Skip to comments.Kosovo… Again
Posted on 12/07/2004 7:58:38 AM PST by Jane_N
Kosovo is in the news again, this time with the election of the new prime minister, nationalist and former guerilla fighter Ramush Haradinaj. In a power-sharing agreement with the Democratic League of Kosovo led by Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, Haradinaj is the new leader of the government while Rugova carries on as president of the Serbian province.
The new PM brings some troubling baggage to the position, however. Most recently, he has been questioned, twice, by Carla del Ponte the head of the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. While he is innocent until indicted and proven guilty, the questioning, of course, raising some troubling issues.
Mrs. del Ponte has publicly stated that she will bring high-level indictments against leaders of the former Kosovo Liberation Army by the end of the year, leading many to speculate that she may include Haradinaj. If she does, chaos is likely to break out either if Haradinaj goes willingly or unwillingly to The Hague. NATO is on high alert.
Despite having only won nine percent of the vote in the October elections, Haradinaj has made a coalition with Rugovas LDK which won 45 percent. The other major wartime leader, Hashim Snake Thaci, whose party won 29 percent of the vote, was left out in the proverbial cold. His party, the PDK, has now publicly said that the new coalition government is exclusive, unsustainable and ineffective. Thaci very much wanted to be prime minister in this government and truth be told, the international community would have preferred him to Haradinaj, apparently the lesser of two evils, but still an evil. Even Javier Solana has criticized the choice.
Haradinaj, for his part, is on the charm and public relations offensive having penned an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal Europe in the past week (in fact, it is most likely a high-paid lobbyist working for him in Washington, DC that is doing his writing).
In the WSJ piece, titled Independence Day, he claims to welcome the scrutiny of his record while in the KLA but goes on to claim that any attempt be it by the ICTY with the best of motives, or others with the worst to morally equate Milosevics state-sponsored terror with the actions of the Kosovo Liberation Army in defense of Kosovar Albanians will only make the task more difficult.
The last time I checked, however, murder is murder, forcing people from their homes is ethnic cleansing and the destruction of property homes, businesses, churches and mosques is still a crime no matter who does it Serbs or Albanians. And it is a fact that the KLA and their supporters both during the war and certainly after the war murdered non-Albanians, destroyed their properties, chased them from their homes and continues to commit these crimes today. Where is the justice in that? The scale of the crimes does not matter the crimes are still crimes. Unfortunately our friends in Kosovo dont understand that.
Of course while Kosovos 1.8 million ethnic Albanians see the 1999 war as a war of liberation and independence, the other 5,998,200,000 people in the world may not necessarily see it that way. Haradinaj continues writing History will judge NATOs intervention and the subsequent United Nations role in Kosovo as acts of great humanity, courage and wisdom. We will see, however. Winston Churchill once made the famous quip that history would judge him kindly particularly because he would write that history himself. It is up to those who write history to determine what judgment history will bestow upon Kosovo. And if this writer has anything to say about it, it will be a miserable failure. But thats another story.
There are now all sorts of warnings against any possible indictment or arrest of Haradinaj coming from all Kosovo quarters. The normally sane Veton Surroi wrote We support the tribunals work, especially as Kosovo was a victim of barbarous crimes. At the same time, we express our support for the hero of the liberation war, Ramush Haradinaj. Driton Tali, an adviser to former Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi warned Bearing in mind the general frustration in Kosovo, and the pessimism over its future status, its economic stagnation and the beginning of the Limaj trial, it will take little to reach boiling point and see part of a population rebel.
But such comments miss the point. If the Albanians of Kosovo support The Hague for its prosecution of Serbs, why cant they support The Hague for its prosecution of Albanians? Otherwise we have selective justice.
Here in Macedonia, of course, Mrs. del Ponte has also promised indictments by the end of the year and by all accounts, she is still looking at possible indictments against either former government officials or the terrorists-cum-politicians of the so-called NLA. Of course were Mrs. del Ponte to issue indictments against Ali Ahmeti as former head of the NLA and responsible for issuing orders, then all hell would break loose here too. Because it is selective justice that certain groups are pursuing.
At the end of the day, of course, The Hague is a political tool. As a conservative Republican who believes in the rights of sovereign individual states, I do not support the actions of any world court and believe that justice is best meted out at home. But since we have The Hague and since it is not going away at least until its money runs out in 2008 we might as well follow through with it. The blood of many Albanians, Serbs, Macedonians and others screams for justice.
Jason Miko is a free thinker and the views expressed herein are wholly his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One's man terrorist is Clinton's freedom fighter.
I think not.
Well....Allawi was a former Ba'athist loyalist to Saddam, so I suppose it is parr for the course at least if want to keep playing the imperial game, right?
Here's a list of crimes that were committed under the command of Ramush Haradinaj - including the killing of children.
Pec 6 forever !
Will Prime Minister Haradinaj Be Indicted By The Icty?
Under strong pressure from the United States and other key UN Security Council members, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) agreed to conclude all investigations and deliver all new indictments by the end of 2004. In other words, in less than three weeks from today. Carla Del Ponte has publicly indicated that there may be five or six indictments in the works. Most of the speculation as to who these individuals may be center on Bosnia and the fighting that took place in that country. The big question, however, is whether the new Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haridinaj, will be indicted. Speculation about such an indictment has been around for a long time, but has been heightened by his summons a few weeks ago to The Hague for discussions.
In one sense, Haradinajs indictment would be a logical result of one of the Tribunals basic working assumptions: that all the wartime leaders of the former Yugoslavia were war criminals and it was their job to find evidence to prove it. It is well known, for example, that prior to their deaths, Presidents Tudjman of Croatia and Izetbegovic of Bosnia had been under investigation with the possibility of indictments being issued against them. It would follow, therefore, that both Haradinaj and Thaci should come under similar scrutiny.
For Carla Del Ponte, investigating Kosovar Albanians for war crimes has been far more difficult than any other of her cases. First of all, the KLA from its inception was out of necessity a secret organization and was run without the extensive paperwork and bureaucracy that characterized all the governments of the region. There simply are not the archival records that exist everywhere else. Secondly, while all the peoples of the Balkans have been reluctant to testify against their own ethnic group either because of fear or sympathy, this holds true in spades for the Kosovar Albanians. Thirdly, there was a lively debate over what constitutes a legitimate act of war and what was an act of terror or simple murder. And finally, in Carla Del Pontes own words, she and her investigators found it extremely difficult to get the information and intelligence they needed on the wartime activities of the KLA from the key members of the UN Security Council and NATO in a position to be helpful.
Why was this case? First of all, some of the information was derived from sensitive intelligence sources. Secondly, it was collected by a variety of organizations in numerous countries around the world and often was just difficult to locate. But finally, there has always been an unspoken fear about the repercussions in Kosovo of indictments of senior KLA figures. The former Head of UNMIK, Michael Steiner, said that if indictments were issued against Thaci and Haradinaj, we all might as well pack our bags and go home.
So as decision time approaches, Carla Del Ponte faces two questions. First of all, does she have enough evidence to indict Haradinaj? It is important to note that ICTY now sets an extremely high standard for such indictments. Essentially, it wants to have sufficient proof in hand prior to any indictment to guarantee a conviction. This contrasts with regular prosecutions around the world where a lower standard is used for the indictment with the hope and expectation that more evidence will turn up prior to the actual trial.
The second question is whether she wants to take a step (indicting Haradinaj) which has the potential to inflame Kosovo. You can be sure that regardless of what they might say publicly, no one in UNMIK or involved in following Kosovo for their Western governments wishes this to happen, because the potential consequences are so unpredictable. There is strong concern that there could be violent demonstrations targeted against the international community, but also against the Serbs and other ethnic minorities. This in turn could derail plans for consideration of Kosovos final status later in the year. And this in turn could make it harder for the U.S. in particular to withdraw its troops from Kosovo, something the Bush Administration is determined to do.
Carla Del Ponte loves to state that she is above politics and simply goes where the evidence takes her. It will be interesting to see if that really holds true in this case. If Haradinaj is not indicted, my prediction is that sooner or later, it will leak out from ICTY that they tried to gather sufficient evidence, but were frustrated by certain Western governments. In other words, dont blame us. It would also be a way to show the adverse consequences of the pressure from Western governments for the closeout of investigations by the end of this year.
It is pretty easy to see the potentially negative repercussions in Kosovo of a Haradinaj indictment. But there are also consequences of a failure to indict him or Thaci. First of all, forevermore the Serbs will be convinced that the Tribunal is biased against them. There is not a Serb alive who does not feel that the KLA were terrorists and routinely committed murder and other atrocities. Former Minister of Justice Batic, for example, has publicly stated that he has evidence of hundreds of murders committed or ordered by Haradinaj. Whether this evidence could stand up to the rigor of an international court trial is impossible to say. But the passion with which the average Serb believes it to be true is undeniable.
Because of the above, it will never be possible for any Serbian politician of any stripe or party to work with, cooperate with, or in any way associate with Haradinaj. It just will not happen. Which means that the already remote chances of Kosovo Serbs working with the Provisional Government of Kosovo are even further reduced as long as Haridinaj is Prime Minister. I just do not see how this can be changed, given the atmosphere in Kosovo and Serbia today. The reality is that passions about Kosovo in Serbia now are stronger and bitterer than they were four years ago when Milosevic was overthrown. Time has not healed this open wound. In fact it has aggravated it. So as I said before, we are heading for hard times in Kosovo. And by extension, in Serbia proper.