Amidst trying times and challenging circumstances in Kosovo, UNMIK supports the reinvigoration of trust-building efforts to build a better future for all

21 Nov 2023

Amidst trying times and challenging circumstances in Kosovo, UNMIK supports the reinvigoration of trust-building efforts to build a better future for all

THESSALONIKI (Greece), 21 November 2023 – “Despite trying times and challenging circumstances, our actions matter. Our actions transform societies by placing them on the path of peaceful coexistence and inclusive, sustainable prosperity,” said Caroline Ziadeh, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, opening the United Nations Kosovo Trust-building Forum today in Thessaloniki.

The forum marks the fifth anniversary of UNMIK’s trust-building efforts, which strive for greater engagement of all Kosovo communities in improving inter-community relations and creating the necessary foundations for progress despite divisive narratives and challenging circumstances.

“Resilience, as communities across Kosovo know very well, requires not only adapting to difficulties as they arise, but also recognizing that every challenge can be translated into new opportunities. Resilience requires political courage, pragmatic leadership, solidarity, a strong spirit of partnership, and above all, fostering trust,” said SRSG Ziadeh.

With the aim of “Supporting Togetherness for a Better Future”, the three-day forum brings together 120 grassroots representatives from different communities and walks of life, including Kosovo institutions, civil society, media, women, and youth organisations.

They will work together to formulate concrete and actionable recommendations on how to further trust-building in Kosovo in the areas of the rule of law, language rights, environmental protection, civic participation and inclusion, media and the countering of misinformation and economic empowerment for the benefit of all in Kosovo. These recommendations will be shared widely with all stakeholders and guide UNMIK’s future trust-building efforts.

“The only way to build trust is to own a problem and provide a solution. In negotiations, nobody wins everything, and if you are going to be successful, then everybody must feel that they got something,” said Baroness Catherine Ashton, former High Representative of the European Union and Vice President of the European Commission. Ashton joined the forum along with other high-level international and regional dignitaries taking part in various panel discussions and providing their views and advice on how to further trust-building in Kosovo and the region.

“In politics, time is everything. The same approaches and solutions that worked before might not work anymore, but what stays is the objective. The only way to stabilise Southeastern Europe is for all to join the EU, and peace, cooperation, democracy, and accountability are the only blueprint for that to happen,” said Professor Vesna Pusić, former Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs.    

The Trust-building Forum in Thessaloniki was preceded by a series of thematic focus group consultations, which took place in the Barabar Centre in Pristina throughout October and November. These consultations provided an opportunity for grassroots-level representatives to discuss together the challenges faced in their respective areas and the most pressing issues for the people and communities in Kosovo.

Since the 2018 Trust-building Forum in Ljubljana, the trust-building agenda has been encouraging cross-community dialogue, supporting language learning, empowering youth, promoting gender equality, preserving rule of law, and protecting human rights.

Trust-building and a people-centred approach remain cornerstones of UNMIK’s efforts to ensure a peaceful and normal life for all residents of Kosovo.


View or download SRSG Ziadeh’s Forum opening remarks here.

B-rolls of the Forum opening are available here.