11 March 2014
Six years after declaring its independence from Serbia, the Kosovan government announced its intentions last week to start a ten-year-long process to establish an army. However, Serbia reacted by threatening to call an emergency session of the UN Security Council to debate the issue.
"The army will have a defensive character as Kosovo has no territorial aspirations,” Kosovo’s Ambassador in Ankara, Avni Spahiu told Anadolu Agency calling it a step towards "supporting peace and security in the region".
But the Serbian government called the actions of Pristina "unacceptable" as they believe only the U.N. force, KFOR, which has kept the peace since the war ended 15 years ago, have a mandate for all military aspects of security in Kosovo.
Serbia believes the decision goes against Kosovo's status as a "UN administrated territory," says Serbia's minister without portfolio in charge of Kosovo, Aleksandar Vulin. He reacted by threatening to call an emergency session of the UN Security Council Thursday to debate the issue.
However, Spahiu contends that it's time that Kosovo, which declared its independence in 2008, has its army "just like any other country". He is backed up by the U.S., which supports Kosovo’s goal of joining NATO, a precondition of which is to have an army.
"The decision to establish an army has been taken in consultation with NATO and our partners," Spahiu said.
A Kosovan army is always going to be a sensitive issue for neighboring Serbia, who do not officially recognize Kosovo, unlike the 106 countries including United States, Turkey, Germany, France and the U.K.
The Kosovan war resulted in nearly 15,000 Kosovans dying at the hands of the Serbian regime forces between 1998 and 1999.
The Kosovo army will have five thousand soldiers and three thousand reservists, says the Kosovan Security Forces Minister Agim Ceku.
The Minister foresees that an army for the territory will be up and running in 2024.
Despite the two states signing an agreement considered as 'breakthrough' by EU leaders, Serbia insists that it will never recognise Kosovo as an independent state.
The agreement, hailed by EU, provided the organisation of elections in all parts of Kosovo, the establishment of an association of Kosovo-Serb majority municipalities, and the progressive integration of justice and police structures in northern Kosovo into Kosovo's legal and administrative framework.
Thanks to this agreement, Serbia was rewarded with EU membership talks and Kosovo with negotiations on Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). Kosovo is also in the process of visa liberalization talks with EU countries.
Spahiu hopes that Serbia will recognise Kosovo in the not so distant future and that their relations will be normal, as two neigboring states in the EU.
He said that Kosovan government is fully committed to move forward with other reforms and actions required by the EU membership process.
“It is very encouraging that the message we hear constantly from Brussels is that the future of Kosovo and of our region is in the EU,” Spahiu said.