MFA’s reply on human rights defenders
In December 2012, Civil Rights Defenders wrote a letter to the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and urged him to demand stronger protection for human rights defenders in Kosovo. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has replied that “we are discussing these important issues on a political level with politicians in Kosovo. When Prime Minister Hachim Thaci visited Sweden in October, EU integration and the necessary reforms in Kosovo, including human rights, were major themes.”
Civil Rights Defender’s letter to Carl Bildt was sent after the attacks against the organisations Kosovo 2.0 and Libertas in late 2012. Read more about the background here.
On 21 January 2013, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded as follows:
Thank you for your letter about the human rights situation in Kosovo and the information about the attacks in Pristina against human rights defenders, addressed to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. I’ve been asked to answer you. I would first like to apologize for the late reply.
The events you describe is obviously regrettable and unacceptable, and unfortunately part of a pattern in the Western Balkans where gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights are not guaranteed and they are subjected to harassments. From a Swedish perspective, strengthening human rights in Kosovo is a priority both on a political level and within the framework of the Swedish development cooperation, where we work closely with the civil society, including Civil Rights Defenders. Improvement of the human rights situation is also crucial for Kosovo’s EU integration.
We are discussing these important issues on a political level with politicians in Kosovo. When Prime Minister Hachim Thaci visited Sweden in October, EU integration and the necessary reforms in Kosovo, including human rights, were major themes. In development cooperation, Sweden is working with great commitment with LGBT issues in several projects in the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. As you probably know the Swedish Institute in 2012 showed the exhibition “Article One” to empower the LGBT movement in Kosovo and make them more visible in the community.
One reason why Sweden wants to see Kosovo as well as the other Western Balkan countries as members of the EU, is the great development of these countries’ societies that comes with the EU integration. Democracy in Kosovo has made considerable progress in recent years, but significant challenges remain, not least in the field of human rights. A clear EU perspective with strict requirements and evaluations with regard to respect for human rights is the best way to drive development in Kosovo. Civil society engagement, both within countries and internationally, is of utmost importance for Kosovo to become a more open and democratic society.
Emilie af Jochnick
MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Tags: Kosovo 2.0, Libertas, and Violence against human rights defenders.