Serbia has condemned Kosovo’s decision to set up its own NATO-trained security force as a threat to Belgrade’s national interests and could undermine stability in the region.
Training is scheduled to begin at the start of next month, but recruits have already been arriving at barracks across Kosovo to register and pick up equipment. The new Kosovo Security Force will have around 2,500 troops with ten percent from minorities, reflecting the country’s ethnic makeup. 1,300 personnel will transfer from the now-disbanded Kosovo Protection Corps which had around 3000 members. However Belgrade is furious and has dismissed the force as “illegal”. Serbia does not recognise Kosovan independence, self-declared in February last year. “We’re strongly opposed to this process of consolidating this paramilitary organisation. We are going to protest strongly and we are going to continue protesting using all diplomatic efforts and all diplomatic tools that are at the disposal of an independent sovereign state.” said Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. Many commanders in the new force are veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought Serb forces in Kosovo during the 1998-99 war. Observers say Belgrade and Kosovo’s Serb minority view the new force as a further assertion of autonomy by Pristina.