Debate on the issue of the missing from the war in Kosovo: Political abuses undermine the right to the truth

Release date: 24.01.2023.
MicrosoftTeams_image_3.jpg On Tuesday, January 24, in Angio HAB in Belgrade, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia (YIHR Serbia), together with the Working Group of the National Convention on the EU for Chapter 35, organized a debate "(Missed) chance for an agreement: Search for missing persons from the war in Kosovo". Participants in the debate were Jelena Krstić from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Bekim Bljakaj, director of the Fund for Humanitarian Law of Kosovo and Nataša Božilović from the Resource Center for Missing Persons, while the moderator of the debate was Marko Milosavljević from YIHR Serbia.

In the light of the European plan for a new agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, at the beginning of the debate it was stated that the topics of war heritage and especially the search for missing persons from the war in Kosovo were not included in the first drafts of this plan. Considering the announcements made by officials from Belgrade and Pristina during the last year that there is a possibility that an agreement will be reached but also that there are disputed issues about missing persons, the main issue of the debate was the dispute as well as the causes of the disagreement between the two negotiating parties as well as the political abuse of the process of searching for the missing persons.

"We have no information about what was negotiated in Brussels, we were interested to hear what was being negotiated, especially when it comes to missing persons." Unfortunately, we don't have any information about what both sides are talking about, and there was an announcement that they were on the verge of solving the missing persons issue, and then it turned out that it was a joint statement and not an agreement. Both sides consider this a humanitarian and political issue," said Bekim Bljakaj, further explaining the term around which a debate is being created at the political level.

Nataša Božilović from the Resource Center for Missing Persons, a multi-ethnic association of families of missing persons from Pristina, stated that "meetings with the families of the missing persons take place regularly and we discuss all issues, primarily the exercise of their rights." When it comes to this issue, the declaration and the disputed term, the families are of the opinion that the only problem in this story is the politicization of this whole problem. Unfortunately, here the politicization of the problem was inevitable."

Božilović further stated: "I want to follow up on the families, the only thing that matters is that their family members are not there, and since they are missing, there are competent institutions that will deal with it." In order to avoid responsibility again, it is once again used as a political tool against the other side, putting the missing persons themselves and their families in the background."

Jelena Krstić explained the discriminatory framework of the law on civilian victims of wars in Serbia. "The lack of political will has killed the social will to get involved in these issues, as well as the need and will to commemorate and create a place of remembrance for these victims and their families," Krstić said.


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