Kosovo’s prime minister resigned Friday after being invited for questioning by a Hague-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country’s 1998-99 war.
Ramush Haradinaj said he had agreed to be interviewed at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office next week and didn’t want to appear there as prime minister.
“I considered that I cannot go to the questioning as head of the government,” Haradinaj said during a news conference.
Haradinaj, who took office as prime minister in September 2017, said that while he thought the summons was politically bad for Kosovo, “I will respect the legal request. I will go there. I will defend myself as a fighter of my country.”
Haradinaj urged Kosovo’s president to call an early parliamentary election.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office were established at the European Union’s urging after human-rights body the Council of Europe in 2011 catalogued allegations of widespread war crimes committed by the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army.
The court started questioning former Kosovo fighters this year. Haradinaj was one of the top KLA commanders during the war. A United Nations tribunal cleared him three times of war-crimes charges.
At the time of the war, Kosovo was a Serbian province and KLA members mostly were ethnic Albanians. A bloody Serb crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists and civilians led NATO to intervene by bombing Serbia in spring 1999.
Kosovo eventually made a unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and it is recognized by the U.S. and most of the West, but not by Serbia and its allies Russia and China.