Perceptions of Reconciliation in Light of Rekindled Tensions in the Mitrovica Region

The idea for this research paper was developed in the goal of analyzing varying perceptions of reconciliation (as a concept) on the part of members of local communities in the Mitrovica region. In light of recent crises that have proceeded its drafting, that is, the controversy around number plates, identification documents, the withdrawal of Serbs from Kosovo institutions (in the four northern municipalities), the erection and subsequent removal of barricades and the looming threat of armed conflict gave further impetus to examining how citizens themselves view a process or set of processes that would, in theory, demand their involvement and would, ostensibly, have a significant impact on their lives. As will be elaborated in greater detail in ensuing sections, this research involved both qualitative and quantitative elements, in the form of public opinion research (i.e. surveys) and focus groups and interviews conducted in North and South Mitrovica with local residents. What will be attempted throughout the course of this analysis is to gain deeper and more profound insight into how research participants view reconciliation, and perhaps more importantly, what they believe an end point can look like for their region. Giving shape to something that is, for most people, as opaque as reconciliation, is something that is a necessary precondition for that process to have a reasonable prospect for success. It is the hope of the authors of this paper that it will prove to be a useful tool in the development of future policies and strategies, and that those leading any potential future efforts will take into due consideration the needs, opinions, and desires of communities on both sides of the river Ibar.