Kosovo lawmakers flee teargas in chamber for third time

Despite tight police checks of everyone entering the building, including diplomats, opposition members have managed to get in carrying tear gas canisters....
Smoke rises after Kosovo opposition lawmaker Donika Kada Bujupi ignites a tear-gas canister, disrupting Parliament's session for the third time in row, Pristina, Oct. 23, 2015.

Opposition politicians in Kosovo used tear gas again inside the parliament building Friday to protest agreements with Serbia and Montenegro.

Before the session, the opposition also threw tear gas near the office of Speaker Kadri Veseli, forcing the evacuation of parliamentary staff. Veseli postponed the parliamentary session. No injuries were reported and no one was arrested.

Smoke covers the chamber of parliament as opposition lawmakers in Kosovo disrupt Parliament's session using tear gas, in capital Pristina on Friday| Photo: AP

Smoke covers the chamber of parliament as opposition lawmakers in Kosovo disrupt Parliament’s session using tear gas, in capital Pristina on Friday| Photo: AP

Hundreds of opposition protesters gathered outside parliament as police in riot gear surrounded the building and other government buildings.

The opposition parties had demanded cancellation of Friday’s session unless the government overturned a European Union-brokered agreement with Serbia to give more power to Serb-dominated areas in Kosovo and an agreement with Montenegro on border demarcation.

Opposition parties, led by the Self-Determination Party and the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future Party, maintain that the agreement with Serbia, which grants ethnic Serbs in Kosovo greater local powers and the possibility of funding from Belgrade, represents a threat to the country’s independence.

They also reject a border agreement reached in Vienna with neighboring Montenegro that they argue causes Kosovo to lose territory.

Friday’s tear gas incident was the third in two weeks. Deputies of both parties said that they are left with no choice, but to block parliamentary proceedings until disputed issues are resolved.

“The opposition had no other way out than using unusual tools to stop this session,” said a statement of the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future party, part of the opposition group. 

“The opposition will not defer when the state sovereignty, civic interest, freedom and equality are in question,” said another opposition statement. 

Despite tight police checks of everyone entering the building, including diplomats, opposition members have managed to get in carrying tear gas canisters.

In last month’s parliamentary sessions, opposition members set off tear gas in the chamber and threw eggs at the prime minister, who says the opposition is trying to come to power through non-democratic means.

Earlier this week President Atifete Jahjaga failed to convince the political parties to negotiate to resolve the crisis.

Kosovo, with a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Since then Kosovo has been recognized by more than 110 states including the United States and most of the European Union member countries, but not by Serbia.



Kosovo war ended in March of 1999 after an extended NATO bombing campaign on Yugoslavia that eventually led to the Serbian assembly granting Kosovo political autonomy while keeping it within its territorial border. Nine years after the end of the war, Kosovo declared its independence, but its status as the self declared Republic of Kosovo has only been recognised by 111 of the 193 United Nations member states.

Kosovo is the poorest country in Europe, with millionaire politicians immersed in crime. A third of the workforce is unemployed and corruption is rife. About two out of three under the age of 25th are currently jobless, and nearly 50% of Kosovo’s 1.8 million people are considered to be poor.

This June Kosovo marked fifteenth anniversary of the end of the war between ethnic Albanians and Serbian forces under the leadership of the then Yugoslav regime of Milosevic; which was not convicted for crimes against humanity across the Balkan Peninsula, but found his death during ICTY trial in the Hague, Netherlands. Serbia and Milosevic’s successors (comrades!), who had played an important role in ethnic cleansing, mass murdering and massacring the innocent civilians in the then Yugoslavia, were rewarded with freedom of movement across European soil.

The European Union deprives freedom of movement for Kosovo Albanians who are suffering of their political leadership faults, which is among many penalties that the European Union has given to this ‘band’ of corrupted and organised crime administration, but unfortunately the suspected politicians are not deprived, they can even smuggle drugs from Turkey, through Kosovo, Serbia up to Europe. EU leadership seems to be reluctant to stage any sanctions against Kosovo’s leadership that are alleged for such crime offences, however its mission for the Rule of Law known as EULEX is found to be involved in variety of crime wings, which involves country’s politicians.

Kosovo’s public administration has experienced a systematic installation of corruption and organised crime in its verge of power by some politicians who has managed to take – confidence vote by electoral population in the country. The media contribution towards civil society consciousness resurrection was marked and died alone in March 2004, when ethnic Albanians rose against foreign and domestic political and civil injustices in the country.

In June 2014 – elections 42% of the landlocked country voted to elect its parliament mainly composed by ravaged organized crime. Current FM Hashim Thaçi and former rebel chief’s Democratic Party of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi claimed a third term during June-’14 elections, which were marked by a low turnout among Kosovars frustrated at the lack of progress made since Thaçi presided over the territory’s secession from Serbia in 2008, with widespread poverty, corruption and political assassinations, which characterized Kosovo’s wide socio-political angle in the aftermath of 1999 conflict with Serbia. Three opposition parties in Kosovo said and promised they had united and planned to form a government, trying to undercut then Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi whose ruling PDK party won an election but was left seeking partners, but failed to succeed on their promise, as their main alley went to fork the government during late December 2014.

The third term re-elected ruling party of then acting Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, which is believed to aspire to become country’s President has been identified as one of the ‘biggest fish’ in organised crime in the landlocked country of the Balkan Peninsula. Therefore it is highly possible why more then 53% of Kosovo’s elective population have firmly refused to attend the polling stations in recent eight years.

The 2011 NATO leaked files, which suddenly were not reported in Kosovo press (at that time!), indicated that the United States and some of the other western powers backing Kosovo’s government, have had extensive knowledge of its criminal connections for several years.

According to WikiLeaks leaked diplomatic cables, and 2011—further leaked NATO intelligence files, the geographical spread of Kosovo’s criminal gangs is set out alongside details of alleged familial and business links, involving majority members of country’s ruling party PDK lead by Hashim Thaçi, as well as other political parties, such as opposition AAK lead by Ramush Haradinaj and ‘Vetëvendosje‘ lead by Albin Kurti, among several other small groups that operate as cover-up of crime clans through the order of ‘KANUN’.

Recent government experienced an immediate pressure from the West to heed the findings of a war crimes investigation, which threatens to jail Thaçi’s former comrades-in-armed guerrilla. A special European Union task force revealed the findings of an investigation into allegations that Kosovo’s guerrilla army harvested organs from Serb prisoners of war and allegedly sold them on the black market during a 1998-99 conflict.

The investigation followed a 2011 report by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, which pointed the finger at Thaçi and other ex-rebels, in the box of allegations are included four senior members of PDK and candidates for parliament, as well as Thaçi’s party deputy and current assembly speaker Kadri Veseli.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It has been recognised by the US and many EU countries. Nato peacekeepers have been in Kosovo since 1999 and have failed to distribute their fully mandate to provide a peaceful, safe and secured environment for everyone, especially in the country’s northern bank that is immersed in violence and outlawed actions from the pro-Serbia’s separatist armed militants.

Kosovo and Serbia were at war in 1998-1999, which ended after a NATO bombing campaign that forced the Serbian army to withdraw from the territory.

Vudi Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist, editor and photographer. He is focusing on the issues of the domestic politics of Kosovo, Foreign Policy of the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the Middle East. Xhymshiti is also focused on the issues of the politics of race, gender, identity, migration as well as displacement of people due to climate change and armed conflicts. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde etc. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic and founder of THE Frontliner.

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