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news 14 Jun 12

EU Kosovo Mission Fights Back Against Critics

EU rule of law mission responds to its critics with a TV add, saying the fight against organized crime deserves more support.

Fatmir Aliu
Pristina

The EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo has launched a media campaign to challenge critics who say it is doing too little to curb high-level corruption in the country.

A 44-second TV advert has been sent for broadcast in all major television stations in Kosovo.

It has also distributed 35,000 flyers with the slogan “EULEX is doing nothing in the fight against high level corruption?” in what appears to be a ironic reference to the criticism of the EU mission. 

Nicholas Hawton, head of EULEX’s Press Office, said the aim is to challenge the view that nothing has been done to fight corruption.

“There have been 33 verdicts in major, high-level corruption cases and... those found guilty include judges, police officers, government officials and politicians. These are not insignificant facts,” said Hawton.

Two weeks ago, in a debate at the Foreign Policy Committee of the European Parliament, a number of members voiced objections to the work of EULEX in the arena of fighting organized crime.

In April, NATO’s Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that EULEX is neither well-equipped nor sufficiently competent enough to perform the tasks it was entrusted with.

Set up in 2008, when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, EULEX pledged to help stamp out corruption and "catch the big fish", if need be. EU member states finance EULEX to the tune of €165 million each year to do so.

Since then, EULEX, which employs around 3,000 staff, has attracted criticism, particularly for failing to strengthen Kosovo’s legal system and tackle high-level organised crime and corruption, and for the cost of running the organisation.

“EULEX deals with high-level, complicated and time consuming cases. But the vast majority of work in the fight against corruption is carried out by the local authorities. EULEX can only tackle a fraction of the problem. But we are doing it together and in support of the local authorities,” said Hawton.

The biggest critics of EULEX remain Kosovo's own leaders, including the Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, the President and the Speaker of Parliament, who complain about the inaction of the mission in the Serb-run north.

The European Union mission in Kosovo is unique in both scale and ambition; greater in size than all other EU operations put together.

Mandated to not only assist Kosovo’s own legal institutions in the fair and proper application of the law, EULEX has the power - on paper - to also independently investigate and prosecute serious cases of organised crime, corruption and war crimes.

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