Error message

Sofia Declaration released by Institute.

On December 17, a delegation of democratically oriented Kosovo Serbs, led by Bishop Artemije and Serb National Council leader Momcilo Trajkovic, will release a declaration calling for an end to all violence and the beginning of a dialogue between Kosovo Serbs and Albanians. The result of a special three-day meeting held in Sofia, Bulgaria, under the auspices of the United States Institute of Peace, the declaration underlines the delegation's commitment to equal rights under the rule of law for all people of Kosovo, including freedom of movement and the right to return home.

Expressing regret for and condemning ethnically motivated violence and crimes, the declaration calls for:

  • A complete accounting of missing persons and equity in the distribution of medical and humanitarian assistance.
  • The arrest, trial, and imprisonment of those responsible for interethnic violence before and after the NATO intervention, which could include prosecution by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
  • Better representation of Serbs and others in the UN-created police force as well as open and independent Serb-language media not controlled by Belgrade.

The declaration also urges Kosovo Serbs to remain in and return to Kosovo, which, according to members of the delegation, "Should remain undivided, with local self-government, within a decentralized political system."

The meeting was organized by U.S. Institute of Peace Balkans Director Daniel Serwer and chaired by Mercy Corps official Landrum Bolling, with assistance from David Steele of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ambassador John Menzies attended as a State Department observer.

The U.S. Institute of Peace is a non-partisan, independent organization created and funded by the U.S. Congress to promote prevention and resolution of international conflicts. Since 1995, the Institute's Balkans Initiative has played an important role in creating a forum for discussion among government and non-government experts to assist in building consensus on key issues in the Balkans.

Balkans Director Daniel Serwer will be available for further background, questions, and comments regarding the recent meeting in Sofia. To schedule a one-on-one media interview please contact Burt Edwards at (202) 429-3878.

 

Background on the Balkans Initiative

The Institute's objective with the Balkans Initiative is to help policymakers formulate policy strategies that engage the entire Balkan region in securing a foundation the growth of democratic institutions, and create a forum for discussion among government and non-government experts to assist in building consensus on key issues in the Balkans. To help implement such a regional strategy, the Institute is working with practitioners to construct security, economic, and democratic political arrangements that foster peace and security for the region -- absent the presence of outside forces.

The Institute meets these objectives by using the four elements of its mission -- policy-relevant analysis, education and training, facilitation and public education. Working with policy makers and regional leaders, the Institute emphasizes sustainable and practical outcomes by:

  • Encouraging policy consideration of issues extending beyond peace implementation, such as democratization and the development of a civil society;
  • Identifying ways and creating opportunities for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the leaders to assume responsibility for the peace process; and
  • Exploring prospects for the entire region to cooperate in building a just, stable and prosperous environment for all its citizens.

 

The Balkans Initiative is a natural extension of the Institute's long-standing work in post-conflict societies. The Initiative draws from "lessons learned" from past conflicts and settlements to guide policymakers and practitioners in constructing sustainable peace agreements through reconciliation, power sharing, and a strengthened civil society that protects human rights. Early in its assessment of the requirements to establish the peace process, the Institute recognized that few other organizations were working with the segments of society that were the most critical to the reconciliation process--justice officials and religious leaders and communities. Providing assistance and research to these segments are key components of the Balkans Initiative. Its long-term program investment in the region has won the confidence of these disparate communities and has produced inspiring results. Also important is the Initiative's Washington-based project--the Balkans Working Group which convenes policymakers and international practitioners working in Bosnia to discuss how to enhance and extend implementation of the accords.

 

Other Special Emphases

Advancing the Rule of Law - The Institute's Rule of Law Initiative is working in conjunction with the Balkans Initiative and with a variety of justice officials on a number of justice and reconciliation issues, including war crimes accountability, establishing protection for trial witnesses, more effective police screening procedures, and the development of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Institute has taken the lead in shaping a proposal for a single Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognizing the importance for victims to have a forum in which to tell their stories and where a common history of the war can be documented.

 

Training Public Security Officials - The Institute since 1998, has provided training to public security officials involved in efforts to rebuild Bosnia-Herzegovina. These seminars focus on the principles of community policing in a democratic society. The Institute is cooperating closely with the Departments of State and Justice along with the UN in these continuing programs.

 

Sofia Workshop Participants

His Grace Bishop Artemije, Bishop of Raska-Prizren and President, Serb National Council

Mr. Momcilo Trajkovic, Serb National Council, President, Executive Board, Kosovo and Metohija

Dr. Vuko Antonijevic, Serb National Council, President, Mitrovica area

Prof. Dr. Dusan T. Batakovic, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade

Vlada Dimic, Serb National Council, Executive Board, Pristina

Dr. Milan Ivanovic, Serb National Council, Executive Board , Mitrovica

Dr. Marko Jaksic, Serb National Council, Executive Board, Mitrovica

Fr. Justin Jezdic, Archdeacon

Stojan Jovanovic, Serb National Council, Director, Information Center

Nenad Kojic, Serb National Council, Executive Board, Gnjilane area

Zoran Lutovac, Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade

Randjel Nojkic, Serb National Council, Executive Board, Kosovo and Metohija

Slava Ristic, Serb National Council

Dr. Predrag Simic, Advisor to the President of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Belgrade

Prof. Gligorije Stojanovic, Serb National Council, Executive Board, Pristina

Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Serb National Council, Executive Board, Pristina area.

Dr. Josif Vasic, Serb National Council, Gnjilane

Dragan Velic, Serb National Council, Pristina

Mr. Aleksander Vidojevic, Advisor to Bishop Artemije

Related News

Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi: Trump Is Supporting Us

Monday, March 20, 2017

News Type: Press Release

Washington, D.C. – President Trump has assured Iraq’s government of greater U.S. support as it confronts ISIS and stabilizes the country, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said today. “We have been given assurances that the support will not only continue but will accelerate,” al-Abadi said at the U.S. Institute of Peace immediately after meeting President Trump at the White House.

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance

Nobel Prize for Colombian President Highlights Resolve for Peace

Nobel Prize for Colombian President Highlights Resolve for Peace

Friday, October 7, 2016

News Type: Press Release

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reflects the recognition that achieving peace is a process that is never easy or simple and requires courage, determination, persistence and commitment over time. The U.S. Institute of Peace congratulates President Santos—and the Colombian people—on this award and on the difficult but continuing efforts to end a war that, over more than 50 years, has left more than 220,000 dead and close to 8 million vict...

Peace Efforts Cannot End After 24 Hours

Peace Efforts Cannot End After 24 Hours

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

By: Nancy Lindborg

News Type: Press Release

This year, in spite of the violence and terrorism that dominate our news, it is critical that we remember that the world is also seeing great feats of peace. Colombians have signed a peace accord to end a 52-year-old war, and will vote on ratifying it in just a few weeks. Adjacent to Iraq’s war zones, peacemakers in Tikrit have sustained a peace accord that has let more than 300,000 displaced people return home and restore normal life. Myanmar continues a democratic transition marked by two s...

Education & Training; Gender; Religion; Youth

Peace Day Challenge Engages Millions to Reduce Violence

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

News Type: Press Release

Washington—In Afghanistan, Herat University is holding a peace rally just weeks after the deadly attack on the American University in Kabul killed 14 students and faculty.  In Chicago, a moment of silence and a peace flag procession will cap three weeks of events calling for an end to violence in a city rocked by more than 500 homicides this year. In Washington D.C., youth leaders from Nigeria, Morocco and Uganda will share their personal stories that led them to create organizations dedicate...

View All News