KOSOVO: Low Turn-out re-elected Country’s Renown Alleged Crimes Suspects

In 2010, diplomats and election monitors witnessed ballot-stuffing and other irregularities, and voting had to be held again at more than 20 polling stations, however the elections was accepted...

AL_click_to_readFifteen years since breaking from the war, Kosovo stands among Europe’s poorest countries with millionaire politicians immersed in crime. A third of the workforce is unemployed and corruption is rife. About two out of three under the age of 25th are currently jobless, and nearly 50% of Kosovo’s 1.8 million people are considered to be poor. Three opposition parties in Kosovo said on Tuesday they had united and planned to form a government, trying to undercut Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi whose ruling PDK party won an election but was left seeking partners.

The head of the 'Vetëvendosje' party Albin Kurti, once upon a time in the protests in Pristina. (Picture by Vedat Xhymshiti, for Zuma Press)

The head of the ‘Vetëvendosje’ party Albin Kurti, once upon a time in the protests in Pristina. (Picture by Vedat Xhymshiti, for Zuma Press)

In 2010, diplomats and election monitors witnessed ballot-stuffing and other irregularities, and voting had to be held again at more than 20 polling stations, however the elections was accepted without any refusal from any political subjects who competed in the country’s first general elections after unilateral declaration of independence.

Kosovo’s last national election in 2010 saw a turnout of 47.8% but, this year’s turnout was 42% nationally and even lower in majority Serb areas.

Prime Minister and former rebel chief’s Democratic Party of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi claimed a third term on Sunday in an election marked by a low turnout among Kosovars frustrated at the lack of progress made since Thaçi presided over the territory’s secession from Serbia in 2008, with widespread poverty, corruption and political assassinations, which characterized Kosovo’s wide socio-political angle in the aftermath of 1999 conflict with Serbia.

Although Belgrade still rejects Kosovo’s independence, for the first time Serbia encouraged ethnic Serbs to vote. The elections follow last year’s April agreement to normalise relations between Belgrade and Pristina as a pre-condition for their bids to become members of the EU. The EU subsequently gave the green light for talks on an association agreement with Kosovo to begin.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It has been recognised by the US and many EU countries. Nato peacekeepers have been in Kosovo since 1999 and have failed to distribute their fully mandate to provide a peaceful, safe and secured environment for everyone, especially in the country’s northern bank that is immersed in violence and outlawed actions from the pro-Serbia’s separatist armed militants.

EU Mission Rule of Law operates as the descendant (shadow) of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, under UN SC Resolution 1244, which guarantees Serbia’s territorial integrity over Kosovo, and many times proved that it is ready to move-on with the so known selective justice.


CRIME INVESTIGATIONS

In picture outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, and the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, accompanied by Thaçi's cabinet of the 2010 government of Kosovo. (Picture by Agron Dragaj, for Zuma Press)

In picture outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, and the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, accompanied by Thaçi’s cabinet of the 2010 government of Kosovo. (Picture by Agron Dragaj, for Zuma Press)

The third term re-elected ruling party of acting Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi that aspire to become country’s President has been identified as one of the ‘biggest fish’ in organised crime in the landlocked country of the Balkan Peninsula. Therefore it is highly possible why more then 53% of Kosovo’s elective population have firmly refused to attend the polling stations in recent eight years.

The 2011 NATO leaked files, which suddenly were not reported in Kosovo press (at that time!), indicated that the United States and some of the other western powers backing Kosovo’s government, have had extensive knowledge of its criminal connections for several years.

According to WikiLeaks leaked diplomatic cables, and 2011—further leaked NATO intelligence files, the geographical spread of Kosovo’s criminal gangs is set out alongside details of alleged familial and business links, involving majority members of country’s ruling party PDK lead by Hashim Thaçi, as well as other political parties, such as AAK lead by Ramush Haradinaj and ‘Vetëvendosje‘ lead by Albin Kurti, among several other small groups that operate as cover-up of crime clans through the order of ‘KANUN’.

Upcoming government is highly possible to experience an immediate pressure from the West to heed the findings of a war crimes investigation that threatens to jail Thaçi’s former comrades-in-armed guerrilla.

A special European Union task force is expected within weeks to issue the findings of an investigation into allegations that Kosovo’s guerrilla army harvested organs from Serb prisoners of war and allegedly sold them on the black market during a 1998-99 conflict.

The investigation followed a 2011 report by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, which pointed the finger at Thaçi and other ex-rebels, in the box of allegations are included four senior members of PDK and candidates for parliament, as well as Thaçi’s party deputy Kadri Veseli.

Thaçi was one of the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army that took up arms in the late 1990s to break free from the repressive rule of the then Yugoslavia, under Belgrade’s strongman Slobodan Milosevic, which was not convicted for crimes against humanity across the Balkan Peninsula, but found his death during the ICTY trial in The Hague. Serbia and Milosevic’s successors (comrades!), who had played an important role in ethnic cleansing, mass murdering and massacring the innocent civilians in the then Yugoslavia, were rewarded with freedom of movement across European soil.

NATO intervened in 1999 with 78 days of air strikes against Serbia, trying to halt the massacre and ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians by Serbian forces waging counter-insurgency.

 

Vedat Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist and war correspondent. He has reported on a number of Middle Eastern conflicts from the Arab Spring in 2010 to the current Syrian civil war. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde ect. He is specialized in International Relations and Diplomacy. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic, a columnist for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, and founder of THEFrontliner.net

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