Kosovo starts its own army despite negative advice from NATO

The Kosovar Parliament today approved a law that provides for the establishment of its own regular army. The Serb minority and Belgrade are furious, NATO is also dissatisfied.

Since 1999, a NATO-led international force has been responsible for the (territorial) integrity and security of Kosovo, which has torn from Serbia and where the majority consists of ethnic Albanians. The Kosovan parliament passed a law earlier today that provides for the establishment of a Ministry of Defence. The 107 elected representatives of the people voted unanimously to give the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF), which are now mainly in charge of civil security missions, also a military mandate.

From 3,000 to 5,000 men

The KSF now comprises 3,000 troops. Within ten years they must become a force with 5,000 troops who will receive light weapons.

Serbia remains on the road of peace and stability
Neighbouring country Serbia is dismayed and angry. Belgrade sees the nearly 100,000 Serbs in Kosovo existentially threatened. Nonetheless, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that his country remains “on the path of peace and stability”. “For me it is a difficult day, it is not a day that can be of any kind to contribute to regional cooperation”, according to the minister. “Without a stable region, there is no stable Serbia.”

NATO regrets initiative

NATO is also negative about the parliamentary decision. “I regret that this decision was taken despite the concerns expressed by NATO. NATO supports the development of the Kosovo Security Troops under their current mandate. With the change of the mandate, the North Atlantic Council will now be forced to review the level of engagement in Kosovo at the CSF,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

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