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Kosovo leaders agreed that only limited progress had been made in combating corruption this year and called for enhanced efforts in 2013.
Kosovo’s President, Atifete Jahjaga, said efforts to fight corruption had been “lacking this year.
“We have to increase our effectiveness in prosecuting corruption starting from when it is reported up to the final outcome by resolving cases and taking adequate verdicts,” Jahjaga told the concluding meeting of the national Anti-Corruption Council.
Jahjaga said more reforms were needed in the field of rule of law, pointing to the need for a clearer anti-corruption strategy.
Specific results in the fight against corruption are a key criteria for Kosovo’s EU integration. “Major efforts are needed in…providing evidence for the fight against organised crime and corruption,” the EU Council said in its conclusions on Kosovo in December.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, said the new penal code approved in order to enter force in 2013, will toughen stances on corruption cases.
Kosovo leaders agreed that cooperation between police, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Prosecutorial Council of Kosovo, Judicial Council and the EU’s rule of law mission, EULEX, had to be strengthened.
“No one is above the law and no one can avoid being called to account for their actions,” Andrew Sparkes, deputy chief of EULEX, said.
“These cases do take a long time. A judge and a mayor have been convicted and should be going to prison for corruption. Senior people have been indicted; indicted means they are innocent until they are proved guilty, but they have a case to answer,” he added.
A former prosecutor of Kosovo’s Special Prosecution Office, Nazmi Mustafi, is currently on trial for alleged abuse of office and official authority.
Fatmir Limaj, the former Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, is also facing charges of corruption.
In December, the watchdog organisation Transparency International's annual “Corruption Perceptions Index” ranked Kosovo in 105th place out of 176 countries.
The Serbian paramilitary who became a key prosecution witness at his former comrades’ trial for war crimes in Kosovo says he had to speak out about the brutal massacres his unit committed.