18th Mar 2019

Brussels denies 'credibility problem' after Marty report

  • Ms Malmstrom said she was a committed anti-trafficking fighter (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission has "no credibility problem" on human trafficking after a Council of Europe report accused EU institutions of silently tolerating Kosovo abuses, home affairs chief Cecilia Malmstrom said during the launch of an anti-trafficking platform.

Ms Malmstrom called the fight against human trafficking "one of the closest to my heart" and presented an online platform dedicated to the issue.

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"It's a shame that this horrible crime still goes on within the European Union, modern slavery is still a practice and the rights of people from other countries are violated in such a manner," she said.

The platform is not so much dedicated to victims however, but more to EU policy and the newly appointed co-ordinator for the issue, Myria Vassiliadou.

When pressed to take a stance on the report published last week by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, which slammed the EU for knowing about the human and organ trafficking network commanded by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Ms Malmstrom stuck to a "no comment" line.

"I don't feel I have a credibility problem on this. I am extremely committed to this issue. We don't deny there are problems in Kosovo and in other countries. This report you refer to, I have read about it in the media, I cannot comment what is true and what is not true," she said.

Since this was not a report issued by the EU commission, but by the Council of Europe - a Strasbourg-based inter-governmental organisation - it was impossible for her to comment, Ms Malmstrom insisted.

In the report, Mr Marty corroborates intelligence from several EU states and concludes that the US and Europe have long been aware that Mr Thaci and his associates were "key players" in Kosovo's "mafia-like structures of organised crime," running money laundering, drugs and cigarette smuggling, human trafficking and prostitution operations. The Kosovo Liberation Army, led by Mr Thaci, allegedly killed Serb and Albanian civilian captives to sell their kidneys in 1999.

While the EU was turning a blind eye to these crimes and tolerated Mr Thaci for the sake of "stability" in the region, Switzerland had put the Kosovo leader on a no-entry list. A visa request from Mr Thaci was rejected by Swiss authorities in 2002, Mr Marty told Neue Zurcher Zeitung.

Meanwhile, in Pristina, Mr Thaci told the Associated Press he had "nothing to hide" and pledged to Kosovo authorities that he will be "very cooperative" in dealing with allegations.

"It is a mist that I must and will work to dispel," Mr Thaci said.

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