Serbian PM wants 'truth' over organ-harvesting allegations.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic has said he is committed to discovering the "truth" about the recent allegations made by Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty.

Speaking in Brussels on Monday (31 January) after a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr Cvetkovic pledged not to politicise the December 2010 report which accused Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of being responsible for the murder of Serb prisoners and the sale of their kidneys in the 1990s.

Secret Nato documents subsequently published by the Guardian newspaper described Mr Thaci as one of the "biggest fish" in his country's criminal network.

"We are not going to politicise the reports," Mr Cvetkovic told journalists. "They are very serious and what we are trying to support is the search for the truth."

"We believe that the most important thing is that we have a thorough unbiased investigation that will result in the substance that will say whether some people are criminals or not."

"Even if some are proven to be criminals, we will not assume that the whole [Kosovo] nation is criminal," he continued.

Mr Barroso welcomed the Serbian leader's measured tone, stressing that all evidence gathered by Mr Marty during his investigation must be handed over to the EU's mission in Kosovo, Eulex, which is currently carrying out a further investigation into the damning allegations.

"In the European Commission we take allegations of organised crimes very seriously," Mr Barroso said. "I appreciate that Serbia made a clear distinction between this question and dialogue with Pristina."

The EU has has let it be known that dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo will strongly improve Serbia's chances of accession to the 27-member union.

During his meeting with Mr Barroso on Monday, Mr Cvetkovic handed over the replies to some 2,500 questions on a commission questionnaire. The EU executive body will now assess the responses and decide whether to recommend Serbia for EU 'candidate status' in the second half of this year.

Serbia has pledged to implement an action plan of measures in the meantime, including the continued search for Serbian war criminals Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

EU aware for years?

Despite Mr Barroso's pledges to be tough on organised crime in the Balkans, many analysts argue that the EU's institutions and member states have have appeared weak as a result of the Marty report which concluded that Western powers knowingly ignored Mr Thaci's "mafia-like" network.

A leaked US diplomatic cable appears to support this view [http://cablesearch.org/cable/view.php?id=07THEHAGUE1994&hl=Timmermans].

Former Dutch state secretary for European Affairs Frans Timmermans warned the US in 2007 that Kosovo is run by people who live off crime, according to the cable published by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

"Timmermans was concerned about the future implications of the EU's outreach to Kosovo: Kosovo is run by people who live off crime ... [they have] no other means to support themselves," Mr Timmermans reportedly told US officials who met with him in The Hague.

Mr Timmermans also forecast negative consequences as a result of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008.

"Russia was creating havoc in the Balkans, and Kosovo will be a messy affair. The Russians will react strongly [to a Kosovar declaration of independence], and the European reaction will be all over the place, I'm afraid," he reportedly said.

[Source: Andrew Willis, Eurobserver, Brussels, 31Jan11].

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The Question of Kosovo
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