Is President Thaçi Trading off His Safety for Kosovo’s Territory?

Is President Thaçi Trading off His Safety for Kosovo’s Territory?
Hashim Thaci and Baton Haxhiu

A close confidant and informal advisor to Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi has laid out the core content a potential Kosovo-Serbia agreement should have, according to him.

Former director of Klan Kosova TV, Baton Haxhiu, said during a TV show on Saturday that:

“There are three elements the agreement should include. The first one is the dismantling of the Special Court. The second one relates an amnesty – there is no need to punish people in both countries twenty years later. The third is deciding on north [of Kosovo] – what shall we do with the north?”

Haxhiu is widely considered President Thaçi’s main public surrogate. He is also a close confidant and informal advisor to Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, and for the last two years has been one of the main public voices defending the alleged Thaçi-Vučić plan to divide Kosovo.

Most political analysts and international relations experts on the region (hereherehereherehere, ) argue that the plan has come back to the forefront since the U.S. President appointed Richard Grenell as his envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

Baton Haxhiu’s latest statement on elements of a potential agreement brings back to public attention a long-time accusation against Thaçi, according to which the latter is blackmailed by Serbia to agree on dividing Kosovo or else face an indictment based on alleged evidence provided by Belgrade for alleged crimes committed during the Kosovo War in 1998-99.

The Special Court (Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office), which Haxhiu suggests must be dismantled, is a court of Kosovo, located in The Hague, effectively established in 2017 to investigate and try members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, of which Thaçi was the political director.

The court was created under international pressure with the backing of Thaçi, who was then the country’s foreign minister. It came following a 2011 Council of Europe report authored by Swiss politician Dick Marty, in which he claimed there is evidence to prosecute and sentence members of the KLA for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court has not yet started any trial.

Thaçi changed his position later, and accused the court for being biased in investigating only alleged crimes committed by Albanians, and for excluding crimes of Serbia.

Besides potential crimes committed by Albanians during the Kosovo War against minorities , the amnesty suggested by Haxhiu would include crimes committed by Serbian troops in Kosovo, which amount to at least 8,676 Albanian civilians killed, more than 850,000 expelled from Kosovo to neighboring countries, several hundred thousands more internally displaced, over 20,000 Albanian women raped by Serbian troops, nearly 40 percent (about 92 thousand) of houses, and about 50 percent of mosques (225) either damaged or destroyed.

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