The Kosovo Parliament on Friday passed legislation enabling transition of an existing 4,000-member Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into a full-fledged Kosovo Army. This is one of the most important decisions for Kosovo’s statehood since the country declared its Independence in 2008.
108 MPs out of 120 seated Parliament voted unanimously the adoption of three laws to turn the KSF into an army. 11 Serbian MPs in Kosovo Parliament who are backed by Belgrade and are opposing creation of the Army have boycotted Friday’s session. But experts say that the adoption of the new laws is just the beginning and there is a long way ahead for the KSF to become a real army. The package of laws extends powers to existing KSF, regulates recruitment into the new army and transformed the Ministry of the KSF into the Ministry of Defence of Kosovo. The United States, Germany and Great Britain have backed Kosovo's move, but warned Pristina authorities that the future army of Kosovo should be inclusive. Kosovo’s capital Pristina squares and roads are adorned with American flags, as well as flags of allied countries which are supporting creation of Army in a sign of gratitude for their support. Writing on Twitter Friday ahead of vote, US ambassador Philip Kosnett stated that a country’s security depends on the quality of its security relationships and peaceful relations with its neighbors. Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci inspecting the KSF troops in a barrack near Pristina on the eve of the vote was seen dressed in a uniform and stated that the KSF is ready for a new role and mission.
In October Kosovo MPs of both ruling and opposition approved in principle the three draft laws giving more power to current KSF civilian force, and bypassing the constitutional amendments required to change it into regular army. A constitutional obligation for that required a “double majority” – meaning the support of two-thirds of all 120 MPs and two-thirds of the 20 ethnic non-Albanian MPs. Kosovo Serb MPs, who hold 11 of the 20 seats in parliament reserved for non-Albanian communities, have made such an initiative impossible and strongly opposed creation of Kosovo Army.