Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci, has criticised the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers, set up to try former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members for wartime and post-war crimes, stating that the COurt is cooperating with Serbia and ignoring Kosovo. Thaci said that he does not expect the Court will deliver justice and criticised internationals for not keeping promises after Kosovo admitted to establish the Court.
Talking to a roundtable discussion held in Pristina organised by NGOs’ Integra, CPT, and PAX, on public perception on the Specialist Chambers, former KLA political representative, Hashim Thaci, said that the KLA war was “just and legitimate.”
President Thaci said that Kosovo was promised many benefits in exchange of establishment of this court such as Kosovo’s membership into Council of Europe, visa liberalisation with the EU, and other promises, which were never fulfilled.
“We were promised that we can apply for membership into Council of Europe that visa liberalisation will happen soon, that we will have massive support on membership in UNESCO, and we will be allowed to establish Kosovo Army very soon and have new recognitions," said Thaci.
"Kosovo kept its promise and established the Court. International community did not fulfil any of the promises, on the contrary, Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic journey became even more difficult,” he added.
Addressing participants of the debate Thaci said that as confirmed in the report published on Monday there are misinformative, unrealistic expectations, and deliberate disinformation on what the Specialist Chambers to Kosovo will bring.
“Under such circumstances, it would be very difficult for the Special Court to achieve its goal, to strengthen the feeling that the justice has been delivered for the war victims, but also for all those who are engaged and continue engaging for justice and equality before the law,” he said.
President Thaci highlighted that almost two decades after the end of the war in Kosovo many war wounds are still open. He reminded the unresolved issue of the missing persons, victims of sexual violence during the war and other crimes.
Thaci said that there are five mechanisms who have acted in Kosovo for almost two decades with international executive mandate, namely five judiciary mechanisms. “UNMIK courts, EULEX judiciary, Hague Tribunal, EULEX and now the Special Court. This makes Kosovo special in the Western Balkans, from all the countries involved in wars such are Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia,” he revealed.
Thaci said that despite efforts there is a feeling that more needs to be done when it comes to judiciary. According to him, unrealistic expectations for the Special Court might fade the efforts of the court as also emphasized in the report published on Monday.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Thaci said that the decision to establish the Special Court came as a political need of internationals and international actors rather than a need to deliver justice.
“We accepted to establish the court under imposed diplomatic and international circumstances, with the justification that we should please other actors, especially Belgrade and Russia in order for this issue not to be addressed at the UN Security Council,” Thaci said.
Talking about the work of the Court, Thaci said that the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecution Office will use only allegations raised on war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Special Court has maximal and mutual cooperation with Serbia and the War Crimes Office in Belgrade, according to data released by the Special Court and authorities in Belgrade.
“Cooperation with Kosovo is minimal, symbolic and biased,” he said complaining that the Special Court has no cooperation with Kosovo authorities.