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17th Apr 2021

EU wary of handling explosive Kosovo report

  • EU's mission in Kosovo, Eulex, is not very popular among the residents (Photo: jonworth.eu)

The EU on Wednesday (16 December) painfully avoided taking a clear-cut position on a report by the Council of Europe which says Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was the head of a gruesome crime ring and that EU countries knew but said nothing about it.

"We take allegations on war crimes and organised crime extremely seriously. Fighting organised crime is an obligation for Balkan countries and a reason why Eulex [the EU police and justice mission in Kosovo] is on the ground and also investigating human trafficking cases," Maja Kocijancic, the EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs said during a briefing in Brussels.

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Pressed for more than 20 minutes to give an answer on what the EU's response is to the allegations, she added that the EU commission invites the Swiss author of the report, Dick Marty, to "come forward with any concrete evidence" he may have and "present it to the authorities for follow-up."

She noted that the organ harvesting accusations were already looked into by the UN mission in Kosovo and by the International War Crimes tribunal in the Hague and that "no evidence was found."

Mr Marty's new findings say that secret memos from European intelligence services such as the UK's MI5 corroborate the older allegations that Mr Thaci's ethnic Albanian guerrilla group in the 1990s murdered ethnic Serb prisoners for in order to sell their kidneys and smuggled heroin.

"What is particularly confounding is that all of the international community in Kosovo - from the governments of the United States and other Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities - undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation ... but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and hold the perpetrators to account," the Marty report says.

Mr Thaci's office has fiercely denounced the allegations, while Serbia and Russia have questioned whether he can remain stay on as PM given the news.

Asked whether the EU still considers Mr Thaci to be eligible as a premier, Ms Kocijancic said only that "there is an electoral process under way" and that the EU expects Kosovo to respect "international standards" following a parliamentary election last weekend.

Talking to reporters in Washington, US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley took a similar line to Brussels.

"We take all credible allegations of criminal activity very seriously, and any evidence and sources cited in this report should be shared with competent authorities to conduct a full and proper investigation," he said.

Mr Marty was also the author of a Council of Europe report on CIA rendition flights in Europe, which was ridiculed at the time, only to be later confirmed by the US government and the diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

Mr Marty will present his findings to representatives of the 47 Council of Europe member countries on Thursday.

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