EU urged to ask Thaci to step down over organized crime allegations.

The European Union should call on Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to resign while international prosecutors look into organized crime and organ-trafficking allegations against him, a leading European think tank said Friday.

Accusations against Thaci surfaced in December, when a draft report from the Council of Europe - a pan European human rights watchdog - named him as the head of a criminal group alleged to have been operating in Kosovo with Western powers' acquiescence.

Writing for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Michael Emerson and Jan Wouters said the EU should live up to its "self- appointed role as leading force for the political transformation and economic integration of the whole of the Western Balkans into modern Europe and its values."

If it was serious about it, "the EU would signal that it expected the prime minister to resign while the case was under investigation" and "would go further" by insisting "that a new government of Kosovo would have to be led by a Mr Clean," they added.

Emerson - a former European Commission official - and Wouters - an international law professor at Leuven University - said the UN Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should investigate Thaci and other senior officials named by the Council of Europe.

The EU's own justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX), "could handle lesser cases at the local level," they suggested.

The Council of Europe report is due to be submitted for formal approval by the body's 47 members later this month in Strasbourg, France.

In an interview published Monday by the EUobserver website, Thaci denounced the document as "a scandalous slander," and said he would recur to "all legal and political measures" against its author, Swiss Senator and former prosecutor Dick Marty.

Thaci also charged that Marty's "pamphlet" was an attempt to derail upcoming talks with Serbia, from which Kosovo seceded unilaterally two years ago, albeit with Western backing.

Emerson and Wouters retorted that to take part in the EU-mediated process, Kosovo "needs a new, credible and respected leadership."

[Source: Earth Times, Brussels, 14Jan11].

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The Question of Kosovo
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