This report focuses on progress made by Kosovo institutions to implement specific standards of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Framework Convention) in the period January 2008 – June 2009. It is based on field research conducted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Mission in Kosovo (OSCE) through interviews with central and local level officials, communities and civil society representatives.
The report finds that, although a comprehensive legal framework is in place to ensure promotion and protection of communities rights, its implementation remains insufficient or does not bring about sufficient positive changes in the daily life of non-majority communities. Difficult relations and prevailing separation between the Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb communities pose a fundamental challenge to the development of a multi-ethnic society. However, the report identifies also other obstacles and describes areas where intervention is needed. Specifically, in the security and judiciary systems the main shortcomings relate to deficiencies in the classification, investigation and prosecution of ethnically motivated crimes since the sense of impunity among non-majority communities does not contribute to build confidence towards institutions. On return issues, the lack of proper conditions for sustainable return is still evident, particularly in relation to property restitution, reconstruction and economic integration. The implementation of existing policies through adequate funds and measures to accommodate the needs of a growing number of repatriated persons remains a major challenge for local authorities. More efforts and resources are necessary to protect and promote cultural rights of communities. Together with improved services for and representation of communities in the public broadcasting service, further steps are necessary to ensure compliance with the legal provisions for the protection of cultural and religious heritage sites.
A concerning reduction of human and financial resources allocated puts at risk the implementation of the Law on the Use of Languages and the effective provision and accessibility of multi-lingual public services. Independence and operational capacity of the Language Commission to monitor the application of the law and ensure remedies in case of violations needs to be enhanced. The continued existence of separate educational systems hampers dialogue and integration between Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb communities. It underscores the urgency of educational reforms and measures promoting a multi-ethnic and multilingual society. The promotion of education in both official languages and the removal of linguistic and physical barriers separating children belonging to different communities remain a matter of priority. In addition, appropriate measures should be adopted and resources allocated to address the major educational concerns of other vulnerable non-majority communities, with a specific focus on Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians.
The report also finds that the functioning and co-ordination of communities participation mechanisms requires improvement and the representation of non-majority communities in public institutions, particularly at senior level needs to be enhanced. Expansion and implementation of effective policies for the integration of non-majority communities in cultural, social and economic life as well as in public affairs is key towards building a sustainable and multi-ethnic society.