In Balkans, Smuggling Forges a Rare Unity

Posted on October 29, 2011


via NY Times

But as is often the case in this impoverished region, the truth is more complicated. In this instance, the authorities say, it reveals how a furious effort to protect a lucrative oil-smuggling racket has morphed into an international incident infused with troubling memories of the Balkan ethnic carnage of the ’90s.

With the trade estimated to run as high as $100 million annually, many observers say it has fostered something along opposite lines — a rare ethnic harmony built on forging smuggling routes across divided territory.

“Ethnicity doesn’t play a role when it comes to money,” said Johannes van Vreeswijk, the top E.U. prosecutor in Kosovo for three years, who departed in June. “If the Serbs and Albanians can make money from crime, they will do a joint venture.”