News 03 Apr 15

Kosovo Parties Back Genocide Suit Against Serbia

Kosovo's main parties are backing a proposed parliamentary resolution to launch a genocide law suit against Serbia, but insist it will not damage ongoing talks between Pristina and Belgrade.

Petrit Collaku
MPs in the Kosovo parliament.

The resolution drafted by one of the parties in the governing coalition, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which suggests that Pristina should sue Belgrade for alleged genocide and claim reparations, has attracted widespread support among political parties.

“The resolution does not affect the interests of any political party in Kosovo. I believe that all of them will support this,” PDK MP Blerta Deliu-Kodra told BIRN.

PDK leader Hashim Thaci, who is also Kosovo’s foreign minister, first raised the idea last month.

“Serbia definitely committed genocide in Kosovo. We have evidence, we have testimony and the entire world knows,” Thaci alleged.

The resolution was submitted to the presidency of Kosovo’s parliament last week but it remains unknown when it will be debated and a vote held.

The five-point draft resolution starts with an expression of readiness to support the continuation of the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, then expresses concern that Belgrade's alleged genocide and war crimes during the late 1990s conflict have not yet been punished.

“Kosovo’s parliament obliges Kosovo’s government to undertake all measures… to get justice for the genocide and war crimes committed by Serbia against Kosovo's population and the war damage caused to the people and property of Kosovo, and to shed light on the fate of the missing persons during the war,” it says.

Aida Derguti, an MP from the opposition Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Movement), told BIRN that her party agrees with the resolution in principle and believes it will not damage the ongoing Brussels-backed talks to normalise relations between Pristina and Belgrade.

“It’s a matter of justice. If we start to think that this might damage the political talks, then this is not justice,” Derguti said.

She said that everyone involved in politics in Kosovo should work together to gathering the facts about the crimes committed by Serbia.

“Let’s not politicise this but work,” she said.

Besa Gaxherri, an MP from the governing Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party, said the initiative is necessary and that Kosovo was already late in seeking to make Serbia pay reparations.

Gaxherri also said that it should not impede the Brussels negotiations with Belgrade.

“For the moment, Kosovo’s government is asking for the implementation of the agreements already reached with Serbia,” she said.

Serbian justice minister Nikola Selakovic dismissed the proposed genocide lawsuit as an attempt by Kosovo politicians to distract attention from their own internal problems.

“This is typical for our region, although not for Serbia, with actions like this to point the finger at something instead of at real problems such as the bad economic situation which resulted in thousands people leaving Kosovo and also from the establishment of a court for the crimes of the so-called KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army,” Selakovic told Serbian public broadcaster RTS on Friday, referring to the impending launch of an EU-backed court which is expected to try KLA officials.

Kosovo could face major obstacles in bringing any case to an international court because it is not a member of the United Nations.

Proving genocide would also be a difficult process. In February this year, the International Court of Justice rejected claims by both Croatia and Serbia accusing each other of genocide during the 1991-95 war.

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