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The ICO Delegation, comprised of James Holmes and Kübra Kalkandelen, is happy to share news of their recent field visit to this dynamic region. It is an honour to share the extraordinary progress that has been made during me in Kosovo. The visit provided us with a first-hand opportunity to witness the remarkable transformation that is currently underway in the region.

Following Kübra’s initial visit in February 2023, ICO focused on engaging with stakeholders in the region, particularly in North of Kosovo. In close collaboration with Community Building Mitrovica, open forum was orchestrated to better understand the pressing needs of the community, which is often overlooked in the broader dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. (For a comprehensive report on the outcomes of this forum, please refer here).

However, in the following months, escalating tensions resulted in the boycott of local elections and this period saw challenging clashes between NATO-led peacekeeping forces (KFOR) and Serb protestors. Yet, despite subsequent months marked by escalating tensions, even leading to the boycott of local elections, our Kosovo team, undaunted by these challenges, remained steadfast in their commitment.

“Grounded in our steadfast dedication to strategic policy development, the International Community Organisation (ICO) remains resolutely committed to the noble cause of nurturing equality, embracing diversity, and championing inclusion within all communities. It is through our collaborative efforts that we are not merely shaping the present but also actively paving the path towards a brighter, more harmonious future in Kosovo, where every individual’s unique contributions are acknowledged and valued.” says James Holmes, ICO Secretary General.

Now, shifting the gaze to August, we are thrilled to unveil the fruits of our dedication.

A pivotal milestone is the partnership agreement with Deputy Prime Minister Emilija REDZ?EPI, an agreement that underscores our mutual focus on minority issues and human rights. The face-to- face meeting on August 7th in Pristina marked the commencement of a working group dedicated to bolstering local councillors in the self-governance process. This joint effort will culminate in policy recommendations designed to enhance Kosovo’s overall situation.

Image 1: ICO Delegation met with Deputy Prime Minister for Minority Issues and Human Rights, Ms. Emilija Redžepi in Pristina.

Another significant moment occurred the meeting with Mayor Bedri Hamza of Mitrovica South on August 8th. Observing the city’s dedication to developing infrastructure that bridges communities left a profound impression. This commitment from local leaders highlights their unwavering resolve to promote unity among diverse communities and drive regional advancement.

Image 2: ICO Delegation met with Mitrovicë/Mitrovica South Mayor Bedri Hamza.

This second field visit, also, welcomed more than 20 leaders from diverse ethnic backgrounds in Kosovo to the ICO Consortium on August 9th.

“ICO’s endeavours have been cantered around nurturing dialogue across all echelons of communities, demanding a multifaceted approach that engages both public and private institutions. This assembly collaborates with us on various peace-building imitates, demonstrating the power of unity in driving change.”  comments Kübra Kalkandelen, ICO Associate Director

Image 3: ICO Consortium meeting held with the participation of 25 community representatives and 18 NGOs at Community Building Mitrovica.

The engagements reached an even broader spectrum as the team met with representatives from the UN Mission in Kosovo and the Council of Europe. These discussions allowed them to align their activities, identifying areas where collective efforts will yield maximum impact.
These collaborations — spanning governmental, ministerial, local municipal, and grassroots dimensions, particularly those championed by non-majority communities— will unlock a diverse array of resources.

Image 4: ICO Delegation meeting with Frank Power, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Pristina

The ICO Delegation’s recent visit to Kosovo exemplifies their unwavering commitment to fostering positive change in the region. Through tireless engagement, partnerships with key stakeholders, and a dedication to inclusivity and unity, they are actively contributing to a brighter future for Kosovo.

 

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