In a controversial move, the government of Kosovo, which claimed its independence from Serbia in the late 1990s, has declared it will form an army for the protection of Kosovo. The tiny Balkan nation already has a lightly armed defense force, the Kosovo Security Force, or KSF.
“I inform [you] with the highest responsibility for the state and with pride that today I signed the laws, which will finalize the creation of the Kosovo army. We created our army ten years after the declaration of independence and twenty years after the liberation. That all was only possible thanks to the sacrifice of many generations, which have always been a guiding line for us,” wrote Kosovo President Hashim Thaci on his Facebook page, adding that the army will ensure “better prospects for new generations” of Kosovars, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
On December 14, The Kosovo parliament endorsed the formation of the full-fledged army based on the Kosovo Security Force. Three bills were put to vote stipulating the formation of Kosovo’s army. All those present voted for them, no one abstained. Members of the Serb List political party left the hall and did not take part in the voting, added TASS.
Ethnic-Albanian Kosovars sees the conflict with the Serbs as an attempt at ethnic cleansing and are determined to protect themselves in the future. Albania has recognized the fledgling Kosovo republic.
Russia is still very bitter against NATO for defeated the Serbs in their effort to regain what they see as a breakaway territory. The Kremlin stated the formation of a Serbian army could have dire consequences for the region.
Recently, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that Kosovo’s army plans are “ill-timed” and go “against the advice of many NATO allies,” wrote the Defense Post.
“NATO supports Kosovo’s security force in its current mandate,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
U.S. ambassador Philip Kosnett told state broadcaster RTK in Pristina., “We think that KSF’s evolution into Kosovo’s armed forces is a positive step and that it is only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign and independent country to have its own defence capability,” he said, adding that the U.S. has invested money and training in the emergency force’s development.
“This is a process that will take many years,” he added.