Albanian PM defends himself against organ trafficking charges during the Kosovo war

Albanian PM defends himself against organ trafficking charges during the Kosovo war

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has stepped up efforts to exonerate Albania and Kosovo from allegations of organ trafficking in the 1998-1999 Kosovo war, accusing Russia of being behind it during a lively Council of Europe (CoE) session.

Addressing the Strasbourg-based human rights organization for the first time, Mr Rama criticized it for a 2011 report by Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty, which claimed without evidence that Kosovo and Albania were involved in organ trafficking during the 1998-1999 war .

The Marty report was accepted by the plenary despite the lack of clear evidence supporting these claims.

Mr Rama called the allegations “Fantasy made in the Kremlin in a very, very clever way, smuggled and smuggled through the channels of international politics and brought here to the temple of human rights».

In 2010, Carla Del Ponte, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, alleged that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had traded with the organs of Serb nationals who remained in the country after the war ended.

These allegations had been published in a book and the CoE had hired Mr Marty to write a report.

According to this report, dozens of prisoners, mostly Serbs, were put in a “yellow housenear Burrel in central Albania between June 1999 and May 2000, where her organs were said to have been systematically harvested. The organs would then have been transported to the airport or the coast and shipped abroad.

At the time, Matti Raatikainen, Head of War Crimes at EULEX, the European law and justice mission in Kosovo, pointed out that “in reality there is no evidence in this case».

Over the years, politicians and those involved in the investigations have also pointed out the significant logistical challenges of such an operation, since at the time roads in the region did not exist or it took several days to transport the organs, making organ transportation extreme difficult.

The Albanian parliament in July passed a resolution proposed by Edi Rama’s party, the ruling Socialists, condemning Marty’s report and calling his claims unfounded. The reply was sent to the Council of Europe on 12 August.

Barbaric ethnic cleansing

Mr. Rama spoke for more than an hour and described Serbia’s war as “barbaric and premeditated military ethnic cleansing operation led by Slobodan Milosevicwhich caused death, displacement and rape, with 1,600 people missing to date.

He accused Ms Del Ponte of fabricating the allegations to sell books and wondered why the investigation had not been pursued when the results had been inconclusive.

The EU task force investigating Mr Marty’s allegations had uncovered evidence of war crimes but no organ trafficking. In 2015, special chambers were set up in The Hague to investigate former KLA members, angering Kosovo and questioning why a similar structure to incite Serb violence had not been set up.

As for why he was raising the issue now, Rama said he was waiting to see if the special chambers would investigate or bring charges against the allegations of organ trafficking, but they have not done so.

The prime minister also addressed Kosovo’s recent application for Council of Europe membership, saying delays such as Serbia’s refusal to recognize its independence should not hamper the process.

«It should not take longer for Kosovo to become a full member of the Council of Europe. Just do it. Do it now. And do it for all of us and for Europehe said, also imploring the institutions to change the Albanian spelling of “chuang” Instead of “Kosovo» Serbian.

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The long-stalled EU-sponsored dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo could be unblocked next year if claims about a new EU project made in some regional media are officially confirmed.

The powder keg of Europe

His comments sparked a heated debate in the assembly, with Romanian representative Iulian Bulai wondering how Mr. Rama could, on the one hand, condemn Serbia and join him in the initiative.Open Balkans” on the other hand.

Mr. Rama responded that there was a need to work with his neighbors and ensure the region was no longer the “Powder keg of Europe».

Serbian representative Elvira Kovac said she was shocked by Rama’s comments.

«On behalf of the band, I’m shocked; it was a lack of respect for this organization… I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this“, She said.

Finally, Greek representative Nina Kasimati attacked Mr Rama’s close relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They asked if Albania could adhere to EU values ​​while moving closer to Turkey, which violates human rights and the rule of law and uses inflammatory rhetoric in the region.

Lord Rama replied: “I understand that when it comes to Greece; You have your problems with Turkey. I hope you will resolve them through dialogue and international justice. But we ourselves do not compare and choose between our strategic partners».

Echoing the language used in the European Commission’s country reports released this week, Rama said: “I would like to add that Turkey is essential for the security and stability of Europe».

Romania and Greece do not recognize Kosovo, mainly due to their own territorial disputes.

Mr. Kurti’s reaction

After Mr Rama’s speech, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti said the international community should focus on justice for the victims of crimes committed by Serbs during the war.

He said that the specialized chambers, which are very frowned upon in Kosovo and seen as an insult to their war heroes, are not transparent and that former members of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army that fought for Kosovo’s independence in the late 1990s) without them had been imprisoned probation date for two years.

«Genocide took place in Kosovo, NATO stepped in to stop it and we have countless unsolved crimes. So you cannot talk about the war in Kosovo and defend Kosovo without addressing Serbia’s crimes in Kosovo», a conclusion M. Kurti.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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