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EU pledges to continue search for Kosovo’s war missing

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The European Union’s mission to ensure the rule of law in Kosovo said Monday that the number of people still missing since the war more than 20 years ago is a good reason to continue the mission.

Kosovo was marking the National Day of Missing Persons. The EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, or EULEX, pledged its continued commitment “to establish the fate of over 1,640 persons, who are still unaccounted-for in Kosovo.”

EULEX, established in Kosovo in 2008, scaled down its operations after a decade to concentrate on monitoring and advising the Kosovar authorities in establishing sustainable and independent institutions.

The Mission has conducted 651 field operations to locate missing people, resulting in the identification of 456 individuals, including 311 missing persons. Around 300 bodies remain in the morgue. A commemorative ceremony was held in the village of Meje, 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of the capital, Pristina, where 376 ethnic Albanians “were slain, massacred or kidnapped in a day,” according Kurti said, adding that those responsible are still living free in different Balkan countries.

“These people should be prosecuted and sentenced for the crimes they have committed because the families (of the missing) deserve justice,” Kurti said. Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, which ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign, left more than 10,000 dead. Serbia has not recognized Kosovo’s 2008 independence.

Serbia and Kosovo’s EU-mediated talks aimed at normalizing relations have stalled since November 2018 and their relations remain tense. Supporting an initiative from the local civic groups, EULEX will turn off the lights at its headquarters in the evening to commemorate the missing persons.

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