Will the US stop digging its Kosovo hole?

The current talks between Belgrade and Pristina may provide the US with an opportunity to shift away from a policy that has become dependent on one leader and upon giving full backing to all of Pristina’s political claims.

By Gerard Gallucci

Since December, news from Kosovo has been increasingly about the involvement of its political leaders in corruption, organ trafficking and organized crime, extending back to acts committed by the KLA during the war. EULEX is currently investigating the alleged involvement of senior officials who are former KLA members. These investigations may be, in part, an effort to make-up for EULEX’s failure to pursue allegations in a report, by Swiss Senator Dick Marty, on Prime Minister Thaci’s involvement in KLA organ trafficking. EULEX tried to deflect calls for it to investigate Thaci by blaming Marty for not passing on the names of witnesses. But some witnesses are dead and those living seem reluctant to entrust themselves into Kosovo’s witness protection scheme. So, EULEX apparently dug through its files and came up with the current investigation. But in the Balkans, it is hard to please everyone and former-KLA have been quite active in criticizing and demonstrating against EULEX.

All this has led some to suggest that perhaps the creation of an Albanian-majority, independent Kosovo was a mistake. Some have charged too that none of the information on corruption and criminal involvement is really new but was previously covered up and ignored for political reasons. This is almost certainly true. Anyone working in the Balkans since the collapse of Yugoslavia will be quite familiar with the near ubiquitous links between political and criminal circles. Of course, traditional brigandage has characterized certain areas of Kosovo since time immemorial. And stories of human rights abuses and criminal activity by KLA figures were common in Kosovo. Some of these may not stand up to the demands for evidence, but the general picture has been known for some time.

It seems certain that someone was protecting the Kosovo leadership from being investigated. Some cite reports that the US pressured UNMIK not to investigate charges into Thaci’s leadership. The US may also have played a role in ensuring that former KLA leader and prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, was pulled in front of the Hague to get him out of Thaci’s way. Indeed, the US may have sought to punish a high-ranking UNMIK official for seeking to help Haradinaj as it had helped Thaci.

It is no secret that the US judged Thaci to be key to maintaining control over the Kosovo Albanians. Keeping him as a trusted and cooperative prime minister became in itself an important element of US policy. In return for him keeping the lid on Albanian irredentism and for accepting the form – if not the substance – of the Ahtisaari Plan, Thaci received complete US backing both for him and for Pristina’s claim of independence and “territorial integrity” (meaning control of the north). Thus the US followed the path it has often used in backing the likes of the Shah of Iran, Mobutu, Pinochet, Saddam (before 9/11), Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi – swallow any reservations about the behavior of “your man” as long as he remains “your man.” Typically, the US was unable to extricate itself from these relationships until it was too late for a happy ending.

This is not to say that Thaci is in the same category as these others. He is not a mass murderer and he continues to operate within the context of a constitutional democracy. The real problem is the stance the US has taken to avoid having to deal with the mess it – and its Quint partners – helped create in Kosovo by picking a favorite, overlooking the problems and digging in to keep things “stable.” One result has been the reckless US effort to distract attention from the problems in Pristina by focusing on alleged threats to security and legality from the northern Kosovo Serbs. US policy for Kosovo can be boiled down into two parts: help Thaci, blame Serbs. If this continues to take the form of seeking to bully the north into accepting Pristina, it will lead to further conflict. Unfortunately, it is a trait of many who have dug themselves into a hole to dig further. Somebody should instead help the US get out of its hole. The current discussions between Belgrade and Pristina could be the ladder.

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008. Gerard is also a member ofTransCconflict’s advisory board. The views expressed in this piece are his own and do not represent the position of any organization.

You can read more of Mr. Gallucci’s analysis of current developments in Kosovo and elsewhere by clicking here. To read other articles by Gerard for TransConflict, please click here.

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0 Response

  1. Cecilia

    Thaci is not a mass murderer? What do you need to be convinced about that? High EU officials made reports about it, and there is no enough proof? If Thaci was a Serb, that would be enough for a life sentence !

  2. Toni

    What a biased article and very very subjective. For public’s information, Gallucci is responsible for the ethnic tensions today in Mitrovica in Kosovo. AS a UN representative there when he served he managed to create a ghetto of criminals who even today pay him to write nonsense like this and serve it to the people who have no knowledge about Kosovo. What a shame. Thank God you are retired and people will no longer suffer from your stupidity!

  3. Une

    Mr galluci. We all know that you get paid by Belgrade. Anyone with theo cents of common sense knows who you are and what your position has always been against the Albanian victims of Serbian oppression. So dot try to mask your serbophilic intentions under the guise of journalis

  4. Valon

    No evidence links Hashim Thaci to organ trafficking. The Dick Marty report does not accuse Hashim Thaci of anything (As Dick later clarified) But Dick also provided no evidence of Organ trafficking what so ever.

    This case is commonly confused with another organ case of individuals selling their organs on the black market.

    The accusations of Serbs being killed for organs is baseless and a defamation and libel suit is being processed and many more are surely to follow.

  5. Mark

    All this has led some to suggest that perhaps the creation of an Albanian-majority, independent Kosovo was a mistake.

    Who are these SOME Mr.Galluci?Do you even have any common sense? Don’t you see that even the serbs don’t want to live together with serbs?What is closer to a serb than a Montenegrin? And yet the serbs in Montenegro decided they couldn’t live together with their own brothers. But you want to force Albanians to live under Serbia.Looks like that serbian brothel that you used to visit in N.Mitrovica has a long lasting effect on you.

  6. Blackbird

    Ahhh, it didn’t take long for the sorry bunch of Serbophobes to crawl out from under the woodwork. The only problem I have with Mr. Galluci is that he is doing far too much bending over backwards to be fair to the Kosovo Albanians in an effort to be egalitarian. Take a position, stand with the truth, and stick with it because the people you are being “fair” to do not thank you, as you can see from their comments. In any case, the Kosovo Albanians already have the backing of entire rotten U.S. State Department which will never admit its stunningly massive wrongdoing in the Balkans since it was all according to a greater overall plan to be continued in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

  7. To all you’ that had to write something back- attacking Mr Gallucci, – I just want to say – Keep browsing for those damaging articles that continuesly keep popping-up in the media, which the american government continuesly targets to distort truth from its allies and the general world public.
    Its not just Mr Gallucci, – ther’s many more like him who are fed up with their governments wrong doings. So keep on writing your “bulls..t”, and stay tune for a documentary or’ two that are coming out soon on these criminals that have been getting arms from the once mighty US.

  8. Pranvera

    Dear Mr. Galluci,
    WHile some of the elements you are mentioning are true such as existence of corruption in Kosovo, others are speculations. Your voabulary reminds of the vocabulary used by Milosevic and his clique. I have not heard the word irredentism since the fall of Milosheviq
    s regime. Your advocacy that Kosovo’s independence was a mistake is your opinion and i believe your right to impose it onto others ia lame attempt to influence broader US policies on Kosovo. Your bias and anti albanian stance is so seathrough to the extent that nobody reads your articles. It is affecting your reputation of a former diplomat. I am really sad that as a career diplomat you are unable to maintain your objective views. its a shame.
    I am a proud kosovar that has survived the era of serbian occupation of Kosovo, and i understand very well when you are coming from. we have seen it all for 10 years.
    Best regards

  9. Gerard Gallucci

    Again, to be clear. I have never said that Kosovo independence was a mistake. Some others do say. My view is simply that it was inevitable. The problems arise in the implementation. And here the fault is not really with Kosovo Albanians but rather with the internationals that could not manage to do things right while placing restrictions that seem to me undemocratic. If a majority of Kosovo’s population south of the Ibar wishes to be independent or join Albania, they should be allowed to do so. If the Serb majority north of the Ibar wishes to not be part of independent Kosovo or to remain part of Serbia, they should also be allowed. But the Quint has tried to impose a particular outcome that seeks to give one side everything and the other nothing. The resulting stalemate serves no one’s interest.

  10. Fisnik

    Gerard,
    I agree one hundres percent that Albanians should have the right to self determination and so do serbs buy not through partition. They are colonists and as such they can pick their luggage and go back to their homes. Albania has paid too much already. Since 1912 we’ve lost almost half of our territory and we are not losing an acre of it anymore. Let’s face it. Your responsibility was to carry out commands from a un foreign policy which was to make Kosova an unstable state. Had you closed the borders to foreign products Kosova’s economy would be bloomimg and the un would not be needed. But you created poverty because the poor are easy to control!

  11. Ariana

    “The US may also have played a role in ensuring that former KLA leader and prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, was pulled in front of the Hague to get him out of Thaci’s way”.

    You must be kidding right? For someone who is a diplomat, retired or not, this is the most non-diplomatic sentence I’ve ever red. If the US has such a power to manipulate the ICTY, an entire population and anyone else for that matter, how come it only depends on Thaci, on one man only? Can it not arrange the region as in a chess game? Or maybe it is Serbia who is to “smart and clever” to allow something like that? Please, give us a break…

    Mr.Galluci people do remember you and your “work” in Mitrovica, have you no shame? I am too for all those who committed crimes to be behind bars, but proof please, evidence, no prejudice, just proof. This goes for you too Mr.Galluci. Stop seeking attention, instead see what you can do to help – if your help is needed.

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