Ex KLA Chief Too Busy to Count Veterans

The former supreme commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, General Azem Syla, resigned on Wednesday from his position as the head of the commission tasked with verifying the status of KLA veterans.In his statement to the press, Syla argued that he was simply not the right person for the role and did not have sufficient time to devote to the issue, given his current workload.

“Given my position in the Kosovo Liberation Army, this is not a function I should be performing,” he wrote.He maintains his willingness however to advise Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on this issue.

“As the former General Commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, I am ready to offer you my thoughts and ideas [Prime Minister], if you wish to consult me about completing the work of the commission,” wrote Syla.

The government created a commission in January this year to verify the identity of those who fought and died for the KLA during the war against the Serbian security forces

Syla was appointed as the head of the body, along with other former commanders of the seven KLA Operative Zones, to find out the exact number of the members the KLA had.

At the end of the Kosovo war in 1999, the Provisional Interim Government of Kosovo claimed that it had some 20,000 members which fought against the Serbian security forces.

But 13 years later, that estimate has increased to over 40,000 KLA fighters, according to the war veterans association OVLUCK.

This has led to an outcry by a number of injured veterans and veterans associations, who have complained that state assistance is not reaching the right persons.

Syla, who is now a high-ranking member of the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, since his election to parliament in December 2010, is currently being investigated in connection with an ongoing murder trial involving a number of alleged political assassinations carried out by the former intelligence service, SHIK, which was closely associated with the PDK.

Syla is suspected of being a key figure in the organisation, which has supposedly been disbanded. He has denied all links with SHIK, and called all such claims nonsense, saying that any such links would be incompatible with his senior position within the KLA.

Nazim Bllaca, a self-professed SHIK assassin who went public in November 2009 with his crimes, identified a number of senior figures in the Kosovo establishment in connection with SHIK’s activities, including Azem Syla.

Syla’s home was searched in 2010 by EULEX, in connection with the Bllaca case.

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