Joint statement by the CSOs from Kosovo and Serbia on the potential consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the Western Balkans
17 March 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has negatively impacted the international rules-based order. The Western Balkans is especially vulnerable to global developments which put at risk international law, democracy, and human rights.
We, the representatives of civil society organizations from Kosovo and Serbia, condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and call upon our governments to align with the European Union’s stance.
Furthermore, we urge the EU and its member states to change the paradigm of enlargement to ensure a practical and proactive approach to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. We also call on the wider international community to support our region in order to secure sustainable peace and security.
The consequences of such breaches of international law could be extremely destabilising for our post conflict region. In view of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, this is a defining moment in history; one that calls for a prompt response from our governments and the international community to uphold respect for the rule of law, international law, solidarity, and human rights in the Western Balkans.
The current situation reiterates the importance of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for securing sustainable peace, prosperity, and the well-being of all citizens. It offers an opportunity to reflect upon and re-design the dialogue process beyond the notion of constructive ambiguity towards an inclusive process that would lead to a legally binding and long-lasting agreement. Urgent action is needed from the EU to push for and support substantial reforms – particularly where the rule of law is concerned – in order to accelerate the EU integration of the Western Balkans.
Civil society in Kosovo and Serbia has actively engaged in peacebuilding processes over the years, representing community voices and the daily concerns of citizens which are largely overshadowed by mainstream politics. During this time of crisis, we ask the international community to support us in condemning divisive rhetoric, authoritarian politics, and populist and nationalist discourses which serve to silence critical voices and generate fear and distrust among communities.
Aiming to reduce the spread of disinformation that may lead to possible escalation of conflict, we also call upon media representatives to fully commit to impartial and unbiased reporting.