Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj dismissed the country’s interior minister and the secret service chief yesterday because he was not told six Turkish nationals would be deported to Turkey.
The six were arrested in Kosovo on Thursday over alleged links to schools financed by the Gulen movement, which Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup.
“The entire operation – revoking their residence permits, detention, emergency deportation and the secret extradition to Turkey of the six Turkish citizens from Kosovo territory – was conducted without my knowledge and without my permission,” Haradinaj said in a statement.
Ankara said the six arrested were recruiters for a network run by the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and had helped people accused of connections to the network to leave Turkey. Ankara blames Gulen and his movement for a failed coup attempt in 2016, which Gulen denies.
Turkey has cracked down on the movement since the abortive coup, jailing thousands and sacking or suspending from their jobs thousands more. The European Union says the crackdown violated human rights, a position that complicates Kosovo’s relations with Turkey.
It has been under pressure from Turkey in recent weeks to take action against schools funded by the Gulen movement. But it must balance its historical ties to Turkey, one of Kosovo’s biggest investors, against its ambitions to join the EU.