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Old 06-25-2020, 12:17 AM   #1
Risto the Great
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Default Kosovo President Is Indicted for War Crimes for Role in War With Serbia

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/w...ar-crimes.html

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President Hashim Thaci, who was scheduled to visit the White House on Saturday, faces 10 counts of war crimes brought by prosecutors at a special court in the Netherlands.

June 24, 2020

BERLIN — President Hashim Thaci of Kosovo, a guerrilla leader during Kosovo’s battle for independence from Serbia during the 1990s, was indicted on 10 counts of war crimes on Wednesday at a special court in the Netherlands. Prosecutors accused him and other former fighters of being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.”

The charges, long anticipated, have yet to be accepted by judges at the court, but their timing came as a shock, both in the Balkans and in Washington. Mr. Thaci was to meet on Saturday at the White House with his Serbian counterpart, President Aleksandar Vucic, to continue a Kosovar-Serbian dialogue mediated by American officials.

Mr. Thaci, 52, will no longer attend the meeting, dashing American hopes that the negotiations might finally lead to a settlement between Serbia and Kosovo. Kosovo won autonomy in 1999, aided by a NATO bombing campaign, but Serbia has never recognized Kosovo’s sovereignty, and negotiations to reach a final peace deal stalled in 2018. The United States is one of about 100 countries that recognize Kosovo’s independence.

“This affects Kosovo in all possible ways,” said Agron Bajrami, the head of the Koha Media Group, Kosovo’s largest media conglomerate. “It affects the process of dialogue, in which the president was the main interlocutor for both the European Union and the United States, and it will have an enormous effect in the political scene in Kosovo.”

Though most of the more than 13,000 casualties in the Kosovo War were Kosovar Albanians killed by Serbian troops, more than 2,000 were Serbs, Roma and Kosovar Albanians killed mostly by NATO bombs or by guerrilla groups like the Kosovo Liberation Army, according to figures from the Humanitarian Law Center, a human rights group with offices in both Serbia and Kosovo.

To investigate possible war crimes carried out by these guerrilla groups, the Kosovar Parliament founded a special judicial system in 2015, staffed by foreign jurists and based in the Netherlands to allow its officials to work more independently.

Though investigators previously had summoned a sitting Kosovar prime minister to give evidence in The Hague, Mr. Thaci and his co-defendants were among the first to be indicted by the prosecutors.

The prosecutors accused Mr. Thaci, Kadri Veseli, a former spy chief, and several unnamed defendants of crimes against humanity, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution and torture.

“If the indictment is confirmed, it would be unprecedented,” said Vigan Qorrolli, a law professor at the University of Pristina in Kosovo’s capital. “Some people thought they’d go for the smaller fishes, but they started with the bigger fishes.”

Mr. Thaci began his public life as a leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, but turned to civilian politics after the war ended, serving as both prime minister and foreign minister. Since 2016, he has been Kosovo’s mainly ceremonial president.

Mr. Thaci remains one of the pillars of Kosovar political life, revered as a hero of the war by some while others accuse him of being the embodiment of the wayward political class that has ruled Kosovo since its independence from Serbia.

A 2008 report compiled by German intelligence officers accused him of rampant corruption. “People identify him with everything that went wrong after independence,” Mr. Bajrami said.

Still, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, once described Mr. Thaci as the “George Washington of Kosovo.”

Earlier his year, Mr. Thaci helped engineer the collapse of the government of Albin Kurti, a reformist prime minister and longtime political activist who had promised to clean up Kosovo’s judicial system, and whom many younger Kosovars viewed as a necessary break from former wartime leaders like Mr. Thaci.

Criticism of Mr. Thaci escalated after his support for a land swap with Serbia, including discussing it in a 2018 interview with The New York Times. Mr. Thaci said he hoped the move would help persuade Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Mr. Thaci now denies he discussed such a land swap with Serbian officials, but the claim remains central to Kosovar political discourse.

Prosecutors at the special court said they had been forced into announcing their indictment on Wednesday because of actions taken by Mr. Thaci and Mr. Veseli to undermine their work, accusing him of “a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court.”

A spokesman for the prosecutors declined to elaborate. A spokesman for Mr. Thaci also declined to comment.

Patrick Kingsley reported from Berlin, and Gerry Mullany from New York. Marlise Simons contributed reporting from Paris.
This will get brushed under the Kosovarpet
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Risto the Great View Post
This will get brushed under the Kosovarpet
Many things are swept under the carpet where it concerns Kosovo, like the KLA being considered a terrorist group prior to their collaboration with the Clinton administration, like the moronic statements made by U.S. politicians such as the one from the presumptive Democratic nominee cited in the above article and like the activities of the circling vultures in the following article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/w...epreneurs.html
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Dec. 11, 2012

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is in a bind. His country’s largest and most lucrative enterprise, the state telecommunications company, is up for sale. The jostling among buyers is intense. Narrowing the bidders has hardly helped. One bid is from a fund founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. Lobbying for another was James W. Pardew, the Clinton-era special envoy to the Balkans. Both former diplomats are among the Americans who hold the status of heroes here for their roles in the 1999 intervention that separated Kosovo from Serbia and created one of the world’s newest states. In a meeting with Mr. Pardew in October, the prime minister explained his “difficult position” in having to choose between the buyers, according to a memo leaked to the newspaper Zeri, “because whichever of the two bidders behind them wins, he will be seen by 2 million people to have betrayed the other one.” So many former American officials have returned to Kosovo for business — in coal and telecommunications, or for lobbying and other lucrative government contracts — that it is hard to keep them from colliding. They also include Wesley K. Clark, a retired Army general and the former supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe who ran the bombing campaign against the Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic; and Mark Tavlarides, who was legislative director at the Clinton White House’s National Security Council. The State Department has no policy that forbids former diplomats to lobby on behalf of nations where they served or returning to them for profit, beyond the one applying to federal employees as a whole, which prohibits senior officials from contacting agencies where they once worked for one year and bans all federal employees for life from advising on the same matters.

Kosovo is not the only nation where former officials have returned to conduct business — Iraq is another example — but it presents an extreme case, and perhaps a special ethical quandary, given the outsize American influence here. Pristina, the capital, may be the only city in the world where Bob Dole Street intersects Bill Clinton Boulevard. Foreign policy experts say the practice of former officials’ returning for business is more common than acknowledged publicly. Privately, former officials concede the possibility of conflicts of interest and even the potential to influence American foreign policy as diplomats who traditionally made careers in public service now rotate more frequently to lucrative jobs in the private sector. Asked for comment, former officials involved said their business dealings with the Kosovo government would benefit Kosovars by building a more prosperous economy. “We’re going to employ people, provide training, create exports and help the country grow and develop as a democracy,” said General Clark, who is chairman of Envidity, a Canadian energy company seeking to explore Kosovo’s lignite coal deposits and produce synthetic fuel. Lawrence Lessig, a law professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, said the appearance of “cashing in” risked undermining the prestige of the United States by clouding the humanitarian nature of the 1999 intervention, which was aimed at ending Serbian atrocities against Kosovars. After the separation, Kosovo was an international protectorate run by thousands of officials from other countries and the United Nations serving as government representatives and private contractors. Four years of internationally “supervised independence” ended in September. About 6,000 peacekeepers remain. The closeness of the ties between the state-builders and the state they built has made it easy for officials to change hats. Though the country is one of Europe’s poorest, there is still the potential for profit, particularly as the government privatizes critical assets.

Albright Capital Management, founded by Ms. Albright, has been shortlisted in the bidding for a 75 percent share in the state telecommunications company, PTK. The company’s sale is expected to bring in between $400 million and $800 million. Senior executives of a sister company, Albright Stonebridge Group, are already small shareholders in PTK’s only competitor, the private company IPKO, raising concerns on the threat to market competition if Ms. Albright’s consortium wins the bid. Mr. Pardew, the former American envoy, lobbied top Kosovo officials on behalf of a competing consortium, Twelve Hornbeams S.a.r.l /Avicenna Capital LLC. The memo on the prime minister’s meeting with Mr. Pardew, from within the consortium, was leaked by someone unhappy with the running of the tender process. The choice of Mr. Pardew as their emissary was “vitally important,” the memo noted, because Kosovo’s elite “know and love him for his role on the ground during the war.” After the memo became public, Mr. Pardew withdrew from lobbying for the consortium, and he declined to comment. It is still possible that neither of the American-backed bidders will win the tender, which is expected to be decided in January. Ms. Albright responded to an interview request with a statement. Citing limits to disclosure during the tender process, the statement from Nelson Oliveira, managing director and general counsel of Albright Capital Management, read in part, “We take seriously all of our obligations — legal and ethical, in this and all other potential investments.” “We believe that a transparent, well managed privatization of the state-owned telecom company should bring substantial benefits to the economy and people of Kosovo,” the statement added.

Kosovo’s government denied that any of the former diplomats got special treatment. “I hope they will make money in Kosovo and that Kosovo will make money from their investments,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi. “The Kosovo government will not choose a company just because it’s American.” Telecommunications in Kosovo can be a rough business. In 2007, gunmen tried — first with firearms, then with a mortar attack on his car — to kill Anton Berisha, the head of the telecommunications regulatory agency. He survived both attempts, which took place not long after he awarded Kosovo’s second cellphone license to the Slovenian-owned IPKO. A year later, he became ambassador to Slovenia. In 2004, Ms. Albright became a special adviser to the chairman of the board of IPKO, Akan Ismaili, who is now Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States. The telecommunications deal is just one of many that Americans have angled for. The biggest infrastructure project in Kosovo’s post-Yugoslav history, a 63-mile stretch of highway connecting Pristina to the Albanian border, was awarded in 2010 to Bechtel of San Francisco in a joint venture with a Turkish company, Enka. At the time, the prime minister estimated the deal at $1 billion.

Bechtel had help getting the contract from Mr. Tavlarides, the legislative director at the National Security Council during the 1999 Kosovo intervention. According to a lobbying report filed with the United States government, Mr. Tavlarides lobbied on behalf of Bechtel in Kosovo on “highway-related issues” while working for Van Scoyoc Associates, a Washington-based lobbying firm. Mr. Tavlarides now works at the Podesta Group, which signed a $50,000 monthly contract with the Kosovo government on Jan. 1, advising it on communications and strengthening Kosovo’s ties to the United States government. The Podesta Group was co-founded as Podesta Associates by John Podesta, White House chief of staff in Mr. Clinton’s second term. Mr. Podesta left the firm in 1993. It is still owned by his brother, Anthony. Mr. Tavlarides declined to comment, citing his firm’s policy to not speak with the news media about clients.

For his part, General Clark said it was “insulting” to suggest that there could be any conflict between private profit-making and his past responsibilities. “My business is aboveboard, transparent and helps the Kosovar people,” he said. “We are going to use a resource that had no value to the Kosovo people and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of investment.” United States military officers have a one-year post-retirement ban on contacting their former armed service about official matters, and a lifetime ban on any contacts related to the same matters on which they worked, according to the Pentagon. Watchdog groups raise the possibility that Kosovo’s government might see doing business with former American officials as a conduit to the current United States administration. They also fear that the influence of former officials diminishes competition and hurts consumers. The appearance of an inside track by some companies had discouraged competitors “because they know the game is set,” said Avni Zogiani, a Kosovar journalist who heads Cohu, an anticorruption organization in Pristina that has investigated the links between the telecommunications business, crime and politics. “There is no interest in investing in Kosovo by reputable companies anymore.”

Even some former officials acknowledge discomfort at the extent of the interplay between dealing and diplomacy. Steven P. Schook, a retired United States army brigadier general and former chief of staff of KFOR, NATO’s force in Kosovo, said he had “mixed feelings” about it. Mr. Schook, who also served as the deputy head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo, has returned as a private consultant for former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was acquitted last month by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He says that he works for Mr. Haradinaj because of a belief in his leadership and that his only compensation is his expenses living in Kosovo, about $2,600 a month. “There are a lot of ex-diplomats coming in and out that are now representing private interests,” he said. “If I’m a large corporation and I want to get in to be competitive, I want to work with people to help me do that.” “But on the other hand, it seems a bit tawdry,” Mr. Schook added. “One minute you’re liberating a place, and the next minute you’re trying to get an energy tender.”
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:39 PM   #3
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“But on the other hand, it seems a bit tawdry,” Mr. Schook added. “One minute you’re liberating a place, and the next minute you’re trying to get an energy tender.”
The last sentence above describes the entirety of the Kosovo war (and partially Macedonia's misery) in my opinion.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:44 PM   #4
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What are the chances of Thaci and Kadri Veseli actually getting convicted?


Update

Member of the KLA General Staff delivered to The Hague: "Dad was invited by EULEX..."

"As Kosovo online reports, Zogjani's son Liridon pointed out in a post on his Facebook account that EULEX called his father this morning and from there sent him to The Hague without prior announcement or informing him and his family.

According to him, the Special Prosecutor's Office called his father because of the events during the war. 

Zogjani's deportation to The Hague comes a day after the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Special Court confirmed that it had indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli, as well as other KLA officials."

URL:
https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politic...&nav_id=108792


Kosovan president’s war crimes indictment puts West in a bind

"International powers have continued to cooperate closely with Thaçi even as accusations of serious criminality swirled around him. A 2010 report by Swiss politician and prosecutor Dick Marty for the Council of Europe alleged Thaçi was the head of an organized crime gang known as the Drenica Group (named after a region of Kosovo). Thaçi repeatedly denied the accusation.

The report also contained allegations that a number of Serbs had been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.

The fact that Marty's report said it drew on information from various Western intelligence agencies raised questions over how much Western powers had turned a blind eye to Thaçi's activities."

URL:
https://www.politico.eu/article/koso...-a-tight-spot/

Last edited by Carlin15; 06-25-2020 at 09:54 PM. Reason: Added articles
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Old 06-26-2020, 12:40 PM   #5
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Albanian Premier Condemns Thaci and Veseli War Crime Indictments

URL:
https://balkaninsight.com/2020/06/25...or-war-crimes/

Prime Minister Edi Rama told the Albanian parliament on Thursday that the charges against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli did not just concern individuals but formed part of a wider attack on Kosovo and Albanians in general.

Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, on Thursday condemned the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announcement that it was charging Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, Kosovo politician Kadri Veseli and other former guerrilla fighters with war crimes, calling the decision “an attack [that goes] well beyond singular names”.

He added “It was a statement that does not only throw mud against Thaci or Veseli or the Kosovo Liberation Army but [attacks] Kosovo and Albanianism.”

Rama accused the international community of failing to react to the lack of punishments for war crimes on Serbia’s side and suggested Kosovo was being persecuted as if it was the aggressor and not the victim in the conflict of the late-1990s.

“That text [the indictment] feels like you are reading about a nation of aggressors and not the victims of aggression,” he said, suggesting that the indictment raised a wider question mark over the war for the independence from Kosovo.

The Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, SPO, on Wednesday said it had filed a ten-count indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, KSC, charging President Thaci, Veseli, and others with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.

The indictment alleges that they are responsible for nearly 100 murders. The indictment mentions crimes involving hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities, and include political opponents of the KLA.

According to the press release, the prosecutors believe Thaci and Veseli carried out a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Hague-based Court and otherwise obstruct its work in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice.



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Old 06-26-2020, 04:10 PM   #6
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He added “It was a statement that does not only throw mud against Thaci or Veseli or the Kosovo Liberation Army but [attacks] Kosovo and Albanianism.”
Yes. That is right.
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