Kosovo PM resigns to face war crimes court

The prime minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, resigned on July 19 after being called in for questioning by a war crimes court in The Hauge. The court is investigating ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army for their actions during the war from 1998-9 that led to Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. Haradinaj was a guerrilla commander in that war. Haradinaj stated, “The honor of the Prime Minister and the State must be preserved, and I will never stain it. In the Hague I will go as Ramush Haradinaj and will face the defamation, as required by the honor of the Albanian fighter.”

Kosovo and Serbia have been at odds since November 2018 when Kosovo imposed a 100% tariff on goods made in Serbia. This move will cause further delays in normalization of relations between the two countries. Both Serbia and Kosovo have been told that they will not be able to join the EU until they normalize relations.

In his resignation speech, Hardinaj defended the tariff, saying, “As Prime Minister of the Government of Kosovo I strongly believe that the price for recognition is our market, and for that the 100% tariff should be the price of recognition.”

Haradinaj previously resigned as prime minister in 2005 when he was indicted by the UN War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia; he was acquitted twice by that court.

From Jurist, July 23. Used with permission.

NoteRamush Haradinaj has been ordered to appear before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Although technically a body of the Kosovo government, it is based at The Hague and made up of foreign prosecutors and judges to adjudicate crimes from the 1998-9 war. This unusual arrangement points to the limited sovereignty of ostensibly independent Kosovo.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, and is now recognized by 113 countries around the world, including the US. (Be In Kosovo) Among those not recognizing Kosovo are, of course, Serbia and its patron Russia. The failure to win general recognition has prevented Kosovo from taking a UN seat, relegating it to the position of what some have called the world’s “phantom republics.”

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, overseen by the UN, officially closed in 2017.

Photo of Kosova Liberation Army via IBNA