Kosovo Seeks US Aid in Tackling Gangsters

Posted on December 13, 2011

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via Balkans Insight

Fatmir Aliu, Pristina

Kosovo’s President, Atifete Jahjaga, announced the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Council, in what looked like an attempt to improve the battered image of the country as a crime haven.

In a speech on Thursday to parliament, she said that democracy cannot be held hostage to the lack of will to fight negative phenomena in institutions and society.

The President said she is also to pay an official visit to the US, where she will seek assistance in the fight against organized crime.

“On my return to Kosovo I will establish an Anti-Corruption Council… [and] this institutional mechanism will coordinate actions and set policies to eradicate corruption and organized crime in Kosovo. The fight… must be won!” Jahjaga told deputies.

The watchdog Transparency International’s latest perception index, published a week ago, shows that corruption continues to be seen as the main obstacle in the country.

The 2011 Global Corruption Perception Index ranked Kosovo in the 112th place,  clustered alongside states like Algeria, Egypt, Moldova, Senegal and Vietnam.

President Jahjaga called upon all parties to join the front to fight organized crime and said that “while we may fight with one another in the political battlefield, let no one ever question that we stand united, ready to strengthen our new country.

“Our declaration of ‘zero tolerance’ against corruption and organized crime needs to come to fruition… Corruption is an expensive receipt, which our citizens are paying,” she added.

“Success in the fight against these negative phenomena is the only way by which we can restore the citizens’ trust. The success will have a positive impact in the process of new recognitions and for the change in perception of our country,” she said.

Kosovo is struggling to attract foreign investors to its market of 1.7 million people, where organised crime and corruption are rife and tensions persist between the Albanian majority and Serb minority.

The President called on Serbia to abandon its ambitions in Kosovo and cut support for the illegal criminal structures in three northern municipalities, which she said were holding ordinary citizens hostage.

The period of wars in the Balkans had ended, and Kosovo and Serbia should not avoid dialogue, as it represents the best way forward, she said.

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