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Kosovo, Fraud and Al-Fayed

  • February 18th, 2008
  • Posted by EUEditor

kosovonet.jpgAs this week began, the parliament in Kosovo declared independence; a massive financial scandal emerged in Germany; and Mohamed Al-Fayed entered a new phase in his uphill campaign over the death of a princess.

KOSOVO BREAKS AWAY

Cheering crowds in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, celebrated the province’s unilateral declaration of independence as a nation, while wild demonstrations against it took place in Belgrade.

The Serbian president, Boris Tadic, declared his country would “never accept” the separation of the province, which legally belonged to Serbia and includes sites and monuments important in Serbian history and culture.

Kosovo was placed under United Nations administration in the aftermath of inter-ethnic violence in 1999.

Serbian authorities has started armed operations against members of the majority Albanian population in the region, leading to American military intervention against Serbia.

While many Serbs then left Kosovo those who remain make up some seven percent of its two-million population.

An international consortium formed to assist with economic development and work out Kosovo’s future status includes the European Union, the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the World Bank, the Council of Europe, and the NATO military alliance — which maintains an armed security force there.

The European Union has headed several unsuccessful attempts to find a diplomatic solution that would provide a form of independence for Kosovo acceptable to the Serbs.

Reverberations

Some of the EU’s own members states, in the Balkans, (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania), have opposed independence; others like France, Germany and the United Kingdom have lined up with the United States in supporting it.

Foreign Ministers of the 27 European Union member countries have been meeting in Brussels (18.2.08) with Kosovo at the top of the agenda.

The Russian government backs Serbia and has warned independence for Kosovo would set a precedent for other regions to secede from their national states – including the break-away provinces of Georgia, towards which Russia is sympathetic.

GERMAN SCANDAL OVER FUNDS IN LIECHTENSTEI N

German authorities are investigating 1000 people including some in senior positions in connection with large-scale fraud, through the illegal movement of massive funds to Liechtenstein.

The biggest name facing charges to date, in connection with the affair, is Klaus Zumwinkel, forced to resign as head of the communication giant, Deutsche Post AG.

The investigators are probing 900 instances where deposits were placed with trusts set up for the avoidance of fiscal duties, in Liechtenstein — the tiny independent enclave between Austria and Switzerland renowned for mountain air and tax dodges.

Liechtenstein authorities went to the German government when they received information from well-placed banking sources about the funds transfers, estimated at between €300-million and €4-billion (A$484.5-million to 6.45-billion; dcreates.com, 17.2.08).

AL-FAYED GOES TO THE CORONER AND TO COURT

As he prepared to address a London Coroner, a case put forward by Mohamed Al Fayed, on the death of his son Dodi with princess Diana, was reportedly dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights.

Judges at the court in Strasbourg rejected his claim that the French investigation of the couple’s deaths was negligent, ruling his arguments “ill-founded”.

Mr Fayed claims British agents caused the 1997 accident in Paris, in which the two died.

He was listed to address the current coronial inquiry into the case today.

Reference:

European Council, EU fact sheet, “Background: The EU in Kosovo”, Brussels, February 2008.
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/gena/98770.pdf, (18.2.08).

Cécile Calla and Marie de Vergès, L’Allemagne est secouée par un énorme scandale fiscal, (Germany shaken by an enormous fiscal scandal), Le Monde, 16.2.08. www.lemonde.fr, (17.2.08).

Kenneth Wong, Zumwinkel May Quit Lufthansa’s Supervisory Board, Bild Reports, Bloomberg, 17.2.08.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/… , (17.2.08)

Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights (home), Strasbourg. http://www.echr.coe.int/echr/, (17.2.08).

Picture: Kosovo past times of crisis

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