Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has resigned on Friday. He was summoned by the Kosovo Criminal Court in the Hague, Haradinaj announced after a government meeting in Pristina. Until the appointment of a successor, he remained in office, Kosovo media reported.
The International Special Court was established in 2017 to clarify alleged crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the armed conflict with Serbia in the years 1998-2000. Haradinaj was a regional KLA commander during the Albanian uprising in the former Serbian province. He was since September 2017 Prime Minister of Kosovo.
Haradinaj already looks back on a turbulent relationship with the International Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY) in the Hague, which has been prosecuting war crimes in the context of all conflicts in disintegrated Yugoslavia since 1991. The ICTY had indicted him two times – in 2005 and 2011 – for war crimes. In both cases he had been acquitted. It was striking that many important witnesses were sometimes killed in a way that was never fully understood.
Western intelligence also linked Haradinaj with mafia activities that he always denied and that in the end could never be proven. In 2000, he founded the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) party, which he has led since then. In 2004 he became prime minister for the first time. When he was first indicted by the ICTY in March 2005, he resigned. He also spent time in pre-trial detention of the Hague Tribunal.
His resignation now means that President Hashim Thaci will appoint a successor within 45 days or new election must write out. At first, it was not clear whether the Hague Kosovo court had summoned Haradinaj as a witness or accused. In the Albanian part of the press conference he said: “I am not charged, I am only questioned.” When he spoke to journalists in Serbian, he described himself as “accused.”
Kosovo is today almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians. As the Serbian security forces increasingly committed war crimes against Albanian civilians in the fight against the KLA uprising in 1998/99, NATO intervened with air strikes against the former Yugoslavia. In June 1999, the Serbian state withdrew from Kosovo, and UN administration Unmik took over the administration of the separated Albanian province until 2008.
Kosovo’s declared independence in 2008 has been recognized by more than 100 countries, including Germany and most EU countries.