The court is viewed by world powers as a vital prerequisite for regional reconciliation in the aftermath of the bloody Balkan wars of the 1990s. But the moves to halt the court before it has even begun hearings have infuriated Kosovo’s Western backers.
They warned the country’s leaders against sabotaging the rule of law, and the harshest criticism has come from the country’s allies, which nearly 19 years ago led a NATO bombing campaign to wrest Kosovo from the violent oppression championed by Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia’s former strongman.
The United States said in a Jan. 4 statement signed by Germany, Britain, Italy and France that any move to stop the court’s work risked “all that Kosovo has achieved.”
“We condemn such a move, and anyone who supports it will be rejecting Kosovo’s partnership with our countries,” the statement added, warning of “severe negative consequences” — including Kosovo’s integration into the European Union and NATO.
The European Union gave the court funds for five years when it was created. Recently, the bloc’s special representative to Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, declared on Twitter that any abrogation of the law establishing the court would be “a dangerous move undermining the rule of law and credibility of Kosovo as E.U. partner.”
“It’s the most serious and dramatic clash between the highest state institutions of Kosovo and the West,” said Agron Bajrami, editor of Koha Ditore, one of Kosovo’s largest daily newspapers. The persistent attempts against the court is a signal of “panic within the ranks of Kosovo leadership,” he said.
And Kosovo leaders’ unusual defiance of the United States — the “defenders and guardians of our independence,” Mr. Bajrami said — is perhaps an indication that “some of them expect to be indicted.”
Some former K.L.A. commanders, including Mr. Thaci, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and the Parliament speaker,…