Do-over: the Special Court drama in Kosovo

Rrap Kryeziu, a Haverford rising senior who is spending the summer helping me out on Balkans research, writes:

Kosovo’s future direction depends on an impending vote in its parliament expected to take place Monday. The seven-year-old country faces a pre-teen crisis. Following a 2010 report by the Council of Europe that attributes inhumane crimes to high government officials and former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members, Kosovo’s Western allies as well as its Serb and Russian adversaries, are demanding accountability. Because the alleged crimes took place in the post-war period and some in Albania, they are not covered by the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which in any event is closed to new cases.

A constitutional amendment in the Kosovo Parliament would enable the creation of a Special Court in which internationals would try still unspecified indictees. On June 26, the amendment fell five votes short. The opposition, which vehemently opposes the amendment, did not vote at all. Seven members of the governing PDK did not support the constitutional amendment despite their party leader’s unequivocal public support for the Special Court. PDK leader, former Prime Minister and now Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci may himself be implicated in the accusations, according to the Council of Europe report.

Opponents of the Special Court are concerned with upholding the KLA’s freedom-fighting reputation. They fear the court will tranform the image of Kosovars from victims of ethnic cleansing to perpetrators of crimes against humanity. There are also concerns about national sovereignty. Members of Vetevendosje (VV)–the leading opposition party–now surprisingly praise the integrity and capacity of Kosovo’s justice system, which in the past they have criticized as the tool of the ruling elite. It is unclear how they expect the court system to prosecute people they previously accused of controlling the judiciary.

One part does not reveal much about the whole. There was no single mastermind behind the KLA, which was an organic resistance movement. Potentially finding a few KLA commanders guilty of war crimes should not tarnish the entire movement. Confronting uncomfortable allegations by bringing a handful of individuals to justice will instead clear a dark cloud that has been cast by the Council of Europe report. It will reflect political maturity on behalf of Kosovo.

The US ambassador to Kosovo has warned lawmakers of a cascade of political disasters if Kosovo does not allow creation of the Special Court. Kosovo will weaken its partnerships with Western allies, who will allow the Security Council to take up the matter. Russia, which does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, will have a big say in what happens there. It is also likely that new elections will ensue, as the current coalition had promised to establish the Special Court within six months of taking power.

It is time for a re-run. The result will signal whether Kosovo is heading West, or astray.


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3 thoughts on “Do-over: the Special Court drama in Kosovo”

  1. Great article, Rrap. However why do you claim that anything that does not head “West” automatically goes astray? I fully agree with the article but the last line seems like Kosovo is allowed no room for innovation in its check and balances and has been condemned to follow a path that has already shown many loopholes…

  2. As a start..sparkles of radicalization

    The situation has just escalated. Kosovar society is terrified how the UN Resolution on Srebrenica genocide in Europe has failed. Bosnians, their former yugoslav countrymen, got slaughtered as calves. Trauma of sharing the same fate is still alive. The genocide resolution failed spectacularly with zero geopolitical consequences but grave inner social consequences in transitional societies which are at the brink of implosion to mention those within nominal muslim faith. Kosovo belongs to this category.

    What kind of message is going to send to Kosovars when a genocide resolution is blocked but a special court dedicated to prosecute the victims is being created? Kosovars do not care about details and the formality. They care abut their freedom, jobs and normality. You are questioning their essentials and that is going to rise them up. Some will migrate, some will become criminals, some will protest, many will go to Syria, and the rest who are trapped at nowhere to go have to suck up to the political cronyism. Naturally, under such circumstances, they will radicalize to defend what they think is right. A rightful thought built upon circumstances that we are imposing on them. A false hope. Why are these three essential things being compromised at Kosovo’s expense? What kind of message are we sending to Kosovar people? Loss of respect and hope for the democratic world leads to dark forces – radicalization of the society.

    Corruption, and dysfunctional courts established by international diplomatic staff, are problems but who is the force behind them?
    Parties PDK, LDK, and now in opposition AAK along with former PDK lead men who now run NISMA did not become rich and powerful without a strong political clout. Let’s say from from someone who contributed to effectively liberate Kosovo. Someone who effectively controlled every judicial department since 1999.

    When a person who is corrupt and gets support to become a country leader, what kind of message sends to Kosovar society? When a court for victims is created to indict bogus commanders who barely had any power in the hierarchy of the army, what kind of message does this send to the Kosovar society? It makes them lose faith in the democratic world. Establish beliefs that being just and fair is for others. When your life is rather survivalist you are going to try anything out of desperation including the dark forces, right?

    What kind of justice message does this send to the raped women of Kosovo who now bear children and have families? How are they going to raise their children to make sure they don’t get raped again? Of course, teach them everything, including radicalization.

    This court cannot be any different than the ones created in other former yugoslav republics. Any derailment of this plan is disastrous for the future security of the Balkans.

    Thank you,

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