Friday, July 12, 2024
 
 

Kosovo’s President Thaci heading to The Hague

Curious linkage of timing to US elections

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Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), announced his resignation on November 5 upon confirming that a tribunal in The Hague was issuing a war crimes indictment against him. Thaci proceeded to The Hague the same day he resigned, noting he took the step “to protect the integrity of the presidency of Kosovo.”
Thaci had been aware since the early summer the indictment was in the works and had refrained from most travel, other than to The Hague for meetings, for a considerable period, including missing an important meeting in Washington last June which was then rescheduled to September with the Trump Administration pressing relentlessly for a pre-election Kosovo-Serbia agreement.
Although that relatively unimpressive agreement was ultimately signed by Kosovo’s Prime Minister who attended instead of Thaci, President Donald Trump was still given Kosovo’s highest state honor for his role in securing the deal. Trump used talking points about bringing peace to the Balkan region during his re-election campaign, something most analysts saw as his primary motivation for engaging but which in reality yielded him zero political windfall.  Washington nonetheless busily sent emissaries throughout the fall of 2020 to accelerate the implementation of the economic provisions of the agreement.
Kosovo Specialist Chambers
The proceedings against Thaci and several others will be handled by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague which has taken over these prosecutions formerly performed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  This organization has a specific mandate to investigate and prosecute allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo, or linked to the Kosovo conflict, from 1998-2000. Creation of the court and prosecutor’s office followed a 2011 report by the Council of Europe which included longstanding allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters trafficked human organs taken from prisoners and killed Serbs and fellow ethnic Albanians.
The court has relatively little support in Kosovo and trials of KLA commanders, who are largely seen as liberators and national heroes, is a potential source of unrest.

President of the Republic of Kosovo Hashim Thaci talks to media following his meeting with Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti (not pictured) in Pristina. Thaci has resigned after being charged with war crimes that date back to the 1990s conflict with Serbia. EPA-EFE//VALDRIN XHEMAJ

Exact details of this 10-count indictment against Thaci and others have not been released; some arrests of other wartime guerilla leaders were actually made in September. The prosecutor’s office in The Hague has alleged that Thaci and others were “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.”
The existence of advanced work on a formal indictment had been made public earlier this year because of what was labeled “repeated efforts by Thaci and others to obstruct and undermine the work of the court,” claiming as well that they were believed to have attempted to overturn the Kosovo law that created the court.

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CEO/Editor-in-Chief.  Former US diplomat with previous assignments in Eastern Europe, the UN, SE Asia, Greece, across the Balkans, as well as Washington DC.

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