President, Ministers, Mayors, Professors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The normalization dialogue, facilitated by the European Union, has been a key feature in Kosovo – Serbia relations.
A successful dialogue is of core national interest to Kosovo. It will be a main component in shaping the future of the country.
The RIDEA research institute has made a survey about the views of ordinary citizens. The purpose of the survey is to give decision-makers a point of reference when conducting the dialogue, when mapping out options and when making priorities. The survey is part of a more comprehensive RIDEA project supported by the Norwegian Embassy.
From the survey, it is interesting to note that the vast majority of Kosovo citizens supports the dialogue. The main message is that people want change – to continue status quo is not an option.
The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia gained traction last summer, after having been on halt for more than a year. For the moment, however, unilateral actions from both sides are making it difficult to make progress. I do hope that these actions will stop, to give the dialogue a fair chance to succeed and maybe reach a final agreement sometime later this year.
Kosovo needs more consensus and engagement in the dialogue with Serbia, across party lines. State institutions should try to build a critical mass of support for the dialogue process. I think this is gradually happening. It should be an inclusive process, including not only key policy makers, but also other stakeholders and civil society.
Not all political parties have to be part of the State Delegation, that should be respected - but everyone should engage in a constructive way in the parliament and other arenas of relevance. Fragmentation will only make Kosovo weak - more consensus will make Kosovo stronger. It will take courage and strong leadership to reach a solution and to arrive at a mutually acceptable compromise.
I trust that the RIDEA project and this survey will be useful for the on-going debates and discussions on the dialogue in Kosovo.