Wednesday

27th Jul 2016

Organised crime problem dogs EU record on Kosovo

  • Billboards in Kosovo highlight the big influence of its international sponsors (Photo: morbin)

Four years after the EU's biggest-ever police mission came to Kosovo it has not indicted any top suspects on organised crime, posing questions about its work and the integrity of Kosovo's leaders.

Eulex itself is proud of its record. Its training of Kosovo police and customs is a success story. When the EU completes its Eulex review in the next few weeks, it is expected to reduce personnel to let local officers take over many day-to-day functions.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Eulex' spokesman in Pristina, Nicholas Hawton, told EUobserver it also has "clear results" in chasing criminals in its war-scarred and politically complex theatre of operations.

He added it has 350 ongoing criminal investigations and that its judges have handed down 220 verdicts - 15 on organised crime and 20 on war crimes. One of the investigations concerns accusations that Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci used to run an organ trafficking gang. On the shocking case of Enver Zymberi - a Kosovar Albanian policeman murdered by a Serb sniper last year - its investigation has led Interpol to issue six arrest warrants.

A draft European Parliament report endorsed by the foreign affairs committee on Tuesday (24 January) urged it to "increase its efforts" in the Kosovar Serb enclave in north Kosovo and to "step up" its work on organised crime.

But it blamed EU member states for shortfalls: it noted EU countries are reluctant to send their best judges to Kosovo and it asked France, Italy and Romania to "reconsider" pulling home its so-called Formed Police Units - specialists in riot control.

The author of the report - Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek - was a bit sharper in remarks to this website.

"They should have been quicker. It would have helped the way they are seen in the country to already have indictments on high level corruption cases," she said.

But another EU deputy - Italian Socialist Pino Arlacchi, who in his time helped create Italy's Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA) - was scathing.

He noted that Eulex' €150-million-a-year budget is comparable to the DIA's, which has scalped several mafia bosses in a country of 60 million people and one of the worst organised crime problems in the world.

He called Eulex "amateurish" and highlighted that its first supergrass - Agim Zogay - was found hung in Germany last year.

For his part, Eulex' Hawthorn said Zogay "tragically took his own life" in something which "no witness protection programme in the world [could] prevent."

Arlacchi noted: "Witness protection is the cornerstone of every organised crime operation ... the fact they were not able to give him a basic level of protection - and it doesn't matter whether it was suicide or homicide, this person was badly assisted - what more do you want [as proof of Eulex' failure]?"

With big fish like Fatmir Limaj, a former transport minister accused of corruption, threatening to bring down Thaci - a US darling - if he goes to jail, Arlacchi also accused Eulex of sheltering suspects for political reasons.

He said he has seen classified papers held by Eulex containing "clear intelligence" about crimes by "top leaders." He added: "They don't want to alter the political landscape ... Everyone who knows Kosovo shares this opinion, but I am one of the few who is willing to say that this is the truth."

The more circumspect Austrian MEP Lunacek said: "There is an interest by some in the international community to keep Thaci because he is the one they know. He is the one who gives a certain stability."

The International Steering Group - a body of 25 Kosovo-recognising countries - also on Tuesday in Vienna said the "young state" has made such progress that it plans to end political supervision of Thaci's government by the end of 2012.

"[This] means that Kosovo has been completely successful ... that Kosovo will function like any other independent state, with a clear European perspective," Thaci said.

MEPs fear further 'Putinisation' of Turkey

MEPs criticised the harsh crackdown in Turkey after last week's failed coup, and warned that Ankara must not go down the road towards an authoritarian regime, in an extraordinary meeting of the EP's foreign affairs committee.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels