As Kosovo prepares for new Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to declare its independence in the days or weeks ahead, Kosovo society is wracked by corruption and organized crime. According to the estimate of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), organized crime accounts for some 15-20 percent of the Kosovo economy: a figure that would presumably be far higher if one subtracts the substantial portion of Kosovo GDP made up of foreign aid. Some of Kosovo's leading politicians, moreover, have been accused of connections to the organized crime networks. Citing unpublished intelligence reports, recent reports in the German media have accused former Prime Minister Ramush Haradanij, in particular, of being a key figure in the nexus between politics and organized crime. Haradinaj -- like Thaci and many of Kosovo's other leading politicians -- was a commander in the now formally disbanded guerrilla army, the Kosovo Liberation Army. He is currently on trial in The Hague for war crimes allegedly committed during the Kosovo War of 1999. The U.N. administration in Kosovo has itself been accused of complacency toward, if not out right collusion with the criminal networks. John Rosenthal spoke with Avni Zogiana of the Pristina-based NGO ÇOHU! (Wake Up!).
John Rosenthal: Your organization focuses on the links between organized crime and politics in Kosovo. Can you give us some idea of the nature of the problem and the particular forms organized crime takes in Kosovo?