- - Monday, April 5, 2021

Imagine the United States helped create a new, fledgling democratic country in the heart of Europe — freeing its people from genocidal neighbors — only for the European Union to take over the “nation-building” mission and use it to overthrow its elected leadership.

Imagine EU-funded judges were placed inside that country’s justice system to deliver the “decapitation” of its democratic lawmakers — including a man President Biden described as the nation’s “George Washington.”

Imagine the EU’s determination to achieve this goal went so far as manipulating witnesses to give false “evidence,” and even the destabilization of a U.S.-led international peace process.

This is not a Tom Clancy novel, but the dangerous reality of the EU’s policy toward Kosovo where, for the past 12 years, billions of American taxpayers’ dollars have been spent on military aid and security support — with the U.S. “outsourcing” democratic development to its supposed European allies.

But instead of improving governance, EULEX — the EU’s pompous-sounding and chronically dysfunctional “Rule of Law Mission” — has undermined the administration of justice and ignored defendants’ right to a fair trial. According to the United States’ Freedom House index on democracy standards of justice and good governance in Kosovo have fallen over the last decade under EULEX’s watch; even Europe’s own Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index monitor has confirmed it.

But improving the rule of law in a country emerging from the horrors of war was never the point of EULEX — nor the point of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), the ludicrously named kangaroo court established in The Hague where those dispatched by EULEX are put on trial. The point was always political. The EU had never had its own “nation-building” project, and in order to pump itself up as a global superpower to rival the United States, Kosovo was the answer.

And what an answer it has been. By delivering “results” — regardless of the methods — Europe could demonstrate its “great power” status. The success of EULEX and the KSC were to be determined by the number of convictions. Indeed, the EU demanded nothing less. 

Judges from across the EU’s 27 member states were assembled to deliver on the mandate. Those from former communist Eastern European countries were preferred because — as a then-head of EULEX told me — they knew what was “expected” of them. Without exception, they were earning significantly more than they were at home where they were used to working much harder for less. They all wanted the gravy train to continue for as long as possible and most were prepared to do whatever it took to ensure they retained their position.

But judges from poor countries under extreme political pressure to deliver has consequences. The Kosovo Constitutional Court found EULEX justices had denied defendants their right to a fair trial. An EU “rule of law” mission denying the right to a fair trial? Can it get more twisted than that? It can.

When I and other qualified British legal professionals became whistle-blowers against corruption and malfeasance in EULEX we were turned upon. In unrelated incidents two British judges became the subject of disciplinary processes initiated and controlled by the very same people they had accused of misconduct — in contravention of international law.

But worst of all, last summer, as Kosovo and neighboring Serbia were on the verge of signing a peace deal in D.C., the EU pounced. To prevent their big prize — the president of Kosovo, the very man Joe Biden compared to Washington — rightly taking credit for the peace, they deliberately rushed out charges of crimes against humanity against him (even breaking their own court’s rules by doing so), stopping him flying to the U.S. and nearly bringing the entire peace agreement to collapse.

Other defendants now arraigned before the court are there, unfathomably, for receiving leaked documents from the EU-funded court –- whilst no investigation whatsoever is held into who leaked the documents or why.

It is clear the EU cannot see the perversity of their actions, when clouded by a Nixonian logic: “When the EU does it, that means that it is not illegal.” They believe they must exercise the right to teach others how to behave — by any means necessary — if they are to be considered a superpower.

Everything about EULEX and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague demonstrates that the EU is no global heavyweight for the dispensing of international good governance and certainly not any kind of example others might wish to emulate. 

But America is. The United States once helped its friends in Kosovo escape from their ethnic-cleansing Serbian masters and unshackle their people. Now their freedom is threatened again — this time by democracy-cleansing Europeans. It’s time for America to force the Europeans to stop: Kosovo’s liberty is now at stake. 

• Judge Malcolm Simmons served as an international judge from 2004 to 2017 hearing war crime and serious and organized crime cases. He presided in some of the most complex war crime and serious organized crime cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo during their troubled post-war periods. He served as president of EU International Judges from 2014 to 2017.

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