By Rafaela Prifti
“Nobody can rewrite the history of Kosovo,” said President Thaci in his first reaction to the charges brought against him by the Special Kosovo Court in the Hague on Wednesday. He accused the international justice of “rewriting history” after he was charged with war crimes linked to the 1990s conflict with Serbia.
Three days before talks between top level officials of Kosovo and Serbia were on track to start at the White House, the Hague based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office released a Press Statement. The EU-backed body announced the filing of a ten-count indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chamber, charging Kosovo President and nine others with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The prosecutors said the charges were laid in April before being publicly unveiled on Wednesday. “The Indictment is only an accusation. It is the result of a lengthy investigation and reflects the SPO’s determination that it can prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement read.A Specialist Chambers Pre-Trial Judge has six months to review the indictment to decide on whether to confirm the charges. The assessment by a judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers will determine if the case goes to trial. According to the press release, the Specialist Prosecutor deemed it necessary to issue this public notice because of repeated efforts by Mr. Thaci and another of the accused, former head of Kosovo’s parliament,Kadri Veseli, to obstruct and undermine the work of the SPO. Mr. Thaci, who had accepted the invitation to attend the planned talks with Serbia’s leadership and was expected in Washington on Saturday, has cancelled the trip.Kosovo’s new Prime Minister, Abdullah Hoti, who was supposed to lead Kosovo’s delegation, cited the draft indictment as the reason for not attending the meeting at the White House: “I have informed Ambassador Grenell that I could not attend the June 27th meeting at the White House”, the Prime Minister said on Twitter. The US Envoy for the Balkans and broker of the talks, Ambassador Richard Grenell,announced via his Tweeter page that the event was rescheduled.
Last week, shortly after Ambassador Grenell had confirmed the revival of the negotiations led by US, the EU’s newly appointed envoy for peace talks, Miroslav Lajcak, flew to Belgrade and Prishtinain what appeared to be the EU reacting to being sidelined. International observers viewed “the Washington summit” as the key step in resolving the conflicts between Kosovo and Serbia.Some maintain that the recent spat between the US and Europe over the Balkan talks gives an opening for the European Union to preside over the negotiations. EU-mediated talks between the Balkan neighbors stalled in 2018. Although the impact of the indictment is unclear, the manner of the court’s announcement has raised a few questions. Kosovo Specialist Chamber was set up to examine allegations laid against Mr. Thaci in a 2011 report by the Council of Europe.
Back in March 2020, Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçiand his Serbian counterpart were at the White House on their respective visits to the United States. They met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer.
Today Mr. Thaci is on his way back to Kosovo from Albania. He said on his Facebook Page that he will address his compatriots on Sunday.