Kosovo is a young nation seeking to validate its sovereignty and build lasting institutions in an area that has been riddled for centuries with ethnic tensions and violence between Albanians and Serbs. Its state-building credentials took a big hit when a respected human rights organization, the Council of Europe, released a report on a Kosovo mafia directing heroin, gun, women and organ trafficking. According to the report this mafia is woven into the fabric of the current government, so inextricable from the current administration that the Prime Minister is alleged to be the head of the criminal gang.
The country of nearly two million people is in one of Europe’s poorest regions. Kosovo is only recognized as an independent state by 75 countries. It has long sought broader acceptance that has been withheld by states like China and Spain in no small part because they are skittish about secessionist movements within their own borders.
Serbs and Albanians battled for control of the Kosovo region through much of the 20th century. It was declared an autonomous province from Yugoslavia in the 70s, but later stripped of this status by President Slobodan Milosevic. In the mid 1990s the Kosovo Liberation Army, a guerrilla movement escalated attacks on Serb targets prompting a quick and brutal backlash by the Yugoslavian military. More than 10,000 people were killed in the Serb insurgency and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes. NATO came in to quell the violence and drove out the Serbian forces leaving the territory to UN administration and ultimately independence in 2008.
The US was instrumental in driving support for an international intervention to protect the Kosovar Albanians. The Council of Europe report lambasts not just Kosovo’s internal governance but the international forces that cried foul at Serbian atrocities and may have looked askance at the same crimes committed by Albanians.
GFF supports journalism investigating corruption and crime in Kosovo, and examining possible international complicity in overlooking crimes to promote stability instead of justice.