Debate: Joint declaration of Belgrade and Pristina on missing persons – possibilities and expectations?

Representatives of Serbian and Albanian associations of families of kidnapped and missing persons do not expect that the Declaration on Missing Persons, signed by the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti in Brussels on May 2, will contribute to clarifying the fate of the missing persons, but are of the opinion that it will only remain “ dead letter on paper“. At the debate „Joint Declaration of Belgrade and Pristina on Missing Persons – Possibilities and Expectations?“, which was reflected in the Media Center in Cagllavice/Čaglavica, it was also said that the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, is most responsible for the fact that there have been no meetings or cooperation in the past two years when it comes to elucidating cases of missing persons. persons in question.

„All these points mentioned in the Declaration were part of the 2010 strategy. I ask a question – do politicians ever put their finger on their forehead and ask themselves why they are stagnating for 24 months? Not a single meeting of government commissions was held. We have made many remarks that this stoppage is due to politics…“ said the coordinator of the Resource Center for Missing Persons Bajram Qerkinaj.

„It is not the first time that this topic has been discussed, some important conclusions have been reached, and that agreement has never been respected. Everything that was signed on May 2nd was already signed and agreed upon within the working groups, when he chaired the International Committee for Missing Persons and all these points were discussed and all this was signed and agreed upon, but it was not respected. That there is an interest in solving this issue, as it is not an interest, until now there have been many opportunities to start something“, said Silvana Marinković, coordinator of the Association of Kidnapped and Missing Persons in Gracanice/Gračanica.

Although she is of the opinion that there is nothing new in the Declaration, the president of the Association of Families of Kidnapped and Missing Persons in Shtrepce/Štrpce, Jasmina Živković, nevertheless expressed her hope that it may be the first step towards unblocking the search for the missing, which has been stagnant for two years.

„What could well come out of this Declaration is that it might unblock the end of the search for missing persons, because we have witnessed that in the last two years there has not been a single meeting, no progress, no excavations, no information about the missing persons,“ she states.

She adds that she is in favor of the fact that there has been no cooperation, meetings and work in the field for the last two years when it comes to elucidating cases of missing persons, i.e. there is no communication between the Commission for Missing Persons of the Government of Kosovo and the Commission for Missing Persons of the Government of Serbia, and therefore neither of new excavations of potential graves, the most responsible prime minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti.

„To a large extent, Prime Minister Kurti is responsible when he stopped the talks on the issue of resolving missing persons because Veljko Odalović is the head of the Government Commission for Missing Persons.“ I don’t know exactly how many years he has been at the head of that government commission, but I know that he has been for more than 10 years and that he did his job quite responsibly with the previous colleague of the government commission from Pristina. So, suddenly Prime Minister Kurti was bothered by the fact that Veljko Odalović was at the head of that commission, and I think that is quite irresponsible on the one hand. On the other hand, these are negotiations and the negotiator is not chosen by the other side, he cannot choose the negotiator, but if he is serious about the issue of resolution, then he does not make excuses, but works on that issue,“ said Živković.

The representatives of the Association of the Missing Persons also stated that no one from Belgrade or Pristina consulted with them regarding the Declaration either before or after its adoption, even though they have requested it many times so far.

„Usually, we learn about these negotiations, agreements, declarations from the media and about the meetings themselves. We also learned about the contents of the declaration from the media,“ says Jasmina Živković.

„As for the consultation with the families of the missing, they never consulted with us.“ Everything we found out we found out through the media, although I, and not only me, but several family members also requested that someone from the family of the disappeared be a part of that negotiating team, so that they could be there directly during the negotiations to point out some mistakes and to we are looking for what we as families of the missing should be looking for. However, we were not able to do that,“ said Silvana Marinković.

„It is true that we asked to be a part of the dialogue, but only in the part where human things are in question and not politics.“ Unfortunately, no family member was taken to discuss and inform them because no one can understand all of this better than the family members, nor explain it as a family member would. It is not favorable to politics, so we were excluded from it“, said Bajram Qerkinaj.

Debate on the topic „Joint declaration of Belgrade and Pristina on missing persons – possibilities and expectations?“ was organized by the Media Center in Cagllavice/Čaglavica with the support of UNMIK.