Skip to comments.Kosovo's New PM: Young and wanted
Posted on 12/30/2004 3:29:06 PM PST by Alex Marko
A prime minister who is accused of involvement in war crimes.
RAMUSH HARADINAJ is, at just 36, Europe's youngest prime minister. He may also be its most controversial. That is hard to credit, as he sits calmly in his spacious office in Kosovo's capital, Pristina. His neatly pressed blue shirt, red silk tie and buffed brogues are in stark contrast to the mud-spattered camouflage he wore six years ago, when he was a senior commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought a vicious war against the troops of Yugoslavia's (and Serbia's) former president, Slobodan Milosevic.
It is Mr Haradinaj's time in the KLA in 1998-99 that causes disquiet. Vociferous Serbs, including Serbia's prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, claim that Mr Haradinaj was implicated in war crimes in Kosovo. The Serbs have issued warrants for his arrest, and have called on Kosovo's UN bosses to annul his appointment. Investigators from the war-crimes tribunal in The Hague have questioned Mr Haradinaj in Pristina. But the prime minister dismisses all charges as Serb fabrications.
In fact, the charismatic Mr Haradinaj, who hails from the Decane region of western Kosovo, could prove to be just the right man for the job. The KLA was disbanded after NATO and the UN intervened in the province in June 1999, chasing out Mr Milosevic's tanks and gunmen. Kosovo then became a UN protectorate, but it is still technically part of Serbia and Montenegro, the loose union that replaced Yugoslavia in 2003.
Mr Haradinaj duly swapped his camouflage for a business suit, forming his own political party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), in April 2000. In October's elections the AAK took nine seats, enabling it to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrat Party, or LDK, the party of Kosovo's president, Ibrahim Rugova. Mr Haradinaj became prime minister in early December. Kosovo's UN bosses termed his appointment democracy at work. The secretary-general of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said only that it was a complicated situation.
Mr Haradinaj is clever and tough enough to have survived both war against the Serbs and the infighting endemic to Kosovo's violent politics. That may help him to rein in his more hotheaded supporters, and so stave off any danger of a repeat of last March's anti-Serb violence, in which 19 people died and nearly a thousand were injured. He is also astute enough to pay heed to western interests.
The downside is that Mr Haradinaj's appointment has incensed the government in Belgrade, diminishing any chances of dialogue. And he risks being indicted by The Hague tribunal; the chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has former KLA leaders in her sights as she prepares to issue final indictments (the agreed deadline for which falls this weekend). Were Mr Haradinaj sent to The Hague, there might be violence by disgruntled ethnic Albanians, especially in his home region.
Talks on the final status of Kosovo are due to begin in 2005, if the province's 1.8m ethnic Albanians and 100,000 Serbs can show progress towards internationally required standards of governance. The UN's secretary-general, Kofi Annan, has said that the economy (unemployment stands at 55%) and security are the two main problems. Kosovo's ethnic Albanians want independence; Serbia is against. The province's UN proconsul, a no-nonsense Dane named Soren Jessen-Petersen, insists that this matter is for the UN and western governments to decide. One official says that Kosovo knows exactly what it has to do before final-status talks can begin; he insists that the talks will not happen if it fails. So it remains essential that Kosovo's people measure upand that the hotheads keep their cool even if their war-hero-turned-prime-minister is arrested.
A war criminal, an Islamic terrorist, a former guerrilla leader? The Euro leaders should love him, after all they loved Yassir Arafat.
Everyone is underestimating this conflict. Kosovo expects independence in 2005, but with Russia and China both holding veto power in any UN resolution, that is not going to happen. This means the US will have to take a side. Which side it will be? I would say against Kosovo in light of foreign policy on Taiwan and Kurds in Iraq. This will be bloody soon. I hope europe can cope.
he will be arrested at the right moment to quell any final status.
He is an accused war criminal. This weekend is the deadline for final indictments. No US politician should back a violent islamic seperatist group unless he wants an early retirement from politics in the US.
I dont think even democrats can get away with supporting a group that has alleged al qaeda and egyptian islamic jihad links.
There have been times when the U.S. did indeed back @ssholes-Mobutu Sese Seko (former Zaire/Congo) Ferdinand Marcos (Phillippines) and Gulbaddin Hekmatyar (Afghan Mujahideen during the '80s). Hindsight is always easier than foresight, innit?
What war crimes?
If it's a Reagan or Bush supported leader, you'd know every parking ticket that the guy's gotten. But with a Muslim, Clinton-supported, leader, we're left to our own imagination.
But I'll say this, the crimes must be atrocious since this guy is a Muslim. The Europeans wouldn't even get off their butts for Saddam - but the Europeans are targeting this guy - he must really bad.
This is post 9/11. Anyone with islamic radical links will not get US support. Afghanistan was a situation where the US and Russia were embroiled in the cold war. It was a partnership of convenience. Russia posed a bigger threat and had to be dealt with. Congo has been in turmoil since the Belgians left it in shambles, yet they still do nothing to take care it. Our nations politicians and intelligence services must put AMERICA first, sometimes that calls for some politics that is not very popular.
Yassir the rat-boy is not even cold in the ground yet (though I'm pretty sure he's feeling uncomfortably warm about now) and we have another Muslim terrorist "statesman" to take his place. Watch the U.S. press suck at the t** of this racist fiend in the coming months, provided his bloodthirsty, greedy KLA "brothers" don't kick him off first. It's going to be even more disgusting than the media's fawning support of the inane "war" Clinton and Albright fought for the Islamofascists back in 1999, the war which paved the way for this moron to call himself a PM in the first place.
As they say, there's nothing new under the sun. And they're damn right.
"Everyone is underestimating this conflict. Kosovo expects independence in 2005, but with Russia and China both holding veto power in any UN resolution, that is not going to happen. This means the US will have to take a side. Which side it will be? I would say against Kosovo in light of foreign policy on Taiwan and Kurds in Iraq. This will be bloody soon. I hope europe can cope."
Do you mean that Russia will go to war over Kosovo? That doesn't really seem likely. And anyway, even if the Russians wanted to go to war, their military is in shambles; they wouldnt be able to fight.
And Serbia, unless I'm mistaken, doesnt really have much of an armed forces since we took charge, just some sort of police force. And Serbia doesnt have any major power broker backing it's claims to Kosovo.
I think that any hostilities in the region would be initiated by Albania, although they would be quickly crushed.
I doubt that Kosovo will get independence, because NATO doesnt want another war. And if Kosovo becomes a nation, the Serb Kosovars will be vulnerable to harm.
No, I mean Russia holds a VETO in the UN security council. In order for Kosovo to become an independent state, it must ratify a new UN mandate in accordance to UN security council res. 1244 that explicitly gives Serbia territorial powers over Kosovo.
Good article & nice analysis by you. I think there's more time than 2005 as talks will not begin quickly and will likely drag on.
I also think that solutions short of independence can work--some sort of enhanced autonomy & an extended international military presence with no major Serb government or military presence in the province.
Oddly, the very guys the Serbs hate most--Haradinaj & Thaci--are the ones most likely & able to sell a status short of independence. Unlike President Rugova who--while widely respected--is known for his pacifist stands, Thaci & Haradinaj are war leaders who are much more likely to be heeded if they accept a status short of independence and renounce further violence. And both are savvy enough to look at things like Security Council realities and act accordingly.
"No, I mean Russia holds a VETO in the UN security council. In order for Kosovo to become an independent state, it must ratify a new UN mandate in accordance to UN security council res. 1244 that explicitly gives Serbia territorial powers over Kosovo"
Yes, but you said that we are underestimating the conflict and it will get bloody. Who will be doing the fighting? By the way you said "I hope Europe can cope" it sounded as if you are expecting a full-scale war.
I dont think Kosovo should be permitted to become a state. The last thing we need is an Islamic terror supporting state ruled by rogues and terrorists in Europe.
What is your evidence that Kosovo is or will become a "terror supporting state"? Their elected president is Catholic, their laws are secular, (in a classic P.C. moment--after the Kosovar Albanians banned headscarves in schools, the U.N. overseers prohibited them from doing so as an act of religious intolerance against Muslims) and there's nothing to indicate any Islamic terrorist action ever originated in Kosovo (unlike for example the USA, Spain, Germany, and the entire North African & Arabian Shield area, etc). Life in Kosovo is secular, mosque attendance is low, the Cathholic Church is expanding, and both hemlines & alcohol consumption are high. After 9/11, mass demonstrations were held in sympathy for the USA and former KLA came to the consulate in Pristina to volunteer to fight with for us against the Taliban.
I was assigned to deal with Balkans issues on military staffs and have had extensive time on the ground in and around Kosovo. It is amazing to me that on Free Republic--supposedly the antithesis of the emotion driven & fact averse ideology of the left--that I find so many people who operate like the left when it comes to this issue.
i never stated kosovo will be a direct state sponsor of terror. However, the logistical and financial links between al qaeda and egyptian islamic jihad and the KLA are very well documented. Interpol testified to the US house of representatives about the kla and its narco-trafficking funds going to islamic terror groups. Not to mention Fatos Klosi, Albania's secret service director, was quoted saying that bin laden had cells operating in albania to support the KLA. KLA now are involved heavily in heroin and opium trafficking which directly funds terrorist activity in the middle east and caucaus mountain region. If you'd like, i will be more than willing to provide links.
PS. i'd just like you to know that i, myself, am albanian and do not support the KLA in anyway shape or form.