Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Opinion

Why the EU mission in Kosovo still deserves your trust

  • "We don’t sweep allegations of criminal activity under the carpet" (Photo: Eulex)

Over the course of the past three weeks, you have read in your morning newspaper and seen on TV several accusations about actions of some members of Eulex.

We have not responded to each and every one of these accusations. However, let me be very clear: Eulex takes allegations seriously. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, and I confirm my personal commitment to consistently apply this policy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

I believe that the people of Kosovo deserve to know what actions Eulex has already taken regarding the recent allegations against some of its staff members.

We have not ignored the allegations. The allegations published in the media have been and are being fully examined.

Following information on potential corruption, and determined to shed light onto all the allegations, a mixed Kosovo-Eulex so-called task force consisting of prosecutors and police investigators was established many months ago to conduct a judicial investigation, long before any publication of these allegations.

In other words, the matter has been taken forward.

So, there is an ongoing judicial investigation into the allegations. The EU has agreed to partially lift the immunity of one person in order to allow for this investigation to progress.

This is a testimony of the seriousness with which this matter is being taken forward. This process of partially lifting of immunity had been initiated this summer and completed before the publication of the allegations.

Innocent unless proven guilty

We all wish that results would be visible faster. The truth is that such investigations are complex and difficult and it takes time to pursue all leads.

But investigators are doing their best to assess the facts. It is also true that investigations and enquiries do not publish their ongoing proceedings in public fora - investigations are not conducted in public.

One of the main principles in such proceedings is the principle of confidentiality. This protects not only potential witnesses and the person who made the allegations, but also those who are presumed innocent unless proven otherwise and whose reputations may be substantially damaged by such allegations.

Rest assured that when the investigation concludes, Eulex will not shirk from its obligations to pursue whatever judicial actions the investigation determines are appropriate and necessary.

All that we expect from others, we also apply to ourselves.

And if, in the future, these allegations should be proven unfounded, it is my expectation that media will report on this in an equal manner as on these allegations.

Besides the ongoing judicial investigation, I also travelled to Brussels. I discussed further steps with the new high representative, Federica Mogherini, who appointed appointed Jean Paul Jacque last week as an independent and experienced legal expert to conduct a review of the mandate implementation with a focus on the handling of the corruption allegations.

As I stated at the time of his appointment, I welcome this further review into the handling of the allegations.

Mission and media on the same side

At this point, I would like to praise the work of all those who, like us, fight hard every day in the benefit of justice.

The journalistic community is part of this group, and deserves our utmost respect.

The mission and the media both endeavour to hold accountable those who imperil Kosovo through crime and corruption. We are on the same side.

Eulex came to Kosovo to support it in building sustainable, accountable rule of law institutions, free from political interference.

Since its inception, nearly 10,000 experts have worked in Eulex, side by side with Kosovo counterparts, to achieve these objectives.

Eulex has standard mechanisms in place to deal with allegations of criminal activity by staff members.

Firstly, staff members are obliged to observe the laws applicable in Kosovo.

Secondly, our own Code of Conduct requires employees to report suspected criminal activity (for example, corruption), and there are mechanisms in place for them to do so, even anonymously, if they wish.

We don’t sweep allegations of criminal activity under the carpet.

Thirdly, if credible information exists that an employee may have been involved in a potential criminal act, the mission takes the necessary legal steps to ensure that possible crimes are investigated and adjudicated.

Highest standards

As head of mission, I am committed to ensuring that Eulex and its staff continue to be held to the highest standards.

I do not tolerate criminal activity within the ranks of Eulex, irrespective of position or nationality, but I also will not disregard the presumption of innocence and the duty to protect innocent people from allegations that may lead to a weaker approach to corruption outside Eulex.

I have full confidence in the integrity and professionalism of my staff.

Dedicated professionals within Eulex are working every day with Kosovo institutions, and the doubts that have been cast by these allegations must not distract us from our core responsibilities and joint efforts: to build rule of law in Kosovo.

The writer, Gabriele Meucci, is head of the Eulex mission in Kosovo

Investigation

EU and Kosovo corruption: Scratching the surface?

The EU has asked an ageing academic to look into Eulex corruption allegations. But former officials want to know why it failed to convict a single "big fish" in the past five years?

Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Jan Zahradil, EU Commission president Spitzenkandidat for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, responds to Emmaneul Macron's European vision ahead of the May elections.

A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension

At this week's summit, EU leaders should extend Article 50 until the May European elections. But they should postpone the effective date of the UK's withdrawal from EU rights, rules, and regulations for another year - to May 2020.

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Italy should capitalise on Brexit

Now that the UK is leaving, Italy can, and should, step up. It is the third largest country and economy in the EU. Spain and Poland follow, but they are significantly smaller economically and population-wise.

The Magnitsky Act - and its name

It is disappointing that so many MEPs in the Socialist and Green group caved in to Russian interests, in fear of challenging a plutocratic regime, by saying 'no' to naming the Magnitsky legislation by its rightful name: Magnitsky.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us