Kosovo president blasts ‘pro-Serb’ EU
Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, has accused the EU of double standards for blocking visa-free travel while boosting pro-Russian Serbia’s integration.
Thaci said Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was visiting Vladimir Putin during the Nato summit in Watford, “in a clear message of their orientation”.
Kosovo is a former Serbian province that split from Belgrade during the 1998-99 war of independence.
The war was ended by a 78-day Nato bombing campaign. Kosovo’s 90-per-cent ethnic-Albanian majority praises Nato intervention. More than 13,000 people died during the war and the fate of 1,650 individuals is still unknown.
Serbia refuses to recognise its 2008 declaration of independence and bilateral relations are tense.
Thaci said Kosovars deserved visa-free travel as it had complied with the European Union’s terms.
“While Kosovo is blocked in the visa liberalisation and [North] Macedonia and Albania are blocked in launching negotiations, Serbia is promised new chapters,” the president said.
Montenegro and Serbia have already opened accession talks with Brussels but bids from Albania and North Macedonia to start the membership process were blocked in October by France and other EU member states.
Kosovo is the final country in the region without visa-free travel to EU member states.
In late 2018 Kosovo imposed a 100 per cent tariff on imports from Serbia and Bosnia in retaliation to Serb efforts to block international recognition of its former province and joining international bodies.
The move derailed EU-backed Kosovo-Serbia talks that started in 2011 which Brussels considers fundamental to integration.
Kosovo prosecutors say they have issued war crimes charges against an ethnic-Serb former police officer suspected of torture during the 1998-99 war.
The authorities said the suspect, identified as NA, was a member of reserve forces of the Serbian police in Pristina who in May 1999 tortured two ethnic Albanians. They still suffered from its consequences, the statement said. Prosecutors added that the paramilitary stole possessions and vehicles from those being interrogated.
A court in Kosovo has sentenced a former government minister, Ivan Todosijevic, to two years in prison for denying a massacre by Serb forces in 1999, which led to Nato’s intervention.
Todosijevic was serving as a minister until March this year when he described Nato as an aggressor, saying the “Racak massacre was fabricated” and calling ethnic Albanians “terrorists”.
Serbian forces killed 44 ethnic Albanians in the village of Racak in 1999.
The judge said Todosijevic “intentionally incited and publicly promoted hatred, division and intolerance among national, racial and ethnic groups living in Kosovo”.
The former minister’s lawyer said he would appeal.
Pristina. Picture credit: Flickr