EU calls on Kosovo to stop effort to amend war crimes court
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The European Union has become the latest critic of an attempt by Kosovar lawmakers to amend a law on a war crimes court.
In a statement Friday, the EU’s office in Kosovo said it is extremely concerned about an initiative from 43 Kosovo lawmakers to do away with a law on the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. The EU is urging them to withdraw their plan.
“Any attempt to repeal or amend the mandate of the Specialist Chambers ... would jeopardize the joint EU-Kosovo work on the rule of law done in recent years,” it said. “This would adversely impact Kosovo relations with the EU.”
The law was passed in 2015 following U.S. and European pressure on Kosovo’s government to confront alleged war crimes that the Kosovo Liberation Army committed against ethnic Serbs during the 1998-1999 war and after.
The Hague, Netherlands-based court is part of Kosovo’s legal system and has jurisdiction over potential war crimes suspects who were Kosovo citizens. It has yet to hear any cases.
Kosovo siphoned off from Yugoslavia following a three-month NATO air war in 1999 to stop a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists. It then declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by 114 states but not by Serbia.
The EU told Kosovo that “progress towards EU integration ... today needs more support than ever” and warned the country’s leadership “to keep Kosovo firmly anchored in the European agenda.”