Brussels and Washington clash over Kosovo

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 24, 2020 20:23

Brussels and Washington clash over Kosovo

Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi indicted on war crimes charges

TIRANA, June 24 - Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci has been indicted on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges, by a special international prosecutor in The Hague, only three days before the special summit with Serbia was due to take place at the White House.

According to a statement released by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), the latter has "filed a ten-count Indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) for the Court’s consideration, charging Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, and others with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture." Based on the indictment filed on April 24, President Thaçi, Kosovo DP leader Kadri Veseli and the others are responsible for nearly 100 murders, involving victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities in addition to including political opponents.

SPO notes that the Indictment is only an accusation which stemmed from "a lengthy investigation", and is currently being reviewed by a KSC Pre-Trial Judge to decide on whether to confirm the charges. Furthermore, the statement reads that the Prosecutor accuses Thaci and Veseli of carrying out a “secret campaign” to overturn the law setting up the court in an attempt to obstruct its work and evade trial.

“By taking these actions, Mr Thaçi and Mr Veseli have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo,” the SPO states.

President Thaci cancels trip to Washington D.C.

Richard Grenell, President Trump's special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia talks, said he had been informed by Kosovo President Hashim Thaci that he has cancelled his trip to Washington following the publication of the indictment by the SPO.

"I respect his decision not to attend the discussions until the legal issues of those allegations are settled," Grenell wrote.

President Thaci was expected to join the special summit for the normalization of Kosovo-Serbia talks at the White House on Saturday, which will now be attended only by Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.

Meanwhile, the office of the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, confirmed the suspension of the trip "after the announcement made public by the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor regarding the initiation of the indictment."

"A clean war"

In reaction to today's announcement, Kosovo's former PM Ramush Haradinaj wrote that "the Albanian people of Kosovo rightly fought for freedom, after fierce oppression by various Serbian regimes, which lasted almost a century, culminating in the Milosevic regime. The 'Kosovo Liberation Army' has waged a clean war, which resulted in the freedom and establishment of the Republic of Kosovo. We believe in the innocence of President Thaçi, President Veseli and all other comrades-in-arms," ​​he wrote.

According to Isa Mustafa, chairman of the Democratic League "the KLA war was and will be confirmed by international justice as a just and clean war, that KLA fighters fought to protect the people of Kosovo from terror, liquidation and Serbian genocide. ”

Furthermore, Albania's President Ilir Meta stated that he believes in the innocence of President Hashim Thaci, former Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli and all their comrades, while Prime Minister Rama, wrote that "today, more than ever, we must honor the Kosovo Liberation War", and that "this war gloriously closed a history of injustice in the heart of Europe."

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt called the announcement of the indictment "a bombshell in the politics of Kosovo and the Balkans."

An AIIS expert believes that Kosovo has recently been used in a proxy war in 'transatlantic clashes' and disputes. Making a public accusation against President Thaci, on the eve of the Washington Summit, practically means undermining this summit, which could have been crucial to reaching a peace agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

According to the expert, despite a decade-long attempt to make an agreement between the two countries happen, the EU has failed to do so. Recently, it appointed a new special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, diplomat Miroslav Lajčák from Slovakia, a country which does not recognize Kosovo's independence status. Additionally, the expert deems Thaci's decision to cancel his participation in the Washington summit to be appropriate; even if the summit continues with Prime Minister Hoti representing Kosovo, it has lost its significance and high expectations.

The Special Court, which operates in The Hague under the name Specialized Chambers, was approved in early August 2015 by the Kosovo parliament.

The reason for its establishment followed investigations into allegations by Council of Europe envoy Dick Martty about the involvement of some of the former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army in war crimes and post-war Kosovo. Investigations such as the establishment of the court had provoked reactions and protests in Kosovo, claiming that in this way equality with the atrocities of Serbian forces was taking place during the 1998-1999 war, which ended with the intervention of NATO.

Over 200 former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army have been questioned since the beginning of 2019. In July 2019, former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was summoned to the special prosecutor's office, who resigned, brining the country to early elections.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 24, 2020 20:23