The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a resolution calling for investigations into accusations that newly re-elected Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has led an organized crime network involving in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and human organs.
The vote was taken on the basis of a Council of Europe (CoE) report spearheaded by Swiss rapporteur Dick Marty and leaked to the media last month, around the same time that Thaci won re-election as Kosovo’s prime minister.
Among other things, it says that Thaci has held “violent control” over the heroin trade for the past decade. The US has wholeheartedly supported Thaci in his successful bid for re-election to the post of prime minister of Kosovo, and there were rumors that EU mission in Kosovo (EULEX) criminal investigations against Thaci and his associates had been put on hold until after elections (rumors denied by EULEX) in order to ensure that Thaci and his party had solid public support.
There is also new information on the situation in the form of NATO military documents leaked by The Guardian newspaper. Those documents alleged that Western forces as early as 2004 viewed Thaci as one of the “biggest fish” on Kosovo’s organized crime scene. The documents also referred to Kosovo parliamentarian Xhavit Haliti as having ties to the Albanian mafia and the Kosovo secret service and as being the “power behind” Thaci.
According to the PACE resolution, it is time to recognize that the situation in the 1990s in Kosovo was not as clear cut as victims and aggressors. The “appalling crimes committed by Serbian forces” made it appear that one side was the clear victor and one side the clear aggressor, but “the reality is less clear-cut and more complex. There cannot be one justice for the winners and another for the losers.”
In light of this, PACE is urging that the European Union mission in Kosovo (EULEX), be granted the support and resources to carry out a successful investigation in the claims of the CoE report, laying particular stress on the importance of creating a witness-protection program without which nothing can proceed.
The government of Kosovo rejects the CoE report claims, and Thaci himself has been particularly outspoken on the issue, earlier publicly comparing the report to Nazi propaganda and comparing Dick Marty to Joseph Goebbels.
The international community is now hoping to somehow find a balance between conducting a thorough investigation into the matter and ensuring that justice is served and keeping Serbia from using this wild card as a justification to resume a hard stance over Kosovo’s status.
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