Kosovo german bombing, Kosovo germany, Kosovo bnd
Associated Press
German citizen Andreas Jackel is
escorted by a police officer to a
Kosovo district court.

Minor Bombing Causes Major Rift Between Kosovo, Germany

November 25, 2008 03:02 PM
by Denis Cummings
Kosovo has accused German government agents of bombing an EU office there, jeopardizing the fledgling republic’s relationship with one of its most important allies.

German Agents Detained for Alleged Bombing

On Saturday, a Kosovo judge ruled that authorities may detain three German men for up to 30 days for their alleged role in a minor bombing attack in the Kosovo capital Pristina. The men, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel, are members of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachtrichtendienst (BND).

On Nov. 14, a small explosive device was thrown at the office of a European Union special representative, causing minor damage and no injuries. The attack occurred four days after Kosovo rejected the European Union’s 2,000-man peacekeeping plan, known as EULEX. The EU’s proposed mission would fill in for the downsizing of the United Nations’ nine-year peacekeeping mission that began at the end of the 1998-99 Kosovo War.

Kosovo prosecutors, according to The Associated Press, believe that the German men intended to “hamper and hinder” the EU mission to the area. They intend to charge the men with acts of terrorism.

The detainment of the BND agents may strain relations between the two countries. Germany has been one of Kosovo’s greatest allies, and was one of the first countries to recognize its independence in February. The German government has called the allegation that it was involved in the attack “absurd,” saying that the BND agents were merely examining the scene of the attack.

“It doesn’t make any sense at all for the German intelligence service to get involved in a bomb going off in an office of the European Union,” said German terrorism and security expert Elmar Thevessen to Deutsche Welle Radio. “As a matter of fact the German government has been known to be one of the biggest supporters of that mission.”

The BND is claiming, according to Der Spiegel, that the agents were framed by the Kosovo government. “Some elements of the Pristina government oppose any foreign involvement … so the attack may have been the work of the anti-European radicals,” writes Der Spiegel.

The BND is stationed in Kosovo to monitor the use of aid money. Some in Germany, including Thevessen, believe that the agents were investigating the Kosovo government’s connections to organized crime; “this might be yet another reason why local officials were trying to get rid of them,” writes Deutsche Welle.

Background: Kosovo War and independence

Kosovo is a region to the south of Serbia made up mainly of ethnic Albanians. Though Serbs make up only 10 percent of Kosovo’s population, “the historic and emotional importance of the province for them was enormous,” writes The BBC. “Serbs consider Kosovo the cradle of their culture, religion and national identity.”

In 1989, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic stripped Kosovo of its autonomous status and instituted repressive measures against Kosovar Albanians. Over the next decade, the guerilla separatist group the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) clashed violently with Yugoslav-Serb military and police forces.

In 1998, the UN and NATO intervened and warned Milosevic to end his repression of Kosovar Albanians. When Milosevic refused, NATO launched an 11-week bombing campaign that forced Serbian forces out of Kosovo. Milosevic was indicted for war crimes and died before his trial ended.

Following the war, Kosovo existed as an autonomous region under the watch of a large UN peacekeeping mission. In February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with the support of western powers including the United States, Britain and Germany.

Serbia, however, was unwilling to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Countries such as Russia, Spain and Greece supported Serbia, due in part to separatist movements in their own countries.

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