Kosovo’s parliament has overwhelmingly approved the formation of an army, a move that has angered Serbia which says it would threaten peace in the war-scarred region.
All 107 lawmakers present in the 120-seat parliament on Friday voted in favor of passing three draft laws to turn the existing 4,000-strong Kosovo Security Force into a regular, lightly armed army.
Serbia opposed the move, accusing Pristina of “beating war drums.” The law would create a new department of defense and convert the Kosovo Security Force into an army. The US pushed for the move, but NATO reacted warily.
Serbia’s president has denounced the United States for its support of a Kosovo army and praised allies Russia and China for their opposition to the move.
“I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO. While the transition of the Kosovo Security Force is in principle a matter for Kosovo to decide, we have made clear that this move is ill-timed. 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. All responsible political actors in the region need to focus on progress with reforms, and on dialogue. I reiterate my call on both Pristina and Belgrade to remain calm and refrain from any statements or actions which may lead to escalation. NATO continues to support the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as the only lasting political solution for the region”, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement, published on NATO official website.
President Aleksander Vucic also talked of the danger that forming the army by Kosovo will threaten lives of ethnic Serbs there, as well as peace and stability in the region, according to the statement published by his office following his conversation with Stoltenberg.