Kosovo’s parliament fell five votes short of authorizing a special court to try individuals alleged to have committed serious crimes and human rights violations during and after the 1998-99 conflict.
On her recent trip to Kosovo, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said, “We were very disappointed when it didn’t pass the Parliament the first time.” She said the Special Court is about justice, accountability, and turning the page on the past so that Kosovo can move forward.
Establishing such a court will strengthen the United States’ ability to support Kosovo internationally. “It will strengthen us when we go to the European Union,” said Ms. Nuland, and we can say that Kosovo is living up to international standards and commitments. “So we think this is very, very important to move forward with the Court, and we hope there will be another vote on it before the summer break and that it will get broad support.”
If Kosovo fails to take its own steps to hold people responsible, the international community may do it instead. “And when that happens,” said Assistant Secretary Nuland, Kosovo will “lose control over the way that it’s created, it may not work in a way that [Kosovo is] comfortable with, and frankly [Kosovo’s] relationship with the international community could be put on hold while that process goes forward, or while the UN court does its thing.”
Another critical issue to the future success of Kosovo and its fledgling democracy is corruption. “Corruption,” stressed Ms. Nuland, “is a democracy killer.” So, if Kosovo wants to have a strong, vibrant democracy, it needs to fight corruption. If it wants to attract business, it needs to fight corruption. If Kosovo wants to attract foreign investment, and create jobs and opportunity, the playing field needs to be level for all concerned.
Finally, Assistant Secretary Nuland commended Kosovo for passing legislation which criminalizes joining and fighting with extremist groups like ISIL. Kosovo has also criminalized financing for foreign fighters. Now said Secretary Nuland, these things need to be fully implemented.
The United States looks forward to continuing to work with Kosovo and its neighbors to pursue reconciliation along with democratic, economic, and judicial reforms.