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Transitional Justice project - Ambassador's Statement

Following is the Norwegian Ambassador Per Strand Sjaastad's statement given at the University of Prishtina in regards to the project on transitional justice which the Embassy supports.

Former Madame President Jahjaga, Rector, Dean, Professors and Students,

It is a pleasure to be here today, at the launch of this new project on Transitional Justice.

It is not always easy to agree on narratives about violent conflicts and wars in the past, and to have a common understanding of what is needed to reestablish justice, reconciliation and a fair and inclusive society. 

However, there is no alternative to reconciliation. A rejection to deal with the past may have a negative impact for generations – and put society into a state of stagnation, permanent tension and recurrent open conflicts. 

Providing reconciliation and transitional justice is a broad and complex task, and include measures such as criminal prosecution, truth-seeking, reparation, reform of laws and security institutions. Several measures have been put in place in Kosovo after the war in 1998-99, but the job is not completed.

Building a new university program for studies in peace-building, human rights and reconciliation, is another step forward. This is a welcome and good move by the Rector, the Dean and the University of Prishtina. I am also pleased that the Human Rights Centre at the University of Oslo will be a partner in this project.  

This new university program will, together with the Transitional Justice Resource Centre established at the University earlier this year, strengthen research and documentation on peace and reconciliation in Kosovo, in the region and even beyond. The University of Prishtina is building up knowledge and expertise that will enable it to  give competent advice to policy-makers and stakeholders.   

If we take a wider perspective; reconciliation is also necessary to create an inclusive and multi-ethnic country, with equal opportunities for all. These efforts must continue despite the setbacks from time to time in the political relations between Prishtina and Belgrade.

The message must be that citizens from all communities have a future in Kosovo, and can make a good life here. 

A strong commitment from the Government is – needless to say - decisive. It is about creating arenas for reconciliation, about cooperation with domestic and international courts, about promoting repatriation, about ensuring anti-discrimination laws and minority rights, and about inclusive decision-making processes. Individuals can always do many good deeds and achieve much - but to have a lasting effect, the national political institutions and authorities, must take the prime responsibility. 

Let me, finally, wish the University of Pristina -  together with the NGO Community Building Mitrovica, the best of luck with the implementation of the program. I can assure you that Norway is also prepared to help in future efforts, in any which way we can.

Thank you for your attention!