“The U.S. is urging Kosovo leaders to leave unchanged a war crimes court established to hear serious cases arising from the country’s war for independence.’The United States is deeply concerned by recent attempts of Kosovo lawmakers to abrogate the law on the Specialist Chambers,’ State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Friday (Dec. 30). ‘We call on political leaders in the Republic of Kosovo to maintain their commitment to the work of the Chambers and to leave the authorities and jurisdiction of the court unchanged. ‘The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on December 21 that ‘the pursuit of justice in the Balkans is not over,’ and the U.S. ‘remains committed to supporting justice for the victims,’ the statement said.” (VoA)

US Ambassador to Kosovo Greg Delawie gave an interview for Epoka e Re just before New Years where he emphasized surprise and outrage at attempts to change the Special War Court and urged Kosovo to adopt the border demarcation agreement from 2015 with Montenegro. Ambassador Delawie said, “Well, first of all I have to say I was outraged by the effort on Friday to abrogate the Law on the Special Court.  The United States does not support this or any other effort to undermine cooperation with the Court, which is vital to bring justice to the victims of war crimes and to show Kosovo’s readiness to become a full member of the international community.” He continued, “This process was led by a few individuals.  It was clearly undertaken in secrecy to avoid the scrutiny of Kosovo’s public and its friends in the international community.  I am extremely disappointed at those who would sacrifice their country’s future to promote their personal interests.” When questioned about the border demarcation, Delawie regarded it as a done deal. “MPs should ratify the Border Demarcation Agreement (BDA) that was signed in 2015. It is the right deal, which has been verified by the U.S. Government and other international experts; Kosovo loses no land under this Agreement.” He compared passing the BDA as a requirement for visa liberalization to joining a club – “What I can say, though, is that if you want to join a club, you have to follow the club’s rules.” Nevertheless, he remains optimistic for Kosovo in 2018. (Full interview available here)

“Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has signed a decree to pardon three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) convicted of killing after the war in Kosovo in 2001 an entire family in the high-profile ‘Kiqina’ case.Thaci on Friday signed the decree pardoning Arben Kiqina and brothers Arsim Ramadani and Burim Ramadani, who were jailed for murdering the Hajra family in 2001, allegedly because the father of the family was a police officer under Slobodan Milosevic’s regime. A total of five men were convicted of killing the Hajra family near Drenas in central Kosovo in August 2001, all former Kosovo Liberation Army members. Burim Ramadani, Arsim Ramadani and Arben Kiqina were jailed for 30 years, Jeton Kiqina for 16 years and Blerim Kiqina for 11 years. The family died when their car came under fire from automatic weapons. The Hajra family died when their car came under fire from automatic weapons in August 2001. According to a EULEX report, the father, Hamze Hajra, was a police officer during the rule of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic and his killing was motivated by revenge. Hajra’s youngest daughter was the only one who survived the attack.” (Gazeta Express)