Erdogan "launders millions by building mosques in Kosovo"
Millions of euros are flowing from Turkey to Kosovo "through illegal routes, bypassing banks," according to the Pristina-based Albanian language daily Zeri.Izvor: B92, Tanjug, Zeri
Moreover, this media outlet said that Recep Erdogan's authorities are using this to "launder money."
The paper says millions are arriving in Kosovo "but not as investments or to help the economy, or fund projects, but to rebuild religious structures."
"Most of the investments undoubtedly expose Erdogan's major money laundering via Kosovo," writes Zeri in an article it said is being published "after a two-month investigation."
Dozens of new mosques in Kosovo "as well as the renovation of all the existing ones built during the Ottoman Empire" are financed through one big donor, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), states the paper, and points out that the agency was established by the Turkish government, and is directly managed "by the embassy in Turkey."
"TIKA keeps its finances secret in most cases, since there is no official data on how much money is being invested. There is suspiction that the money is being brought in illegally and not via bank accounts," said the article, and added that a list the daily's reporters had seen at the Central Bank of Kosovo showed TIKA has invested less than three million euros in Kosovo from 2009 until 2014 - out of that 1.2 million in the Sinan Pasha mosque in Prizren alone.
From 2011 until now TIKA and several other Turkish investors also renovated about 30 mosques and religious structures "from the Ottoman period."
The paper adds that TIKA is exempt from paying taxes in Kosovo and employs only workers from Turkey.
Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo, and Erdogan has been on several occasions reported as openly "lobbying for Kosovo."
Also, the Turkish president caused a stir two years ago in Prizren when he said that "Kosovo is his second country."
The then Turkish prime minister said that the cultures of Turkey and Kosovo may be different, but that their citizens belong to the same country.
This was followed by a harsh reaction from the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the public in Serbia, but Erdogan's cabinet announced that there will be no apology and that his statement was "misinterpreted." It was announced later that the the statement was incorrectly translated and that Erdogan did not say that "Kosovo is Turkey, and Turkey is Kosovo."