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THE EUROPEAN UNION AND ITS NORMATIVE POWER IN A POST-CONFLICT SOCIETY: A CASE STUDY OF NORTHERN KOSOVO

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KOSNORTH (THE EUROPEAN UNION AND ITS NORMATIVE POWER IN A POST-CONFLICT SOCIETY: A CASE STUDY OF NORTHERN KOSOVO)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-08-31

This project studied the role of normative power of the EU in the post-conflict society (the north of Kosovo) and explored how has the signing of the Brussels agreement changed the dynamics of relations at both intra-societal (within the community of Serbs of northern Kosovo) and inter-ethnic level (Serbs of northern Kosovo vs. Kosovo Albanians and the institutions of the Kosovo government).

The objectives of the project were:
1. exploring the motivation and driving factors of Kosovo Serbs for their positive/negative stance regarding the signature of the Brussels agreement and the cooperation/no cooperation with the institutions of the Government of Kosovo and Kosovo Albanians in general;
2. assessing the intra-societal split within the Serb community in the north of Kosovo between those who have been cooperating with the institutions of the Government of Kosovo and Kosovo Albanians in general, and those who have still been rejecting any kind of cooperation, and also, how has the intra-societal conflict (pressure) manifested;
3. evaluating the impact of normative power of the EU in the north of Kosovo;
4. assessing the changes in the patterns of relations between Serbs from the north of Kosovo and Kosovo Albanians on political, institutional and societal level after the signing of the Brussels agreement;
5. drawing policy implications for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.

This research project built on three theoretical backgrounds: 1) theory of normative power, 2) ‘theories’ of peacebuilding, conflict prevention and conflict resolution, 3) theory of intra-societal conflict.

The following research methods have been applied: interviews, focus groups (field-work in Kosovo), and study of primary and secondary sources.

From theoretical viewpoint, this project was innovative, as it critically examined the impact of EU’s normative power in this post-conflict society. This project was relevant because certain policy implications (recommendations) for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy were made.
WORK PERFORMED FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE PROJECT TO THE END OF THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE REPORT

Work Package 1: Analysis of relevant literature
The work on this WP lasted from M1-M3. The main aim of this WP was to get a firm insight into the literature on intra-ethnic conflict and normative power, which was a precondition for the work in WP2 (and all the publications that came as a result of the fellowship). Several books on the relevant topics have been bought, using the funds from ‘Research, training and networking costs’ of the fellowship. The host institution has a good remote access to scientific journals; this proved to be very important, as I did not need to spend financial resources for acquiring access to the journals. The work in this WP progressed without any significant problems.

Work package 2: Methodological framework
Building a solid methodological framework in the period M3-M5 was made possible due to two factors: first, a good overview of the literature done in WP1, and second, the fact that prior to coming to the host institution I had worked at the University of Ljubljana, where I led the Slovenian team in a Horizon2020 project www.ieceu-project.com. The combination of methodological skills, acquired in that project, and the experiences (what went wrong) acquired in that project contributed to the establishment of an innovative methodological framework, which suggested using a snow-balling technique to recruit interviewees in the KOSNORTH project. In order to receive a constructive criticism – apart from the scientific supervisor, with whom I held regular meetings -, I presented the methodological framework at the Conference of Cyprus Association of Political Science. Upon receiving the comments of colleagues at that conference, I slightly readjusted the methodological framework.

Work package 3: Field work (Kosovo)
Field work in Kosovo (two trips) were the most important part of this project, as the data on the issues explored in the project KOSNORTH have not been researched yet.

First field trip to Kosovo was completed between 13 and 17 March 2017 (the Gantt chart envisaged the completion of this trip in M6 (or February 2017); due to personal reasons, the field trip has been delayed for two weeks. The interviews (18) have been conducted in Mitrovica and Prishtina with members of non-governmental organizations working in Kosovo (particularly with those operating in the north of Kosovo), with a member of the EU Office in Kosovo, journalists, a representative of the OSCE in Kosovo, and two high-ranking politicians of Serbian origin, and several ‘ordinary people’ familiar with or even with the personal experience of the explored issues. The focus group, which proved to have a very valuable contribution to the research project, has also been organized within this field trip.

Second field trip to Kosovo was scheduled for M12 (August 2017). We decided to postpone it due to the fact that the other activities, also envisaged with the project, came earlier than expected (the writing and editing of the monograph; writing and editing the co-authored paper; attending several seminars and international conferences). Later completion of the 2nd field trip, which finally took place in March 2018, proved to be a good decision, because the preliminary results from the first field trip, as well as the comments received by peers at international conferences, have better been processed and incorporated in the second phase of research. During the second field trip, 12 in-depth interviews have been conducted (with the representatives of the EU, representatives of non-governmental organizations operating in the north of Kosovo, ‘ordinary citizens’, and a journalist).

Work package 4: Analysis and writing
Analysis and writing were undertaken mostly within the envisaged periods. The results of this WP are clearly evident in the Impact section of this report, which lists the list of all publications stemming from the project KOSNORTH.

Work package 5: Policy recommendations
This WP built on the previously completed WPs. By relying on the findings from two field trips, the interviews, the focus group and the analysis of secondary and primary sources the policy recommendations for the EU have been prepared (In the form of the report, published by in In Depth (15/4) - the report of the Centre for European and International Affairs of the University of Nicosia. This report has been sent to an impressive number of scholars, experts and policy-makers throughout the world, thus, which contributes to the visibility of the project KOSNORTH. This was the last step of the project, which successfully completed the Marie Curie Fellowship.
Apart from the dissemination activities (published papers, a monograph etc.), these results will be first and foremost exploited by the EU officials, who read the policy recommendations based on this research and had so been exposed to a few new ideas in the field of peace-building and/or Kosovo. Furthermore, the exploitation of research results will also continue in the upcoming year, as I started working as a research fellow and assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana immediately after the completion of the MSCA fellowship; I will incorporate the findings acquired in this project in my teaching activities.