead security and justice institutions including the police, the judiciary, the customs sector and, at the international level, the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), remains low.
There is still time to act but confidence-building measures are now urgently required to prevent society from becoming increasingly polarised and to restore popular trust in national and international institutions. Encouragingly people felt confident about their day-to-day security with the perception that conflict risks are most closely linked to political rather than local dynamics. The number of people interested in attaining firearms has also come down since 2010.
The report recommends that the Government of Kosovo reaches out to Kosovo Serbs in the north, addresses the crisis of confidence in the security and justice sector, ensures anti-corruption efforts are backed-up by sustained political attention and recourse, and improves understanding of (and enforces) weapons control legislation. The report also urges government, security and international actors in Kosovo to increase co-operation with civil society and develop grassroots community structures further to build confidence within the population.
The report is the seventh in a series of Kosovo-wide public perception surveys conducted by Saferworld since 2006. The surveys track how people understand their security environment, what access they have to security and justice institutions, and what they think about the performance of those institutions over time. Our latest report follows on from the 2010 survey, the results of which were analysed in our report ‘Public perceptions of security in Kosovo: Time to act”. It was produced with input from the Kosovo Law Institute and is based on qualitative and quantitative data collected through a household survey and focus group discussions. It aims to contribute to more responsive, accountable and people-focused security and justice provision in Kosovo.