Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti (R) attends a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured) in Pristina, Kosovo, 30 October 2023. EPA-EFE/ENES SAHITI


Kosovo establishes institute to document Serbian war crimes


Kosovo’s PM will establish an institute to document Serbia’s war crimes during the 1998-1999 conflict.

The Wednesday announcement demonstrates increased tensions and unresolved issues between Kosovo and Serbia, 15 years after the Kosovo War.

The new institute will raise awareness of the hardship Kosovar Albanians faced in that conflict, says PM Albin Kurti.

Over 10,000 people, the majority Kosovar Albanians, died in the 1998-1999 war between Serbia and Kosovo.

The war ended when a 78-day Nato bombing campaign forced Serbian forces to pull out from Kosovo.

In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, a declaration Belgrade has since refused to accept.

Kosovo’s status remains a major topic of controversy between the two neighbours, 15 years later.

Around 1,600 people are still missing from the conflict, says Kurti.

Serbia buried them in unmarked graves which they afterwards concealed, he claims.

Kosovo and Serbia both want to join the European Union. However, lack of progress in resolving their lasting disagreements cast doubt on their chances of either of them joining the EU.

The EU has tried to help facilitate talks between Kosovo and Serbia, but those efforts have faced many obstacles.

A brutal shoot-out between masked Serbian gunmen and Kosovo police in northern Kosovo in September only heightened these tensions.

The EU threatens to withhold funding from its recent €6.3 billion Western Balkan Growth Plan for the two Western Balkan neighbours if they do not make progress in normalising their relationship.

The European Union and the United States have both pressed PM Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to implement their March agreement to normalise relations between the two countries.

Western powers are also concerned about the spread of further instability and chaos to the Western Balkans from the Russian war in Ukraine.