Category Archives: kosovo

Vlastimir Đorđević at the Hague

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(Video primarily in Serbian although the judge speaks in English.)

Readers of yesterday’s post, which quoted Rory Stewart questioning the ability of the UN and similar organizations to do much of anything, might’ve detected a hint of disappointment.  This view was informed in some measure by the inability of the UN to prevent carnage in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.  That drama is still being played out at the ICTY in the Hague, and although there are sometimes questions to be raised about the institution, when it convicts those like the former assistant minister of the interior Vlastimir Đorđević of crimes against humanity and war crimes it is redressing a real wrong.

Đorđević, as assistant minister of interior, was head of Serbia’s police forces and paramilitaries who played an active role in using violence and intimidation to force Kosovars out of their homes and off their land.  In additional to charges of mass killing, the judge also brought up the removal of the victims’ bodies to mass graves inside Serbia proper, and sentenced Đorđević to 27 years’ imprisonment.

Belgrade’s silence on the matter bodes well for Serbia’s European future.

Perhaps international justice comes out ahead of international development here because the results are so much easier to measure.  One can debate the merits of the sort of justice it is, but for those familar with Kosovo and the Milošević regime, Đorđević’s sentencing is just.

The ICTY’s indictment of Đorđević can be found here.  Names of the victims, including the 47 members of the Berisha family who were killed on a single day in March 1999, can be found in Schedules A-L, pages 25-48.

More Zungu Zungu, less Bunga Bunga

This site isn’t meant to break news. But there’s been a near-perfect storm of events — so much excellent newsworthy material on Italy, the Balkans and international relations in general, and not nearly enough time to bang out a coherent thought with me being swamped with both typical and atypical end-of-year responsibilities. Some points: Berlusconi’s survival may well lead Italy into a speculative attack on the order of 1976’s run on the lira, the WSJ has a better handle on Lega Nord than the NYT, Thaci might actually be extremely bad for Kosovo, and Wikileaks will change a lot of things. More germane to my task, blogs like Aaron Bady’s show how good analysis can get one noticed.

With an eye towards the skies, I leave you with this video from the brilliant Taiwanese animators NMA. Merry merry. (Although with what’s going on in London and Paris, it seems that the weather is far greater cause for concern than security.)

Organ Harvesting in Kosovo

It’s such a common urban legend that it’s almost the stuff of jokes.  But organ theft is, apparently, alive and well, and right here in what’s loosely called “Europe.”

You won't remember a thing

Carla del Ponte caused a minor stir a couple of years ago when she alleged that the Kosovar Liberartion Army had been secretly harvesting organs from captured Serb war prisoners.  Her allegation was ultimately found to be lacking in hard proof, but, as with many things in the Balkans, anything is — sadly — possible.  Now, according to the New York Times, seven people have been charged in a similar illegal rings.  It wasn’t Serbs POWs that were operated on, but the impoverished lured from Istanbul, Moscow, Moldova and Kazakhstan.  A prominent surgeon and a senior health ministry official were involved.  More disturbing is the possibility that the ring goes much further than just Kosovo.  The article points to substantial complicity of Israel and South Africa, and indeed Israel may be the nexus of the case.  The disturbing implication is just how very far from an idea of “Europe” Kosovo still is, almost three years after its declaration of independence.  This blog would never argue for a return to Serb rule for Kosovo, but the fact that it’s institutions are somewhat lacking is pretty easy to see, and this is made worse by its “Kosovo farà da sè” attitude. Although Kosovo is less ill-conceived as a statelet than nearby Bosnia, it is clearly barely ready to do much of anything alone, and EULEX’s mission will be long and hard there.  But unlike neighboring Macedonia, which seems to be healing, Kosovo itself seems in dire need of some essential transplants.