Kosovo 2018: An attempt to abolish the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. Following the initiative to abolish the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office for war crimes IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the current political situation in that country. The most relevant and interesting sections from the analysis entitled “Kosovo 2018: An attempt to abolish the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office” are published below.
An attempt to abolish the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office
The local elections in Kosovo held in October and November 2017 (the first and the second round respectively) brought the defeat of the PAN ruling coalition (comprised of the PDK, AAK and Nisma parties). Albanian political parties won in 26 municipalities, the Serbian List in 11 and the Turkish List in one municipality.
The incumbent government was formed in September 2017 under (still) suspicious circumstances: namely the new governing majority was ensured and supported by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AKR) led by the controversial businessman Behgjet Pacolli who had formed the pre-election coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Pacolli left the coalition with LDK and joined the PAN coalition. It is expected that the investigation carried out by the Prosecution Office will identify possible elements of corruption related to the formation of the Kosovo incumbent government. Pacolli is believed to be an exponent of Russia and its interests in Kosovo.
Kosovo government led by Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj could only have been formed with the support of MPs from the Serbian List who obeyed the order of Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić and voted for Haradinaj's government. The new Kosovo government is therefore called the Belgrade-Moscow Government and as such has not been able to function properly.
The disintegration of LVV and final elimination of Albin Kurti?
Why the incumbent government of Kosovo formed? The main aim was to prevent the Self-Determination movement (Lëvizja Vetëvendosje – LVV) from taking over the government and to eliminate Albin Kurti from becoming the new Prime Minister.
In its previous analyses “Kosovo – 2017 local election: An introduction into new early parliamentary election? “ (http://www.ifimes.org/ba/9474) and “Kosovo – 2017 local election: A test for Haradinaj's government?“ (http://www.ifimes.org/en/9461) IFIMES analysed the situation in Kosovo in view of the 2017 local election and announced that the local election will represent a test for Haradinaj's government – which actually happened. It is therefore not surprising that in one of its recent interviews Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj expressed open admiration and respect towards Aleksandar Vučić. In order to analyse the situation in Kosovo and the formation of its incumbent government note should be taken of the cooperation between the two regimes: Hashim Thaçhi's regime in Priština and Aleksandar Vučić's regime in Belgrade. What Vučić, Thaçi and Haradinaj have in common is that they carry out a part of their dubious activities through their brothers. The new Kosovo government would stop to exist without the support of Serbian MPs, which means that the actual boss of the incumbent Kosovo government is Aleksandar Vučić. After the current authorities were defeated at the local elections in two largest cities (Priština and Prizren), a new attack at Kurti and politically motivated apprehensions were carried out. Kurti spent more than two and a half years as a political prisoner in Serbian prisons. Thaçi's and Vučić's intelligence services are trying stir up inner clashes within LVV in order to achieve its final disintegration.
Analysts believe that the attack at Albin Kurti and LVV is politically motivated and represents the last attempt of the incumbent authorities to destroy any hope for a better future of Kosovo. It is incomprehensible that someone who should be served the summons to appear before court is apprehended and put in detention for 30 days, especially bearing in mind that he or she comes to work every day as an MP in the Kosovo Assembly. It is common legal practice that a person that should be served summons is first brought before court, served the summons and then set free. At the same time many persons who committed criminal offences, war crimes and corruption have avoided prosecution and are even active in the ruling structures in Kosovo. On 24 November 2017 Albin Kurti and his colleagues from LVV Donika Kadaj-Bujupi and Albulena Haxhiu, all MPs of the Kosovo Assembly, were apprehended by Thaçi's regime due to the alleged contempt of court. They were all ordered a 30-day detention. By the court of first instance Albin Kurti and Donika Kadaj-Bujupi were sentenced to 18 months, Albulena Haxhiu to 15 and Faton Topalli to 14 months prison sentences with a two year suspended sentence.
The verdicts for LVV MPs showed all the brutality of the Kosovo ruling regime symbolised by Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Ramush Haradinaj and Behgjet Pacolli and supported by Aleksandar Vučić's regime.
The main purpose of this well-coordinated game is to eliminate Albin Kurti and his Self-Determination movement (LVV) which opposes the unconstitutional establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) according to Vučić-Thaçi plans, since it represents a real danger of dividing Kosovo into entities and forming the Serbian entity in Kosovo that would be directly connected with Serbia just as the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina is directly connected with Serbia. Thaçi wanted to carry out the demarcation of the border between Kosovo and Montenegro to the detriment of Kosovo and despite the strong dissatisfaction of Kosovo citizens expressed by the Self-Determination movement. That is why the authorities are carrying out a large intelligence operation backed by certain public media with the aim to cause disunion within LVV. At its next congress to be held in February 2018 LVV will most probably consolidate its leadership in order to prepare for the next early parliamentary election when it is expected to win.
Thaçi and Haradinaj privatised Kosovo institutions
The new Kosovo government ideally suits those who oppose Kosovo's independence, and it is not surprising that some countries that had already recognised Kosovo's independence have announced that they would withdraw the recognition. Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj is still heavily burdened with past war crimes and Thaçi is also connected with war crimes and other forms of crime. According to international diplomatic sources Thaçi and his collaborators are the main reason that the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office were established in Kosovo. Chairman of the Kosovo Assembly and leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli was the chief of the Kosovo para-intelligence service (SHIK) and is as such subject to many investigations. It is therefore not surprising that the current authorities in Kosovo are nervous and impatiently pushing forward their initiative to abolish the special war crimes court, which basically represents the abolishment of the state of Kosovo bearing in mind that the Specialist Chambers represent a constituent element of the state legislative institutions. The abolishment of the special court would enable Thaçi to maintain in power. However, the initiative to abolish the special court was the final straw, and so Kosovo's greatest allies such as the Quint countries (the US, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy) reacted quickly and strongly denounced the initiative.
In one of his interviews Thaçi said: “I said very clearly that I can not influence the will of the MPs. If they think this is fair it is their decision and not mine.” And he even made the following statement: “Do not ask me to interfere in the judicial system, the parliament or the executive branch of power“. A similar statement was made by Prime Minister Haradinaj. One could even believe all that, were it not known that Thaçi and Haradinaj usually interfere into each and every business and that they have privatised Kosovo's institutions following the model used by Vučić in Serbia.
On 29 December 2017 the US Embassy in Priština published the following press release: “Kosovo’s leaders have made repeated public statements this week that an initiative in the Kosovo Assembly regarding the Special Court won’t damage Kosovo’s international relationships.They are mistaken. Any such renewed efforts would have profound negative consequences for Kosovo’s European future and its relationship with the United States.Furthermore, threats of violence are wholly unacceptable and should be clearly and unequivocally rejected by the Government.We are extremely disappointed at those who would sacrifice their country’s future and the unwavering support of the United States, in favor of their personal interests. “
A few days later Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was denied visa by the United States in order to attend an event organised by the National Guard of the US State of Iowa.
International legal experts have noted the outstanding competence of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office for war crimes which is led by former United States federal prosecutor David Schwendiman, one of the most prominent prosecutors who was among other Head of the Special Department for War Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and its chief prosecutor Schwendiman are therefore expected to show top-quality work and professional results.
Kosovo facing a new early parliamentary election
At September 2017 elections Ramush Haradinaj was elected the new Kosovo Prime Minister. Haradinaj is a man with numerous burdens from the past. His Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) party holds only 10 out of 120 seats in the Kosovo Assembly, while Haradinaj's Deputy and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pacolli and his Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AKR) only has two seats in the Assembly. Three ministers and thirteen MP's from the incumbent government were actually running for the local election, which seems very frivolous behaviour for a serious government. The incumbent government has already appointed over 70 deputy ministers, its plan being to appoint 200 deputy ministers altogether. The government is aware of its temporary nature, so goal is to infiltrate as many of its staff as possible providing them employment contracts, although they will most probably be cancelled after a new government is elected.
The Kosovo local election confirmed the popularity of LVV among the citizens – it won in two largest cities, Priština and Prizren, as well as in Kamenica. This consolidated its rise which begun at early parliamentary election on 11 June 2017 when LVV won the highest number of seats in the Kosovo Assembly as an individual political entity while Albin Kurti received the highest number of votes as the prime minister candidate. This sent a clear sign to the ruling regimes in Priština and Belgrade to launch new activities against LVV and especially against its informal leader Albin Kurti.
LVV's victory in Priština and Prizren caused a change in the way the largest cities in Kosovo are managed. Being aware of that the other major political parties in Kosovo such as PDK and LDK put forth significant efforts to prevent LVV from gaining long-term position as the strongest and most influential political actor in Kosovo.
LVV's success at local elections and the defeat of PDK and AAK represents a severe blow for these two political parties, opening the possibility for new early parliamentary election that might be held in the first half of 2018 and lead to a change in the political picture of Kosovo and the end of the Haradinaj's “hybrid” government. This would eliminate the influence exerted on Kosovo from Serbia through Aleksandar Vučić and resolve the deep political crisis in Kosovo. It is therefore of immense importance to establish the stable rule of law institutions as the backbone for fighting crime and corruption, with the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office ensuring the prosecution of war crimes suspects. The innocent individuals should have no reason for concern when it comes to prosecuting war crimes suspects in Kosovo.
Analysts believe that in the present circumstances the best solution would be for the Kosovo government to show responsible acting by resigning on its own initiative, so that early parliamentary election can be called in order to stop the current agony in Kosovo and its regression in all aspects including the real risk regarding the existence of Kosovo as an independent state. Kosovo's current leaders have pushed themselves into international isolation and the Republic of Kosovo is now at the turning point. The US government's denial to grant visa to Prime Minister Haradinaj is a clear sign that Kosovo's current political leaders have lost international support and that they should be prosecuted or retired from politics. The task of the new government will be to ensure a more prosperous future and better living conditions in order to stop massive emigration from Kosovo.
Ljubljana, 17 January 2018