Kosovo. In July, the message came from the International
Court of Justice in The Hague, which, at the request of
Serbia, tested whether Kosovo's declaration of independence
in 2008 was in accordance with international law. The UN
Court answered the question, which for Kosovo was a
historically important success. Yet only 69 of the world's
countries had recognized the new state, including the United
States and 22 of the EU's 27 members. In the capital
Priština, residents celebrated in the streets, but Serbs in
northern Kosovo protested.
Kosovo has a population of 1.81 million. The Belgrade government also criticized the decision,
saying that Serbia will never recognize the unilateral
outbreak of the province. Despite this, in September Serbia
said it was ready for direct talks with Kosovo, following
pressure from the EU.
Shortly thereafter, Kosovo went into a political crisis
when a court surprisingly ruled that President Fatmir Sejdiu
could not simultaneously be the head of state and party
leader. Sejdiu resigned and his party LDK (Kosovo Democratic
Party) left the coalition government. In early November,
Prime Minister Hashim Thais's government lost a vote of
confidence. The crisis caused the planned talks with Serbia
to be frozen, and important economic reforms slowed down.
New elections were announced until mid-December. The
election was conducted under calm conditions. The Thai party
PDK received 34 percent of the votes and declared themselves
victors. But accusations of cheating were made and the
electoral authority decided that the election should be
redone in five locations, in January. A few days after the
election, the Council of Europe presented a report in which
Thaši was appointed as the leader of a mafia-like criminal
in the 1990s. murder and organ trafficking. Thaši, who was
guerrilla leader during the 1998-99 fighting, dismissed all
Central Bank Governor Hashim Rexhepi was arrested in July
in connection with a corruption investigation by the police
and the EU legal authority EULEX. Rexhepi was the highest
ranking person arrested for suspected corruption, but
several other suspects had also had their offices searched.
Kosovo's leadership is accused of widespread corruption and
is clearly aware that action must be taken if the desired EU
membership is to be relevant.
In July, the UN Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia decided to resume the trial of former Prime
Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was released in 2008. The
court referred to new witnesses.