Xhorxhina Bami, Pristina, BIRN, June 30, 2020
On a visit to Pristina, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that an indictment accusing Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci of committing war crimes was a “brutal act” against Kosovo itself.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told a press conference at Pristina International Airport on Tuesday that the as-yet-unconfirmed war crimes indictment against Hashim Thaci and senior politician Kadri Veseli represented an attack on the Kosovo Liberation Army and therefore on Kosovo as a country.
“For me, the communiqué that announced to the world that an indictment is expected to come, which has not been formalised by the court, is not only a flagrant violation of any good practice of international justice but also a brutal act against Kosovo itself,” Rama said.
Rama paid a two-day visit in Kosovo after the Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced on June 24 that it had filed a ten-count indictment charging Thaci, Veseli and others with a series of crimes including murders, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture.
Rama Drops Haradinaj Libel Suit
Former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj refused to meet Edi Rama in Pristina because the Albanian premier filed a defamation lawsuit against him in January.
Rama was suing Haradinaj over claims that the Albanian leader and other Balkan leaders had a plan to steal 10 billion euros from a mining complex.
But Rama said on Tuesday that the suit will be withdrawn. He said that Haradinaj, a wartime KLA commander, was “a historic figure… despite how bad a prime minister he was”.
Rama said the announcement was “a violation of human rights” against the president of a country which “exists due to a liberation war” waged by the KLA, of which Thaci was a leader.
Rama indirectly agreed with Thaci’s comments on Monday, when the Kosovo president accused the international community of applying double standards to trying war crimes suspects from Serbia and Kosovo.
Thaci said on Monday that if the war crimes indictment is confirmed, he will resign as president. He already announced earlier this month that he will no longer be involved in politics once his mandate ends in April next year.
The announcement of the charges scuppered a meeting in Washington on June 27 that could have restarted dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at normalising relations.
However, the EU hopes to push the dialogue forward without Thaci’s presence.
“In our reactions so far, we have said between the lines that it would be better for him [Thaci] to focus on his indictment until that issue is resolved,” an unnamed European official dealing with the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue process told Radio Free Europe on Tuesday.
Rama also said on Tuesday that the dialogue with Serbia should continue, and argued that Kosovo should become part of a Balkan ‘mini-Schengen’ passport-free zone, which would involve free movement of people, goods, capital, and services within the region. The leaders of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia backed the idea in October 2019.