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Unfortunate Incident

DPA news agency (sms)December 7, 2008

The Kosovo government expressed its regret over the handling of three German foreign intelligence agents who were arrested and detained in Pristina in November.

Graphic of a man in a fedora in front of a brick wall
Pristina said the government didn't play a role in the spies' arrestImage: AP Graphics

While it said it regretted the circumstances connected to the arrest and detention of the German trio of spies from Federal Intelligence Agency (BND), the Kosovo government said Sunday, Dec. 7, it would not officially apologize to Berlin for the arrests.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vlora Citaku in an interview published Sunday in the weekly Welt am Sonntag said the arrests were "a very unfortunately incident."

She, however, said the Kosovo government would not apologize for the affair "with which we had nothing to do," adding that if a mistake had been made, "it was not the fault of our government."

The three members of the Germany's BND foreign intelligence service despite protestations from Berlin and the BND of their innocence spent 10 days in detention accused of throwing an explosive device at a European Union office.

Citaku said she could not rule out the possibility that other "players in the region" had an interest in destabilizing relations between Germany and Kosovo.

One of the three German agents leaves the Pristina Detention center
The three Germans were released on Nov. 28Image: AP

"Neither the bomb nor the unfortunate development that followed were in our interests," she said.

BND in disarray

The men's arrest threw the BND into disarray, according to German media reports released Sunday.

Until they were arrested, agency head Ernst Uhrlau was not aware Kosovar authorities were investigating the three men even though one of them had already been questioned by the police five days earlier, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

The paper reported that the Chancellery was not officially briefed on the German agents' circumstances until Nov. 20, at least one day after their arrest.

Germany is the second biggest donor to the new ethnic Albanian republic after the United States.