European Western Balkans

Hashim Thaçi’s hate-love affair with the Specialist Court

Hashim Thaçi; Photo: Office of The President of Kosovo

Discussing the role of the Kosovo Specialist court at the public presentation of the report “Public Perception of the Kosovo Specialist Court: Risks and Opportunities”, organized by NGOs PAX, Integra, and Center for Peace and Tolerance, President Thaçi criticized the one-sidedness of the “mono-ethnic” court and slammed the international community for falling short of fulfilling their part of the “bargain”.

President Thaçi complained about the lack of cooperation between the court and Kosovo authorities, stressing that the court had had “maximal and mutual cooperation with Serbia”, but “minimal, symbolic and biased” relationship towards Kosovo. He added that Kosovo had cooperated in establishment of the court and that he himself had assented to lead this “unfair historical process towards Kosovo”, asserting that the court itself would not bring about justice and interethnic reconciliation in Kosovo.

Thaçi, too, criticized the internationals for failing to keep their promises in relation to, among other things, admission of Kosovo into the Council of Europe and UNESCO, visa liberalisation, and the permit to form its own army. Thaçi’s speech triggered the reaction of the British Ambassador to Kosovo, Ruairi O’Connell, who left the room. Following the event, Koha Ditore gave out the reaction of the representatives of the EU, the US and the UK, who denied the existence of any kind of “bargaining” Thaçi had previously referred to and stressed that Kosovo institutions were the one to blame for failing to meet necessary criteria and acquire visa-free regime, among other things.

However, Thaçi’s speech seems quite contradictory to the position he assumed in 2015 when he staunchly advocated for the formation of the Specialist court. It was the then Foreign Minister Thaçi who persuaded his fellow PDK deputies to endorse constitutional amendments which would allow the adoption of the law on the establishment of the Specialist court, naming it an utter “necessity”. He maintained that Kosovo had an “obligation towards the international community”, as Balkan Insight reported in 2015, yet he never disclosed the promises given by the internationals. On the contrary, two years later, he shifted the blame and a responsibility for the establishment of the infamous and “unjust” court onto the European Union and the United States.

Interestingly, Thaçi‘s contention comes to the forth shortly before the Specialist chambers are due to issue the first indictments against former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members and one of the indictees might be President Thaçi himself. The issuance of the indictments is expected in December, Zeri reports.

It appears that the Kosovo President is trying to enhance the “blackmailing potential” that Kosovo has lastly been losing grip of or, at least, to secure refuge in the public of Kosovo, the majority of which is hostile to any process aimed at prosecuting the members of the former KLA.  The findings of a research presented in the aforementioned report show that there is a very low public awareness of the court, widespread misinformation about the essence and functions of the court, where only around 35% of ethnic Albanians consider themselves well-informed, and a willingness of the majority of the Albanians (51%) to protest if some of the KLA members are indicted, whereas around 41% of ethnic Albanian males are willing to protest even if the evidence proves the guilt of an indicted KLA member.

Publication of this article has been supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States

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