23rd Mar 2018

France arrests former Kosovo PM

French border police have arrested the former prime minister of Kosovo on a Serbian warrant.

Ramush Haradinaj, a rebel commander in the Kosovar war and a current opposition leader, was detained by police on Wednesday (4 January) near the Swiss border.

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Serbia, a candidate country for EU accession, says Haradinaj is a war criminal for his role in the conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and also wants to join the EU, but Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain do not recognise its independence.

The EU has made normalisation of ties between the two rivals a condition of their pro-EU progress, but the latest arrest risks aggarvating the deep divisions between the Balkan nations.

In a statement, Kosovo's foreign ministry said Haradinaj's arrest was based "on a warrant issued by Serbia in 2004” and that it was “unacceptable”. It has also demanded his release.

Haradinaj had already been tried and acquitted of war crimes in 2012 by the United Nations court in The Hague.

He had also been arrested in 2015 in Slovenia, likewise on a Serbian warrant, for alleged war crimes, but a Slovenian court later released him.

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After a series of setbacks that almost led to armed confrontation, Serbia and Kosovo are back at the negotiating table with a summit in Brussels.

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