Kosovo Albanian leaders' fear of flying - over Serb Republic

An airplane taking Pristina's delegation to the Kosovo talks in Brussels has "wandered into" the Serb Republic's airspace - thanks to a mistake made in Tirana.

Source: Tanjug
(Getty Images, file, illustration purposes)
(Getty Images, file, illustration purposes)

According to reports in Albanian language media, the Tirana air traffic control directed Behgjet Pacolli's private plane used by the delegation to the airspace of the Serb entity (RS) in Bosnia-Herzegovina - that is "controlled by relevant Serb services."

The passengers aboard the aircraft included Pacolli, who serves as Kosovo's foreign minister, and PM Ramush Haradinaj, Deputy PM Fatmir Limaj, and Assembly President Kadri Veseli. The latter three are former members of the KLA ("Kosovo Liberation Army") who "could have been arrested by Serb authorities (on charges of war crimes)."

Pristina-based Klan Kosova broadcaster's Director Baton Haxhiu revealed Tirana's "air traffic blunder" on Wednesday evening.

According to the website Gazeta Express, Haxhiu said that "the whole situation almost ended in a diplomatic incident" - as reportedly the three Kosovo officials could have wound up under arrest.

Namely, the Tirana air traffic control directed the plane to fly over the RS, instead of via Brindisi in Italy. However, said Haxhiu, the danger of former KLA leaders "falling into the Serb hands" was averted by Pacolli, who ordered to plane to return to Pristina and then take off again, this time flying on a different route.

Meanwhile, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, another former KLA leader, was headed to Brussels separately - and this was "not the first time that he chose not to travel with his colleagues."


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