News 24 Sep 15

Kosovo FM: ‘Nothing to Hide’ from New War Court

Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci said Pristina has nothing to hide from a new war crimes court which will try former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, but refused to speculate about possible indictees.

Milka Domanovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Hashim Thaci. Photo by Visar Kryeziu / AP.

Thaci said on Wednesday that the establishment of the new special court, which has encountered strong opposition in Kosovo, was not an easy decision but the right one.

“It is important for everything to be transparent now. Kosovo has nothing to hide anyway,” Thaci said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse.

The court is being set up after an EU task force investigated allegations made in a 2011 Council of Europe report which claimed that KLA guerrillas committed crimes against civilians such as kidnapping, torture and organ-harvesting.

The report also implicated Thaci, who was the political head of the KLA during its armed conflict with Serbian forces, but he has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Thaci said in the interview that did not want to speculate about possible defendants at the new court.

“Names should not be discussed at the moment. Kosovo has showed international maturity with its decision to establish the court,” he said.

The new court is expected to start work next year and so-called ‘specialised chambers’ will be created to deal with allegations that KLA fighters were involved in the killings, abductions, illegal detentions and persecution of Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians believed to be collaborators with the Serbian regime.

But Kosovo war veterans and some opposition parties have argued that the establishment of the new court is an insult to the KLA’s just war against oppressive Serbian rule.

Hundreds of veterans protested against the new court in June. Meanwhile three opposition parties launched a legal challenge to its establishment, but it was dismissed by Kosovo’s constitutional court on Monday.

In the interview, Thaci also discussed the ongoing EU-mediated dialogue for normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina, and said that Serbia has already “de facto recognised Kosovo is an independent state”.

“Every day Belgrade has been taking steps which bring it closer to the official recognition of Kosovo,” he said.

The EU-led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia began in March 2011, first only on a technical level and it became a high-level dialogue in October 2012, culminating in the April 2013 agreement for the normalisation of relations, known as the Brussels Agreement.

In August this year, the Serbian and Kosovo Prime Ministers, Aleksandar Vucic and Isa Mustafa, finalised key deals on energy, telecommunications and an Association of Serbian Municipalities to operate in Serb-majority areas of Kosovo.

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