Kosovo Parliament has adopted laws that will enable the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) into the Kosovo Army. The MPs voted in favour of the Kosovo Security Force Law, the Law on the Ministry of Defence of Kosovo, and the Law on the Service in the Kosovo Security Force.
Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj stated that the Kosovo Army would never be used against the citizens of Kosovo, regardless of where they live, in the north or south.
After the adoption of the three laws on the transformation of the KSF into the Armed Forces of Kosovo, Haradinaj told reporters that the army would serve all citizens.
“It is an army of all that will always favour peace. It is not an army that will turn against its own people, both in the north and in the south. The Kosovo Army will never be used against them,” Haradinaj was quoted as saying.
The vote to convert Kosovo’s lightly armed emergency response force into a professional army was passed a few hours ago with a unanimous ‘Yes’ vote by 105 deputies in the 120-seat assembly.
In response to the news, the German Ambassador to Serbia, Thomas Schieb said that his country hoped that the initiation of the process of forming the Kosovo Army would not cause additional tensions, but would lead to the “relaxation of the situation” and the continuation of the dialogue on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
“We believe that the process of transforming the Kosovo Security Force into a defensive army must be an inclusive process, that is, members of the Serb minority should also participate in it. It is necessary that this process is carried out in accordance with the relevant regulation and the provisions of the Constitution,” said Schieb.
The decision, that comes after years of trying, and has been supported by the US and Germany, but is opposed by the EU and NATO, that is currently (through KFOR) tasked with guarding Kosovo’s borders.
The United States has hailed Kosovo’s parliamentary vote to form a new army as a first step and reaffirmed “its support for the gradual transition … to a force with a territorial defense mandate, as is Kosovo’s sovereign right.”
A U.S. Embassy statement in Pristina urged Kosovo to continue “close coordination with NATO allies and partners and to engage in outreach to minority communities.”
The statement also said “regional stability requires that Kosovo make genuine efforts to normalize relations with its neighbor Serbia, and we encourage both sides to take immediate steps to lower tensions and create conditions for rapid progress on dialogue.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg underlined before the vote that Kosovo’s plan was “ill-timed” and went “against the advice of many NATO allies.”
Reacting to vote by the Kosovo Parliament, Stoltenberg said NATO would “re-examine” its role in Kosovo.
“NATO supports the development of the Kosovo Security Force under its current mandate. With the change of mandate, the North Atlantic Council will now have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement with the Kosovo Security Force,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
“I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO,” Stoltenberg added.
In reaction to the vote, the Serbian Parliament Speaker, Maja Gojkovic said that Pristina’s decision to form a Kosovo army constitutes a violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and it is in direct contradiction to all relevant regional agreements.
“This is the latest in a series of one-sided and violent solutions that Pristina has implemented, directed against the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija which is destroying the foundations of the security architecture that has been created over the last decades in order to ensure the long-term stability of the region,” she said in a statement.
Serbian PM, Ana Brnabic noted that “today is not a day that contributes to stability in the region,” adding that “Serbia will continue its path of peace and stability.”
(N1, B92, Blic, 14.12.2018)
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