BERLIN/PRIŠTINA (Own report) – Around 17 years after NATO’s war against Yugoslavia and the beginning of the occupation of Kosovo with German participation, observers note that the de-facto protectorate is in a desolate political, economic and social condition. The first war in which the Federal Republic of Germany played an important role has had catastrophic consequences. De facto under EU control, Priština’s ruling elite is accused of having close ties to organized crime and having committed the most serious war crimes. Its rampant corruption is spreading frustrated resignation within the population. Thirty-four percent of the population is living in absolute – and twelve percent in extreme – poverty, healthcare is deplorable, life expectancy is five years less than that of its neighboring countries and ten years below the EU’s average. A report commissioned by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), describes the horrifying human rights situation, which includes vendettas “constantly carried out” with firearms. (This is part 1 of a german-foreign-policy.com series, reporting on consequences of German military interventions over the past two decades, in light of the German government’s announcement of plans to increase its “global” – including military – interventions.)
Around 17 years after NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, and its subsequent occupation of the south Serbian Kosovo Province – with the participation of the German Bundeswehr – the EU is still treating Kosovo like a de-facto protectorate. The EU maintains a presence in the capital, Priština, with a special envoy, who has enormous influence simply because large EU subsidies guarantee the functioning of Kosovo’s government. Since 1999, the EU is said to have transferred five to six billion Euros to Priština, although a large portion has allegedly filled the pockets of corrupt politicians and government employees. The EU, with its “European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo” (EULEX Kosovo), has massive influence in the secessionist province. EULEX, itself, has repeatedly been accused of being deeply involved in corruption. NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) remains deployed in Kosovo to suppress, if necessary, larger rebellions or social upheavals. German and Italian generals alternately command KFOR. Until now, 109 of the UN’s 193 member countries have recognized the southern Serbian province’s claim to independent statehood. Even the EU is divided on the question: Despite massive German pressure, five EU members (Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Cyprus) refuse to recognize Kosovo’s independence – still today.
War Crimes, Organized Crime
Employment Rate: 28 Percent
Moreover, the human rights situation is deplorable. The BAMF-commissioned report notes that – 17 years after the NATO invasion, which set off the 1999 war against Yugoslavia in the name of human rights – Kosovo clans have a free hand in continuing to honor archaic standards. “Particularly among the rural population,” the report politely notes, “archaic customs, traditions and culture are still very much alive.” “Archaic customs” refers, for example, to the fact that “the focus is not on official institutions and their means of penalization, but rather on families or extended families (clans).” They use “a relic of the Albanian customary law,” namely “the tradition of the Kosovo Albanian vendetta.” “The pure vendetta tradition, is only occasionally practiced” today. A differentiation must be made between a vendetta and general “acts of vengeance,” which are “constantly carried out.” “The threshold for use of a firearm is often very low.”
Shots and Molotov Cocktails
No Need to Flee
The conditions in the German-EU protectorate of Kosovo have driven large numbers of its inhabitants to flee. Between November 2014 and March 2015 alone, more than 50,000 Kosovo Albanians left the country – 2,78 percent of a population of 1.8 million. In 2014, according to the German Interior Ministry, 8,923 refugees from Kosovo have requested asylum in Germany and 37.095 in 2015 – altogether 2.56 percent of the Kosovo population. De-facto, they will have no chance of obtaining asylum in Germany. After all, Germany and NATO “liberated” their country in 1999. From the German administration’s perspective, they have no acceptable reason to flee.