Members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) attending the ceremony to mark the 19th anniversary of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Commander Adem Jashari's death. Pristina, Kosovo. | Photo: EPA/Valdrin Xhemaj

Kosovo President warns government over its army plans

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci condemned the government's move to push a draft law that would expand the mandate and competences of the Kosovo Security Force, KSF.

Kosovo’s government on Thursday approved a new draft law on the Kosovo Security Force, KSF, expanding its competences but avoiding the constitutional amendments required to change it into a regular army.

The proposal was made by Rrustem Berisha, Minister of the Kosovo Security Force, and provided for the gradual transformation of the KSF.

“What is foreseen is a gradual transformation of the KSF into an organization whose mission is to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo,” a memo of the draft law obtained by BIRN reads.  

The government also approved a draft law on serving in the KSF and a recommendation for approval of draft law on the organization of the Defense Ministry.

“The draft law on the KSF determines the competences, organization and the functioning of the KSF as a multiethnic, professional force, protecting the territorial integrity of the interests of Kosovo citizens,” Berisha said during the government meeting.

However, President Hashim Thaci, only minutes before the government’s decision, stated that he had not been informed about the proposal and would need to consult Kosovo’s strategic partners.

“I also do not believe the United States of America and NATO have been informed, because then I would be informed also,” Thaci said.

Thaci welcomed the idea of the formation of a regular army – but only in partnership with NATO and the country’s allies.

He condemned “any action on our own to isolate and seriously harm the multiethnic mission of the government.”

“I think that proceeding with the issue today is the wrong moment, because we do not need to send such a message to our allies,” Thaci stated.

The proposal approved by the government does not requireany constitutional changes, but needs only a simple majority vote in parliament.

Kosovo has long sought to form a regular army, but this has been met with bitter opposition from Serbia and from the Serb minority in Kosovo.

The idea has also failed to win support from Kosovo’s Western partners, who feel this is a provocative move ahead of a final settlement with Serbia.

Over the last year, Kosovo institutions tried in vain to change the KSF’s mandate and incorporate it into the regular army through stealth.

However, these plans have run up against a constitutional obligation requiring a “double majority” in the assembly – meaning the support of two-thirds of all MPs and two-thirds of the 20 minority MPs.

Kosovo Serb MPs, who hold 10 of the 20 seats reserved for minorities, blocked the initiative.

In March 2017, Thaci submitted a similar draft law to Speaker of Assembly Kadri Veseli, but was never added to the schedule due to disapproval from the international community to go forward with the draft law, rather than constitutional amendments.

13/09/2018 - 16:56

13 September 2018 - 16:56

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.