Kosovo bows to pressure, shelves plan to create army
13 April, 2017
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci bowed last week to pressure from the US and NATO and decided to put off plans to establish an army, news wires reported. The move was strongly opposed by the country's Serbian minority. The Pristina government ordered the creation of a national army in 2014 but minority Serb deputies said they would block the required constitutional amendments.
Last month Thaci found a way to bypass Serb opposition in parliament. Instead of making constitutional amendments, he proposed drafting changes to an existing law on the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) that would allow them to acquire heavy weapons and effectively turn it into a military force. The KSF is currently a lightly armed, 2,500-member force trained by NATO and tasked with crisis response and civil protection.
But both the US and NATO voiced concern that the move could unravel Kosovo's fragile peace and demanded Thaci scrapping the plans. Bowing to that pressure, last Friday Thaci sent a letter to parliament asking it not to vote on his amendments so as to allow Western diplomats more time to convince Serbs to approve the amendments. But at the same time he warned that “the representatives of the Serb community should not think for any single second that Kosovo will not create its armed forces” any time soon.