President Hashim Thaci of Kosovo has vowed to resign if the special Kosovo court in The Hague upholds the prosecutor’s indictment for war crimes against him.
“I will not face justice from this office. If the indictment is upheld, I will resign immediately,” Thaci said in a recorded video message aired at 8pm on Monday.
Thaci was indicted in April by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague. The indictment announcement was made on the day the Thaci was travelling to Washington, D.C., to attend a summit with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. He aborted the trip and the meeting was postponed.
In his 25-minute speech, the President said Kosovo is now amidst historical moments with more possible indictments in the near future, and supported the need to investigate and rule on all war crimes.
He defended the war against the Serbian regime by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the fight of his comrade in arms during the war. Thaci said he is convinced that he, Kadri Veseli and other ex soldiers indicted or charged will prove innocent like many other KLA members charged in the past.
Thaci admitted to political mistakes after the war but categorically denied having committed a crime against any Serbian, Roma or Albanian. He said he would fight in the same way he did against the Milosevic regime if he had to go back in time.
The President said he has always supported justice and courts and will do so in the future. He explained that when Kosovo was asked to create the Specialist Chambers to investigate possible crimes by KLA members he faced two choices: approving it and maintaining the alliance with the US and EU, or refuse it and let the UN Security Council decide, where countries that don’t recognize Kosovo seat.
He said he made the strategic decision to align with the US and EU at the benefit of Kosovo.
Thaci stressed that the international community should stop for a moment and compare the number of cases against Kosovars and those against members of the Serbian regime since the war.
The international community should apply the same standard on Kosovo and Serbia, he noted, adding that while Serbia advances rapidly towards the EU, Kosovo has yet to get visa liberalization.
He argued that political mistakes or wrong-doings of Kosovo politicians do not justify the fact that Kosovo has been facing charges on war crimes for the last 20 years while silence on war crimes prevails in Serbia. “The silence of the international community is even heavier than this.” Thaci stated, noting the lack of international condemnation for the thousands of Albanians that have disappeared, those killed and raped by the Serbian regime. “Should we expect to be asked to apologize to Serbia for our disappeared, the killed, the violated and the genocidal crimes?” Thaci asked rhetorically.
Addressing the timing of the announcement of his indictment while he was on his way to a peace summit, Thaci said he is not sure whether it’s a coincidence or a plot. “The publication of the indictment is a huge scandal,” he added.
Thaci stressed Kosovo’s reliance on the US, and expressed his conviction that time will reveal the truth about the publication, and those who benefited from it by giving a blow to the White House efforts for peace.
The President stated his willingness to face justice at any point in time, and called on Kosovo politicians to come together at this crucial moment for the country.