Kosovo – Just a few weeks after violent protests in Mitrovica left one dead and more than one hundred injured, 20 members from six ethnic groups were brought together by World Vision to discuss peace.
The meeting, which defies the flood of ethnic violence that has racked the divided northern Kosovo City of Mitrovica, was the second official meeting of the Community Council for Peace and Tolerance.
Under the protective umbrella of NATO KFOR troops, who provided the security and transport to bring all the ethnic groups to one location, the three hour meeting started and ended without incident within the safe confines of the Danish Battalion’s Camp “Olaf Rye”.
“The courage and commitment of these people under such a cloud of tension was impressive” said Rudy Scholaert, Civil Society Program Manager for World Vision Kosovo. “It was exciting to look around the table and see religious leaders, doctors, professors, and others from all ethnic groups sitting down to prepare for their long journey towards making their City a safer place.”
The meeting was a clear success with all representatives agreeing to a joint declaration that will be issued to international authorities and to the local administration.
The declaration stated its common aims of commitment: “Mindful of the tragedy that has transpired and continues in Kosovo, and hopeful for better days ahead, we are committed to lay down any ethnic, religious or gender based prejudices in order to work together for the common good and future of the city of Mitrovica and surrounding communities. We will carry out our work by being committed to truth and justice and representing the rights and freedoms of all.”
Monthly meetings of the Community Council are planned for the future.
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Recently (2012), Imam Regep Lushta, one of the members of the Community Council for Peace and Tolerance from Mitrovica, received the “Ambassador for Peace” award from the Universal Peace Federation for his work for peace in Kosova.