Location Germany Germany

Germany’s War Record: Kosovo

BERLIN/PRIŠTINA
(Own report) – Around 17 years after NATO’s war against Yugoslavia and the beginning of the occupation of Kosovo with German participation, observers note that the de-facto protectorate is in a desolate political, economic and social condition. The first war in which the Federal Republic of Germany played an important role has had catastrophic consequences. De facto under EU control, Priština’s ruling elite is accused of having close ties to organized crime and having committed the most serious war crimes. Its rampant corruption is spreading frustrated resignation within the population. Thirty-four percent of the population is living in absolute – and twelve percent in extreme – poverty, healthcare is deplorable, life expectancy is five years less than that of its neighboring countries and ten years below the EU’s average. A report commissioned by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), describes the horrifying human rights situation, which includes vendettas “constantly carried out” with firearms. (This is part 1 of a german-foreign-policy.com series, reporting on consequences of German military interventions over the past two decades, in light of the German government’s announcement of plans to increase its “global” – including military – interventions.)
De-facto Protectorate
Around 17 years after NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, and its subsequent occupation of the south Serbian Kosovo Province – with the participation of the German Bundeswehr – the EU is still treating Kosovo like a de-facto protectorate. The EU maintains a presence in the capital, Priština, with a special envoy, who has enormous influence simply because large EU subsidies guarantee the functioning of Kosovo’s government. Since 1999, the EU is said to have transferred five to six billion Euros to Priština, although a large portion has allegedly filled the pockets of corrupt politicians and government employees. The EU, with its “European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo” (EULEX Kosovo), has massive influence in the secessionist province. EULEX, itself, has repeatedly been accused of being deeply involved in corruption.[1] NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) remains deployed in Kosovo to suppress, if necessary, larger rebellions or social upheavals. German and Italian generals alternately command KFOR. Until now, 109 of the UN’s 193 member countries have recognized the southern Serbian province’s claim to independent statehood. Even the EU is divided on the question: Despite massive German pressure, five EU members (Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Cyprus) refuse to recognize Kosovo’s independence – still today.
War Crimes, Organized Crime
Serious allegations, and even grave accusations of corruption and war crimes have repeatedly been raised against Kosovo’s elites, who can remain in power in Priština, particularly under the EU’s supervision. Observers criticize the fact that since starting its engagement in 2008, EULEX has failed to obtain even a single conviction of a Kosovo politician for corruption. Since 1999, Hashim Thaçi, Priština’s current president, has been considered the strongman in the secessionist province and the head of Kosovo’s mafia. He has repeatedly been accused of having been involved – either personally or through close associates – in murdering Serbs, and removing and trafficking their organs. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[2]) Similar accusations have been leveled at other top politicians in Kosovo, such as Ramush Haradinaj.[3] Despite the Kosovo parliament’s massive obstruction, a special court will soon hand down the first indictments for Kosovo war crimes, possibly also against leading politicians of Kosovo. The chances – 17 years after the crimes – of obtaining convictions are slim, not only because of the time lapse, but also because of experience. In earlier trials, witnesses died suddenly or became intimidated by the growing numbers of these deaths, and lost their will to testify against those in power in Priština. The alleged perpetrators got away with impunity.
Employment Rate: 28 Percent
The corrupt, mafia-like administration, maintained in office in Priština by the EU, is not only responsible for the widespread political frustration in the population – in 2014 electoral participation dropped to 42 percent – in spite of voter mobilization by certain clans. Protests are simmering. Since the 2008 proclamation of independence, the most virulent protests erupted shortly following the formation of the government in January 2015. Priština’s political culture clearly contributes to increasing sense of resignation within Kosovo’s population. The fact, for example, that teargas has repeatedly been used during parliamentary debates – most recently, on August 9 – can at least partially explain this resignation.[4] However, Kosovo’s elite is also responsible for the region’s desolate economic and social situation. Kosovo has an annual average per capita income of less than 2,800 Euros and is totally dependant upon EU aid and money transfers from relatives living abroad. A real economic upswing is nowhere in sight. Unemployment is excessively high. The employment rate is no more than 28 percent.[5] According to a report commissioned by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), 34 percent of the population, with a daily average income of less than €1.55, is languishing in absolute poverty. Twelve percent, with a daily average income of less than €1.02, is suffering extreme poverty. Minorities such as the Roma are being “disproportionately affected.” The social system is “only rudimentary, and does not provide adequate service,” the BAMF reports. The health system is stagnating “at a low level,” therefore, “the public health situation is inadequate.” “Life expectancy is five years less than that of its neighboring countries and ten years below the EU’s average.” The child mortality rate is “the highest in Europe.”
Vendetta
Moreover, the human rights situation is deplorable. The BAMF-commissioned report notes that – 17 years after the NATO invasion, which set off the 1999 war against Yugoslavia in the name of human rights – Kosovo clans have a free hand in continuing to honor archaic standards. “Particularly among the rural population,” the report politely notes, “archaic customs, traditions and culture are still very much alive.”[6] “Archaic customs” refers, for example, to the fact that “the focus is not on official institutions and their means of penalization, but rather on families or extended families (clans).” They use “a relic of the Albanian customary law,” namely “the tradition of the Kosovo Albanian vendetta.” “The pure vendetta tradition, is only occasionally practiced” today. A differentiation must be made between a vendetta and general “acts of vengeance,” which are “constantly carried out.” “The threshold for use of a firearm is often very low.”
Shots and Molotov Cocktails
An overall human rights situation has correspondingly developed under the EU’s protectorate supervision. A United Nations report listed 86 violent “incidents” – mostly aimed at members of the Serb-speaking minority, between April 16 and July 15. These attacks included shots being fired at the house of a Serbian politician and a Molotov cocktail attack on a police-escorted convoy of persons celebrating a Serbian Orthodox holiday. There were luckily no injuries.[7] As Amnesty International reported, in 2015, 1,650 people, who had disappeared during armed conflicts in 1998 and 1999, were still missing. The EU’s EULEX mission preferred not to properly investigate cases involving Serb-speaking inhabitants of Kosovo.[8] Amnesty reports that, minorities such as Roma or Ashkali are “still suffering under institutional discrimination,” while “physical attacks against lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender and intersexes as well as other hate crimes” are not even investigated by the authorities. The fact that numerous journalists complain of being hampered in their work through threats or physical attacks, concords with the overall findings.
No Need to Flee
The conditions in the German-EU protectorate of Kosovo have driven large numbers of its inhabitants to flee. Between November 2014 and March 2015 alone, more than 50,000 Kosovo Albanians left the country – 2,78 percent of a population of 1.8 million. In 2014, according to the German Interior Ministry, 8,923 refugees from Kosovo have requested asylum in Germany and 37.095 in 2015 – altogether 2.56 percent of the Kosovo population. De-facto, they will have no chance of obtaining asylum in Germany. After all, Germany and NATO “liberated” their country in 1999. From the German administration’s perspective, they have no acceptable reason to flee.

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