Keep on Talking! Review of the Nansen Dialogue Network in the Western Balkans
The review considered whether NDN activities have contributed to improved ethnic relations and to sustainable peace and reconciliation in the Western Balkans by promoting inter-ethnic dialogue. The review found that NDN has clearly contributed to better ethnic relations by influencing the attitudes and actions of strategic individuals at the community level, but also at the institutional level by offering opportunities for interethnic cooperation beyond the space for dialogue. The review found it harder to draw definite conclusions about overall contributions towards sustainable peace as NDN activities are subject to the volatility of the larger political environment, over which NDN has very little influence and has few resources to deal with. It should be borne in mind that the entire aid effort in the Western Balkans has not succeeded conclusively in changing opinion on the ground and any potential or actual NDN impact would have to be seen against this general state of affairs. By concentrating on local interventions, however, NDN has succeeded in gaining trust in specific communities and the review recommends continuing this type of activities in the future, drawing on the joint advantage of inside knowledge and long-term engagement.
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Sofie Arjon Schütte, Matthew C. Stephenson